Friday, May 29, 2009

JIM CROCE - The Ballad of Gunga Din

Rudyard Kipling has been banished to the tomb of the Politically Incorrect. After all, how many people are named "Rudyard" anymore?
Kipling was the first Brit to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, but that fact seems forgotten now.
The modern British, overrun by immigrants willing to blow themselves up for Allah, know that "the white man's burden" is among them, but they dare not say it out loud. It's as if they're guilty over bring civilization to heathen areas of the Far East and Africa, and must make amends by destroying their own culture, and watch churches convert to mosques and tourists disappear because the Fish & Chip shops are no longer run by authentic Brits.
Kipling is perceived as just an embarrassing example of white people not leaving the coloreds alone. Although minorities are generally the first to start shouting that they need aid from a richer, more industrial country. Or else.
Rudyard wrote very English (usually filled with dialect) poems about common soldiers. "Tommy Atkins" is one of the best. The soldiers were also portrayed as human, and lusty ("On the Road to Mandalay" is the place to be for interracial sex). He praised the guts and skills of the opposing soldiers ("Fuzzy Wuzzy") and in 1892 used racism in "Gunga Din" the same way Charles Dickens used misanthropy in "A Chrismtas Carol," which was to set the stage for humility: "...'you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."
All we hear now is "how dare Kipling write about other races...what a racist!" But wasn't he, in some ways, the Randy Newman of his day? Randy Newman is a smug white guy who knows he's a lot smarter than the common ethnics. Yet critics fall over themselves praising him for lyrics that often simply tell a story without judgment. "Louisiana 1927" calls poor crackers "poor crackers," "Half a Man" is about a man disgusted by his own homosexuality, and "Rednecks" doesn't exactly say anything bad about the racist Lester Maddox. "Gunga Din" written in 1892 is in many ways quite similar to a Randy Newman lyric, where the narrator is real, human, and flawed.
As for the 1939 film, this classic is almost never shown, perhaps because it was played in brown-face by a Jewish actor named Sam Jaffe. Forget that he was courageous, and "a better man" than the whites (which was the point of the story), or that the character is not any worse a stereotype than what you've been enjoying on hip late night talk shows: Jimmy Kimmel's ugly dumb Guillermo, Letterman's excitable Mujibur and Sirajul, or Leno's effeminate Ross the Intern.
The 1939 movie is especially timely in 2009, since the plot involves a religious death cult. "Kill for the love of KILLING," was the cry (from Eduardo Cianelli, an Italian in brown-face.) It seems no TV station would want to enrage any of the lethal suicide bombers from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who kill for the love of KILLING, and kill because their religious leaders tell them so.
In the 70's, at the same time John Lennon was offering "Woman is the Nigger of the World," Jim Croce decided to champion the noble "heathen" named "Gunga Din," and put that poem to music. Unable to perform in British dialect, Jim's version is slightly wan, but at least he made the attempt. It's also rather softly sung (no din in this Gunga). If Jim Croce, a minority group member himself, didn't find "Gunga Din" offensive, maybe it's time to go back and appreciate some Kipling. (It beats Twittering.)
"Gunga Din" is one of the great story poems of all time, and Kipling wrote some great things. Not too many would agree, and...that's why you're reading this at the Illfolks blog!

