Saturday, February 19, 2011

GEORGE JONES - I'VE AGED TWENTY YEARS IN FIVE


This is the anniversary of the Illfolks blog.

"And so it was," (to borrow Mr. Brooker's towering voice for a moment) that since 2006, on the 9th, 19th and 29th of every month, unusual and often obscure music began turning up here. Five solid years of music. Some folks even noticed:

"Highly original blog; obscure pop/folk/indie/retro cuts/mixes of all sorts; a real smorgasbord" (Gravybread) and "...Weird and wacky and a lot of underappreciated stuff. Mostly oldies from all kinds of genres…." (Totally Fuzzy) and "So many ill folks, so little time - great neglected artists, celebrity recordings, themed collections, the occasionally weird, & more." (Youdonthavetovisit). Some artists left encouraging remarks, and there's been individual perception from a small circle of music fans and angels of the odd. But, enough looking back on what's happened here since February 19th of 2006.

The choice of celebratory song is "I've Aged Twenty Years in Five," because it's a funny title, not because the blog has driven me to drink. George Jones is offering a drinking song here, and whatever's happened to me in the past five years, good or bad, has not been the result of reckless usage of spirits fermenti, or such vices as smoking, doing illegal drugs, or consuming animals that walk the planet same as I do. George isn't exactly your typical Illfolks "unknown," but he gets sampled here because he's not nearly as respected as he should be. Frank Sinatra thought him the greatest singer in America (except for a guy named Frank Sinatra). George is a too traditional C&W for some tastes (abetted by musical arrangements that often include a squeamy violin) but his phrasing on ballads is hard to beat, and like Jolson he got better as he got older. He also has a good sense of humor. Which means "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Wino the Clown" are balanced by "White Lightning" and "No Show Jones."

George has had some health problems lately, but what can you expect? If he's aged twenty years in five, the guy is actually about 395 years old.

I'VE AGED TWENTY YEARS IN FIVE

THE ROCK


As previously mentioned (see BORDERS' SONG) whether it's global warming, or over-population, or abuses of human rights or even animal rights, nobody's listening.

It would easy to point a finger at the greedy landlords who raise the rent on the poor, Joni Mitchell's army of "short-sighted businessmen" who strip mine the land and pollute the rivers, or the religious fanatics who believe their way is the only way, or the politicians who pander to special interests and maintain the status quease. But we see that the Internet has turned into a nightmare of cyberbullying and selfishness, and several monopolies have risen to break laws and make billionaires out of punks with no morality. The blog and torrent world's gone from an eccentric "sharing" community to a spammy, smarmy, selfish assortment of glory-grabbing Paypal-demanding fools who rationalize the unthinkable and have no empathy for the creative people they rip off. Their power has corrupted, and their notion that everything should be free spits in the face of all the logic that says that an economy thrives on paying for goods and services.

It's reasonable to expect moderation…some form of gun control, some acceptance of birth control, some responsibility about replenishing our natural resources, some realization that piracy is not the answer and that taking what doesn't belong to you is nothing to be proud of. Selfishness rules, not the Golden Rule. The bigger they are, the less they care, and the more unreasonable they become. People are pleading for simple human rights, for copyright protection, for a job and a place to live that is safe from violence. They might as well talk to a wall.

"The Rock" is a little story song about someone who sees a problem and can't convince anyone to do anything about it.

The solution is so simple we ignore it. It's the Golden Rule. It's empathy. It's moderation. It's using self-control or the arm of the law to curb the all-too human instincts of greed and power.

Harry? He's here on the blog of less renown because despite having a hit song or two, he's largely forgotten now, and was often the target of critics who hated his story-songs, his sentimentality, and his passionate views on morality. Face it, even his biggest hit, "Cats in the Cradle," makes people uncomfortable, because…well, the truth tends to make people uncomfortable.

Some of his fellow musicians weren't so wild about Harry either, frowning on the whole concept of the "story song," or complaining about the man's voice, which did become increasingly harsh thanks to his heavily committed touring schedule. I was hanging out with Meatloaf one evening, and he scowled that one of the things he really didn't like, was when people compared his voice to Harry's.

Harry himself knew that he often went way too far with his pathos, and sold "Harry, It Sucks" t-shirts at his gigs. But at his best, he wrote some touching, moving songs. Thankfully, when he was around, he had a record label that stuck with him long after the hits weren't coming. I'd heard of him, but hadn't paid much attention till a woman handed me one of his albums and asked me to listen. She figured if I liked some folkies, like Mr. Ochs, I might find a place in my heart for Harry. She had an ulterior motive. A song on the album was "A Better Place to Be," and she said she identified with the waitress, and what she said to the man at the diner: "I wish that you were mine." And she was looking at me when she said it.

Harry sure had a way of getting to people. I saw Harry in performance, and it was one of the best concerts I ever saw, because the man was an exuberant showman. As good as some existing footage of him might be, it doesn't remotely capture what it was like "being there." In person, he almost sent out microwaves. Some people really come alive on stage, and the energy ignites the audience, and vice versa. Believe me, I walked in expecting Harry to do a competent show as everyone from Ian Dury to Ray Davies can do, and was not expecting to walk out buzzed or blown away. So Harry surprised me.

While you could sit alone and be touched by a song like "Mr. Tanner," or enjoy a story with a wicked punchline such as "The Mayor of Candor Lied" (I'm not ashamed to say I didn't see that one coming), this guy could also work magic of a different kind in live concert. Aside from being a performer, and a very good songwriter, and a fair vocalist, Harry was a humanitarian. On the day he died, the 39 year-old was as always, in the midst of a heavy schedule of activities…phone calls and promotions for his "World Hunger" organization, driving into town for meetings, and mindful of a scheduled free concert in the evening. He saw a lot of problems, small and intimate ones between people, are large ones involving countries and corporations. Depending on the target, he could be tender and patient, or strident and urgent. There are boulders in our paths, cinders in our eyes, and sometimes a teetering rock on a hillside. Who recognizes these, or becomes convinced that action must be taken, or takes that step from being part of the problem to part of the solution?

THE ROCK

Ill-ustrated Songs #20: FROM THE INDIES TO THE ANDIES IN HIS UNDIES


It's taken a while, but finally, here's a sample of The Hoosier Hot Shots. They're a kind of lost link between Spike Jones and Homer & Jethro. They were not quite as tetched and eccentric as Jones (despite some fierce use of the slide whistle, washboard and car horn). Their tendency to go for hee-haws rather than laughs has also marked them "for corn lovers only," but a lot of their stuff is mighty fine mental moonshine. "I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones" is a classic, but it's not as inspiring for a startling visual image as "From the Indies to the Andies In His Undies." I tried not to be TOO startling. (PS, "Andies" is how they chose to spell "Andes." You can see it for yourself if you buy Columbia's CD collection "Rural Rhythm") )

The song opens, as it so often does, with brother "Rudy" Trietsch giving a shout-out to brother "Hezzie" Trietsch. Are you ready? Can it still get a laugh? You should trietsch some time.

"He carried for a charm a kippered herring.
To protect him when the tropic sun was glaring.
Whoever met him thought he needed airing…"

From the INDIES to the ANDIES in his UNDIES

ARRIVEDERCI HANS - Laura Lynn & RITA PAVONE

Sometimes a blog entry really doesn't need a commentary. A photo and a link will do fine.

Laura Lynn's one of the latest schlagers to slog through the Arrivederci to Hans.




Perhaps freckled, sassy Rita Pavone sang the definitive version...

....which (check the comments) had been incorrectly attributed to Caterina Valente.




ARRIVEDERCI HANS - LAURA LYNN

ARRIVEDERCI HANS - RITA PAVONE

BORDERS SONG - Sung by Aretha, Writ by Elton




"Holy Moses, I have been removed…"
In filing for bankruptcy, the Borders book chain will be removing 6,000 jobs, and shutting down 200 stores.

"Holy Moses, I have been deceived…" they're the latest bunch deceived into thinking what worked for the past century would still work now.

For over 100 years, creative artists could make a living by selling recordings, having a career on radio, photographing or writing or editing for periodicals, or writing books.

I've been involved in all the above, and I can tell you that it was never easy, and now it's almost impossible.

"Now the wind has changed direction. I think I have to leave…"

Remember when people said music sharing doesn't hurt anyone? Then Tower Records went bankrupt and CD sales plummeted, and sales of legit mp3 music leveled off. Remember when they said torrents pumping out movies and warez wouldn't hurt anybody? Blockbuster video filed for bankruptcy as did Circuit City, and there have been less movies made, less choice in electronics, and fewer TV programs that aren't cheaply produced "reality" fare, quizzes, or dumb talent contests.

While Amazon relentlessly pushed their Kindle, we were told it was "good" for the publishing industry. Instead, newspapers and magazines have gone under and advances for books are a joke. Used book and magazine stores began to disappear as soon as pdf versions became easy to download of forums and Google began digitizing entire libraries. Has Amazon hired all the talented bookstore personnel now out of work? No, they don't need 'em. They already have enough minimum-wage people putting toasters and blenders into boxes...and shipping them via UPS while the U.S. Post Office runs further into debt and post offices around the country are closing.


