Saturday, August 29, 2015


Frank Milano is Yogi Bear (not Daws Butler) on this old kiddie 45rpm.

Smarter than the Average Bear, Yogi realized plundering pic-a-nic baskets wasn't all the fun he could have. As this song proves, he's now into Cindy and visiting her cave.

Why did Yogi wear a tie...but no pants?

CINDYBEAR! Instand upload or listen on line.

Alfred E. Neuman - POTRZEBIE

Yes, Mad Magazine is still around. Sort of. Quarterly.

Face it, with everyone roaring with laughter over MEMES tossed around on FARCEBOOK, and people constantly e-mailing zany YouTube videos, and various Twitter idiots stealing each others jokes to post, who needs to buy a magazine? Why encourage a new generation of cartoonists and comedy writers?

POTRZEBIE was a beloved nonsense word back when Mad was loaded with them. There were various Yiddish expressions thrown in (this song mentions the FURSHLUGGINER Five). Don Martin and Will Elder were especially fond of creating words to denote violence (a face slapping SMEKKITY-SMEK for example) but this one was pure idiocy.

The only name stranger than Potzrzebie was found over at DC Comics, via Mister Mxyzptlk. He was an imp that sometimes annoyed Superman. He lived in the "Fifth Dimension" (a zone, not a sappy group of overweight and over-age singers) and the only way to get him to go back was to trick him into saying his name backwards.

Like the imp, who underwent various changes in shape and features depending on who drew him, there were several variations on Alfred E. Neuman. The definitive Alfred (as seen here) was created by Norman Mingo.

Unfortunately Mad magazine's music, on flexi-discs in the mag, singles and occasional albums, rarely reached the level of Spike Jones or Raymond Scott. Sorry, but this instrumental doesn't live up to having a Mad Magazine catch-word for a title.


A Mad instru-mental.

Instant download or listen on line. No tricky links, stupid passwords named Zinhof, or other distractions.

A HERRING and a DOMINO (Anne Herring and Anna Domino)

It's Anna Domino and Annie Herring.

And rather than do a Lawrence Welk impression by introducing "Anna one, Annie two," let's get the facts out of the way, fast. YOU may not have heard of either, but they have been in the music biz for 20 (Domino) and 30 (Herring) years now.

Herring is a Christian singer-songwriter, so chances are you'd know her if you feel more positive about Oral Roberts than oral sex. All her recordings are on Christian record labels, but don't label her a Jesus freak. Take the perky, pretty "Wild Child," from her very first album. It's faster than a pirouetting rodent and filled with the kind of free-wheeling glee that most will only get after an uplifting morning in church or an upshot of Summers' Eve.

Is it a sin to download this out of print bit of Herring? What would Jesus do?

Like many contemporary Christian singers Annie's lyrics are not always overt in referencing that Son of you-know-who. (Parenthetical note: the grand Rebecca St. James scored a massive contemporary Christian hit via "Me Without You," which SHE thought was about God. The songwriter, Martin Briley, was just writing a love song to a very real You. But the Lord moves in mysterious ways).

As sung very fast by A. Herring:

I always wanted my life to look like the right side of a tapestry, a tapestry, But darkness was weaved in when I was conceived in iniquity. And now I wanna be cut free... You took me out of hell when you tore through my veil And now all I can do is just look at you And be me for the first time. I feel like a child that's never gone wild. And I feel pretty in my soul The darkness is gone And what keeps me hangin' on is you. And that's all I want..."

As for Anna Domino, she's had a cult following for twenty years, which means she can pretty much walk around unnoticed. Her real name is the less ecclesiastical Anna Taylor. Her style of indie-pop, at least on the cut you're about to hear, puts her somewhere into the Joni Mitchell category of someone cool, literate and aloof.

Born in Tokyo, raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she gravitated to Manhattan and worked with various indie rock bands, releasing her first full length album in 1986. "Own Kind" is from that vinyl.

She has since gone on to record some interesting stuff with her husband Michel Delory (check out Favourite Songs from the Twilight Years 1984-90). In 1999 the duo re-named themselves Snakefarm and released "Songs from My Funeral," filled with traditional folk songs and murder ballads. Own Kind:

Here we are polite well informed and mannerly All our boys and girls have money and enough to eat And weave a thread through the whole community Showing how we value heredity And what it means to belong to a fatherland Know the aborigine, colourfull but out of hand And now and then others come and threaten us And we fall back on forces we can trust And we shake our fists at the posters on the barroom wall We display our public grievance In the editorial page or else we paint it on a subway hall. We look upon the world but we're not quite part of it All the trouble there surely isn't our fault All the pain and hate and the needless punishment We've grown out of that and we're quite proud of it And something else that should well bear mentioning Once we were on top fashionable and interesting And we held sway over half this ship of fools Subject to our values myths and rules We know we can't afford to lose the past So full of moral lessons we thought would always last But now so many years without a war We have a generation A generation rotten to the core.



YES MY DARLING DAUGHTER - Eydie Gorme and Dinah Shore versions

A seminal song about consensual sex, "Yes My Darling Daughter" was a pretty pioneering effort back in 1940: a horny girl describes the advice she got from her very hip mama!

When Eddie Cantor heard a demo of it, he flipped for the song, and the unknown Jewish girl who sang it. That girl was Dinah Shore. She and "Yes My Darling Daughter" became a hit when she sang it on Cantor's radio show.

Dinah's radio debut was so hot, she reprised the song just a month later, October 23, 1940. (That version is available below). Dinah ended up a regular on Cantor's radio show, and a big recording star.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to Eydie Gorme's version. Gorme's another Jewish girl talking to Mama, but her version's got a rocking up-tempo big-band arrangement. She removes the line suggesting papa might protest her antics, and...check the ending! Gorme is getting pretty orgasmic with her "Yes, Yes" delights, and goes so far overboard...the police have to be called in.

Listen for how Gorme's voice melds with a police siren! Out of respect to the late Ms. Eydie and her husband Steve Lawrence, no further speculation will be made as to why the cops were called. Back when she was still around, I did e-mail her website and ask if there was any story as to why a police siren was melded into her vocal. The webmaster's reply was that there wasn't a siren. Duh. By the time I tracked down songwriter Jack Lawrence, he was in no condition to recall that session.

The illfolks blog takes great pleasure in offering an obscure and unlikely bit of smut, and hopefully you'll take great pleasure too, although for a song that's under 3 minutes, you'll have to be quick.

PS, songwriter Jack Lawrence wrote the lyrics for several very clean hit songs, including "Beyond the Sea," "Tenderly," "All Or Nothing at All" and "If I Didn't Care."

GORME goes Nuts
DINAH on Radio

Emile, Don't Forget ZOLA - of The Platters

Halle Berry played her in a movie. But you didn't see it, did you? You also don't remember her singing any hits for The Platters. And admit it, up till this moment you had no idea who Zola Taylor was.
On most of the greatest hits The Platters recorded, it was a male vocalist on lead: "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "Magic Touch" and "Twilight Time."

"He's Mine," offered below, is one of the very few rockin' numbers with Zola singing lead, a Miss, the Platters didn't have a hit.

The song's a good example of Zola's capabilities. If you think she sounds a bit like an energetic Frankie Lymon, then you might as well see the 1998 movie "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" in which three women (including Halle as Zola) claim to have married him and deserve his estate. Obviously Zola was one of the women who failed to impress a judge with her claim.

ZOLA He's MINE No porn ads. No code games. No egocentric passwords. Instant download or listen on line.

Nostalgia for a Time That No Longer Exists: "TENEMENT SYMPHONY"

Photographer Shirley Baker is the subject of a new museum exhibit. It collects her photos of "An England That No Longer Exists."

Most of the photos could easily have been taken in parts of America as well, from the streets of old Boston to the Lower East Side tenements of Manhattan.

One thing about the old tenements; no matter who you were or where you came from, your neighbors were your friends. You all spoke the same language. You all lived by the same customs. You all had the same morality.

It didn't matter if your ancestors came from Italy, Greece, Russia or anywhere else. You had the same goals. You wanted to make your country great. You wanted to make a better world for your children. And if your children married outside your own faith or ethnic ancestry, so what?

Now? Not so much. Immigrants come in and refuse to speak the language. They refuse to learn the customs. They are self-entitled, arrogant and often violent. As much as they might be privileged, or given every break in the book, they turn like rats and use all they learned against the people who sheltered them. Right, "Jihada John" of the UK? That so, you murderous "brothers" who blew up the Boston marathon and sauntered away smirking?

What nostalgia to hear Tony Martin, that handsome Italian singer who was actually a Jew, enthusiastically sing about the Scots and Italian and the others who lived in literal harmony. "It's all a part of my TENEMENT SYMPHONY."

Yes, the song is still heard thanks to Tony's rousing performance of it in the lesser Marx Brothers movie "At the Store."

Hear it once more. It's strictly a nostalgia piece now, Senor.

Tenement Symphony Tony Martin

Donald Trump wouldn't like "My Yiddishe Mama" in SPANISH from Sedaka

The current star of the tedious 2016 Presidential campaign is Donald Trump. His numbers seemed to skyrocket when he declared there should be a wall between America and Mexico.