ALAN BOWN not Andy Bown or Andy Brown

The Illfolks coverage of ANDY Bown drew over one thousand fans of ALAN Bown asking, "What about a plug for our beloved and equally obscure ALAN?"
Would you believe one hundred?
How about one comment from some guy named Milligan complaining, "Wasn't Andy a well known typing error, and didn't you mean Alan, you swine?"
To make up for any disappointment, real or imagined, here's another dollar bin denizen who never quite got the attention he deserved.
In the USA, whether it was Andy Bown or Alan Bown, nobody was exactly bown away with the music, and radio stations weren't exactly bown' in the wind.
Alan was a trumpet player who first blew people away as a member of the John Barry Seven (yes, the guy who wrote all the James Bond themes). After that group broke up in 1964, Alan's jazz leanings led him to name his own outfit The Alan Bown Set, and as a touring band got a deal to co-release a live album with Jimmy James. Each got one side. The band scattered a half-dozen singles before breaking up.
In 1967 Alan went with the more commercial "psych" and Cream-blooze sound of the day, and the name was shortened to the hipper The Alan Bown! (that's what was happenin' baby!). Sadly, all kinds of problems beset the band, from line-up changes (let's confuse matters and have a lead vocalist named Andy Brown) to indifferent record labels, to bizarre twists of fate (like a strike at the record factory just when he was getting hot via "Top of the Pops" broadcasts).
And so by 1972, Alan decided to shift behind the scenes in the music biz, and leave the spotlight and the headaches to someone else...Like, maybe, Andy Bown, who was gaining attention with solo work, at least before he too decided to seek safety in numbers, and become a member of the Status Quo.
Three phases of Alan Bown via the early album of live tracks and singles, and two albums from the Psych era:

Early Alan Bown: Emergency 666 singles & LIVE


Alan Bown '69

THE PRISONER - Number Six Mix

"The Prisoner" is being updated, sans Patrick McGoohan and Portmeirion. Chances are that when this new version appears, it will stink like a skunk and sink like a stone. (Remember those movie versions of "Honeymooners," "Bewitched," "Flintstones" and "The Avengers?")
As for "modernizing" the actual Prisoner theme song...that was done in 1997. "Number Six Mix" takes fragments of the original Ron Grainer theme song, and adds an entirely fresh melody as sung by Margeaux Lampley:
"Each day they try anew to make him understand/ A certain situation;
You're a number not a man.
He's nuked the civil service, given notice that he's through/ So they take him to that Village. Gonna give him what he's due.
Number Two wants information,wants to know who's side he's on/ But he never yields to passion, never gives them what they want.
He's Number Six. Not a number but a free man with a spirit of his own. Number Six!"
This jazz-dance concoction inspired by "The Prisoner" series isn't Dr. Dre or Dr. No (that would be Dre-no), so it exists on its own as a valid if not necessary musical curio.
Your opinion is your own. And no, you will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed or otherwise pestered into leaving a comment.
Just download...Bang Bang's "Number Six Mix" which appeared on "Serialement Votre" in 1997.



Best known as a lyricist, Jack Lawrence put words into the mouths of Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, Ella Fitzerald and hundreds more. Even Buddy Hackett.
While most active in the 40's and 50's with big band tunes and swingin' classics, many of his songs are known to rock fans. Fats Domino and Bobby Darin had hits with his tunes, and most everyone knows "Linda." Jack couldn't decide which girl's name to use...until he saw a girl named Linda Eastman, daughter of a friend. Yes, guys were singing about her a decade before she married Paul McCartney.
Sometimes savvy Jack discovered a foreign melody that had hit potential. One French tune that was Americanized to the top of the charts: "Beyond the Sea." OK, still better as an instrumental is "Poor People of Paris," but the words were strong enough to interest Dean Martin.
One thing Jack didn't do was write sound effects. A police siren turns up at the end of Eydie Gorme's version of his "Yes My Darling Daughter." I sent him a copy, as he hadn't heard it. No, he couldn't figure out what they were trying to infer by using that siren, either. (Type the title into the search'll find a post on Gorme's version elsewhere on the blog). That one, "Linda" and "If I Didn't Care" are all examples of Jack writing both the lyrics and music.
Born Jack Lawrence Schwartz, he was originally planning on being a podiatrist, but the same year he graduated from The First Institute of Podiatry, 1932, he had bucks coming in for his first hit song, "Play, Fiddle, Play." Thanks to healthy royalties, he could avoid unhealthy feet and keep devoting his energy to more songs. One of his first hit "classics" came when a Walter Gross melody inspired him to add lyrics. The result was "Tenderly."
Jack rarely strayed from the pop song formula, but he did join Stan Freeman to write the music for Broadway's "I Had a Ball." It's represented here by "Addie's At It Again," the sexpot highlight for gorgeous Luba Lisa (she died in a plane crash a few years later) and by "Dr. Freud," a patter song for the show's star, Buddy Hackett.
You can read more about Jack at (not; as is sometimes the case, often an asshole or a nobody with the same name takes the dot com address first). You can even buy CDs and books there.
Jack passed away a few weeks ago after a fall in his home. When you're 96, that type of thing can get the best of you. Whether the fall led to renal failure, or renal failure caused the fall...seems the coroner just listed both as causes for his demise. The New York Times' obit mentioned that "in 1979, Mr. Lawrence adopted his partner, Richard Debnam; he is Mr. Lawrence’s only survivor."
Below, some of his best-remembered songs:

1. YES, MY DARLING DAUGHTER Glenn Miller Orchestra with Marion Hutton
2. WITH THE WIND AND RAIN IN YOUR HAIR: Kay Kyser Orchestra and Ginny Sims
3. WHAT'S YOUR STORY, MORNING GLORY? Anita O'Day with Russ Garcia's Orchestra
4. LINDA Buddy Clarke with Ray Noble's Orchestra
6. ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL Old Blue Eyes with Harry James and his Orchestra
7. IF I DIDN'T CARE The Ink Spots
8. SUNRISE SERENADE Connee Boswell
9. BIG BOY BLUE Ella Fitzgerald / Mills Brothers
10. HOLD MY HAND Fats Waller
11. DO ME A FAVOR Fats Waller
13. DR. FREUD Buddy Hackett
15. BEYOND THE SEA Bobby Darin
16. THE OTHER HALF OF ME Bobby Darin
18. CIRIBIRIBIN Ray Eberle with Glenn Miller Orchestra
19. VAGABOND DREAMS Ella Fitzgerald
20. A HANDFUL OF STARS Nat King Cole Trio
21. SYMPHONY Freddy Martin
22. FOOLIN' MYSELF Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra with Billie Holiday
23. TENDERLY Patti Page

If you want more background on each song, you might find it on Jack's website. For more on "Linda," the song inspired by Linda McCartney:
And here's a fun look at the business end of songwriting, and how his "Yes My Darling Daughter" sat around, unwanted, and how a twist of fate (Dinah Shore singing a demo) turned the tune into a sudden hit...thanks to Jack standing up for himself and forcing his publisher to give him the song back:
This double dozen collection...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Susannah McCorkle - Anti-Suicide Song from a Suicide