"He's my brother…let us live in peace."


No, if your brother's a songwriter, a photographer, a magazine editor, a singer, a novelist…then he's the nigger of the world, and he should do his work for free, and if he objects or stands up for his rights, he should be whipped. If he was the honest working man who ran a bookstore or worked in a record store he can go fight with an immigrant for a job washing floors somewhere.

Mp3 files, avi, pdf etc. are easy to duplicate and toss to the great army of "zero should pay." One copy sold, ten copies stole'd. Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake." Today, it's "let them sell t-shirts." Or "what the (movie, publishing, record) industry needs is a new paradigm." This, coming from people who don't have an idea what that paradigm might be, and aren't in those industries.

Let's also remember people out of work because their jobs were connected to the industries hit hard by piracy. For example, the Sony CD pressing plant in Pitman, New Jersey that was shuttered...it also affected the mom and pop diner that relied on those workers to buy breakfasts and lunches. Also destroyed, the take-out places that brought in coffee and donuts. Cleaning people who served that factory are out, too. As you could read, free, at worldtvpc.com, the factory closure meant "300 employees out of work….There’s no question that iTunes and piracy have helped to kill off the CD….the piracy culture that started way back during the Napster era has flourished, and now people have an even more difficult time swallowing the price of a CD." Apple doesn't need to hire those 300 people to process mp3 files for download, they have a small staff that handles it easily.

Which brings me to the photo of Elisha Cook Jr, which movie buffs will recognize as a climactic moment from "House on Haunted Hill." His character in the film knows that he is going to be destroyed. His pursuit of happiness is over. He speaks the reality: "They're coming for me now…AND THEY'LL COME FOR YOU."

If you're a retired teacher or union man, you might find your pension shaved down. If you're young and want to go to college, or old and want social security, you'll find a small government check that doesn't pay for tuition or a new comforter for the bed. As the domino effect continues, because "we want free" means less money going into the economy and more people fired, you may lose your job and be treated with the same scorn and indifference as the workers from Tower, Blockbuster or Borders.

"...AND THEY'LL COME FOR YOU."

The anonymous Internet that we love so much, which gives us the opiate of free downloads of music, movies, warez and books and magazines…is the same faceless, soulless place that will cyberbully you, steal your identity, invade your privacy, and swindle you with impunity. In the past you could talk to a store owner, but you can't talk to someone at eBay or Paypal or Google. The faceless Wikileaks people who so heroically expose secrets…may choose to expose yours. If they don't somebody on Facebook might. These are anonymous people who think nobody has a right to remain anonymous - except themselves.

At one time, progress didn't mean destruction. The factory that made 8-tracks simply made cassettes. The factory that made cassettes simply made CD's. But now an mp3 blip and an avi speck are so innately worthless you can't re-sell 'em on eBay for a penny. There are people who say we should have no laws regulating the Internet, no rules, no moderation. They don't want borders on the Net. And hey, there's 200 less Borders in real life. The chain will probably shutter completely in a year. Maybe the stores will reopen as Starbucks…but not everyone will be able to afford a cup of coffee there. Many can't afford it right now. Holy Moses!

BORDER SONG by ARETHA Listen on line or download…no pop-ups, pop-unders, Paypal donation request or wait time extortion.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

AL HIRT - THE GREEN HORNET THEME


In another time (1964, to be exact), instrumentals were often million-sellers. Al Hirt scored a Top Ten with "Java," and won a Grammy Award. Two years later, he gave the performance of his career with the gut-busting lip-blistering "Flight of the Bumblebee," jazzed up as the theme for the TV series "The Green Hornet."

That show failed, perhaps because "Batman" (also on ABC) was so campy and the Hornet was dull by comparison. Besides, we'd already seen a guy in a mask with an ethnic sidekick: "The Lone Ranger." The Ranger's creators (George Trendle and Fran Striker) simply figured a modern-day urban version could diversify their portfolio. They even made Hornet Britt Reid a distant relative to the old Ranger John Reid, when the show premiered on radio in the 30's.

The theme song outlasted the TV series, and was used on the soundtrack for "Kill Bill." Today, with a new attempt at "The Green Hornet" in theaters, the character as originally played on TV by Van Williams is a hazy memory…but the theme song by Al Hirt still has some sting.

Hirt was a big star throughout the 60's (literally, too) but had a setback in 1970 when some fan, just having fun, used him for target practice during a Mardi Gras parade. Hirt was on a float, playing his trumpet, when he was hit by a flying object that nearly tore his lip off. Fortunately Al was able to recover, but by that time, tastes had changed and instrumentals, as well as "middle of the road" performers, were not part of the Top 20 AM radio scene.

Hirt retained his title of "King," mostly because he was the last of the line, with no other trumpet player about to come along and have hit records. For most any kid learning trumpet, the role model was Al Hirt…as opposed to big band guys such as Harry James or Louis Armstrong. The only other guy out there was Doc Severinsen, who led "The Tonight Show Band" and made comic, near cross-eyed expressions after hitting a high note. As I struggled to hit an E above high C, I did marvel at those notes Doc hit…but more the dexterity of Al Hirt…whom I also couldn't match with my sticky-valved trumpet and underdeveloped embouchure. Finding myself sounding more like bugler Gunga Din just after being shot, I decided to take up instruments that didn't require oral contact. And yes, I can play "Flight of the Bumblebee" damn well on any of 'em. As for the trumpet, I no longer try and will not be Hirt.


AL HIRT "GREEN HORNET THEME" STEREO

AL HIRT "ORIGINAL TV SOUNDTRACK" MONO

ALIVE AT NINETY-FOUR: ZSA ZSA GABOR + DION


On February 6th, the unlikely happened: Zsa Zsa Gabor reached her 94th birthday. If you haven't been following the Paris Hilton of the geriatric set, Hollywood's original celebutard was counted out back in 2002 after a car crash, and in 2005 after suffering a stroke. She had the obit writers ready to roll after more surgery in 2007, and then hip replacement in the summer of 2010 (a procedure that killed Eddie Fisher). Complications from the surgery were so severe Zsa Zsa asked for last rites. She was in and out of danger, but back in the hospital in January of this year, ultimately requiring the amputation of her right leg above the knee.

Now she's home, and before anything else happens, it's time to give a little celebration of her life, rather than a eulogy and the typical Illfolks "obit with music."

For some of us, Zsa Zsa Gabor has always been a benign, sexy joke. Yes, she made a few movies that had or still have some critical or cult appeal. She was a hit in "Moulin Rouge," though her musical voice was dubbed by black opera singer Muriel Smith. Gabor was also in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil," and the campy "Queen of Outer Space" among others. She showed a sense of humor on sitcoms, variety shows, and course as a guest villain on "Batman." Way before "bad girls" became the norm, there was Zsa Zsa, slapping a cop in 1989 during a traffic dispute. But she was best known for chattering on talk shows, mostly about the joys of sex, being rich, and marrying nine times, including George Sanders and Paris's grandfather Conrad Hilton. She's currently wed to some lunatic named Prince Frederic von Anhalt.

Back in her heyday, Gabor managed to get almost as much face-time in fan mags as her much more accomplished contemporaries such as Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot. She was name-checked by, among others, Spike Jones (in "Knock Knock," on the "Music America Hates Best" album), Allan Sherman (Joshua and the Battle of Jericho morphed into Zsa Zsa and a bottle of Geritol) and Dion and the Belmonts in "Donna the Prima Donna."

So what do we have now? Nothing much. Lindsay Lohan, the Kardashian idiots, and Paris Hilton are all very cheap and tawdry by comparison. None's come up with a quotable line, or have Gabor's cheerful panache. As slutty as Gabor may have been, you never realized it, because she did it with...class! Vocally, if you're desperate for the Zsa Zsa sound, you'll find it burbling from the gullet of Arriana Huffington. Arriana is not Hungarian, though, she's Greek, and her scandals have merely involved complaints of plagiarism for writing bios that copied material written by others. Though she followed Zsa Zsa's lead in marrying a millionaire mostly for his money (he turned out to be bisexual), Arriana will most likely never come close to Gabor's list of marriages and discards. Gabor was an original, which is why, 20 years after she bitch-slapped a cop and 40 years after she could be called a MILF, people are saddened by her illnesses and her decline gets almost as much news as the latest Lindsay Lohan court appearance.

So while most end up with "the girl next door," here's a salute to the one and only (all right, it's time to sneak in a mention of wonderful sister Eva), ZSA ZSA GABOR….sing it, Dion:


"I remember the nights we dated,always acting sophisticated,
Talking about high society,
Then she tried to make a fool out of me...
She always wears charms, diamonds, pearls galore,
She buys them at the 5 & 10 cents store.
She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor,
Even though she's the girl next door…"


Dion mispronounced Gabor's name as "Za Za" in the original single, but below you get a 2009 bootleg from a Connecticut concert, in which he corrects it to "Zsa Zsa…"

Hear the 2009 live boot:

DONNA The PRIMA DONNA - who wanted to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor.

