Sunday, June 29, 2008
"I always wanted a man like you....oh yeah...who ain't afraid to take what he wants. And wants what he takes. You don't have to beg for what you're man enough to steal. I don't have to run from what I'm woman enough feel...."
Yes. The anti-Helen Reddy. Complete with "river overflowin'" imagery.
Yet the 1975 Marcia Waldorf album "Memorandum" (Capricorn) was the beginning and the end, and she joins the illfolks list of Patti Dahlstrom, Harriet Schock and Brenda Patterson as another smart, Southern-tinged singer who deserved a little more attention than she got.
Her album, like those of the aforementioned femmes, has some catchy, tasty tunes. She knew her way around a musical hook...and still does. Her profession these days is to hook odd, catchy products and do "product placement" for them in high profile catalogs. HUH? Ok...let's say you've created a novel item like the "Miracle Duster Glove" the "BagTote" or "Lintaway," or "Golf Foam" or "Restore-a-Drain" or the "E-Z-Lift Turkey Transport." How do you get your product into a mail order catalog? Why, through Marcia, that's how. She placed all those products via her "Direct Response and Multi-Media" marketing company, Waldorf-Crawford. She's also produced and written infomercials for a variety of companies and products, including Dermacia, Murad Acne and Hydroderm.
So not everyone who made an album (or two) and left the business is all that upset. There are a lot of other ways to be creative and earn a buck. And if you want just a little more of Marcia, there's her duet with Tim Buckley on "I'd Recognize Your Face," which you can find on the Buckley album "Sefronia."
No, you don't have to beg. Not in this era of free downloads. But if you like "You Don't Have to Beg For What You're Man Enough To Steal," get the rest of the vinyl from your local record store or a starving eBay seller. Recycling vinyl is good for the ecology. PS, you can clean dirty vinyl with "Zap" janitorial supplies, another client of the reinvented Ms. Waldorf.
MARCIA WALDORF Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups or porn ads.
He had a golden voice. Then he needed an iron lung.
The words "crooner" and "gutsy" rarely cross, but they do in the case of star-crossed Ronnie Deauville. Ronnie's "Smoke Dreams" album has one of the most iconic images in the world of "lounge erotic" album covers, but almost nobody who treasures that cover knows that after its release, Deauville actually standing and singing was a dream, not reality. He actually sang from a wheelchair.
He was born Henry Deauville (August 28, 1925). His mother Marie was an actress and his sister Sheryl had some minor success (notably a hooker role in "Irma La Douce") but he became the star of the family. After Marine Air Corps service in World War 2, and now re-named Ronnie, he became the big band singer for orchestras led by Glenn Gray, Tex Beneke and ultimately Ray Anthony. “Sentimental Me” was a hit in 1950 and “Be My Love” made the charts in 1951. The Ray Anthony "Capitol Collectors Series" CD features him on "Nevertheless," "Can Anyone Explain," and "Autumn Leaves."
Ronnie had assembled a pretty impressive number of singles and was ready for his first long-play album. 1956 was the year "Smoke Dreams" came out. But it was also the year that his dreams went up in smoke. In September of 1956 he got into a collision with a car that had veered into his path, and the impact threw him out of his vehicle and into the street. How could it get worse? While recuperating in the hospital, he was diagnosed with polio. Doctors weren't sure exactly how this happened...if it was somehow triggered by the accident, if his immune system was weakened...but the result was that the smooth-voiced crooner spent a year in an iron lung.
Paralyzed from the neck down, he fought back, and miraculously regained enough breath control to sing again. An ordinary chair could be substituted for his wheelchair, as in an artfully done TV rendition of "Aoha 'oe," where romantic Ronnie is viewed in a sailor cap, seemingly in a cabin on board a boat, sitting at the port hole, dreaming of Hawaiian dancers (double-exposed as nostalgic visions in his mind). Check YOUTUBE for that one.
On November 6, 1957 Ralph Edwards told his story on "This Is Your Life." Era issued several singles, as Steve Allen, Jerry Lewis, Jack Paar and others helped him get continued TV exposure. The Era "Smoke Dreams" album preserved the fantasy of the handsome singer being able to stand. Ronnie's inspirational story led to another record contract, which featured a big close-up of the handsome star on the cover.
