Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ill-ustrated Songs #34 Dracula's Three Daughters - Ray Ellington


It's Halloween time, and all over what's left of blogland, people are dutifully upping "Monster Mash" yet again, offering "The Addams Family" theme, or noting that Burt Backache wrote "The Blob," but it did not chart. Some unimaginative swine will be offering Albino Brother #2''s novelty instrumental "Frankenstein" or, har har, "Ghostbusters" (maybe with an oh-so-scholarly note about its similarity to a Huey Lewis tune). 

As Oscar Brand's "The Hearse Song" isn't really intended as a Halloween item, and it IS obligatory to note holidays, your download is "Dracula's Three Daughters." It's from the neglected Ray Ellington, best known these days as the singer who provided a musical interlude during episodes of "The Goon Show." Ah, holidays. If not for them, boring people wouldn't have anything to blab about except sports and politics. 

Nerds, I am fully aware that the photo above is actually of Dracula's brides, NOT his daughters. But don't they look nice? That's Ivana, Marla and Melania

Dracula's Three Daughters - listen online or download. No capcha codes, pop-ups or passwords

Grand Old OSCAR BRAND - The Hearse Song (the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out)

Few have remarked on the passing of Oscar Brand (February 7, 1920 – September 30, 2016). One reason is that he out-lived the folk movement by about 50 years, and though active almost till the end, he didn’t quite have the visibility or the hit songs that Pete Seeger did. '

He knew and worked with Pete, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Jean Ritchie and all the legends, and hosted a remarkably long-running radio show in New York (originating on WNYC). While a traditionalist, he supported all the newer performers, and his radio guests included Phil Ochs and Judy Henske.  Oscar appeared on the memorable TV broadcast of the “Tribute to Phil Ochs” in 1976, singing an updated version of “Love Me I’m a Liberal.” (On the same bill, two of the Weavers, Fred Hellerman and Pete Seeger, took on Phil’s other satiric classic, “Draft Dodger Rag.”)  

Brand made nearly 100 albums, but only a few folkies, scholars and pervs would know. One problem is that he sounded a bit like another bland Jewish-Canadian, Monty Hall (who is still alive, at 95). Monty’s high tenor was crisp, even, and well suited to dispassionate quiz show hosting. It wouldn’t have worked too well if he’d tried to be an actor. Likewise, Brand’s voice was bland, and not expressively individual. It served him well in preserving musical history where diction and correct notes were important, but it was more textbook than novel.  

His neutral vocal talent probably helped his “Bawdy” record series stay in stores, and himself out of jail. The multi-disc series could've been an "under the counter" item but he gave it legitimacy with his clear voice and his background as a student of music history. There was hardly a growl or leer in his vocalizing, as he documented dozens and dozens of ribald folk songs, sea shanties and madrigals. He also sanitized some of the lines, which were already full of inane euphemisms (“jigga-jig-jig hey ho!”)  

Brand wrote over 300 songs, but to use the critical line hurled at the even more prolific Steve Allen, “name two.” You might know “A Guy is a Guy,” which was a hit for Doris Day, or “My Old Man’s a Sailor,” which was inspired by tongue-twisters and became a highlight for the Smothers Brothers.  

Born in Canada, which has given us quite a few Jewish stars (Monty Hall, David Steinberg and William Shatner among them), the family moved South when Oscar was seven, first to Minnesota and then to New York. He attended college in Brooklyn, but in an irony, came back to Canada to get his first break. He became host for the TV show “Let’s Sing Out,” which had a long run and, like his later WNYC radio show, helped give exposure to new talent, in this case Canadians Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell.

The ever-busy Mr. Brand wrote songs for cabaret shows including the 1968 off-Broadway hit “How to Steal an Election,” and worked behind the scenes at the Children’s Television Workshop in developing “Seseme Street.” Like so many of his contemporaries, he marched in Civil Rights rallies, sang just enough “radical” or at least “off color” songs to make him suspicious to Republicans, and was investigated by “Red Channels” for being a possible Communist.  

Through it all, he continued singing and performing and writing songs, rarely getting as much attention as others in the folk world. Again, part of it was his bland voice, and also his professor-personality. While he could be witty and wry in his between-song patter, he came off more as a lecturer. His hosting was a bit dry, and he had enough ego to take up time on every show (being the “star”) to sing a song on his own; this, while most in the audience would’ve preferred a third one from Ochs or Henske or the Ivy League Trio, or anyone but Oscar.  

I know an obit isn’t really the place to be truthful or "critical," but this blog IS run by a realist (in the Paul Krassner sense). Besides, for better or worse (it's hard to tell) this blog has gotten a reputation and cult following for, to use a Dylan phrase, "not turning a blind eye to human nature." And as Sahl might add, "and not resisting iconoclastic humor."  

To digress, there's THIS little write-up of the blog below. Another blogger very kindly added a link on his obligatory list of recommended websites, but with a slight caveat. Unlike most every other blog link, the one for Ill Folks comes with a caveat. Just look down a bit, passing quite a few of now-defunct blogs and websites:  

Although Oscar's personality could be a bit off-putting, (gee, where did I borrow THAT description from), he was a venerable man, and his credits are enviable. Oscar’s version of “Farewell to Nova Scotia” was the first I’d ever heard. He even recorded it for a major label (Kapp) on a live album recorded at a college concert. Oscar's introduction to the song mentions that his scholarly interpretation may be different from the popular one but, "I'd like to do it MY WAY." And, as is often the case with off-putting personalities, more credit to him for being an individual. 

Brand was probably one of the first to actually record “The Hearse Song,” which some of you might not know by title, but by the key phrase, “the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…”

One of the great things about song-collectors like Brand, or Carl Withers, the author of "Rocket in My Pocket," is the preservation of every-day pop culture. Schoolyard rhymes and anonymous folk songs deserve documentation. Some scholarly types even take the trouble to note permutations (we need a pinhead word for this) in how an item might be performed in a specific part of the world, or by a certain ethnic group. Brand's chosen version of "The Hearse Song" is how soldiers sang it, sort of "black humor" in the trenches. There's a reference to officers, and later, to The Pentagon. In part:

“...As you watch the death wagon riding by, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. 
You wish it weren’t, but you know it’s true, the very next load may consist of you. 
The burial detail lowers you down, the officers they just stand around, 
they shovel in dirt, they shovel in rocks, they don’t give a damn if they break the box. 
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, they creep all over your chin and mouth. They call their friends, their friends’ friends too, you look like hell when they get through…"

In your Trick or Treat days, maybe you sang: “the worms crawl in the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout” or “the worms crawl in the worms crawl out, they chew your guts and they spit them out.” Whatever, the imagery and grim finality in the song never changes. But there's hope. Oscar Brand, who succumbed to "the old people's friend" (pneumonia) may have been cremated. Or as we say around the crematorium, "Fuck you, worms!" 

 THE HEARSE SONG (the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out...)   (Listen online or download; no pop-ups, no requests for payment, no passwords.) 


No, it's not "Captain Spaulding," it's Mel Torme, no longer tormented by a stinker who is "not the only starfish in the sea." 

If you want to know how the Rat Pack-types would do a jazz version of this folk-rock kiss-off, here it is. The mid-60's and late 60's were perilous times for lounge singers. Now "retro-cool," at the time they were becoming corny. They survived as best they could. After crooning "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" in his typical insincere way, Dean Martin starred on a long-running barely-rehearsed comedy-variety show.

Sinatra, going morbid ("It Was a Very Good Year") simmered sourly about retirement, and went into some odd phase by hooking up with boyish Mia Farrow. Sammy Davis Jr. got cornier ("Candy Man") but mostly stayed in Vegas. His version of "Mr. Bojangles" wowed the crowds there, but it was Jerry Jeff Walker and Bobby Cole who dueled each other on the Top 40 singles charts.

The rest of the lounge acts and Rat Pack wanna-be's simply had to hep it up as best they could. Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Kate Smith and even George Burns covered whatever rock songs MIGHT be middle-of-the-road enough for the old fans and tolerable for anyone else listening. And so they did "Mr. Bojangles" or "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or "Hey Jude" or "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" or those awful hybrids like "Up Up and Away." 

Paul Simon's stuff was easily covered, but not so easily swung (Sinatra's "Mrs. Robinson" is elsewhere on this blog). Mel Torme did a good job on "Red Rubber Ball." He was known as "The Velvet Fog" (and not too thrilled with the those who falsely called him "The Velvet Fag" or more accurately as he got older and more bulge-eyed, "The Velvet Frog.") Here, his voice actually has a lot more clarity and less of the soft burr.  

Paul, born and raised in Queens, New York, and a big baseball fan, no doubt spent his early teen years playing with a specific "red rubber ball." It was what New Yawkers called a "Spaldeen." With hard balls and softballs not suited to street play, and a tennis ball lacking pop, kids bought a "pinky" instead. No, it was never actually bright red, but kids thought of it that way anyway. If you wuz a New York kid, you'd  woik up an appetite playin' stickball with yer "Spaldeen," and then if you didn't have to drop into the "Lie-berry" to get books for skoo-well, you'd go home and have a bowl of "Piss-ketti."

