Monday, March 29, 2010
Your download, cut from the Broadway show, is "When Messiah Comes."
The song came to mind because it's Passover time, and one of the traditions involved is for Orthodox Jews to get especially fashimmelt, and think that every Jew should get into a truck (a "mitzvah tank') and wrap tefillin. They believe if every Jew all over the world does this, then Messiah (perhaps the late Rabbi Schneerson) might finally make an appearance, either live, or on tape via Jay Leno, David Letterman, or, considering the lack of foreskin, Jon Stewart.
Questions of questionable religious rituals (waving a chicken over your head for example) the evolution of varying degrees of Judaism (including reformed), changes in interpretations of the Torah, and why so many Jews are brainy or funny (or both) have dogged both Jew and antisemite alike. Some aspects of changes in religion and morality were addressed in the Broadway musical "Fiddler on the Roof."
A song written for the show, but banned, was the seriocomic "When Messiah Comes." Is Jewish suffering to be rewarded when the Messiah comes? Why the suffering in the first place? How will the Messiah explain over 2,000 years of persecution, not to mention Ben Stiller movies and having to own two sets of dishes?
The irony and humor of "When Messiah Comes" was considered a little too much for 60's Broadway audiences. However after the great Herschel Bernardi took over the role of Tevye from Zero Mostel, and there was interest in his interpretations of songs from the show, he was able to sneak the tune onto his solo album.
For all observant Jews (a mark of which, is finding this blog) here's a bit of levity to go with the unleavened bread, and a trademark bit of bitterly amusing humor that should go down better than bitter herbs. For tonight's seder, the first night of Passover, the song may be a lot more fun than playing "hide the matzoh."
For all kind-hearted Gentiles (and any Gentile still reading this is more than qualified) the song can easily be adapted to a question of when Christ returns and why he and his Dad have allowed so much suffering in the world. After all, Easter's close to Passover and come to think of it, Jesus is as close to Jewish as you can get.
Enjoy the Easter/Passover holidays, God willing. Herschel Bernardi (October 30-1923-May 9, 1986) could still be alive and with us, except it either wasn't God's plan, or there is no God. In 1986 he lived long enough to celebrate one last Passover, and that means something. Doesn't it? We may not know for sure until Messiah comes.
WHEN MESSIAH COMES No pop-ups, porn ads or wait time. It wouldn't be nice.
Henry Mancini captured the Pink Panther's prowl. Lalo Schifrin provided the tense soundtrack for everyone's "Mission Impossible." Martin Denny instantly transported us to a "Quiet Village" in the jungle. And Richard Shores?
He bottled "Hate." You'll probably recognize his two minute instrumental as the soundtrack to violent chases through dark alleys on vintage TV cop shows, or background music to the scene of some psychotic babe having a nervous breakdown in a 60's film melodrama.
If Richard Shores' name seems familiar at all to you, it's probably because it flickered on your TV screen during the credits. While he didn't write TV theme songs, he wrote the incidental music for many TV episodes, including "The Man from UNCLE," which has had several albums of music released on CD.
Shore also worked on "Richard Diamond" and "Johnny Midnight," vintage late 50's TV shows starring David Janssen and Edmund O'Brien. As a staffer at Universal/Revue, he supplied music for "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" "Dick Powell Theater" "Checkmate" and others. His oddball Mercury album was released as both "Music to Read Lady Chatterley's Lover By," and "Emotions," and featured separate tracks for: Love, Hate, Sorrow, Gay, Blues, Surprise, Frustration, Nostalgia, Fear and Hysteria.
When I found my copy of "Emotions" decades ago in the 39 cents bin, it had no cover, just the inner sleeve. Only recently have I found out why my copy only came in a sleeve. Some pervert had ditched the record but saved the cover! "Emotions" has a nude lady on it. In other words, she wears no jacket on the jacket. It's mild by today's standards, but it makes the album hard to find. There is a small circle of fiends who must own every nudie cutie album jacket ever made.
Shores stayed busy in the TV field long after the "mood music" era of the late 50's and early 60's mellowed out. He provided a lot of catchy music for many episodes of "The Wild Wild West" and "Hawaii 5-0" among others.
Welcome to the formerly distant Shores, and I hope you love "Hate."
HATE by Richard Shores No hateful pop-ups, porn ads or wait time.
Any list of awesome Aussies should include Anni Piper. She's an authentic roots blues rocker, and the highest compliment would probably be that she sounds 100% American. Her latest release is "Chasin' Tail," and one of her first was "Jailbait." She sure knows the American way with a catchy album title.
