Wednesday, April 29, 2009
In 1966, somebody had the bright idea of turning "King Kong" into a nice guy. Or as the theme song puts it, "a friend to man." Just to make it a little creepier, the immense gorilla, "ten times as big as a man," is totally devoted to a little boy. Forget about that scene from the 1933 classic in which Kong peels away Fay Wray's garments and sniffs at them. Now he's into a little boy. What's the kid looking up to? Bollocks!
If you think it couldn't get worse, listen to the theme song, which dutifully covers the show's warped premise. This isn't the original soundtrack version of "King Kong" but a cover by Wade Denning and his Port Washingtons (guys who dress up like George Washington and get bombed on port).
Their version might be better than the cartoon soundtrack. Here, instead of a friendly chorus of moms and dads, tepid percussion and a bit of a flurry from a French horn (trying to be an elephant) we've got a suspiciously enthusiastic bunch of men, a bit of "George of the Jungle" kettle drum, a J. Arthur Rank gong, and the periodic blast of Herb Alpert-styled trumpets working in counterpoint against the trombones. Bones, not boners. Only somebody truly perverse would watch the cartoons again on DVD, with a little boy and his gorilla (one who incidentally has pretty big knockers).
PS, it should be noted that not only is it a bad idea for your boy to have a gorilla for a pet, it is not wise for you, or anyone else, to even have a pet chimp. But you can Google "Charla Nash" for yourself. We'll keep it nostalgic and ridiculous in offering you...
THE KING KONG THEME SONG COVER VERSION
Someone asked if it was possible to post the theme song for "The Sandy Becker Show." Pretty easy to do: the kiddie show host used "Afrikaan Beat," and he sometimes promoted it on his show, since it was available as a single, for almost the price a kid might pay for a Duncan Yo-Yo or a Spalding pink rubber ball (yeah, ok, a "Spaldeen" everybody called it).
Becker was a different kind of kiddie host. He was a nice looking guy (a former soap opera actor) and he didn't "talk down" to his audience. He wasn't in costume at all times, like Buffalo Bob or Captain Kangaroo, he fit in somewhere between Dick Van Dyke and John F. Kennedy.
In the course of showing cartoons, exhibiting art work sent in by viewers, or doing a bit of arts and crafts, he sometimes turned up as a "character," the jovial Latino named K. Lastima (translation: What a Pity), the nerdish, Stan Laurel-esque Norton Nork, the bright-eyed and insane Hambone, or the stoic Big Professor. He also had some puppets around, including a strange old geezer named Geeba-Geeba. Mostly, he was beloved for being himself, a father figure for all the kids whose own Dads were away at work. He hosted a daily show for years, and his "Wonderama" program was literally on the air all of Sunday morning, breakfast to lunch! Sonny Fox, another "normal" kiddie host, later took it over.
No surprise that Becker's theme song is not at all zany or childlike. It reflects a different time and a different pace. Instrumental pop tunes are as rare now as intelligent and dignified hosts of kiddie shows. Here's Bert Kaempfert (the guy who brought The Beatles in to back Tony Sheridan on a German recording session, who wrote the music for Frank's "Strangers in the Night" and Al Martino's "Spanish Eyes" and Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen" (aka Donkey Shit) providing the upbeat music that made kids sit up and smile, knowing Sandy Becker was about to arrive.
Sandy Becker Theme Song: AFRIKAAN BEAT
Two of Will Holt's most famous songs are in the download below. One of them you'll recognize by title: "Lemon Tree." The other, "One of those Songs," you might remember if you hear the complete opening line and imagine Jimmy Durante singing it: "It's just one of those songs that you hear now and then..."
Will Holt hits his 80th birthday today, April 29th. Naturally, the illfolks blog salutes him for more devious achievements...being the first one to record "The M.T.A. Song" (which led to the Kingston Trio cover version), performing his Kurt Weill cabaret act with Martha Schlamme (an album was released) and teaming with Dolly Jonah for the aptly titled album "On the Brink," featuring the brilliant Weill-inspired mini-musical "The Rise and Fall of the City of Movieville." Hopefully more on all of that, some time in the future. (Parenthetical mention should be made that Holt may be better known in the Broadway world for "The Me Nobody Knows.")
