Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dance to the Saxy Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song

Journeyman musician Bill Ramal is known to "cult" and "outsider" fans mainly for his work with Dickie Goodman ("Flying Saucer Part One"). As "Jeckyl and Hyde," Bill and Dickie recorded the novelty singles "My Baby Loves Monster Movies" and "Frankenstein meets the Beatles." Ramal also played sax and/or arranged music for Del Shannon as well as Johnny and the Hurricanes.

Ramal also worked as a conductor or arranger on a few oddball albums through the 60's, like "Screamin' Saxes" (MGM, 1962) and "Saxophone Circus" (Avco, 1969) which had versions of "Lion Sleeps Tonight," "The Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet" and "The Theme from The Name of the Game" TV show. He led his own groups, "Bill Ramal and his Teen Swingers," "Blll Ramal and his Combo" and "Bill Ramal and his Twist Band." Solo he recorded "Don't Count Your Dreams" "Rock Lomond" "Hard Times" among others and as "Big Bill Ramal" he offered "Wing Ding."

In 1963, for 20th Century Fox Records, he created "Young America Dances to TV's Greatest Themes," a wholesome party record where such favorite themes as "Ben Casey," "The Defenders," "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason" "The Fugitive" and "Bonanza" were hepped up so the little ones could twist their hips or mash their potatoes. Your sample is a re-working of "The Beverly Hillbillies" theme, with busy drums, an appropriate Duane Eddy-type twangy guitar, and riffin' Ramal coming in on roarin' sax to tear up the joint.

Makes you wish Del Shannon dropped by to sing the lyrics.

20 "Love Is Blue" Covers - Happy POPP Birthday

40 years ago, Paul Mauriat's "Love is Blue" was a huge hit...the only time a French musician had a #1 on the Billboard chart.
The pop tune was composed by Andre Popp, born on this day February 19, in 1924.
The lyrics were of course originally in French, and as "L'amour est bleu," Greek singer Vicky Leandros represented Luxembourg and premiered it at the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest...and lost. The winning song that year was "Puppet On a String," the entry from Great Britain.
Popp's previous hit was an instrumental, "The Portuguese Washerwomen." He also had success with an ambitious classical novelty suite for kiddies, "The Adventures of Piccolo, Saxie and Co.," which was recorded by Victor Borge among others.
Sans les lyrics, Mauriat had the biggest success of his career with the puffy Popp ditty. By the time Otis Redding's "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" shoved Mauriat off #1, the song was being translated into multiple languages and Al Martino grazed the Top 100 with it. No version with lyrics ever came close to Mauriat's numbers, but many versions turned up as album tracks for the era's pop singers, and it was a favorite number to belabor on 60's variety shows.
The song is probably best as an instrumental, since a vocalist needs great emotive skill to make the aborted journey through primary colors sound pithy: "Blue, blue, my world is, red, my eyes are red..."
Smurf's up! You've got 20 Blue meanies in your download, including Vicky Leandros' French and English versions, Sylvie Vartan, Al Martino, Marty Robbins, The Sandpipers, separate versions by Andy Williams and Claudine Longet, twangy stuff from The Ventures and Santo & Johnny, a moog turn from the Electronic Concept Orchestra, plus much more, more or less.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Come Away With the Bipolar Penguin! Burgess Meredith

Put new lyrics to "Greensleeves," have it semi-sung by the resonant Burgess Meredith, and what have you got? Not much. "Home in the Meadow" is from 1963, a few years before the throaty thesp became Batman's TV nemesis, "The Penguin." Trivia: Burgess ad-libbed the Penguin quack-laugh as a way to clear his throat...he was allergic to the cigarettes his kool penguin character had to smoke.
On this single, he wants a smoke-free environment:
"Away, away! Oh, come away with me. I'll build you a home in the meadow! Come, oh come..."
The song from "How the West Was Won," was a semi-hit for the movie's star, Debbie Reynolds. (No, Meredith was not in the film at all.)
Oliver Burgess Meredith (Burgess was his mother's maiden name) first attained fame in the 30's on the Broadway stage. In 1939 he co-starred with Lon Chaney Jr. in "Of Mice and Men," a film overlooked at Oscar time, thanks to blockbusters "Wizard of Oz," "Gone with the Wind" and "Stagecoach." Hell, there wasn't even an Oscar nomination for "Son of Frankenstein."
Meredith's burgeoning career stalled for World War II service (he was a captain) but on his return, he not only starred in many films, in 1949 he directed Charles Laughton in "The Man on the Eiffel Tower." The 50's? Well, combine "Red Scare" and blacklist...and it was checkmate for Meredith. But as the 50's ended and the 60's began, he appeared in a pair of memorable "Twilight Zone" episodes, rode the "Thurber Carnival" to Broadway success, and returned to films. Into the 70's he was Tony-nominated for directing a production of "Ulysses in Nighttown," and won new fame (and an Oscar nomination) as the feisty manager in a trio of "Rocky" movies. He played many high-strung teeth-gritting characters in the 80's and 90's including parts in "Grumpy Old Men" and "Grumpier Old Men."
In 1994, amid his "Grumpy" successes, he wrote an autobiography, which not only touched on his amazing, varied career, but his battle with mood swings and bipolar disorder.
Fans can find some oddball audio on Burgess Meredith, ranging from a guest narration on "The Bells Of Dublin" from The Chieftains, to a superb Lively Arts album narrating two Ray Bradbury this, his magical mystery tour to nowhere: "Come Away With Me," colorfully detailing pastoral delights to be found somewhere on Earth or in heaven.


