Monday, November 09, 2020

TOM KENNEDY dies -- Joe Biden will not be hosting "NAME THAT TUNE"

He was affable. Damn affable. A nice guy. 


 

Being a quiz show host looks easy but it's not. The best of them have a tricky, quirky attitude...a simultaneous amusement and disgust at their greedy but fallible and silly contestants. Bob Barker had that, as did Monty Hall. Taking it up or down a notch, Bob Eubanks leered and provoked idiot newleyweds while Richard Dawson was the kissin' curmudgeon. 

Ron Ely, who has had a tragic last few years, was a handsome (best remembered as TV's "Tarzan") guy who moved to the daytime quiz "Face The Music" in 1980, after his acting career began to slow. He is noted for having invented the "double finger point," using the index fingers on BOTH hands to urge viewers to come back and enjoy more sadism. 

Better known is "Name that Tune," which probably had its biggest audience when it was hosted by Tom Kennedy (in the 70's). Tom's previous biggie was "You Don't Say" in the 60's, and he took over for Allen Ludden on "Password Plus" in 1980.  

We will not see the likes of Tom Kennedy again...nor "Name that Tune" or "Face the Music." At one time, music was our great joy. It brought families together, whether to awfully "Sing Along with Mitch" on anything from folk songs to pop hits, or to watch "The Ed Sullivan Show" and not turn away from the opera singer or country singer, teen rock star or beltin' Broadway crone. Now? Music does not bring us together. 

Joe Biden, with the help of a reported vaccine for Covid-19, might bring us together for a little while, but this is a changed world, and you can hardly count on your fingers the hit songs from 2019, 2018 or 2017 that you can sing the lyrics to. You can hardly name a single you BOUGHT. The Grammy awards is a travesty that now ignores classical and jazz and highlights C&W, crossover wimps like Sam Smith or Adele, and anyone of color who raps. None of these categories appeal to the young and old of all races. 

Maybe, like clean air, we ran out of MELODIES. How "catchy" has McCartney been in the past 20 years, or Elton? What greatness has come out of Broadway in 20 years? 

Another problem with MUSIC quiz shows is the lazy rights owner fat-cats from RIAA and the other organizations, who sit back and charge huge fees for the use of music that the composers barely make a penny on. 

It is much less expensive to do "Wheel of Fortune" or "Family Feud" than pay for every fresh 10 seconds of music on a half hour show....only to find that Gramps does not know who Jay-Z is, Mom never heard of K-Pop, and Mr. Cool Kid grins and says "Before my time, Dude" when he listens to 10 seconds of "Michelle" or "Yesterday." 

At one time, music did bring us together. Even songs sung in Italian or Japanese made the charts, and artists such as Connie Francis and Neil Sedaka put out albums of ethnic hits so the point where you didn't know what their race or religion might be. Now, you're lucky if a few people can sing along to some dopey Disney thing like "You've got a Friend In Me," because most people don't want or care about friends OR music outside their own race and religion now.  

You can find a few examples of Tom Kennedy's "Name that Tune" on GooTube, which I don't feel like linking to, since it slows down the page. Today the guy could never get work. A white guy. Nobody wants that anymore. Gotta be a professional actor if you're a white guy (Alec Baldwin badly hosting "Match Game") or an affable Steve Harvey pro comedian squeezing laughs on every "booty" reference. 

Kennedy was actually born James Narz, by the way. His older brother was already a successful quiz host (Jim Narz) so he called himself Tom Kennedy (February 26, 1927-October 7, 2020).

Sean Connery; The Man Who Would be ACTOR, First, and Comic-Con Nerd Fave last "IN MY LIFE" John Lennon

 

Sean Connery? Way too famous for THIS blog, but it's a MUSIC BLOG, and in reviving the old "he's the best James Bond" stuff,  how he started as a model, etc., news of his passing probably did NOT include a mention of his singing:

The odd timing here...the deaths of Sean Connery and Diana Rigg...probably didn't lead many to dwell on who they were. ACTORS. Just what they left behind for the obsessives: "Avengers" episodes (and whatever the fuck Diana did on "Game of Thrones") and the sad plaint that "they refused to stay spy characters forever.) 

All together now: SIGHHHHH...what of Diana married Sean in "Spy Who Loved Me" instead of having Lazenby.... 

Diana and Sean were wiser, and had long careers because they knew when to move on to other challenges. Neither were interested in making extra cash off stand next to gurning assholes at a ComicCon, or signing dumb memorabilia in a store loaded with way too much shit on "Star Trek" and "Star Wars."

As for Connery's Bond, yes, his was the best. Ian Fleming loved him in the role, and it's a travesty that today's PC thinking is to turn James Bond into a black tranny or whatever the fuck is the opposite of Connery and even his closest real rival, the well-respected lumpy-faced blond bad boy, Daniel Craig. 

Christ, is there a Bond film that couldn't be better CUT to 90 minutes? Aren't almost all of them incomprehensible and tedious? 

In his latter years, Connery looked great, even as the Daily Fail and others searched for unflattering images to prove otherwise. There was the odd "Sean as Lecherous Asshole for Old Ladies" impression Hammond did on "Saturday Night Live" and, toward the very end, pix where a clearly aging Connery had somebody helping him navigate NYC streets (and his "old guy" pants with the belt flopping loose). Oh, and I think the worst is over now -- those jokes about what happened when Sean Connery ordered his dog to "Sit!"

 

Monday, October 19, 2020

DIANA RIGG - "COULD I LEAVE YOU"


DIANA RIGG


It seems that so many of the greatest and most memorable plays could not be confined to two acts. They require three, and just when it seems that things can't get any more sublime, the "third act" arrives and then everyone leaves. excited, wanting more. But there's a limit. 

Diana Rigg, was long acknowledged one of the greats. She had an extended third act, an unusual "hat trick," in coming up with yet another "cult" character to bring her not just critical acclaim, but the amusing bustle and excitement of fan frenzy. 

Yes, she was Mrs. Peel on "The Avengers." And then became, wowie zowie, the only woman to marry James Bond, and ultimately, defying or embracing old age (your choice) she became a heroine to a new generation of ga-ga's thanks to "Game of Thrones." 

As far as Diana's fans were concerned, the real ones, Rigg had already stamped out an uncompromising career with a resume that included Shakespeare, experimental productions (for which she might get a surprisingly unkind review or two), those so-called "Masterpiece Theatre" TV shows involving cozy mysteries, and the occasional return to pop culture via "Theatre of Blood," for example. 

There didn't seem to be anything Diana Rigg couldn't do, and yes, that includes singing, "Could I Leave You" is from Sondheim's London production of "Follies," 1987, and is typical of Stephen's work; it seems like it was written for anyone to sing in a true and natural voice, something that mostly relies on drama more than pipes, but ultimately, a piece that does require a lot of talent. 

I've had the good fortune to have had brief but memorable moments with Sondheim and with Diana Rigg, though not revolving around "Follies" 1987. I think I met Diana around that time, though. We talked about her upcoming Broadway work, not, of course, THE TV SHOW. I don't think I even dared bring up "Theatre of Blood," even though it featured Vinnie Price, a man we both admired so much. 

For me, meeting Diana was a satisfying moment that seemed to answer the "what is she really like" question. What you saw is what you probably got, if you were polite and well-mannered. I think she'd have given a sigh and put up with a few moments of "Lucy" behavior from a fan who saw her by surprise and couldn't stop gasping and stuttering. I had a few little questions regarding a piece I was doing that she was in, and she had a few minutes to spare, so all went well.

I have a feeling she was generally that way -- certainly a commanding presence, a class act, and a person whose time wasn't to be wasted, but someone polite and often surprisingly reasonable. I friend went to see her at BOTH the matinee and evening performances of a show, and left a card at the box office for her, inquiring if it was possible to meet and get a copy of "No Turn Unstoned" autographed.  Surprise surprise, Diana's manager actually called up, and said it would be ok at such-and-such time (an hour or so before curtain on the second show). Diana was pleasant, offered up a bit of small talk, and it was a wonderful little five minutes.

Sondheim autographed by CD of "Sweeney Todd" a few years later. I mentioned that I had been a "follower" of Sweeney's dark humor ever since I heard Derek Lamb perform a Music Hall version of the demon barber's exploits on a Folkways album.