Ronnie's 1959 album for Imperial was his second, and last. "Romance with Ronnie" offered such songs as "Tormented," "Blame Your Eyes," "Dream Girl," and a smooth cover of "Unchained Melody," where he was able to hit the challenging high notes with ease. The liner notes referenced his car accident and comeback, but did not mention his chair-bound condition.
A combination of factors...limited breathing ability, the difficulty of attracting female fans to a handicapped male singer, the physical problems of getting around to clubs or TV dates...led Ronnie to move behind the scenes, doing song-dubbing for less talented movie stars. He eventually retired to Florida with his wife and children, and passed away from cancer on Christmas Eve, 1990.
Your download? His single of "Laura," one of his most effective performances, along with the title cut from the "Smoke Dreams" album.
Laura-Smoke Dreams Instant download or listen on line. No code words, porn ads or pop-ups.
A while back, the illfolks blog paid tribute to Patti Dahlstrom.
Here's her labelmate at the doomed 20th Century Fox record label, another Texas-based singer-songwriter, Harriet Schock. About all they have in common, besides the label, is that they each had a tune covered by Helen Reddy. Patti's was "Emotion," and Harriet's was "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady."
The song was on Harriet's debut album in 1973, for which she was voted Best New Female artist by Cashbox.
The pick for the download is an album track: "Hold Me." What is particularly good about this song is that for an excellent lyricist, Schock also knows how to let the music dictate the words. She repeats "Hold me" urgently during the refrain. It works. So does the repetition of "run-run-running."
The refrain and its repetitions represent the passion, while the lyrics in each stanza explore the intellectual issues: "I could learn to thrive on reality. I could subscribe to the theory of weary old soldiers who say that love never dies. Still they say it fades a way. But what do they know?"
What you'll know, if you dig up "Hollywood Town" (her best album) or "She's Low Clouds" and "You Don't Know What You're In For" is that Harriet Schock's 70's albums have tasty hooks, smart phrasing, and almost none of the cringe you'd associate with Helen Reddy. Some of her songs are liberated ("You're a man, and I need you, take my hand and I'll lead you...") and she offered "He's so Macho" as a tart send-up of "I'm a Woman," but she also could give a cool stab of the ice pick to another woman ("Southern Belle").
If anything worked against Schock, it was her lack of shock; a pleasant looking songwriter with a nice voice...not quite as distinctive as Carly or as emotional as Joni.
The good news is that while Dahlstrom disappeared after 4 albums, Schock didn't quit after her 3 releases. "During the eighties, I mostly wrote songs for films and TV, including "First Time On A Ferris Wheel," with Misha Segal for the Motown film, "The Last Dragon." To date, about 30 people have sung this song either live, or on record. Misha and I also wrote all the songs for "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking" and ABC's "The Secret Garden," among many others. I co-wrote with Frederick Talgorn the end title song for "Delta Force II" and mostly these years were consumed with assignment writing for film, TV and artists. My songs were being recorded by Smokey Robinson, Roberta Flack, Lee Greenwood, Johnny Mathis, Carl Anderson, Gloria Loring, Nancy Wilson, Manfred Mann, The Little Mermaid and others."
In the 90's she became a solo artist again via adult indie-label CDs. "Rosebud" is the first choice, an excellent comeback with several songs that touch on how movies and music influence our lives. "Rosebud" refers to THAT Rosebud from "Citizen Kane," while other songs reference Patsy Cline and "Casablanca." She's also written a book, "Becoming Remarkable," and is both a lecturer, teacher and independent performer. You can learn more about her at her website, harrietschock.com.
The Pop of Schock: HOLD ME
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The humble ol' guitarist Ace Tipton recalls that Jerry Inman "never quite made it to the big time but recorded a Beatles album that done quite well. Jerry was like a wind up jukebox when I met him. He knew every country song there was and could sing them non-stop for hours. Jerry passed away some time ago due to stomach problems of which he fought for years."
In 1968, following the Beatles covers album, Jerry was voted "Most Promising Male Vocalist" at The Academy of Country Music Third Annual Awards Show. He managed to get himself onto the "Glen Campbell Good Time Hour" in May of 1969 singing "Mississippi Woman." But, that's not why you're reading this.