Oh the nostalgia of red rubber balls, blue balls, finger-snappin' lounge singers, melodic pop songs, and getting over a break-up with a bitch. 

RED RUBBER BALL - listen on line or download, no Zinfart passwords, no porn ads, no capcha codes.


Woah, it's been about TEN years since Gina Gershon self-pressed her album? 

In that time, it's become kind of a cult legend. It runs from $39 to $69 on Amazon. But yeah, who cares about a CD (or a signed one, which I have…she was actually signing these when it first came out). It IS available on iTunes and the other usual suspects for just the familiar .99 per song.

Gershon, a figure of lust thanks to several cult movies ("Showgirls" and "Bound") as well as many more films and TV appearances, was a very capable singer ("Prey for Rock and Roll"). Just why she didn't stick with it, I can only guess. A big reason: it's a rotten business now that it's almost impossible to make money from CD sales (or legal downloads). 

Gina has instead appeared in Broadway musicals, written some books, and an upcoming credit will be guest starring on an episode of Fox's series EMPIRE. One thing hasn't changed. She's still alluring, she's still got those "lucky lips" (she opened with that venerable pop standard when I saw her live show) and...if you sing it with irony, "it's a beautiful world." 

Follow along:

Zelda, she loved her man. He broke her heart but then again, don’t we always really know who should stay and who should go? 
So she looked for love online, waiting, staring, sipping wine. When at last the night she shared, she came home with dirty hair. 

Oh, oh, the world is spinning. Oh, yeah, the clouds are flying by. Somewhere some kids are singing. Oh oh yeah, it’s a beautiful world.” 

Wasted opportunity, living in his memory. 
Thinking back now he can’t feel which among his loves were real.
Shinin’ like a diamond sun,  twenty years have been and gone.  it took him far too long to know he never should’ve let her go.  (chorus…it’s a beautiful world) 


Tears are falling. Future calling. 
River running to the sea. 
So much sadness. Lies and contrast
to just how perfect it can be. 

Listen on line or download; no capcha codes, sleazy pop-ups or Hans-worms:

HOUSE OF WOE - Gina Gershon

Sunday, October 09, 2016


Things have not gone well for Paul Simon lately.

There was that odd "domestic violence" incident, where the diminutive singer-songwriter was accused of attacking his willowy wife, Edie Brickell. (Edie refused to press charges, and then went off to co-write a Broadway musical with Steve Martin).

Paul's newest album got the same reviews as always: "Not as good as the last one." A charity appearance (was it at the tribute to Joan Baez or at the convention nominating Hillary Clinton?) had critics moaning that his singing was off.

He then declared that he was most likely retiring from the road, because at 74, he simply was sick and tired of it.

And now? A new bio threatens to close the book on him.

How's THIS for a headline?

At least this news seems a little more important than Matt Damon grumbling about Trump, or some media whore posing in her bra.

I have not read the book.

I will not DIGNIFY it by buying it.

I will, however, download it when it becomes available on a torrent.

Not that I expect much. This guy Carlin is a hack, and a shitty writer. From the "juicy" quotes the newspapers have printed so far, this guy seems like even more of a presumptuous prat than Paul could ever be. How about this:

"On a darker day Paul would examine his friend from afar and feel a pulse of bile. Why had Artie gotten to be so blessed, with his height, his voice, his hair? And why did Paul have to be so dependent on him?"

Or this:

"For fuck sake! He'd known Artie since they were eleven: Artie with braces, Artie with zits, Artie with a Yarmulke on his head surrounded by all the bearded Jews hoisting the Torah around the synagogue in Queens."

Yeah? Where was Carlin? Not even born yet? It's a bit too easy to come up with this kind of psycho-babble, and to accentuate the rivalry that did and still does exist between the two. It's also easy to cut and paste from the many articles that have touched on Paul not giving credit where it's due.

The stories about Simon being sulky or nasty or arrogantly grabbing somebody else's work are not new.

Rolling Stone ran a piece several years ago about how Paul ripped off Los Lobos, and pretty much said "Sue me," to the bewildered band members. Then there's the question of the mysterious "Red Rubber Ball" which was a Bruce Woodley co-write. Or did Bruce write the whole thing, and "Cloudy," too?

There's no question that Paul IS a genius and DID write most of his own stuff. But just as Dylan has been plagued with a few plagiarism rumors, Paul's been under the microscope from time to time. There's also the question of just how "fair" it is to do what so many performers do...have someone come in and do "editorial" work for a straight cash fee, add some lyrics or chord changes, and NOT get a co-write credit.

I've heard rumors, but I'll leave it at that.

The book no doubt also will offer a few stories that will indicate Paul is a prick. Would this come as any surprise? It's the "ordinary temperament of genius," as Mr. Poe once phrased it. It's possible to be warm, have a sense of humor, be very sensitive...and also be a perfectionist, selfish, and sometimes loutish.

Below? Well, below is an example of the songwriter at work, and proof that Paul has done what all great songwriters have something to make it better. Bob Dylan was and is notorious for re-writing lyrics even as he records them, and once famously scrapped an album at the last minute ("Blood on the Tracks") to re-do most of it with a new band and in some cases, revised lyrics.

This Simon "first audio draft" has the famous "Zoo" melody, but the lyrics are different.

Just as Paul McCartney mumbled "Scrambled Eggs" before he arrived at "Yesterday," Paul Simon had some similar breakfast problems, before taking his words to the zoo instead:

"Something tells me things have changed since I've been gone.
My bowl of Rice Krispies ain't what it used to be!"
His lady friend isn't what she used to be, either:
"Your eyes are filled with icicles, your touch is bitter cold.
And I know I have been on the road too long..."
Hear what happens when you're so alienated, your bowl of Rice Krispies gives you the silent treatment.


A Vita Shit of Pail

Ever wonder why your favorite rock group hasn't put out an album in 10 years, or more? Why your favorite rock group only has one original member? And why your favorite rock group doesn't tour unless it's a fake "farewell" performance that tricks some booker in Finland into taking a chance?

Chances are, the reason is that the man in charge is a nasty egomaniacal has-been old goat, who can't come up with new songs, can't get along with anyone, and alienates everyone except for maybe a toady running his website for free.

The last time I checked, one particular old favorite group has really run aground. They've had hard times. It's so bad, I don't even want to mention their name. For ten years, they've averaged maybe five gigs a year, with only ONE original member who pays himself while the pretty much work for nothing but the "prestige" of being able to say they're in a (once famous) band.

The lead singer has fallen face-first in a drunken stupor, been accused (I think wrongly) of leading Nigerian sociopaths into killing Christians, and ultimately has had delusions that he's actually Adolf Hitler. This has not helped in getting gigs. He has gone so totally mad that he sings with a German accent; his once famed braying-bugle voice now sounding like a mad Nazi duck on drugs.

But don't take MY word for it. I took a bus to a train to a zeppelin to Norway to secretly record him at the sound check to a show that was canceled. Yes, as soon as the booker (that's spelled BOOKER) heard how badly the hit song was being sung, he shouted "Raus!" Once you hear how this once-great singer now performs, you'll agree: this lead singer is all wet, and his cover band has run afloat.

Un Vita Shit O Pail


Yes, "not with a bang but with a whimper."

Torrents, forums and blogs come and go. People rarely miss them for long, if at all.

One once-popular forum passed its expiration date years ago, but collapsed just recently. Most of its key members left in disgust, rather than witness the final demise. It seems the forum had almost no posts month after month, and seemed to imitate a fumigated roach, lying on its back with its legs feebly kicking, hardly able to give a buzz. No, nobody wanted to know about the fifth re-up of Levitt & McClure, read some old fogey post about how Spotify and piracy are GOOD for the music biz, or try and decipher some nutjob posting more 1970's Yugoslavian rock albums.

Back in the day, there are some good members. Yes, there are fake names I'll remember, all my life, though some have changed. A few are most definitely around, and easy to find. And a few, who the fuck cares. One or two lead to the idle thought of "whatever became of..." and you almost would like to know.

Have you seen Elaine?

A better question is have you seen The Curries? They wrote and sang 'Elaine,' and their album was no doubt given away on the forum at some point or other. Cherie does seem to turn up at memorabilia shows now and then, signing album covers and photos for $20, and posing for some grinning fatso or beret-wearing geek, as long as they fork over another $20.

Oh yes, the most famous woman ever to be called "Elaine" is most definitely around: Julia Louis Dreyfus. She's had several shows since "Seinfeld," which goes to show that if someone or something really IS good, it endures.



The cringing memes all over the Internet said: "Pray for Everyone in the Path of Hurricane Matthew."

It seems that any time there's a natural disaster, people turn into religious fanatics, as primitive as the assholes of ISIS.