And yes, that's her to your left. Which is as close as you'll ever get.
Since only a rude and rabid Tasmanian Devil would cop a track off a brand new release, there's nothing from "Chasin' Tail" below. Instead, you get the song "Jailbait," a sample of her down-under wares which should be more than enough to get you piping hot for Anni, and ready to go "Chasin' Tail."
She's so hot she'll probably be banned from Canada due to global warming concerns. When "Jailbait" first arrived, a nyuking Canuck at the The Edmonton Sun burned brightly for her:
"Anni Piper's inner CD sleeve is quite obviously designed -- successfully -- to make men drool over the statuesque Australian Blues Mama. Then she starts singing, and all sorts of other tingly things happen. Piper has the kind of voice that lulls men to their doom. It's soft and sweet when it wants to be, scared and vulnerable a moment later, then ripping through you like a razor..."
Anni's interest in music began when she was, well, jailbait. She was in school when she heard a memorable tune: "It was Paul Butterfield Blues Band playing "Born in Chicago." I knew straight away this was the direction I was heading."
"Jailbait" won glowing reviews in 2005, and she followed it two years later with "Texas Hold 'Em," a title that had the average viewer figuring she was born in the Lone Star state, except…neither album had been released in the U.S.A. Her American debut would come in 2009 via the indie "Two's Company," compiling the best tracks from her first two albums.
And now, 2010, there's "Chasin' Tail." So if you're chasin' Anni Piper, you have some catching up to do.
ANNI PIPER JAILBAIT
John Mastrangelo (May 7, 1939–March 24, 2010) was Johnny Maestro, and he fronted both The Crests in the late 50's and Brooklyn Bridge in the late 60's. Which means you've heard him sing "16 Candles" and "The Worst That Could Happen." The Crests were just another 50's group and "16 Candles" just a pleasant hit tune, but the group will always have a place in rock history for being interracial (Luther Vandross's sister Patricia was a key member), something rare at the time. The Marcels were another example.
Maestro next joined the Del-Satins, who acquired members of the Rhythm Method and morphed into the Brooklyn Bridge. They had an immediate hit with Jimmy Webb's "The Worst That Could Happen," and were very hot circa 1968-1972, selling millions of albums as they navigated terrain somewhere between the Fifth Dimension and Blood Sweat & Tears.
Johnny Maestro was a regular on the oldies circuit, and though his back-up group was The Brooklyn Bridge, he'd always perform some of his early hits with The Crests. In fact the $25 "Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge Greatest Hits" collection he sold on his website had such vintage numbers as "16 Candles," "My Prayer," "Unchained Melody," as well as a "Medley of Del-Satins." This, in addition to the well-known Bridge classics such as "Blessed is the Rain," "Your Husband, My Wife" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Your download sample is a track not on the "Greatest Hits." It's on the first Bridge album: "Piece of My Heart." Yes, the one made famous by you-know-who. It's chosen because a little piece of every doo-wop fan's heart was broken on hearing the news about the Maestro.
Johnny, who finally succumbed to cancer at 70, couldn't land a Johnny Maestro or Brooklyn Bridge dot.com, so to find more information about him, or nab some obscure CD's (including Brooklyn Bridge Christmas albums) you'll have to go to the hybrid-name: www.j-maestro-bklyn-bridge.com
Music, Maestro: PIECE OF MY HEART
Friday, March 19, 2010
Fess Parker (August 16, 1924 – March 18, 2010) and Peter Graves (March 18, 1926 – March 14, 2010) were two heroes of "classic TV." It was a simpler time, but to be a hero and star back then meant you had to have a few simple but difficult traits.
Parker's Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, and Graves' Jim Newton and Jim Phelps, weren't that handsome, that intelligent or even that brawny. What they had was the determination to get the job done. Do it with confidence, without weakness, and with a touch of humility rather than attitude. That made them heroes and that's what people wanted to see in the 50's and early 60's.
Did mimics do impressions of Parker or Graves? Of course not. That was another secret of their success: they were an approximation of the average man, just raised to a higher standard of heroism. You don't see this so much today, but back then, pretty average-looking guys were heroes: George Reeves, Lloyd Bridges, Richard Boone, Robert Stack and James Arness (Peter Graves' brother, who may have been supersized at 6'6" but never acted like a super-hero on "Gunsmoke.")