Singing In Tongues: 3 Pop Tunes Go Poop

Listen to..."RINGO" sung in Italian.
Try a Scandanavian take on "RAGS TO RICHES."
Spin the "Windmills of Your Mind" via a Greek translation.

Some pop songs get stale with age.
With a different language and a different singer, a tired tune can perk up!

Forlorn over Lorne Greene? The vivid spaghetti western version of "Ringo" here is sauced by Adriano Celentano. He was a huge singing star in Italy in the 60's, with over 40 albums under his belt (he wore oversize pants). He also enjoyed a long acting career in the 70's and 80's, and most viewers enjoyed it, too.

The phrase "it's all Greek to me" is akin to "something's ass backwards." Usually, it's the singer, but not in this case. The Greek translation isn't "Windmills of Your Behind." The song's sung in Greek only because wiley Vicky Leandros likes being an "International Star," and the more languages she can cover, the better. She sings the tune in English and French elsewhere on the we've backed into the Greek version. (Yes, that's a recent photo of Vicky.)

"Rags to Riches" was notably used in "Goodfellas," but let's chill the Mafia taint by taking it up north to the Netherlands, and re-naming it "Ik heb geen geld en geen juwelen." As for singer Jan Verhoeven, he's still going strong. Hij zat in diverse orkestjes en trad ook solo op bij bruiloften en partijen. Jan speelde al op zijn 10e jaar bescheiden gitaar, maar genoeg om zijn broer te begeleiden en te zingen. Toen nog zonder microfoon of geluidsinstallatie. And if you want more, why, visit

Rags to Riches from Verhoeven
Windmills of Your Mind in GREEK
The Spaghetti Western version of "Ringo"

KURT DEMMLER DIES: Singer/Songwriter Sex Offender

Was Kurt Demmler guilty of molesting underage girls?
He was arrested and tossed in jail, to await trial.
He was found hanged in his cell, an apparent suicide. He was 65.

Demmler was one of the most prolific songwriters in the former German Democratic Republic; he supposedly wrote the lyrics to 10,000 tunes. But, to quote the old Steve Allen joke, "Can you name two?"
His two best known hits were “Come Into My Guitar Boat” and “Every Person Can Love Everyone." He wrote songs for Nina Hagen, Rote Gitarren, Karat, Babylon, Frank Schobel, and Berluc among others. Under an alias, he wrote the lyrics for the 1988 album Neue Helden (New Heroes) by The Puhdys.
Demmler also recorded many solo albums, and from the late 60's through the 90's could often be counted on to appear at a protest rally, strumming his guitar and singing a few numbers. The photo of him is from a 1989 performance.
Your download? Two songs from a 1970 protest event. "Ho Chi Minh" is a tuneful ballad, while "Schniegelscher," has a kind of Phil Ochs feel to lyrics (in German, of course) which get both applause and laughs from the audience. Kurt was part of the famous uprising and demonstration in East Berlin on the 4th of November 1989, taking the stage for songs and protest. He seemed to be on the politically correct side of many issues.
But was he always sexually correct and proper?
After about 15 years of success, with his songwriting, his solo albums, even an adaption of "The Little Prince," his song peddling took second place to his schlong pedo-ling.
In 2002 he was accused of involvements with underage girls. He was fined, but all was not fine. The cops kept their eye on Demmler and in 2008 they amassed messy evidence, going all the way back to 1995, with six girls ready to testify. Their ages were from 10 to 14...and the tally of rude incidents was over 200. Did Kurt fondle them, or masturbate in front of them ("Kurt Jergens") or worse? Demmler protested his innocence, but was locked up. It was alleged that he had lured girls to his apartment on the promise of auditioning them for an all-girl band.
Demmler did not get his day in court. Six days ago the case against Demmler ended with his death. If the six girls were truly abused by him, they have been spared having to give sexual testimony. The victims need not describe the salacious details, although on February 3rd, Demmler showed the world he was well hung. Yes, a sad ending and a bad joke about Demmler and his wayward weiner, but illfolks spares you the wurst. Let's go back to 1970 for Kurt Demmler performing meaningful music and not mischief: