Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Bulging Load of LUCKY LIPS

Take the "Lucky Lips" challenge!
Can you identify the owners of the lucky lips?
Just match A,B,C,D,E to: Ruth Brown, Cliff Richard, Gale Storm, Maria Vincent, and luscious Gina Gershon.
When Gina Gershon opened her "In Search of Cleo" shows with "Lucky Lips," she inspired me to pay some lip service to this catchy (and/or stupid) tune as covered by:
Swinging Ruth Brown, perky Gale Storm, retro mod Maria Vincent (closest to Gina's stage version) and gigolo Cliff Richard who also supplies his German-language version titled "Rote Lippen." I've also included the Peter Kraus German cover-version and....
....a pair of semi-pro lounge performers, the duo of Carlo and Jolanda Hartentwee (of the Netherlands) and Zurich's plucky Joanna Schneiter.
If you're really into this (and there's no reason you should be) you'll note how the lyrics change depending on gender (what would a guy rhyme with "lips" in place of "diamond clips") and the foreigners add some fun by pronunciations of "Locky Lips" and "Lucky Leaps."

The more famous people are represented in the photo quiz.
The QUIZ ANSWERS are in the comment section.
Here's a download of LUCKY LIPS!

Ruth Brown's version has been re-upped individually:


"Johnny" A Pozo-Sicko Folk Song

Martin Mull: "Remember the folk scare of the 60's? That garbage nearly caught on."
One reason it didn't, was that people didn't want to hear rottenly pompous "message" songs by groups like the Pozo-Seco Singers. Even the earnest croon of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" became pretty tiresome, so when every overwrought singer and group began mewling about "I Gave my Love a Cherry" or offering tripe like "Johnny," folk music was doomed. Bob Dylan went electric. Judy Collins, Paul Simon, Janis Ian and others went to folk-rock. Burl Ives went back to acting.
Folk is still around...and mostly avoided. If you see some oh-so-sensitive type in a park or playground, strumming a guitar, sporting a dirndl or a goatee, you RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. Especially if the person has BOTH a dirndl and a goatee. Nobody wants to hear self-important, solemn and pseudo-sensitive suet-suckers oozing pretentious drivel intended as a lesson in life.
Such an example is "Johnny" from the Pozo-Seco Singers, who were so middle of the road they should've been run over by a truck. While they did have some good intentions at times (any group that covered "Changes" by Phil Ochs can't be all bad), this is the kind of song that was intended to make kids cry, especially if the kid hadn't yet gotten over "Puff the Magic Dragon."
Nominations for "Worst Folk Song" are now open, and perhaps one day a blog will feature an entire Rapidshare download of witless sing-alongs, execrable ethnic excretions, cloying calamities and rancidly sappy ballads. For now....heeeeeeeere's "Johnny."

JOHNNY Download or weep on line.

19 Versions of STARDUST

Once upon a starry night, Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" was considered the best song ever written. Everbody covered it. These days, few have "Stardust" memories, and "best song" might go to a more modern ballad, like "Yesterday," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," or "Loving You Has Made me Bananas." Over 1800 cover versions have been made, but most were recorded in the 30's and 40's. Since Spanky and Our Gang gave it a shot in 1968, it's been revived rarely, and mostly by retro-chanteuse types, and greasy guys who want to be the new Sinatra or Connick.
For a "best song," this piece is actually pretty quirky. It's not easy to sing and Hoagy was the Bacharach of his day, prone to odd tempos and a key that was usually full of sharps. Few know the words by heart (as opposed to, say, "As Time Goes By"), and these words aren't particularly great ones, either:
"Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely nights dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie, and I am once again with you, when our love was new, and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago, and now my consolation is in the stardust of a song.
Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright you are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale of paradise where roses grew.
Though I dream in vain, in my heart you will remain my stardust melody
The memory of loves refrain."
Try remembering that, compared to "Yesterday."
Mitchell Parish added the lyrics in 1929, after Hoagy switched "Star Dust" from a jive syncopated jazz piece into the ballad "Stardust." A year later, the first major hit version arrived via Isham Jones, who chose it over "Ish You Ish, Or Ish You Ain't Mah Baby." Or maybe he didn't.
Your 19 song download features a variety of styles. Pick your own 20th as a personal favorite, since it's probably not here.
But here's Dinahs Shore & Washington, Ben Webster, Cab Calloway, Brubeck, Krupa, Coleman Hawkins, Isham Jones, The Ink Spots, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Kaye and even satire (Jackie Vernon). There's country nasal and country swing (Willie and Leon), and since you probably didn't know she could sing, Elke Sommer. Also, a 1933 solo from the Hoagster himself.
Hoagy's name was once synonymous with "songwriter." Either him, or Irving Berlin. "You could be another Hoagy," would've been quite the compliment in the 40's. Now, few could name more than a few of his jumpy little tunes. Oh, they know the songs, like "Georgia On My Mind" but associate someone else with them. No, Ray Charles didn't write that melody, Hoagy did (Hoagy usually wrote just the melodies). "Up a Lazy River" is typically lilting and shows where Bacharach got his shoulder-hunching quirky beats from. "How Little We Know" is a neat syncopated oddity, which Lauren Bacall gamely sang in "To Have and Have Not," and the late great George Harrison was a fan of both "Baltimore Oriole" and "Hong Kong Blues."
For those who have Stardust Memories, recall the Stardust in Vegas, or remember a star with dandruff, here's
star dust in your ears...the rapidshare download disappeared due to one of their typical purges of any file that didn't get downloaded often enough, but it's BACK via the BOX.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