POLLUTION! Tom Lehrer in German: VERSCHMUTZUNG


There's a lot of schmutz in the world!

In the years since Tom Lehrer sang "Pollution" on TV's short-lived "That Was The Week That Was," nominal efforts to clean some rivers or recycle some of our garbage have been overwhelmed by short-sighted pigs destroying this overpopulated planet.

No polar bears, tigers or oysters in 50 years? Who's to say the human race will be around in 50 years? Oil spills are as toxic and common as Kardashians. You can spot islands of garbage floating in our oceans as if they're franchises of Taco Bell.

While a city dweller may breathe in the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day in air pollution, his country cousin isn't doing much better thanks to coal mines and factories as well as chicken farms and pig farms. Nobody seemed to care when 20 million gallons of hog shit ended up in a river in North Carolina, but even backward states that used to have plenty of room are no longer havens for simple pursuits such as squirrel shooting, armed robbery and rape. Many rural residents are suffering cancers and finding less fresh air and water because of stupid and/or crooked politicians overlooking obvious menaces. A giant pig farm oozing shit and blood into streams and lakes is a problem even a moronic lazy rebel should find offensive.

Remember the last Olympic games? People were much more concerned over China cheating with underage gymnasts, than they were with China's horrendous pollution putting a literal pall over every stadium and event. Some athletes could barely function in that environment. But that's better left unsaid, and unsung. It's been many, many years since Lehrer sang "Polllution" and Joni Mitchell pointed out the paving of paradise or grumbled "short sighted businessmen…nothing lasts for long." Well, why should we be surprised that obnoxious greed-heads turn their backs on pollution or global warming and say it doesn't exist? We have bloggers with Paypal donations and websites decrying every copyright owner's DMCAs, sneering: "Nobody can prove that "sharing" hurts the economy or the artists."

What can one do, except put on a skull-like grin and wait for the end of the world? Germans, so noted for a dark, gross, (if not Grosz) sense of humor, are enjoying the fiercely acidic and cheerfully pessimistic works of Tom Lehrer thanks to an album of translations by pianist-singer Felix Janosa (he's in the photo above, in a hat I hope he realizes is comical). Let's face it, Tom's works do sound even more menacing in German!

"You're right," Max Prendergast said to Emma Peel, "it is a rather brutal language."

Janosa's German-language versions of Lehrer lieder are often funny even if you don't speak the language. Lehrer isn't given enough credit for catchy tunes that are in fact comic parodies. "Masochism Tango" is tangier than its inspiration, "Kiss of Fire," "Vatican Rag" is more relentlessly cheerful than anything Scott Joplin did, and there's no calypso that flaunts its vulgarity as fiercely as "Pollution," here titled "Verschmutzung." So wipe the schmutz out of your ears and give a listen...


FELIX JANOSA:
POLLUTION - TOM LEHRER in german VERSCHMUTZUNG

La Puta Christina Aguilera Throttles the National Anthem

Any publicity is good publicity. When was the last time Christina Aguilera mattered? Once you show your cooch, that's it. What else can you do? Rolling Stone (Feb 3, 2010, page 18) said her "Gaga-style makeover didn't work - and neither did her movie (Burlesque) or tour (it was cancelled)." In other words, has-been Aguilera could barely manage a dumb gig like singing the National Anthem. Fortunately, she blew it, and became front page news.

Everyone's been howling over Christina's foul-up. Joyce Chen in the Daily News: "Wardrobe malfunction? More like warble malfunction." As if Chen is perfect? She reported on Christina's final note held "for just over six seconds in her trademark guttaral growl." GUTTARAL? Speaking of typos, a mere hour after Aguilera seared everyone's ears, the USA Today website rushed to report it…and spelled her last name wrong:



Here's the truth: the rage over Christina Aguilera has little to do with her memory lapse. Many didn't even notice that she sang words from another line over again and made up some stuff: ""Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, what so proudly we watched at the twilight's last reaming." So? She forgot "o'er the ramparts we watched?" What's this bitch know about "ramparts?" Except her parents probably ate them along with goat balls.

Most of us would have trouble memorizing that song, and most of us can't sing along to it. The lyrics aren't helped along by the dodgy, octave-lurching stolen tune, the drunken British "Anacreontic Song" (you can hear it below.)

No, the fury is not really about Christina dis-honoring the song by forgetting a line, but by her ethnic over-emoting...that hackneyed Whitney Car-Alarm Houston style of braying. Everyone howled at her because of the lyric lapse because it's just not politically correct to complain that adding ten syllables where there should be one, is tiresome, moronic and in the case of "The Star Spangled Banner," an insult. We wouldn't expect a redneck hillbilly to yodel our anthem, and we'd be allowed to call that person "white trash" if it happened, but critics couldn't say "Christ, Christina and her black-influenced pseudo-soul vibrato and syllable extensions suck." So they could only flog her for messing up a few words...a gleeful excuse for what they really disliked...the unspeakable sin of monkeying around with the melody. Simple words like "night" and "wave" shouldn't be tormented vocally like a child twisting a worm and then pulling it apart. PS, singing a line loud and long (as Streisand and Garland did) is also a very poor substitute for conveying a lyric's emotions.

If you showed up at a Beethoven festival, invited to play the "Moonlight Sonata," and you did it in reggae style, or played it on a bent saw or a collection of half-full bottles, you'd be disrespecting the memory of Beethoven. If you're in concert, and you feel like doing your own interpretation or butchery, fine…you're doing it on your own time in front of your own audience. Otherwise…do it THE RIGHT WAY.

PS, "The Star Spangled Banner" should not be sung at stupid events. Who the fuck said that before two teams of millionaires play a game — a GAME — we need to hear about how our flag managed not to get destroyed by gunfire during one lousy battle in one of our country's many, many wars? How about boxing matches? Some guy from America fights some guy from another country…and the national anthems are sung (badly) just to incite the fans toward racial hatred! This is a sports event between two men, not some symbolic battle over whose country is best.

Lastly, if a patriotic song HAS to be sung, hire an inspiring presence. I think of Ronan Tynan, who stands up…on artificial legs…to sing "God Bless America" at stadium events. I think of the late Robert Merrill and his great version of the "Star Spangled Banner" at baseball games. He brought opera-style singing to people who'd never know it otherwise, and his is probably the best version of the song ever recorded. We don't need our national anthem to be an "American Idol" event where the more inappropriate syllables you add, the more street cred you're supposed to get.

Here now, the "Anacreontic Song" and its sobered-up sister, "The Star Spangled Banner." Why even bother with a download of Christina's performance? Because it justifies the rant above, and it could be useful if you've run out of Haley's M.O. or Syrup of Ipecac. You can follow along on the lines YOU don't know by heart either:

"Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?


AGUILERA NATIONAL ANTHEM 2011

John Gower - THE ANACREONTIC SONG, original music later used for Key's poem "The Star Spangled Banner."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

DAVID FRYE - 1934-2011 Nixon's Worst Enemy


Just how obscure was David Frye when he died? The news wasn't made public for nearly a week. The New York Times broke the news today, in their Saturday, January 29th edition: "David Frye...died on Monday in Las Vegas, where he lived. He was 77. The cause was cardiopulmonary arrest, a spokeswoman for the Clark County coroner’s office in Nevada said." No publicist, no manager, no friends, no wife to report the news? It comes from the coroner's office?

I have no idea whether Frye was actually working in Vegas lately, or what minor venue it may have been. All I can really tell you about the guy, is that he was extremely intense, even by the standards of a nightclub comic, and at his peak of fame when he should've been blazing with confidence, he'd sometimes pause on the talk show couch, grab for photos in his inside jacket pocket, and have to see a celebrity's face to psych himself to do an impression. He seemed to have no personality when he wasn't doing the voices, but when he was on stage, he was a powerful performer satiric and acidic. He was manic when he launched into his furious Nixon, his clownish LBJ, a Porky Pig-like Hubert Humphrey or a slithery, glowing-eyed William F. Buckley Jr., contorting his face to match the vocal.

Frye's star dimmed 37 years ago…his last major album was "Richard Nixon: A Fantasy" in 1973. Your sample below is from that album, an incredibly brutal kick when Nixon was down, which envisioned him jailed and on death row! If it was any consolation, Ted Kennedy's recent scandal was treated with even more gleeful venom. What a masterpiece of "gone too far" comedy that record was. Oddly enough, there's still so much interest in Nixon that Frye's two Elektra albums have been re-issued on CD, and his "Fantasy" also re-issued, just re-titled "He's Back: David Frye Is Nixon," which no doubt hoodwinked some who already had the vinyl into buying it again, thinking it was a new release.

