Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Some things can't be described.
Your download, should you choose to accept it, is the seemingly impossible: Bette Davis singing Buffy St. Marie's "Until It's Time For You To Go."
While the St. Marie album cover has been Photoshopped, Bette's face hasn't. She sported a red eyepatch in the "black comedy" of family miseries titled "The Anniversary."
BUFFY ST. BETTE DAVIS Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time.
The death of Chris Sievey (August 25, 1955–June 21, 2010), aka "Frank Sidebottom," is sad news in the U.K. for fans of oddity, although he's totally unknown in America. The Peter Lorre look-alike was a kind of missing link between a human freak (Tiny Tim, Emo Phillips, Mr. Bean, whatever) and your choice of marionette, puppet or muppet.
A cult favorite who, like Pee Wee Herman, appealed to children and adults and generally tried not to be too offensive, Frank was known for his constant touring with stand-up and novelty songs, and at one time had his own TV show and was seen often on "No. 73," a Saturday morning kiddie show. Americans might get some idea from his version of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," on the download below. Hmm, the Strawbs' Dave Cousins played at 78rpm? Frankie Howard with a nose clothespin on, likewise veering beyond pitch control? That guy from Flash and the Pan gone totally Chipmunk? You can come up with your own notion...
Frank Sidebottom was also known for his Christmas songs, and just recently another novelty tune "Three Shirts on my Line " made news. This parody of a well known U.K. football anthem "Three Lions" was embraced by fans hoping to give the oddball entertainer one last tribute. A grassroots group, "Let's Get Frank Sidebottom In the Charts," hoped to persuade people, despite economic hardship and "music should be free," to buy the single and make it a #1 hit. Profits from the single go to Cancer Relief.
Chris Sievey found out he had cancer in May. He found out it was a particularly fast-moving cancer when he died a month later. Ironically as some fans joked about pushing sales of his charity single, others learned the grim truth that the kind-hearted and generous Sievey had died in debt, in danger of going to a pauper's grave. Fans quickly raised the money for his funeral…and continued to raise money, thousands and thousands, which would go to his heirs…his three children. He was married, obviously, but divorced. As journalist Jon Ronson put it, "Chris was an "in the moment man," wrapped up completely in his art. He earned money and spent it and he wouldn't be thinking about planning and finance."
Creative types, like Chris "Frank Sidebottom" Sievey, are often naive, and in another world. That they can create a new world and a unique character that brings joy to so many people, is indeed an art. But an artist is rarely a businessman, and that often means being duped at contract time, not knowing how to really capitalize on fame, and if lucky enough to have a manager, agent or accountant…rarely being lucky enough to have one who is protective, honest and loyal.
Fans seeing the benefit of Frank Sidebottom, actually shared their spare change and literally paid tribute to him. It's not too late to consider paying tribute to the eccentric and indie artists still around and trying to make their way in the world. At the very least, it would be nice to let them keep their copyrights and their dignity…and some way of making a living. And now, being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, for the benefit of those who wonder what this papier mache creature sounded like…
FRANK SIDEBOTTOM, Being for the Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Looks like the Illfolks blog is going to be the first to lead Captain Crawlers to Double N, Nanette Natal. You'll no longer do a query and get asked about "Pata Pata." Nanette swapped a promising career as Vanguard's new Baez for the life of a blues artist and jazz singer on an indie label.
Natal's major label debut was Psych-Folk or Folk-Rock…or some other term critics hadn't yet worked their ink-stained fingers around. The title track, "Yesterday Today Tomorrow" was a staccato dip into the gene pool of Middle Eastern/Ethnic music, string quartet as well as folk and rock. Other tracks sifted through the haze of post-hippie nature themes and hard city realities, but unlike Vanguard's favorite femme Joan Baez, Nanette's vocals had a lot less yodel and were much easier for the average listener to take. That is, if the average listener knew the album was around.
Next stop on the evolutionary ladder for Nanette was an album for the Evolution label, where their big seller was probably Jack Benny narrating clips from old-time radio. If few heard the late 60's and early 70's Nanette on record, she was well known on the local New York scene, playing the Bitter End, and turning up on bills with Odetta and Bonnie Raitt. She even performed on "The Today Show" (back in those Hugh Downs/Barbara Walters days).
Ms. Natal, who started as a classical singer learning her lessons at the Helen Hayes Young People's Theater Guild, edged away from folk and began to gravitate to jazz standards. She found her own song writing more strongly influenced by dark blues and ethnic rhythms. She formed her own record label, Benyo, and gave herself the artistic freedom to release eight albums while touring the club circuit.