"The Donald" hit a nerve. Xenophobia is like the common cold. It's catching. It's hard to get rid of it.

Like the common cold, immigrants are at best, a nuisance. It gets chronic when they refuse to learn the language and worse, become violent. This is why Trump's comments have been appreciated by so many.

He said that Mexico has not been giving us (the U.S.) their best. Why deny the obvious, child? To millions of people, es verdad. It's true. It applies to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, too. There are a lot of Latino criminals around. The U.S. is becoming increasingly more bilingual because Latinos don't want to learn English.

While every other ethnic group assimilates, even if they are Greek, Russian, Israeli, Japanese or Chinese and have to learn not only a new language but completely different symbols for every letter of the alphabet, the Latinos say, "No. No me gusto." And so in most parts of America, you can't use an ATM machine, call a Federal agency, or even get junk mail without either seeing it in both English or Spanish or being asked in which language you'd like to continue.

It's absurd. And that's part of why Trump is popular.

The irony is that everywhere in the world, you'll find people speaking English. They don't HAVE to, but if you travel anywhere from France to Japan, you won't have any trouble finding someone who speaks English. And today's Latinos don't give a shit. It wasn't that way when Carmen Miranda and Cesar Romero and Ricardo Montalban came over.

In the 60's, it was not uncommon for a star who had a hit single to re-record it in Spanish, German, French or Italian to get extra sales and spread the good will. Soon it will become mandatory. We might even see the day when American singers are handed a phonetic sheet and told, "Sing it in Spanish first. If it's a hit, MAYBE you can record it in your native language."

The statistics show that America has more Spanish speakers than any other country except Mexico. That number is rising, mi amigo.

And since Iran has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, and is being allowed to create the weapons to do so, here's what will soon be a very rare relic; a Jewish song sung in Spanish.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Billy Bennett asks, from the grave, Can't the U.N. Kill ISIS??

Today's news included a report on an 82 year-old scholar and curator who was beheaded by ISIS. Why? He wouldn't tell them where to find some priceless art treasures they wanted to destroy.

ISIS not only hates "infidels," rapes white women, murders Christians, and likes to watch people being burned alive or shot by young kiddies just learning how to use weapons. They also are infuriated by inanimate objects.

They love to rampage through museums and archives, bashing artifacts to bits. Somehow, they think Allah is looking down from his pink cloud, saying, "Gee, thanks, I wish I could do that, but I'm not as all-powerful as a bunch of Camel-faced morons with hummus in their beards."

The question is why the U.N. doesn't round up a potent martini of fifth Muslim, one fifth African, one fifth European, and two fifths American, to simply "surprise attack" various villages and root out every ISIS thug they find?

Just go to each notorious dungheap town and have the local citizens, police, and other fine, fine peaceful Muslims identify who the ISIS jerks are. And BANG. Round 'em up and then, oh, set fire to the fucking lot of them.


The trouble is that the U.N. is full of shit, just like the previous group that was supposed to preserve the peace, "The League of Nations."

British Music Hall wiseguy Billy Bennett knew all about how ridiculous and incompetent they were.

About 100 years ago, Bennett lampooned the good intentions of the original "League of Nations." It's no surprise that today's "United Nations" is even more hapless and corrupt. All they do is let Putin and Palestinians and other maniacs run wild. Any time there's even a flood or other natural disaster, they just sit on their asses and expect America to pay for everything. When was the last time you heard any world leader say, "Jeez, too bad about those midget Asians getting pelted by a typhoon. They'll get plenty of money, guns and lawyers from us!" NEVER.

Back in the day, Bennett saw this and offered a cheeky tweak that lyrically might recall the legacy of nonsense specialists Edward Lear and W.S. Gilbert, while the heroically vaudevillian delivery may have inspired Max Miller and Spike Milligan. You'll probably get past a few dated references, and the Cockney rhyming slang, and agree that Billy should occupy some space on your iTunes between Ian "What a Waste" Dury and Groucho "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It" Marx.

The nations will never agree on real sanctions against terrorism, over-population, ecological abuse or Pink Floyd continuing to tour.

Newspapers don't call for peace because they make more money reporting on atrocities. Which is why Billy Bennett declared, "What I like to see in a newspaper," says Billy here, "is a good feed of fish and chips!"

Billy Bennett mocks The League Of Nations

YVONNE CRAIG - "BATGIRL" Dies at 78 - "Batman" musical montage

It was a pretty odd headline, echoed in obits all over the Internet. "BATGIRL" is dead.

Like she ever lived. Like Yvonne Craig wasn't actually an elderly actress with many other credits, whose breast cancer had metastasized into her liver.


Well, if you do want to get the facts on Yvonne, the obits have them, and it makes for better reading than what you'll find in the idiot forums or on Facebook. Let's face it, the average person is not very articulate OR sensitive.

What you'll find on Facebook is generally this kind of shit...fanboy dimwits posting photos of themselves with Craig (which anybody could do if they put down a twenty) and the "Batman" cultists muttering "Sad" or "RIP."

There's plenty more of that pathetic shit. Some anonymous asshole offers "my sincerest condolences." Yeah, that means a lot. Various bozos wrote, "I had such a crush on her!" That's the type that will be anxiously waiting for her burial so they can take a selfie rubbing up against her tombstone.

Ms. Craig was fairly pragmatic about it all. She was glad that she lived a pretty unique and varied life, traveled the world, had a good marriage, and was remembered for several minor things: movies with Elvis Presley, being a green ghoul-goddess on a "Star Trek" episode, and being just as snotty as Burt Ward's "Robin" on the third season of "Batman." She also was a businesswoman (she and her sister designed and sold phone cards, sold real estate, etc.) and worked with disadvantaged kids among other things.

Her website has the details, and if you want to know more, you can buy her self-published book. Up till a few months ago you could've gotten it personally autographed. For a good fee. All power to Yvonne, she lucked out on being associated with shows that attracted affluent memorabilia collectors. She wasn't sitting around trying to sell her photo for ten bucks a pop, that's for sure. She wouldn't have been invited if she had simply been an actress who turned up on a variety of 60's and 70's shows, trying to get people to pay for a signature on a still from her "Perry Mason" or "Gidget" episode. On eBay her autographed photos, like the other "Batman" people or "Star Trek" villains, rarely sell for under $50.

I met Yvonne socially a few times, and she was a very nice lady, easy to talk to and unpretentious. No, we didn't talk about ANY of the above subjects. I kind of think it's a "given," that you don't have to acknowledge a famous person for what they're famous for. A simple, "so very nice to meet you" is good enough, and you go from there, to small-talk, politics, whatever anyone normally talks about.

Her friends and family suggested "that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead celebrate the awesome life she had been fortunate enough to live."

Since "Batman" fans are the hardest hit, below is the ILL FOLKS BAT-MEDLEY. Bearing in mind that a novelty tune can lose it's novelty even halfway through, this six minute montage samples: Adam West's overly bouncy "Miranda," a bit of Burgess "The Penguin" Meredith in a musical narration about his nemesis, and then Jan and Dean who washed up onto shore for "The Joker is Wild." It segues into the real Joker and then Cesar Romero seriously giving a "Thought for Today." Just a few oddities since most everyone has the "Batman" theme and you can easily see highlights from Yvonne's career on various uploads on YouTube...ones that are totally illegal but did not set off "That Bat Signal" and any copyright-enforcing caped crusaders

Adam West, Cesar Romero BATMAN MEDLEY

Sunday, August 09, 2015

CILLA BLACKS OUT - Phil Ochs "Changes"

Cilla Black was fairly unknown in America. Beatles fans who knew that Paul McCartney had given her "Love of the Loved," "Step Inside Love" and a few others couldn't even find 'em. Back in the 60's it was very hard to find import records in the average store (even the original Beatle discs on Parlophone) and AM-radio disc jockeys stuck to American pressings. A quick check of the Billboard Charts confirms that in the USA, Cilla had only one Top 40 hit, "You're My World," which peaked at #26 in July of 1964. The others, as senile morons like to say, "did not chart."

This may indicate that Cilla Black's style as a singer just wasn't to American tastes. Another British lady, Petula Clark, reached the Top 40 about 15 times in the 60's.

In her native country, the Liverpool star (born Priscilla White) had tremendous appeal. Perhaps her mildly cute looks and her huge overbite made her seem like the girl next door. Her cover of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was #1 in 1964, and after a very good run of other pop tunes on the charts, Cilla cleverly moved on to television, with her own BBC series in 1968 and several more for ITV over the years, including "Blind Date" and "Surprise Surprise." As a "presenter" and hostess, she remained in the public eye for decades.

She was at her vacation home in Spain when she stood up too suddenly, became dizzy, and fell. The coroner's report indicated that a stroke did her in, but there was some question over whether it was the cause of her fall, or the result of what happened once she hit the floor. The tabloids were more concerned with pointing out that at 72, the beloved singer was not in good health, and had supposedly declared that she didn't want to hang on year after year, and figured passing on at 75 would be just fine.