"Could I Leave You?" Yes. Forget you? Not. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The COMBAT TV (with the JEWISH STARS Rick Jason and Vic Morrow) THEME SONG by Leonard Rosenman

 

"Hey, they don't LOOK Jewish!" 

"Neither did Nimoy and Shatner." 

Anyway...it's September, and there's some Jewish holiday or other, so consider this a celebration of it, whatever it is. Unless it's Yom Kippur, in which case, feel sad about something. Like the fact that no minority's lives matter anymore except ONE. 

Gritty war shows aren’t too popular anymore, but back in the 60’s, “Combat!” had a pretty long run: 1962-1967.  It would be the most memorable role for the two ill-fated stars, Rick Jason and Vic Morrow. Both had plenty of work before and after, but fans would remember them best in uniform, and they know the famous “Combat!” theme you hear below. 

The TV show starred two Jewish guys as war heroes. Is that a surprise? Lots of Jews were war heroes and there was certainly plenty of opportunity in WW2. Even if they didn't get a medal, at least some were definitely over there, face to face with the enemy in France (Mel Brooks!) or in the Marines (Don Adams!) or in the Navy (Don Rickles!) But let's not digress. We'll stick to JASON and MORROW.

Born Richard Jacobson (May 21, 1923-October 16, 2000) Rick Jason could play suave charmers (he got his mitts on classy blonde Joan Marshall in an episode of “The Millionaire.”) He got his first movie break replacing Fernando Lamas in “Sombrero,” a forgotten 1953 movie. He would play a Mexican bandit in the TV show “Stories of the Century” (1954) before moving on to more varied roles. ZIV (the company that produced Joan Marshall’s “Bold Venture” series) hired him for the 1960 “The Case of the Dangerous Robin” TV show, which lasted a year in 1960-61. He played insurance investigator Robin Scott. The following year, he as Gil Hanley, alternated with Vic Morrow as the stars of various episodes of “Combat!” Jason had been in the U.S. Army Air Corps, so he knew all about the life of a soldier. 

Vic Morrow (Victor Morozoff, February 14, 1929 – July 23, 1982) was born in the Bronx, a borough noted for tough guys. He dropped out of high school to join the Navy, and with his rugged looks, he played one of the more dangerous punks in “Blackboard Jungle” menacing Glenn Ford (1955). He landed the lead (Brando) role of Stanley Kowalski in a road company version of “Streetcar Named Desire,” and appeared in such gritty films as “Men In war( 9157) and Hell’s Five Hours (1958). In 1961 he had the lead in  “Portrait of a Mobster,” playing the famous Jewish gangster “Dutch” Schultz (whose real name was Arthur Flegenheimer — a German who got his nickname “Dutch” as a Bronx-y corruption of the word “Deutsch.” 

From there, it was “Combat!” and his role as Chip Saunders.  There was a fine balance on that show, in terms of who got more exposure each week, or the best scripts, so Morrow and Rick Jason got along just fine. As Rick recalled, a big difference was that Vic was quite a pacifist in real life, and was not a gun owner. He enjoyed taking some shots at Vic now and then:  I said to him, "I've got a couple of shotguns in the back of my station wagon. You want to shoot some skeet?" Without so much as a pause he responded, "No, thanks. I can't stand to kill clay." He knew he could always break me up and during our five years together he did it quite a bit. His sense of humor happened to tickle my funny bone.” The blonde Morrow and dark-haired Jason had a bit of the same vibe as another Jewish combo, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy…two guys with a different look and appeal, each staked to his own territory (and female followers). 

Both Rick and Vic, who appeared in all 152 episodes of the show, found steady work after “Combat!” with chances in movies, and guest starring roles on TV shows. Morrow, who had directed seven episodes of the show, also worked as a director on other projects, too. Still, most fans knew the two actors as the soldiers of “Combat!” and were delighted when there was a chance to see them in person. In October of 2000, there was a reunion of “Combat!” stars in Las Vegas. Usually this type of thing makes a star feel good, knowing that so many remember and appreciate past work. Rick, 77 years old, may have been depressed to realize his best success was so far in the past, and that new assignments and the ability to put in long hours memorizing lines and performing them, were not likely. He was a suicide, just a week after attending that show. 

As for Morrow, everyone knows what happened to him: he was filming “Twilight Zone: The Movie” with John Landis directing. A sequence called for him to rescue two Vietnamese children as a helicopter followed them with bad intent. A malfunction caused the chopper to crash, with the pilot surviving but Morrow and one of the children sliced away by the rotor blades. The other child was crushed to death. He was only 53.  

The “Combat!” theme was the work of another Jewish talent, Leonard Rosenman.  Born in Brooklyn (September 7, 1924-March 4, 2008) he had a very long career writing theme songs and incidental music for TV shows and movies. His first major credits were composing music for two James Dean films, “East of Eden” and “Rebel Without a Cause.” (1955, 1956). There's Lenny and Jimmy: 


Lenny’s TV work stretched from “Combat” (1962) to “Garrison’s Gorillas” (1967)  “The Virginian” (1967) and “Marcus Welby” (1969) working of course on multiple episodes of those shows over the years. He created incidental music for a variety of episodes of other shows. 

Rosenman worked primarily in films in the 70’s through the 90’s, winning Oscars for “Barry Lyndon” (1976) and “Bound for Glory” (1977) and including “Cross Creek” (1984), Star Trek IV” (1986) and “Levitation” (1997). He’s probably one of the most prolific movie music writers to be unknown to the general public…unlike Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams.  

Admittedly, the “Combat” theme is pretty derivative. It borrows a little from “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” which was used a bit too much in “Stalag 17.” It also borrows some style from “The Great Escape” and the ridiculous Colonel Bogey March (from “Bridge Over the River Kwai”) where war is somehow as much fun as summer camp, and people either whistle a lot, or they march around like they have paper hats and cardboard swords, with Mitch Miller-type oom-pah marching bands around. The theme is almost at the same light-hearted level as “Hogan’s Heroes.” Still, it’s catchy, and it never goes out of style. Neither does war. 

THE COMBAT! THEME - no passwords, no creepy malware or spyware, listen or download

 

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #50 - YOUR RECORD LABEL SUCKS! It's FELLATIO and WAYNE KELLY

Back in 1966, there wasn't free porn on the Internet. There wasn't even an Internet (so you either had to buy records, or shoplift and then try to tell the judge "Music should be FREE!"). 

Pubic hair wasn't in men's magazines, unless men put it there while wanking in a public toilet stall. 

There was no Dr. David Reuben or Dr. Ruth, and Frank Zappa had yet to declare that rock music had contributed to oral sex, or vice versa. In fact, Lenny Bruce died in August of 1966, from, as Phil Spector said, "an overdose...of POLICE." He had been hounded for, among other things, using the word "cocksucker" on stage. He shocked a lot of people by declaring that this was not a perversion, but something he'd expect his lady to do for him.

Only, "if I'm being honest," in 1966 "nice girls" didn't do it, and not even sluts named Kardashian. John Lennon sang "Please please me...like I please you," meaning...if I lick pussy, why not suck my dick? (Yes, that IS what that song was about). 

 

If people wanted to read a "dirty book," 1966 was not a great year for it. Dirty stories about some dirty man, and his clinging wife who didn't understand...had to use euphemisms. Even the stuff in adult bookstores had to be careful, and four-letter-words were NOT generally allowed. (The Fugs, let's remember, got their name from what Norman Mailer had to use when he wrote "Naked and the Dead").  The kinky alternative was the "case history" books from various people with a PhD to their credit. People bought Kinsey. If they were daring, Kraft-Ebing and "Psychopathia Sexualis" (a tome referenced by Lenny Bruce). 

But how many knew what the hell the medical words were? Cunnilinguus? Fellatio? And so it was, that a small record label in Philadelphia managed to get away with calling itself FELLATIO RECORDS. This was a time when even "under the country" dirty records, including ones from Redd Foxx, Belle Barth and Pearl Williams couldn't even get away with using the clean words! (Pearl's choice of euphemism for vagina was "knish." She barely got away with singing "By the sea, by the sea, by the C-U-N-T.") But I digress.