While she's left psych-folk behind, her lone Vanguard album is kind of classic in its way, and you'll find a few cuts down below to discover for yourself. Natal's website has been dormant of late, with the ambitious, dark and driven 8 minute "I Must be Dreaming" (2007) listed as her most current recording. The track sounds like something spawned by Nina Simone and Victor Jara. A September 2009 gig at a Bleecker Street club is listed as her most current concert appearance. Maybe she's just too busy to mess with Internet updates. After all, check these glowing reviews:
"An accomplished scat singer with a vocal range that allows her to execute complicated or demanding phrases with polish and assurance...Miss Natal bends and twists her notes in unexpected fashions, makes startling leaps around the scales, and has the daring to expand and extend...a satisfactory note to open up a fresh and revealing color." - The New York Times.
"…Nanette Natal could easily coast on her impressive range, but she doesn't; instead she takes intrepid sojourns from slick jazz into blues and soul..." - TimeOut New York.
"Nanette Natal has an instrumental voice both feline and savage...plus she can scat without imitating anyone else--quite rare isn't it?" - Jazz Hot, France.
"…One of the most sensitive performers around. Natal’s truly impressive vocal range is, perhaps, what first-time listeners notice...Nanette Natal demonstrates the art of the ballad...favorably compared with the late Sarah Vaughan. Very, very classy!" - Jazz Review
Here's the opening two tracks from the Vanguard album: "Yesterday Today Tomorrow" segueing into "Paradoxical Maze."
"We Are the Tampons" is a novelty tune by the Nuclear Fish, and since funny songs get almost no respect, it's no surprise that these guys are not the household names that Tampax and Playtex are.
Supposedly they've made a CD with this and 26 other tunes on it, called "Jew Kids on the Block." It's not on Amazon.com, and if you're looking for their official website, there's not much to see at the moment over at www.nuclearfish.com.
Among the other tracks, should you be able to find the album and buy it: "Another Kick in the Balls," "Baby is Black," "The Wind Beneath My Sheets," and old Bill Clinton parodies "Looks Like I Stained It" and "While My Cigar Slowly Creeps." Parody tunes can be lame, dopey, and tiresome after a minute...which might explain why they seem to exist, if at all, on free radio.
The way you find most parody crap is on downloads (as this one is here), or mated to some assholish photos and hoisted to YouTube. But pay? For a song that's just a dumb "novelty" item? Don't make me laugh...
WE ARE THE TAMPONS Instant download (you don't have to wait a month), no pop-ups, pop-unders, porn ads or code words.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
He wasn't shaped like a bowl, and was the opposite of minute. Manute Bol (October 16, 1962 - June 19, 2010) was one of the tallest players in NBA history. A star center with the Washington Bullets, the Sudan native was 7 and a half feet tall. He had little basketball skills beyond blocking the opponents from scoring, but he did that exceedingly well. In his rookie season, 1985, he blocked an incredible 397 shots. He was the only player in NBA history to have blocked more shots than he scored.
A few years later, just to make it a freak show, the Washington Bullets acquired Muggsy Bogues, who was only 5 foot three. They had the shortest and tallest men in the league.
Bol was the epitome of the "gentle giant." He was a smiling, easy-going fan favorite. Well, smiling with false teeth. He grew up during still-primitive times in Africa, and though the boy was raised a Christian (and had trouble with the Muslim-dominated Sudanese government for a while) he participated in ritual puberty ceremonies that involved adding scars to his head and smacking out a bunch of his teeth.
He moved to Khartoum where he first learned to play basketball…and deal with ethnic insults. A basketball scout managed to bring him to America where he attended the University of Bridgeport and was eventually signed by the Bullets. He was a credible player in the NBA for ten years, and spent most of his money on African charities for refugees and those experiencing genocide.
The photo on this page is from the "True Hero" organization, www.truehero.org, where you can read about "The Manute Bol Project." In part: "At the beginning of this project over 300 students learned under a tree, and during the rainy season that lasts from May through October, there is no school. Manute Bol, former NBA player, has promised to build a primary school in his home village of Turalei. As a sign of reconciliation for all Sudan, Manute's school will welcome both Darfurian children as well as Southern Sudanese children. Manute Bol has given most of his NBA earnings to help the people of Turalei…"
His death was not related to his height, so much as a skin condition. He died of complications from Stevens-Johnson syndrome. By way of a salute to Manute, your download is a song recorded by Jimmy Durante. Why this song, you ask? Simple enough. Manute Bol was a member of the Sudan's Dinka tribe. When the Washington Bullets pondered taking a chance and signing the oddly-sized athlete, a sportswriter insisted, "If you can ink a Dinka, do!"
JIMMY DURANTE inka dinka doo
"Captain Crawl" is generally a very fine search engine for finding stolen - ah, shared - music. This blog almost instantly comes up when some strange person types in Judy Henske or Ron Nagle or Marsha Malamet, etc. But once in a while, something odd happens. The Captain gets a dose of the bends.
As you see from the picture, typing in Wink Martindale, Jackie Kannon or Ibn and Ozn did not produce any results, even though songs by them have been on this blog for years. (No different from the posts by Henske, Nagle or Malamet that the Captain did find and list in the search results). So what went wrong? Captain Crawl could be as woozy as Commodore Brooker? How can this possibly be?
