Friday, May 19, 2017

MICHELE LEE AND KAY GARNER vs L. DAVID SLOANE


    There was a weird time in pop music when ROCK collided with POP. Thus, we had Carnaby fashions almost at the same time as we had hippie grunge. You remember The Beatles wearing those adorable Sgt. Pepper costumes and singing “Good Day Sunshine?” Retro was fine, too. The Kinks wore ruffled shirts and extolled Queen Victoria. The odd meld of rock and pop even had “bad boy” Mick Jagger singing a sanitized “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” on Ed Sullivan’s show.

    In 1966, the retro “Winchester Cathedral” was on the charts, and in 1968, Tiny Tim made a hit out of a song popular in 1929: “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.” Mainstream Kate Smith sang Beatles songs, and Andy Williams sang “MacArthur Park.” Even a dominatrix-kiss off like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” was consider cute. In 1968, cute mainstreamer Michele Lee made the Top 100 by singing “L. David Sloane…leave me alone!” 

     Who this putz L. David Sloane was, we don’t seem to know. It’s a Jewish name, though. The singer is Jewish. She was born Michele Lee Dusick. The song wasn’t a major hit (that’s why it’s here) but anyone who heard it, for better or worse, remembers it. Michele has very much out-lived it. Lee was only 19 when she came to Broadway in “How to Succeed in Business…” and had appeared in “The Comic” with Dick Van Dyke and Disney’s “The Love Bug” with Dean Jones while simultaneously jump-starting her singing career. 

    Her pert praise and put-down of L. David Sloane stalled outside Billboard’s Top 50 (at #52) but it did sell a pretty fair amount of copies. She, Liza, Barbra, Vicki Carr, Peggy Lee and even Patti Page continued to toss pop 45’s into the market even if it was becoming more and more dominated by rock. 

    Over in England there was a rather unlikely interest in strutting around and putting down L. David Sloane. But you know the Brits. Back then, it was their custom to peer across the pond, check the Hot 100, anticipate a potential Top Ten, and have one of their own do a cover version before the original artist could score a U.K. deal. Enter Kay Garner. 

      Kay grew up in Hull, which Craig Ferguson, in his memoir, called the the worst town in England. This may only mean that he didn’t spend any time in Grimsby.

    Kay didn’t seem to want to stay in Hull either, and came to London to work with The Rabin Band, broadcast on a 1962 radio show called ‘Go Man Go,” and end up a regular at “The Monkey Island Hotel,” along with the infamous Frazer Hayes (whose annoying group used to break up the comedy on “Round the Horne”). Kay sang tons of commercial jingles, recorded quite a bit, appeared on a variety of TV shows (with Benny Hill and Dusty Springfield among others) and passed on ten years ago (July 16, 2007).

    Michele Lee is very much with us. In 1974 she was nominated for a Tony, starring in “Seesaw.” She became a star on the TV night time soap opera “Knots Landing” through the 80’s, and received another Tony nomination for “Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” in 2001. More recently, she’s s been in the hit show “Wicked.” Playbill bios on her do not seem to have room to mention “L. David Sloane.” 

    Whimsical, kinda funny, a bit sexy, somewhat feminist, a bit hapless, “L. David Sloane” is still an amusing novelty. And if you’d like to sing along, why, there’s The Electric Junkyard, a group that didn’t quite rival the Chocolate Watchband, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Corcheted Doughnut Ring, Clockwork Oranges, Applie Pie Motherhood Band or eben Heironymous & the Dharma Bums. 


Michele Lee
L. David Sloane   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.
Kay Garner
L. David Sloane   Instant download or listen on line. No ransom demands.
Electric Junkyard
-L. David Sloane  Instant download or listen on line. No Dutch douchery.

Dame Edna: Greta Keller yes, Caitlyn Jenner, ugh, NO!


Shocking, simply shocking, Possums! Dame Edna dispensed with witty sarcasm or pungent satire, and simply called Caitlyn Jenner a "RATBAG."

Jenner, another media whore in the Kardashian-Jenner cartel, was dismissed for exactly what she is: "a publicity-seeking ratbag." Since Edna wasn't saying this from the stage, Edna didn't need to sugar coat it like she lathers her face with make-up, and make it funny.

"I agree with Germaine (Greer)! You're a mutilated man, that's all. Self-mutilation..." Anticipating the whining protests, Edna added, "If you criticise anything you're racist or sexist or homophobic."

If you've been to one of Barry Humphries' "Dame Edna" shows, you'll find more than a few gays in the crowd. Maybe even a drag queen or two. After all, aside from the female impersonation, "Dame Edna" often talks about her obviously gay son Kenny, and drops references that have more than a gay tinge. On Broadway, there were some gags about how good-looking TV weatherman Sam Champion was, and how Kenny loved to watch Sam's weather reports. At the time, Champion was not yet out of the closet. The crowd hooted with delight.

"Dame Edna" is a character. Initially, Humphries was simply parodying a type of Aussie housewife, doing it with the same vulgarity and cartooning found in Monty Python's imitations of British fishwives. Nothing sexual about it. No transvestism (sexual gratification in crossdressing). Over the years, Humphries simply found that "Dame Edna" was a great vehicle for razor-like put-downs. For example, as a man, Humphries couldn't possibly sit on a couch and make Nicole Kidman blush with observations of Nicole's body. "Dame Edna" could, and did.

So it's really not a surprise that Humphries would have limited sympathy for a man who actually has to go to such extremes for his "feminine side," and insist that a scalpel is what defines womanhood. That sympathy would be extremely limited in the case of someone who instantly stars in a reality show about the transformation.

It's an irony that many gays simply enjoy listening to their Judy Garland records without remotely wanting to BE or dress up AS Judy Garland. The best Judy Garland was Jim Bailey, who did not undergo any sex change operation. Neither did any of the top female impersonators, including Craig Russell and Charles Pierce.

Now in this 80's, but still threatening to bring back "Dame Edna" if he feels like it, Humphries has taken to the radio, exploring his fondness for vintage music. He wants to preserve the music he once destroyed. Literally. An early job at EMI involved making sure that records once played on the air never be played again: "“For copyright reasons, the 78s had to be broken, so I was put in a subterranean room with no windows smashing up hundreds of records, every day, with a hammer. I felt terrible, I was traumatised.”

On Barry's "Forgotten Musical Masterpieces" Radio 2 program (or programme), he's explored "“Al Bowlly, George Formby, Greta Keller, and Fred Astaire, whom I regard as one of the great artists of the 20th century. Not only was he a great dancer, he was also a splendid singer and interpreted the songs of George and Ira Gershwin beautifully.”

You know the guys, but probably not Greta Keller, who has been mentioned on this blog. Here she is, doing "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Although, as Caitlyn learned about his cock and balls, they CAN take those away, creating, if not a woman like Greta Keller, at least, a ratbag.

 Greta Keller
They Can’t Take That Away from Me   Instant download or listen on line. No ransomware, malware or spyware anywhere.  





  

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The album WEBB will NOT Autograph


    I was very glad to buy Jimmy Layne Webb’s memoir (yes, the first name on the birth certificate IS Jimmy). I got it at a book signing, which also allowed me to say a few words to him about my favorite (obscure) songs of his. He was very nice and friendly. While it didn’t benefit him in any way, he even indulged some typically unwashed, stubble-chinned and obese losers who whined that he should autograph EVERY fucking piece of tatty memorabilia they put in front of him. 

      Fortunately, nobody seemed to be on line with copies of “Jim Webb Sings Webb,”  a near bootleg. At 21, he was used to selling his soul to the suits. This included bartering songs for studio time and producing demos that would then be “owned” by the publisher, leaving him hoping to make money off royalties). Once Webb became known for “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Up Up and Away,” there was some interest in Jimmy becoming more of a performer than just a songwriter. That was when the owner of a set of demos licensed it all to Epic. 


    Jimmy was upset that his “debut” album was going to be unauthorized demo material, stuff he did years ago. He was surprise that Epic would not listen to reason, and allow him to give them “good” stuff instead. Epic was not known for being so nasty and underhanded as to release material against an artist’s wishes. That’s what Fantasy and Roulette were doing, among others. Perhaps their logic was that they’d already invested money into a project they felt was pretty good. Webb’s demo tunes were certainly up to the level of some other Epic pop artists (like the invented “Third Rail” collection of studio musicians). They’d already gotten producer Hank Levine to beef up the demos by adding his own arrangements and orchestration. Epic ignored Jimmy Webb and even compounded the misery by dubbing him “Jim Webb.”  


    Jimmy mentioned at the signing that he would NOT sign that album, and that fans who are crazy about that record are just plain crazy. 


    Judge for yourself. The first two tracks are below: “I Keep It Hid,” which has been covered by a few artists, and “You’re So Young,” which probably hasn’t. I don’t think that any of the tracks besides “I Keep It Hid” found life in the throats of other artists. That includes: “Our Time is Running Out,” “I’m In Need,” “Life is Hard,” “I’ll Be Back” and “I Can Do It On My Own.” 