Your download, a cheery cheeky smooth calypso "I Don't Think I'll End It All Today." But...
On May 19, 2001, Susannah McCorkle jumped from 16C, the top floor of her Manhattan apartment.
Among the things that can keep an artist alive, is being wanted. Her record label, Concord Jazz, didn't want her anymore. The market for indie jazz was, and is, a tough one, and a few thousand sales can make the difference between renewal or release.
Even without digital sales, we're told artists can make a living off live performances.
McCorkle's biggest source of revenue for over 10 years was her season at the Algonquin Hotel, but they informed her that she wasn't welcome there anymore, as there were now many other hungry artists, a bit more famous or younger, or with new CDs to promote, to fill her spot.
These things happened shortly before her death. She had tried other means of staying in the music world, and her website mentioned how she conducted musical workshops for children, and that she was available for bookings at private parties. Does that sound glamorous to you? Or lucrative?
Susannah often talked about suicide, and in your download she even sings about it. Typical of "dark humor" in cabaret, "I Don't Think I'll End It All Today" describes "so many sweet things still on my list. So many sweet lips still to be kissed. So many sweet dreams still to unfold. So many sweet lies still to be told!"
And so, "Away with the river, away with the razor, away with the pearly gates, away with barbiturates, away with the Seconal, the fall from the building tall..."
The fall from the building tall.
The chronicle of Susannah McCorkle's life and the depression that she could not shake, even by recording a light-hearted anti-suicide song, can be found in "Haunted Heart," the biography written by Linda Dahl.
Let's back up and remember Susannah McCorkle ((January 4, 1946–May 19 2001) in her prime, when she had recordings to make, concerts to give, and was able to keep her demons at bay. Here's what Stephen Holden in the New York Times said in a review of her show, June of 1998:
"(Her) sweet, smoky voice and insinuating delivery suggest Billie Holiday filtered through Julie London by way of Lee Wiley," and in covering Gershwin and Jobim, she "finds a common strain of erotic longing in both songwriters...grounding her interpretations is a sexiness that veils everything in a light mist."
Her own take: "I was once called by People magazine a 'bruised romantic.' It's a great description of me."
Susannah had a tremendous love of music and composers, and in surfing the Internet, she favored sites that shared the love. If you go over to, you can still see her comment in the guest book:
Name:Susannah McCorkle
Date: Tuesday, March 23, 1999 at 22:36:43
Congratulations on a wonderful website! It's clear that this is a real labor of love, and I'm sure I speak for many people when I tell you how much it is appreciated. I wish every great songwriter could have someone as devoted as you designing and maintaining a website...Thank you for helping to keep these marvelous songs alive, and for helping those of us who perform them to have access to information and songs it might take weeks to find without your help. Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry sincerely yours, Susannah McCorkle
The "office" you see in Susannah McCorkle's e-mail address (smccoffice) was also her home address, a common practice for any struggling musician. With travel and hotel costs eating away at the income from live shows, and flattened music sales, a surprising number of seemingly popular artists are struggling. The downside when the office is the home, is that people can call any time. Even more of a downside is when they don't.
Maybe she could've booked herself into one-night gigs, staying in crappy lonely hotels, negotiating every concert date, making sure the locations matched up so she wouldn't be zig-zagging across country. After a show, she could sit, alone and humiliated, at a table selling autographed CDs or t-shirts after each gig instead of resting or celebrating the show by visiting with backstage friends and then going out. Oh yes, and the woman would've had to look after her wardrobe and luggage and spend hours booking costly an agent or manager would only do for a chunk of the profits.
No, her next flight was 16 stories down. The woman's depression had become too exruciating, the rewards too few. The answer might've been "Get a day job, like the rest of us, and give up your dream of being a professional musician." She gave up entirely. She was 55.

Theme from CHECKMATE (Johnny Williams)

John Williams has won 5 Academy Awards for his movie soundtracks. His film scores include "Jaws," "Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial," Hitchcock's "Family Plot," "Towering Inferno," "Superman," "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan."
Back in the 60's when he was called "Johnny Williams," he was known for his TV themes. His trademark was throbbing brass, tense percussion and stop-start cadences, which worked especially well for sci-fi shows such as "Lost In Space," "Time Tunnel" and "Land of the Giants."
One of his first successes, in 1960, was the theme for "Checkmate," a crime melodrama starring the wooden Anthony George and his more colorful sidekicks cutie-pie Doug McClure and brainy Sebastian Cabot. This theme owes a bit to his friend Henry Mancini (they worked together on the arrangement for "Peter Gunn") with its prowling bass line.
This illfolks edition gives you the original thirty-second "Checkmate" theme as it was originally broadcast, followed by the obscure fleshed-out jazz version that appeared on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack album (he lost that year, to Henry Mancini). After only two seasons, it was checkmate for "Checkmate." But since in those days a TV series didn't re-run till the summer, those two seasons yielded an impressive total of 71 episodes.

The Flip Side for Ted Cassidy: WESLEY

Everybody knows "The Lurch," Ted Cassidy's dance single. It was hollowly growled in his Lurch voice from "The Addams Family." Though the single's now rare and expensive, the song has been anthologized, most recently on the "Hollywood Hi-Fi" CD, which includes obscurities from Jack Larson, Joe E. Ross, Dennis Weaver and Bette Davis.