Few people bought Wayne Kelly's less-than-inspired doo-wop song (the flip side of "Black Magic" but sorry, "Black Magic" doesn't matter here). Probably none of them thought they were getting a "sexy" song, and probably thought Fellatio and Acappella were the same sing. Actually, most people who sing acapella should try fellatio instead. 

To its credit, Fellatio, which probably didn't last long enough to release even a half-dozen singles, had a few artists with more suggestive names than Wayne Kelly and The El Caminos. They had The Infatuators and The Love Larks. But...like those bad lounge records with sexy album covers, if it's not in the groove, the vinyl ain't gonna move. It'll just sit until it gets remaindered at half price. Or as a loss leader for a buck. Or ten cents if it's a single. And that really sucks! 

Today? Hell, you can go online and see all the sucking you want. You can go to eBay and order a dildo. And on vacation, you can order sucking candy not merely in candy cane form, but shaped like a "willie." Come to Blackpool, and rock...


This isn't a particularly great copy of "Darling Can't We Talk" but, in the case of 99% of all the doo wop shit that some very aging morons hunt for online or in person, it might sound better with a few more scratches than less. It ends abruptly, but Fellatio often does. 

DARLING...on FELLATIO... download or listen online


ILL-USTRATED SONGS #49 "I Like Germany" Sapristi, Christie, Who Doesn't??

 


Sapristi! When you're a middle-aged middle-of-the-road singer trying to squeeze Euros from the EU, you do what you can. That includes pretty propaganda songs, even about a country that tried to conquer the world twice in the 20th Century, caused millions of dollars in damages, murdered millions upon millions of people (in their own country) as well as millions trying to save the world from their insane racism. 

But...LET'S NOT TALK ABOUT THE WAR(S). As Michael Flanders liked to say, you can say anything you want about the Germans, and who doesn't, but that was a fine song, (the National Anthem), "German German Overalls." 

Know Tony Christie? What last name does that represent? Never mind, he was born Anthony Fitzgerald, and he damn well wasn't going to make a career out of reprising Harry Lauder songs, or trying to make everyone cry with "Danny Boy." His career took off in the 70's when he sang about American cities: "Las Vegas" and "Is This the Way to Amarillo?" Well, it was the way to get people to care about just another guy no different from Al Martino, Paul Anka or Vic Damone. 

There was a limit to just how much USA patronizing his home country could stand, though. In 1976, his hits not coming too quickly, he offered "The Queen of the Mardi Gras" -- hoping to represent the United Kingdom in the annual horrible Eurovision show. He didn't quite make it. And, no, America didn't jump at the chance to have a Brit from Sheffield sing a Louisiana song for them. 

As no less an authority than Wikipedia will tell you, "Although his popularity waned in his native England through most of the 1980s and 1990s, he maintained a successful singing career in continental Europe during this period. This was especially so in Germany." That might be a grand reason to do for the Germans what Eric Idle did for the Chinese. 

Eric Idle's 'I Like Chinese" is really not as humorous as Tony's ridiculous ode, "Germany." As Randy Newman did with "I Love L.A.," but not taking it seriously, Tony recites some lists of great things about Germany. Somehow he left out antiSemitism, Merkel destroying her culture with greedy moronic thugs pouring over the border, and old fashioned Germany stupidity via Covidiots refusing to wear masks (and protesting en masse, which is something even Florida's vast army of assholes wouldn't have done). 



Oh well. Despite what they did (and the Italians the Japanese) we try to forgive if not forget. Yes, it's a bit strange that the Germans got behind Hitler the way they did, and loved him for scapegoating the Jews the way he did. But then again, we have Trump, who has millions and millions of jeering, violent, nasty followers who love how he scapegoated the Mexicans and is so obviously into White Supremacy.

"If I'm Being Honest," this wonderful tune "Germany" is hardly a new song. It was simply new to ME, having discovered it while pawing through Tony's albums, looking for the one that had a cover version of a song by a friend of mine. Frankly, "Germany" was the real prize. 

"Wonderful cities! Nice people! Good beer! Believe it not, I like it a lot -- when I'm here!

I like to be --- in GERMANY  --- being here means every time something very special to me! Whether Hamburg or Frankfurst, Cologne or Berlin, all the lovely places I've been! I always meet nice people...everywhere...AND THAT IS WHY I'M FLYING HIGH!"  

Good lord. That's not pandering. Panzering...subtle as a German tank.

To say something nice about Tony, he's a reasonable looking chap, sings well, and has admirable tenacity when it comes to trying to remain relevant. About ten years ago, he strayed from the middle of the road to work with Jarvis Cocker and Roisin Murphy, and record for the Acid Jazz label. He's also lent his time to high-profile charity causes, including things not related to Germany, like raising money for Barnsley Hospice and the Conisbrough Music Festival. A fine, fine fellow. 

And anyone who likes Germany should like Tony Christie!

GERMANY! (What's not to like) Download or Listen on Line

 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

"THESE GHOULISH THINGS" remind me of FAY DEWITT

 

Fay Dewitt’s “THROUGH SICK AND SIN” album arrived in 1961, at a time when there was great interest in edgy comedy, black (meaning darkly satiric) humor and sick comedy. The cover's odd humor seems to involve Fay not believing an apple a day should keep the doctor away. Maybe you hadda be there.

At the time, Lenny Bruce, Shelley Berman, and Jonathan Winters were all accused of crude and weird joking. Time magazine sounded the alarm with an article on the "sick comedy" trend. Tasteless remarks was something Time could not tolerate... although they did refer to Shelley Berman's face as looking "like a hastily sculptured meatball."

Tom Lehrer was the star of poor taste songs, but alarmed critics were noticing that chi-chi clubs and revues were beginning to load up on questionable songs about cocaine, Lizzie Borden and double entendres below Cole Porter's belt. When you couldn't trust Hermoine Gingold or a Julius Monk revue to maintain a wholesome standard, something was wrong! But....selling.

Major record labels began to take interest. Berman and Winters were on Verve, and Columbia signed Paul Lynde to be their sick comedy star. Warners tested the sea-sick waters with a tepid album of risque songs performed by Joan Barton (who was not exactly competition for Ruth Wallis, Faye Richmonde or Rusty Warren). Epic likewise gave the genre a try with the provocatively titled "Sick and Sin" album, although few tracks were all that sick, and there was nothing "sinful" that would cause anyone to blush.

"These Ghoulish Things," not to be confused with the parody on "These Foolish Things" that appears on Sheldon Alllman's 'Sing Along with Drac" album, is by David Rogers and Mark Bucci, who wrote the score for "Cheaper By the Dozen." 


Fay is 85, still ready for work singing in cabaret or acting in sitcoms, and has a long, long resume that includes a variety of classic TV shows, including "Car 54," "McHale's Navy," "The Farmer's Daughter," "That Girl," "Gomer Pyle," "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," "Mork and Mindy," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," and "Good Samaritans," all done after this album arrived. 

Fay's impressive stage and film credits go back to 1950 when she was in "Pardon Our French" with Olsen and Johnson, and 1951's infamous "Flahooley" with Irwin Corey. She recorded several "straight" singles on labels including GNP, Mood and Leeds. In the world of fanboy geeks and perverse trivia fans, she is known for being one of the few celebrities who killed somebody. In her case, it was her violent husband. They had divorced, but in a drunken rage he broke into her place and began beating her. She grabbed for a letter opener and fatally stabbed him in self-defense. This ghoulish thing seems to have endeared her to fame-fans who haven't heard her sing and perhaps haven't connected her to any of her vast variety of roles, which includes parts in Don Knotts movies, and in everything from "House" to "Murder She Wrote."

THESE GHOULISH THINGS - listen or download via Mega

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Marais and Miranda - SIEMBAMBA - the South African Dead Baby Song

 

 

"Siembamba" is sort of the South African version of "Rockabye Baby." We don't mind crooning to our kids about a baby hauled into a tree, and then falling to the ground when a limb breaks. Guaranteed, baby breaks a few limbs, too.

And so in South Africa, there was an equally charming old folk song called "Siembamba."
The genteel, nearly forgotten husband and wife team of Marais and Miranda recorded it, both studio and live versions. 

Goodwill ambassadors for South Africa, and fluent in songs involving Dutch and African languages, Marais and Miranda popularized "We Are Marching To Pretoria," "The Zulu Warrior," and many other songs nobody knows anymore. 