Pray? To GOD? But don't you believe GOD created the world in 6 days, and caused rain for 40 days and 40 nights, and makes the hurricanes as well as the little green apples? Why not shut the fuck up and trust that GOD knows what he's doing? MAYBE he thinks there are too many people in Haiti and in the Deep South.

If people believe in praying to GOD, maybe the believe in other forms of mystical mumbling, from karma to chants, threats and curses.

Below? "I'll Be There!"

It suggests that revenge is sweet AND inevitable. Like, if you cheat somebody out of their royalties, it MIGHT bite you on the ass, even if it takes 40 years.

Do curses work? Do prayers work? Does this download work? Well, that's at least one out of three, for sure.

I’LL BE THERE Hurricane Matthew "

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fred Hellerman, the LAST OF THE WEAVERS

For some of us, the road to Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs and the other singer-songwriters, began with The Weavers.

For a variety of artists, including Bob and Phil, and most certainly the Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary, The Weavers were the first and the best; they taught by example. For many generations, the first music they heard was either church hymns or folk music.

The Weavers updated "To Tell Aunt Rhody" and "My Darling Clementine," and added a vast repertoire in concert.

One of the first albums to influence me was "The Weavers on Tour," which had a wonderful segment of comic folk songs.

The Weavers were Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. I was able to pay my respects to Pete and Fred. With Pete, I could mention that not only was I delighted with his own comical "Talking Blues" on that Weavers record, but how he supported and validated the young stars who came after him, including Phil Ochs.

With Fred, I mentioned how much I loved "The Frozen Logger" on that record. Pete Seeger set up the story, with Hellerman as the love-lorn waitress. Why not Ronnie Gilbert? It was funnier from Fred.

Fred Hellerman (May 13, 1927 – September 1, 2016) was more than a fourth of The Weavers. He had an active solo performing career, and he was even a producer ("Alice's Restaurant" for Arlo Guthrie). Like Seeger, he was very active in his old age, and was often on hand at gatherings of folk greats. If you check for photos on Fred, you'll see him hanging around with a guitar in hand, with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, among many others.

One of the least appreciated aspects about folk music is its humor. Maybe that's because it's actually pretty hard to create a really good comic song. "The Frozen Logger" is just such a tall tale, relying as it does on humorous imagery. Here's a guy so tough that he gets rid of his whiskers by driving them in with a hammer, and biting them off inside.

Like the stories by everyone from Jack London to Mark Twain, the fun is in the imagination, and in this little song, there's a sweet, ludicrous element of wistfulness in love lost and perhaps found again some day.

It's a bit sad that the window from childhood to adulthood is so narrow now. The time for enjoying a melodic little song is shorter. Too soon reality interferes, and very quickly "hipness" and "coolness" are all that's important. The rag doll is kicked under the bed and stays there, along with the crayons and the drawing paper. It's more important to fiddle with a computer and a cellphone. A teddy bear is nothing compared to a sleek piece of plastic that can help you get free porn, free noise and a chance to collect non-existent Pokemon blips.

A documentary on The Weavers was called "Wasn't That a Time." Wasn't it? The Weavers. Peter Paul and Mary. The Beatles. There was a time when discovering music was a joyous thing. Your favorite performer didn't strut around on stage sticking her tongue out and waving a dildo.

There was some humanity in stories about life on "Penny Lane," about Puff the Magic Dragon, and about a waitress recalling her lover: "There's none like him today." No. And not like Fred Hellerman, either.

FRED HELLERMAN The Frozen Logger

Friday, September 09, 2016


On September 7, 2003, Warren Zevon died. For those who remember his song about breathing polyvinyl chloride in a factory, it was not a surprise that his death was caused by mesothelioma. “Some get the awful-awful diseases…” he sang in another song, pre-diagnosis.

On September 7, 2016, Bobby Chacon died from a fall while in hospice care. For over a decade, his awful-awful disease was dementia, the result of all the incredibly violent battles he fought against the likes of Ruben Olivera and Bazooka Limon, Alexis Arguello, Cornelius Boza Edwards, Art Frias and…immortalized in a Zevon song, Boom Boom Mancini.

Back then most boxing matches were free on ABC’s afternoon series “Wide World of Sports.” So, yeah, “hurry home early, hurry on home: Boom Boom Mancini’s fighting Bobby Chacon.” I was probably already home, since it was a Saturday and I had no job. Years later, Ray signed my copy of the Zevon CD.

Out of the ring, Chacon was well known for spending his money fast, and indulging himself in every way possible. It seemed his lifestyle might change once he got married. His wife not only wanted a stable home life, she begged him to quit boxing before he got seriously hurt. He refused. She shot and killed herself. This would not be the only gun tragedy in Bobby’s life. About a decade later, his son was murdered. A decade later, and he was slowly becoming brain-dead from the effects of all his fights.

A famous song by a certain Paul McCartney asks, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64.” The answer in Chacon’s chase was not really, and without much enthusiasm. At 64, he was just another hospice patient, with some of the nurses probably not caring much of he lived or…fell down and died. Which is what happened to him. How do you fall down and die? Probably nobody even asked that question, figuring the main thing was that Bobby was out of his misery and everyone else’s.

Bobby Chacon (November 28, 1951 – September 7, 2016) was a macho guy, one of the great fighters of his day. Below, a live performance from Zevon, who, as the title suggests, was chronicling another great, tough competitor, Ray Mancini. One of the reasons people still think so highly of Ray, is that he faced off against dangerous Bobby Chacon.

WARREN ZEVON in Paris, February 5, 1988



One of the last of the classic TV western heroes, Hugh O’Brian is best remembered as the clean-shaven version of Wyatt Earp, “brave, courageous and bold.”

Born in New York (Hugh Charles Krampe; April 19, 1925 – September 5, 2016) the rugged star enlisted in the Marines in 1943, and after service, enrolled at Yale with the intention of becoming a lawyer. Somehow he ended up dating an actress in Santa Barbara, with a day job as a clothing salesman.

His girlfriend was appearing in a play called “Home and Beauty.” When an actor dropped out, the play’s director, Ida Lupino asked him to give the part a try. He got some good reviews and soon after signed a contract at Universal. Four years later, 1955, he landed the Wyatt Earp assignment.

There were plenty of actors impersonating famous names from the West, including Guy Madison (Wild Bill Hickok), Gene Barry (Bat Masterson), Barry Sullivan (Pat Garrett), Leslie Nielsen (“The Swamp Fox”), and Fess Parker (Davy Crockett). Almost nobody resembled the original, and half the time there was some historian or other to cast doubt on how heroic the original actually was.

There was plenty of competition from actors playing fictional characters, including James Arness (Matt Dillon), John Russell (Dan Troop), Steve McQueen (Josh Randall), Richard Boone (Paladin), James Garner (Maverick), Jack Kelly (another Maverick), Clint Walker (Cheyenne Bodie) as well as Nick Adams, Tom Tryon, Dale Robertson, Clayton Moore, Wlil Hutchins and many more.

Some of the shows hold up, some don’t. Most of the better ones were “adult westerns,” which had some complexity to the lead character, and plots that didn’t always revolve around a gunfight ending. Unfortunately, “The Adventures of Wyatt Earp” was a bit more oriented toward younger viewers, and is distractingly handicapped by a weird soundtrack; instead of music, there’s the Ken Darby singers, offering “ooh and ahhh” a cappella mewlings. Very strange.

And…yeah, when it came time for the almost obligatory “the hero SINGS” album, it was Ken Darby and his annoying singers who were enlisted. Unlike many albums that relied on traditional folk songs (Pernell Roberts comes to mind), O’Brian’s album featured originals hastily penned by Ken Darby, and heavily relying on his chorus to help mask any problems with O’Brian’s vocals. How much of the lead singing is even Hugh O’Brian as opposed to some guy who sounded a bit like him, I have no idea.

Your sample from the 1957 album is “The Bushwacker Country,” a pretty offbeat ballad about Earp and his dealings with The Ben Tompson Gang. It offers some eerie minor key moanings. And hey, the title has both BUSH and CUNT in it.

O’Brian went on to many other assignments in movies and on TV, and trivia fans happily note that when Raymond Burr missed a “Perry Mason” show in 1963, Hugh came in to take his place as one of Perry’s attorney friends. He was often on game shows, and was quite a literate presence on “Password.” O’Brian’s other TV series was the short-run “Search” in 1972. Once in a while he gave a nostalgic reprise to Wyatt Earp, notably “The Gambler Returns” (1991) and “Return to Tombstone” (1994). O'Brian became something of an authority on Earp, who married a Jewish woman (very daring at the time) and is buried in a Jewish cemetery, "on the other side of the hills from the San Francisco airport. That's where Wyatt is buried with Josie."