Holt did record "Lemon Tree" but he was a fairly stiff performer. He put out a pair of albums for Stinson, and one album of folk and Weill for Elektra, but his lack of warmth chilled interest in him. His mainstream songs worked best when covered by sloppy, friendly types like Jimmy Durante and Trini Lopez. Durante's version of "One of Those Songs" is easy to find, so the illfolks choice is Brenda Lee. The Lopez "Lemon Tree" isn't exactly rare either, but most other versions are even more annoying. Thanks to lyricist Will Holt, a Latin tune and a French ditty became big English language hits.
Here at Illfolks, hear two Will folks:
LEMON TREE (Lopez)
ONE OF THOSE SONGS (Brenda Lee)
Posted by Ill Folks at 7:36 AM
If you've said "God give me strength," your prayers...have not been answered here. Closest you get is illfolks giving you "Tower of Strength." TEN VERSIONS.
This minor Burt Bacharach song is one his greatest...because it forged new territory in the lyrics, as well as having Burt's trademark musical stylings. It also had Gene McDaniels giving the performance of his life.
Burt's pioneering style of jumpy cadences and awkwardly placed sharps and flats, made some very stupid songs very popular, like the questionable question mark songs "What's New Pussycat?" or "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" Neither question was answered in the song, nor should it have been asked.
A lot of Burt's tunes are catchy but the lyrics forgettable, as in "After the Fox," or "Casino Royale" (yes, it did have lyrics, though the wonderful Herb Alpert version didn't bother with them). Most of the Bacharach catalog is pleasant pop, much of it trifling to anyone under 60: "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," "Baby It's You," "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," "Wishin' and Hopin'," "I Say A Little Prayer," "This Guy's In Love With You," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Trains and Boats and Planes." That stuff's fluff.
When Burt got farther away from "Close to You" silly love songs, he produced some of his most enduring work. "The Look of Love" is more sensuous than his usual ditties. "Little Black Book" is a solid piece of broken hearted rock (which veers between brag and bawl, but in a different way than "Tower of Strenth.")"Anyone Who Had a Heart" is bombastic, despite drifting into waltz time with a flabby mid-section that sounds like something from the loser bin of the San Remo festival. Similarly, "God Give Me Strength" has a typically dopey brass solo that undercuts the drama in the rest of the song. Other enduring Bacharach songs include "Any Day Now" and "Don't Make Me Over," which show real emotion, even if they don't cover new ground.
"Tower of Strength" covered new ground. That's why it's championed here. Not many songs have talked of love from the point of view of being trapped in a shitty relationship. Maybe "Prisoner of Love," but that's crooning. This song is much more complex. Bacharach's eccentric rhythms and loopy arrangement underscore the unusual, confessional lyric. The words are not by Hal David, but his earlier partner, Bob Hilliard, who also wrote "Any Day Now."
Gene McDaniels was delighted with the result: "I liked "Tower of Strength' because of the humor and the trombone solo in front. You never heard a trombone intro to a song, and there it was, and it was a hit! It blew my mind."
(1) on your download is Paul Rich, apparently the first to sing this. With the grand "rags to riches" crooning style of a Buddy Greco, Merv Griffin or Regis Philbin, swingin' Paul brings nothing to the tune. He doesn't act out sobbing or holding back the tears...a few drumbeats cover the pause in "tower of strength is something...I'll never be." This is dance music.
Gene McDaniels (2) and his backing musicians made a masterpiece, a hybrid R&B, rock and pop classic. Though the studio technician calls out take "22, swingin' 22" at the start, fortunately big band takes a back seat to vivid backbeat rhumba, strong jazz and some raw rock. Gene puts vengeful anger in the line, "and I'd walk out the door," swoops into R&B falsetto, ("you'd be callin' to meeeeee") and then gives in to an inhaled sob when he confesses "a tower of strength is something...I'll never be."
Some of Burt's songs make the band co-conspirators with the singer (remember the brass joining Tom Jones for "What's new Pussycat? Woaahh Woahhhhhhh.) But here, there's some very mocking musical imitations of a grown man in tears...it helps the song's sado-masochism along. First Gene is in sadist fantasy, then masochistic reality. By the song's end, one band member is practically blowing a raspberry at the pathetic singer, the brass line mocking him as he trudges away.
Yes, an unusual topic...being too physically or emotionally needy (or as we psychiatrists say, "fucked up") to leave someone who should be left. How many songs, especially at that time, twisted between pathology and pity? Boy loses girl, sure. Boy gets girl, sure. Boy is stuck with bitch? Hmmm...