Several friends noted she was suffering from arthritis among other maladies, and that she never quite recovered from the passing of her husband. Countering that, John Madejski, who claimed to have been her "soulmate" for the past dozen years, grabbed the attention of reporters by declaring, "Ceilla was not dying to die. Anyway it's nobody's damn business. Cilla was a private person. She had a hell of a lot of dignity."

She also had a pretty impressive list of cover songs on her resume. Among the songwriters she favored in her 60's heyday was Phil Ochs. "Changes" seems pretty apt for this sad time. Phil's song "Changes" had done well in England via Crispian St. Peters, and below is the distaff version; her humble rendition.

Cilla Black CHANGES

Roy Bennett joins Sid Tepper RED ROSES FOR AN OLD SONGWRITER

How many bouquets of red roses did the funeral home get for Roy Bennett?

In one of those interesting coincidences, the songwriting team of Tepper & Bennett died within months of each other. The lyrical half, Sid Tepper, passed on in April, and now it's Roy Bennett (August 12, 1918 – July 2, 2015) who didn't quite make it to his birthday this month.

They were hacks in the nicest sense of the word.

If hacks sit in an office and hack out songs on demand, and don't wait for inspiration, then they were hacks. Need a novelty Christmas song? These two Jews could toss you, "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas."

Need 30 or so songs for those bad Elvis Presley movies? You weren't expecting Leiber & Stoller to do it, were you? Not when the recipe involved soft ballads. You might recall that Presley had a fondness for gooping up old folk songs ("Love Me Tender" for example). So it's no surprise, as Bennett recalled, that sometimes he just borrowed melodies to turn into "Puppet on a String," "I Love Only One Girl," and "Five Sleepyheads. "

The hit-makers were also hacky enough to try and create a fairly sound-alike sequel to their 1948 sentimental smasheroo, "Red Roses for A Blue Lady." In that one, the singer urges, "Mr. Florist take my order please," hoping that a dozen roses will cheer up his sweetie. In 1950 the guys were peddling "Thanks, Mister Florist" (and both Vaughn Monroe and the not-so-swingin' Four Lads took a crack at it). The happy ending:

"You told me the roses would win my blue lady.
I thought you'd like to know it turned out fine.
So Thanks Mister Florist for the red red roses
That made the blue lady mine. All mine. That made the lady mine all mine.

Not exactly the best lyric in the world, or the best music. But back in the late 40's and through the 50's and 60's, you'd see the credit Tepper-Bennett on tons of vinyl, including a forgotten-but-big hit at the time, "Suzy Snowflake" (1951, Rosemary Clooney). If they wrote the sentimental "silly love songs" of their day, they were not ashamed. They turned out "(It was just a) Simple Melody" for Patti Page, and it was indeed, poignant, simple, and melodic, and suited her lilting voice just fine.

The fine Mr. Bennett was born Israel Brodsky, and that was a strong give-away as to his ethnicity. While there were plenty of Jewish songwriters around, they either had a last name that could save them (Irving Berlin) or the last name was too odd for the average dull-witted anti-Semite to sniff over (George Gershwin, Sid Tepper). It was very common for Jews to blend in with a different name, one that would appeal to fans of a Wayne Newton, Dean Martin, Guy Lombardo or Elvis Presley.

In fact, if there was any "Jewing down" to be done, it would be done by the Gentiles. A common practice in the music biz, was for "the talent" to get screwed by clever businessmen, and with songwriters, there was the "publishing" rights. The "deal" with the Presley songs was that his management took a third. Bennett: "We thought it was unfair, of course. All the writers felt that the Colonel and Elvis were making money hand over fist on our songs and that it was smalltime of them to take advantage of us. The prevailing attitude, however, was that it was better to earn 2/3 of something than 100% of nothing. I always felt that this was the Colonel's idea, not Elvis's."

The team custom-wrote songs for specific scenes in the Presley films, from ballads ("All That I Am," "Island of Love" to novelty numbers ("Song of the Shrimp," "Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.") They also penned the only Presley song nominated for an Oscar, "It's a Wonderful World" (which was in "Roustabout").

The team never met Presley. They were busy knockin' out the songs in an office in the famous Brill Building. For Presley, they sent in about 60 demos, and had a sensational batting average in having over 30 appear in his films. The guys didn't try to "sell" The Colonel and Presley by hiring demo singers who could sound like Elvis. The singers simply performed the songs as written, allowing Elvis to intuit which ones he could improve via his distinctive style.

From "Kiss of Fire" (which Bennett adapted from an old tango tune) to "Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" (yet another novelty hit), Tepper-Bennett turned out over 300 songs in their career, which ended with Tepper's sudden heart attack and retirement in 1970. It's sort of romantic, or just plain odd, that the partners would die within four months of each other, but it's doubtful Bennett wanted it that way. He was still married to his wife Ruth (they wed in 1948) and they had twin sons, Neil and Keith. The team could write a song about anything, even twins. The Stargazers recorded the song "Twenty Tiny Fingers" about them.

And below, "novelty" and sentiment combine, as we hear Homer & Jethro's fractured version of a Tepper-Bennett classic.

Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett's RED ROSES FOR A BLUE LADY via Homer and Jethro


The last I heard from Theo Bikel (May 02, 1924 - Jul 21, 2015) he wanted me to join him on an Alaskan cruise.

Why would a venerable old Jewish actor/folksinger want to be in Alaska, the land of Sarah Palin? For fun, adventure and the unusual and spectacular views, of course. And what else are you going to do, if the folk scene is diminished, the coffee clubs and intimate concert halls are mostly gone, and almost all your contemporaries are either retired or dead? Bikel had enough star power from his length career as a singer, stage star and film actor, to attract plenty of rich elderly people for a sea cruise. Since I'm neither rich or elderly, I just wasn't among them.

Bikel always had plenty to do, even when he hit 90. Just this year, he was on the West Coast doing a show with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, then taking part in an Israel fundraiser in New York at $150 a plate. In between, as you can still see if you visit his dotcom, he was working on all kinds of musical and acting projets.

Most people who know his name probably can recall some role he did as a character actor, but he's best remembered for stage musicals and his slew of ethnic folk albums. On Broadway, he was the original Baron Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." In a nod to his coffee house success as a folk singer Rodgers and Hammerstein gave him a highlight: "Edelweiss," to be performed on his guitar in a solo spotlight moment.

He holds some kind of record for having performed as Tevye in over 2,000 performances of "Fiddle on the Roof," for a variety of touring companies. He probably holds some record for the number of folk records issued during the late 50's and early 60's. Even now, most any surviving record store is bound to have "A Harvest of Israeli Folk Songs," "Jewish Folk Songs," "More Jewish Folk Songs," "Bikel Sings Yiddish Theatre and Folk Songs," "Treasury of Yiddish Folk Songs," "Songs if Israel," and "Songs of the Russian Gypsy" and "Songs of Russia Old and New" among others.

Along with Burl Ives, he was an "actor/singer," and because he was older, and more traditional, it wasn't likely that the same people who bought Elektra label mates Judy Henske, Shel Silverstein and Phil Ochs were buying his stuff. He was a "think ethnic" type, recording in over a dozen languages, and in 1961 he was one of the founders of the Newport Folk Festival.

Actor/singer Bikel was not particularly hurt by the waning folk era's switch to electric guitar. In 1964 he played Zoltan Karpathy, the pushy Hungarian expert in phonetics (and rival to Henry Higgins) in "My Fair Lady." He followed his with the role of the Russian captain in the 1966 comedy "The Russians are Coming." And so it went, through the 60's and 70's and beyond, Bikel performing concerts at times, but also working in films and (wining an Emmy in 1988 for "Star Trek: The Next Generation") plenty of television. He also returned to Broadway many times, including productions of "Zorba," "The Lark," and (earning yet another Tony award nomination) "The Rope Dancers."

Bikel was a typical Liberal, ready to defend Israel (even against fellow performers like Vanessa Redgrave), appearing as a delegate (to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he joined Phil Ochs and others in protests) and becoming a leader in his profession (he was once president of the Actors' Equity union). If there wasn't a cruise or a film or a TV appearance on the horizon, he looked for bookings for his one man show, "Sholem Aleichem" Laughter Through Tears."

A very live wire, Theo married his fourth wife, Amy in 2013, only a year after divorcing his third wife Tamara (they were married rom 2008 to 2012).

Ironically, Bikel's work as an actor seems to have completely overshadowed his recognition as an important folk singer. One of those smirky "Celebrities Sing" collections added him for having the audacity to cover George Harrison's "Piggies." Hardly as questionable as Leonard Nimoy's "Proud Mary" or William Shatner's "Rocket Man," Bikel did a nice adaptation of the song, which Reprise released at a time when it was fighting "ageism" and allowing older performers to update the repertoire. Theo (not Theodore) released his "A New Day" album, which covered "For No One," and songs by Joni Mitchell and Donovan. It was produced by Richard Perry, who was working with Fanny and a lot of other very cool artists. At the same time, Ella Fitzgerald was doing Randy Newman's "Yellow Man," and the veteran Hamilton Camp got a chance to record "Star Spangled Bus." Bikel knew there is something not at all kosher about "Piggies."