Fans of Hugh have their own favorite films, including a remake of “Ten Little Indians,” the romantic comedy “Come Fly With Me,’ “Love Has Many Faces,” “In Harm’s Way,” and “Murder On Flight 502,” which had a neat plot twist for his character. He turned up in all sorts of things, playing Arnold Swartzennegars' father in the movie "Twins" and along with Buddy Hackett, became a comedy team when Abbott & Costello were not available for an item scripted for them, “Fireman Save My Child.” I was glad to mention some of my favorites to him (no, not at some memorabilia event with a bunch of grimacing Huelbigs standing on line to pay him) and chose a non-Earp photo for him to sign...a picture of Hugh with his (not-Monty) python in "Africa, Texas Style." He was much more than Wyatt Earp. He married rather late in life, and in his 80’s was quite different in appearance from his TV hero days; a guy with long hair, problems walking, and difficulty hearing.

At 90, he wrote his autobiography and titled it: “Hugh O’Brien, Or What’s Left Of Him.” As most self-published or desperate authors do, he booked himself on Connie Martinson’s pay-to-be-interviewed book review TV series.

O’Brian always knew there were ways of changing the world beyond being an actor. Back in 1958, he was meeting with Albert Schweitzer and looking for ways to use his fame in the most positive ways possible. O’Brian founded the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation. While millions have been entertained by O’Brian’s acting work, there are about a half-million whose lives have been changed thanks to their high school years that were enhanced by the Foundation.

A bit of philosophy from Hugh O’Brian:

“I do NOT believe we are all born equal. Created equal in the eyes of God, yes, but physical and emotional differences, parental guidelines, varying environments, being in the right place at the right time, all play a role in enhancing or limiting an individual's development. But I DO believe every man and woman, if given the opportunity and encouragement to recognize their potential, regardless of background, has the freedom to choose in our world. Will an individual be a taker or a giver in life? Will that person be satisfied merely to exist or seek a meaningful purpose? Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream? I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose, to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love.

HUGH O’BRIAN Bushwacker Country

THE LEASEBREAKERS go brassy with The Beatles HELP

Back in September of 1965, just about any cash-in on The Beatles was bound to get some airplay. There are plenty of bootleg CDs just loaded with songs about The Beatles, songs by groups trying to sound like The Beatles, as well as novelty cover versions of Beatles tunes.

One that has been overlooked, is The Leasebreaker’s version of “Help,” produced for United Artists by Gerry Granahan. No, that's not the surviving Leasebreakers in the photo. It's Gerry and two other survivors of the golden age of transistor radio-driven pop songs.

Born in Pittston, Pennsylvania (April 20, 1932), he worked both as a disc jockey and as a singer in local Poconos and Catskills resorts. A labelmate of Bobby Darin’s at Atco circa 1957, he struggled for a few years, under his own name, as well as aliases Jerry Grant and Nick Rome. He then became Dicky Doo and with his group, The Don’ts, and scored with the single “Click-Clack,” inspired by his pal Bo Diddley.

This was followed by the peculiar “Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu” (which was covered by Jonathan Winters!) and, once again using his own name, “No Chemise Please.” He juggled concert dates as both Gerry Granahan and Dicky Doo & The Don’ts. He also produced singles for The Fireflies. At 28, he formed his own label, Caprice Records, and allied himself with other new talents, including Sonny Bono and Mac Davis. He discovered Janie Grant, and her song “Triangle” became his label’s first Top 40 hit. His next discovery was James Ray, who had a hit with “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody.” Ray’s album included a song called “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You,” which became a hit album track for George Harrison some 26 years later.

Though Caprice Records folded in the mid-60’s, Granahan had no trouble finding a new home. It was at United Artists. Granahan produced hits for Jay and the Americans there, and guided the singing career of TV sitcom star Patty Duke. He also produced the comedy albums of Pat Cooper, and a single called “Wild Thing,” for a group called The Wild Ones. Yeah, it became a hit for The Troggs. The label owned the soundtrack to The Beatles’s “A Hard Days Night” film, and eventually Gerry got around to covering The Beatles by producing the Leasebreakers’ novelty version of “Help.”

This instrumental version of “Help,” seems to owe its inspiration more to Herb Alpert (who first charted with the Tijuana Brass in 1962) than to the early, noisy, “How to Break a Lease” novelty albums from the late 50’s. It’s basically a fairly credible attempt to kick some brass into the Fab Four, more than be Spike Jones about it.

It might be a minor footnote in Gerry’s career (which of course continued well past the 60’s) but this site likes to bring obscurities to life. This blog always tries to…HELP!



Sad to say, if Kacey Jones' 2009 track about Donald Trump's hair starts getting airplay, and YouTube hits, she will not be impressed.

She's dead.

Her "GoFundMe" campaign to raise money for her cancer treatment was still ongoing when she went. Here's how it looked on that site:

Kacey Jones had her first musical success under her real name. Gail Zeiler (April 27, 1950 – September 1, 2016) co-wrote Mickey Gilley’s "I'm the One Mama Warned You About.”

Realizing her talent as a comic singer, she became Ethel (“Ethel and the Shameless Hussies”) and then “Kacey Jones,” releasing her 1997 album “Men Are Some of My Favorite People,” followed by “Every Man I Loved is Either Married, Gay or Dead” (2000) and “Never Wear Panties To a Party” (2001). She continued on with the novelty stuff, including “Donald Trump’s Hair” (2009).

She had a bit of a narrow market on this material, since country music fans don’t normally appreciate a smart-ass woman, and a lot of her material was most definitely in that smirky category of hen-party put-downs that most men don’t appreciate. Guys don’t have many Christine Lavin records either, and they loathe Amy Schumer. No, in comedy the put-down and misogynistic jokes of a “Dice” Clay or Sam Kinison tend to only get laughs from guys, and songs about how men are stupid dickheads only get titters from, well, titters.

Aside from her novelty recordings, Kacey was a partner with Kinky Friedman when he formed the punny Kinkajou Records label. She produced “Pearls In the Snow,” a collection of Kinky’s songs as performed by Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and other top names.

Things began to go sour around 2013, when she was diagnosed with cancer. She sought holistic cures, and as her money ran out, she did what so many people do. She went to GoFundMe. She did pretty well, too, raising a pretty impressive $50,000. She was still collecting donations when she had to go into hospice care.

Kacey Jones Donald Trump’s Hair (live performance)


The somewhat perky and swingin’ “Back to School Blues” has a “Splish Splash” Bobby Darin vibe to it. Like Bobby, Jack Larson had a good, strong voice that didn’t have the usual eccentricity of teen rockers (like Freddy Cannon, for example).

“They gonna start this jazz about stayin’ out late, ya gotta get up early and educate. That’s why I got this thing about summer bein’ over, me goin’ back to school blues.”

For years, Jack Larson the singer was often wrongly identified as the same guy who starred as Jimmy Olsen in the 50’s TV version of “Superman.” While a singing voice is often different from a speaking voice, it’s pretty obvious that actor Jack’s higher, raspier tone couldn’t magically change for full-throated singing.

Also, Jack Larson the singer’s career began in 1959, and by that time “Superman” was off the air. Its star, George Reeves died in August of 1959. Generally a singing actor will get tie-in music assignments while his show is still popular. Not so with the actor Larson, who never sang on a record.

In August of 1959, Billboard noted “the signing of Jack Larson singer-impressionist of the U.S. Army's "Rollin' Along" show, to a six-year management and recording pact…Larson, who for two years in a row was voted the No. 1 talent in the Army show, had his initial release on the Frat label last week, a novelty tune titled "Roaches." Flip is "Little Miss Starry Eyes." He opens for Lee Zeiger at the Casino Royal in Washington, Monday night…Larson is also set for a spot on Ed Sullivans' all-Army show August 30. He winds up his Army hitch Tuesday…"

“Back to School Blues” was a 1961 attempt. Jack thought it was going to be helped by his cameo role in the movie “Teenage Millionaire,” which headlined Jimmy Clanton. Jack was still hoping for some way of breaking his music career when he turned up in a 1963 episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” He played Kenny Dexter, a hack comedian who can’t be saved by Rob Petrie’s jokes. Not when the kid insists on doing his own horrible celebrity impressions and an off-key song.

Nothing off-key about your download below:

“The only time I really have a ball. All summer long I’ve been a Number One lover, back when I like it best of all. Everything’s swingin’ in the summer time. Won’t be long and I’ll be outta my mind. I got this thing about summer bein’ over. I got the back to school blues.”

“Back to School Blues” is not confined to kids. ADULTS have the blues because the brats are back in town. It was a peaceful summer when most of them were packed off to camp. Now? They’re b-a-a-a-ck, noisy and obnoxious. The teens are psychos who are either preoccupied with their selfies or paranoid and ready to take out a weapon and kill you.

The pre-teens are little monsters, squealing just because they can, chasing each other all over the sidewalk, filling up the fast food joints with their giddy idiocies and Pokemon chasing, and generally behaving like they should’ve been left inside a drippy condom tossed in the toilet.