Frye's bad luck was to see Nixon disappear, replaced by a succession of bland Presidents that were much more suited to a sappy mild mimic like Rich Little. Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan…they kept Rich Little rich while Frye's heat turned ice cold. Frye issued an indie Reagan album in 1980 that went nowhere. In 1998, when everybody imitated Bill Clinton, Frye issued a pointless comedy CD on a small indie label. By then few cared about comedy audio, and they could get their fix of Clinton via a look-alike on Leno's show, and Darrell Hammond on "Saturday Night Live." If David did either George H. or George W, there's literally no record of it on CD or mp3.

Las Vegas is a place where fat-asses with long memories go to see people they remembered from 30 years ago. That would explain Wayne Newton, wouldn't it? A lot of comics who became popular in the 60's stayed active there, in some small room or other, and a tourist might be delighted to check a Vegas newspaper and discover he could see Pete Barbutti or Shecky Greene. So I'm assuming David moved to Vegas and used it as his base, able to get some bookings there when there were none to be had in the gradually decreasing nightclubs around the country. Fact is, nightclubs ceased to be lucrative for even a Don Rickles or Bob Newhart, forcing them to play casinos or stay home.

David Frye's YouTube channel turned up only a few months ago. The site says he joined on November 6, 2010. Up went some clips from 3 decades ago. I don't think David actually was posting this stuff himself, because I noticed a YouTube notation that he logged in "1 day ago" when I visited today, January 29th. And David died January 24th.

I hope he wasn't looking at his YouTube page too closely, and seeing some of the "compliments" left for him. Imagine how he felt reading David Snyder of Buffalo New York open with: "If you've ever done Phil Silvers, you'll understand this: "Glad to see ya!" Uh, yeah, a comedian likes nothing better than to be greeted by another comic's catch phrase. Not to mention the fact that Frye was noted for doing politicians and intense actors, not has-been top bananas from the 50's. Snyder ended: "pleased that you're still alive and active." Why that's just what any performer in his 70's would love to hear: "You're still alive!" Sorry it's no longer true.

DAVID FRYE does a Folsom Prison/Johnny Cash on RICHARD NIXON

JACK "JIMMY OLSEN" LARSON DIDN'T SING "ROACHES"


For TV fans, there's only one Jack Larson, the personable actor who played Jimmy Olsen on "Superman" in the 50's.

But what about those dusty 45's that say "Jack Larson" on the label? Haven't record stores jacked the price to $20 or $30 because "It's the guy from "Superman?" Didn't the album notes for the CD "Hollywood Hi-Fi" include "Roaches" and state it was sung by the actor from the "Superman" show?? Yes! Yes! Which only proves that the average record seller is a dope, and not everyone who writes album notes does research.

Illfolks exposes the truth. There are TWO guys named Jack Larson, a robust young singer and a mildly husky-voiced actor. While people often talk one way and sing another (Jim Nabors comes to mind), anyone hearing "Jack Larson" sing would instantly have to doubt if it was the same guy who played Jimmy Olsen. Here's the facts...

In 1959, Fraternity Records released a single by Jack Larson, a year after "Superman" left the air. Larson the actor was born in 1928 and was 30 when the show ended its run in 1958. So how could Jack Larson be marketed as a teen idol? He couldn't and wasn't. You can bet if actor Larson suddenly began singing, he would've capitalized on his "Jimmy Olsen" fame, and all the books about Superman and George Reeves would've mentioned his foray into music. They don't.

Let's check Billboard, August 24, 1959. There's an article about "the signing of Jack Larson singer-impressionist of the U.S. Army's "Rollin' Along" show, to a six-year management and recording pact." No mention of "Superman." The article continues: "Larson, who for two years in a row was voted the No. 1 talent in the Army show, had his initial release on the Frat label last week, a novelty tune titled "Roaches." Flip is "Little Miss Starry Eyes." He opens for Lee Zeiger at the Casino Royal in Washington, Monday night…Larson is also set for a spot on Ed Sullivans' all-Army show August 30. He winds up his Army hitch Tuesday…"

The singing Larson was given many a chance at Fraternity. Following Roaches/Little Miss Starry Eyes, there was the 1960 release Autumn Hurt/Drifting Down the River, and in 1961 two attempts. First came "Hammer Bell Song" (a variation on "If I Had a Hammer") backed with the novelty "The Way She Laughs," which has the lines: "I don’t know what’s the matter with this heart of mine, I’m in love with a girl that looks like Frankenstein”

Jack's second single for 1961 was "Back to School Blues" (b/w Lonely Part of Town) which was the number he sang in the 1961 movie "Teenage Millionaire." After one more single for Fraternity in 1962 ("The Beauty"), Jack got a brief major label deal with Dot, issuing Do Yourself a Favor/We're Goin' Back. My research leads me to the Billboard issue of April 7th, 1962, when the deal was announced:

Article title: "Dot to Release some Fraternity Album and Singles Record Product." And the details: "Fraternity's president, Harry Carlson, announced his deal with Randy Wood of Dot. The idea was for the indie label to get better distribution…Carlson, whose Fraternity label began operation in 1954, will retain his rights to the Fraternity tag, but two of his top artists, comedian-singer Jack Larson and the Charmaines, femme trio, will also appear on the Dot label. Two singles, one by Larson…and another by the Charmaines….will be released by Dot around mid-April…The lot of the smaller independent record firm is becoming increasingly difficult and the sale of the album catalog to Dot is the only thing that made it possible for the Fraternity label to continue in business….Some Fraternity titles, including a few of Larson's, were released in the UK on the Top Rank label…."

Young Larson's last memorable show biz moment came in November of 1963, when he deliberately sang off key and did hack comic impressions on a "Dick Van Dyke Show" episode called "Big Max Calvada."



Sheldon Leonard played the title character, a gangster who is seeking a nightclub booking for his nephew, talent-challenged entertainer Kenny Dexter (played by Jack Larson, Illfolks screen captures to your right).

So there you have it. You read it here first, at Illfolks. The "Hollywood Hi-Fi" CD issued a few years ago, with liner notes claiming Jack "Jimmy Olsen" Larson sang "Roaches" is wrong. So is the 1994 book "Celebrity Vocals" from Goldmine. Pretty sad that two authors didn't think to question what they were hearing, or wonder if there were two guys named "Jack Larson." Back in the late 90's the actor Jack Larson was very easy to reach (I have a few autographed photos to prove it) and he would've written back if asked a question intended for publication. Sadder that a CD company and Goldmine failed to catch the error and neither had an editor or proofreader good at fact-checking. And most surprising of all: this is one of the few times that information you find on an Internet blog actually has the correct information! Illfolks is RIGHT and the other two are WRONG. Jeepers, do yourself a favor and hear the singing "Jack Larson" sing "Do Yourself a Favor."

JACK LARSON - DO YOURSELF A FAVOR

Update: Thanks to Fred, for letting me know that Jack is alive and well, and working as LARRS JACKSON, doing voiceovers, commercials, and film work. Here's LARRS today.

JOHNNY CARSON didn't sing YOU TALK TO MUCH. Did he?


You can find several 45 rpm singles with "Johnny Carson" singing. Sometimes they'll turn up on eBay or in a record store with a hefty price tag and the notation: "Rare: The Tonight Show host sings!" Is it really the King of Late Night singing??

In a word, NO.

These songs from the early 60's were by a young British singer who just happened to have the same name. Since both were rising stars at the time, and in different countries, and technically different professions, no manager or agent was demanding that one of the two change his name to avoid confusion.

Carson's "You Talk Too Much" was released in November of 1960 in England, well before Nebraska's Johnny took over "The Tonight Show" from Jack Paar. In fact, by the time our Johnny began his historic 30 year run on late night TV, the British Johnny was through, having issued just two other singles for Fontana (Fraulein/I Wish It Were You and Train of Love/First Proposal) and a few for Ember, the 1962 Teenage Bachelor/ Are You Anyone's Girl and the 1963 "The Tears Came Rolling Down/ One Track Mind").

If Johnny Carson, king of the late night talk show, actually did cover "You Talk Too Much," it might've been pretty good. Sadly, though Johnny was a very good drummer and didn't hide that fact, he was very sensitive about his singing voice. He once did some impromptu song early in his talk show days and the audience began to titter, anticipating parody lyrics. From then on, Carson almost never sang on his show, and if he did, he made sure the audience knew it was a joke. Coaxed by Pearl Bailey into singing along on "Our Love is Here To Stay," he quickly lapsed into a parody of debonair lounge singers. One night he came out as the "Rhinestone Cowboy," singing the hit song in his imitation-"Reginald Van Gleason" nasal tenor. Toward the end of his run, a more confident Johnny did a good parody of Willie Nelson, with new lyrics for a comic duet with Julio Iglesias. And finally, on that last show with Bette Midler, he felt comfortable enough to sing along in his real voice.