The single arrived in 1965, produced and written by Gary Paxton, of "Monster Mash" fame. Taking a break from the ooky-spooky, the country flip side, "Wesley" (Scott Turner--Cliffie Stone) utilizes Cassidy's normal speaking voice, and is probably closer to his own preferences in music. After all, Cassidy (July 31, 1932 - January 16, 1979) grew up in West Virginia, and started college at West Virginia WESLEYan. He probably enjoyed C&W narration items when he worked as a disc jockey in Dallas (where he interviewed eye-witnesses to the JFK assassination). Probably his most famous film role was in a western; "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." At memorabilia shows, when fans brought that iconic photo of Butch Cassidy kicking Ted Cassidy...he'd autograph it directly at the crotch area!

"Wesley" offers Ted's narration with honky tonk piano and some back-up singers. I'd say "distracting" back-up singers, but Wesley reminded Ted and now reminds us: "If you can't say something good about someone, don't say nothin' at all."


Saturday, May 09, 2009

NICOLA PAONE - Hold Your Horses & Wait For Me

If you've spent any time in the forum and blog world, you've noticed the "sayings" or "slogans" that sum up a person's philosophy of life. Everybody has words to live by. Sometimes a blog's title is a piece of good advice like:

"Ride your pony."
"Never Get Out of the Boat."

In a forum, you might find, at the end of every single post a person makes, his favorite motto, "Mmmmmm, more chocolate!" Or his favorite witticism: "When things smell fishy, it may not be fish necessarily, but simply an old twat"

Seriously. All the above are real. Just ask an old twat sitting on a pony in a boat covered in chocolate.

And so in that spirit of profundity, here's Nicola Paone's most earnest advice: "Hold Your Horses and Wait For Me."

Perhaps he got this from some Persian King who wanted the perfect phrase to say on any occasion. "All Things Must Pass?" Nah, that sounds like a laxative commercial. Stick with "Hold Your Horses and Wait For Me." The song has no other lyrics, just the pithy motto...and Paone on the piffero. Yes, the piffero, a home-made flute carved out of a sugar cane stalk.

The late great Nicola ran a (high priced) Italian restaurant all through his days of churning out ethnic tunes and novelty singles ("The Telephone Song" and "Blah Blah Blah" among them). In addition to the peculiar piffero, and Mr. Paone's words to live by, there's some scat singing that falls somewhere between Spike Milligan suffering from epilepsy after a spaghetti dinner, and Danny Kaye gone berserk on Cresta Blanca.

Hey Wild Bill, Wait for Me!

Theme from RACKET SQUAD - Buddy Morrow

The only match for Raymond Burr's baleful stare came from Reed Hadley. He rarely hit anyone, almost never fired a gun, but boy, could that guy glare.

Soft of voice, mild of manner, gaunt in physique, he got confessions thanks to an unnerving set of peepers.

Here, from memory (I'd go get the "Racket Squad" DVD and look it up?), is his stern lecture often delivered at the end of the show. As Captain Braddock, he declared:

"I'm closing this case now. Or, rather, the courts will. But there'll be others. Because that's the way the world is built. Remember, there are people who can slap you on the back with one hand, and pick your pocket with the other. And it Could happen to You."

The martial theme song is rendered vividly by Buddy Morrow and his Orchestra, as part of his late 50's Living Stereo album, "Impact," a collection of cop and crime TV themes.



It's not over; the fat lady still sings. The former Ellen Cohen had about 10 years of musical successes in her short life, and more in the nearly 35 years since her death.

And here's her obscure debut on her new label RCA, which was widely ignored in 1972.

In 1963 she was the hefty part of the isoceles triangle that was Cass Elliot, Tim Rose and James Hendricks (her husband from (1963-68). As "The Big 3," they managed to issue two albums before morphing into "Cass Elliot and The Big 3," with the addition of Denny Doherty (among other changes in personnel). When this group broke up after one single, Cass herself went single, ready to take on the world. But Denny never forgot her, and after he formed a trio with John and Michelle Phillips, he invited her to join. The Mamas and The Papas were huge between 1965-1968. In 1968 the first Cass solo album arrived, "Dream A Little Dream Of Me."