Theo Bikel PIGGIES

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Dr. Walter J. Palmer is now "the most hated man on the Internet." It turns out he not only thrill-killed "Cecil the Lion" for $50,000, but probably lied about not knowing this was a protected animal. This prick lied back in 2008 about not knowing he'd killed a black bear out of legal hunting range. This prick also paid $125,000 for having sexually harassed one of his employees. The maniac boasts of being one of the few "Super Slam" hunters, having killed 29 different big-game animals including everything from a buffalo to a polar bear.

AND...most disgusting of all...he's a DENTIST.

This guy has a huge stand-alone private building for an office, with two female assistants and has made a fortune by gouging insurance companies, over-charging (right?) for cosmetic work, and literally bleeding his patients.

PS, the guy, in some pictures, looks remarkably like waxy, cold-blooded Vlad Putin.

$50,000 for a little vacation to Zimbabwe to bag another lion (he already had one) was chump change to this fucking DENTIST.

A insignificant creepy DENTIST in Minnesota has to be a big shot (literally). If he was a high school baseball coach or something, the outcry may not have been so loud. But a DENTIST? Everybody hates DENTISTS.

And being a rich dentist with a dozen years of law-flaunting, animal killing and even sexual abuse? This guy's sadism knows no limits. Which instantly reminded me of the lines in "DENTIST!" from the "Little Shop of Horrors" musical:

When I was young and just a bad little kid
, my momma noticed funny things I did.

Like shootin' puppies with a B B gun. I'd poison guppies, and when I was done

I'd find a pussy cat and bash in its head
 That's when my momma said:

Be a dentist! 
You have a talent for causing things pain! Son, be a dentist. 
People will pay you to be inhumane

Palmer's shrugging excuse is that he had no idea the lion his guys lured off the preservation estate was protected. He had nothing to say about why his vaunted crossbow skills failed him and he only wounded the lion and left it to suffer for over a day before he was able to track it down and kill it with a rifle. He only underlined that others should be blamed and he shouldn't be extradited to face jail in Zimbabwe. PS, for killing that black bear in 2008 40 miles out of legal range he got a one year probation instead of jail time.

Among Palmer's many kills...THIS leopard. Note again how much this coward resembles Putin, how he desperately needs to be macho, and how his crossbow weapon is not something Native Americans used, but almost as easy to use as a fucking machine gun.

Do you suppose a psychopath like Dr. Walter Palmer just didn't get the stuffed animal Santa promised him? That might account for needing to hug a dead animal so badly.

It might also account for the absolute child-like look of glee on his face when he's KILLED a big animal and he'll be able to STUFF it and have it in his home. Wheee!

Palmer's egregious excess led Jimmy Kimmel to drop the jokes from his late-night monologue and take aim:

"Walt Palmer…stop saying you "took" the animal, you "take" aspirin. You KILLED the lion…the big question is why are you shooting a lion in the first place…how is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you have to kill things? Here's some a'hole dentist who wants a lion's head over the fireplace in his man cave so his douchebag buddies can gather around him and tell him how awesome he is, that's just vomitous…"

Indeed, using "can't miss" rifles or outrageously expensive and advanced crossbows is not sporting. Grinning while posing with dead animals is sick. And the bad news is that Dr. Palmer is not the only thrill-killer out there. There are plenty of grubby white scumbags who journey to Africa to slaughter the remaining wildlife and boast about it. The Africans welcome them because the money is so good. As you see, the natives in Namibia have a thriving business in letting white people shoot animals that they can then skin and preserve for them.

Donald Trump's sons have gone on thrill-kills, acting like they took risks in bagging the animals when in truth, it's "like shooting fish in a barrel," and most of the animals herded for easy shooting are old and slow-moving.

There are plenty of articles on the Net now about how "hunters" are destroying what's left of the wildlife, bu this is being spun as a GOOD thing. See, the animals are taking up valuable space to be used by over-populating humans, and the African economy needs the blood money. So good for white Americans and Europeans coming over with their money and their ego and their need to pretend they are risk-taking skillful hunters!

There are "Clubs" for businessman-assholes to arrange their safari trips and brag among themselves and pose with their dead lions. In every case, the lions were put out for an easy shoot and the "hunters" were in absolutely no danger from an attack.

Africans don't really care that much about their "heritage" or their wildlife. They want to have what Americans and Brits have, which is nice looking clothes, jewelry (not beads) and hip hop music on their boom boxes, not crap like "Mbube," the Solomon Linda bit of Zulu babble that was souped up into "Wimoweh" by Pete Seeger and then "Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens.

PS, isn't it rather cute that the lion was named "Cecil?" In America or the U.K. the lion would've been given some "African" name. But in Africa, they thought an English-sounding name was better!

Irony: this Dr. Palmer asshole who is so BRAVE when it comes to killing old animals paraded in front of him, is now in hiding. Somehow, even with his crossbow skills, he doesn't have the guts to walk around in public and return fire should anyone be hunting him.

His website is down, his Facebook page is gone, his YELP page is loaded with insults, and hopefully the public will have a long memory on this, and not lose interest in torturing the bastard and making sure he doesn't have the money to ever go on a "safari" again.

And so this blog offers a little third-finger salute to Dr. Walter Palmer the Bastard of Bloomington, who has a history of lies and sadism. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse," but he'll probably get off and in a week, go back to bleeding his patients. He'll laugh off Sharon Osbourne's warning: "Walter Palmer is Satan. I don't know how anyone could go to this man for dental services after this. He is a killer. Beware!"

Below, "DENTIST!" as performed in ICELANDIC. That's because this blog likes to offer its "music hunters" rare items that can't be found elsewhere. And no animal was killed in the creation of the download.


SEEING LESS OF MORAVEC - Ivan Moravec Dead at 84

It will come as a surprise for most of you to read that Ivan Moravec is dead. You didn't know he was alive, did you?

Along with a variety of pianists (oh, Alfred Brendel, Earl Wild, Guiomar Novaes, Ruth Laredo etc.) Moravec (November 9 1930-July 27 2015) was a minor name compared to keyboard superstars Horowitz and Rubinstein. Vinyl fans helped these other pianists find an audience. Some recorded for budget or sonic specialty labels. If you couldn't afford a brilliant Chopin set from Rubinstein, you could find Madame Novaes cheaper on Vox and Moravec's more stereophile pressings on the aptly named Connoisseur Society label. Other pianists specialized in composers that the big guys didn't bother with (Aldo Ciccolini recorded Satie and Ronald Smith recorded Alkan).

Classical fans often discovered that the "minor" performers were often as good or better than the bigger names. Writing for The New York Times, Steve Smith declared that for the Chopin nocturnes, nothing could beat the "astonishing" Moravec for both sound and performance. An irony here is that I prefer Alexander Brailowsky on the nocturnes, but what the fuck do I know? Frankly, I'm not that much of an expert that I was asked to review classical music that often. Early on, I relied on Herbert Russcol's book to shape my tastes (he was the Rolling Stone guide for long-hair music).

Mr. Smith praised Moravec's "extraordinary dynamic shading and gracious shaping of each gemlike work," and despite "a crowded field," voted Moravec's album as "…an essential document" for any Chopin fan.

The obit from the UK Telegraph checked the Czech as "one of the 20th-century’s greatest interpreters of Chopin; his sensitive and poetic pianism created a pure and honest sound that could transport his audience to another world, leaving behind all sense of time and place."

It's of course, a perversity of this blog that your download is a work of Debussy, not Chopin. The main reason is Debussy is on CD and the rest of my Moravec on vinyl, so it was the easiest to digitize for you. Moravec's catalog includes great performances on many masters, including Mozart; his recording of the Piano Concerto in E Flat was considered definitive enough to be on the soundtrack to the movie "Amadeus."

The UK Telegraph must be quoted for an insight into the man and his work: "Balding, stocky and with a large round face, Moravec looked every bit like a pre-war bank manager. Yet his warmth and charm were ever-present, and he was known to join members of the audience for a beer after concerts. Seemingly immune to criticism, fashion or fads, he appeared uninterested in pursuing a high-profile career. Even when the opportunity to live in the West presented itself, Moravec – no supporter of Communism – returned to his home in Prague." Moravec's ordinary temperament of genius included his eccentric need to tinker with whatever piano he was going to play.

The reason the UK Telegraph and other British papers have run large obits on Moravec is that he was often on tour in England. He had a strong relationship with Libor Pesek (another Czech) who ran the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and with Sir Neville Marriner and his prolific Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He also had a happy relationship with Zuzana Moravec, his wife and travel-partner through the years.

Below, part of Debussy's musical interpretations of glistening water images, is "Poissons d'Or" which technically translates as gold fish. No password on the download. If there was, it would've been swordfish.

DEBUSSY Poissons d'Or from IMAGES suite, performed by Moravec

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ray Jessel "Life Sucks and Then You Die"

Well, yes. And Ray Jessel died on July 17th, age 85.