With songs now prominently mentioned on this fresh posting, the problem will probably be solved. Anyone looking for music samples from JACKIE KANNON, WINK MARTINDALE and the team of EBN and OZN will now find something. Not much, but something! You'll certainly be able to tell from the single song samples whether to bother hunting for albums by these artists!
ROCKIN' ROBIN by EBN and OZN
WINK MARTINDALE "Remember Me"
SARAH, live performance by Jackie Kannon Listen on line or download, no pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time.
It's hard to keep track of the latest Whore du Jour.
One minute it's Katy Perry, then Lady Gaga, then Miley Cyrus decides to act like an ignorant slut, too. Almost lost in this constant array of cheapness was the dollar-sign doll named Kesha. Or rather, KE$HA.
With so many "I'll do anything for money" chicks around, KE$HA kind of fell through the crack (of showing her crack) even after she turned in a cringeworthy appearance on "Saturday Night Live," wearing black light clothing and black light make-up and looking like a nightmare Adam Lambert had after sucking on a peyote mushroom-tip in some meat district men's room.
It was at that moment I wished KE$HA was "Invisible," but at least, a few years back, she actually covered "Invisible." Yes, before she began singing rotten songs, she covered a good one by Martin Briley. (There is some irony in realizing how often the supposedly misogynistic Mr. B. has had brilliant cover versions from women interpreting his songs…from Rebecca St. James and Celine Dion to Karla DeVito and Pat Benatar…the latter two to be found on this blog.)
The early track "Invisible" demonstrates that at one time KE$HA could carry a tune. Apparently now all she can carry is STD's.
Before the make-up took over. Here's KE$HA, "Invisible."
The "winners" of most of the "Got Talent" shows usually don't deserve to win. It's that simple. Looking back on the American version, there was the sobbing fatso Neal E. Boyd, who got the sympathy vote and is now in limbo where he belongs. Great operatic voice, but there's no shortage of them. Last year's winner, a homely no-talent hillbilly named Skinner, also was nothing new. Nashville is full of people like him. After his win did anyone buy his CD? Know that it existed? Of course not.
The newest "Got Talent" show is from Australia, where they marvel at embarrassingly stale gutter "dance" acts doing the same old spins and posturing, precocious brats who sing in irritating nasal voices, cutie-pie boys with too much hair or teeth (or both), and the rest of the tripe. Last year's winner was nothing special, a boring "hunk" with an egocentric flair for showing off his demi-operatic voice. Sergio Franchi, dead, would be more interesting to watch than him. This year? The viewers picked, you guessed it, a moronic street dance troupe, the kind who like to pretend to be zany robots. You wonder if their thug friends and hackers rigged the phones to constantly dial them in. The real winners could've been the brother-sister illusionists or the runner-up, an Aussie version of James Taylor who specialized in weepy self-written ballads about his wonderful family (his toothy son placed 3rd…having been voted through by the judges for the sake of drama, not because the kid was so much better than Alana Conway, the female harpist/vocalist who actually managed to sing "Unchained Melody" in a way that didn't make people puke.)
Your sample from the show? A novelty singing group called The Belles, whose unfortunate desire was to be Bette Midler in triplicate…ie, they love the Andrews Sisters. After their first number, bright, bouncy and pretty annoying, Danni Minogue suggested they "update" their Andrews Sisters fetish and try something modern in that three-part harmony style. Like something by Lady Gaga. The girls obliged, and did a pretty novel and funny job with "Bad Romance." And what did the judges do? One of them buzzed The Belles in mid-song and all three complained that the number didn't work. This is an example of moronic judging. The Belles gave the three idiots exactly what was requested, and got scorn and abuse. Well, not from the Illfolks blog, where they managed to break through the monotony..although not as well as the belly dancers and pole dancers who seem to frighten the cameramen away from close-ups.
No surprise "Australia's Got Talent" was the least interesting of the talent competitions. It wasn't helped by the judges who were mostly boring (even the pudgy, Kyle, who was supposed to be the "mean" one, but mostly acted like an overgrown petulant baby). There was a lack of real eccentricity or humor among the auditioners. One un-funny clod was voted through because he growled and broke watermelons over his head. On his second appearance, he ran afoul of the judges not because he did the same stupid act over again, but because he failed to break every watermelon over his head. Too bad he didn't break the watermelons over the heads of the judges. At least then the judges might've had a seed planted where nothing seems to grow.
the BELLES do LADY GAGA
We know who won Britain's Got (Little) Talent. It was a bunch of gymnasts with paint on, including males who drew six-pack abs onto themselves with make-up. In second place, an ugly, gawky duo of best mates who "danced" liked spastic robots and won gales of laughter by occasional effeminate posturing at each others' behinds. In third, a pork-faced little brat with a blond Woody Woodpecker hairstyle who banged at a drum kit for a few minutes. While the judges sneered about acts failing to be "contemporary" they fawned over this little stub who thumped to 50 year-old surf tunes, acted out of breath and exhausted after one song, and displayed none of the variation and skills of a Ringo Starr or a B.J. Wilson. He didn't vary tempo and rarely veered too far from slugging at one drum as if trying to bully a classmate into handing over lunch money. In other words, he drummed like a 13 year-old.