    Webb’s memoir, “The Cake and the Rain”  lists the dozens and dozens of artists who sang “MacArthur Park,” and lists page after page of (sometimes obscure) songs he’s written, but there’s no annotation of who covered them. There’s also a list of his Grammy nominations and Top 100 hits. 


    Oddly enough, those pages almost diminish him. When you think of Jimmy Webb, you think of a one-man Bacharach who wrote dozens of hit songs over many decades. If you disregard the County charts (where “The Highwayman” was a #1) you can count his hits on your ten fingers. There are the Campbell classics (“Phoenix” “Galveston” and “Wichita” as well as the lesser known “Honey Come Back.” in 1970). You’ll remember the cringeworthy “Up Up and Away,” “The Worst That Could Happen” from the Brooklyn Bridge, Art Garfunkel’s early 70’s solo hit “All I Know,” and Joe Cocker’s 1975 “It’s a Sin When You Love Somebody.” Add “MacArthur Park” from Richard Harris and the disco remake from Donna Summer in 1978, the last year a Webb song hit the Top 20. Add it all up: ten, with the last Top 20 entry nearly 40 years ago!  


By comparison, Bacharach was at least creating new songs with Elvis Costello not long ago, and Randy Newman has scored hit songs in Pixar movies, and finally got a "Best Song" Oscar. All this, while Webb admittedly has treaded water with duets albums and recycling his greatest hits (including a very nice solo piano CD...something Newman's done a few times as well). 

    “Didn’t We” by Barbra Streisand stalled at #82, Judy Collins’ “The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress” apparently missed the Top 100 entirely, and the last time a Webb song even scraped the Top 100 (if you discount the theft of part of a melody by Kanye West for “Famous”) was Linda Ronstadt’s “Easy For You to Say” in 1983. It’s also disturbing to realize Webb never had a hit on his own, despite developing into a very fine interpreter of his own songs including some great ones on his last album “Suspending Disbelief” back in in 1993 a mere 24 years ago. 


    Webb’s reputation resides, for most people, on the three years, between 1967-1969 when the public loved “Up Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” “MacArthur Park,” “Worst That Could Happen,” “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman.”  Fans of “album tracks” and idiosyncratic singer-songwriters, probably new all along that like Randy Newman or Warren Zevon, Webb’s solo albums were not big sellers, even if they had a lot of great songs on them. “And So On” for example, features his sly disc jockey number “All Night Show” and “P.F. Sloan,”  the catchiest sing-along every to bear the warning “don’t sing this song.” When I had my own radio show, I played his stuff quite a bit. I didn’t realize how few were buying it.


       To this day, I think Jimmy Webb is still rather unfairly derided for the few numbers in his catalog that are either dated pop pap (like “Up Up and Away”) or awfully purple and precious, like “Adios,” or the sugary “Marionette.” Balancing that are so many songs that do rock (“Friends to Burn”), that have beguiling and tricky melodies and rhymes (“Elvis and Me”) and have an honest message ( “It Won’t Bring Her Back,” a song that features Jimmy’s trademark twang and his habit of making a quiet “i” a lot more audible. “Maniac” is sung as “mainy-HACK.”


    Webb’s book, by the way, is weirdly constructed. Each short chapter ping-pongs between early years getting beat up as a four-eyed Preacher’s kid to glimpses of star encounters with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the various Beatles. As befits a guy who considers himself part of the sex and drugs and rock and roll world, and not a sappy pop songwriter, he gives us glimpses of his excesses, and his relationships with a variety of hot babes. An irony is that songs of love and loss were generally inspired by him being the one to fuck things up. He’s the one who cheated on his muse Susan, and who ultimately moved on to find someone new. 


    In this free-love era, married women happily jumped into bed with other men, and his most enduring relationships after Susan, were with ladies who didn’t feel like leaving hubby: Evie and Rosemarie. His kiss-off song “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” could easily have been sung by Rosemarie, who left Jimmy “so many times” to go back to her husband. A true tease, she kept popping up to romp with Webb. The vixen (perhaps hoyden, perhaps minx) once showed up saying that she would get a divorce and marry Jimmy IF he bought a house by the beach. 


    Webb dutifully shopped around with her, and she picked the most expensive one. He called his manager to arrange for selling his house and getting a loan to pay the difference. The couple celebrated with intimacy at their motel, but the next morning, Rosemarie enigmatically got dressed, kissed him on the cheek and with the sad smile of somebody pitying a fool, and walked out:  “I didn’t hate her…Nobody makes a fool of anybody, country music notwithstanding. Fools are volunteers.” 


    A big selling point for the book is that Jimmy dishes a bit on the “lost weekend” involving himself, Lennon and Harry Nilsson. Lennon turns out to be even more of a prick than McCartney. John’s excuse was being baked by drugs. There was the notorious nightclub incident that had John sporting a Kotex on his head and allegedly shoving or even punching a female photographer. Harry called Jimmy asking for help: please LIE and testify that you were with me and John, and that John is innocent! Webb dutifully testified that he did not see John strike the woman. (Sure, because Jimmy wasn’t even there!) 


       Webb found Lennon to be ungrateful, insufferable and self-privileged, but the ex-Beatle had style. One day, when Harry and John had exhausted themselves, they sent for Jimmy to bring more money and drugs. Webb found Lennon rolling up hundred dollar bills tightly, and placing them in the twat of a spread-eagled Asian woman (no, not May Pang). 


    You won’t need to roll up a $100 bill, with or without cocaine, to land a copy of “Jim Webb sings Jim Webb.” There are some hapless eBay dealers trying to unload it for $5 or $6, and there’s some kind of CD version of it out of Japan for $20. But no amount will get Jimmy to autograph it for you.
 



WEBB DEMOS
  I KEEP IT HID - YOU’RE TOO YOUNG    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

THE CONTESSAS - A world-wide WEBB Discovery



    If you check pages 140-142 of Jimmy Webb’s memoir, “The Cake and the Rain,” you’ll learn that back in 1965, the ambitious wunderkid from Oklahoma “was damned proud” of producing his white version of The Supremes. “I hoped Motown might want to sign them,” he writes. Fronted by curvy Suzanne Weir, the group included Webb’s own muse Susan Horton, as well as Alyce Wheaton and Sharon Johnston.
      Webb was a struggling songwriter at the time, and didn’t have the money to launch his group He managed to get a friend of his to fork over $3,500 to start “E Records.” The name was a tribute to “E” Street in San Bernardino. Webb hired the best studio musicians possible, wrote charts, and then bravely assembled everyone so he could produce/direct the session, beginning with a less-than-confident mutter of “What do I do?” Fortunately, the musicians were impressed by his charts, and didn’t think The Contessas were amateurs.
    Legendary drummer Hal Blaine said after the session “You need to stick with this.” It was a much-needed vote of confidence.
       Supporting their indie-label debut, The Contessas  dutifully flirted with local radio disc jockeys, made public appearances, and amazingly, managed to get on Shivaree, a distant cousin (in ratings) to Shindig and Hullabaloo. Still, sales weren’t that brisk for “This Time Last Summer” b/w “Keep On Keeping’ On.”
    Webb was “keepin’ on” despite several setbacks. His mother had suddenly died from a brain tumor, and his preacher father left California to go back to finding a parish in the Mid-West. Webb made a gutsy decision to stay behind, and his father took out a battered wallet, handed his kid a few twenty dollar bills, and apologized that it was all he could spare. Webb made the most of it, finally moving from shaky relationship with Jobete, the division of Motown that had hired him as a staff songwriter, to his big break when producer Johnny Rivers (yes, of “Secret Agent Man” fame) chose  “Up Up and Away” as a single for The Fifth Dimension. 
    Do you suppose The Contessas single would’ve taken off if they were called The Cuntessas? The song could’ve been re-written as “This Is Where You Came In.” With a lovely picture disc showing where.
    I digress. Very much an item of its time, you’ll find these girls to be pleasant xerox copies of Jackie DeShannon or Dusty Springfield.  “Keep On Keeping On,” a phrase that is now associated with Bob Dylan, even has the typical “hey hey hey” that Dusty used with white soul effectiveness.  
    The Contessas broke up fairly quickly, but Webb continued to find a muse in Susan Horton, and says he wrote many of his hits with her on his mind. He did get to fulfill his dream of producing a white version of The Supremes by producing a pale version of The Supremes. By the time he got the assignment to produce and arrange a new album for the group, Diana Ross had departed. Just how good or bad the album is, I have no idea. Look, I can’t get around to listening to every damn album out there. Sometimes it’s hard enough finding time for an obscure single. If you have the time, take a listen to….

   

THE CONTESSAS
THIS IS THERE I CAME IN    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

 THE CONTESSAS
KEEP ON KEEPING ON    Instant download or listen on line.  

SOUPY SALES MUCK-ARTY PARK an un-arty WEBB Parody

    “Muck-Arty Park” is a very atypical song from Soupy Sales. He released it, very atypically, on Motown. Huh? Wha? The album was called “A Bag of Soup.” His bag was to present himself as something more than a kiddie show icon, or the singer of a semi-hit novelty dance tune called “The Mouse.”