Heeeeere's the British Johnny Carson doing a fair cover version of "You Talk Too Much," but it would not have gotten him a booking on "The Tonight Show."

the British
JOHNNY CARSON - YOU TALK TOO MUCH

BOB DYLAN: JITTERBUG RAG BY BLIND BOY FULLER


Bob Dylan's wide-ranging musical and film scholarship has left his fans frantically leafing through hundreds of books and articles to check footnotes that explain his references. His song lines often include quotes from others, and fans are fascinated by obscure name-dropping or references to dusty items like the "Jitterbug Rag."

Sometimes Bob expects you to nod and wink as he turns a favorite film quote into a song lyric. For example, in "Seeing the Real You at Last," he opens with "Well, I thought that the rain would cool things down. But it looks like it don't." Which you should recognize as his homage to a quote in Hitchcock's "Rear Window," as spoken by Thelma Ritter: "I thought the rain would cool things down--all it did was make the heat wet." Later in the song: "I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble," which is an exact quote from "The Maltese Falcon," and I'm sure Bob's intentional short-hand in making a tight connection between himself and the cool and stoical "Sam Spade" as played by Humphrey Bogart.

Lots of times, it seems Dylan's stream of conscious leads him to drop a name, a place, or a person into a line, and the effect or symbolism is more emotional, like a Dali painting, than intellectual. In his brilliant, Oscar-winning song "Things Have Changed," he drops in "Jitterbug Rag." But first he juxtaposes all kinds of "fight or flight" images as he portrays a man in conflict, trying to convince himself "I used to care," when it's clear he still does. His conflicts include contradictory solutions ("Gonna get low down, gonna fly high") as well as chilling equations that shouldn't add up but do: "All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie." Yet another paradox: "I'm love with a woman who don't even appeal to me."

He gave a great performance on the Academy Awards show, starting off by glaring into the camera, turning his face to view us with his left eye, then his right…only to later note in his acceptance speech that his song didn't "turn a blind eye to human nature."

Here's that particularly strange set of contradictions in the song: "Gonna take dancing lessons do the jitterbug rag/Ain't no shortcuts, gonna dress in drag." Of what help is learning to do an ancient dance like the Jitterbug? And how can drag (especially Bob in drag!) possibly fool anyone or be the answer to a problem? Well, the song is, like the best of Dylan, open to lots of interpretations, and even in abstract, has a lot of fascinating imagery, and there had to be a reason for him to dredge up Blind Boy Fuller's "Jitterbug Rag."

Most anyone would agree the song has to do with panic over being close to death, trying to determine what's worth fighting for and what isn't, and the hell of optimism and pessimism dueling for the possession of a man's heart and mind. In this song, the optimism is scant, as he thinks of himself on the gallows, with the only alternative to a broken neck being "all hell" breaking loose. The spectre of futility looms large: "The human mind can only stand so much. You can't win with a losing hand." And what made this song's protagonist look generations into the past for salvation via the "Jitterbug Rag?"

Below, "The Jitterbug Rag" by Blind Boy Fuller. Listen to it as Bob did, and see if you find an answer, or if it makes you want to take dancing lessons or dress in drag! So take this download, brother, may it serve you well.


JITTERBUG RAG (Blind Boy Fuller)

VERNE LANGDON joins the CARNIVAL OF SOULS


Striking a pose somewhat reminiscent of Lon Chaney Jr., you see Verne Langdon on the cover of his 2004 CD "Out of Love." It's on top of a few "Famous Monsters" paperbacks because, well, maybe he'd have wanted it that way…a reminder of his friendship with Forry Ackerman, with whom he produced and wrote the Decca album "Boris Karloff and Friends." Another album that horror fans love, is "Poe with Pipes," narration by John Carradine, to organ music composed and performed by Verne. Verne set up an indie record label to market Carradine, Jaye P. Morgan and others…and issued his own solo material as well. More recently, Verne continued in the narration field by supplying underlying music, and sentimental words, for tracks recorded by Jonathan Winters, including "Old Folks." And so Illfolks salutes our friend Verne, who had many other interests aside from music, and had a pretty creative life in, out, and sometimes outre, of the usual corridors of the entertainment world.

Verne was a make-up artist expert at both horror masks and drag (if that isn't the same thing). The monster masks he made, marketed with Don Post, were sold in every vintage issue of "Famous Monsters" magazine. He was also an avid fan of professional wrestling going back to the days of Gorgeous George and everyone's favorite harridan, the Fabulous Moolah. When he wasn't self-publishing nostalgic, McKuen-esque croons or attending some monster convention with Forry Ackerman, he was promoting his "Slammers Gym," where the burly and the loony could grapple and grunt. At 6'2" and 250 pounds, Langdon was certainly able to perform in the squared circle, almost with the grace he used in performing music on calliopes, pianos and organs. For this blog, the emphasis is on the latter.

Verne (September 15, 1941-January 1, 1911) was known to some in the blogworld as one of those "unreasonable" guys who filed DMCA's and "ruined the fun" of people who wanted to give away everybody's music because "music should be free," and the performers should make their money selling t-shirts. Or something. Verne didn't quite understand why some "fans" on the Internet were so dedicated in depriving him of income, or giving away entire albums instead of a sample track and a few words about the song and the artist.

I remember Verne shaking his head over a couple of bloggers giving away dozens and dozens of his cult albums, even the weird "Dr. Druid's Seance" novelty-narration disc and his stuff as "J. S. Bork," a kind of bastard uncle to "P.D.Q. Bach." One blogger was giving away some rare albums…to promote the CD-R copies of rarer ones he was selling at $5 a pop. A self-published author used a blog and free downloads of entire albums (on Verne and others) to call attention to himself and ask people to buy HIS stuff via Paypal. This blogger wasn't concerned if Verne lost a few dollars or if record dealers were deprived of sales.

Verne told me me how he literally called up one blogger. The reason he did, was this blogger kept re-upping the files that Verne was getting removed, and even deviously hiding the links as asterisks, or saying "e-mail me for links." The blogger was quite surprised that Verne could find him, but Internet anonymity is overrated. Verne discovered this guy was at least in his 30's, with gray hair, but still living with his parents. The blogger kept hanging up every time his mother handed him the phone and he heard Verne on the other end. "I just kept calling him back," he told me, "and I told his mother that he had to be a man and speak to me." Of course Verne didn't get any apology, just an indignant huff that if Verne's albums were given away, it was "good publicity," and if there were 100 or 200 Rapidshare downloads per album, why, that had to mean that a few people who bought the mp3 file would be delighted enough to buy the CD. Right?

As he got older, Verne gave up on pursuing the frustrating and humiliating game of trying to reason with people who felt entitled to give away music, and felt anyone who disagreed (including the creator of the music) should be subject to e-mail spam and other cyber-revenges and jihad. So Verne ignored the album photo & link guys who demanded "nice comments" for their "hard work." He stopped falling for the line "copyright owner can contact me by e-mail for link removal." Right. Except the blogger would e-mail back, "How do I know you're really Verne Langdon?" Meanwhile, if other rights owners simply had the file removed, the blogger would write: "Why didn't that prick have the courtesy to contact me directly, and ASK me to have the link removed?" No, Verne stopped dealing with the rationalizations, ego and ignorance of people like that.

Fortunately we don't have quite so many bloggers of this type around anymore. For one thing, blogs get taken down now, not just links. For another, there are so many blogs, it's hard to be a "star" and get zillions of "nice comments," which is what motivates most wanna-be's and "bathrobe boys" who are jealous of fame and having to actually be creative to earn it. So we've seen less intellectual property-wearing drag queens…adorning themselves in stolen goods to look glamorous. Many of these fools realize that all they've done is waste their time for a misplaced feeling of power, no better than slum dogs who write their graffiti tag all over toilet stalls and tenement walls. How ridiculous to fool yourself into thinking you're famous because you've got a blog for a hobby. While Verne's hardly famous, he could look back over the decades and feel like he accomplished something. He was paid for his work (blogs not withstanding) and had a good time being creative, finding paying outlets for his talents, and earning the respect of a lot of people who knew him by name, not some blog pseudonym or graffiti tag.

In the end, you can say that Verne Langdon was his own Renaissance man. He wanted to have his own radio show and in the 50's and 60's he did, including "Langdon After Dark" on KLOK in California. He wanted to write and produce music, and so he did, working with Korla Pandit, Jaye P. Morgan, and others. He became a friend of Mae West's, and could approach and engage a Karloff or Carradine not as a fan, but as a collaborator. His love of fantasy included collecting life masks of great horror stars (and grumbling over the bootlegs of them on eBay). He was among the artists monkeying around with putty and hair on the film "Planet of the Apes." He created life masks (and grumbled about the cheap copies of Lorre, Price and the others on eBay), helped create fantasy displays for "Castle Dracula" and other theme parks, and worked as a make-up artist on many classic TV shows from "Outer Limits" to "Carol Burnett."