Fess Parker and James Arness were both up for the Davy Crockett role. Legend has it that Disney execs screening Arness's latest film ("Them" 1954) spotted Parker in a smaller role and were intrigued enough to give him an audition. Fess showed up with his guitar, demonstrated that he could sing as well as act, and that may have made the difference for Disney.
Davy Crockett became one of the biggest fads of the 50's, with kids wearing coonskin caps...and somehow accepting that their hero was not only long dead, but murdered by Mexican troops when he was outnumbered at The Alamo. Perhaps this bittersweet fact would later help baby boomers when their next hero, the real-life John F. Kennedy, quickly went from idol to martyr.
Everyone was singing the catchy Davy Crockett theme song (or parodying it, in the cases of Homer & Jethro and Mickey Katz). Fess put out a few albums to cash in, and you get his affable singing of the theme song below. He went on to virtually duplicate his success, on a slightly more adult level, by becoming "Daniel Boone," before retiring in the 70's to own a winery.
It was on an episode of "Daniel Boone" that he met up with Peter Graves, who had a guest starring role ("Run a Crooked Mile" in 1966).
Most probably know Peter Graves (born Peter Aurness) from his avuncular work hosting A&E's "Biography," and his stoic leadership of the "Mission Impossible" squad, but he had three earlier series as well, "Court Martial" (1965-66), "Whiplash" (1960-61) and around the time Parker was Davy Crockett, he spent five years on "Fury," a kid's show co-starring Bobby Diamond and the title-character horse.
Graves' show, like "Davy Crockett" and "Daniel Boone," was indebted to a super-catchy theme song. The download below gives you both "The Plot" and "The Theme." "The Plot" is that little triumphant march that was usually played at the end of every episode, when the bad guy was left sputtering and twisting in frustration, and the Mission Impossible bunch were seen driving off, smirking and giving each other knowing glances of satisfaction.
Nice men, both. A special mention for Peter Graves of one fight that he didn't exactly win. In his later years, he was one of a few actors who spoke out against noise pollution and the obnoxiousness of leafblowers. Unfortunately, the race card was played, and Mexican immigrants were quick to scream that they needed these noisy appliances to more effectively blow the same leaves into somebody else's yard. "Leafblowers," Shatner would later sneer in his rap "I Can't Get Behind That," "is there anything more FUTILE?" But in North Mexico (sometimes still called California), the impossible mission is to sleep late on a Sunday morning. Que lastima.
Peter Graves' end was very sudden. He was on his way home from brunch when he suffered a heart attack. His wife was there, one of his daughters tried CPR, but his life, to use the name of his character in "Airplane," was Oveur.
FESS PARKER and the DAVY CROCKETT THEME SONG No pop-ups, wait time or porn ads.
"THE THEME" and "THE PLOT" music from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE No pop-ups, wait time or porn ads.
Every country has its trashy scandals and greasy heartbreak, and on March 16th, it was time for slavic pop fans to suffer...losing their raunchy rude superstar Ksenija Pajcin, aka Xenia.
Ksenija was prime Belgrade-A meat when, at the tender and juicy age of 20, she released her first album titled "Too Hot to Handle." This 1997 effort was matched a few years later by "Extreme," but you know how quickly fame goes, even with outrageous superstars who aren't camera shy. By 2006, and pushing 30, she was pushing a "Best Of" compilation, and some were thinking she'd settle down and stop showing her ass on bad disco dance TV shows (sample below).
She settled down literally, on March 16th, thanks to her hotheaded boyfriend Filip Kapisoda, a clothing model who was 10 years younger than his famous femme fatale. Reports are that he gunned her down and then turned the weapon on himself. The latter part would be justified on looks alone...Google a photo of him and you'll see he's close to Frankenstein, a big, gruesome bony-face who could only be considered handsome in the twisted world of high-fashion.
Since you have no idea who Ksenija Pajcin was, the audio download and video download will enlighten you...not just to her, but to what's going on all over the (barely) civilized world. America's influence dictates that even in the most unlikely places, and in the harshest of languages, the women are going to attempt to sing and move like Madonna and wild and crazy guys will ludicrously posture like Biggie Smalls.
In the video download, a tranny-esque and trendy Ksenija does silly aerobic exercises that pass for dance while she Shakira-shakes her ass. Meanwhile a moronic Serbian dude does those retarded rap-star finger gestures while sullenly showing off his medallions and tough-guy threads. Ooh, so Amerr-eee-konn!