You can find most in the dollar bin of any record store that is still in business, and in thrift shops all over the world. Unless the owners of the shops are fearful of having their windows broken and their stuff looted because somebody decided they were selling "racist" shit by Marias and Miranda! Watch out, the world is not safe anymore thanks to violent social justice warriors.

The situation in South Africa is...well, does anyone care? Not really. The important thing is that the United States is a shit country, the only one in the world that somehow still has slavery. Its certainly a rotten place where blacks can't become President and aren't allowed to hold jobs, while Latinos are treated well, gays don't fear being killed, Jews can walk down a street without being punched, where anyone with a turban on isn't going to be laughed at and jeered, or where somebody Egyptian will be mistaken for a member of ISIS and told to leave the country..

South Africa, last time anyone checked, was still rife with racial strife, although if it involves blacks beating, murdering, or just driving whites off the land, that's a GOOD thing. (Maybe the Native Americans in the USA should try it).

As Peter Gabriel or Patti Smith or of course, the Nazi leader himself, Roger Waters would tell you, South Africa is fine. It's not an apartheid nation. Neither is North Korea. Neither is Turkey or Libya or the UAR or Egypt or Russia or Red China. ONLY Israel. Even though anybody can visit Israel whereas in some of the aforementioned places, you'd end up in jail, or on a skewer to be eaten by the locals. (North Korea has decided its citizens are NOT allowed to own dogs -- dogs are being gathered up and eaten. But I digress.)

In a more naive age, Marais and Miranda seemed to be encouraging folks to visit South Africa in particular, and Africa in general, and they sang happy (if not sappy) adaptations of native songs. Maybe they never had a hit like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" based very loosely on a really bad African song few would ever want to put on a juke box, but they tried their best. Didn't they? Look out, if there's a statue honoring them, it's probably been taken down by now. (That's called being reasonable. Today's Liberal was yesterday's Fascist).  Seriously, if they can pull down a statue of Kate Smith, they wouldn't hesitate to do that to Marias or Miranda. Hell, go find their relatives and demand reparations. That's fair. At least, it's fair in a world gone stark raving mad.

South African Josef Marais (Nov 17 1905 - Apr 27 1978) and Amsterdam native Miranda (Rosa Lily Odette Baruch de la Pardo, Jan 9 1912 - Apr 20 1986) were kindly people. They used to sing a folk song about "Johnny with the Wooden Leg," but after the war, and mindful of injuries suffered by soldiers, they updated the lyric to "Johnny with the bandy leg." They dressed like classical concert artists, and almost never performed anything that could be considered tasteless.

Almost never.

For any of you who are Dutch/South African, you'll recognize these lines: 

Siembamba - mamma se kindjie
Siembamba - mamma se kindjie
Draai sy nek om gooi hom in die sloot
Trap op sy kop dan is hy dood 

This is probably tasteless and offensive right there, because they are singing in "Afrikaan Dutch" which is an oppressive bastardization of whatever language the Africans spoke before the Dutch got there with their "my way or the highway" attitude, and those painful wooden shoes which can really put a dent in you with one swift kick. 

PS the Dutch are nice people. They never colonized a country, did they? Besides South Africa? Oh, hey hey, BLM, they DID come to America, pushed some Indians around, and created "NEW AMSTERDAM" which became New York. Surely, these fucks should be made to pay for something their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. May I suggest looting every fucking windmill in Holland? That seems fair. Although looting every store in Amsterdam would be much more fun. Except the cheese stores. Gouda. Christ, you DON'T WANT IT. (Dutch lives don't matter). But I digress again....

M&M do offer the English translation in the next verse of this live recording.  (Let's not SPOIL things by quoting it here!) 

And so, with over-population, global warming, the fabulous pandemic, and the absolutely insane amount of racial animosity being happily driven by people with nothing better to do (and in need of looted watches, sneakers and computers), the ILLFOLKS blog happily adds to the ever decreasing posts that are UN-PC and scared to be humorous, by offering....listen to it online or download....
The delightful dead baby lullaby SIEMBAMBA. 

SIEMBAMBA - listen online or download


Hey Bob Dylan, Spanish is a loving tongue, but wouldn't you rather be FRENCHED?

There are two things you should know about French girls. First, they love to fight (at least according to Reid-Brooker), and they are as into Bob Dylan as, oh, Joan Baez or Judy Collins.

Let's have a three-way with Bob. That's two girls and Dylan! He'd like that. And in these virtual times, girls on YouTube are about the best you can do. Distancing, ya know. It's hard keeping six inches away, but the times, they are deranging.

Our first Frenchie, who might be called the Barbara Steele of the pop music world, is exotic, dark-haired, wild-eyed Marie Laforêt. Sweet Marie, a Goddess of Gloom, She's been covered on this blog: MARIE

The nice thing about her version of 'I WANT YOU," is that the YouTube video has lots and lots of photos of Marie. You'll want her, too: 

Now our second Frenchie. This blog has not done nearly enough in promoting the slogan of the year, "Black Lives Matter." So, having a Black French singer on this page should help. Shouldn't it? Or should she have been placed ahead of Marie on the page? It's SO easy to OFFEND people this day, especially people who have nothing better to do than be OFFENDED.

As for other BLM activities, sorry, I just haven't gotten to Portland yet, to go pull a white trucker out onto the gutter and beat his head in for being white. I haven't gone to the Promenade in Santa Monica to liberate expensive sunglasses.  I haven't gone to Trump Tower in New York to scrawl righteous graffiti slogans on the sidewalk. I don't walk around with a BLM t-shirt to be ass-holier than thou, and hope to get a smiling "Right on" from some black street thug I wouldn't want to know and don't want to slip money to just because he says I should.  

"Black Lives Matter." Let's remind people that they should keep black people in their thoughts all day long and even if they are helpless to better their own fucking lives, and have enough trouble getting through the day.

I mean, you might as well be going around saying 'UFO's Matter" to the average person. Their response would be -- what the FUCK do you expect ME to do about it? 

PS, if you say "ALL lives matter" you a racist, because everything's just fine Mexicans, or the Pakistanis who drive a cab 18 hours a day, or the Asian girls working massage parlors. Life is peachy for them. Among others. And the Orthodox Jew clocked on the street in Brooklyn by somebody "of color," well, next time put "Black Lives Matter" on your black coat and black hat and hope it can be read by the black who doesn't think you knew all about slavery 2,000 years ago...and the act that all over the world, it's antiSemitism that is the favorite for haters....the hatred for Jews is far more prevalent than for any other minority group. But hey, Farrakhan, and Free Speech...nothing offensive about HIM.

At least this post has a black woman as well as a white woman! It's not much. Not compared to Mayor Wilhelm De Blasio, who married a black lesbian, and managed to squeeze to kids out of her twat. Oh...she's FUGLY, too. Extremely. That's part of her charm. It surely isn't the way she squanders millions of taxpayer dollars while grinning like a fucking ghoul. 

Yes, for every white woman in this post, there's a black one! There. And no, posting Dieu est nègre by Juliette Greco doesn't cut it. Not black, and not a Dylan song. Instead, here's a BLACK version of the BLACK-themed Dylan classic, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." 

Some doubt the authenticity of the story, especially given other well-meaning faux pas by Bob, such as declaring Joey Gallo to be a really lovely guy, and warping the story of Hurricane Carter, who most believe was not only a genuine prick in real life, but also a murderer. Still, the villain of the song,  Zinhof Zinger or whatever his name is....did he actually strike and kill Hattie? And do it deliberately? He said no, that doesn't make for a good story. It's like answering 'Who Killed Davey Moore" with "what the fuck, that's boxing."

The point NOW is that Americns are rotten and their cities deserve to be looted, and "white privilege" is ridiculous just because white people had the nerve to try and make lives better in obscure third world countries that couldn't figure out how to create electricity or invent a flush toilet. But the key word is American. Don't get made at those lovely Danes who invaded the West Indies. Or the Dutch who did their share of Indian killing when they came to "New Amsterdam." And let's not mention current racists like North Korea where, according to Jeff Bezos' Washington Post, "North Korea has the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world." 