Well, an obnoxious sperm that manages to push and slither its way past a million other quivering wrigglers, is bound to grow up to be an arrogant, self-entitled, noisy kid, not disciplined by adults and corrupted by Millennial selfishness. You can almost pity them, since their hedonism comes from knowing the food supply is tainted, climate change and Muslim loonies are ruining the fun, and sex can be fatal. You can only hope that maybe, just maybe, their childhood squeals will mature into some memorable vocalizing.

This vocalizing could be singing OR it could be commercial narration. Yes, “Larrs Jackson” IS available for acting work and commercial assignments. You can find out more at his dot com, larrsjacksonvo. Larrs is also on Twitter but hasn’t Tweeted for a few years.



What would a Four Seasons song sound like…without The Four Seasons?

Your download awaits you.

Bob Crewe tried and tried to find a female Frankie Valli when, as we all know, he already had one. Well, a castrati IS sort of female, and “the sound” as Frankie was oft billed, involved a pretty cunty falsetto.

A traditional hand-clappin’ pop tune with a backing chorus of chicks, this ain’t “My Boyfriend’s Back,” it’s “He Never Came Back.” Shoo-la shoo-la!

Hedy (whose brief singing career also included “Bad”) doesn’t sound too heartbroken about this, or even pissed off in a Lesley Gore way. This 1964 Crewe-cut is on Philips, which was having hits with The Four Seasons. You can almost imagine this having more traction as a Frankie Valli item.

The 1964 single which Crewe co-wrote has an amusing credit. It was “Arranged and Conducted by “Calello.” Huh? What’s a CALELLO? This was Charlie Calello, who I guess figured that using a single name would make him seem magical or mysterious.

As another pioneering falsetto guy, Lou Christie, used to sing, “Oh, NO NO NO, no no no no.”

Hedy may be best known for her role in the 1971 movie “Doc.” She was 30 at the time. In the still above, she’s hanging around while director Frank Perry talks to star Faye Dunaway. Hedy may not have had a big film career, but she’s well respected as an acting teacher. A senior faculty member of the Actors Studio, she’s been allied with Cafe La Mama in New York and the United Performance Studio in Japan.

HEDY SONTAG He Never Came Back

Monday, August 29, 2016

"August 29th - The Beatles Last Ticketed Concert" STFU

Well well well. Oh, well. Well well well...

I'm quoting, of course, a song on John's first solo album. The one that bluntly told fans, "I DON'T BELIEVE IN BEATLES."

And yet, for quite some time, Believers have been using the "50th Anniversary" excuse to drum up their continued love for Ringo, Paul and the late George and John. It's gotten to be a bit much, no? Yes?

It's a triumph that everything The Beatles did 50 years ago is still relevant (to people over 50, at least). But it's also a bit depressing to be reminded of was. Especially when it involves some fairly SO WHAT bits of trivia.


50 Years ago TODAY, The Beatles performed what turned out to be their LAST ticketed show. It was the last time you could buy a ticket and go to a venue and see them. (They would perform a spontaneous live rooftop concert for the "Let it Be" documentary film). The show, ending their USA tour, took place in the Giants' baseball stadium Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. That's 3,000 miles from their first remarkable triumph, the Mets' Shea Stadium (which no longer exists), Queens, New York.

Great. Another excuse for the mainstream media to dust off some old Beatles photos and give older people a chance to read about music that doesn't involve Kanye or Beyonce.

But what do we make of this? Is this 50th anniversary sparking the release of a fabulous live album of that show? A great DVD of it?

At what point in the day will Ringo or Paul give a TWEET about this?

I think we know that if John was around, he'd say, "Be more concerned with what's going on NOW."

He was suggesting this with every solo record he made.

When he began his solo career, he punctuated it with blunt interviews in in two issues of Rolling Stone (later collected in book form as "Lennon Remembers").

Tony Hendra's brutal parody "Magical Misery Tour" (from National Lampoon's "Radio Dinner") used mostly Lennon's own words from that interview against him. If comedy is tragedy + time, then parody might be anger turned inside out. Lennon's rage was turned into a ludicrous tantrum.

Hendra was so close in voice and attitude that the signature line "Genius is Pain" could almost have been lifted directly from a track on John's first solo album. Hendra recalls, "Lennon was the ultimate sacred cow...I have never been so nervous as the night we recorded this cut. It was, to put it mildly, a high-profile assault, and I'd never had the slightest talent for impersonation...I had no idea why I was doing it, only that it was right and new, another of those leaps in the dark. It was frightening even just to attempt it. Lennon might have been sacred, but I was scared."

John was a huge fan of iconoclasts, but there's no report on whether he was a fan of this devastating satire. Fortunately most fans who read John's interview agreed that their hero had a bit too much "self-obsession" (as Hendra called it) and considered the parody pretty valid, and the music very solid (piano by Melissa Manchester, who turns up at the end as an unconvincing Yoko Ono).

Hendra had some electronic help to get the right nasality and pitch (ironically, John would often demand his producer use echo or other tricks to "fuck up me voice" with studio enhancements). A few lines may be beyond the average Beatles fan. Not everyone might know that the "Eastman" mentioned, is Linda McCartney's father, who was suggested by Paul as the right attorney to handle the mess that Apple had become. Some may or may not recall Lennon's tart "Turn Left at Iceland" news conference remark.

Mostly, the lyrics are pretty straightforward, and some taken direct from the interviews:

"I RESENT performing for you fuckers, tell me, what do you know? A lot of faggot middle-class kids wearing long hair and trendy clothes. Look, I'm not your fucking parents and I'm sick of uptight hippies coming knocking at me door with a fucking peace symbol, get this, fuck that, I don't owe you fuckers anything and all I got to say is FUCK YOU. The sky is blue.

"And Mick Jagger, I think that Mick's a joke with all his stupid faggot dancing. I always did. Wiggling his ass you know, it's just a lot of bullshit. And where does he come off saying all those tarty things about The Beatles when every fucking thing we ever did Mick tried to copy and you know we even wrote his second fucking record for him, no, The Stones aren't the same in class as The Beatles either music wise, or power wise, and never ever were. Pardon me, sir!"

"Paul said he hated Yoko, tell me, why should Yoko have to take that kind of shit? Shit from those fucking sons of bitches? George said she gave off evil vibes. I should have beat the fucking shit right out of him. Him with his fucking Hare Krishna.

"Me auntie, she tore up me fucking poems. She just threw the bastards out. I can't forgive her, 'cause she didn't treat me like a fucking genius. Look, you bastards, I'm a genius, like Shakespeare and Beethoven and Van Gogh! Don't you dare criticize my work! "Don't Worry Kyoko" was one of the fucking best rock and roll records ever made! I'm a fucking artist! I'm sensitive as shit! I throw up before I go onstage! I can make a guitar speak! If I could be a fisherman I would, but I can't, because I'm a fucking genius!!

"I was the Walrus! PAUL wasn't the Walrus! I was just saying that to be nice, but I was actually the Walrus! Him and that rubbish he's been singing! Eastman was an animal! A fucking stupid middle-class pig. I won't let fucking animals like that near me! Yoko is a supreme intellectual! I'll tell you why nobody likes her music — because she's a woman and she's Oriental, that's why!

"Where are you Mother! They're trying to crucify me! Genius is Pain...Genius is Pain...(primal screams) Turn left at Iceland...(more screams)"

And speaking of screams...fer cryin' out loud, ENOUGH with the fucking "50th Anniversary of..." Beatles references.

SACRILEGE: John Lennon satire. Instant download or listen on line.

An UN-PC bootleg rarity: Michael Flanders in Jamaica-Face

It's sort of sad that everyone is uptight over ethnic humor. This is especially true of homicidal members of radical Islam. Or, as we might call them, Idiotic Moronic Fanatics.

The IMF forces have done the impossible, succeeding in their mission to intimidate just about everyone everywhere. As in: don't you dare make a drawing of Moe the Hammed. Laughter as a weapon will get a bomb in your office!

Anyone who MIGHT be a Muslim is given a wide berth these days because the person could be a purveyor of a gory death. You just never know who is carrying a sword or a bomb or past-expiration date hummus.

Put it this way, what TV station would be daring enough to run "The Party" or "The Millionaress" with Peter Sellers doing his Indian routine? Even if the Indian is not even Muslim, it's too risky. As for his partner in crime, Spike Milligan, you won't find audio of him sing-songing the old comic poem, "I am a little Hindoo. I do that I kindoo. And where my shirt and pants don't meet, I make my little skindoo."

At one time, "colorful" humor in Great Britain included gleeful impersonations of Pakistani, Indian and Jamaican people. No doubt Spike and Peter simply enjoyed the amusing quality of Indian and Pakistani accents, even as they applied Marmite to their faces. Yes, we get it, it IS, in a way, as awful as Al Jolson blacking up to sing "Mammy" and "Old Black Joe." He meant well, and you can hear the emotion in his voice as he sings as a lonely, sad slave.'s more than a gray area when it involves brown or black skin. It's a lot easier to still laugh at Irish, Italian or Jewish accents, or make fun of the Scots for needing subtitles.