       Written by Ronald Miller and Tom Baird, the chosen single from the album takes aim more at Richard Harris than at Jimmy Webb. Unfortunately, the swipes at Harris and at hippies were not likely to appeal to many peope, and Soupy’s impersonation of Richard Harris sounds like any generic Englishman. His voice pitched low, unless you were told, you wouldn’t even know it was Soupy Sales. Not if you remember his comical straining to reach the high notes on his lone hit: “Heyyyyyy….do the MOUSE….”

    While this artless (Mucky-Arty??) ditty does tweak at the original’s time changes (here a a ragtime bit of “Hold That Tiger” collides with grandiose chords) it’s really a mess: “San Francico’s gone to pot. The kids forgot their Camelot. The flower children traded in their beads and poppy seeds for English tweeds. (Oh no!) Oh yes. (Oh well). Muck-Arty Park will never be the same, all the sweet young hippies blew their thing. Someone through the cook out in the rain. it was just eleven-thirty when they learned his pot was dirty, and he’ll never have that recipe again. (Oh no) Oh yes. Oh shucks!” Oh, fuck and off.  
    
    So why is it even here on the blog? Oh, just as part of the celebration of Webb’s memoir, and maybe a defense of this much-despised song. It’s almost self-parody and certainly didn’t need Soupy’s version. All anyone has to do for a rueful laugh is play the original, with Richard Harris singing in a fey, almost faggy way, and requiring endless studio splices and tricks to stay on key and hit the high notes. He basically was doing karaoke to a track already produced, and still needed hours and hours of re-takes.
   
    “MacArthur Park,” on length alone, broke barriers. AM radio, which broke almost every song, favored two or three minute ditties. While “extended play” 45’s were somewhat known, they were mostly used as hybrids: four songs from an artist that couldn’t produce a whole album, or six cover versions from a budget label trying to give poor kids a break. Nobody thought of putting ONE song on an extended-play 45 rpm. And how many radio stations, knowing the attention span of teens, would dare play such a long song??

    After this blockbuster, there was “Hey Jude.” In his book, Webb insists that McCartney deliberately extended the fade to reach the magic seven minute mark. Macca was competing with “Mac Park” (a Jimmy calls it) the same way he competed with Simon & Garfunkel, writing “Let it Be” as a spiritual answer song to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” PS, in his book Webb indicates that Paul was a bit of a prick. After Webb took too much time to reply to a request to write something for Mary Hopkin’s debut album, Paul refused to recognize Jimmy by name. He’d pointedly call him by some other name, even after repeated “I’m JIMMY” reminders from Webb.

    Have I digressed enough yet?

    Let’s add that arguably, “MacArthur Park,” from a trained classical pianist, helped spawn the “classical rock” genre, which would include Boko Haram’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” and Mason Williams’ smash “Classical Gas.” Even Roy Orbison gave grandiose rock a shot when he recorded, “Southbound Jericho Parkway” which clocked in at 6:59. That’s quite a jump from “Claudette” which was exactly two minutes.

    Some people absolutely HATE long rock songs, and back in the day Chapin’s “Taxi” and certainly “American Pie” took a lot of abuse. What set people off about Webb’s song was more the singing and the lyric than the music itself. For better or worse, Richard Harris made for a compelling hero, and the uneven-voiced “Camelot” star made the most of his over-baked rendition, which included a lot of quivering, quavering, and of course the almost effeminate high-pitched “Oh noooooooooo.” Only Harris could get away with Webb’s attempts at connecting to medieval balladry, with such awkward phrases as “stripe-ed pair of pants.”

    While falsetto goes back to Lou Christie and Frankie Valli, and somehow people gave a pass to guys getting emotional in a high-pitched voice, and even operatic (Mr. Orbison again), it was a bit uncomfortable, if not ridiculous, to hear a grown man getting hysterical over a cake recipe. It’s possible Webb could’ve re-written his lines to make it seem like his doomed lover had baked the fucking thing: “Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it, ‘cause SHE took so long to bake it. And SHE’ll never have that recipe again….”

    Oh well. Last point on the lyrics, is that, like Boko Haram’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” there really isn’t much cause for concern. This is just abstract words, like an abstract painting. Do we get bent because Seurat used little dabs of paint for his pointeliist effect? Are we upset because Picasso stuck two eyes on one side of a model’s head? We get it. Boko’s song about a girl having an overdose at a party, was rendered with spacey symbolism. So here, (and confirmed in Webb’s book), the sad drama of a break-up during the psychedelic 60’s is rendered with LSD smears. The park’s lawn becomes “sweet green icing.” There’s symbolism of a rainy day in a park. There are the glimpses of park scenes, including old men playing checkers. It’s not THAT obscure.

    “MacArthur Park is melting in the dark” isn’t that far removed from the era’s “Raindrops keep falling on my head.” For Webb, the main irritation was that Richard Harris kept singing MacArthur’s Park.” There wasn’t a way of slicing off the “s” every time the amiably drunk and/or histrionic actor repeated that line.

    Webb has a good sense of humor and a self-deprecating way about him. A few weeks ago he did a podcast with little Gilbert Gottfried, and was a good sport in playing keyboard while Gilbert rasped and strained over the famous high notes and “Oh no’s.”  Webb, Gilbert and the crew were breaking up with laughter, which is more than you’ll do listening to this historic but hardly hysteric curiosity by the former Milton Supman.

   

SOUPY SALES
sings MUCKY-ARTY PARK    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

The WEBB of Infidelity: "EVIE"


Reading Jimmy Webb’s new memoir, “The Cake and the Rain,” I learned that his rather obscure song “Evie” nearly won an International song competition in Brazil. It’s about a real person. Evie is the fun-loving wife of Leslie Bricusse (both still alive) and in her early days as an actress, appeared in a few Hammer horror movies. In the days when England swang like a pendulum do, she was frisky enough to openly cheat on him with Webb. He wanted to marry her. She wasn’t sure. Bricusse got more prickly about this as the situation became more and more serious. This led to a very engrossing confrontation that saw Webb-fan David Hemmings get between Evie’s two rivals before any punches could be thrown. 

Evie had called Webb from her home, desperate for a rescue. In fact, she chose to escape with Webb, leaving her husband with Hemmings. But…a few days later she returned to him. Oh, Jimmy eventually realized, maybe it’s for the best.  

As most every sensitive singer-songwriter would admit, what’s the point of a life experience if it can’t be fodder for a song? “Evie” is one of those rather self-indulgent ballads in which the hero gets to show there are no hard feelings, just maybe a lingering hardon now and then. I’d put it in the category of an “I’m gonna stand tall” number from Gene Pitney, but somewhere in the book Webb wryly quotes Pitney as saying, “I never got Jimmy Webb.”  

Webb figured that Bill Medley, the lanky, dark-haired half of the Righteous Brothers, was the perfect choice to put “Evie” into the Top 10. Medley was willing to go down to Brazil and sing it as America’s representative in the song contest. As it turned out, the song never made the Top 100 and the entourage (Medley, Webb and a variety of musicians and users) figured the contest was more an excuse for partying than anything else. How could the song win in a corrupt country that was going to rig the judging for its own entry? 

As Jimmy relates in the book, the main thing was to try not to get killed down there. Angry Latinos were shouting the Spanish word for “fag” at him (for having long hair) and the Fascist police seemed to be losing patience with the gringos and their attempts to smuggle marijuana. 

Poor Bill Medley, saddled with a second-rate “Didn’t We,” gets kudos for being determined and gutsy, singing this rather awkward slow ballad to a restless and downright dangerous crowd. The audience was only calmed when another singing contestant came out to try and shield him, and make sure nobody threw anything dangerous at his head. It’s just one of many vivid anecdotes in this engrossing memoir. 

Despite some hype here and there from his publisher, the book is NOT “the story behind the songs” in most cases. “Evie” is an exception. There’s nothing about one of my favorite rock songs of his, “Laspitch,” which is a Harry Chapin-esque O.Henry story-song about a preacher’s infidelity, and how the Man of God’s wife reacts. Webb doesn’t even bother to cite the song as a very unusual example of a number where the closing instrumental is actually longer than the song itself. 

The dramatic music, perhaps intended to accentuate and continue to shake up the listener after the punchline, continues for another three minutes. The song ends up almost as long as “MacArthur Park.” As Webb progressed from songwriter to singer-songwriter, his work became much less commercial. He was pretty much “hired” to write the awful and overripe “Up Up and Away” for a proposed teen movie about ballooning, and it became one of his major hits. Less known would be “If You See Me Getting Smaller I’m Leaving” describing his decision to have a “borderline career” touring small clubs and be taken seriously. 

In discussing Webb’s work, detractors often get stuck on Jimmy’s work for traditionals like Sinatra and Streisand, and how the MOR-world embraced him for his work with The Fifth Dimension, or how even Andy Williams took on “MacArthur Park.” But his work has encompassed every form of music, from soul and R&B (take Pocketful of Keys” from Thelma Houston), disco (Donna Summer), doo wop (Johnny Maestro and “The Worst That Could Happen), and tough C&W (“The Highwayman” as sung by The Highwaymen). (C)rapper Kanye West even stole a melody off Webb for “Famous.” In addition, Webb worked his way up from a rather nasal and annoying variation on Neil Young into a class act playing the same venues as Randy Newman, and attracting almost the same kind of intelligent, informed crowd. 