HOOP DE DAH! Pep Pep Pep Pep Pep Catarina Valente

A little exercise may dislodge some of that impacted turkey meat from Thanksgiving. It could melt the Halloween candy still festering in your colon, and it will help burn off some of that bowl full of jelly caused by oddball Christmas treats like figgy pudding.
The best and cheapest exercise is...dancing! The Twist is one of the few dances that actually targets the vast waist-line. Your instructor? Catarina Valente.
Cat's been an international star for four decades, mostly from covering pop hits in a variety of foreign languages. One of her greatest achievements is her German language hand-clapping take on Joey Dee's "Peppermint Twist."
Not everything is translated into German. Along the perky way you'll hear "One two three kick!" and "Kiss me baby, twist me baby" and that's two English sentences more than the average U.S. immigrant will ever know. Too bad the average immigrant does not arrive wearing a peppermint bikini dance suit...with no place to hide weapons.

Catarina Valente - PEPPERMINT TWIST Instant Download or Listen on Line. No pop ups or unders.

You Could Hear...Bobby Cole & Freddy Cole

DEC 19, 1996 my friend Bobby Cole died. He was a hard drinker and a hard smoker, and he worked nightclubs filled with the same. Back then there were no laws about "taking it outside" if you wanted to light up, so he took in plenty of second hand smoke, too. He had heart problems and one evening, perhaps rendered into a less painless state by alcohol, he was seen steadying himself by holding onto a pole, and slowly sinking to the sidewalk. He died on his way to the hospital.

In his last years he was vibrant, gregarious, and only slightly mellowed from the hell-raiser he had been when Sinatra was his pal and Judy Garland his squeeze. That he dated a much younger woman, and had young friends, was testimony to the fact that he was still thinking young, himself. A set might include "A-Train" and "After You've Gone" but also "Whiter Shade of Pale" or Leonard Cohen's "Closing Time."

There's a new album by Freddy Cole, brother of Nat "King" Cole, not Bobby. Freddy's new CD includes a cover of the smoke-dream ballad, "You Could Hear a Pin Drop." Here it is, 11 years after Bobby died, 40 since Bobby wrote and recorded it. Below, you also get Bobby's original version. Take a few minutes, and maybe raise a glass while you listen...