There's oppression, murder and rape in hot spots all over this world and nobody gives much of a damn, do they? Fuck the Kurds. Fuck the Libyans. Fuck the Nigerians. Fuck anybody who is actually at risk just going outside their door.  Don't mention Trump's pal Putin, who is to ethnic cleansing what Snowy is to Bleach. (White reference). Don't talk about how an American woman crossed the border into Mexico this week and got every tooth knocked out of her head-- before or after she was beaten to death and left for the flies. Mexico's drug cartels? Why protest THOSE? No fun in looting Mexico, there's nothing there but burritos and bad beer.

Anyway....

One of the stereotypes of Blacks is that they are loud and loaded with soul, and they all roar like Tina Turner, or at least have tremendously fat asses like Icky Mirage, or whatever that monster's name is. Forget about Jessye Norman (most can't forget because they never heard of her). Well, below, is a surprisingly gentle version of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," sung beautifully in French, and the black woman is playing a HARP. This might do more to show equality than shouting Muthafucka and Nigga while blasting rap or blasting a cap into some white cop's face, but why be reasonable? Bob Dylan once declared:

You're the queen of my flesh, girl, you're my woman, you're my delight
You're the lamb of my soul, girl, and you touch up the night
But there's violence in the eyes, girl, so let us not be enticed
On the way out of Egypt, through Ethiopia, to the judgement hall of Christ.
 
That covered a lot of territory didn't it? Some say he was referring to  Clydie King or Carolyn Dennis or some other black girlfriend. 

 

Well, Bob, THIS girl is very cute. Next time you pick up something in England, get across the channel and look for her. Here she is, precious angel, singin' and playin' that harp....
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

THE BREAM OF THE CROP - $1,000+ Collection on the late great JULIAN BREAM

Somebody says, “RCA just put out a FORTY CD BOXED SET on him…”

You figure, Elvis Presley. You know, THE KING, who died on August 16th and a whole bunch of people still sob about it. Jerks as far away as Holland solemnly say it was "the day the music died." I know, it's hard to keep track of how many DAYS the fucking music died -- Freddie or Kurt or Elvis or...

So, a FORTY CD boxed set from RCA (plus DVDs). But wait...that's not ELVIS...

 Right, cat-gut breath, Julian Bream. Astonishing isn’t it? And that’s the reason somebody that successful turns up on this, the blog of less renown. He’s certainly not well known among the regulars who visit here. Most don’t care about classical music at all.  And yet, he’s left behind an incredible (and expensive) legacy: 

Another factor accounting for Julian's obscurity in the little minds of the average people,  is that when anyone mentions classical guitar and a famous guitarist, the first name people say is "Uhhhhhh." And then,"Oh! Segovia!” But there ain’t half been some clever bastards, and oh…Segovia was certainly one. But don’t overlook the man from Battersea, Julian Bream.

Another problem:  Battersea. For most people with a passing interest in classical solo guitar, what they like, over some paella and a quart bottle of Madeira,  is the famous pieces coming from Spain. “Yeah, maybe I should have ONE album of classical guitar, like I have ONE album of sitar music.” The go-to guy would be Segovia. Certainly my own favorites among guitar concertos are both from Latino composers: Rodrigo and Castuelnuevo-Tedesco. But, irony of ironies, I have them both on either side of a great record from the English guitarist John Williams. 

Back to Bream. His father was a jazz guitarist, but when young Julian was given a classical guitar, he was hooked on the classics, and became a prodigy before reaching puberty. He would go on to travel the world and win four Grammy awards playing both the guitar and the lute. He’s credited with popularizing the vast library of classical guitar music (especially British works) for the general public. Hey, Jude kept coming up with more albums, and in his native England, was the subject of several documentaries and a “This is Your Life” TV broadcast.

Since this IS an esoteric blog, your sample is not one of Julian’s guitar pieces, but one for lute, a most neglected instrument indeed.  From the looks of it, the lute is almost as difficult to master as the sitar. Ah, the lute. Ah, Mr. Bream.

As we honor his passing, let’s remember that tribute song from the Everly Brothers: “Whenever I want Lute all I have to do is Bream. Bream Bream Bream…” 

 

 

Sunday, August 09, 2020

CITY BOY’s Steve and Lol : their first vinyl credit: ROY EVERETT “Look at that Old Bird”

 

Birmingham mates and the leaders of the legendary group CITY BOY, Steve Broughton Lunt and bearded Laurence “Lol” Mason got their first songwriting credit via Roy Everett. Also from Birmingham, Everett (full name Roy Everett Taylor) called attention to himself circa 1963 leading The Climbers. The rest of the band included Jim Kelly and Chris Wheeler (guitars), Ralph Wheeler (Drms) and Honri Edouarde on bass. They managed to get on a British TV show called "Teenagers Only."

He next fronted The Blueshounds, a group that included bass player Honri Eduoarde but otherwise a new group of players:  Dave Pegg (guitar). Mike Burney (sax), Frank Devine (drums) and Gordon Bache (organ). The group began to get noticed, and circa 1966, Roy Everett got lost. The band was renamed The New Generation, and included Jimmy Cliff (yet to cross too many rivers) and Ayshea Brough.  

Roy surfaced as a solo singer for a pair of Parlophone singles, of which the B-sides have proven to have interest among trivia fans. The B-Side of Roy’s 1969 single “Birthday Blues” on Parlophone was “Empty Sky,” issued a few weeks before Elton John. At the time Elton was better known, if at all, as a budding songwriter working for Dick James.  “If I’m being honest,” Roy’s take is muscular with just a slight trace of Jagger attitude. This intriguing mess of funk, Vanilla Fudge drum and organ, soulful back-up singers and bursts of trumpet and blazing lead guitar somehow didn’t interest British audiences. That’s too bad. And you want to hear it for yourself, don’t you?
 

 

Roy got some attention in some pretty well known venues. In February of 1969 he was on the bill at The Marquee in London, along with Locomotive (Mick Taylor a member of that group), Tea & Sympathy, the Bakerloo Blues Band, and an odd group called Earth which included some bloke named Ozzy Osbourne who was then merely John Osbourne. If you've got your glasses on, you'll find Roy Everett in this picture (heavy guy with his hand on Mike Taylor's shoulder) along with members of Locomotive and Earth (later to be called Black Sabbath...yes, that's Ozzy doing the gurning, while Iommi, Geezer and Ward play it straight).  You can click the pic to get a larger image.

 

The second and last Roy Everett single: “Turn On Your Own Heat,” (1970) was written and produced by Donny Marchand and arranged by Mike Batt.  “Look At That Old Bird” is the  B-side, produced by Jonathan Peel. The song is given a Jose Feliciano-Elton John treatment, with maybe a dash of Jimmy Cliff.  It's hard to make out all the words, at least the way Roy sings it. It would be a stretch to say it could’ve been used as the theme song for “MacKenna’s Gold” instead of Feliciano’s meandering “Old Turkey Buzzard.” It would be a stretch, since the film came out two years earlier, but both old bird songs are about equal in musicality. One song might be slightly better known than the other, but not to most people, who never heard of either. 

You want to hear Feliciano's song? Somebody on YouTube kindly uploaded the opening credits, which show scenic Utah, a lot of canyons, and a buzzard. Which is about as entertaining as the overly long "last of the epic westerns" gets. About the only memorable moment in the film is Julie Newmar's double swimming naked underwater for thirty seconds. (You do get to see the real Julie emerge bare-ass and run into the bushes). But I digress. 


And now...

Listen online or download: 

LOOK AT THAT OLD BIRD! Roy Everett sings Lunt-Mason

LEFTY LEON FLEISHER - The Pianist Who Came Back from The Hand of Fate

Above, a Chopin nocturne. 

Here’s a quote from classical pianist Leon Fleisher’s memoir:

“When the gods want to get you, they know right where to strike, the place where it will hurt the most.” 

The world of the classical pianist is extremely stressful and brutally difficult. Think it’s hard to make it in rock or country music or rap? The standards for classical are obnoxiously high.

Just about the worst thing that can happen to a genius pianist who has beaten the odds and risen to the top of his profession, is the nightmare of injury. Leon Fleisher (July 23, 1928 – August 2, 2020) suffered a kind of "carpal tunnel syndrome" disaster that crippled his career for decades.