What you want, is to hear how a bluegrass picker can scramble-up a damn frisky version of "I've Just seen a Face," recalling the banjo stylings used by Flatt & Scruggs (who made The Beverly Hillbillies theme a hit). Jerry's singing is ok, but it's the C&W arrangement that makes it great. We cool down with another track from Jerry's all-Beatles album, a croon of "And I Love Her."
For the record, the record's JERRY INMAN- R.F.D.- (Lennon & McCartney Country Style). He also released "You Betchum!" for Elektra in 1976. His last chart action was a cover of "Why Baby Why" in 1978. Cool stuff; Jerry's music was in, man.
2 C&W Beatles Covers
Monday, June 09, 2008
Don't worry. Be happy. Sit in the sun and smoke some weed and nod your head to that cheerful, almost child-like reggae beat. Why, you could spend all day un-stopping toilets with a plunger, and as long as you've got headphones on and all the songs chugging that same thumpitty-hip-hop rhythm, it ain't really work at all, mon.
Appropriately, our makeover begins with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down.") Next, a strange lesbian twist to "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Since time and space can warp when you're on the ganja, you can forgive our sultry sepia Sappho for ad-libbing, "by the time I'm to the moon, she'll be working..."
Lyrics sometimes baffle these artists, hence the half-plural "Crimsons and Clover." But when you're dealing with whitebread lyrics like "Sugar Sugar," any shading is welcome, including brass and clip-clop percussion obscuring some lines about the candy girl's sweet kisses. Hey! "Pour your sugar on me, baby!" Likewise, it's satisfying to hear Bobby Vinton's "Roses are Red My Love" made a bit thorny.
Some of the reggae artists don't bother with silly white men's lyrics at all, not when they can play on their Emenee organs or smack pots and pans around instead, so just groove on the tinkertoy arrangements given to basically rotten songs like "Hooked on a Feeling" or overdone numbers like "Whiter Shade of Pale." Sometimes the pace is slowed down quite effectively, as in the slinky, sax-dominated re-take on Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe," now tredding water somewhere between Jamaica and Texas.
Ethnic songs like the orgasmic French "Je 'T'aime" or Dylan's Eskimo folk tune "The Mighty Quinn," might as well get absorbed into the mind-numbing musical patois of conk-conk ca-thonk. And don't worry, be happy...YOU can do a karaoke to the instrumental version of "Blowin' in the Wind."
Jump on this download and get, among the aforementioned: Games People Play, Stranger on the Shore, To Sir with Love, Words, Love is Blue, Winchester Cathedral and a host of others.
20 Whitebread Tunes Go REGGAE
The lovely Virginia Belmont was known for her "singing and talking birds," which were TV (mynah), Dick and Prince (canaries), Bambi (parrot), Marmaduke (Conure), Cleopatra (Cockatiel), Precious (Parakeet), Siksy (Finch), Shamy (Thrush) and Bravo (Cardinal).
Her infamous recording includes wan "conversations" between herself and her birds, advice on owning pets, and examples of various tweets and bird talk. There are also some ambitious attempts at mating bird noises to classical music.
The album ends with her masterpiece, "Ave Maria" (the Schubert version) as sung by George Sawtelle accompanied by a pipe organ and all her birds. Here it is.
Virginia's musical farewell begins with earnest good wishes to all...but there's a musical question to be asked. If peace may be defined by a church organ solo, or perhaps a tenor raising his voice in song, or perhaps the twitter of a charming bird, or the hoots and calls of a pair of lovebirds...
...would putting them all together result in heavenly peace? Find out for yourself.
Sorry the Norwegian Blue wasn't present for the recording, but he was stunned.
AVE MARIA for the BIRDS
Poor Gilbert O'Sullivan. His first album seemed to cross perky Paul McCartney vocals with Randy Newman-variety sourly realistic lyrics. Then he had a fluke hit with "Alone Again, Naturally." The single, a macabre alloy in a way, of "Yesterday" and "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" was the feel-sorry hit of the year. Ray O'Sullivan (already resenting the "Gilbert" pun) was given a makeover into a cuddlesome tween idol.