It seems that every country's pop acts look the same, and sound the same; imitation American. The only difference is the varying degrees of hipness and ineptitude they display in trying to be USA-cool. Vocally, a problem is sometimes the ugliness of the native languages, and how the harsh words trying to be rapped or uvulated ala Beyonce end up sounding more like backed up storm drains and faulty bidets.
It's also sad that "superstars" in all countries can be so immature and idiotic that they take themselves way too seriously, leading to overdoses or violent death. Take a look at this babe. What a waste. It's a sad demise for Lady Yugo, a yummy bit of soft-Serb dessert. I'm sure she probably won a lot of awards in her native country, which is Serb-prizing. Now? Yugo, girl, six feet down.
"Vestica" a SAMPLE SONG by Ksenija Pajcin
"Skorpija" VIDEO (avi file): Ksenija sings a song and shakes her can on Euro TV
Alex Chilton was on tour, ready to play a gig in Austin, Texas when he was hospitalized in New Orleans. His death was a shock to both family and fans.
At 16, Chilton had a hit, singing "The Letter" while fronting the Box Tops. The group managed to hold together through the late 60's. Two years later, 1972, Chilton was attaining acclaim via Big Star ("September Gurls,” “Thirteen,” and "Life is White" among the best remembered songs). Another tune, "In the Street," ended up as the theme for "That 70's Show." Paul Westerberg sang "I never travel far without a little Big Star," and indeed, Chilton's achievements are almost too big for this blog of less renown.
Except...between his Box Tops and Big Star successes, Chilton put out some pretty quirky material, and after his Big Star years, he once again created some challenging and less commercial music, hanging out with the CBGB's punk crowd, and working with The Cramps. He ended the 70's by pressing 500 copies of "Like Flies on Sherbert," which was certainly ahead of its time. That's your download below.
Chilton remained elusive in the 80's, doing everything from solo albums to the dishes, literally, when he decided to try menial work down in New Orleans. He continued his eclectic interests in the 90's with an acoustic jazz album of standards, but kept the rent money coming in by turning up at gigs with re-united versions of both The Box Tops and Big Star, and with Big Star he even created a new album in 2005.
LIKE FLIES ON SHERBERT
Lesley's funeral is today (March 19th). She died on March 12th at the age of 66 after struggling with cerebrovascular disease.
Sometimes called "the British Carole King," she was one of the few female singer/songwriters from England back in the 70's. It was tough for her getting started, because when she began she didn't fit the mold of a Petula Clark or Cilla Black: "“You had to be glamorous and pretty and I just couldn't play that role, I found it absolutely impossible. You'd be the token pretty girl and I just couldn't be that. I didn't even try; I'd have just felt a total phony. But I've been at odds with the business all along, starting very early. I always felt uncomfortable with lots of aspects of show business. I think they found people like me a little hard to handle, 'cos I was rebelling already - whereas I think they were very sure of what to do with the more compliant ones, like the Susan Maughans, who were happy to play the game, to play the glamorous dolly-bird, do the TV shows and the cabaret.”
“And also, because there weren't that many girl singer/songwriters around at the time, there was nowhere to put me comfortably. Lots of girl artists, but not many who were writers too and so it was a bit uncomfortable for me because I had no-one helping me out, as it were. It has come a long way, but I think I was one of the forerunners….I was one of the early ones blazing a trail, if you like."
She sang back-up with Dusty Springfield, got a big break via her Elton John duet on "Love Song," but also appeared on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and sang "If I Could Change Your Mind" on the Alan Parson album "Eve." She had a string of solo albums in the mid-70's ("Everything Changes," "Moonbathing" and "Maybe It's Lost") that have some gems on them, and your download below is "Walk in the Sea," a track previously discussed on the blog in October of 2007.
One of her last recordings was a version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" circa 1982. Her disappearance from the music scene was a combination of family interests and physical problems. She said some years ago, "I've been fairly quiet musically for various reasons. One is that I can't seem to think straight with two teenage sons around me!
"I've built up a little stockpile of tracks again, though. It's a bit like a repeat of the 60s, where I've had a lull, and I'm gradually compiling a little dossier again. I've got about three or four recorded now...I'm beginning to recover energy and thinking maybe I'd like to do that. But it's hard, because as I've told you, I don't really care much for the business and I don't want to go out and sing, so I suppose it's unfair to expect a record company to invest a lot of money letting you make an album if you're not prepared to go out and promote it - which I'm not, that life is just not for me."