A prodigy born in San Francisco, Leon was hailed by some of the greats of his era (conductor Pierre Monteux and pianist Artur Schnabel). He studied with Schnabel since the age of 10 and at 16 he performed with Monteux and the New York Philharmonic.

He was signed to Columbia records for praised recordings in the 50’s and early 60’s. Focal dystonia, caused by over-use of certain muscles or tendons, weakened his right hand in 1965, creating cramping in several fingers. “I was in a state of deep depression,” he recalled. His second marriage was unraveling and he thought of suicide.  

Now what? He followed the Paul Wittgenstein playbook and tried to continue by playing the left-handed “freak” pieces. 

Paul Wittgenstein's career was promising until a literal shot in the arm during World War I left him an amputee.  Josef Labor was the first composer to create a left-handed piece for him. Once Labor’s “Variations for Pianoforte Left Hand” debuted, and Paul adapted famous works for left-handed variations, it was clear Wittgenstein had a future after all. Like many a genius, he proved to be quite temperamental and even a bit of an ingrate.

Hindemeth wrote a left-handed piano concerto for him in 1924, and it was rejected. The great Prokofiev submitted one in 1931 and it too was rejected.  Ravel wrote the brilliant “Concerto for the Left Hand” and Wittgenstein approved. It became his showpiece, a spectacular success when it premiered around 1932. It is so spectacular, most wouldn’t even realize only one hand is playing when they hear it. 

Wittgenstein thrived despite the Nazis, who considered him a Jew, even though (for the sake of safety) most of his family had converted years earlier. Eventually, as long as he and his sisters gave them ALL of their family fortune, they were allowed to to live. Wittgenstein came to America in 1941. 

John Browning’s version of the Ravel piece was the first I bought and remains my favorite. The vintage pianists on “primitive” (ie, non digital) vinyl from that area of course include Kempf, Rubinstein and Richter, and I have more of their Beethoven sonatas and concertos than others. I can't say Fleisher was one of my favorites, but I do have some of his Beethoven works, and he's definitely one of the better interpreters.

Aside from left-handed works, Fleisher became a teacher and a conductor with the Baltimore Symphony. Some twenty years passed before medical science was able to help Fleisher regain enough use of his hand to be considered any kind of competitive pianist again. In  1982 he returned to the stage but didn’t think his performance was anywhere near as good as he could be, and it took another ten years before he was comfortable enough, using everything from aromatherapy to botox injections, to take up professional performances again, both solo and in duo-piano works with his wife.

Two photos: the optimistic young Leon at the start of his career, and after enduring what happens when fate lends a hand...or takes one away. 

 

During Leon’s absence from the recording studio, quite a few other promising pianists came and went due to the whims of fate. I remember seeing Roger Scime (accent grave over the e...) who recorded for Columbia’s subsidiary Epic label. He issued a Gershwin album in 1959 but a car accident damaged his hands and the 60's became lost to him. I saw him in the 70's, and he played well, but couldn't quite compete with the top recording artists of the day.

Another artist signed to Columbia (and recording with George Szell as Fleisher had), Gary Graffman, also saw his recording career shortened when he sprained his right hand in 1977 and he too, was diagnosed with focal dystonia. In 1985 he thrilled audiences with the premiere of a piano concerto for the left hand created by Erich Wolfgang Korngold for, yes, Paul Wittgenstein. Gary is still with us, in his early 90’s. 

In 1996, Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman united to perform “Concerto for Two Pianos” by William Bolcom, a work that could be played by ONE pianist, or by two, each using one hand and one piano. In a strange twist of fate, Fleisher would premiere the Wittgenstein-rejected  “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” by Paul Hindemith. 

Why hadn’t it ever been recorded?  Hindemeth either didn’t have a spare copy, or didn’t have another one-handed pianist to give it to, or no able-bodied pianist wanted to bother with it. It was only discovered after the death of Wittgenstein’s widow. She was several decades younger than he, and passed on in 2002. Wittgenstein died way back in 1961. Leon premiered the piece in 2004. 

If you’re wondering, yes, there are a few one-handed pianists in the world (there’s even Liu Wei, an Asian pianist with no hands, who plays with his feet…but obviously with a limited repertoire). 

 

Norman Malone (partially paralyzed when his berserk father went after him and his brother with a hammer to their heads) managed to master the Ravel piece while in his 60’s.  Nicholas McCarthy (born without a right hand) is in his 20’s and the best known single-handed pianist playing today. 

One thing about pianists…once they are on the right track, age itself isn’t much of a factor. A surprising number of concert pianists have been able to remain big attractions and tour the world into their 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s. Richter, Horowitz, even Rubinstein with troubled eyesight, performed late in life.

Fleisher was a “Kennedy Center Honors” recepient in 2007. One of the last major appearances for Fleisher was, at the request of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a performance at the Supreme Court in 2012.

LAUREL & HARDY video for "STANLEY THE MANLY TRANVESTITE" not by the famous Rodney Dangerfield

Around 1964, “Camp Records” began issuing gay novelty 45’s. They seemed to be aimed at gays with a sense of humor.  

No doubt once used copies turned up in thrift shops, or got passed around via cassette dupes, straight listeners got a laugh, too. Maybe the laugh was more AT the simpering vocalists than WITH, but "light in the loafers" humor was always a part of the comedy world, from Edward Everett Horton and Joe Besser in movies, to stereotype depictions by Lenny Bruce and Jonathan Winters, to wink-wink guys like Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde and those who preferred to be considered "flamboyant" rather than outright gay (Rip Taylor).

The singles (and later two albums, “The Queen is in the Closet” and “Mad About the Boy”) were mostly sold via mail order in “body builder” gay interest magazines such as Vagabond, but probably had sales in some Greenwich Village and San Francisco record stores where a snickering clerk might slap one on the turntable for a trusted customer to try out. 

 

The ten singles were given amusing serial numbers. “I’d Rather Fight Than Swish” by B. Bubba, was on Camp 2B1 (to be one), and “Homer the Happy Little Homo” by Byrd E. Bath was on Camp ICUR 1-2 (I see you are one, too!) “Leather Jacket Lovers” by Sandy Beech was on Camp TS2U (tough shit to you) and “Stanley the Manly Transvestite” by Rodney Dangerfield was on Camp 181 (one ate one). 

Nobody knows who the singers behind the aliases were, but no, Rodney Dangerfield was not THE Rodney Dangerfield.  The oddball name was invented decades earlier, perhaps by one of Jack Benny’s writers, who used it as a character name on a Benny radio show circa 1941. “Rodney Dangerfield” turned up as a character name here and there on radio, TV and in whiz bang jokes and yes, an adult novelty single. When Jacob Cohen was searching for a catchy new stage name (having had no respect or luck as “Jack Roy”) somebody suggested “Rodney Dangerfield.” Rodney had no idea of its history and gave it a try. As with Orson Bean (who had used a variety of other funny names, including Roger Duck), the audience was laughing just on the introduction. 

The output from Camp Records is now available on CD, so the originals are only valuable to a small circle of vinyl junkies and collectors of gay memorabilia.

Collectors tend to be a sad, nutty bunch, especially the “I’ve got it YOU don’t” loners, who brag about what they have, but won’t even share a photo, and most certainly not make a copy of rare vinyl UNLESS it’s in trade for some rarity of equal value. Which leads to a mention of the Laurel & Hardy addicts. Back in the day, there were “tents” for “The Sons of the Desert,” a Stan Laurel-approved fan group organized by Orson Bean, Chuck McCann and others. 16mm prints would be screened at “banquets,” and the biggest “tent,” which was in New York, would bring in guest speakers who knew “the boys,” as well as vintage stars and entertainers such as Margaret Hamilton and Will Jordan. Sadly, in the Internet age, things have degenerated a bit,  and that includes ridiculous Facebook groups where creeps dress up as “Stan and Babe.” You’ll find no shortage of jerks in bowler hats and badly-fitting suits standing in a basement loaded with worthless memorabilia such as ugly “big head” statues of “the boys” and other ceramic crackpot nonsense. The “I have it you don’t” mentality extends to shelves of inane books, and rows of the same movies in 8mm, VHS and DVD formats, etc.