Given the Donny Osmond treatment of fluffy sweatshirts and a cutie-pie coiff, Gilbert was expertly pushed as prettyboy popper (hermit as Herman) and his next single was the coy "Clair" followed by the cloying "Get Down." Already on the critics' critical list as a kind of eccentric, high-pitched McCartney, O'Sullivan lost all credibility, and his career floundered during the inevitable fighting with record label and management.
Finally signed to Epic, he opened his new album for the new label with a brilliantly sarcastic look at A&R men, critics and label execs. "I Love It, But It Doesn't Knock Me Out" was brave and foolhardy. Everyone can relate to relatives dying and relationships failing; but few are morbidly morose because they had only a few hit songs. Still, if you've ever had your creativity questioned, ever been bossed by know-nothings, you'll enjoy this lost gem, one of O'Sullivan's very best.
Gilbert's continued over the decades to make albums with almost the same indifferent appeal as McCartney; albums that have you thinking, "some of it is sort of as good as his better stuff," or... "I love it, but it doesn't knock me out."
It was a tough business then, and it's worse now. Happily, though, Gilbert's gotten most of his rights back and sells his albums on his own website and presumably pockets most of the profits. So visit http://www.gilbertosullivan.net.
Submitted for your download, ironies intact, a song from another age. Today, the line might be revised as "I love it but...why should I have to pay for it." Back then...
I LOVE IT BUT
IT DOESN'T KNOCK ME OUT!
Posted by Ill Folks at 6:46 AM
"The Three Nails" is one of those story songs that have the ability to appeal and appall. You might recall "The Deck of Cards," which massaged a Christian message into a story about getting caught playing solitaire. Here, the twice-elected governor of Louisiana imagines himself as the guy who fatefully sold three rusty nails to a Roman soldier:
"This is a story of long ago...it was some two thousand years ago, as I recall..."
Pretty good memory. Soldier and store owner:
"I wanna buy some big, big nails."
"Three ol' rusty spikes is all I have...what can you do with just three nails?"
"Did you ever hear of a man called Jesus the Nazarene?"
"You mean the one who goes about doing good?"
"Yes, that's the man. Well, today I intend to show the world that I am boss, for with these three ol' rusty spikes, I'm going to nail Jesus to the cross."
"Please sir, don't do that."
Let's not spoil the ending.
Do you know the story of Davis? Of his poverty-stricken childhood he once recalled, "The first Christmas present I ever got was a dried hog's bladder and a plucked blackbird. We ate the blackbird and played ball with the bladder, and I thought we were pretty well off."
He eventually got off the farm and into Louisiana State University, and as Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves would later do, jelled his home corn and urban smarts into a smooth succatash that most anyone might swallow. After signing with RCA Victor in 1928, Davis was known for dirty country ditties like "Tom Cat and Pussy Blues" and "Organ Grinder Blues." It was with Decca in 1934 that he had his first real hit, the sad "Nobody's Darling But Mine." In 1940, he copyrighted the uptempo "You Are My Sunshine" which made him a pile of money and helped him become the state's governor. It became Louisiana's State Song.
Typical of a politician, he took credit for writing the song, a claim long disputed. Odd for a governor, he simultaneously served in office and had a Top 10 hit ("There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder" on the country charts) and even made movies, including "Louisiana" in 1947. Term limits ended him after one term and in the 50's and early 60's he made over 20 Decca albums, most of them heavy with Gospel tunes such as: "When Jesus Knocks Let Him In," "Shake The Nail Scarred Hands Of Jesus," and "I'd Hate To Be The Man Who Drove The Nails In Jesus' Hands," the latter two (plus our "The Three Nails") from the 1970 album "Songs of Consolation."
In 1960, Davis was re-elected governor, pledging segregation and earning praise from George Wallace. Like Wallace, in old age he changed his mind about segregation. His old fashioned style of music was still popular in rural locales, and though he was long retired by the time he hit 100, he sang a tune at his birthday party. Wouldn't you like to think he rests upstairs with the Lord? And you, you heathen, are downloading here below...
THE THREE NAILS Instant download. No rapidshare, porn ads, or pop-ups.