For more information on the sweetheart from Stockton-on-Tees, you can visit her website: lesleyduncan.net
Walk in the Sea: Lesley Duncan
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
"I'm lactating," Dame Edna tells the audience. "I can share that with you. Not many actresses would. Angela Lansbury wouldn't tell you she's lactating, would she?" Angela also wouldn't confide that she dated New York's embattled Governor David Paterson ("We met at Yankee Stadium...I bought my tickets...") or smilingly skewer the people in the balcony seats by calling them "paupers."
Dame Edna is back on Broadway in "All About Me." The wispy plot is that both she and cabaret pianist/singer Michael Feinstein have accidentally booked the same theater, and have become instant rivals in claiming the stage for themselves.
Michael sings a few songs. Dame Edna has him literally hauled off by a pair of muscular gay dancers so she can start her monologue. Fifteen minutes later, Feinstein storms the stage with a dyke stage manager, and he and Dame Edna duel wits and songs to see who can win over the crowd. Will it be Michael, singing a classic like "What Kind of Fool Am I," or Dame Edna offering an original called "The Dingo Ate Your Baby"?
At one point, Feinstein claims the piano, but Dame Edna almost literally squats on it, and as she grimaces, rolls along the top, and tries desperately to get to her feet, you might just find yourself thinking, as I did, "Now wait a minute, how old IS Dame Edna?? Things are getting a bit strenuous for this grand old comedy star!"
Especially if you also know that Dame Edna, aka Barry Humphries, first appeared on Broadway back in 1963!
It isn't nice to tell a lady's age, even if it's a man dressed up as one, but it did get me thinking about the very first time most people ever saw Mr. Humphries. He was playing Mr. Sowerberry in "Oliver!" first in the original London production (1960) and then when the show came to Broadway in 1963. Your download? "That's Your Funeral," a highlight number from the show, although it was cut from the American original cast recording. Oh...and the Artful Dodger back then was played by Davy Jones, soon to be one of The Monkees.
More trivia: in 1967, Barry played Fagin himself, in a Piccadilly Theatre revival of the show. The Artful Dodger was played by...Phil Collins! In 1997 Barry was again cast as Fagin in the new Cameron Mackintosh revival of "Oliver!" at the London Palladium.
If you plan on taking in a Broadway show from now till some time in June, you'll have a great time with "All About Me," despite Michael Feinstein singing "My Romance" and looking a bit like a weird cross between Paul Anka and Jimmy Fallon. Dame Edna's 40+ minutes of solo comedy, ad-libs and innuendo hurled at her not-so-straight man, more than give you your money's worth. Especially if you got your ticket via TDF discount.
[UPDATE: the show closed after a few weeks due to indifferent reviews. Critics loved Dame Edna but were not overly impressed with Feinstein or what passed for a plot. No doubt a solo Dame Edna show at a smaller venue would've been the wiser choice].
And so, by way of tribute to the very much alive, well, and looking very good for her age Dame Edna, here's Barry Humphries doing "That's Your Funeral," as he did it on Broadway 47 years ago! Don't miss this download, or "All About Me." If you do, well, that's your funeral.
THATS YOUR FUNERAL Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn-ads, or Rabid share wait time.
Lolly Vasquez, died on March 4, 2010. He and his brother Patrick were the core of Redbone, the early 70's band that specialized in Cajun swamp rock (with the obligatory song about New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau) and later were publicized as an "all-Native American" band. Not that the band members could really claim to be 100% Native American, especially the brothers Vasquez.
The band was hot between 1971 ("The Witch Queen of New Orleans" nearly made the Top 20) and 1974, when "Come and Get Your Love" (written by Lolly Vasquez) went gold. "We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee" was a Top 10 in some European markets in 1973 but didn't get much airplay in America.
Redbone didn't disappear just because they were no longer producing hit songs. The band continued to tour. Lolly left the group around 1996 when he suffered a stroke, but the band continued with replacement Raven Hernandez. Original member Tony Bellamy died on Christmas day, 2009, a year after Redbone was inducted into the somewhat sparse "Native American Music Association Hall of Fame."
Your download? Five of their best: We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee, Poison Ivy, Message from a Drum, The Witch Queen of New Orleans, and Come and Get Your Love. If these bring back fond memories, or turn out to be a welcome introduction to the band, you can find plenty more on legit CD. You might also be moved to find the brothers' recording debut, "Pat and Lolly Vegas at the Haunted House," recorded in the 60's for Mercury when "Vasquez" was considered an uncommercial name, and "Vegas" pure show-biz.
FIVE FROM REDBONE
If some critics used the above equation, it might have helped draw some attention to the group's debut album released on Columbia.