But in some kind of bizarre Benjamin Button way, Ray Jessel managed to find life very rewarding in the years when most of his contemporaries were either retired, obliviously stuck in a nursing home, or dead.

I mean, how many 84 year-olds suddenly get raves from all the judges on "America's Got Talent" AND end up tossed off the show for being politically incorrect?

It happened not long ago, 2014 in fact. Ray, a veteran songwriter who also wrote sketches for The Carol Burnett Show and The Smothers Brothers Show in the 60's and 70's, appeared as a virtual unknown. Which he pretty much was, when it came to performing.

The judges all ADORED the song. But elements of the GAY/LESBIAN/TRANSGENDER crowd detested it. They felt the old guy was making fun of trannies...the now-sacred group that has Caitlyn Jenner for a godmother. In truth, Ray's song was harmless. If anything, it was just a very easy one-joke novelty item, and not nearly the best song in his catalog.

Jokes about "he being a she" go back to silent films. And nobody got in a huff over that famous "Some Like It Hot" moment when Jack Lemmon sourly pulled off his wig. He shouted at smitten Joe E. Brown, "I'm a MAN!" And Brown's classic comeback: "Nobody's perfect!"

Somehow things went from a crying game to a denying game...and poor ol' Ray was denied a chance to move on and get to the next round of "America's Got Talent."

The good news for Ray was that the show gave him the fame that was not his for the past decade. Back around 2005, Ray had scored good reviews for his cabaret show titled "Life Sucks and Then You Die." The show, ironically enough, got raves from gay and lesbian critics and probably had a very varied audience that included old queens as much as old Jewish couples. He also put out a CD (no, an album, not a codeword for a certain type of person). It was after "America's Got Talent" that he began to get significant bookings.

In fact, just last month, Ray was in Australia, appearing at a festival with a bunch of comics and variety acts, and even that old CD herself, Dame Edna/Barry Humphries.

Jessel's odd musical journey began in Wales in 1929. He attended the University of Wales, but started his career in Canada, working for the "Spring Thaw" comedy revue. That led him to New York, where he wrote for Julius Monk's revues, including the 1960 "Dressed to the Nines" show. By 1965 he was on Broadway, via the semi-hit musical "Baker Street," starring Fritz Weaver. A song from the show, "A Married Man," was even recorded by Richard Burton. Comedy sketches and music for TV shows followed, including the epic "LOVE BOAT - THE MUSICAL" starring Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Ann Miller, and Cab Calloway. Jessel was worked on the "Head of the Class" series. Meanwhile, Jessel and his partner Cynthia Thompson began to place songs with the few prosperous cabaret-type acts, including "Whatever Happened To Melody?" recorded by Michael Feinstein and "I'm All Right Now" from John Pizzarelli. In 2002 Ray first tried a one-man show in California, at the Gardenia Room in Hollywood, and then brought it across the country to "Don't Tell Mama," the notorious cabaret club in New York. And...he kept on going.

How many people in their mid-80's are capable of taking to the stage...and are welcomed to do so? I don't know what the circumstances are, regarding his demise, but this guy had a pretty fortunate life, to be able to get laughs and travel literally halfway around the world, at a time when so many his age were just muttering "life sucks."

WHAT SHE'S GOT (The Penis Song) Ray Jessel


Below, two versions of "The Bill Dana Show" theme. The music's a bit more fun than the show, which does not hold up all that well, despite three great stars: grimacing Jonathan Harris as Jose's boss, squinty Don Adams as the hotel detective, and Dana himself as "lovable" bellhop Jose.

For those who don't remember (probably 90% of anyone reading this), at one time Bill Dana's record albums were best-sellers. A comedy writer (born William Szathmary), Dana (his mother's name) was working for Steve Allen when he came up with a mild gag for a quick sketch: a Latino Santa Claus. It was keyed to Santa's "ho ho ho" and the confusing "J as H" of Latino names, such as Jose Jimenez.

Dana ended up playing Jose on Steve's show, and the rest is jistory. Er, history. Dana was amused that a "Jungarian Hew" was now a superstar. If you listen to those classic albums, it was good jokes, not just the funny voice that made them successful. Bill's routine as a hapless astronaut was even released as a single. He got a lot of attention when it was played by astronauts at Cape Canaveral.

Dialect comedy has gone in and out of fashion over the years. A hundred years ago, every ethnic accent was a big laugh in vaudeville and on 78 rpm discs. Dutch, Italian, Jewish, "Negro," rural Southerner, Scotsman…nobody was left out. Moving on to radio, and there was "The Mad Russian" and "Parkyakarkus" and the entire "Allen's Alley" roster of rube Titus Moody, Irishman Ajax Cassidy, Jewish Mrs. Nussbaum and noisy Southerner Senator Claghorn. And yes, Amos and Andy. And lots more.

In the late 50's and early 60's, ethnic comedy was still a howl, and "Amos and Andy" re-runs (with an all black cast) were not yet banned. Desi Arnaz was famous thanks to his comical Cuban accent, Mel Blanc portrayed a Mexican named Cy who said "Si" and, yes, Bill Dana made a living as Jose Jimenez. He kept trying to make that character less and less a part of his act. One of his albums had Jose on one side, Bill on the other.

By the early 70's, Dana officially declared Jose "dead," to the cheers of Chicanos, Latinos and Hispanics. He put out "Hoo Hah," a Jewish-comedy parody of "Hee Haw." Funny, "Hee Haw" was fine with Southerners despite the heavy reliance on stereotypes. Why? Because Southerners were comfortable with it, while Latinos somehow thought "Jose" was an insult. If Dana wasn't a Jew, maybe the character would've been considered ok. What is comedy? Comedy can be recognition laughter (which would be corny Southerners laughing at their own redneck traits on "Hee Haw," and later in Jeff Foxxworthy's "You might be a redneck" routines.) Comedy, more often, is simply not pretty. There's the shock comedy of sadism, rudeness, slapstick and insults. "The little guy" from Chaplin's tramp to Harry Langdon, Lou Costello, George Gobel even to Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean and beyond, is often socially inept, foolish and caught in embarrassing situations. The problem with Little Jose Jimenez was that there weren't many other Latino characters on TV, and at least Desi Arnaz had a hot wife. And was actually Latino.

While Bill Dana explored other ways of making a living (he wrote the famous "All in the Family" episode guest-starring Sammy Davis Jr.) ethnic comedy in the 70's was alternately praised and panned. Think about the confusion when Bill Cosby's non-racial humor was sneered at in favor of Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. Replacing Dana, the Hungarian Jew, was Freddie Prinze, hal Hungarian-Jew and half Puerto Rican. When he played a Chicano on "Chico and the Man," he drew howls of protest because he wasn't Mexican. Why didn't that guy just put a gun to his head?

Today, ethnic humor is only tolerated if the perp is of the same ethnic group and is making so much money nobody dares to say a word (hello, Tyler Perry). However if the ethnic group isn't too loud, then it might be ok (recall "Miss Swann" on "MAD TV," as played by Alex Borstein). But be careful: Sarah Silverman did some Asian jokes and was hounded by publicity seeking Japanese avenger Guy Aoki until she nearly lost her mind. Good thing he wasn't around when Judy Tenuta was doing that Yoko Ono imitation.

Bill Dana, now over 90, is on Facebook but rarely posts anything. Nostalgic fans still find laughs in the well-constructed jokes that made those early Jose Jimenez albums big hits, but "PC" considerations have destroyed his legacy. Ironically, haters of Jose seem to love Guillermo Rodriguez.

Guillermo, the porcine sidekick on Jimmy Kimmel's show, exhibits every Latin stereotype there is: nasal voice, pudgy face, obese body, happy ignorance of anything cultural, and the habit of being drunk. His best known bit is to show up at red carpet events and interview stars with bribes of Tequila shots. Guillermo is not all that far removed from the banned "Frito Bandito" character of TV commercials, but there are now enough Latinos on TV that nobody can say "oh, they're ALL fat, nasal and homely." Not Jennifer Lopez. Not Sofia Vergara.

The PC police do stay vigilant, and sometimes they need to be. Paula Dean, the doyenne of fatty cooking and Southern racism, was way out of line in taking a photo as "Lucy" with her son as "Ricky," when it involved actually using "brownface." Neither Dana, Prinze, or any other Latino comedy character from the past ever did that, and Desi Arnaz's complexion was hardly even tan.

Did Desi care too much if his Ricky Ricardo character sometimes lapsed into excited Spanish? Probably not. It was something Gregory Sierra's character of Chano did on "Barney Miller" a generation later. Desi probably had a good sense of humor about his trademark accent, and such sure-fire gags as arguing with Lucy ("I dun't!" "You DUN'T?" "No, I dun't!") As for Dana, he's a lovely guy. He once mentioned to me how fiercely devoted he was to his alter ego. He turned down a car ad that would've brought him in tons of money, because the ad agency thought it would be funny to have Jose pulled over by a cop. The cop would realize Jose wasn't speeding, it was just a smooth-riding car. Bill: "I wasn't gonna let a cop lay a hand on Jose."