I thought enough of Verne to buy the CD version of "Out of Love." What the hell. And he said, "Bless you!" So God bless Verne, for fulfilling his own dreams, freelancing to do what interested him, getting steady work as a make-up artist, and building an eccentric record label for himself and his friends. I think Verne probably knew he wasn't much of a singer, but his straight albums of ballads and country-tinged tunes were probably part-hobby and part demos for his songwriting. After all, "Old Folks," on the "Out of Love" album was later recorded by Jonathan Winters, and quite effectively. While a Carradine track of Poe "with pipes" or an organ instrumental would be good, I thought actually hearing Verne would be a better tribute, and "Carnival of Souls" is one of his better vocals…earnest, human, and a good example of why so many considered him a talented, sensitive soul.


VERNE LANGDON - CARNIVAL OF SOULS

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BEBE BARDOT - A Song to Brigitte



You get a set of posts today, the 19th...for BEBE BARDOT (she was often called BB or Bebe by fans and writers), BEBE BARRON, and BEBE BARDON. The first and greatest, is of course, Bardot, who continues to be impressively awesome, in ways quite different from her "sex kitten" days.

Here's "BRIGITTE BARDOT BARDOT!" (now what was author Miguel Gustavo staring at to make him say her last name TWO TIMES). It was covered by many enthusiastic singers including De Emeralds from de Netherlands, and Rainer Bertram of Germany.

These guys must've got some Norwegian wood in their pants just from shouting "Bardot, Bardot!" (Today, some are chanting Badu, Badu, but we won't go there, girlfriend.) Her nickname "Bebe Bebe" is chanted over like bullets from beebee guns.

Following her retirement from the screen, which may have been due to listening to silly song-tributes bellowing her name, Brigitte Bardot has become a spokeswoman concerned about both the destruction of wildlife in this world, and the erosion of French culture and customs. While she's not always been politically correct, most of the time she's been right.

Some of her detractors like to show past and present pictures of Brigitte, as if to say she's not worth listening to because she's not worth looking at. They wouldn't think of demeaning a male political activist that way, but they figure it's a great way to insult a woman. Especially when they can't find a legitimate argument to make.

I have used "then and now" pictures here, because I think she's beautiful in both. At best, as a person ages, their wisdom should be compelling enough to replace any superficial beauty lost. Look at the image on the right. Does she not seem saintly? And Bless BeBe for not having the vanity to be a Botox cartoon or to think that being on the gossip page in a gown is better than being on the front page talking about issues in the real world. Which brings me to the other image...



It's an article from 2010 about the bizarre "entertainment" of hitching up a donkey and parasailing the terrified creature onto a beach to amuse tourists. Bardot, who has a wonderful animal rights foundation, seized upon this story, publicized the atrocity, and got action.She continues to use her celebrity in the best way possible, in raising money for animals, and in raising awareness of cruelty and stupidity. Perhaps this year, 40 years after the songs below were recorded, someone will offer a truly worthy musical tribute and celebration for one of the truly great ladies of our time

BRIGITTE BARDOT BARDOT (Rainer Bertram)
BRIGITTE BARDOT BARDOT (De Emeralds)

BEBE BARRON FORBIDDEN PLANET ANNE FRANCIS



Bebe Barron (born Charlotte May Wind June 16 1925 – April 20 2008) along with her husband Louis Barron began experimenting with sound as soon as they got a tape recorder back in 1947. Combining sonics and cybernetics, they sampled noises, made elaborate mixes, changed speeds, used reverberation, made tape loops, and began using their weird sounds as background music. While it's become very common to hear narration with eerie effects (remember Boris Karloff's two-set "Tales of the Frightened") the Barrons pioneered the concept. Living in Greenwich Village when it was very bohemian, they mated their effects to the "out there" writers of the day including Anais Nin and Henry Miller. They also attracted the attention of such early experimentalists as John Cage. It ultimately led to their most famous work…the all-electronic soundtrack to "Forbidden Planet." The outsiders were not nominated for an Academy Award because they were not members of the musicians union, and the soundtrack was technically termed "electronic tonalities," and not "music." The Barrons departed Hollywood and remained obscure experimental musicians. Bebe Barron's last work was made in the year 2000: Mixed Emotions.

The hero and heroine in "Forbidden Planet" would ironically die within 6 weeks of each other. Leslie Nielsen passed away November 28th, and on January 2nd, Anne Francis became the first major death of the year. And while the posts of the 19th have played with the Bebe Bardot-Bebe Barron-Bebe Bardon name game, this one is really a salute and tribute to Anne.

Anne was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007. She seemed to be in remission for a while, and fans could still get autographs from her, but about eight months ago, she announced on her website that she was once again too ill to add to the blog on her site, or to answer her mail.

All I can tell you is that I wish I had been able to spend more time with Anne Francis. In my experience, she was as enigmatic and fascinating as the characters she played on the screen. Whether as "Altaira" the space girl, a doll come to life on "Twilight Zone" or even "Honey West," she was a very unusual mixture of the cool and the concrete, the ethereal and the down to earth. She could be aloof and disconnected, but she also had a very spiritual side, as you can read in "Voice from Home, An Inner Journey," the book she published through Celestial Arts.

Out of the blue, she sent a copy to me, personalized it and added, "Hope your path is joyous." (Above, a few of the pictures she autographed for me.) She called her book "my spiritual expose. It is about our essence of being, the inexplicable reality of mysticism, psychic phenomena, and the inner works of mind and spirit which contribute to the growth of the invisible and most important part of us; hidden from the glare of lights and the camera's eye." In other words, music for which the soundtrack of "Forbidden Planet" might be excellent background.

"Forbidden Planet" remains beloved on DVD, and fortunately, "Honey West" finally was released in that format while Anne was still around and in remission. Most agree that lung cancer can be beaten if you're lucky, but one must be wary of it turning up elsewhere. For Anne, it turned up in an area where it is almost always fatal. And so it was, that she passed away from pancreatic cancer. I suppose that kind of irony…fighting one fight only to be sucker-punched, mirrors some aspects of her career. She didn't get all the breaks in the world and there weren't that many roles that specifically made use of her strengths as someone erotic but distant, tough but spiritual, elusive and yet deeply passionate. Good news: she finally scored a defining role as "Honey West," on ABC, but…bad news: the show was canceled after one year because, Anne said, ABC was happy to cheaply import a newer and younger female crime-fighting heroine, "Emma Peel" of "The Avengers."

Enjoy the soundtrack to "Forbidden Planet," which is truly one of those musical pieces that can stand alone, without the visuals from the movie. The Barrons created something very special here. Back then, experimental electronic music, especially of the classic variety, was often very boring. Of course those composers didn't have to mate music to exciting and challenging visuals, or appeal to the general public, so they weren't pushing themselves as Bebe and Louis Barron did, to meld ominous footsteps to an electric atmosphere, to create melodious machine noises, or make delicate musical pirouettes for a love scene. Each track is labeled to let you know where it appeared in the film, from the heartbeat-stalking noise of "Invisible Monster Approaches" to "Love at the Swimming Hole" between Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen.

FORBIDDEN PLANET by THE BARRONS

Update November 2011: Rapidshare deletes files if they aren't uploaded often enough to suit them. The Main Title Theme has have been re-upped individually via a better service:


FORBIDDEN PLANET Main Title Theme by THE BARRONS

BEBE BARDON : the sexy groans of WHIPLASH!


The sadomasochistic link between pain and pleasure is often symbolized by the whip. In the works of DeSade, particularly "Justine," it's the weapon of choice, especially since the ping pong paddle hadn't been invented yet. In pop culture, you'll find such movies as "The Whip and the Body," the Christopher Lee horror film that had to be re-titled in America as merely "What." WTF?? Oh yes, an earlier entry on this blog offered Genya Ravan's version of "Whipping Post," which roils with erotic heat.

Back in the late 60's a budget record label and "Bebe Bardon" whipped up the ante and created rude competition for the hit instrumental of orgasmic moans, "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Too bad it was a little too much for most radio stations, but then again, Gainsbourg's song stalled outside the Top 40 due to timid programming managers around the country. The 45 rpm from Bardon was on Alshire, and she had over 100 people backing her: the 101 Strings.

The 101 Strings were actually incognito members of the Northwest German Radio Orchestra of Hamburg. They knocked out over two dozen albums in 1958 alone! Over the next ten years, they sold over 50 million discs! They originally recorded for Somerset, but owner David L. Miller sold it to Al Sherman, who re-named the label after himself (Al-Sher, get it?) Alshire re-issued the old stuff, and by the late 60's when easy listening stopped selling, they experimented with budget moog, with string versions of Beatles songs, and yes, even "Sounds of Love" albums with sexy covers.