They’ll share boring snapshots of L&H film locations then and “NOW!” (Yes, let’s all go stare at some modern building that replaced one that “the boys” used as the background for a pie fight or something). One idiot Facebook group is called “Deconstructing Laurel and Hardy” or something like that, and contains selfies on some of the most ridiculous losers on the planet. Their mantra is to insist that “the boys” were the greatest comedy team of all time “because they really loved each other.”  Well, yes, if you notice how often they shared the same bed in some harmless 1930’s short, or were married to hideous harridans who ruled over them like angry mommies. But in real life, they steered clear of each other, as they’d spent enough time together during filming. As for “loving” each other, Ollie was bossy and officious, and Stan wasn’t averse to giving Ollie a poke in the eye. 

 One might argue that Abbott & Costello were a more believable team, since they got on each others’ nerves and were both clearly pissed off at a world where they had to live together because no women wanted anything to do with them. Which is generally the case with today’s surviving L&H fans, the obsessive ones who are so incredibly homely and clueless. Although not nearly as ridiculous as the 50 year-old virgin in the UK who runs a “museum” (a room in back of a memorabilia mall shop) for Phil Silvers.

Melding “Stanley the Manly Transvestite” and Laurel & Hardy’s infamously fey dance from “Way out West” AND a few crossdressing film moments, you have, for viewing or downloading, the artfully done item below:

STANLEY THE MANLEY TRANSVESTITE 3 Minute VIDEO - mega downloadOR the rather dodgy ZIPPY     https://www6.zippyshare.com/v/IGmL79GF/file.html     

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CIRCULAR CIRCULATION DOESN'T LAST -- GOODBYE TO "Miss Mercy" of Frank Zappa's GTO'S



Once in a while on my late-night radio show so many years ago, I offered up the crackpot tune "Circular Circulation," one of the better numbers from the GTO's, "Permanent Damage" album produced by Frank Zappa. It's actually titled "Do Me Once and I'll be Sad, Do me Twice and I'll Know Better." It was produced by Lowell George (who wrote the music) and sung by Pamela Des Barres.

I didn't want to annoy my listeners TOO much, but it was after midnight, and they knew they were not going to get mainstream rock. Well, not much of it. One of my favorite segues was to play "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" (from Zappa's 200 Motels album) and when Burt ends with "...you hot little bitch," I'd have the Rolling Stones and "Bitch" cued on the other turntable. Clever? Not a lot. But it amused me. It also amused me to be on the radio at all, and this was at a time when not EVERYBODY could do that. (Gee, I could do a PODCAST now, like another ten million people are doing. Wheeee.)

I suppose Genesis, Jethro Tull and Boko Harum or whatever they called themselves, were as mainstream as I tended to get. Oh, except for deserving obscure artists who could've been mainstream successes but weren't, like Ron Nagle and Priscilla Coolidge and others who've turned up on this blog.

As I recall, "Circular Circulation" was the "pick" from the album, appearing on one of those Warner Bros. "Loss Leaders" dollar discs you could get by mail. Albums like those were helpful for me avoiding the more predictable stuff on the radio station shelves. (I also brought in my own Yoko Ono singles and albums, but I digress way too much).

The GTO's stood for "Girls Together Outrageously" as far as most were concerned. "Girls Together Orally" and "Girls Together Only" were also popular among the era's rock writers and disc jockeys, the latter favored by the girls when they were first asked about the name.

The ringleader was Miss Pamela (Pamela des Barres, of plaster-caster fame). Also on the album: Miss Sandra (Sandra Lynn Rowe), Miss Cinderella (Cynthia Wells, whose marriage to John Cale was derailed by an affair with Kevin Ayers) and Miss Christine (the late Christine Frka who overdosed at 22, and may be best loved for being the "Hot Rats" cover girl). Also worth noting: the pioneering Miss Sparky (Sandra Rowe Harris) who dropped out of the group due to pregnancy, is not on the album, and died in 1991 due to cancer.

Miss Mercy (Judith Peters) was a very important member of the group, supplying some of the lyrics and vocals. She died two days ago July 27th. Like almost all the GTO's except Pamela, her fame ended when the group disbanded. None of Pamela's outrageous-looking co-conspirators seemed to be able to even get to the level of incompetent cult-fame as labelmate Wild Man Fischer. None seemed inclined to turn up naked in "San Francisco Ball" or "Fetish Times" or some other West Coast underground-ish newspaper. Before she disappeared into "I used to have her phone number, maybe I can send it to you" status, she did manage to shag and marry funkoid sugar-man Shuggie Otis, and produce a child, John "Lucky" Otis.

I know. You want to actually hear Miss Mercy. OK. She sang and wrote the words (Lowell George again supplied the music) for the item below, "I Have a Paintbrush In My Hand to Color a Triangle." I admit, I didn't play it on the radio 'cause, well, at the time all I had was the Loss Leader albums, and the other GTO's track was some stupid shit about Captain Beefheart's girly shoes. Something like that. Not this:




I have the CD version of "Permanent Damage." The booklet is autographed over two pages  by Pamela des Barres. There were only a few blank parts in the booklet. She started on one page (with her, Miss Cinderella and Miss Sandra). She finished writing on the facing page which shows Miss Christine and Miss Mercy, and it ends..."I'm glad I got you off, Pamela Des Barres." I will officially say this refers to the album, and her infamous memoir. 

If you can't quite make out Miss Mercy's paragraph it says: "The GTO's are to me a combination of the world's beauty and ugliness we are supreme yet the gutter that's all except there's no forever." Each band member had a chance to dedicate the re-issue to somebody or group, and Miss Mercy chose "Joe Brynth and Brian."

Condolences to Joe and Brian and all who knew and loved her,  and to those who bought The GTO's album and are still temporarily in circular circulation. 

 

WE STILL LOL with some songs by LOL MASON - AND THRILL TO OTHERS from CITY BOY



A year ago, LOL MASON, of CITY BOY and THE MAISONETTES passed on. No better tribute could be offered than this, from LOL's great friend and CITY BOY co-conspirator, Steve Broughton (Fat Legs and Dwafe refer to their prickly hilarious habit of insulting each other with new made-up nicknames):



LOL MASON July 4, 1950 - July 30, 2019

Tomorrow will be one year since my best friend passed away. I still can’t believe it, and I still haven’t forgiven the old bastard. Hardly a day passes without him entering my head with some silly song invented, some practical joke played, some nonsense catch phrase made up, some loving insult thrown around, some memory jogged. I’m not sure I can express myself any better than I did in the memorial I wrote 5 days after he left this mortal coil a poorer place. So I’m posting it again below.
Hope you’re still sleeping easy, Fat Legs.
Miss you,
Dwafe

REST IN PEACE, LOL MASON

On the morning of July 30, 2019, I lost my best friend, school mate, teammate, band mate, co-conspirator, and soul brother, to a fatal heart attack. To say that my own heart broke at the same time as his did, would be an understatement. He’d waited what seemed like an eternity for a new kidney. He received one on July 6th, two days after his birthday, four days after mine. He was recovering at home. He was in a happy and sunny place when his heart broke.

We played on the same football teams at school, met our first girlfriends together, and double dated when I met my wife-to-be on our first trip to America. We wrote our first songs together, formed our first band together, celebrated its success and mourned its dissolution, and went on to have independently successful and creatively satisfying careers - he as a Maisonette and later as a screenwriter, and me as a songwriter and then as a record company executive. We stubbornly refused to talk for a few years, then reunited as if those dark times had never existed, and celebrated with childish giggles like the wee 7 year olds we were when we first met. We never ceased calling each other by the derogatory nicknames we gave each other at school, and we never forgot that our friendship was special.

I can count on one hand the things in life I consider to be irreplaceable. I now need one less finger.



Many keep asking, "Isn't there more? Just a little MORE to be found on Lol Mason or City Boy?" Like what, some bonus tracks? With piracy being what it is, there are almost NO re-issue labels still in operation. They couldn't make a profit between licensing fees and jerks "sharing" everything in FLAC.

One disappointment is that years ago, when CITY BOY was treated to a pair of budget "two-for" CD re-issues of their 4 Mercury albums, there were no bonus tracks added. No, fans were lucky enough that one of the smaller re-issue labels had taken a chance at all. No, no bonus tracks from FM radio concerts, and not...."TURN ON TO JESUS." 