Who finished out of the money? There was an impressionist who wasn't bad. Another favorite was a 40-year-old virgin and her dancing dog. There was, of course, the requisite fat choir boy singing in a voice that would make even Julie Andrews wince, and then there was 81 year-old Janey Cutler. She was the likeliest for Her Majesty to actually enjoy at a command performance (supposedly the reason for the judges to vote someone through and for the TV audience to select a winner on behalf of their queen!) Janey had her "Susan Boyle" moment on one of the audition shows, shocking the judges with her powerful voice on the Edith Piaf anthem "No Regrets." Surely the Queen would want to see this, and not some circus act, street dance duo or kid thumping a drum to "Pipeline." Oh. But insidiously, we forget, the real reason people get voted upward is a) to feed Simon Cowell's record label or b) to put asses in the seats at "Britain's Got Talent" summer tours, and c) because the final voting is subject to being rigged into a popularity contest, and it would be naive to suggest that the number of calls can't be manipulated by the show or young contestants and their hacker friends.
So what happened after Janey Cutler's brilliant audition? In the semi-finals she sang Shirley Bassey’s ‘"This Is My Life.” A change of pace with a slower song rather than another anthem would've been better. She could've brought everyone to tears with something like "September Song." But the big problem was that she was no longer singing to her own well-rehearsed karaoke track. This time, apparently dictated by the show's producers, she had to sing an unfamiliar arrangement. She was not fitted with the tiny earbuds that almost all professional singers wear these days…specifically so they won't be distracted by echo or other problems with a strange venue's acoustics. Did the producers decide that old, old Janey couldn't sell records for very long or tour very often? That might prompt sabotage. Fortunately despite her timing being off due to the new music track, Janey's performance was still far above the competition and the judges would not or could not deny her a chance at the finals.
For her last chance, the now desperate and worried Janey Cutler fell back to doing exactly what Susan Boyle did…rather than risk a new song, go back and try to wow them by repeating that first successful number. Only the producers weren't going to let her sing to her audition music. You could see the frown and concern on Janey's face as she struggled to find her way, unable to hear properly, unable to adjust to the new version of the song. At the end, even the judges had sympathetic looks of dismay. All three declared Janey "a fighter," and pretended that toward the end Janey had at least caught up to the arrangement and finished strong. No, she hadn't. The entire performance was dreadful and toward the end the poor woman wasn't even on key. Nerves? At her age, smiling Janey had seen enough in life not to be nervous. Throughout the shows, she'd smiled and laughed. She wasn't laughing when the newly provided music overpowered her and raced past her ability to sing. If Susan Boyle couldn't win a phone-in vote against a slum dance team, even with her best song and a nation rooting for her and millions having seen her via YouTube all through the past weeks, there was no way Janey Cutler was going to win against any of the young people in the final, and she didn't.
Your download is the first song from Janey, when things were magical, and when she had her own track that she picked out herself...and control of her destiny.
JANEY CUTLER "NO REGRETS"
It was nice to see Jimmy Dean (August 10, 1928 – June 13, 2010) in the news. Too bad he had to die to do it.
Most people know at least one of his three main accomplishments: the sausage business he ran for such a long time that an entire generation has no idea he was ever in show business, the TV show he did that is now remembered because it was the first to feature a Muppet, and last but not least, 1961's "Big Bad John," which spawned sequels and cover versions galore.
He came from humble beginnings and near poverty, a high-school dropout from Plainview, Texas. After service in the Air Force, he struggled through the early 50's with his group "The Texas Playboys," but ultimately started to make a living as a musician and TV personality. Then "Big Bad John" made him a superstar. After a few more hits, he was rewarded with his own national TV show. Well before Johnny Cash's series, or "Hee-Haw," Jimmy Dean was a crossover act able to amuse a wide variety of people. One of the show's most memorable features was Jimmy's visits with Rowlf the Dog…the first time a Muppet character was seen regularly on TV. You can find a few examples on YouTube, and they hold up pretty well.
Jimmy Dean was smart enough to know that his luck as a singer or an actor (he was in the James Bond film "Diamonds are Forever') would not last forever. In 1969 he formed his own food company, and starred in commercials for his Jimmy Dean brand of sausages. He made millions, and sold his interest in the company back in 1984. Jimmy and his wife lived on a 200 acre-estate in Richmond, and he loved to be aboard his boat on the James River. He lived the good life, and had a gentle passing. He was sitting down to dinner when he grew still in his chair. And that was it.