Musically speaking, Dana's theme song was intended to echo the spirit of Don Quixote, the valiant tilter of windmills. It had the stereotypical trumpet which, only a few years later, another fucking Jew (Herb Alpert) would use while fronting his Tijuana Brass. I assume that Latinos who hate Bill Dana and loathed Freddie Prinze will try to ban Herb's music, next. That Jew made money by exploiting Mexicans! As head of A&M records, he surely didn't do enough to promote real Latino Sergio Mendez. And let's not even discuss Julius Wechter and his Baja Marimba Band.

All seriousness aside, enjoy the two versions of the theme song. One is from Carl Brandt, who was a veteran arranger at Warner Bros., and also worked with Spike Jones. The other is by Raymond Antonini, better known as Ray Anthony. The big band trumpet star is 93 now, and you can find out more about him by visiting





Somehow the link for "All the Nuns with Guns" lapsed.

Folks (ill, or not), if you come across some link that ain't working, leave a comment. I'll most likely find it and re-up.

"Nuns" is a G.E. Smith song with Paul Simon on backing vocals. Even most Paul Simon fans don't know about this rarity. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hardly hear him in the mix. But he's there, and that's part of the quirk on this obscure but catchy tune.

Most people don't know about the album, and come to think of it, I wouldn't have, if Jim Delehant (who was an exec at Atantic Records back then) hadn't handed it to me, figuring it would be something I'd enjoy. Which I did.

Some will remember G.E. Smith for being the somewhat crazed-looking guitarist leading the "Saturday Night Live" band (1985-95). He also married Gilda Radner, worked with Dan Hartman and toured with Hall and Oates. Among his compositions; a co-write credit on the "Wayne's World" theme song.

There's a DVD documentary on the guy, and on YouTube some live performances with his band Moonalice (including a twangy version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Smith's stinging guitar is very evident on this track, but you also get to hear him sing.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

"IF YOU SEE KAY" A fuckin' tasty treat from SWEETPIE

I don't know how much money he made off me, but in my disc jockey days, I did play SWEETPIE's "If You See Kay" quite a bit.

One of the rules at the radio station was "you can't curse. It's ok if an ARTIST says it on VINYL, but not YOU."

Naturally I took every opportunity to play snippets of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, and regularly offered Zappa's "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" with the happy shout at the end, "You hot little bitch!" Ah, "Prince of Blends" that I was, I segued that line into "Bitch" by the Rolling Stones.

When I had a spare minute to shake the listeners up, I played an oddity called "If You See Kay." I discovered it surreptitiously tucked into the grooves of a Warner Bros."loss leader" album. No, Sweetpie, who sang the thing, wasn't officially on their label, but they mixed it in just the same. There were some very cool people at Warners in those days, and for a disc jockey wanting to play a wide variety of music, the Warners "loss leader" sampler albums made it seem like I had a much more monumental record collection than I did back then.

Since Warners was not promoting him, I had no idea who Sweetpie was. I figured he was some old black blues man, but it turned out that he was a white hippie weirdo. His 1972 album on The Fugs' ESP label is "Pleasure Pudding LIVE AT FAT CITY." Among the hippie-dippie tracks: "Let's Boogie," "This Bitter Earth" "Too Drunk to Ball," "Vermont - A Lazy Man's Colorado" and "Kay." Through the 70's, Sweetpie shocked and annoyed East Coast audiences (especially in Massachusetts)

Sweetpie (Paul Winer) is still alive and well, and lives in Quartzite, Arizona where he runs a funky-lookin' bookstore and, as always, sports wild hair, a wild beard, and is more prone to wear more on his head than anywhere else. The nudist-pianist certainly has good reason not to wear much in Arizona, so a single whats-it around his genitalia suffices. One tooth in his lower jaw apparently suffices, too, and might warn people against too much sweet pie.

Happily, you can find plenty of Sweetpie on YouTube, thanks to Todd Anderson who got him to both sing and recall his greatest hits. Aside from "If You See Kay," Sweetpie is known for the sing-along "Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke," which was popularized by Bette Midler. Just what is original, what is legend, what is owed to Memphis Slim, or what was just part of the R.Crumb Boogie subculture of the day…most people are way too baked and/or old to recall with any certainty.

Below, a live rendition of "If You See Kay" from Our Hippie in Arizona. The 1972 album? You can download it at the website (yes, they expect payment). F.U.C.K. to the greedheads, Zinfarts and Hans Diverticulitis slobs who never drop some money in a singer's cup. And if you're in Quartzite, Arizona, and female, go pay homage to Sweetpie's cup. It's all he wears. Everyone else, buy something, there's a lot of odd stuff in the store that might be considered priceless.

SweetPie If You See Kay

"IF YOU SEE KAY" Randy Howard

Another tune with an "IF YOU SEE KAY" pun? Yes. While not as vivid as Sweetpie's jazzy number, it's a good 'un. It comes from the late Randy Howard.

Ol' Randy was a redneck's redneck. The proof is that he got killed in a gunfight. And he wouldn't be a redneck's redneck unless it was an unnecessary gunfight.

Before we examine his colorful last moments, you might NOT be a redneck if…your first thought is "Who the FUCK is Randy Howard?" Since I'm not a redneck, I only vaguely knew about him before his colorful death. While I'm a fan of a wide range of C&W including Homer & Jethro, Juice Newton, Mindy McCready, George Jones and plenty of others, and even owned a Johnny Paycheck "Greatest Hits," I'm not that strong on the overtly redneck world of Merle, Hank III, NASCAR, rebel flags, and the Randy Howard types.

Howard, a "hard-partying, gun-toting country caricature" (quoting the Fox News obit) gained attention in 1983 with his "All-American Redneck" album. The title track did well, but didn't propel Howard to stardom. At best, he was a solid opening act for the usual trouble-makers, and he could fill some venues on his own, too.

It's a testament to his abilities that he was still making some kind of a living from music over the next 20 years, and circa 2006, he gruffly deadpanned his way through "If You See Kay" live, while opening for one of the more popular "outlaw" stars. The sound ain't too bad on this cowboy boot. Nine years later, and Howard was hiding out in a cabin in Lynchburg, pissed off about his mounting legal problems.

Randy's offenses were just the redneck usuals; driving without a valid license, reckless driving under the influence, being reckless with a gun. It's the latter problem that ended his life.

The aging All-American redneck had enough of a price on his head to make him attractive to a local bounty hunter. Howard did not want to go quietly. He allegedly shot first, and the bounty hunter defended himself. What makes this ring true is that the bounty hunter had to be hospitalized. You don't shoot a guy then somehow fire a shot into yourself for a "he shot first" defense. The man was not expecting to shoot at all, since the reward on him and the jail time involved were fairly minor. Howard overreacted, and it was over.

Apparently Randy Howard did not have any last words. Not "Aw, shit." Or a demure, "F-U-C-K." Here's "If You See Kay..."


"Tell Me...How Your Urine Hits The Sink" - Dirk Hamilton

Over at Elektra in 1978, they thought they had the second coming of Van Morrison in Dirk Hamilton. Or another "new Dylan."

The lyrics for title track "Meet Me at the Crux" were scribbled all over the back cover. The idea was that anyone browsing the album would be awed by the song's edgy profundity.

The song opens: "Horace Tidas was murdered by the hatred that he leveled on himself. Guilty weighted, he walked around pretending he was somebody else..."

A while later, Dirk focuses his attention on an exotic dancer in a bar:

"Blame your mama. Egg a duck. I'm watchin' what your doin' and what your doin' sucks. It ain't bad timin' it ain't bad luck. When will you Meet Me at the Crux."

(Yes, ala Dylan, Dirk invented his own punctuation.)

A woman who seemed to know Horace Tidas: "She's blind but she sure can feel. She's crippled and she reverently kneels, in thanks for the new pair of wheels he got thrown in with the deals that he maimed her to seal."

This leads to another Dylanesque put-down of the woman with the sucky occupation:

"I'm watchin' your behind, out on the dance floor shakin' at eye level all the time. Stop and take a breather. Let me freshen up your drink. Explain to me in detail how your urine hits the sink."

If you aren't gettin' it all, Mr. Jones, then listen to the download several times.

Vincent Price, in Tallulah Bankhead's dressing room, watched her pause in the midst of the conversation to hoist herself onto the sink and piss. Since it was Tallulah, Vinnie was hardly shocked or surprised. He didn't go into detail how her urine hit the sink, but he did make note of this unusual event.

Other songs on Dirk's album include "Mouth Full of Suck" and "Billboard on the Moon," and his follow-up disc featured "Moses & Me" and "Colder than Mexican Snow." Challenging stuff, no? Dirk may have left Elektra scratching their heads, but he's kept sharp, with many more albums. The full details are on the bearing his name.

This intro-Dirktion could mark the beginning of a new artist you'll want to start following and collecting. If so, you can leave a thanks in the comment section. You can also use the comment section to explain in detail how your urine hits the sink.

Urine Luck! Dirk's a Click Away

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rape-Kidnap Survivor Sings

Yes, the music world is divided on this week's debut single from Michelle Knight.