One reason for ethnic comedy is that it is a way of coping with fear. Fear of foreigners. In America, comedians circa 1916 made fun of the immigrants and the assimilating Southern blacks. Blackface even turned up in the British music halls. Immigrants didn't seem to scary if there were jokes involved. To some degree, people were also fascinated by accents, and it made the "odd" immigrants seem harmless. Many jokes in Irish or Jewish dialect were just funny jokes, and inter-changeable. A classic "Irish" joke could be found in a Jewish or Scots jokebook, with just a change in name and dialect.

Done with affection, the comedians using ethnic humor could become superstars. A white team in blackface, "Mack and Moran" sold tons of 78 rpm records, and "Amos and Andy" of course would be the superstars of radio not long after. Chico Marx was just the tip of the ethnic spaghetti pile, and in the 40's and 50's all kinds of accents could be heard on radio and on records: The Mad Russian, Ajax Cassidy, Mrs. Nussbaum, etc.

While part of the humor was, as most humor is, an escape valve and a joyful ridicule, a lot of it was sympathetic, and a lot of it was intended to push for assimilation. The children or grand children of immigrants were proud NOT to sound like Yogi Yorgesson, Stepin Fetchit, Harry Lauder or Mickey Katz. There's a gray line between being proud and ashamed of ethnicity.

One of Flanders & Swann's most beloved little nose-tweaks was called "A Transport of Delight." As most Brits would agree, even at its best, taking a bus (or omnibus) could be a trying experience. Today, it can excruciating.

But even back in Michael and Donald's time, there was another change going on, aside from the increasingly dodgy service. The workers were no longer white. Immigrants were now working the low-wage jobs. And as you'll hear in the rarity below, Flanders took to mimicking this type of worker, in an accent that sort of wavers a bit between Jamaican and Pakistani. It's quite a surprise, because he and his partner rarely touched on ethnic humor. At best, Donald Swann would do some horrid, eccentric song in Greek or Russian, but that was it.

No question, Michael is NOT being racist, he's being a realist. He is also enjoying the comical aspect of the accent he's using.

Note the pun that references then-Prime Minister Hume, and most certainly, the accent Michael uses as the long-dead duo return to life for you, affirming that ethnics are all over and bus service in the 21st Century, like the preceding century, is shite.

Michael and Donald Transport of Delight

Here's Hoping - Paul and Artie One Last Time??

The news over the summer on Paul Simon? That his last album could be his last. The guy's been too great to hint that his last several albums have all sounded alike, with the ethnic rhythms and obscure lyrics. He's also too much of a legend to note that these days, standing in front of a silly menagerie of Afro-Cuban rhythm boys and an egocentric show-off cellist and singing songs in a piping small voice while making peculiar hand gestures in the air has gotten very old. 74 years old, to be exact.

But should he go? NO, because when Muslims attack, when the city streets are flooded, and when some new plague from South America or Africa threatens to wipe us out, WHO the FUCK is going to stand on a stage and sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" if not PAUL SIMON?

"Showbiz doesn't hold any interest for me," Simon declared a few months ago. "None. It's an act of courage to let go. I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I'm going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did?"

He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd be content to just hang around the house, getting into humiliating domestic arguments that require the police. Naturally his fans have the answer: go back to your Art. That's with a capital A. Can't we have ONE last re-union of Simon & Garfunkel??

"Here's hoping," they say.

Over here, the response is the amusing parody song "Here's Hoping," done years ago. Inspired by one of the infrequent reunions of the "old friends," it explores the frayed nerves and one-upmanship that the concerts seemed to generate. No matter how wonderful the show might be (such as the legendary Concert in Central Park) there was always the hint that at any moment, a snide remark would lead one or the other to walk off stage.

The threat of violence was always there. You've got a tall, unarmed man slapping his thigh restlessly, and a short guy carrying a chunk of wood.

"Hello darkness, my old friend."

A message left by Art Garfunkel on Paul Simon's answering machine? The prelude to one final "do it for the big money" set of select tours where StubHub tickets magically jump to a thousand bucks? The final "we can't let our hair down" tour where Paul is threadbare above, and Artie confirms that he's permanently tossed the tawny-curly wig and reveals himself to look a bit like Ed Koch?

For those who continue to continue to pretend that friendships never end, and that flowers never bend with the rainfall, I suggest you NOT download this celebration of Simon hating Garfunkel and vice versa.

"Here's Hoping" is by England's "Not the 9 O'Clock News" troupe, recorded over 25 years ago, if not 30. It was apparently performed in concert, not on the show itself. At the time, Paul and Artie were tolerating each other for a tour, which wasn't helped by a British TV interviewer asking Garfunkel about all those great songs he wrote. That's probably why this satire has Paul very prominently declaring HE wrote all the material.

And "Here's Hoping" that nobody steals the Photoshop job above and pretends it's real.

Simon and Garfunkel created some great songs together. Their solo work can be enjoyed at home or while exercising in trendy Paul-Artie's classes. Get the pun, and also understand the joke is on those who still don't get it; people grow, mature, and sometimes start disliking and avoiding each other. Call it a'pauling, or art-istic, but it happens, and here's some fun over the feud...

NOT S&G "Here's Hoping "

Friday, August 19, 2016

You Ain't Worth the Salt in ANNETTE HANSHAW's Tears

“(You ain’t worth) The Salt in My Tears” was a big hit for Martin Briley. (Happy Birthday to Martin...born on August 17th). But did he make up that clever remark? Uh, no. As he’s admitted, one of the tricks in songwriting is to take a phrase listeners are already familiar with, and use it in a song. Musically speaking, the phrase turned up on vinyl when vinyl was black shellac. “There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears” was recorded back in 1928 by Annette Hanshaw.

Catherine Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 – March 13, 1985) recorded over 200 singles in the 20’s and 30’s. Sometimes, so that the glut of material wouldn’t be so obvious, her record abels used pseudonyms. Among the oddest Hanshaw items are the ones credited to “Dot Dare” and “Gay Ellis.” That almost none of them are available today is quite a surprise and a shame. As most fans of old jazz know, at one time Annette was billed as “The Personality Girl.” She was the female rival to Bing Crosby in terms of national popularity. In fact, both of them would record “Ain’t No Sweet Man Is Worth the Salt of My Tears” the same year. Crosby (with the Rhythm Boys) took second billing to the Paul Whiteman orchestra. Bix Beiderbecke was on cornet.

One of the odd quirks of songs back then, was that they didn’t necessarily adhere to today’s accepted patterns of verse and chorus. This song is one long, tuneful and catchy instrumental until Annette turns up towards the end with her jolly slam at the idea of feeling sad about a break-up. And yes, if you’re wondering, the Rhythm Boys version doesn’t alter the song’s lyrics, which makes them seem like a bunch of big homos. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Consult an English professor if you want a definitive answer to why THIS song references "the salt OF my tears," while Briley's more popular version says "the salt IN my tears."

The Hanshaw version is the classic (though a nice one was turned in by Peggy Lee decades later). A catch-phrase Annette used, which isn’t on the single below, was ending a swingin’ tune with a blithe, “That’s all.” (As opposed to “That’s Ill.”)

Annette’s family owned “The Melody Shop” in Mount Kisco, New York, and she was a song plugger there, playing and singing for prospective buyers of sheet music. She performed locally and signed to Pathe in 1926, moving to Columbia in 1928 where they had her grinding out material for all the major and minor labels. A year after she left Pathe, she married Herman Rose, a Pathe exec.

In 1932 she began a two year run on the “Maxwell House Show Boat” radio show. When that ended in 1934, so did her recording career. She simply was sick of it all. As she later said in a less-than-nostalgic interview, she didn’t even like her records: “ I was most unhappy when they were released. I just often cried because I thought they were so poor, mostly because of my work, but a great deal, I suppose, because of the recording. I disliked the business intensely. I loathed it, and I'm ashamed to say I just did it for the money. I loved singing, you know (but) I was terribly nervous when I sang. You just have to be such a ham and love performing, and I happen to be an introvert.”

Annette Hanshaw Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth the Salt Of My Tears

Kid Stuff from Connie Francis

When last we convened, I mentioned the varied career of Connie Francis. Give her credit; she appealed to everyone. If you liked folk music or movie theme songs, if you were Italian or Jewish, if you wanted a pop song sung in a foreign language, if you liked teen pop like “Stupid Cupid” or oldies like “Among My Souvenirs,” a record store owner could direct you to the big Connie Francis rack. Not that she had a big rack. But she was nice looking, wasn’t she?

Probably the most dire examples of Connie's flexibility, are her children's albums. In deference to Connie’s views on piracy, and the blog’s own views on ethical sharing there's only one sample from each lp. Let's allow record dealers and re-issue labels to make a living. Enough with the rationalizations, or acting like Fascistic babies and thinking FREE music is an entitlement and that it does no harm.