Reflecting the varied musical interests of Jimmy Dean, your dozen-song download includes not just "Big Bad John" and its sequels (including "Cajun Queen") but "Big Bruce," one of the many "Big Bad John" parodies. Also, another novelty item ("Shark in the Bathtub" sung in his normal C&W comic voice) and Jimmy's "PT 109" ballad (now saluting "Big John" Kennedy). You'll also hear some of Jimmy's favorite religious and inspirational pieces (including "Abide with Me" and "Touch of the Master's Hand"). You also get the flip-side of "Big Bad John," which told the world that this somber, deep-voiced man was a light-hearted C&W singer: "I Won't Go Huntin' With You Jake (but I'll Go Chasin' Women)." I mentioned to Mr. Dean how surprised I was when I heard it.
As the photo Jimmy autographed for me would indicate, Jimmy's songs and humor were the Illfolks favorites, not his pig food. But here's an interesting slant on Jimmy and his sausages and pig farming. There were the usual wisecracks in the "comments" section of the online version of the N.Y. Daily News in reporting his death, including: "…He made it to 81 eating all that PORK?" There was also this: " I was 19 burned in an electric accident I had third degree burns over 65 percent of my body from 115 thousand volts of electricity Jimmy dean's company developed pigskin that saved my life I am 57 now and I still thank God and Jimmy Dean."
Whoever sau such links to an overview of Jimmy Dean's music? You did, right here. Download right now:
Go whole hog with this JIMMY DEAN SAMPLER
Update November 2011: Rapidshare deletes files if they aren't uploaded often enough to suit them. A few individual songs have been re-upped individually via a better service:
"Little Bitty Big John" sequel by JIMMY DEAN
"Cajun Queen" sequel by JIMMY DEAN SAMPLER
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Who was following "The Pied Piper?" Death. But he follows everyone, and yesterday he caught up to Robin Peter Smith...better known as "Crispian St. Peters," singer of the "one hit wonder" from 1966, "The Pied Piper."
Of course at the Illfolks blog, he wins greater admiration for being one of the few to cover a Phil Ochs song while Phil was still alive. That song, "Changes," is your download by way of tribute to this folk-rock artist. Not that Phil was a big fan of this version. St. Peters and his producer turned Phil's simple ballad into a bit of jangle-rock, with insistent drums.
After performing in several bands, and trying out a few aliases such as "Woody Smith," it was time for something new. His manager thought up "Crispin Blacke," and suggested he wear crisp black clothing on stage. Since another singer, Dave Berry, was already doing that look in the U.K., "Blacke" was out and the singer thought up "St. Peters" instead. Someone else helpfully suggested "Crispian" instead of "Crispin," and that was the name attached to the Decca contract.
St. Peters "failed" with Decca...going nowhere with the first singles they released in 1965. Unlike The Beatles, Decca thought Crispian had promise and kept with him. He proved them right, scoring a big hit in England with a cover version of "You Were On My Mind." His next single, "The Pied Piper" (1966) was the blockbuster. The song was technically a cover version (it was originally recorded by the Dylanesque duo "The Changin' Times" the year before). His version was trippy, folky and mesmerizing, and it marked St. Peters as a kind of masculine version of Donovan.
Next came Crispy's creamy cover of "Changes" by Phil Ochs. With typical Ochs bad-luck, Peters' choice of "Changes" stopped his momentum cold; after two Top Ten hits, "Changes" barely made it inside the Top 50. Peters couldn't understand what went wrong. He followed "Changes" with "Free Spirit" (written by "The Pied Piper" team of Kornfeld/Duboff once that duo called "The Changin' Times"). It too, was a failure. Then he tried a cover of "Almost Persuaded." Folks were almost persuaded that St. Peters was still a star, but his foray into C&W (perhaps a salute to his late teen days with a skiffle band called The Hard Travellers) was also a flop. Most of his other singles were self-penned and likewise not successful, so by 1971 he was done at Decca. So was the hippie vibe that had carried him and so many others through those hazy crazy latter days of the 60's.
In Crispian's case, the early 70's brought him a lot of pain. He suffered the first of three nervous breakdowns as he made the desperate move from Decca to the Square Records label, and in 1974 he and his wife divorced. They had two young kids.
Fans of St. Peters sometimes got a pleasant surprise...a new album on cassette in 1986 and more in 1990 and 1993. He also worked the oldies circuit, but admitted he was awfully tired of being asked to sing just his two hit songs. He said at the time, "My chief ambition is to stop working on the road and just concentrate on writing songs for other people."
But in 1995 he suffered a stroke. In 1999 he managed a final performance, and in 2001 his fans learned that he was now fully retired. He suffered a frightening bout with pneumonia in 2003. Meanwhile some aging folkies began turning up at clubs here and there pretending to be Crispian St. Peters, hoping to cash in on the modest man's obscurity. As for cash, St. Peters long ago realized that he wouldn't be seeing all the royalties due him, due to free downloads and the complex route of existing royalties which were going to his manager (who only licensed the tracks to Decca).