Most find it cringeworthy. But...a number of listeners who are now accustomed to vocoders, monotonous repetition, and simple melodies are showing tearful approval, especially since, as the lyric says, she's been through hell and back.

Even without the gruesome backstory, even if she was just a Kendall Jenner or Rowdy Ronda Rowsey, there would be people cheering, "Say, this reality star, this MMA fighter is not a bad singer! Woo hoo!"

Knight was the most troubled of the three girls who became imprisoned by Cleveland animal Ariel Castro. The grimy bus driver simply decided to harvest sex slaves from a group not likely to be missed. One reason that his reign of sexual tyranny continued for so many years is that cops seemed to assume that his victims were runaways who had become addicts or hookers. If they were buried in shallow graves it was their own fault. Few suspected they were being held captive, and none had any idea where to look for them.

When, by a fluke of luck, they were discovered and hustled away to safety, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus talked to reporters and seemed to have the best set of skills for reclaiming their lives and reuniting with friends or family. Knight was the first to be held captive, and spent years alone with her maniac tormentor. In 2002, only 21, she was lured to Castro's home. He told her he had a puppy for her. She didn't escape him until 2013. By then she had been beaten so often she went deaf in one ear and required constructive facial surgery. She also had five of Castro's punch-the-stomach abortions. Freedom was bitter for her; she had such a poor relationship with her own mother that she refused to see the woman. Instead, she was "adopted" by fellow victim De Jesus' family. It took a while before she was able to talk about her ordeal to reporters.

But all of that can be found elsewhere on the Net. As for the cowardly Castro, not long after he was jailed, and facing a lifetime without women to sexually torture, he hanged himself.

No, there's no reason to expect that there will be a singing career for Michelle Knight, but in a world that embraced obese Adele and Susan Boyle, and loves "reality stars," a great body or even talent can be trumped by a good story and fan empathy. The phrase "good for you" comes to mind. For a while, it seemed that Knight was the least likely to survive her traumas with any peace. Changes have come slowly, painfully, but they've come. The video she shot for "Survivor" doesn't have too many smiling images, but the triumph is that it was made at all.

"Good for you," Michelle Knight. And for those who actually like the singing, the melody or the production on this thing, well, good for you, too.

SURVIVOR Michelle Knight

JAMES TAYLOR - A Hypodermic Parody Tune

At 67, James Taylor just scored #1 on the Billboard charts for the first time since 1970. That was when he released his second album, "Sweet Baby James," propelled to the top by his sad, sensitive and heroic stoic ballad "Fire and Rain." That 70's disc even led to a cottage industry of Taylors (Livingston, Kate and Alex, all with new releases) and some powerful near-hits including "Mockingbird" with his then-wife Carly Simon.

All seriousness aside, 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 "Before This World" is a triumph. It's a triumph I haven't heard, and don't care about. So what; Taylor in the 70's primarily appealed to women, and 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. As he aged, Taylor held onto his aging hippie-to-Yuppie fans, who were also glad to have escaped drug addiction for affluence, and to still have enough of their own teeth to have morning granola.

Back in the 70's the cockeyed and brooding singer with the soft voice seemed like he might kill himself. Gradually he emerged with a self-confident Anthony Perkins smirk, and today looks like he could stab somebody in a shower.

Look, no less a critic and artist than 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. Or he just found something creepy and formulaic about Taylor's "pity me" numbers, his predictable strumming, his very limited singing ability, and eventually his even more limited subject matter, which ended up including a cover of "Handy Man" and 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, 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. His big hit on the new album is "Angels of Fenway," about his beloved Boston Red Sox. He'll be performing it at Fenway Park on August 6th, as part of his "You don't have to just wait around for Paul Simon or Jimmy Buffett to tour Tour."

Brother Alex is long gone. Kate never was much of a factor (although I play her stuff more than any of the other Taylors, and she did a nice job on her cover of "Harriet Tubman" as well as her light versions of Four Tops hits). Livingston? Oh, I did interview that guy and I found him pretty intimidating and intense at first, but we had some laughs.

Speaking of laughs, back when he was super-hot, James was given a different type of "tribute" via the National Lampoon "Lemmings" rock-parody show. The show was helmed by John Belushi, but the prime star was Christopher Guest, who co-wrote and performed skewering takes on both Bob Dylan and Mr. Taylor. Just how skewering did it get? Well, even in Illville, and even after all this time, one has to both laugh and shiver over the great line alluding to Taylor's hypodermic use and another hinting at lobotomy. It goes beyond the jabs at Taylor the sell-out and womanizer. Listen to the self-described "soulful, moody" Taylor bash called "Highway Toes"…

SKEWERING James Taylor

Squire Dies, but no, YES goes on, for All Good People incl. Vassar Devils

Bassist Chris Squire died (March 4, 1948 – June 27, 2015) but Yes will not cease and desist. When he was diagnosed with leukemia back in April, he gave his blessing to a summer tour without him.

"This will be the first time since the band formed in 1968 that Yes will have performed live without me,” he said.  “But the other guys and myself have agreed that Billy Sherwood will do an excellent job of covering my parts and the show as a whole will deliver the same Yes experience that our fans have come to expect over the years.”

That's why a quick check of the Yes itinerary showed a prominent picture of cadaverous Steve Howe, and a list of their tour dates in July with the equally infamous arena-rock group Toto.

A roundabout look at the history of Yes reveals that there have been many changes over the years, with Squire the leader who often decided who got tossed out and stayed tossed. For example, Jon Anderson had to leave the band in 2008, replaced by Benoit David. When Jon was ready to come back, Squire said "Not so fast." When David became ill in 2012, it was Jon Davison who became the new lead guitarist. Other names in and out of the Yes world include Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman.

Cynics would say that all the various changes didn't impact the group much, because fans of this type of progrock are a bunch of drugged out idiots who only want to stagger to their feet and shout "WOOOO."

By way of tribute to this enduring band, here's "All Good People" as covered without guitars, busy bass, or synths by the a cappela Vassar Devils. You have to admire those cunts. (Oh, both the Vassar Devils ladies and Yes, I suppose). The Devils managed to turn in a rendition without the fancy underpinnings Yes always supplied, and Yes managed to make a classic out of a song with lyrics that are pretentious even by progrock standards. This 1971 classic features music by Mr. Squire with the lyrics by Jon Anderson.

"I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way! I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way! I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way!" It just never gets old, does it? Or as Lugosi once said to Karloff in "The Raven," 1935, "You are saying something profound."

"Take a straight and stronger course to the corner of your life. Make the white queen run so fast she hasn't got time to make you a wife. 'Cause it's time is time in time with your time and its news is captured...for the queen to use...surround yourself with yourself….'Cause it's time is time in time with your time and its news is captured...for the queen to use! Diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit diddit didda…"

Yes, the music by Chris Squire launched millions of smiles and cheers, thousands of tabs of acid, and continues to help a variety of good people get through the day. As Tweeters love to Tweet: "RIP" and "He WILL be missed."

Here's "All Good People," from the appropriately named VASSAR DEVILS.

A Capella ALL GOOD PEOPLE…by those bad, bad VASSAR DEVILS

Friday, June 19, 2015

SIEMBAMBA - the South African Dead Baby Song

Yes, here and there, the blog's old links have withered. Some have been quietly replaced, but others, well, why leave it to chance that you'll ever find them?

Here's a re-up on "Siembamba," and this time, the live-in-concert version from the early 50's. The 50's was when a licensed professional brought recording equipment into a concert hall with permission, and the artists got paid.

"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, along with such classics as "The Zulu Warrior" and "Marching to Pretoria." Today, folk singers are offering "Ducking from Pistorius," and "The Zulu Warrior signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers."

Goodwill ambassadors for South Africa during a naive age, fluent in songs involving both the conquering Dutch and the pissed off Africans, Marais and Miranda toured the world. They were sort of a European version of labelmates The Weavers, just two people short (or, two short people, as the album covers seem to suggest.) You can find most of their output fairly cheaply on eBay, or in one of the few record stores that is still in business.

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.

"Die Sloot" doesn't have anything to do with wishing death on Joran Van Der Sloot, a walking promotion for abortion. Meanwhile, the download below includes the translation of the song and, especially for the early 50's, a slightly risque reference to what the politically correct now call "the B word."

With over-population a threat to kill us if global warming doesn't, here's...

The dead baby lullaby SIEMBAMBA.


Was he the Eurotrash version of Lawrence Welk? "Electric Light Orchestra" for guys in polyester underwear with outrageous sideburns, limp flat long hair and Gouda breath? Or "Blood Sweat and Abba" for guys in Gouda underwear, with polyester sideburns and limp dicks?

James Last (born Hans Last) preferred to call his zunshine music "happy party sounds." But the same could be said of belches and farts. But before more snarky comments can be made, "let's say something nice about Hans." OK: Billboard called him "the world's most commercially successful bandleader," for recording an astonishing 200 albums that sold — well, that's the most incredible part. They sold.