Chicago's Wilderness Road knew roots music about as well as the New York-Canadian group called The Band. Just as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" seemed like it was actually written after the Civil War, one could easily believe that it was Jesse James who penned a few lines sung by Wilderness Road:
"They say it's only hard to kill the very first time you do,
but then after that, it don't take much nerve to do what you got to do."
Those lines are in the serious, if comically titled "Queasy Rider." Their debut was a concept album on the Old West and the life of a bounty hunter. And if they had a bit of tongue in cheek at times, it was about at the level of the Grateful Dead winking while singing about Casey Jones. The Road's lead vocalist was more of an adequate Jerry Garcia-type than someone with impressive pipes (like Levon Helm or Rick Danko).
Despite landing on a major label, the band was still in the wilderness as far as radio play and album sales, although as one might expect, they did get some solid critical reviews to ease the pain. The late, legendary Paul Nelson of Rolling Stone wrote:
"I've seen Wilderness Road at a small club in Chicago at least a dozen times - on one occasion, so great was my enthusiasm, I paid full air fare from New York City for another writer so he, too, could enjoy the magic - and each time, when the music was over, standing on the street in what the late Jack Kerouac would call the great American night, talking with Warren Leming and Nate Herman, the guitarists, and the Haban brothers, Andy and Tom, bass and drums, respectively, I've had the mythic feeling that, during the preceding three or four hours, there was no better music to be heard anywhere in the land."
Wilderness Road's Columbia album ranks right alongside the debut of "The Band," or "Workingman's Dead," or "Tumbleweed Connection" or any number of other rocking western chronicles. Remarkably, Wilderness Road did get a second chance. After going nowhere at Columbia, they turned up next at Warner Bros. This time, it was with something completely different...just as unsuccessful commercially, but perhaps even more of an enduring cult album than their debut. More about that in the future. But if you can't wait, you can also visit www.wildernessroad.net to learn more.
For now, sample "Bounty Man" from Wilderness Road. For a mere fistful of dollars, you can get the album at some dying record store, or brighten the day of some desperate eBay seller who isn't asking for a Paypal donation for breaking the law, but the chance to legally sell you and recycle some great vinyl.
BOUNTY MAN by WILDERNESS ROAD
Posted by Ill Folks at 7:55 AM
The first time Fred Wedlock was heard on vinyl, it was via "The Folker," which borrowed Paul Simon's '"The Boxer" for new lyrics about the plight of being an obscure touring folkie. Since Fred recorded for the tiny "Village Thing" label, which barely pressed 2,000 copies for its artists, not many knew of his blend of traditional, comic and topical folk songs.
His albums for them, "Folker" and "Frolicks," were released in 1971 and 1973. In 2008 they were re-issued on CD, which goes to show that "out of print" doesn't mean "public domain" or "it'll never be re-issued so let's toss it all over the place." Fred issued several more indie albums before a fluke single hit the Top 10 in the U.K. and he became a one-hit wonder. It was the novelty tune "The Oldest Swinger in Town."
As one should realize, eccentric artists on indie labels generally don't make much money, so Fred Wedlock hustled all his life with gigs at everything from outdoor festivals to cabarets and pubs, and he put together several niche shows. Need an after dinner speaker? Fred could do it. Need to hire someone for your corporation's annual party? Fred could do that, too, adding custom-lyrics as needed.
His website was the usual mix of boasts and P.R., assuring prospective customers that the man was a total pro, ready to travel and perform at "Country Shows, Concerts, Festivals, Messes, Sports Clubs and Special Events," and that he'd performed not only "all over the UK, but also USA, Bermuda, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Israel, Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Spain and New Zealand." The website also mentioned his "over 60 songs published, and still generating royalties - some covered by the likes of Jasper Carrot and Little & Large." Not to mention 10 years doing a "community action TV series "The Good Neighbor Show" and more recently "2009: "Mrs Gerrish's Christmas Stockings" - sold out two weeks at the Brewery Theatre."
The journeyman entertainer worked pretty hard for the money, which is why, at the age of 67, he just wore out, dying from pneumonia. He chose a difficult profession and a difficult lifestyle, but it was the only one he wanted, and he was willing to sacrifice a lot, as are today's young performers who are making even more concessions due to the troubled economy, less venues, and more things free on the Internet.
Free via download, what may be your introduction to Fred Wedlock. It's two songs from his first album: "The Folkie" and "Skinheads," as well as that comic tune about being "The Oldest Swinger in Town."
The Folkie and Skinheads
The Oldest Swinger in Town