Crispian St. Peters: April 5th, 1939 – June 8th 2010. He lived and died in Swanley, a small village in Kent, U.K., occupying the same house all his life.
Phil Ochs' CHANGES, as rocked by Crispian St. Peters No pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time. Instant download or listen on line.
You've heard Priscilla Paris sing. She's the girl who crooned "I Love How You Love Me," a killer single from Phil Spector. That was back when she was the lead singer for The Paris Singers. A bit later, she went solo for a few delightful albums.
Before there was Claudine Longet, there was Paris.
One of the earliest of the "breathy-sexy" singers in pop, Priscilla guided her sisters away from their manager's initial vision: a teen version of the aging Andrews Sisters. At first, The Paris Sisters recorded horrid tunes such as "Daughter Daughter" on Decca in 1954. A more tolerable single was "Zorch Boogie"/"The Bully Bully Man" on Cavalier…reflecting the influence of hipsters like Harry Gibson, Red Blanchard and Nervous Norvus (who wrote "The Bully Bully Man").
Phil Spector recognized Priscilla's potential as a lead vocalist and re-made the trio into intimate pop crooners. They never topped their 1961 hit "I Love How You Love Me," but did issue a lot of delicious musical bonbons, including some unusual cover versions such as a dreamy version of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" and a soft and tearful take on Lesley Gore's bawling, fast-paced "It's My Party."
The "sex kitten" was a fairly recent phenomenon, via Brigitte Bardot in France and Carroll Baker ("Baby Doll") in America, but an audio version? Julie London didn't sing like a sex kitten; her voice was soft, intimate but very adult. Marilyn Monroe was the closest, delivering breathy vocals in several films, but at the time nobody rated her singing highly and she had no hit singles. So you might make a case for Priscilla as being one of the first.
1967, the same year Priscilla sang "It's My Party" on the group's neglected "Under the Sun" WB/Reprise album, she issued "Priscilla Sings Herself," testing a solo career. In 1968 the sisters turned up on GNP-Crescendo for an ill-fated single, "Stand Naked, Clown," with the flip-side a cover version of the theme song for "The Ugliest Girl in Town," a failed sitcom about a guy who dresses in drag to become London's most successful new fashion model. (Twiggy's popularity contributed to the idea, and the lyric declaring "You don't have to be a Mia or Sophia, this is the year of the clown…")
Priscilla went solo, recording two more indie albums including your download below, "Priscilla Loves Billy," which was a curiously misspelled tribute to "Billie" Holiday. The album's one smooth mp3 file, so you can listen to it as originally intended; perfect for a romantic half-hour in the bedroom or the dining room. Or in the bathroom, if your tub is built for two.
For those who feel that Billie Holiday's style gets very annoying within two or three songs, Priscilla's versions will be more satisfying…they're more intimate and romantic, and not gimmicked up via one-trick jazz phrasing (Billie's predictable habit of emphasizing one word of a chosen song line and singing it higher or longer than the writer intended).
It took nearly ten years before she made her third and final solo disc, "Love is…Priscilla Paris." After this, Priscilla actually moved to Paris, where she ran a company called Telamerique, which coached the French on overcoming the cultural differences between themselves and their coveted American tourists. This would be the perfect place for a side remark, except to judge from my own experiences in Paris, Priscilla must've successfully coached a lot of the people I met over there. Although my French pronunciation seemed good enough for many natives to instantly smile and speak a lot faster than I could comprehend.
Priscilla was only 59 when she passed on, in March of 2004, leaving behind both her two sisters Sherrell and Albeth and two sons, Edan and Seth. And since you probably have some curiosity about that last Paris Sisters single, you can hear that in a separate Rapid-download zip file…along with "It's My Party" and one of their first tracks, the Andrews Sisters-type novelty "The Bully Bully Man."
PARIS LOVES BILLY aka BILLIE
4 PARIS SISTERS ODDITIES
Most who've heard of Priscilla Coolidge have to mention a second, more famous name. "She's Rita Coolidge's sister." Or, "She was once married to Booker T. Jones."
Well, once upon a Sussex recording contract, and an album called "Gypsy Queen," it looked like she might make a name for herself as a solo artist. She had a soulful, bluesy voice that was bayou-deep, but the album cover was very commercial, showing the world a pale hippie-chick with dyed blonde tresses.
The music and lyrics reflected an intriguing ethnic mix. "Good Morning Freedom" was a kickass hippie anthem, with the full-bodied belting of a Janis Joplin or Genya Ravan. Freedom here, was just another word for no virginity left to lose: "Good morning Freedom, will you lay with me today…" And in the low, conspiratorial voice usually used by soul sisters only, the confession: "I dared to tell myself my life could be worth more and I slipped and learned to give and found my body at your door."