In England, Frankie Vaughan (3) did a fair job of copying Gene, but won't humiliate himself; he lets the kettle drums give a rat-a-tat-tat where he should've gulped back the tears. He does convey some of the mixed emotions here, with a throaty growl or a vague attempt at falsetto (he goes up an octave on the last note of "and I'd walk out the door.") Meanwhile, Gary Glitter, at the time called Paul Raven, hoped HIS version (4 in the download) would be the hit. It wasn't, but he gave it a shot. His somewhat chipmunky version tries to touch all the emotional bases, but instead of a McDaniel gasp, he literally gives a hoot! The song even has a false ending at 1:20 in, as the glittery one barely makes this cover last two minutes flat.
Back in the early 60's, various budget labels such as Tops and Promenade, would offer 6 cover versions on a single 45 as sung by anonymous hacks. The unknown guy (5) aping Gene McDaniels on this cover from the Gilmar label, hasn't much energy (the guy blowing trombone behind him has more wind) but he does try to issue some kind of anguished gasp over not being a tower of strength. (PS, the mp3 tagging on this download didn't quite work, hence more description so you can determine some of the songs that ended up just called "Tower of Strength." Sorry about that.)
Is it possible for a woman to sing this song? Technically yes. But Sue Richards' country arrangement (6) is merely a novelty. Nobody expects a woman to be a tower of strength, even a Girl named Sue, who could probably tell off the Harper Valley PTA. No, she doesn't even give a mock cry over her failure to be strong. This version is followed by (7) from Gloria Lynne and her answer version, "You Don't Have to Be a Tower of Strength." She actually does sound like a female match for Gene, a soulful babe who promises to be good to her man. At least till the ring is on her finger.
(8) Enoch Light's version is, as you might expect, awful. A mixed chorus of men and women warble the tune, with rinky-tink piano and a geriatric swingin' beat. There's a "boing" noise added instead of a gasp. Very "Winchester Cathedral," this one.
Your last two versions are from Gerd Bottcher and Adriano Celentano. Gerd is singing to "Carolin," and while the familiar trombone counter melody is here, it seems pretty clear that this girl is not much of a problem. Just what's going on in "STAI LONTANA DA ME" from Adriano Celentano, I have no idea, but saucy Celentano is having a great time sneering (with added "uh huh? eh eh?) and he tosses in a pungent "ewwww!" and even utters some snickering laughs. He doesn't seem to be missing the woman at all...just the bus to the asylum.
Celentano doesn't sound like the leaning tower of Pisa. Nope, the tower that is swaying is Gene McDaniel, shocked, mocked and rocked in the best of the ten versions in this file on "Tower of Strength."
TOWERS OF STRENGTH
Update November 2011: Rapidshare deletes files if they aren't uploaded often enough to suit them. Several individual songs have been re-upped individually via a better service:
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 19, 2009
Women who fake orgasms...what music they make!
In nature, a coo, croon or cry can signal that the female animal is ready for sex...and with a low growl or a high screech, enjoying it!
So it is, that we sophisticated humans get turned on by sounds in music...including nicely faked moans and groans sailing over slimy strings or hard-blowing brass.
In the shellac era, a blues moan or a Mae West "mmm" could signal rising passion. Radio tunes hinted at the Big O in subliminal ways, everything from the "music" going round and round "oh-o oh oh, oh oh...and it comes out here" to an insistent "Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, how you can love."
Finally the rock era made it explicit.
Many consider "Little Girl" (by John and Jackie) to be the first intentional, no-doubt orgasm song.
While there were some pretty suggestive Big Band tunes, and such gruesome lounge items as "Baby, It's Cold Outside," there's no question that Jackie's "uh huh" and "ah ha" utterances were reached by pressing a certain button.
The song's airplay was limited, since rockabilly corn was rarely successful in urban markets, nobody knew who this duo was, and John's dopey singing doesn't exactly explain Jackie's enthusiastic response...unless she's showing off her combination vibrator-pogo stick for him: "Oh, oh, OHHHH!" Boing, boing...BOIINNNNG.
We'll leave you to grumble that Jayne Mansfield's 'That Makes It" was sexier, or even Stan Freberg's classic "John and Marsha," but we'll start off the phony groan festivities with "Little Girl," one of the first "Hey...she's having an orgasm or something" records to be heard on AM radio. There would be no serious competition until 1968 when a French import scorched the airwaves.
Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were most certainly banned by some radio stations for "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus," which loosely translates as "You came? I'm non-plussed!" No? Then I have no idea what these two Frenchies are mumbling about. And it doesn't matter; there's no denying that Jane is beginning to get an eye full of Serge's tower, which causes her to sing an octave out of her register. This leads to some ridiculous gasps and some satisfied moans.
