Tuesday, January 19, 2010
MURRAY THE K's LONE TWISTER via MICRAGIRLS
The real deal on musical hipness?
One clue is how well-versed somebody is on obscure singles and b-sides.
Most any punk group can get smirks by doing a cover of Chubby Checker or Joey Dee, but...the twist single from Murray the K?
Props to The Micragirls. Whether they got the Atlantic single from a thrift shop, or found it on a bootleg "Wavy Gravy" compilation of oddities, it took some guts and savvy to cover it.
History briefly noted: the song by Doc Pomus-Mort Schuman, was recorded by gravel-voiced WINS disc jockey Murray "The K" Kaufman using the name "The Lone Twister." Yes, same name for the song and the artist. On his "Swingin' Soiree," he snuck it onto an evening's broadcast with 4 other tunes. A regular feature of the show was to premiere 5 songs and have listeners call in and "vote" for their favorite. "The Lone Twister" finished third.
Even in the New York area, where Murray's voice was well known, few seemed to know that The Lone Twister was none other than Murray the K. Or, few cared. After all, the 1961 song was not a hit.
It was, and is, an offbeat little wonder. Murray was more a child of the jazz age (a previous single covered "Out the Bushes" by The Treniers) and his style closer to hipsters like Slim Gaillard than the Liverpudlians whom he befriended as The Fifth Beatle when the Fab Four came to New York. Murray's lingo (Snoop Dogg's shizzle is a variation) was certainly a throwback to the "a-roonie" Pig Latin that Gaillard used. His hipster style was to jive the middle of a word. In other words, using his words, you'd call him "Mee-a-zurry the Kee-a-zay." This blog would be "Eee-a-zil Fee-a-zolks."
"The Lone Twister" lyrics use jazz slang rather than teen terms ("let your arms wail, Frail...stay in your place, Face") and there's the old-school-cool of rhyming "alive" and "jive." More dance party than twist, the song and the singing owes more to Louis Jordan or Cab Calloway than Chubby Checker and Joey Dee. But check it out for yourself in the download, which comes from vintage 45rpm vinyl.
Back to the present: So out of nowhere, or actually, out of Finland, come The Micragirls, punky, thrashy and trashy (actually, they are named Mari, Risu and Kata). Mindless primitives of varying ineptitude, they have enthusiasm, sass, and are FEMALE, which is almost always a free pass to get on stage. Absorbing a variety of American influences, from The Ramones to the Shangri-La's and back, and filtered through a Euro-perspective and brat-youthfulness (none of them were even alive when Murray the K died on February 21, 1982), The Micragirls have that hot combo of reverence and irreverence as they salute the past, play in the present, and hope for a future.
They do have a little more going for them than just the usual semi-talented punky ability to put a ring-a-ding tune through the ringer. "Date at the Grave" for example, is a legitimately juicy instrumental complete with howls, which compares favorably to any number of Halloween novelty retro pieces from Ventures-wannabe's. But at the Illfolks blog, Ventures wannabe's are hardly worth mentioning. But a group that stomps on Murray the K's grave and offers a dead-flower tribute to his long gone "The Lone Twister..." well, "that's what I like!"
"Feelin' Dizzy Honey" is the name of the album with "The Lone Twister" on it. (The full line is of course, "Feelin' dizzy honey? That's what I like!") For more information on the band, and where they might be playing, visit themicragirls dot com.
Here's the Micragirls because, well, isn't it time you stopped living in the past and got over that Shaggs fetish? They're what's happenin' baby...
THE LONE TWISTER cover version by THE MICRAGIRLS
ORIGINAL LONE TWISTER BY MURRAY THE K Instant downloads, no pop-ups, porn-ads, code captchas or wait-time