The title track seemed to have nothing to do with her Cherokee roots, or her burgeoning love for a black guy (Booker T. Jones, who produced the album). It suggested a fascination with some Bayou gypsy who could've had a French connection or some Hungarian blood: "Gypsy King, Lord he danced me good. Made me mama too. I was his lady. He laid me down where his campfire burns, eyes black as coal. They hypnotized me…" Of course astute listeners may have put together Booker T. Jones' name on the credits and a sassy track called "T My T," and realized it was he who was shaking the fruit on her "Southern tree."
The album, for all its "Gypsy" references, and the production of Booker T., sounded like the work of a Delta lady, especially with Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" track on it. Mr. Russell would eventually write a rather famous song called "Delta Lady," but that was about sister Rita Coolidge. Rita was the charmer who had left Stephen Stills for Graham Nash (therefore considered the "Yoko Ono" behind the temporary break-up of CSN&Y), and was "the Raven" in Stills' song "Sit Yourself Down" and on his debut album with Manassas. Rita would later spend most of the 70's married to Kris Kristofferson. But after the first Priscilla album...
A&M signed up the team of Booker T. & Priscilla, and released an ambitious double set. Probably for some kind of ironic shock appeal, the front cover showed the couple from behind, walking arm and arm. Flip the album over and…woah, an interracial couple… very uncommon in those days. More remarkably for Priscilla fans, the blonde hippie chick had washed out the hair dye and now was looking like a natural woman…in fact a part-Cherokee who could pass for a light-skinned black. Most all the tracks were written by Priscilla, with a few credited to Booker T, and another three or four to both. The strongest cuts actually are the covers: "She" by Chris Ethridge and Graham Parsons, and "Sweet Child You're not Alone" by Donna Weiss.
Another album followed, "Home Grown" in 1972, and Priscilla's first album was re-issued on her new label, A&M. Another album followed, called "Chronicles." Well, by that time Rita Coolidge was the star in the family, and remained so. Booker T. and Priscilla eventually parted (he does not list his albums with her on the discography page of bookert.com) and Priscilla's final attempt at a solo career was the indifferent 1979 album hopefully titled "Flying," and credited to Priscilla Coolidge-Jones. Cuts included "Disco Scene," "Woncha Come On Home" and "You Got Me Spinnin'" but the mix of soul, dance and roots was not only confusing, but not particularly well executed. Rita sang on it, not that anyone noticed, and Priscilla sang on Rita's "Satisfied" album the same year, a fact also not noteworthy, since Rita had peaked with "Anytime Anywhere" in 1977.
And so Priscilla remained an Illfolks favorite, which is rarely a sign of commercial success, and usually denotes someone who left the business entirely. The world of vinyl was indeed left behind as Priscilla pursued other interests, including a brief marriage (1981-1984) to "60 minutes" newsman Ed Bradley. It took nearly 20 years for Priscilla to make any kind of comeback in front of recording studio microphones. By that time, she had a daughter (Laura Satterfield) and sister Rita was no longer selling licorice pizzas like hotcakes. The trio called themselves "Walela," which means hummingbird in Cherokee. (Reference the above mention of Priscilla covering "Hummingbird" by Leon Russell.)
The trio released albums in 1997 and 2000, and received great publicity…for NOT being real authentic Native Americans. Pretty ironic that nearly 30 years after her brush with interracial marketing on the "Booker T. and Priscilla" albums, cultural anxiety would surface again. Some Native American groups protested that the Coolidge sisters were part-Cherokee at best, and that "legally" the threesome should not be promoting themselves as Native Americans because, as one writer put it, " Native Americans are the only ethnic group who have to carry cards issued by the U.S. Government to prove they are members of federally recognized tribes, and Rita Coolidge does not meet the criteria as set forth by law to call herself a Cherokee." It is also "a violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 to market or sell merchandise as Native American or to use the name of a tribe if you are not a member of that tribe."
For more on that situation, go to: http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200709/1189741684.html.
The question is whether offering a few tracks from Priscilla's early albums would lead anyone to call Illfolks an "Indian giver." It might be a question better left un-asked, but the blog generally has an offensive joke in most every post. Moving right along, your download features three tracks from Priscilla's solo debut: On the Road, Let it Shine and Good Morning Freedom, and three from the first album she made with Booker T., including The Wedding Song, She and Sweet Child You're Not Alone. This should give you a pretty good idea whether you want to pick up the Priscilla vinyl or the Booker T. Jones & Priscilla re-issue CD.
6 Songs by Priscilla and Booker T. & Priscilla
Happy birthday to Don Grady, (born Don Agrati, June 8, 1944). One of Walt Disney's original Mouseketeers, Don became one of "My Three Sons," and on that sitcom had a few chances to perform songs. Fiction gave way to fact, and Grady recorded legit songs as a member of The Yellow Balloon, which scored a hit with a song titled "Yellow Balloon." He then formed Windupwatchband, recording "The Children of St. Monica" on the indie Canterbury label. The song's since been more popularly credited to him, not his group.