The French knew how to gasp with class. On the muckier side of the pond, R&B and soul acts have always been more overt with grunting and suggestive lyrics. Narrowed down to three choices...you get "Love to Love You Baby" from Donna Summer, "Throb" from Janet Jackson, and "Make it Last Forever," a 1978 track by Donna McGhee. All three seem to act like they are SO in love with YOU they can't help masturbating while they sing. Is that a bad thing? You'll harden while McGhee starts melting: "Oh baby, so good...oh baby...don't ever stop...ahhhh...yes! Baby! Ohhh baby I just want you to love me..."
So far we've talked about orgasm songs that actually have lyrics. Next samples? Pure moaning!
"Please love me," a woman creaks at the start of "Please Love Me: Erotica" by the chauvinistic band Manpower (the band's original name was simply Man). She's lubed after that, and the Eurotrashy sleaze-beat instrumentals, heavy on drums and heavy-handed lead guitar, serve as backing for her soppy ocean of emotions. She exhales, grunts, moans, and generally acts like a one-woman soundtrack for some really bad Georgina Spelvin movie of the day (about 1970). It's much better than actual porn soundtracks, or such dubious porn singles as "Theme from Deep Throat" by "Linda and the Lollipops."
The Latino version of helpless groans turns up on the 1972 hit "Jungle Fever" by The Chakachas. Also clocking in at around four minutes, the music is mostly congas and a few irritatingly repetitive notes that might be the band's aural interpretation of a woman tweaking her clit. The music periodically stops so the girl can yap variations of "Ai...aii...ai...no...no..no...ah si, ah si, ah si."
Some scholars say that one reason The Chakachas's music is so much less convincing than most any track from Perez Prado or Xavier Cugat, is that they weren't Latino at all, just a bunch of Belgian bozos who went into the studio and assumed any name or identity they were given. When the song was so big that a touring band could make some money, the more authentic band Barrio was called in and told to call themselves The Chakachas. It's been said that The Chakachas are also El Chicles, the guys who gave us the incredibly stupid "La La La," which sounds like the Muppets trying to be erotic. Instead of "Mah na mah na," it's two idiots moaning, giggling, and otherwise repeating "la la la" as if they've literally gotten their knickers in a twist. Both the Chakachas and Chicles had producer Roland Kluger and arranger Willy Albimoor involved, and those ain't Latino names.
By the 70's, and most certainly into the 80's, orgasm songs had become routine and plentiful, with The Runaways offering mocking gasps, Meatloaf working a girl into gravy for "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" and any number of other rude rockers or rappers spelling it all out with cuss words. Samples of the modern era for you:
You get Major Harris singing an R&B ballad "Love Won't Let Me Wait" with increasing if incongruous interruptions from a moaning girl, the meandering mewlings of Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" (a noisy clunk of electronics and disco), and the equally freakish moans (or stomach ache gasps and mucoid vomiting) that turn "White Christmas" gooey, as performed by The Gerogerigegege. Lastly, "Infinity," a pretty severe parody of all the "I'm Coming" gasp tunes out there, as performed by Aphrodite's Child. From the sounds of it, be glad you weren't at the recording session.
Update November 2011: "Please Love Me Erotica" has been re-upped individually via a better service:
PLEASE LOVE ME via MANPOWER
On April 12th, Marilyn Chambers was found dead in a trailer park, at age 56. She was a pioneering porn star, back when a deep throat or energetic body could make up for a B-cup, horsey face or bad legs. It was also back when there was some effort to actually make a movie that had a plot, dialogue and acting.
What Marilyn had going for her was an angelic face (as you see from the much re-touched Ivory Soap box) and a lot of enthusiasm. She was arguably the most athletic of the early 70's actresses, and seemed to enjoy getting down and dirty (to the point of marrying Chuck Traynor, the guy Linda Lovelace had accused of taking advantage of her and forcing her into porn).
Marilyn, along with Linda Lovelace and Georgina Spelvin, paved the way for prettier, or more full-bodied actresses (notably Andrea True, Tina Russell, and Annette Haven). Still, those three were the ones who made the classic films ("Behind the Green Door," "Deep Throat" and "Devil In Miss Jones") and many are still more turned on by those films and actresses, than today's shaved and siliconed mannequins.