Have I digressed? Say hello to EVIE, the frolicsome 60's babe and ex-scream queen (who performed as Yvonne Romain.

EVIE BILL MEDLEY sings WEBB Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.






Saturday, April 29, 2017

Ill-Ustrated Songs #38 - KAY MARTIN, "SWAMP GIRL"

Michael Brown's offbeat classic "Swamp Girl" was a surprise hit in 1950.

You'll find the Frankie Laine version elsewhere on the blog. He owned the song, but let's take a listen to the cover version by Kay Martin, singing AS the Swamp Girl.

Above, early Kay in brunette mode. Later she was a brassy blonde.

She and her ridiculous "body guards" twist the song into a groovy jazz riff (think about dated hipsters like The Hi-Lo's, or the Kirby Stone Four). Kay, who had a minor reputation for singing risque novelty songs on adults only indie labels, actually had a semi-major label release with this. Her album of standards was published by the notorious Roulette Records, run by the nefarious Morris Levy. Other tracks, such as "Sentimental Journey" and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" don't gain anything with Kay's indifferent voice or the cliche background singing. But "Swamp Girl?"

Instead of fearful, lustful Frankie Laine singing about her, here's the girl herself boasting of her prowess, with her admiring male duo trailing behind:

Kay: "Where the crane flies through the marshes and the turtles sun their shells.
Where the water rat goes swimmin'..." Body Guards: "That's where my swamp girl dwells!"

Kay: "Tonight my hair will float in the water, And the gold will no longer shine
It will spread like a fan in the water While I make a mysterious sign."
Body Guards: "We have seen that sign before!!!"

Cool, man. Finger' snappin' wild, Daddy.

The arrangement here includes several cliches of the day, from the sizzling break for cymbals to be constantly tipped like a hissing snake, to the sudden harmonizing on a minor note: "Come to the deep where your sleep is without a...DREAM!"

Yes, THIS version of "Swamp Girl" is the ginchiest. Crazy.

SWAMP GIRL (written by Michael Brown, not The Turtles, Charles Manson, Frankie Laine or whoever the pirate lyric sites are crediting. Most don't credit anyone, but it didn't write itself.) KAY MARTIN, Instant download or listen on line No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

Tad Cummins' Wife: "Jesus Loves You...I DON'T!"

One of America’s creepiest stories of the past five weeks, was the disappearance of a 15 year-old student with her fat 50 year-old teacher. As the search for the missing couple became a national obsession, sightings were few.

The duo had been seen kissing at school before the disappearance, and the porky hillbilly with the unfortunate last name of Cummins, was spotted a few times on surveillance cameras in stores with his sullen companion. He stocked up on prescription boner pills and lube. His Internet searches in the days before his disappearance included finding tips on eluding police surveillance. The couple stayed at inconspicuous cheap motels as they slowly made their way from the toothless crowd in Tennessee to "clothing optional" communes in California. Apparently low on cash, they ended up at a campground bungalow that had no running water or electricity, but at least some edible wildflowers in the bushes.

After five weeks of being headline news, the duo was recognized, and the police waited until Tad Cummins wandered alone outside of his cabin. It’s a good thing they did, because he was armed. He might have tried to shoot it out, or pull a murder-suicide. The girl, perhaps a willing runaway at first, was reunited with her family. Jill Cummins, the chunky cheater's wife, was the one to ultimately affirm the worst about this sicko escapade. Tad made a jailhouse confession to her and whined about wanting forgiveness.

"I asked, 'Did you sleep with her?' And he said 'Yes, I did,' and so I did not want the details. I knew the truth, I just wanted to hear it from him. He kept saying 'I love you,' but I said 'I'm sorry, but I am not going to say that back.'" Cue the ultimate country kiss-off, "I DON'T," by beautiful Danielle Peck. Hum along, if you're a Humbert Humbert. It might prevent you from doin' something stupid. Cummins' wife (who filed for divorce even before talking to him) can't really take him back home anyway: he's going to get a minimum of ten years for his reckless obsession.

JESUS LOVES YOU I DON'T (Listen here, or download)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Original "SECRET AGENT" theme by EDWIN ASTLEY

Edwin Astley (1922–1998) first gained some fame as “Ted Astley,” touring England with his own orchestra. He had some songs covered by well-known British performers (including Anne Shelton and Vera Lynn) before making his name in TV theme and incidental music, first for Boris Karloff’s “Colonel March,” and then between 1955 and 1958, “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “Sir Lancelot” and “Ivanhoe.”

Astley’s high point was probably the album that featured one side of “Secret Agent” music, and the other side, music from “The Saint.” No, he did NOT write the famous theme for “Secret Agent” that appeared on American television, sung by Johnny Rivers. He wrote the themes when the show was called “Danger Man.” The best known bit of music from the show is “High Wire,” which sort of sounds like “Music to Whisk Eggs By,” and seemed like it was played almost constantly in every episode. The odd choice of instrument for the lead may have been inspired by the zither used for "The Third Man" mystery film. There can be something quite unsettling about a cheerful instrument used over grim noir footage, or mated to jazz drums as it is here.

Astley also wrote music for late 60’s TV shows “The Baron,” “Department S,” and “Randall and Hopkins, Deceased.” He also had many movie credits, including quite a few grim films such as “Dublin Nightmare” 1958) “Naked Fury” (1959) and “The Giant Behemoth” (1959). On the lighter side, there was “The Mouse that Roared” in 1959. He composed the orchestral music for the Herbert Lom version of ‘Phantom of the Opera” in 1962.

Fun trivia: Edwin’s daughter Karen married Pete Townshend. Karen and Pete’s son Jon Astley was in charge of many of The Who’s re-mastered CD releases. Sadly, there’s no CD featuring the best of Edwin Astley’s film scores. It’s not everyone who can make a harpsichord sound hip.

EDWIN ASTLEY -HIGH WIRE (SECRET AGENT THEME) Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

Ill-Ustrated Songs #37 - Pearl Bailey - TOWER OF STRENGTH

Was Pearl Bailey a "Tower of Strength?"

She was, as they say, a force to be reckoned with, "tall, buxom, exuberant and handsome." That's the New York Times description. Plus this: "Her voice had a distinctively warm timbre and her natural vocal inflection was filled with fascinating colors and highlights."

Of black and Creek Indian ancestry, we belatedly honor her birthday, March 29, 1918. She was married to white jazz drummer Louis Bellson (aka Luigi Balassoni) for 38 years. He fan base included jazz buffs, sophisticates, Broadway gays (she was in the pioneering all-Black production of "Hello Dolly") and Presidents, including Nixon and Johnson. In the 50's, she was known for her risque humor in nightclubs; her song introductions were sometimes bawdy, and "Pearlie Mae" was also known to song a provocative tune, too. "I call myself a humorist. I tell stories to music and, thank God, in tune. I laugh at people who call me an actress."

"Tower of Strength" is usually sung by male singers, with abject humiliation or angst-ridden despair. The original by Gene McDaniels had a trombone mocking his grief and pain. Paul Raven offered one of the more effeminate cover versions. At least, he sang it with full knowledge that he was a wimp who couldn't leave the bitch that was in control of his life. The song doesn't quite work so well as a female vocal, because Bacharach's melody is so upbeat and loaded with syncopated bumps. It's not one of those "I'm a Fool to Want You" jazz ballads. So Pearl just plays with the jazz aspect and doesn't really emote the lyrics. She cools things down.

And if you'd like to hear other versions...go right ahead down the line of downloads.

Pearl Bailey Tower of Strength Instant download or listen on line.

TOWER OF STRENGTH Gerd Bottcher- CAROLIN CAROLIN

TOWER OF STRENGTH Frankie Vaughan

TOWER OF STRENGTH - GENE MCDANIEL

TOWER OF STRENGTH - PAUL RAVEN

TOWER OF STRENGTH - PAUL RICH

TOWER OF STRENGTH - Sue Richards

TOWER OF STRENGTH cute recent Asian version by Yeongene

YOU DON"T HAVE TO BE A TOWER OF STRENGTH - GLORIA LYNNE

TOUTE MA VIE (Tower of Strength) Audrey Arno

TOWER OF STRENGTH -Lew Davis

TOWER OF STRENGTH - DO IT YOURSELF via KARAOKE VERSION!

Download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn ads or use of sleazy companies that pay a percentage to bloggers for their "hard work." The hard work was done not by upping files, but by the original writers and performers.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

DAVID PEEL - THE DAY THE CLOWN DIED

David Peel? He was a clown.

A lot of hippie-clowns lightened up the mood of revolutionary America in the late 60’s and early 70’s including Abbie Hoffman, The Fugs and the team of Cheech and Chong.

David Peel (David Rosario, August 1, 1943-April 6, 2017) was a Puerto Rican who hung around in the East Village bellowing idiotic songs. You could actually be discovered that way. Further uptown, eccentric street performer Moondog became a "legend" and got a record deal.In 1968, Peel was signed to Elektra for a sort of novelty album “Have a Marijuana,” which probably sold about as well as one of the ESP indie Fugs discs. He had a two-lp deal with Elektra so they put out a second album, which lacked a marijuana album cover picture and sold less than the first.