She would go on to be a variety show favorite, larger than life opposite an Andy Williams or Ed Sullivan, and though her album sales weren't so great after '68, she was still a favorite on tour, and in 1974 she flew to the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. And that's where she died of a heart attack, not surprising considering her weight. No, there was no choking, no sandwich, no fatty foods anywhere near her. There was just plenty of fat inside her. The official verdict was: "heart failure due to fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity".

It's not surprising her 1972 "Cass Elliot" album didn't go anywhere. Following two solo albums and a disc with Dave Mason, her RCA debut contained only one familiar recent cover tune to be rendered in her now-predictable pop-nostalgia mode: the overdone "Baby I'm Yours." The rest was fairly forgettable middle-of-the-road pop anybody could've done ("I'll Be There" could've been handed to Connie Francis, "Disney Girls" to Streisand, a string-laden "It's All in the Game" to Julie London). But speckled into the bland mix are two songs by Randy Newman ("I'll Be Home" and "I Think It's Going To Rain Today"), and cult figure Judee Sill's Joni-esque "Jesus Was a Crossmaker."

As a recording artist, Cass was not in a good position. This isn't a knock on her, it's that she was a victim of the times. Sweet pop (ala her defunct "Mamas and the Papas" or "Spanky and Our Gang" and "Harper's Bizarre") was dated, and after the novelty of seeing her croon "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on TV, folks now seemed to want love ballads from a more attractive source. Her lollipop fans couldn't possibly figure out those Randy Newman songs and may have even felt "Jesus was a Crossmaker" was some kind of blasphemy. Meanwhile hipsters aware her past solo albums were somewhat kitchy, couldn't buy stark or intelligent songs coming out of Mama Cass, so they didn't.

Her next album was prophetically titled "The Road Is No Place For A Lady."
Update: Nov, 2011. Rapidshare's annoying "30 days without a download kills it" policy killed the original links. "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" is back via a better company.

Download or listen on line. No capcha codes. No porn ads. No percentage going to the blogger for his "hard work." The hard work was done by the artist.

Cover Versions of Folk Songs + TRAVIS EDMONSON

A good song is worth repeating. Again, and again, and again. That's why the girl above is a little bit bugged. She downloaded the illfolks collection of "Boll Weevil" cover versions.
It's surprising how many different ways the same song can be sung. Sometimes it's stupendous. Colossal. Even mediocre.
Just listen to various versions of:
THE BOLL WEEVIL - 7 versions
TEN versions of LILY OF THE WEST
LA BAMBA from Valens, Belle Perez, Chipmunks, Las Lobos
Most links dating back to 2006 are still active. So check through at your leisure. You'll find all kinds of oddities, like a set of songs about Jack the Ripper, ripped for a download:
Or even victims of the grim reaper...including a sampling of songs from some of the greats who died in 2008, including: Jimmy Carl Black (Lonesome Cowboy Burt), Jody Reynolds (Endless Sleep), Willoughby Goddard (I Shall Scream...from the original Broadway production of Oliver), Dennis Yost of Classics IV (Spooky, Traces), Rod Allen leader of The Fortunes (You've Got Your Troubles I've Got Mine), Eddy Arnold (Mommy Please Stay Home With Me), Jerry Wallace (You're Singing Our Love Song), Charlie Walker (Honky Tonk Woman, Wild as a Wildcat), Jerry Reed (Smell the Flowers, When You're Hot You're Hot), Davy Graham (Goin' Down Slow, Leavin' Blues), Henri Salvador (La Muralle de Chine), Erik Darling, leader of the Rooftop Singers (Walk Right In), John Stewart (Lost Her in the Sun), Robert Hazard (Blood on My Hands).
And here, still active even in death, songs from artists and songwriters who passed on in 2007:
For more information on what's in these files, just use the search feature at the top of your screen and enter a few words, like BOLL WEEVIL or LA BAMBA...

Travis Edmonson (of BUD AND TRAVIS) died today, May 9th, at 76. Both the exciting stereo version of their "Ballad of the Alamo" and a mono demo version with slightly different vocals, are in this collection of
ALAMO SONGS . It will be easy to remember Travis Edmondson...his solo work, and his legacy with BUD AND TRAVIS will never be forgotten.