“Connie Francis and the Kids Next Door” was an awfully cheap trick. Recorded on MGM’s cheap “Leo the Lion” label, Connie doesn’t even sing on all the tracks. If you were thinking of spending $10 or $20 or whatever JUST to hear Connie Francis try a Jewish accent on “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” fuggedaboutit. That song is sung exclusively by the brats, er, kids. And no, it’s not funny and no threat to the Allan Sherman original.

One must remember (or try to forget) that back in the day, there were horrible singles such as Mitch Miller's "The Children's Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Wack) featuring the annoying and brash vocals of pre-pubescent pests.

Connie does guide the little monsters through some other silly pop tunes of the day, including "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" and "Henry VII." Adults and kids singing together is usually a “novelty” at best. Like a pitted olive with an almond stuck in it, an adult-and-kids novelty may be oddly amusing ONCE, but you’d really prefer something else. And you don't want a second helping. Tom Glazer’s “On Top of Spaghetti” comes to mind, or "Consider Yourself" from the Broadway show "Oliver," or anything from “The Sound of Music.” Did you know that Phil Ochs recorded an entire album of kid favorites with “The Campers?” No, he didn’t put his name on that one!

The album notes gamely try to make something more about this brat-worst than it is. It’s not just some contractually obligated experiment Connie Francis was roped into doing; it’s some kind of educational breakthrough. Imagine if YOU were in a record store, pondering whether to buy this thing. The notes might put you over the edge:

“Have you ever heard songs sung in childrenese?

“Childrenese, devised and recently popularized by Dr. Haim Ginott, is a new and understanding way of talking to and with kids.

“Why not the same approach to get through to them musically…that the most understanding and receptive way of singing to children is to sing with them.

“Connie Francis knows this, and a better kid-terpretor of tunes you’ll not find. Having wowed an audience at her own singing debut at the age of four, she is more kid-conscious, musically, than any pop artist around…with six youngsters [4 of them 11 years old, 2 of them 14] adding their sing-along sparkle to Connie’s irresistible talents, the result mirrors the magnetism of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin, for you find you’re quickly drawn into the act yourself. A spin or two and you’ll also be do-re-me-ing, hellomuddah-ing and itsybitsyteenieweenieyellowpolkadotbikini-ing!”

Haim Ginott was a highly respected therapist and author at the time, not quite as prone to turning up on TV as often as Dr. Joyce Brothers, but his self-help books were (and probably still are) quite useful....much more than a bunch of kids singing "England Swings" or "Do Re Mi" or "A Spoonful of Sugar" in dodgy stereo.

At one time, it seemed that Top 40 radio’s demographics were geared not only to teenagers, but to the pre-pubescent. How else do you explain The Chipmunks or Herman’s Hermits? Or doo-wop? A budget album back then called “Pops for Tots” collected all the novelty songs that not only amused teenagers, but their kid brothers and sisters, too, things like “The Witch Doctor” and “Western Movies.” One shudders to think that today's 11 year-olds are happily listening to violent rap and chuckling.

Good-hearted Connie went along with all kind of ideas from her record label, including a kiddie concept album about cute animals, like “Pinky the Penguin.” Really, even if the album was officially declared public domain and MGM insisted it would NEVER be released on CD or as an iTunes download, you might not want to hear more than one track. “Pinky the Penguin” is plenty.

Some popular vocalists got some attention late in life (Johnny Cash, for example) and others didn’t (Patti Page). Some 50’s singers are still in high demand (Tony Bennett, for example) and then there’s Connie Francis. It would be nice if the Grammy Awards or Kennedy Center Honors gave Connie a salute. A mention on a blog, plus a download of “Pinky the Penguin” and a Herman’s Hermits cover isn’t quite enough, is it?

Connie and the Kids Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter

Connie Francis Pinky the Penguin

Kahimi Karie - Sex Kitten

Do you get turned on by baby talk? Do you think pouting is arousing? Can a grown woman really get away with acting like a child? Is talking like a six-year-old sexy?

The breathy-sexy stylings of past mistresses French Claudine Longet and Brazilian Astrud Gilberto have been inhaled, and now exhaled by Asian cutie Kahimi Karie.

It's not an easy trick for a singer to sound deliberately flirty and intimate. A come-hither vocal can often be a turn-off.

Kahimi's "I Am a Kitten" may only make you mew-sick. Her purr-view and final "meow" might make you juicier than sushi (or "raw like sashimi"). Or as John McEnroe used to cry, "You have GOT to be kitten!" No kitten? It's up to you.

"I Am a Kitten" was recorded in France and shows the influence of European friends. The full album "Nunki" has varied pleasures and a much more Asian tone. There's a whisper in your ear called "Yubitsugi," the sugary meditation "I'm in the Rain," the guitar pluck and sound-effect plinks of "All is Splashing Now," and "Taiyo To Tsuki" which includes odd click noises that suggests the lady has emerged from the beaded curtain in an exotic geisha house and...she'll be plucking a few more bills from your wallet very soon.

The expert Ms. Karie (born Mari Hiki, March 15, 1968) has been practicing her Shibuya-kei for over a decade, and became a superstar in Japan via "Huming ga kikoeru," the theme song for the anime "Chibimarukochan." Like Astrud Gilberto, Kahimi was an amateur vocalist until coerced by her friends to turn pro. The ex-photographer found that singing softly and whispering lyric lines created an intimacy that better-trained singers couldn't match. While Karie has recorded experimental Asian music and jazz in Japan, she's also performed with many European musicians and as you'd expect from "I am a Kitten," lives in Paris, land of Bardot

Kahimi the Sex Kitten "I Am a Kitten" Instant download, No porn ads or wait time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Dean's son RICCI MARTIN of "Dino" if not DINO, DESI AND BILLY has died

If Dean Martin was alive, he’d be about 99. Would his heart have taken the strain of having a son die?

Dean’s heart was already broken when his son Dean Paul Martin was killed back in 1987 in a plane crash. It was well documented by his friends (including Jerry Lewis) and his family (including Ricci) that Dean simply never recovered from this tragic loss.

Dean's career was on the skids in 1987 (as were Frank and Sammy’s). An attempt to use work as occupational therapy failed; he was simply depressed and unmotivated in doing the same old crooning songs and drunk-joke patter. He was not, unlike Frank and Sammy, driven to stay in the spotlight even with diminished skills.

Dean became reclusive, to the point where he’d be found sitting alone in a local restaurant, sometimes having a spaghetti dinner, sometimes just sitting at the bar having a drink, his teeth in a glass beside him. “Wussup, waddya doin’,” some old time pal might ask with a grin. Dean's reply: “Waiting to die.”

Dean Paul Martin was the first of Dean's kids to enter show biz. Like Gary Lewis, who was making Dean's former partner Jerry Lewis proud, the young Dean chose bubble gum music for his category. Calling himself “Dino,” hw became a third of “Dino, Desi and Billy.” The trio included Desi Arnaz, Jr. and homely Billy Hinsche. Their top 20 hit in 1965 was “I’m a Fool.” I doubt these guys were even competition for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. (You remember them? They recorded “Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin (Huff 'n Puff)” on the 1966 album, “If Music Be the Food of Love Prepare for Indigestion.” And don’t think I’m joking!)

Ricci (who died on August 3rd) emerged about a decade after his older brother's hits began to wane. Ricci offered up a debut album in 1977 called “Beached.” His partner in crime was Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, who ironically would marry one of Dean Martin’s daughters, Gina, a decade later. And then get divorced.

“Stop, Look Around” was the single from it. It’s below. It’s just an ordinary song from an ordinary nasal tenor, with a slight bit of Beach Boys harmony tossed in the mix. And since it’s Carl Wilson not Van Dyke Parks, it’s not too fey. But it’s still not too good.

After kicking around for many years, Ricci replaced his dead brother Dino in a re-hash of Dino, Desi and Billy, now simply called “Dino.” Perhaps they thought aging women who remembered the old trio would get wet for them, without slathering some Vaseline in. Maybe "Dino" hoped to attract dyslexics who thought they were going to see Dion.

Interesting how genetics works, or doesn’t. You might get an odd variation on the original (Gary Lewis to Jerry Lewis) or nothing much at all (Sonny and Cher’s kid, for example.)

Following in the chin straps of Frank Sinatra Jr., Ricci in latter middle age put together a tribute to his famous father, and was doomed to that purgatory until he, like Frank Jr., died. He was 62. Frank Jr. (who died about five months ago) was 72.


Spooky Baby James - A Hypodermic Parody

Still creepy after all these years.

Some people love James Taylor, and flock to a show where he'll speak in that soft-spoken voice, stare with the wacky eyebrows raised, and with a crooked grin, sing a mild song, keepin' it mellow.

His last album scored #1 on the Billboard charts, his first #1 since 1970. Talk show hosts were happy to assure him, and the public, that he was still as great as ever. What a triumph. All that's missing now is a Broadway musical about him, titled "SWEET."