"Bebe Bardon," their huffer and puffer (and perhaps fluffer), took her name from "Bebe" Bardot, as Brigitte was popularly known around the world. B.B. herself had recorded a groaner, the original version of "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus," which she and Serge Gainsbourg felt was a bit too rude to release (he re-recorded it with Birken). Apparently Al Sherman and his producers and arrangers could only afford an hour in the studio with their anonymous chick, and didn't cut enough tracks for a whole album. So her output was carefully parsed over several "Sounds of Love"-type discs, each padded with generic tracks, or in one case, some awful narratives done by Joe Adams. And yes, there were the singles, starting with a "Je T'aime" knock-off called "Love At First Sight" in 1969 and progressing ultimately to "Whiplash," with erotic heebie jeebies from Bebe. All the material was credited to the 101 Strings "with special effects by Bebe Bardon."

There's no question that while most easy listening is crap, whether dweebs choose to re-name it "lounge" or not, many tracks are entertaining, and even rise to the level of greatness.

"Whiplash," is a nifty instrumental and depending on your point of view (or point of hear, actually), the "special effects" from Bebe Bardon will be lovely, lewd or laughable. Or all three. It's entertaining, that's for sure, which is more than you can say for "The 101 Strings Play Hit American Waltzes." That one's still 99 cents on eBay. The Bardon stuff…that'll set you back a lot more.


WHIPLASH moaned by BEBE BARDON

TED NUGENT: "STILL CRAZY" (Paul Simon via UDO LINDENBERG)


Below, a foreign language version of "Still Crazy After All These Years," by Udo Lindenberg: "Immer noch verrückt nach all." Because you probably haven't heard it, and that's mostly what this blog is about. You can sing along if you like on the chorus: "Ich wäre zu verrückt. Immer noch crazy nach all den Jahren."

You were expecting a Ted Nugent download? No, Ted's music doesn't qualify, because it's still popular, and it's also still crap after all these years…just mindless D-list arena rock even less appealing than such wastes as Aerosmith and Kid Rock.. You can judge an artist by his audience…and if his audience is full of loudmouths, headbangers, and assholes almost too high or drunk to stay in their seat…it's a pretty good sign that this isn't music to actually listen to, just the soundtrack to play loudly over the sound of throwing up a six-pack of Four Loko.

For a few years I had a radio show at midnight, which allowed me to play the kind of "ill" music you find on this blog. Or truly alternative rock from a Ron Nagle or Judy Henske. Not to mention usual suspects like Zappa. But the times I subbed in the daytime, I'd play "mainstream" music…Fleetwood Mac, or a decent example of arena rock: Bob Seger. But no, I stayed well away from Nugent, just on album jacket alone, where he often looked like the psych ward patient who was committed after going around biting the testicles off neighborhood dogs.

Some people like his stuff? Fine. If they play his music and it keeps them banging their heads against a wall rather than beating their children, great. Somebody needs The Nuge's music after 8 boring hours in an ear-deafening factory hammering bolts and tightening nuts…go ahead. Live and let live. There's plenty of great music to post on a blog without griping about something the great unwashed happen to love. I had no idea if the guy was still alive until the other day. That's when I saw an editorial written by him for The Washington Times (not to be confused with The Washington Post). And at the risk of a pretty long entry that nobody might even read, I felt it required rebuttal.

His topic? "Be Prepared for Evil." Which I think was how his record publicists promoted his albums.

In the days following the murders in Arizona, most sensible people have called for an end to toxic hate rhetoric, to using gun sites on political websites and phrases like "Don't retreat, Reload." Obama gave a 30 minute speech in which he asked people to "do better." There was even some faint talk about allocating more funds to help the mentally ill, and ways of keeping citizens safe from gun violence.

Nougat-brained Nugent doesn't feel that way. His editorial insists the only thing to be learned from these ever-increasing incidents of mass-killings and berserk gunmen running wild, is…to "be prepared." Meaning, pack some heat and be ready to use it. Here's the complete text:

There is evil among us. Always has been, always will be. As I write this, in the past four days, a high school assistant principal in Omaha was shot and killed and the principal wounded. Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and 19 other Americans were gunned down at a constituent meeting being held at grocery store in Tucson.

Federal Judge John M. Roll, a 9-year-old girl and several others are dead. A dozen more, including Mrs. Giffords, are gravely wounded.

In addition to this slaughter and the gunning down of the high school principals in Omaha, scores of other law-abiding Americans were murdered, raped and beaten this past week. These victims didn't make the national news, but they are victims nonetheless.
Dozens and dozens of additional Americans will become victims next week. And the week after. And so on.

It is hard - almost impossible - for people of good will to fathom the depth of evil that resides in the soulless monsters who commit these senseless, violent and deadly crimes.

Regardless of whether we can fathom the evil and carnage that some rabid monsters do, we must be prepared and ready to respond to evil at a moment's notice. We can't depend on law enforcement, professional and brave as its members are, to protect us from murdering, psychotic monsters.

These murdering psychotics have slaughtered innocent Americans at shopping malls, schools, restaurants, churches and courthouses. And now a grocery store parking lot. No place is safe.

I'm not interested in understanding why these deranged, rabid monsters commit carnage. Trying to make sense from complete nonsense is a waste of time.

I'm also not naive enough to believe that we can prevent these mad dogs from gaining access to weapons, though I adamantly believe we must do what we can to keep these lunatics from doing so.

What I do believe is that, sadly, another lunatic will commit more mass carnage - maybe not tomorrow, next week or even next year. But it will happen again, just as it did at Luby's cafeteria in Texas, at Virginia Tech, at a McDonald's in San Diego, at Columbine High School in Colorado and at a shopping mall in Omaha.

Knowing this, we must do what is prudent to protect ourselves and our loved ones from these vicious monsters. That is our duty and responsibility as husbands and wives, parents and caring people of good will in our communities.

There is evil among us, and it will again attempt to execute evil, but the good must always be ready to conquer evil if our society and culture are to progress. Never before has the need for a higher level of awareness and a warrior mindset been more important. The days of disconnected unawareness should be over.

We can still be relaxed and comfortable, but mentally prepared and more tuned in to our surroundings. Be prepared to stop evil in its tracks and live. There is no other choice.

Ted Nugent is an American rock 'n' roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of "Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns & Rock 'N' Roll" (Regnery Publishing).


Huh? Aside from promoting himself as an "icon," and as some right-wing gun-loving crazy who might deserve his own talk radio show, his big idea is "be prepared." An editorialist is supposed to offer ideas and solutions. All he's saying is we must "be prepared to stop evil in its tracks and live." So how do we do that? The man is a huge gun nut. So I think we can agree that his answer is: MORE GUNS. How else do you stop a Jared Loughner in his tracks? It's too late to reason with him, right? He's been allowed to a) get through the mental health system, and b) get a weapon of mass destruction because no background check or law prevented him. So no, let's not try and strengthen gun control laws, or laws that might make it mandatory for someone kicked out of school to get therapy and medication. No, Ted's answer is we should all pack heat! We should all "be prepared" by anticipating a gunman will open fire at any moment, and fire back.

I'll agree with Ted Nugent up to a point. I think the 2nd amendment is worthy. As much as I loathe it, hunters should be able to have their sport, especially if it involves animals that are overpopulating the landscape. I also think gun fans should be able to enjoy target practice. And I also believe that anyone who owns a home, would have to be pretty naive not to worry about a break-in. Excellent security alarms might help, but being able to reach for a gun when there's noises downstairs or at the window is not unreasonable. But fools keep their guns where their kids can play with them. Fools don't always have the maturity to cool off before grabbing a weapon and going after somebody or even shooting themselves. Fools don't need a machine gun or a Glock. Fools often shoot first and ask questions later…the burglar shot as he walks onto the property at night might turn out to be the next-door neighbor who was only coming by because he ran out of Maalox.

Think about this. Even the well-trained police make mistakes and shoot the wrong person, and they were trained to show restraint under pressure and practice on the firing range enough to be accurate. What if a few people at Safeway had guns? They would've been shooting each other. We would've had more casualties. Somebody pointing a gun at Jared Loughner might've been mistaken for the assassin and shot. The tragedy only would've had more victims. And when Ted says gun incidents will happen again, he's right. The other day in California, some kid shot a schoolmate in the head. Why? He did not secure his weapon (as Harry Brown would say). He had no business having a gun. It was in his backpack and it went off. Tell me, Ted, what the fuck are school kids supposed to do in a classroom? "Be prepared" by hiding under their desks? Should one of them have also been carrying a gun and shot down the kid who had fired accidentally?

The Nuge wrote: "We can't depend on law enforcement" and that we need "a warrior mindset." Yeah. Mark David Chapman had "a warrior mindset." But hey, it meant that from 1980 on, there would be a bigger market for new Ted Nugent albums, since there would be no more from John Lennon.

People who are irrational will rationalize every reason NOT to do the right thing. As in: Oh, if you ban guns the crazies will make bombs instead, or poison the water supply." And "If we ban an Uzi or a Glock, next thing you know, we won't even be allowed a Daisy air rifle." And on and on.

