Monday, March 19, 2012
HAMILTON CAMP - STAR SPANGLED BUS
Taking a tour of the Holy Land?
Bring your bullet-proof vest (unless you're a true believer and think God is watching out for you…or that God will make sure you die a martyr despite the bullet-proof vest, and that's even better).
Many years ago, a "tour of Warner Bros. Records" was provided via their "Loss Leaders" albums such as "Record Show," "Big Ball" and "Zapped," promo albums you could buy for a dollar a disc, which included the best tracks from their latest albums and, miracle of miracles, unreleased material, too.
This was "the new paradigm" of the day. Warners was saying, "We'll dig up weirdo acts like Hamilton Camp, Captain Beefheart, Van Dyke Parks, Ron Nagle and Pearls Before Swine…and we'll try and find a place for older stars who still have songs to sing including Theo Bikel and Judy Henske (and we'll have Ella and Fats sing contemporary rock!) and we will even sign a contract with Randy Newman, and all YOU have to do is get our promo records below cost, give a listen, and BUY." Ooops. BUY?
Before his attempted salvation at Warners in the early 70's, Hamilton Camp was a folkie. He'd recorded for Elektra in the early 60's. Though his music career continued to stall at Warners, Camp stayed busy via a varied career acting on stage and screen. He may be best remembered on TV for playing a crazy soldier who out-nutted Cpl. Klinger on an episode of M*A*S*H (pictured here on a star spangled bus out of South Korea). He never retired; he toured in stage productions and never gave up on his singing career. He was well-respected for those folk albums back in the day, and even finished "Sweet Joy," an indie release in 2005. He died three days later. It's a great album which covers Dylan's "Ring Them Bells" and Jimmy Webb's "The Highwayman," and includes originals as well. Camp's website has 30 second samples, as does Amazon.com, so it would be arrogant, presumptuous, and wrong to rationalize giving away complete downloads of any songs from it here.
But…out of print and unavailable elsewhere is "Star Spangled Bus," which Warners left OFF the two albums he made for their label but put ON a "loss leader" album as the best example of his work. It's Camp at his passionate, energetic best, and a more riveting version than the original written by J.D. Souther and performed by Longbranch Pennywhistle, an early group fronted by Souther and Glenn Frey. Somebody hoisted it over to YouTube so you can go listen to it over there. Their shit-kickin' California cowboy jangle take is just Dutchman's gold.
Consider this a companion piece to Bobby Cole's "Bus 22 to Bethlehem," as a symbolic magical mystery tour through that Holyland that all fanatics seem ready to declare their own (against all infidels who believe in a different imaginary friend). The main difference is that in this case, the bus is "star spangled," which might imply that the song has a lot to do with American interest in Israel and our country's grand attempt to somehow preserve the world's most hated minority (Jews) and the world's greatest religion (Christianity) and still enjoy Muslim oil. Camp:
"Ridin' on the Star Spangled Bus, gonna whip on down to Canaan, weepin' watch the beggars drink their fill. And the dirty ones are dyin' to bathe in the River Jordan and Glory Hallelujah yes they will!"
Take the STAR SPANGLED BUS Instant download or listen on line. No capcha codes, wait time, or preaching about how you should be buying a premium account to download copyrighted material and make dotcom sleazeballs as fat as Wall Street CEO's and television evangelists.