John Lennon, fascinated by the variety of freaks in his adopted New York City, pronounced David Peel “real” for singing “the Pope smokes dope every day.” Thanks to John, who gave a muttery introduction to the title track, and produced the record, "The Pope Smokes Dope" arrived in stores. And yes, since I was buying everything John was on, or endorsed, I bought Peel's album, too.

It was a dumb piece of shit then, and it took Peel's death to make me listen to it again. Peel’s braying New Yawk retard-voice doesn’t help put over the witless refrain: “The Pope smokes dope! GOD GAVE HIM THE GRASS!”

Peel could've joked that the President (or POTUS, as Millennial twits call him) was a secret head, but I guess pissing on the head of the Catholics was a lot more, what, Lenny Brucey of him? Mixing up a protest involving religion does generally get people even more enraged. But who could get that upset about a skanky idiot from the Lower East Side spouting stuff Andrew "Dice" Clay would find childish? Part of the song's lyric:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jill forgot to take a pill and now she has a daughter! Taking pills is not a joke for a groovy Pope. Birth control can be a toke of marijuana smoke!”

Put it this way, it's sad that Peel had a massive heart attack a few days ago, and did not recover, but I still remember being out $2.99 for buying this stupid album.

To be charitable, let's say that David could have influenced The Ramones, the aforementioned "Dice" Clay, and even Howard Stern. Being a moron in public would turn Stern into a millionaire. While Howard didn't sing, he had people getting up at the crack of dawn to hear him talk to retards and have arguments with nitwits like Baba Booey and Jackie the Joke Man. "Dice" Clay would fill Madison Square Garden with goofs wanting to hear him re-cycle old Pearl Williams and Belle Barth gags including the spider saying to Little Miss Muffett, "What's in the bowl, bitch?"

Somehow, college twits of the day loved to replay Cheech and Chong doing “Dave’s not here” for five minutes, and elbowed each other over The Fugs being allowed to sing "River of Shit," but copies of David Peel albums slipped into the bargain bin, under-appreciated. Now, only truly dumb fuckheads consider them, and his subsequent stuff "collectors items" for their basements. (As you can see from the photo, Lennon seemed to have gotten a bit tired of David's schtick, too). Maybe Peel's record label should've added a giant piece of rolling paper? Or paper panties? Then a Peel disc might be worth the same bucks as a certain Cheech and Chong effort, or Alice Cooper's "School's Out."

Check eBay's list of what was sold in the past month (before David's death) and "The Pope Smokes Dope" went for $11.77 on January 15th, another copy $9.91 on February 19th, and another for $15.49 on March 5th. Currently, some kneejerk idiot is paying $49.95 for a listed copy, but another one, just posted for $9.95 will not likely get much more than that.

Like Tiny Tim, Dean Friedman, Kinky Friedman and herpes, David Peel did not disappear with the 70's. His discography allegedly includes "John Lennon Forever" (1987), "Anarchy in New York City" (1993), "Legalize Marijuana" (2002), "Up Against the Wall Street" (2013), and "Give Hemp a Chance" (2015). I don't have any of those. I still remember dropping $2.99 on "The Pope Smokes Dope," and I'm sure all that stuff will turn up on YouTube or Spotify or Zinfart or some other place that is making sure that we'll not see an indie artist like David Peel be able to survive and make any kind of a living doing what he enjoys.

It's nice that Peel, who leaves no family behind, did live long enough to see medical marijuana legalized in his home state of New York. And it's nice that Peel didn't sing "Mohammad Smokes Dope," because if he did, he would not have died of natural causes. Which is a way of saying that the era of comical David Peel-type protest songs is in as rough shape as David is now, and those 43 Coptic Christians who went to "Palm Sunday" services today in Egypt and didn't realize some Muslims don't believe anyone should be alive who isn't Muslim.

The Pope Smokes Dope DAVID PEEL Instant download or listen on line.

LOLA ALBRIGHT goes into DREAMSVILLE at 92

Albrighty, then!

I guess it’s only a few hardcore lounge music spuds and “Peter Gunn” goons who remember Lola Albright. For a few years she was a mature, classy, exotic flame on TV and in movies. Lola Jean Albright (July 20, 1924 – March 23, 2017) got her first big break in the Kirk Douglas boxing movie "The Champion" (1949) and then turned up in "The Good Humor Man," opposite bulky comedian Jack Carson, whom she married a few years later (and divorced in 1958). It was in 1958 that she dazzled TV audiences as the nightclub singer who was involved with stoic private eye "Peter Gunn."

She sang during the show's three seasons, but there was plenty of competition for her record stores, including plenty of gorgeous Julie London discs with sexy photos on the cover. That may be why “Dreamsville” was about it. Though Lola was an authentic MILF type (in 1961 she starred in "A Cold Wind in August" about a 30-something stripper getting hot for a 17 year-old), Julie London, was the queen of that genre, a sophisticate who seemed to know every nuance of romance. Another fun role for Lola was as "Paula Marshall," a confident mature vamp intimidating stammery Rob Petrie on an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

Eventually Angie Dickinson became the go-to mature sex goddess on TV, and Lola slipped into retirement.She made her last film in 1968. She divorced her third husband in 1975, and didn't seem inclined to do memorabilia shows and sit around letting grinning, sweaty Huelbigs paw her for a $25 photo op.

Despite Henry Mancini behind the baton (he also co-wrote most of the tracks), "Dreamsville" is more of a daydream. It's pretty mild stuff, and Lola doesn't demonstrate much individual style. Still, she was a pretty woman, and she had a pretty nice 'n' easy voice. Believe it, or download "They Didn't Believe Me."

LOLA ALBRIGHT THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE ME Instant download or listen on line. No obnoxious pop-up ads to idiot porn or gaming sites.

OLD FOLKIE PEGGY SEEGER - FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE

There's been some hub and bub regarding old folkies lately who are doing slightly odd things.

The always unpredictable Bob Dylan continued his fetish for tormenting the standards by releasing three more CDs of songs Sinatra and others have done better. That Willie Nelson did a lame album of "Stardust" and other worn out tunes over 30 years ago hasn't mattered. Most critics have indulgently bought the line that Dylan is a valid interpreter of everything from "As Time Goes By" to, yeah, "Stardust." And he isn't. He's put out 5 novelty albums. Some tracks are downright embarrassing. Play this stuff to anyone who isn't a starry-eyed and indulgent rock critic, and they'd say "what fucking amateur retirement home idiot is hacking away at this shit?"

Bob's former girlfriend Joan Baez hasn't been doing the standards. She's gone back to singing topical folk songs (she has a new one yodeling about Trump). She's now considered a rock star, for having made it into the rather pointless and obscure “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” It’s located in Cleveland. That’s how unimportant it is.

Joan humbly acknowledged that she is not now and never was a rocker. She's a folkie who's had crossover appeal by covering a rock song (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”) or singing about Bob Dylan (“Diamonds and Rust.”) She toured in Bob's "Rolling Thunder" shows, sometimes dressed in Bob drag, but others did the rocking. So Joan made sure to let everyone know that she was entering rock's "Hall of Fame" with a slightly apology and a lot of gratitude. Funny, there was nobody apologizing for Tupac Shakur also getting into the Hall on the same ballot. What the FUCK does that dead thug have to do with rock?

Joan Baez is 76. Bob Dylan is 75.

Also touring, at 81, is Peggy Seeger.

While Joan enjoys her unexpected shot-in-the-arm, which has led to renewed interest in her catalog and sold-out performances with the God-awful Indigo Girls, and while Bob continues to amaze (people who said his voice was shot have to admit, he can be smooth and actually hit high notes on the "standards") Peggy Seeger continues along.

The most hardcore folkie of them all, Seeger isn’t begging for Kickstarter money or haunting YouTube or Facebook asking to be LIKED. She remains somewhat obscure and uncompromising, playing for that small circle who admire traditional music sung and played with total integrity.

In other words, her stuff is far more difficult to take than Dylan's standards or his Christmas album. Her flinty voice is not going to win over people who find Baez's warble seriously annoying after ten minutes. She could care less. And she tours and makes CDs when she feels like it.

Seeger wrote one of the greatest modern folk songs, “The Ballad of Spring Hill,” (aka Spring Hill Mining Disaster, and Ballad of Springhill) which has been adapted and covered by everyone from classic balladeers such as Martin Carthy, to the dreaded U2 and the unheralded Ivy League Trio. She and husband Ewan MacColl covered it, too, with Ewan adding a few authentic touches to the lyrics, related to mining technique.

MacColl, who was born James Henry Miller (January 25, 1915 – October 22, 1989) is the father of Kirsty MacColl via his second marriage, to Jean Newlove. Ewan was still married to Jean when he fell for Peggy, 20 years younger. The circumstances, Peggy is quick to say, “are none of your business.” Meaning, don’t ask her if she felt uncomfortable about taking a man away from his wife. Legend has it that Ewan wrote “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” as a love song to Peggy, and she first heard it via a tape sent by mail.

MacColl’s other famous songs include “Dirty Old Town” and another great modern folk song, “The Ballad of Tim Evans” (aka ‘Go Down Ye Murderer”), which was covered by Judy Collins and the Ivy League Trio among others.

Severely traditional folk singers are an acquired taste, especially in the decades that have seen the rise of folk-pop (The Weavers and Peter Paul and Mary) and folk-rock. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” after all, only became a hit when it was softened up and sung by Roberta Flack in 1972. Below, you get the oddity of a woman singing a tribute song to herself. Oh, I’m sure Peggy was imagining the countenance of the controversial Commie Ewan MacColl while she was singing it, and not singing it to a mirror. But Peggy was the inspiration.

Peggy Seeger First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Instant download or listen on line. No egotistical Zinfart password to type in.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Christine Kaufmann Dies at 72 - the "Town without Pity" girl

Christine Kaufmann (January 11, 1945-March 28, 2017) was a ballerina with the Munich Opera company, and gradually began to develop a film career. She gained international attention (and a Golden Globe award) for starring in the gang rape-shocker "Town Without Pity" in 1961. A bunch of soldiers (including Frank Sutton before he became Sgt. Carter on "Gomer Pyle") attacked her in the woods, after she went swimming.

Critics at the time found the film lurid and distasteful.

The New York Times especially loathed the theme song, sung by Gene Pitney, and whenever the film was on TV, the capsule review commented on how awful that noisy music was.

Today, the theme song lives on, and the film is mostly forgotten. And so, it seems, is Christine Kaufmann. At least, as a film star.

Kaufmann made "Escape from East Berlin" the following year, and married Tony Curtis. This storybook romance (he, the Jew born Bernard Schwartz, she the daughter of a Luftwaffe officer) lasted several years, and produced two childen. She appeared in "Taras Bulba" in 1962, "Wild and Wonderful" in 1964, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" in 1972, and her last big year of film making was 1981 ("Day of the Idiots,""Lili Marleen" and "Lola").

She married a few more times and became known as a health and fitness buff. She had success in Germany with her own line of cosmetics.

Since you all know Pitney's version of "Town without Pity," and maybe even the German language version of it called "Bleibe Bei Mir" ("Stay with Me") the salute to Kaufmann offers the oddity of a female version of the song.

Mathilde Santing is a Dutch singer known internationally (maybe), for her cover versions of Randy Newman, Paul Simon and others. Her unique voice sometimes lacks emotion (ala Judy Collins) but she often enhances her haunting style with weird changes in tempo. She slowed down Paul Simon's "Hazy Shade of Winter" into an icy dirge, and here, a gypsy rhythm infuses her warbling, which may remind you of a menopausal Kate Bush.

The song "Town Without Pity" doesn't address the theme of the movie, which involves the "she asked for it, the slut" stigma involving rape. Instead, Ned Washington's lyrics for the unusually swinging Dimitri "Guns of Navarone" Tiomkin music focus on the raging hormones of misunderstood teenagers. Ten years earlier, Washington and Tiomkin won an Academy Award for the "High Noon" tune "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling," sung by Tex Ritter.

They were nominated for "Town Without Pity" but lost to "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Yeah, they gave it to a song that calls a river a "huckleberry friend." You can bet "Town Without Pity" lost because of the grown-up voters sneering at Gene Pitney's chipmunk wailing! Below, elegant Netherlands gypsy Mathilde gets verklempt.

Mathilde Santing Town Without Pity Instant download or listen on line. No royalties paid BUT, the blog is not getting paid either for any “hard work” in uploading the track.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

CREEPY JOE ADAMS: “THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU” Rap

How to give a back ache to Bacharach: make him sit through cover versions of his songs, especially this one.

Submitted for your approval, a track by “Joe Adams,” who never recorded an entire album. This track is filler on a “101 Strings” album. The 101 Strings knocked off dozens of cheapies to cash in on a hot artist, movie or trend. In this case, they were hoping to pluck a buck from the heat wave of erotic “heavy breathing” records.

You might recall there was “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus,” a Latina going ai-ai-ahhhhh on “Jungle Fever” and “Please Love Me” which had a pouting, moaning, then frantic female vocalist emoting behind the chugging instrumentals of a chauvinistic group called Manpower. There were also narration albums, with people reading the "Kama Sutra," "Lady Chatterly's Lover," or instructions on becoming "The Sensuous Woman."

Fans of “outsider music” “nerd audio” and “so bad it’s good Muzak” cherish any 101 String cheese-incident. The early ones are a bit too serious, featuring players in German symphony orchestras gathered together to do Mantovani-type collections of movie themes and light classics

In 1964, entrepeneur Al Sherman bought the rights to the 101 Strings franchise, and put them on his own label, Alshire (ah, I get it, Al Sherman…Al Shire…). Now using cheap moonlighting talent from the London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, Sherman oversaw increasingly more modern output. There were warped Muzak versions of Beatles songs, the best of Simon & Garfunkel, and later, soul and even electronic music. It was supposed to be fun for the whole family. “Well,” said Dad, “I have to admit, those Beatles melodies are nice, as long as there’s no SINGING!”

Today, “collectors” have made some of the dollar-bin albums from the 101 strings worth, well, $1.01. Or more. MORE if the music's particularly queasy, or the cover is kewl. You'll pay more than a buck go get “The Sounds of Love” and its kinky follow-up, “The Exotic Sounds of Love.”

The latter has already been mentioned on the blog (the download being "Whiplash"). On the former (pictured above), you’ll find Bebe Bardon’s solo moaning on a track called “Love at First Sight” (yeah, basically “Je T’aime” without a man in the bed). Bebe Bardon’s name was swiped off Brigitte Bardot, who was also known as “B.B.” and “Bebe.” Bardot actually recorded an early version of “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus” with Serge Gainsbourg. Bardon couldn’t quite gasp through an entire album by herself, so there was filler, including instrumentals and a few appalling narratives from "Joe Adams."

Below in a download, and below the belt, for the snickers of posterity, one of the carnal chronicles of creepy Adams. Perhaps his influence was Bryce Bond, who recorded a "Bachelor Apartment" album on the budget Strand label, intended to be luridly overheard oozings and urgings of seduction. Over the ordinary instrumentals from the 101 Strings, Joe recites some Hal David lines and adds come-ons of his own. Groan. Groan.

JOE ADAMS THIS GUYS IN LOVE WITH YOU Instant download or listen on line. No royalties paid BUT, the blog is not getting paid either for any “hard work” in uploading the track.

CHUCK BERRY - ROCKIN’ , DUCK WALKIN’, PISSIN’ PEEPIN' AND SUIN’

I’ll never forget first hearing “Maybellene.” It wasn't the Chuck Berry version.

I had the Ralph Marterie single. (Gerry and the Pacemakers did it much later, probably hunting for a Berry song they could lift the way The Beatles took "Roll Over Beethoven.") If you’re thinking Ralph's another Pat Boone white guy doing a dumbed-down cover, just listen. Like another Italian jazz man, Louis Prima, Marterie had a pretty hip voice. In the mid-50’s hip and hep were finding common ground with "cats" like Louis Jordan turning in numbers that could easily be considered early rock and roll.

Before he jumped on “Maybellene” (note the spelling, different from the cosmetic company), Ralph had scored with a cover of Bill Haley’s “Crazy, Man, Crazy.” He managed to get that one into the Top 20. “Maybellene” zoots him well. (In later years, Ralph tended to stay away from the microphone and just play his trumpet, fronting his big band).

The other day, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen (among others) were quoted with their tributes to the late Chuck Berry. “Boss” Springsteen declared: “Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ’n’ roll writer who ever lived." Not the first time Broooose has been full of shit. He's overrated, too. MASSIVELY. The truth is, Berry was among the pioneers of rock (along with Little Richard, Bill Haley and then Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly) but what they all have in common is most people don't listen to 'em much anymore. Oh, there's still Elvis fetishists, but most people over 40 listen to The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones and others who fleshed out those primitive rockin' bones.

Yes, I like a handful of Chuck’s catchy songs, but I haven't played any of 'em in years. And I rarely play cover versions of 'em either. “Maybellene” (1955) has a fun pun about “motorvatin’” over the hill. “School Days” (1957) was beloved by many and was even covered by Phil Ochs. “Memphis, Tennessee” is really just a long way to go for a joke, but it’s spawned many covers as well, including a moody and sincere one from Eleanor McEvoy. You have to like that line about missing the girl with the "hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye." It beats yellow matter custard. Speaking of which, The Beatles of course, covered “Roll Over Beethoven” which Chuck had recorded in 1956. By 1958 (“Rock and Roll Music and “Johnny B. Goode”) Chuck was done. You really want to include ‘My Ding a Ling” from 1972?

Anything else? If you can stand to listen to an entire CD of this guy, OR Little Richard OR Buddy Holly (no racism here, the white guy is just as annoying), then you’re fond of monotony. Three minutes of an old video clip is plenty, too. Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis made faces at the piano. Fine for three minutes. Chuck had the infamous “duck walk.” It's still amusing to see once in a while. More amusing than Michael Jackson moonwalking or crotch-grabbing.

Like Jerry Lee Lewis who was “the killer” who liked ‘em young, Chuck Berry had a grim side. Even cadaverous Keith Richards had to admit “Chuck was probably the hardest person I’ve ever had to work with, including Mick Jagger.” Berry spent years in reform school for robbery and car theft. He matched Jerry Lee for creepiness when he was arrested in 1959 and convicted in 1962 for bringing a teen prostitute across state lines. He did 18 months for that. Ala Cosby, Chuck's fame only gave him a license (he felt) to be exploitive. Chuck videotaped himself pissing on some aging white groupie. The blurry video surfaced courtesy of Screw Magazine; they sold it along with a bonus feature showing somebody from The Go-Go's being drunk. In 1989 Chuck was sued by women for having a sneaky hidden camera in his St. Louis restaurant's ladies room. The number of women who got compensation money from Chuck: 74. That’s Berry 74, Cosby 1.

Ornery Berry sued John Lennon because John paid him a tribute and sang “come on flat top” on “Come Together.” Today, Kanye and friends steal whole riffs, whole lines, and get Grammy-nominated for it. Well, let’s say Hail Hail to Chuck, for being the Black Man fighting against abuse from Whitey. In this case, it was the Whitey who almost single-handedly promoted Chuck’s music to Beatles fans all over the world. PS, Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" cops a bit of melody and attitude off the hillbilly tune "Ida Red." Check out Bob Wills' swingy version and you'll agree, but, as Michael Caine would say, "not a lot of people know that."

Goodness gracious me. Have I digressed? Let’s go back to the two main themes. Number one: Ralph Marterie was a good singer, in the mode of Louis Prima or Ray Ellington (Sapristi!). And second, Chuck Berry did write and perform five or six amusing novelty songs. The Coasters performed more than five or six amusing novelty songs, but they languished in oldies shows if they worked at all. Chuck was still being begged to perform and paid big sums for it. Hail hail.

Maybe the obits and all the praise from Jagger and Springsteen etc. will get a few Millennials to appreciate the bare bones brilliance of Mr. Berry. But maybe not. Millennials are assholes, more prone to smirking, “that was before my time, Duuuuuude.” But who knows, somebody under 30 might listen and then sing, “He never mattered much to me, but now I see. Poor Berr-eeee.” (How Lowe do you go!)

Ralph Marterie MAYBELLINE Instant download or listen on line. No Paypal tip jar, no monetizing on this blog, no money or favors earned from the download.

SHANNON BOLIN - ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

One of the most touching, oddest autographs in my collection, is from Shannon Bolin. If you know the name at all, it’s probably because she played the housewife in “Damn Yankees.” That was my connection to her, although she released two albums, “Rare Wine” (a collection of obscure Broadway songs, many cut from famous musicals) and “Songs for Patricia,” a collection of Alec Wilder songs waxed for Riverside.

I happened to notice, among a seller's hundreds of items for sale, a 3x5 card on Ms. Bolin. It was only a few dollars. Who would know her name? I did, but what made me take a crowbar to my wallet,was the inscription. Usually (check eBay and you can confirm it) she either signed “Best wishes” or personalized it “To…” whoever. Here, she wrote: “Enjoy the rest of your life.”

What prompted such a remark? Who was the person who got this autograph in person or by mail, and why did Shannon respond in such a way? We’ll never know. Almost all the autographs I have came from personal contact with the celebrity. In this case, seeing the inscription had me wishing I'd known Bolin. Now, I could sort of pretend I did. I became a bit wistful about Bolin’s most famous song, the plain and plaintive ballad of loss called “There’s Something About an Empty Chair.” Sure, I'd enjoyed it as I had almost all the songs in "Damn Yankees," but now it was even more poignant.

In the musical Shannon plays a dowdy wife whose husband suddenly disappears. He's made a deal with the devil, and joined the Washington Senators as powerful superstar “Joe Hardy.” Bolin’s voice, distinctive but not beautiful, very much suits this heartfelt and mournful lament.

The co-writer of "Damn Yankees" was Jerry Ross (nee Rosenberg). "Damn Yankees" was the second hit musical for him and his partner Richard Adler. "Pajama Game" premiered in 1954. "Damn Yankees" arrived in 1955...the same year Jerry died. He died November 11, 1955 of some freak bronchial problem. He was just 29. Richard Adler tried but couldn't find another composer to bring him Broadway success.

Also in 1955 Shannon recorded “Rare Wine,” which included her take on Alec Wilder’s "The Winter Of My Discontent.” Wilder’s song probably is better suited to someone with a haggard voice, or perhaps an Annie Ross type, who would act out the lyrics with emotion. Stlll, Shannon does a good job here, even if her very “ordinary-ness” was probably a reason she never became a rival to Clooney, Page, Billie Holiday, or other contemporaries. She wasn't exactly a cover girl ala Julie London, either.

Shannon’s first name was Ione, which was pronounced, quite literally I guess, “I-one.” She was born on 1/1/1917. (She died 3/25/2016 at the age of 99). She said that being named 1one demonstrated her parents’ “South Dakota humor.” If she’d had a brother, what would her joker parents have done with that? Name the kid Jackpot Bolin? Her parents were the non-novelty named Gracie and Harry Bolin. Shannon was her middle name.

Shannon’s career began on radio during World War 2, and in 1944 she was accepted by the New Opera Company in New York. She worked in both modern operas (“Regina” and “Barbara Allen”) and in musicals, including “Take Me Along” and “The Student Gypsy.” She was one of the "Damn Yankees" cast members fortunate enough to appear in the film version. Gwen Verdon was reluctantly allowed to star as “Lola,” even if one of the film’s directors grumbled that she was “ugly.” The pre-"Martian" Ray Walston, absolutely essential as “The Devil,” was second choice to Cary Grant, who declined it.

Despite a hit show and movie, Shannon didn't pursue her show business career. She was a wife and mother. She was married to Milton Kaye, who did very well for himself as a pianist and a composer. Milton accompanied the violinist Jascha Heifetz in concerts, and played in the NBC radio orchestra of Toscanini and other classical greats. It was said that he didn’t like the pressure of a solo career, and preferred supporting others. He’d had a taste of the pressure back in 1935, when he premiered Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1 for American audiences, and in 1945 when he made his Town Hall debut (doing a lot better than, say, Harry Chapin’s mythical “Mr. Tanner”). He would sometimes perform a solo concert at Carnegie Hall or other venues, but wasn't in competition with Rubinstein or Horowitz.

A rather humble Jewish guy from Brooklyn, Kaye also composed TV music for everything from the daytime quiz series “Concentration” to the early “Rootie Kazootie Show" which featured a freckle-faced baseball playing puppet. He even found work as a radio announcer, especially at New York’s classical station, WQXR. Once her daughter Jeanne was grown, Shannon did take acting roles now and then. Circa 1980, she was in the forgotten “If Ever I See You Again” and the even more forgotten horror film “The Children." Milton was active in music till the end. In 2006, at the age of 97, he was playing some Beethoven and Bach in the apartment he shared with Shannon, when he found himself feeling ill. He died a short time later, of pneumonia. Their only child was already gone, not out-living either of her parents. Shannon Bolin did make a few films circa 1980 She may have been faintly known to passersby for a commercial she did for the awful restaurant chain Denny’s. She was one of the “Corlick Sisters,” the fictional bickering duo that would quarrel about the joint, and call it “Lenny’s.” No doubt Ms. Bolin had a few people stop her on the street and ask, “Are you Ms. Corlick??”

Four years before Milton died, the duo of Mr. and Mrs. Kaye appeared in commercials extolling the eternal value of De Beers diamonds. In the 30 second spot, a young couple are walking in Central Park, thinking about diamonds, no doubt, or running off into the bushes near Strawberry Fields for a quick fuck. They walk past an elderly couple, and look back with amused respect. How nice to grow old together, like Shannon and Milton, and have that bond affirmed by wearing diamond rings.

From the baseball diamond of “Damn Yankees” to the diamond of a De Beers TV commercial…here’s to Shannon Bolin (and her husband). Below, one track each from “Damn Yankees” and “Rare Wine.” Download them, Sport, and you can become a Bolin ally.

SHANNON BOLIN Winter of my Discontent Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

SHANNON BOLIN There's Something About an Empty Chair Instant download or listen on line.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

KELLY GORDON - TEARS, TEARS because…THAT’S LIFE

“That’s life,” Frank Sinatra swung. Who wrote that song? Kelly Gordon and Dean Kay. Never heard of them, did you? Gordon was not exactly your Tin Pan Alley denizen. Born in Frankfurt, Kentucky (November 19, 1932-August 1, 1981), he had some “teen idol” years in the early 60’s and then tried for some blue-eyed soul. His most famous song was first recorded by Marion Montgomery and O.C. Smith before Frank made it his own in 1966.

Back in 1962, he issued his first Mercury single, “I Can’t Face The Day” b/w his own composition, “I’m Goin' Home.” The following year, he wrote and recorded “A Phonograph Record,” which was arranged by Dave Gates. He was the title character in a “Burke’s Law” TV episode called “Who Killed Billy Jo?” He sang a song called “Tears, Tears” which you’ll find below.

The photo above is from that "Burke's Law" episode. It does look like he could be swingin' a version of "That's Life," but on the episode he played a teen idol. "Tears Tears" was the B-side to his “Let Me Tell Ya Jack.” Mercury thought enough of Kelly Gordon to have Shorty Rogers work as the arranger on both cuts. "Tears Tears" had a credit on the label: “as sung by KELLY GORDON in Four Star TV “Burke’s Law.” His last single for Mercury was “You’re a Star Now.”

In 1969, half a decade away from his Mercury teen-idol days, Kelly managed to get a deal with Capitol for an album called “Defunked.” It messed with country and blue-eyed soul. The single handed to disc jockeys was a cover version of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” b/w, yes, “That’s Life.” In the summer of 1969, Capitol released another single from the album, “Some Old Funky Blues Thang.”

And what Kelly Lee Gordon did in the 70’s…is not on record. Tears, tears. And for a guy to have written such a famous Sinatra song and be so unknown… “That’s Life.”

Kelly Gordon TEARS TEARS Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

DAVID CASSIDY March 4th - the GOODBYE SHOW at BB King's

Don’t trust the media.

In reporting on what turned out to be David Cassidy's chosen farewell show, last Saturday night, the media has run a sob story about how he was so dissipated by dementia that he was falling on stage, forgetting the words and unable to do more than pathetically croak. While it’s true that he struggled during moments of this past tour, he didn't sound much different from last year's tour. His predominantly older and female crowd seemed to enjoy the shows. So did he, flexing his chops on all kinds of songs from his hits to old standards to R&B. Unlike Peter Noone, for example, he sang and played guitar at the same time, a little reminder that he considers himself a musician more than a pop idol.

No, I was never a fan of the guy, but you can’t dismiss him as just a bubble-gum boy who got lucky with a stupid TV series. It was fitting that his last show took place at BB King’s, because…David was an early fan of the blues master. Before David was a teen idol, he was just another wide-eyed white kid, so impressed that he waited at the stage door and begged King to let him carry his guitar to the car.

David told the crowd about it: “There were no security people, there were no minders…he was alone as he walked off…he came out and I said, “Excuse me, Mr. King, I thought your show was fantastic…could I carry your guitar up to your car?” And he said, “Yes, thank you very much…” David was thrilled to be able to talk to B.B. King, and when King asked the kid whether he planned to go into music, David modestly said, “I’m not a professional…someday I’m gonna be an actor.” (David didn’t mention in his famous father, actor Jack Cassidy). “I wish you the best of luck,” said King, “you seem like a very fine young man.”

By many accounts, despite the three marriages, the inevitable alcohol problem, the legend of his giant cock, and the equally swelled head a teen idol can get, Cassidy was, and is, a good guy. Too bad he didn’t get enough respect from the nostalgia bbunch in the audience. They seemed indifferent to some of the blues songs he covered, only tolerant of his attempts at rock star emoting (on the cover version of “Hush” for example). They wanted the Partridge Family hits, and the cheap spotlights in the often crappy venues he was playing disappopinted them in showing some wear on his face, and a receding hairline.

Wherever Cassidy went, he was grateful people still cared but hoped they'd behave: “No flashes…no videos…it’s hard enough for me right now…just stop yelling and screaming for a while…” What, a “teen idol” trying to be taken seriously, when idiots want to snap souvenir photos and point their cell phones? Even worse, whether to rest of his voice, or out of a sincere desire to simply SAY things besides sing them, Cassidy had to practically beg for some quiet:

“Please…I can’t talk when you’re yelling…no light, no screaming at me when I’m talking…I want this to be such an enjoyable night…I got 49 years in this business, you’re the reason….I want you to know how much I love and appreciate the way you’ve given me this gift. It’s never been a job. It’s always been, for me, love and fun…just don’t yell at me…you may be bored with me…because I’m gonna talk a lot, but please, don’t do anything else, just listen to me…I’m yelling already…”

And perhaps alluding to the onset of dementia that was forcing him into retirement, he said, “I love the fact that you are here and supporting me on this special night….I hope you will remember…love each other for the rest of your God-given life and try with everything you’ve got to do what I’m about to tell you: GET HAPPY…”

Yes, he did try to give the crowd the hit songs they remembered. He brought a band with him to the small towns, and he cared enough to constantly ask for adjustments from the sound booth and to switch guitars when he heard one going out of tune. He seemed to actually find joy on stage, and not think of himself in the purgatory of several years playing rather obscure clubs just to put money in the bank after all the bad business decisions and other financial problems.

But to say he was out of it, or that his performance was any worse than an off-night for Paul Simon or Bob Dylan? No, not exactly. But that’s the media.

While Cassidy was playing BB King’s I was watching the Thurman vs Garcia boxing match. It ended in a split decision. What that tells you is that people can see things differently.

When there’s money involved, they can see things very differently. When you’re running a news website and you want clicks and traffic, you’ll claim David Cassidy was suffering and struggling and make a tearjerker story out of an evening that most people felt went pretty well. The media made much of one drunken fan taking too many flash pictures. David said to her, “I don’t care that you’re drunk. I’ve been drunk enough, as you all know.”

He ultimately said, “Get her out, you’re ruining it for everybody else.” He also said, to security, “Please tell them (all) to stop (taking flash pictures). God!” And that was just one minute of an evening most fans there will remember because a professional entertainer did his best, and most of it wasn’t bad at all.

Below, David’s take on a wistful classic by John Lennon. Yes, he reached the hoarse level McCartney now sometimes has, a little earlier than Paul. And yes, he re-interpreted the melody line to skip some of the higher notes, but he was still communicating, still making music.

IN MY LIFE David Cassidy IN MY LIFE Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

Valerie Carter - Da Doo Rendezvous with Death

Reality what a concept. When I heard Valerie Carter died, I thought…what? She’s young…er, no. Not if you talk to a Millennial she wasn’t. She was in her 60’s. And people in their 60’s, who were popular in the late 70’s or early 80’s, are on their way to the boneyard.

I’d forgotten HOW LONG AGO I was listening to the “Wild Child” album, with baby-pout Valerie doing the “i’m so hot, I can look wasted” look. Or was it that she looked hot BECAUSE she looked so wasted? You tell me.

In a world loaded up with Linda Ronstadt, Chi Coltrane, Maria Muldaur and Carly Simon album covers, maybe Valerie got lost in the 12x12 shuffle. She had a semi hit with “Ooh Child,” which fit comfortably into that hammock of swingy James Taylor and white-funk Steely Dan stuff.

I had a fondness, at the time, for “Da Doo Rendezvous,” which had a light jazz tilt, and that oh so hip notion that “doing” a chick was “da doo”-ing her, and back then a classy term for a “booty call” would be “da doo rendezvous.” Ooh. OOH, CHILD. So, what did she da-doo if she wasn’t making solo albums?

If you check your record collection you’ll find that Valerie was a back-up singer on TONS of great discs. If you’ve replaced your vinyl with mp3 files, well, too bad, mp3 files don’t have much information do they? And CD booklets need a magnifying glass to read.

Let me help. Valerie was on albums by black artists (Aaron Neville’s “Warm Your Heart” 1991, Diana Ross’s “Force Behind the Power” 1991) and by crossover babes with roots rock or C&W/folk influences (Nicolette Larson’s solo album from 1981, and Shawn Colvin’s 1992 “Fat City”). She sang with the smooth guys including Don Henley (“End of the Innocence” 1989), James Taylor (“Gorilla” 1975 through “Hourglass” 1997), and Jackson Browne “I’m Alive,” 1993). LOTS more. Christopher Cross, Eric Carmen, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Webb…Carter thrived as a back-up singer while other Carters took their solo shots (from Linda Carter doing Billy Joel to Carlene Carter connecting with Nick Lowe.)

Valerie’s songs sometimes got covered, and not by assholes on YouTube. “Cook with Honey” was on Judy Colllins’ “True Stories” album, and “Turn It Into Something Good” cooked for Earth Wind and Fire’s “Faces” album.

Once in a while, Valerie got a shot at making a new CD. She didn't look like the "Wild Child" anymore.

In 2009 she was playing in front of the cops, busted for drugs. Fortunately James Taylor was one of the people who hadn’t forgotten about her, and he helped her deal with that situation. Here’s Valerie looking over to James, who apparently testified that she was now clean and sober. And she embraces him and thanks him.

According to her older sister, Valerie would sometimes take the stage at some information outdoor show down in Florida, or maybe some bar, and wow the crowd with her expertise as a back-up singer, or doing a solo on a familiar number.

Below are a few tracks from THAT album with THAT pouty photo that I liked so much. Yes, it’s slightly dated in the way most all “mellow” late 70’s early 80’s jazz-tinged singer-songwriter stuff is dated, but it’s still good, y’all.

Valerie Carter CRAZY Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

Valerie Carter DA DOO RENDEZVOUS Instant download or listen on line, no ads. No "I don't own the copyright, I'm just using it because I like it" YouTube caveat shit. The pricks who say that are monetizing and get paid. This blog doesn't monetize or have a Paypal "tip jar" and doesn't profit financially in any way.