I Heard the Voice of Jesus - Jesus Is Coming

Here are two of my favorite "pro-Jesus" songs.
They're not on the coy and cute Christmas compilations everyone's downloading along the Internet chimney.
"I Heard the Voice of Jesus" features Turley Richards.
The title's poignant; Mr. Richards can only hear Jesus, since he went blind before he signed his first record contract. (But really, he who signs a record contract oft is blind). Fate's hideous practical joke was that young, athletic Turley was playing a goofy game of toy archery and got an arrow in his eye. In a twist right out of "The Light that Failed," his "good" eye became affected and began dimming through his teen years.
Richards recorded some R&B and folk before coming to Warners in 1970 and putting this stunning seven minute track on his debut album. The ambitious opus moves from simple, organ-based hymn to folk-guitar ramble, to rockestra epic, and along the way, miracle man Turley Richards transmogrifies from nasal folkie, to deep-voiced righteous brother, to gruff gospel shouter, to the ultimate epiphany of a heaven-bound falsetto.
Today Richards still performs, gives private lessons, and records new material. You can download his latest album free, and then send him a check, which is the ultimate in "if you like it, buy it," and shows he hasn't lost his faith in the good being rewarded. Visit
"Jesus is Coming" by Andy Pratt.
As you might expect from the creator of "Avenging Annie," there is something both inspirational and insane in this song. The back story to Andy is that there was no way he could repeat his bizarre one-hit wonder, with the falsetto, frantic piano work, swiped Woody Guthrie melody and amusing feminist ranting. His Columbia and Atlantic albums were sort of a painful blend of both Simon and Garfunkel, as the tall, frizzy-haired Pratt laid himself vulnerable via the ballad. Eventually he took off for Europe and released religious albums for indie labels. He's returned to the USA with several strange secular albums, including a disc of covers highlighted by an eerie version of "Town without Pity" and a take on "Give Peace a Chance" in which he blanches at saying "masturbation"
"Jesus is Coming," from "One Body," has the stately beauty you'd expect from a film documentary on Nazareth. It takes a literal minute for the instrumental to give way to a drum kick and Andy's slightly Bee-Gee vocal. That chorus, "Closer and closer, Jesus is Coming, nearer and nearer, hour of his appearing..." is just a tad foreboding. As perhaps it should be. The song is comforting but menacing, which is perfect for any God-fearing religion.
Andy declares that when the Messiah returns "...justice shall cover the Earth." If the rising oceans don't cover it first. In that case, put in a call for Moses; he had a lot of experience parting water.


FAIRYTALE of NEW YORK - controversial song

Kirsty MacColl died on December 18, 2000 due to a criminally careless joyrider in a motorboat. So it's a bit ironic that seven years later, her guest-spot with The Pogues on "Fairytale in New York," didn't hit the air as a tribute to her, but instead made U.K. headlines when some radio stations censored the word "faggot."
The song depicts a sparring couple at Christmas, and if this was a scene in a movie, nobody would think twice about it. It would be accepted for what it is; an artistic attempt at duplicating realistic dialogue:
"You're a bum, you're a punk!"
"You're an old slut on junk. Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed."
"You scumbag, you maggot. You cheap lousy faggot
Happy christmas your arse I pray God its our last."
It's a grim, gritty song of hope and hopelessness, a sad and seriocomic slice of life revolving around another line in the song, "I've built my dreams around you." While it's not Edward Albee, the dialogue is valid and the intent is clear. The song is not about offending homosexuals.
In reporting the controversy, several newspapers reproduced the lyrics this way: "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot. Happy christmas your a*** I pray God its our last." So they found "arse" a lot more offensive than "faggot!" Which is queer, because it's tough to be a faggot without some arse involved.
The song could've simply been resurrected for what it is; an accurate vignette on the unrest and anger that often accompanies the "joyous holiday time of year." It also could've been a salute to a lamented singer who died at 41. On Christmas holiday in Mexico, she managed to keep her sons out of the way of a joy-rider in a power boat when she was struck a fatal blow. Just who was driving that boat and what sentence should be imposed are unanswered questions.
For more on that story, please visit
FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK Download or listen on line. No porn ads or pop-ups.

Fred Flintstone & Betty Boop Xmas Single

Alan Reed voiced Fred Flintstone, and Mae Questel was both Olive Oyl and Betty Boop, but one Christmas, they simply used their own voices to narrate the 78 rpm children's song-story "Santa's Kewtee Bear."
This seven minute obscurity has disappeared for good reason. It's simply not that distinguished, not in the script, or the acting. Reed, a busy radio performer (he guested often on Fred Allen's show), hadn't developed his robust Flintstone voice yet. Questel had to smooth her Boops and cool her Oyl in playing the part of a cute teddy bear. It's odd, it's obscure, so it's here...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

JESUS LOVES YOU. I DON'T - Danielle Peck

Danielle Peck's two-liner is hotter than her eye-liner. (That's Danielle, top right). It's pretty rare to find a Jesus country song that dares to mention Him in anything but a hymn, but the guy who caused a bushel of trouble for Peck is getting off lightly. Unlike the spitting ptooey of a "Harper Valley P.T.A."-type putdown, Danielle sings this kiss-off with just the right poisonous peck on the cheek.