Chambers was one of the more active porn stars in defending and validating her industry. She was also one of the few to effectively appear on stage in a live sex show (one of them was filmed for posterity). She went on to a typically spotty career of comeback films, personal appearances, and behind-the-scenes (straight) jobs given to her by porn industry vets and fans, etc. etc.
But that's not why you're here...you're here to hear!
Marilyn Chambers' "Benihana" disco tune is at the same level as Andrea True's "More More More" and Xaviera Hollander's "Michelle." In other words, she's better at gasps and a cry of "Give it to me, yeah," than singing. Her singing voice is a lot like her body...thin but pretty flexible.
No, the song doesn't seem to have anything to do with the famous Japanese steakhouse chain. It most likely refers to her vaginal rosebud. "Benihana" means "red flower" in Japanese.
Don't dismiss the song after just one minute...consider it aural foreplay. The song builds some momentum as Marilyn ad-libs some lines and starts groaning. Stay for the last ridiculous minute when she starts hyper-ventillating and an echo chamber zooms her into orgasmic orbit. Chambers has swooped the planet, but her films, and perhaps even this hit single, can still bring you to a form of heaven.
BENIHANA Marilyn Chambers
Your mother should know Phyllis Newman. Or your grandmother. Phyllis Newman is best known to those who were active theatergoers in the 50's and 60's. They would've seen her in "The Apple Tree," "On the Town," and "Prisoner of Second Avenue." Granny might tell you, "Oh, yes, Phyllis Newman was married to Adolph Green. People thought Betty Comden his writing partner was, but it was Phyllis."
Kids growing up in the 60's or 70's saw Phyllis on quiz shows, her ebullient presence perking up slow-moving programs like "To Tell the Truth" and "What's My Line." Since those shows were shot in New York, it was easy for her to drop by and promote her latest Broadway production.
Did you know Phyllis Newman beat Barbra Streisand for a Tony Award? Do you care? Well, it's true. Newman's star turn in "I Can Get it For You Wholesale" was hot stuff way back when...back when the radio played songs your mother (or grandmother) would know.
She turned up on TV once in a while, too, singing satiric songs on "That Was the Week That Was," playing a Russian spy on "Amos Burke Secret Agent," etc. She capped the 70's with a one-woman show, "Madwoman of Central Park West," and still turns up on soap operas and in films, though her main interest is theater charity work, notably "The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative." Talk about women's health...Newman's autobiography mainly chronicles the harrowing physical and emotional problems that came with cancer treatment and a double mastectomy. Unlike some "uplifting" tomes, this one's frank, factual, and pretty depressing, even if the "happy ending" is that she did come back and return to performing.
Like many actresses in Broadway musicals of her era, including Chita Rivera, Georgia Brown and Angela Lansbury, Phyllis Newman was on original cast album vinyl but rarely given a real shot at solo recordings. That field was dominated by the likes of Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and the rest of the nightclub professionals. Still, when she did get a chance in front of a studio microphone to make an album or single, she didn't disappoint. Songs such as "Clouds" or "Those Were the Days" or "Your Mother Should Know" were easily within her range of both key and credibility. Belated Happy Birthday (March 19, 1933) to Phyllis Newman.
PHYLLIS NEWMAN Your Mother Should Know
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Don't you think it's a scandal, how the people have to pay and pay?
Oh, wait a minute.
That's a line from "M.T.A." the Kingston Trio song about fair hikes.
What we've got here is a similar tune about taxes.
Both "M.T.A." and "Charlie Cheated On His Income Tax" are stories about a poor jerk named Charlie who got himself railroaded by government bureaucracy. The line "citizens...this could've been you..." echoes the opening warning from "M.T.A."
Billed as "the thinking man's hillbillies," Homer & Jethro always knew they were too corny for sophisticated people, and too sophisticated for the Hee-Haw crowd. They put a lot of musicianship and harmony into their work, and on this simple novelty track, check out the amphisbaenic use of "I've been working on the railroad" to first denote a job and later chain gang work, Jethro's judicious mandolin underscore, the gentle puff of the sax, and the easy role-interplay as the duo swap identities (Charlie, Judge, etc.) while keeping together on the chorus.
Mostly thanks to unsubtle lyrics about ugly women and rude rubes, the team found steady employment over several decades...making dozens of albums that really should be gathered up as a Bear Family boxed set.
The boys were on radio in the late 40s, honed their pone through the 50's, and won a Grammy for their parody single "Battle of Kookamonga" in 1959.
