Saturday, September 29, 2012


There are quite a few beautiful women who were born on September 29th.

From Sweden, the bombastic Anita Ekberg.

From France, the sultry Mylene Demongeot.

From England, the classy redhead Greer Garson

And from America, Virginia Bruce, Ann Nagel, Jill Whelan, Erika Eleniak, Natasha Wagner, the oddly erotic Madeline Kahn and…the utterly unique Emma Matzo. Er, LIZABETH SCOTT.

Ms Scott tops my list, and at the risk of sounding mysterious, it's been an honor for many years now, to help out on the Internet in some instances where a little more respect for her privacy and stardom is needed.

Happily, if you check around cyberspace, instead of scammers pretending to be her or selling forged autographs, you're more likely to find blogs, film-fans, and photo sites paying tribute to everything from her film-noir classics to her sexuality. Which leads to the quick download of a song from her lone album on the VIK label, also on CD. The album is autographed as you might be able to see, and she also autographed one of my favorite poses of her as well.

If you know Lizabeth from her often dire and dramatic film roles opposite Bogart and others, you might not suspect her ability to sing a light song. But yes, she could carry off a wryly erotic little tease of a song like "A Deep Dark Secret."

It's quite amusing that the song about her secret doings does not name a particular gender or race. That does add to the fun. It's safe to say that Lizabeth has stirred longings on both sides of the sexual equator, as well as among people of every possible color or race. Well, blond hair and dark eyebrows and red lips…she's always been a bit complex.

Birthdays; when you get to be of a certain age, you're happy mostly because the alternative is worse. Most of us who get beyond the childish years, ignore the day, or nominally treat ourselves to a minor indulgence of some kind. We have learned to forget the hoopla and the stupid "how does it feel to be XX years old" questions. It's just a day, and it's over as fast as any other. Stay in the moment, be thoughtful but don't get morose, and don't worry that the fucking cake is going to be a problem if you eat more than one slice.

So I didn't buy a box of Matzo today in honor of Lizabeth, for me or for her. Leave it at this: Love you, Lizabeth! And I hope you all enjoy this little musical gift download!

Lizabeth Scott, adored by Illfolks. Just why is…. A Deep Dark Secret

HERBERT LOM - The Man Who Once Was King

"There's a danger to be trusting one another.
One will seldom want to do what other wishes
But unless someday somebody trusts somebody
There'll be nothing left on Earth excepting fishes!"
Who sang that? Herbert Lom did. Kippers surviving man on Earth? Hmmm...

The day after Yom Kippur, the 95 year-old native of Czechoslovakia breathed his last.

Lom was the suave foreigner of 40's and 50's movies, looking like a cross between Charles Boyer and Peter Lorre. He ultimately gained some fame as the twitching, giddily-enraged foil to Peter Sellers in several Pink Panther films. My first memory of Mr. Lom, was seeing him in "Phantom of the Opera," an admittedly mediocre Hammer film. Still, he scared me from the very first scene, simply because he wore an awfully repulsive mask through most of the movie, with a reddish rim of baleful eye staring through. Terror was wondering what was underneath that could be worse! Horror was the mere shock of his un-masked acid-scarred visage. For a kid back in the 60's, this terror-horror combo was very traumatic!

But on this blog, we deal in musical salutes, and Herbert Lom has a forgotten credit: as the star of "The King and I." Yes, Yul Brynner was the Broadway and film icon, but the original London production shined the spotlight on Lom. Fortunately, the East End didn't have to use his real name, which would've covered the entire marquee: Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru.

Lom's role in "The King and I" had come after over a decade of acting work in his adopted country. In 1939, with Hitler advancing into Czechosloviakia, Lom was able to make his escape to England. Around the same time in Hungary, Mr. Laszlo Lowenstein also migrated to the U.K., and became Peter Lorre. For Lom, England was a bittersweet refuge. His Jewish girlfriend was not able to meet the demands of the British officials at Dover, and they sent her back…where she was among the many rounded up and sent to a concentration camp death.

Lom co-starred in "The King and I" for nearly two years opposite Valerie Hobson. The show was heavy on songs for the leading lady, but the King did get to sing "A Predicament," with some interesting lines about diplomacy, war, and the question of trust. As well as fish surviving after men kill each other. The lyrics probably will not come true, because as most anyone in England will tell you, fishing is a dying industry. Farm-raised fish will probably become so inbred and toxic as to be inedible. So it's more likely that the only thing left on Earth after a nuclear holocaust or global warming, will be roaches, not fishes.