"I Don't" is on the debut 2006 album from Danielle, which seems to be all she wrote so far. But if you pick up the album, you'll also enjoy the slightly saltier "It Sucks To Be You." Mostly Danielle's down home with usual C&W fare, such as "Honky Tonk Time" (all about how "tonight ain't about tomorrow...I just wanna have a good time").

What will happen on the second album of country-pop crossover, nobody yet knows, but here's a safe bet: don't cross this babe, 'cause you could end up on the cross, for sure.

15 Versions of Personal Jesus

The illustration is by Lamar Peterson, an artist represented by Richard Heller (at the richardhellergallery dot com). But why not come up with 14 more visions of what a "Personal Jesus" might be. It's not like trying to depict Mohammed. Most Christians are secure enough to care only about their own relationship to Jesus, not yours.

Your download? Fifteen different versions of "Personal Jesus," a rather dark and menacing little number that seems to be about someone who may run a sincere hotline or is just another huckster preying on the gullible.
Since nobody checks lyrics much now that everything is mp3 downloads and there's no CD booklet, here are the words:
"Your own personal jesus. Someone to hear your prayers. Someone who cares...Someone who's there.

Feeling unknown and youre all alone. Flesh and bone by the telephone. Lift up the receiver. I'll make you a believer
Take second best put me to the test; things on your chest you need to confess. I will deliver you know I'm a forgiver..."

If you call this supposed representive of God, keep your pathetic yammering to yourself and DON'T do it from a cell phone. Don't bother everyone else, fer Chrissake.
You get a varied bunch of songs here, from lounge to cool femme jazz to heavy metal and rumbling rock...which will be YOUR personal favorite??
Followers of Mohammed may or may not get multiple virgins after they die, but on the illfolks blog, you often get multiple versions of a song. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.
15 Personal Jesus Covers

"Jesus I Love You" and she held out her eyes

Sadly, for all the good done by Christian or Islamic fundamentalists, or Orthodox Jews, or anyone else with a profound faith that makes them give of themselves...there's a Bizarro world of twisted fanatics who perform Devilish acts in the name of their God.
In "Voices," by The Nails, God tells various people what to do. Or are they listening to voices in their own minds?
(The ill-ustration, as with all photo collages on the blog, is an illfolks original, this one a mash of four or five different images.)
The Nails were a challenging, obnoxious band best known for a smug, surly, somewhat self-parodying stud song called "88 lines about 44 women." They also betrayed a dark Lou Reed side with grudging grunge ballads like "Hello Janine." They were at their glinting black vinyl blackest for "Dangerous Dreams," a 1986 effort produced by Pete Solley, who produced the Romantics and was aboard Procol Harum.
Pete still has a soft spot for his production of The Nails: "RCA completely dropped the ball, but the album lives on as my favorite flop."
"RCA didn't have a clue how to market us," a band member agrees, and the label "only pressed approximately 16,000 copies of this record before the bloodless coup where GE Corp. swallowed NBC Corp. (RCA's parent) whole, spitting out RCA (to BMG) and leaving us well, forgotten."
Wait, it gets worse. Their next album, an indie effort called "Corpus Christi," was a worse disaster. The producer "appropriated the rights and commenced to distribute the record and keep all the money. The record is in the catalogs of major national chains. Why don't we stop him. I'd like to but haven't been able to muster the necessary resource to do so." The album does have the great "Jesus Calling Jesus" cut, but don't buy it! The band member figures it would be better to get a free download somewhere. Like...their website, where you can also buy a lot of their stuff and sample much more:
Here's The Nails, a band that got screwed.


By request, I restored the dormant Ron Nagle-Ry Cooder songs that were on this blog. Then I decided I might as well add something special, the "61 Clay" original demo.
Mr. Nagle continues to be sought after for his ceramic work, while crackpots still simmer over his "Bad Rice." Some seek it because Ry Cooder played on two tracks. Others, because it was produced by Jack Nitzsche. Fact is, the main reason it's a great album is because the songs were written and performed by Ron Nagle.
Check the very third post on the blog, from March '06 for the two "Bad Rice" songs. Here's...