In the 60's, when "Green Acres," "Petticoat Junction," "Andy Griffith Show," "Red Skelton Hour" and "Beverly Hillbillies" were hits on American TV, Homer and Jethro thrived, averaging 2 albums a year. Those rural TV shows went out of fashion at the turn of the 70's, and it was all over for the duo in 1971. That's when Homer suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 51.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "nothing can be said to be certain except death...and taxes."
CHARLIE CHEATED ON HIS INCOME TAX
Is William Shatner cool or clueless? You really can't be sure. Sometimes he's laughing with you when you're laughing at him. On some memorable talk appearances with Conan O'Brien and Jonathan Ross, he's played the fool but also gotten in some shots of his own.
Time made a cruel joke of Captain Kirk's ambitious version of "Rocket Man." Demento-heads are still laughing their asses off about his "Transformed Man" album, slapping their knees and howling "that's SO bad it's GOOD."
OK, that was decades ago. It's not THAT hilarious. There's something admirable in the attempt, too. Maybe you're shaking your head and smiling, but doubling over laughing is a sign of retardedness.
More recently, Shatner's been laughing all the way to the bank.
His album "Has Been" (with Ben Folds and Joe Jackson) has a sharp title track, a humorous dig at Two-Thumbs Don and Neverdone Jack and the rest who "laugh at others' failures while they have not done shit..."
You go, Bill. And speaking of odd shit, here's a one-off that could've appeared on "Has Been" but didn't.
On this Bozo track, he's delivering a load...and you know it and he knows it. This is most certainly a pile of Shatner. So play along with him as he tells you what a Bozo is, because (all together now) we're ALL bozos on this bus.
BOZO AS EXPLAINED BY SHATNER
Belated Happy Birthday to Sergio Franchi.
He was born April 6, 1926.
It's truly a belated greeting, since he died May 1, 1990.
A good reason for this late tribute and birthday greeting, is to toss "Laugh You Silly Clown" at you...which goes nicely with the William Shatner "Bozo" piece.
Franchi, was a perennial time-filler on "The Ed Sullivan Show," a dashing fellow who appealed to all the women who regularly flirted with their waiters and hairdressers. The rest of the Sullivan audience was probably waiting for a different Italian...Topo Gigio.
While he didn't have the hit singles other big-voiced singers did, from Robert Goulet to Frankie Laine, Sergio Franchi made some albums and played the nightclub circuit, right up to the disco era. Along with everyone from Cab Calloway to Ethel Merman, Sergio gave a shot at disco glory, and this is the result...a boogie-oogie take on Pagliacci.
It would be easy and unfair to comment on this particular track. Sergio was a nice guy, and he left behind a wife who keeps his memory alive and runs the non-profit "Sergio Franchi Scholarship." They gave away $35,000 last year to musicians, which is a good thing because "if you like it buy it" hasn't worked.
"Shine On, You Crazy Franchi." Come on, it's a better line than the title of his single: "Laugh You Silly Clown."
SERGIO GOES DISCO
On casual listen, the lyrics for "Turn On to Jesus" by City Boy are oddly ungodly. On the wrong side of the border, a city boy finds a house full of "ladies of the night." But what thrills are they into? One of them cries out, "HEY MAN! Turn on to JESUS!"
The inspiration? Lol Mason and Steve Broughton, the band's lead vocalists, were touring America and got stuck right in the middle of the country. Broughton:
"Lol and I spent time in a dry area of Kansas. There’s no bars, the only place you can get a drink is one of these ‘religious’ clubs, with topless waitresses with dollar bills stuffed in their G-strings, and out of the jukebox is blaring this ‘Jesus is the Saviour’-music. It was bizarre – I mean, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Birmingham."
Birmingham, England, not Alabama.
"Turn On to Jesus" was offed by the band's record label, over worries that the song could be interpreted as profane. New lyrics were written. The result was "5-7-0-5," the band's only hit single. God moves in mysterious ways.
In another twist, the lead vocal was not from Lol or Steve, but Roy Ward, who had been brought in by the band's producer Mutt Lange (yes, of later Shania Twain infamy) who wanted a better drummer and perhaps a new sound as well, since the band's harmonizing had been accused of sounding too much like 10CC or Queen.
In the spirit of Christian charity, two more Jesus songs are added for you, having been previously highlighted on the blog: "I Heard the Voice of Jesus" by Turley Richards and the optimistic and ominous "Jesus is Coming" from Andy Pratt.
CITY BOY- TURN ON TO JESUS
I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS
JESUS IS COMING