Whatever became of Don after "My Three Sons" ended its run in 1972? He continued to explore music, writing the theme song for "The Phil Donahue Show," working with Michael Crawford in Las Vegas, and most recently completing "Boomer," his first solo album since "Homegrown" came out back in 1973. You'll find 30 second samples of "Boomer" on Don's website: http://www.dongrady.com/store.html. Yes, it seems that Don is one of the 90% of artists who don't give away an entire album or even one complete song on the hopes that "if you like it you'll buy it."
However he's not selling "The Children of St. Monica," which, come to think of it, didn't even make the Top 100 (the earlier "Yellow Balloon" song spent 5 weeks on the Billboard charts, reaching #25). Don is quick to point out that on the West Coast, this Canterbury company's tale was #3, and KOL radio's survey placed it ahead of such powerhouse tunes as The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and Frank Sinatra's 'That's Life."
"The Children of St. Monica" offered in your download below, is sunshine pop with some dark overtones. The melody is so perky that only ill folks would even notice some of the eerie lines being sung. Don observes the children as "the sun goes down" and they go into an empty church "joining hands around the burning candle." What do they do next? Apparently an impression of the Swingle Sisters (how many kids warble wordless vocalize jazz??)
The kids also weep "quiet tears they share with one another," which leads Don and his band to imitate peeling bells and what seems like Sammy Davis Jr.'s impression of a twangy guitar ("now na now now na now."). Ultimately: "Heads are bowed in honor of the fate that cast their will. Who could ever know just what they're saying?" However, this isn't "The Village of the Damned." Don just stopped into a church he found along the way. It's St. Monica dreaming on a summer's day. Or rather, night. With kids alone in a church surrounding a candle.
Happy Birthday DON GRADY Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time.
She was retired for over 30 years, spending much of that time as a minister for a small church in Indiana, but old-school C&W fans remember the queen of costumes, yodel-expert Judy Lynn. Her most famous tune was "Footsteps of a Fool" which hit the charts in 1962. Her passing did not get much attention because there aren't all that many old-school C&W fans still around.
Born in Idaho, an authentic rodeo performer and beauty queen contestant, young Judy Voisen was singing at age 10 and was the runner-up in the Miss Idaho competition for the Miss America Pageant in 1955. She got a tremendous break when the Grand Ole Opry came to Boise in 1955, sans blonde singer Jean Shepard. The local blonde talent subbed for Jean, joined the tour, and by 1957 was part of the televised Grand Ole Opry show with the venerable Ernest Tubb. She also guest-starred on Jimmy Dean's show and later had her own. In an unusual and wise decision, Judy and her band based themselves in Las Vegas more than Nashville, and nicked the tourist rubes who wanted some familiar music to go along with gawking at The Rat Pack. That's why Judy was one of the few C&W artists of that era who had albums with "Golden Nugget" and "Las Vegas" in the title. She appeared on the same bill as Elvis Presley a few times, and audiences could ogle and compare the two's outrageous rhinestone outfits.
Vinyl addicts can note Judy's up and down arc of fame, as she drifted from major label United Artists over to Musicor (which did have George Jones for a while), then back up to Columbia, then over to indie label Amaret, and back up to Warner Bros., where she charted for the last time in 1975. Five years later she married a guy named Kelly and quit show business to eventually become Rev. Judy Lynn Kelly, of the Christ Gospel Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana. When she died on May 26, the local paper's obit treated her more like a local citizen than anyone famous:
"She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She was a native of Boise, Idaho, and for many years was a country western star. During the last 40 years, she fulfilled her higher calling as Rev. Judy Lynn Kelly. As an ordained minister, she traveled to many churches in the United States and around the world to share the Gospel. She was an active member of Christ Gospel Church in Jeffersonville. Judy loved horses and was an avid animal lover. Survivors include her daughter, Barbara Jean Zumbo, Las Vegas, Nev.; grandchildren, Mike Kelly of Floyds Knobs, Dennis Kelly of Charlestown, Caroline Weatherly of Forney, Texas, Kent Mitchell of Georgetown, Chris Kelly of Sellersburg, Jill Lehman of New Albany, Kay Cook of Syracuse, Utah, Kevin Mitchell of Illinois, John D. Mitchell of Corydon, Mark Mitchell of Phoenix, Ariz., Robert Mitchell of Georgetown, Linda Mitchell of Coventry, R.I., and Kerry Henry of Vancouver, Wash.; great-grandson, Trent Joseph Kelly of New Albany; and nephews, Bryan Campbell of Ogden, Utah, and Doug Campbell of Prescott, Ariz. She was preceded in death by her husband, Willy Joe “John” Kelly; parents, Joe and Carrie Voiton; sister, Jo Anne Campbell; and grandson, Joey Mitchell. The family requests expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to Christ Gospel Church."
Here's JUDY LYNN's Footsteps of a Fool