The reality is that only a few extra laws and a little extra government money in the right place would've prevented the Arizona tragedy. Jared's school fortunately had the legal right to throw him out...but should've also had the right to contact mental health providers to get him evaluated. And there should've been enough government money for him to get medication if he couldn't afford it.

Want more? The crime would've been prevented if there were laws allowing gun dealers to turn down somebody the Army rejected and who computer records showed to be under treatment for mental problems. And more: if gun control laws banned 31-clip magazines in all 50 states, Jared may have had a very tough time finding the black market weapon of his dreams. How about legalizing prostitution? If this guy got laid once in a while, he may not have been posing in a G-string and fondling a gun and taking his frustration out on a female politician who happened to be rather attractive.

The notion that fighting a crazy by being crazy yourself, is crazy. And Ted Nugent is so fucking crazy he could probably listen to Udo Lindenberg and not realize the song is in a foreign language. To someone as bat-shit crazy as Nugent, it would sound perfectly normal.
Immer noch verrückt nach all Paul Simon sung by Udo Lindenberg

Sunday, January 09, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR - Randy Newman Beverley Martyn via Denny Cordell


No, you can't expect a totally joyful New Year's song when it's written by Randy Newman, sung by moody Beverley Martyn, and produced by the grandly messed up Denny Cordell (who also worked with both The Moody Blues and Procol Harum). Cordell certainly reaches another peak here, with an over-peaked wall of sound that makes you wonder how much is intentional and how much is ineptitude. Like a running back storming downfield with the help of a savage team mate hurling blocks and pushing defensive players out of the way, Martyn snarls her way forward behind a pounding piano.

As to the perps here. Denny Cordell, who may have reached his critical peak with Procol Harum's "Shine on Brightly" album, went on to form Shelter Records with Leon Russell, and work with Joe Cocker, Phoebe Snow and later The Cranberries. He died in 1995 and his son Tarka committed suicide in 2008 after making a debut album called "Wide Awake." Fans of Randy Newman are rejoicing that a lot of 60's versions of his songs (most of them never covered by Randy himself) have turned up on two great compilation albums, "On Vine Street" and "Bless You California." I bought both, as they're well worth the import price, and if you don't support the labels that are taking the time to dig into the vaults and re-master obscurities, all you'll ever get would be "Lost Jukebox" scratchy pieces of mp3 shit that also offer no information on the origin or the authors, or any interview quotes about the release.

Beverley Kutner was the former lead singer for The Levee Breakers with Mac McGann and Johnny Joyce, and became one of the first solo acts signed to the new Deram label in 1966. It seemed she couldn't miss with a song penned by Randy Newman, back-up musicians including Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, and released without her dowdy last name. But "Happy New Year" by Beverly didn't chart well, and neither did a follow-up in 1967 written by Donovan called "Museum." She would name-check Donovan by smartly calling out, "Good morning Mr. Leitch, have you had a busy day," on Paul Simon's track "Fakin' It." Things got a lot less fake when she met and married John Martyn in 1969, and the folk duo released two critically praised albums, and a particularly well loved song called "Primrose Hill." The trail runs cold after that, not helped by John Martyn being cold and abusive, leading to divorce. Beverley staged a bit of a comeback in 2001 with "No Frills," saw "Primrose Hill" sampled (and hopefully there were royalties) by Fat Boy Slim on the re-titled "North West Three," and is rumored to have completed a new album.

HAPPY NEW YEAR Beverley

RUST SLEEPS: Brian Rust Dies. Lesley Sarony Ain't it Glad to be Blooming Well Dead



Brian Rust (March 19, 1922 – January 5, 2011) was a name known to dedicated music hunters. If you were serious about 78rpm discs and cylinders, and wanted to find out what you might be missing on a particular artist…you spent the big bucks to get one of his discographies. He was one of the top researchers in his field, a banker whose hobby was the "Goldmine" of collecting old records. In the 40's he got a dream job working at the BBC Gramophone Library, and in 1951 he lugged a suitcase full of rare British 78's to America so he could sell and trade them with collectors and pay for his Greyhound bus tickets and hotels and complete his book research. His first discography, "Jazz Records," was expanded and revised over the years, ultimately reaching a sixth edition in 2002 as "Jazz and Ragtime Records."

Most of his books were, and are, very expensive. They were done for publishing companies such as Praeger that specialized in library sales. Libraries, now closing and dying thanks to the Internet, were vital to niche publishers of discographies and text books. Rust's books couldn't sell 10,000 copies at $5 each, but could sell 1,000 copies at $50 each thanks to libraries willing to pay for reference books. This was not a way for an author to get rich, but at least there was token payment and a legitimate, beautiful edition as the reward. Some dedicated fans who'd routinely pay big sums to find that rare 78rpm, didn't mind paying a big price for a Rust discography that would lead them to titles they didn't even know existed.

A quick check of the Internet market reveals that Rust's out of print, small-print-run books are even more high-priced than ever. $85 will get you a volume of "The American Dance Band Discography 1917 1942," or "Jazz Records 1897 1942. 4th revised and enlarged edition," and $95 will get you "The American Record Label Book," and $100 can get you Brian's book on "King Joe Oliver" or "Discography of Okeh Records." For $125 you can get "Gramophone Records of the First World War, An HMV Catalogue." For $150, "London Musical Shows On Record 1897-1976" or the "Columbia Master Book Discography," or one of my favorites, "British Music Hall On Record."

In his honor, Rustbooks Publishing was created, and they offer "American Dance Bands on Record and Film" (1915-1942) an astonishing 5 volume 5,000 page reference work that amasses 35 years of research and sells for $625. Yes. That was no typo. $625. No doubt library sales account for most purchases, but those individuals who bought the set are obviously very serious about music and take pride in owning the books.

Rustbooks does not seem to be very interested in putting out a Kindle edition for $50. Perhaps it's because they're "old school," or they know that if they did, that helpful blogs, torrents and forums would give away copies, and sales would be almost nil. Perhaps they also think that books should be treasured and placed on a shelf, not reduced to a blip on a hard drive. Rustbooks doesn't seem to agree with the piglets of the world who say, "We think it's worth having, but not paying for, so indulge us or we'll cyber-hack you, list-bomb your e-mail, wreck your website, and steal your shit anyway with Sharebee and a websites in Communist Croatia and Russia to do it. And have a nice day selling a t-shirt or something."

One of the kings of 78rpm novelty songs was Leslie Sarony (January 22, 1897-February 12 1985). Although unknown to the average music fan today, many of Sarony's songs are timeless, still great fun to hear, and one of them ("Jollity Farm") was covered by the Bonzo Dog band. While many a British Music Hall performer who recorded in the 20's and 30's died in the 40's or simply retired in the television age, Sarony did not. He appeared on "Nearest and Dearest" and "I Didn't Know You Cared" in the U.K. The Monty Python troupe were fans, and the grand old man turned up for a bit part in "Monty Python's Meaning of Life."

Wouldn't it be loverly if the late Mr. Sarony welcomed Brian Rust to the hereafter, and sang him the classic..."Ain't it Grand to be Blooming Well Dead..."

Leslie Sarony: AIN'T IT GRAND TO BE BLOOMIN' WELL DEAD

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.

New Year: It's My Party - Helen Shapiro Paris Sisters


Welcome to 2011, and for many, the year went downhill with the ball dropping in Times Square and 5,000 blackbirds dropping in Arkansas. Nine days in, and it's the usual political ineptness, economic catastrophes, and mindless mass-slayings with politicians shrugging off gun control legislation even as one their own was gunned down in Arizona.

Well, as Lesley Gore learned many years ago, any party can turn into a disaster, and if the party is the Republican, Democratic, Tory, Conservative, Labour, or Whig...there's a good chance you'll end up crying.

Gore's 1962 hit about a jilted girl crying at her party, was written by, oddly enough, three guys: John Cluck, Wally Gold and Herb Weiner. Soulful Barbara Jean English cut a demo of it, but demo singers were rarely taken seriously (she would later mount a decent career). The song was handed to British songbird Helen Shapiro, and also to producers Phil Spector and Quincy Jones. Phil had one of his girl-groups record it while Quincy masterfully chose it for unknown teen Lesley Gore and gave it a throbbing pop spin.

Gore's version became a huge hit, because it deserved to be. Many times two or more versions of a song were released at the same time and the better one won. She's never been given enough credit for being one of the perfect voices for teen angst (and the reverse, as heard on the bitter "Don't Make Me Over" and bitch-slapping "Judy's Turn to Cry.")

To say Gore's version is best doesn't imply that other versions aren't valid, and that some will be more appealing to a few listeners. Shapiro's way differs from Gore. And so does the simpering, whispering, hurt take from the Paris Sisters. No matter how it's sung, the message is the same...at the happiest moment, tragedy can strike. Or to quote a line from a song by Andy Bown, "it's just a spiral from contentment to despair." Happy New Year.

HELEN SHAPIRO - ITS MY PARTY

PARIS SISTERS - ITS MY PARTY