Even Billboard had to admit it was music familiar to "anyone who has spent time in a hotel lobby or elevator." Put it this way, he had enough money to NOT live in his native Germany, or in the God-forsaken flat, depressing Ass-country (Netherlands). He died in Florida, U.S.A., as far from the Europeans who adored him as he could possibly get.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass pioneered a genial, buttery horn sound, and Al Hirt put out albums "Honey in the Horn" and "That Honey Horn Sound." Last's bunch merely turned every possible piece of music into musical mucus, coating the ears and mind with a soothing glaze. It went beyond Bacharach, Hefti, or Buddy Morrow, purveyors and often the composers of legit "pop." Last is to music what lobotomy is to the brain.

To be fair (!) Last was no cynical commercial pap-smearer, but Nurse Ratched medicating the depressed. James led his garish group of Mens Wearhouse dropouts as they dazzled eyes with the glint off their trombones, saxes and trumpets. Thus hypnotized, the pounding percussion and the smell of horn-breath did the rest, putting people at rest, if not completely comatose.

Last's cheesy-listening music remains hugely popular at blogs aimed at flaccid Dutchmen, Swedish meatball-heads and the Zippyshare Uber Alles group of Zinfarts. "More, James Last," comes the cry, "I don't have EVERY album yet on my 2TB drive! But I don't want to buy any of it! Ach, too bad he moved to Florida. To think our grandparents nearly won the war and could've taken over America!"

Ah, Mr. Last. Herb Aspirin and the Sominex Brass. Acker Bilge. Something oozing out of the The Boston Pimple Pops. Last made Percy Faith seem like Percy Sledge. Whatever it was, it was narcotic, and after an evening of stealing music, eating a lot of cheese, posting moronic shit in blog shout boxes, and checking forums for bukkake starring an Adele look-alike, a few hours of James Last's stuff was far less challenging than Tchaikovsky or five minutes jogging on a treadmill.

While Ray Conniff disappeared around the same time people realized "Love Story" was the worst piece of crap ever recorded, James Last continued on with his Eurovision of music that was actually better seen than heard. That's EuroVISION…you can turn the sound off and still get that vibe of happy people dancing even if it looks like their feet are nailed to the floor.

Year after year, Last's record label had to forage for more raw vinyl. They cannibalized naugahyde seat covers and "gummi" underwear from the grandchildren of Nazis, especially those hiding in Holland. Last kept making more albums, and his label sent people out to pry licorice gum off the bottom of bus stop benches and shovel coagulated dog shit found at boot sales. Last still wouldn't stop making new albums, "popping" the classics, softening up rock songs, and running every movie theme through his oiled brassworks. His band gimped disco hits, and even made "happy" music out of marches. Oh, they were the finest musicians ever to play cruise ships and thankful for the steadier, if more sea-sick work with James.

Maybe now it's time to "say something else nice about Hansi." He's not making any more albums. But, all seriousness aside, it isn't being condescending to say that the people who like this guy's music also consider Burger King, KFC and Applebees to be fine dining. Put fat and sugar on anything you cook, and pipe in easy-beat big-band music, and you are not likely to lose money. Who doesn't like a Domino's pizza if one has been starving for several days? And really, Last's version of "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" would give Arthur Fiedler an erection. And he died in 1979, before the great 80's plague of bad music would've put a cancer in his eardrum and blackened his brain.

To yet another nice thing about Hans's music, you could tap your cane to it. It was a good laxative, too. 60's folks moving from middle-age to Alzheimer's liked The Brass Ring. From the 70's on, James Last provided easy listening to tired businessmen unable to cope with anything else, and unsophisticated jellyfish needing something to wobble to. He gave totally uncool dimwits from Holland, beak-faced Swedes, ruddy neo-Nazis, belching Belgies and sticky-bunned Danish people the illusion that they were music lovers.

Lastly, one might point to Hansi's big band versions of rock songs as proof that he could make anything "HAPPY." Below, James and his gang boil up some aural goo on the kettle drum, and use their flatulent brass holes to blow the roof off the dump, dumping sweet treacle on Alice Cooper's venemous "School's Out." Think Alice wasn't happy about this? He cashed a royalty check.

James "Don't Call Me Hans, It's a Stupid Name" Last SCHOOL'S OUT!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

RONNIE GILBERT - The Female Weaver, Therapist and Phil Ochs fan

Ronnie Gilbert (September 7, 1926 – June 6, 2015) completed her autobiography but didn't live to see it in print. She's being remembered for many things…her work as an actress, her touring as "Mother Jones" in a one-woman show, her shows with Holly Near and others, and most certainly as one of The Weavers. As one of the few prominent women in the folk music world of the 50's, she no doubt influenced everyone from Mary Travers to Joan Baez. And for those who might wonder if they were a bit crazy for wanting to follow her into the uncertain world of the musician, well, she was a licensed psychologist!

Yes, the words "don't quit your day job" had a meaning even for someone who you'd think was making very good money off touring, and off royalties. But as Fred Hellerman (the other Jewish member of The Weavers, and now sole survivor) once said, "the airlines made the most money off the Weavers on tour." And hotels, and the managers and the owners of the venues. Hellerman also had outside work, and under various names, wrote songs and adapted old traditional songs into modern folk classics.

The Weavers, their name taken from a play by Gerhart Hauptmann, formed in 1949, in upstate New York. They kickstarted the renewed interest in folk music with several hits at the start of the 1950's, including "Goodnight Irene," and the improbable "Tzena Tzena Tzena," a Hebrew dance tune that not only could Gentiles Pete Seeger and Lee Hays sing correctly, but which had non-Jewish audiences joining in on the chorus. The foursome were hugely popular in concert until The Red Scare led to their blacklist.

They were fortunate to be able to mount a comeback in the late 50's, thanks to their manager Harold Levanthal taking a chance and booking them into Carnegie Hall. New York was a liberal town and the blacklist wasn't going to stop The Weavers there. At least, that's how it turned out. It also helped that the group really wasn't very political. They sang old songs, funny songs and sing-alongs. Ronnie recalled, “We sang songs of hope in that strange time after World War II, when already the world was preparing for Cold War.We still had the feeling that if we could sing loud enough and strong enough and hopefully enough, it would make a difference.”

Folk music shifted from old songs to passionate, topical new ones. The Kingston Trio dabbled in dark songs that mirrored current issues of lynchings and the death penalty ("Tom Dooley"), the Ivy League Trio offered the capital punishment "Ballad of Tim Evans" and Peter Paul & Mary would be the first to popularize Bob Dylan and "Blowin' In the Wind." Mary Travers knew The Weavers well; she'd been in the audience for their 1955 Carnegie Hall show.

Pete Seeger left the group in 1959, and Erik Darling and a few others tried to take his place. The Weavers toured for a while, and made a few more records, but gave up in 1964. Ronnie (born Ruth) had such talent that she could not only take the logical route of going solo, but she expanded into acting as well, having first appeared on Broadway in the 1958 production “The Man in the Glass Booth." After that she earned her M.A. in psychology. Probably her best critical acclaim came with her one-woman show as "Mother Jones," but music fans could sometimes get a surprise via a new album (usually with recording partner Holly Near) or some touring. She did some "HARP" concerts (first name of each singer) with Holly, Arlo Guthro, and Pete Seeger). The Weavers had a brief re-union for a documentary and a few concerts in November of 1980. It was just in time; Lee Hays, who had lost his legs to diabetes, died a year later, in August of 1981.

Ronnie Gilbert raised a few eyebrows when she married a woman in 2004. She had been married during The Weavers era, and had a daughter. Her frequent singing partner, Holly Near, has often been written up as a "Lesbian activist" as well as a performer. Adding to her credits, she transformed her "Mother Jones" show into a book, and here's my signed copy:

My favorite Ronnie Gilbert music is from her early solo days on Mercury. With The Weavers, she didn't solo much. Her voice was strongly identifiable in those harmonies, but the attention was usually on Seeger or Hellerman when they'd get up and do a talking blues or a folk humor piece like "The Frozen Logger." Solo, Ronnie recorded a wide range of songs, including several by Phil Ochs. Below is "The Power and the Glory," which contains that vivid caution: "Here is a land full of power and glory…(but…) she's only as rich as the poorest of the poor…"

Another line declares that America's "power shall rest on the strength of her freedom." It also rests on understanding what that word means. It doesn't mean hacking into someone's computer and posting private e-mails or documents and declaring this to be Assange-style "transparency." It doesn't mean posting some actress's nude photos copped off her cellphone, or copying entire discographies and every TV show ever made and making up lame excuses about "fair use"to toss it onto torrents. And it doesn't mean censoring somebody who said something you didn't like on Facebook, or threatening to expel somebody in a fan forum who politely shares a different point of view. It doesn't mean taping an awards show and clipping out a mild Caitlyn Jenner joke Clint Eastwood made because it "might" be offensive to some hyper-sensitive fruitcake. Or any of that crap. America's great includes a true understanding of what freedom really is.

Power and glory can't stop mortality, so here's a "so long, it's been good to know you" to the lady in the Weavers who helped popularize Woody Guthrie and so many others. Ronnie's work will continue to influence people who want to be enlightened.

"Here is a land full of power and glory…"