"Sweet Baby James" was such a blockbuster disc in 1970 it led to a cottage industry of Taylors (Livingston, Kate and Alex). None of the siblings could rival the heroic, stoic, sad but sweet James. His solo career gave way eventually, briefly, to duets with his wife Carly. There was the catchy "Mockingbird," and other joyful songs that fans still consider as reasons to be cheerful.

All seriousness aside, the back story with Taylor was part of his success. Everyone knew he wasn't in his right mind, but that he got over it and triumphed with easy-going and gentle tunes. Except he and Carly divorced (he still won't even communicate with her) and he had a terrible time with drugs for longer than he or his publicists would admit.

When you consider that Carly (and Joni and Don McLean and Cat Stevens and just about every singer-songwriter from that era) can't get arrested, Taylor's success with "Before This World" last year is an astonishing triumph. He still tours, and still pretty much looks and sounds like himself. You can't argue with success, even if you might wonder what's with the haunted smile and cock-eyed glazed expression.

These days, Taylor has a family audience. There are guys his age of the hippie-to-Yuppie variety, proud to be off pot and into organic shoes made out of hemp. Back in the day, James primarily appealed to women who wanted to mother him, and wean him off drugs with their big soft milky boobies. He also appealed to a few guys who identified with cracking up, doing drugs, and conning women. That would explain peculiar tribute songs at the time such as "Keep Driving James" from Harriet Schock and "Oh James" by Andy Bown.

Back in the 70's he seemed like he might kill himself, but soon he had that self-confident Anthony Perkins smirk. Today he doesn't look like he'd ever think of doing himself in, but he does look like he could stab somebody in a shower.

Look, even George Harrison once admitted, "I never cared for the Sweet Baby." He said it back in the 70's, perhaps still cringing about Taylor having been originally signed to Apple. George did NOT want to take credit for discovering Taylor. The Beatles were often mentioned in that capacity. It's possible he also found something formulaic about Taylor's "pity me" numbers, his predictable strumming, his rather limited singing range, and his limited subject matter. Aside from sunshine and rain, Taylor actually figures people want to hear an ode to "branch water and tomato wine, creosote and turpentine, sour mash and new moon shine, Down on Copperline.").

Yes, here in Illvllle, we acknowledge a survivor, and James Taylor is that. He also turned in a beautifully sardonic turn as an egocentric and somewhat evil God in Randy Newman's "Faust." While sweet dreams and flying machines crashed along the way, and Carly was quite exasperated with the guy, he became that rarity, a living legend.

What becomes a legend most? Parody. Back when he was super-hot, James was given a "tribute" via the National Lampoon "Lemmings" show.

These guys saw through the sensitive singer-songwriter, and as they also did with Neil Young and the countrified Bob Dylan, found reason to be realists, and laugh at their less-than-perfect heroes.

The show was helmed by John Belushi, but the prime star was Christopher Guest, who co-wrote and performed the skewering takes on both Dylan and Taylor. Just how skewering did it get? Well, even in Illville, and even after all this time, a line alluding to Taylor's hypodermic use is cringeworthy. It goes beyond the jabs at Taylor for being a sell-out and womanizer. Listen to the "soulful, moody" Taylor get stubbed via "Highway Toes"…

SKEWERING James Taylor

Connie Francis - "Don't Be a Stupid Cupid!"

Connie Francis.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind, sadly, is that she's the most famous victim of rape.

It was a particularly vicious assault, as a 19 year-old black who kept up a steady stream of jive and self-important psychobabble about his problems with his mother. His mother was Connie's age. She tried to reason with him, listen to his bragging, and explain that she didn't keep a lot of cash in her hotel room, but could get some. "Take my fur coat," she offered, "it's worth a lot." His response: "I ain't takin' that shit, so I'll get caught. Waddya take me for?" Or something like that.

Ultimately, he took great joy in beating her, tying her up, threatening her with a knife, and ransacking the place. She nearly suffocate when he dumped a mattress on top of her, hoping to find treasures under the bed. A tormenting assault ended with a goading, "You ever been with a black man?" and "How did you like it?"

He was never caught. Apparently the police never bothered to check a pattern of hotel break-ins and/or rapes and see, over the years, if somebody they managed to arrest was a likely match to this one.

It took many years for Connie to have the confidence to step out on a stage and resume her career, and this was made even more difficult after nasal surgery gone wrong. For a while, she had no voice at all.

Eventually she made her comeback, less as a nostalgia item and more as a heroic diva.

I mentioned to her that for me, the greatest thing about Connie Francis was that she was everybody's Connie Francis. She recorded albums for most every ethnicity. She sang in foreign languages, too. Connie could revive middle-of-the-road (the now notorious "Who's Sorry Now," which was the title of her book, referencing her tough time) and also sing to "the kids" with trifles like "Stupid Cupid."

Her rather bewildering blitz of vinyl back in the day, included North-polar opposites: "Christmas In My Heart" and "Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites." She recorded albums for her own ethnic group ("Italian Favorites") as well as Spanish favorites, German favorites, an album of waltzes, "Hit Songs from the 30's," a collection of movie themes, and even "Country and Western Golden Hits" and "Folk Favorites." How about Connie and a bunch of kids running through Herman's Hermits' "Henry VIII" and "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter?"

Sadly, Connie's tumultuous life would include over a dozen trips to the sanitarium, many involuntary, and a mis-diagnosis of what was causing her mood swings and depression. Inevitably, though there would be many a triumphant concert tour, her audience had aged, and touring became more difficult. She could've used more royalty checks from her hits to compensate for the money she was losing from not being on the road.

As this blog as stated many times, there's a difference between "sharing" and "stealing," and between a responsible use of copyrighted material and the idiocy of insisting everything is "fair use." Which is like a rapist shrugging that what he does is also "fair use," and doesn't do much damage because "all she has to do is take a shower."

Which leads me back to Connie's book, where she mentioned wearing just a robe and being brutally questioned by male cops after the rape, while the perp's semen was still inside her. No, contrary to what some people think, a rape, even a less violent one, produces emotions of rage and shame, frustration and helplessness.

In her book, talks about the rape.

On her website, she talks about the piracy that has robbed her of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No, the link below is not to every Connie Francis album. Or even one of them. Not even one that's "out of print" and therefore, supposedly, "public domain." After all, there are still a few re-issue companies out there. If they see that an album is long gone, and not available free on the Internet, they just MIGHT offer it on CD with bonus tracks and a great booklet.

So here's Connie, with an amusingly restless musical backing, offering a "public service" spot urging people to drive safely.

CONNIE FRANCIS National Safety Council Spot "

Friday, July 29, 2016

Brigitte Bardot - LA MADRAGUE (the late Gerard Bourgeois)

Oui! Lucky Frenchies not only got to hear the sweet voice of Brigitte Bardot on the pop trifle "La Madrague," they also got to see her.

In the "music video" for the tune she languidly explores her home and environs in Saint-Tropez. As you see, she doesn't have a wardrobe malfunction like Lindsay Lotion, stick out her tongue like Viley Virus, have a coconut for a head and sport hanging fat-bags of silicone like Amber Nose, or display the elephantine butt of Kim Kuntrashian. She was truly beautiful. She appealed to normal males, and not retards, gorillas or drug-addled freaks.

Some insist that it was Bardot who turned Saint-Tropez into a desirable tourist attraction, thanks to her films and photo shoots there.

The song is by the recently deceased Gerard Bourgeois (June 17, 1936-July 8, 2016). Yes, this particular "obit with music" is just an excuse to run a few pix of Brigitte, and to state once again, that she is one of our greatest women; beautiful in her youth, and perhaps moreso now, having spent so many decades promoting her foundation for the care and welfare of animals. She also stood up to the moronic Muslim menace by declaring that France should retain its identity, customs and language. In other words, if you want to migrate to a new country, show some respect and assimilate, asshole. (For stating her view, she was fined. Talk about "freedom of speech," man!)

OK, back to Monsieur Bourgeois. Unless you're French, you probably have no idea that he wrote over 400 songs, and that many were covered by his country's best singers, as well as a variety of International superstars.

The stars and the tunes include, if you want some English tranlations: Dalida (It Takes All Kinds to Make a World), Jocelyne Jocya (Forget Everything Else), Eric Charden (Save me ), Nicole Croisille (Song of Love), Frida Boccara (The Gates of Love), Jean-Claude Pascal (Between the Sea and You) Michèle Arnaud (When love is Written), Sylvie Vartan (The Kid), Jacqueline Danno (This wonderful Silence), France Gall (Snowing) and Rika Zaraï (You Invite Me to the Party).

His songs were also covered by Sylvie Laurent, Françoise Hardy, Serge Reggiani, Tino Rossi, and the unusual Juliette Greco who probably had the biggest hit for Gerard, other than Bardot, with "Un Petit Poisson, Un Petit Oiseau," which you probably can figure out if you took French in high school. No? OK: "petit" is little, "poisson" is fish, and "oiseau" is bird. There.

BARDOT La Madrague Au revoir, Gerard. Love you forever, Brigitte.