The imperfect dupe-of-a-dupe version below was all fans could circulate among themselves. (Another re-issue label, appropriately called Lemon, finally added "Turn on to Jesus" which was released briefly as a single, and "Medicine," a b-side) to THEIR re-issues but...it's too little too late, and despite all the hype of pretending something has been "remastered," few fall for it. Either they are too old to hear any difference, or too cynical about one or two bonus tracks being worth the price of re-buying the same stuff over again ).

On casual listen "Turn On to Jesus" by City Boy  is oddly ungodly. On the wrong side of the border, a city boy finds a house full of "ladies of the night." But what thrills are they into? One of them cries out, "HEY MAN! Turn on to JESUS!"

The inspiration? Lol Mason and Steve Broughton, the band's lead vocalists, were touring America and got stuck right in the middle of the country. Broughton:

"Lol and I spent time in a dry area of Kansas. There’s no bars, the only place you can get a drink is one of these ‘religious’ clubs, with topless waitresses with dollar bills stuffed in their G-strings, and out of the jukebox is blaring this ‘Jesus is the Saviour’-music. It was bizarre – I mean, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Birmingham."

Birmingham, England, not Alabama.

"Turn On to Jesus" was nixed by the band's record label, over worries that the song could be interpreted as profane. By the time "Book Early" was released, new lyrics were written. The result was "5-7-0-5," the band's only hit single. God moves in mysterious ways.

In another twist, the lead vocal was not from Lol or Steve, but Roy Ward, who had been brought in by the band's producer Mutt Lange (yes, of later Shania Twain infamy) who wanted a better drummer and perhaps a new sound as well, since the band's harmonizing had been accused of sounding too much like Queen.

You'll find the "obit with music" on the great Lol Mason from last year right here:


And down below, a Mega link (listen or download) for the lost gem "TURN ON TO JESUS."


This post is of course, dedicated to the memory of LOL MASON, and also offered for all the friends and family of CITY BOY. The tribute from Steve comes from his post for the CITY BOY fan group on FACEBOOK. Join and find some vintage photos and memories. Like this picture of Lol and Steve.



RENDING FOR BENT FABRIC - He goes down the Big Alley, cats





When I was flippin’ through the dollar bin, I’d often see “BENT FABRIC.” I had no idea what it meant. Some bad rock group? Some middle of the road singers? The fact that one cover had a wet-eyed wet-nosed dog on it was enough to turn me off.

 
If “BENT FABRIC” was the bastard son of ACKER BILK, I didn’t care. Not with THAT dopey album cover. As a dwindling few of you might know…
 
…Bent Fabric was actually a Danish pianist named Bent Fabricius-Bjerre (December 7, 1924 – July 28, 2020) and the VERY LEAST one can do is give away some fabric samples. For more, stream on YouTube and don’t feed the ego of some ego-asshole with a blog loaded with discographies and the notion that serving up other peoples’ music without asking or payment is generosity. They have nothing better to do except throw it all out there like it’s their duty; “More stuff tomorrow. I have nothing better to do! Pretend I’m cool and a show biz insider! Leave a nice comment. Copyright is copy wrong! Fair use! Entire albums fo review purposes! I make up the rules! Don’t let the bastards win! I’ll re-up anything if you give me a Paypal tip.  Later!”

But I digress. The focus is on rending our garments in mourning for BENT FABRIC.

Obscure now, he most certainly entertained a lot of people all over the world, and like ACKER BILK, had one hit that made his name immortal. Well, sort of.  How many people under 40 ever heard of ”Stranger on the Shore” or ACKER BILK? Consider the same number for “Alley Cat” written by Frank Bjorn (actually Mr. Fabricius-Bjerre using yet another pen name) and performed by BENT FABRIC?


“Alley Cat”  originally had nothing to do with a prowling feline. For those who speak Danish (and get the crumbs off your lips), there’s no need to translate: “"Omkring et Flygel.”  For the rest, it’s “Around a Piano.” With a name change to “Alley Cat” (being on a major label means you get creative input to help your commercial appeal and EARNING A LIVING),  it strutted into the Top 10 all over the world. Lyricists rushed to put words to the tune so that a variety of singers could get some bucks, too. Mr. Fabric ended up with a million seller, a Gold Record and a 1963 Grammy in….hold on…the ”Best Rock and Roll Recording” category.

“Alley Cat” beat out  “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka, “Twistin’ The Night Away” by Sam Cooke, “Up on the Roof” by The Drifters, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons, and “You Beat Me To the Punch” from Mary Wells.  In 1965 the category name was changed to “Best Contemporary Rock and Roll Single” and changed again in 1970 to “Best Contemporary Song.” As opposed to what, “Best Song from Five or Ten Years Ago that Got Re-Issued?”

The rush-release of a full album for “Alley Cat” meant the inclusion of such filler as “Across the Alley from the Alamo,” “You Made me Love You,” “Comme Ci, Comma Ca” and “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home.” 

It’s human nature to try and duplicate a success, so BENT FABRIC followed “Alley Cat” with “Chicken Feed” and “The Happy Puppy.” The former pecked around outside the Top 50 (which was, ha ha ha, chicken feed) and his label was dismayed when the latter sniveled outside the Top 100.  Both those singles are on “The Happy Puppy” album with that wet-eyed drooly, shit-spewing weiner dog on the front cover.  But don’t give up, Mr. Fabric. There’s a menagerie out there.




More BENT FABRIC albums hit the racks: “The Drunken Penguin” and "Organ Grinder's Swing" (1964), “Never Tease Tigers” (1966) and “Operation Lovebirds” (1967).  Monotonous, isn’t it? This guy went animal crackers. Eventually his label figured BENT FABRIC was all wet, and they left him hung out to dry. The golden years for BENT FABRIC were the 60’s, when instrumentals were actually considered a legitimate art form for singles. Sadly (for some) the days of Wine and Roses and Henry Mancini and Ray Coniff and Percy Faith and Mitch Miller and BENT FABRIC were coming to an end.

I think part of the problem was that by the 70’s, the trend toward singers was spiked by more and more foreigners learning to speak English. In fact every country seemed to have English as a second language (except America, where Spanish was starting to become more and more popular until bilingual signs began turning up in most major cities).  Aside from walking your “Alley Cat” you could take “A Walk in the Black Forest” while staring through the trees to see “Telstar” only to mutter “Wipe Out.” Instrumentals could be fun, especially if the alternative was Kyu Sakamoto singing “Sukiyaki” or Dominico Modugno singing “Volare.” But come the 70’s, and a record player in every home everywhere, and every country had a recording studio for its native-language singers and every radio station could play the superior English-speaking singers and not worry that listeners wouldn’t understand the lyrics. Well, there was Bob Dylan, of course. 

“Alley Cat” isn’t “ill” or obscure, so this blog offers the two follow-up singles, submitted for your upheaval.  “The Happy Puppy” is actually pretty famous, actually. You’ve heard the damn thing hundreds of times, usually when some fossilized asshole like Ben Blue would do an unfunny comic mime on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” You know the kind of tedium: Mr. Sad Faced Bewildered Funnyfuck tries to put his hat on only to have it keep falling off while adjusting his cane which keeps falling down. After several excruciating minutes (accompanied by irritating music such as “The Happy Puppy”) the child-man has his hat and cane in place, and he walks away with his pants falling down. Ta da!

You ALSO get the totally rotten “Chicken Feed,” which Frank Bjorn (aka BENT FABRIC) did not write. This one is credited to the team of Bert Graves & Jorgen Ingmann. Both are on “The Happy Puppy” album, which includes such MOR-on titles and grain-dead filler as ‘Puppy Love” and “Tip Toe Serenade.”

The happy story for BENT FABRIC is that he remained busy with movie soundtracks and more albums in his native Denmark, where he was lauded as one of their greatest musicians. Can you name another? (Victor Borge, but he left the country in the 40’s and lived in Connecticut).  In 2006, the vigorous old gent was still charting back home with “Shake” and “Jukebox,” both reaching The Top 10.   If you want to know more about BENT FABRIC, you can iron out any wrinkles in your knowledge by visiting his website. It would help if you not only eat but speak Danish: https://fabricius-bjerre.dk