On the lighter side, in the 30 prime years left to him as an actor, following "King and I," Mr. Lom became Napoleon, Captain Nemo, the Phantom of the Opera, and yes, the comically enraged Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus. A capable character actor who sometimes had a great leading role, it's ironic that his flashiest starring role…in a hit Drury Lane musical…is barely recalled by anyone anywhere, except on this blog. Your download…

A PREDICAMENT, A Lom-entation sung with grand authority by the late great HERBERT LOM

ANDY WILLIAMS DIES...and the short supply of nice

The nation's reserve of "Nice" was depleted with the death of Andy Williams a few days ago. Obits on him noted that his signature tune, the once-loved and now rather inane "Moon River" was never released as a single, that his lone #1 hit is the long-forgotten "Butterfly," and that he was "Mr. Christmas" for a whole bunch of holiday albums. His TV show lasted for a decade, and he was among the first and most successful non-country singers to move out to America's heartland and open a theater in Branson, Missouri.

Fans of "easy listening" would tell you that he was the last of the pleasant pop crooners. Which he was. But I think another sad thing about the death of Andy Williams, is he was one of the last of the nice guys.

There was a time when people turned on the TV or put on a record…just to enjoy something "nice." While most "easy listening" fans are just mutton-brains, quite a few simply preferred an Andy Williams album to Mozart, Brubeck or even The Beatles because they'd put in a difficult and boring day working at the general store, or teaching a class full of brats, or walking the postal route without going postal, and all they wanted was to get through the evening with some relaxing entertainment. Nobody, except Perry Como, was more relaxed as a singer than Williams.

His first taste of show biz success was as part of the Williams Brothers, who even turned up in some films, including backing Bing Crosby on the nauseating number "Swinging on a Star." Andy was the only one to try for a solo career, and for several years, he went nowhere, and even ate dog food to survive. A big break came courtesy of another nice guy, Steve Allen, who made him a regular on "The Tonight Show."

Andy began recording for Cadence, and put out an entire album of Steve Allen's songs. While there were quite a few affable fellows back then — Jerry Vale, Jack Jones, Vic Damone among them — and veteran inoffensives such as Eddie Fisher and Bing Crosby still around — Williams owned the 60's as the easy listening champ.

Through the late 60's and early 70's, he was still the go-to guy for a mild movie theme such as the theme for "Love Story." He was less effective on songs that required emotion. His take on the heartbreaking "Don't Go To Strangers" is pretty bland. No tramp stepping out on a guy would be dissuaded by such a pleasantly crooned plea. Likewise, Andy's pop-rock covers, from "Fire and Rain" to "Desperado" to, yes, "Every Breath You Take," are unconvincing, and not "easy" listening for anyone under the age of 70. His comfort zone had boundaries between "Ave Maria" and "God Bless America," and "Shadow of Your Smile" and "Hello Young Lovers." Fair enough…Joe Cocker couldn't sing "White Christmas" like Andy could.

You can make your own mind up on "MacArthur Park," which Andy cuts by a few minutes and softens quite a bit. Toward the end he uncharacteristically charges toward the high notes and either hits them, or the recording engineer did (there's definitely a strange bit of mixing at that climax). More than a nice try, Mr. W. The download section also includes something a lot rarer than "Moon River," a set of three of Steve Allen's songs. Yes, I do still have that Cadence album, even if it's not going to win converts to either Andy or to Steve Allen (whose songs here are, well, nice.)

Among Andy's other achievements: he stood by ex-wife Claudine Longet during her murder trial, and he started Barnaby Records, which gave refuge to quite a few acts that other labels had cut adrift. Andy sold over 100 million albums (fact-checking this could take some time!), he signed one of the first blockbuster contracts (with Columbia, calling for 15 albums), and his version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" became a hit in 1998 when it was used in a Peugeot car commercial.

One persistent "fact" about Andy is that he dubbed Lauren Bacall's voice for "How Little We Know," her highlight song in "To Have and Have Not." There was even an episode of "Ripley's Believe it Or Not" that mentioned this. After Jack Palance and his daughter Holly debunked several Hollywood myths (such as Cagney never saying "You dirty rat" and Bogart never saying "Play it Again, Sam"), Jack asked, "Who's voice did you actually hear" dubbing Bacall. Holly: "Andy Williams!" The truth? There was some concern over whether Bacall should sing, and tests were made by several singers, including 17 year-old Andy. He was convinced that his take was ultimately used, and repeated the tale on an NPR broadcast as late as 2009. Truth: Bacall was ultimately deemed capable of singing the song herself, as well as the movie's other number, "Am I Blue." Despite Bacall singing in other films, and on stage, the Williams-dub rumor is still alive to this day.

I won't pretend that Andy Williams was a Sinatra or even a Patti Page in terms of having a distinctive voice and the ability to really make you feel the lyrics, but what he did, was just as valid. He put you at ease. He was like a friend, or a member of the family. What he did was...nice. I enjoyed his variety show enough to write in for an autographed photo, and caught up with him later in his career as well. Up until his cancer diagnosis last year, he was still performing in Branson for people who just wanted to to have a pleasant evening's entertainment...something more difficult than it sounds. Andy always made it seem easy.

That he brought smiles to the faces and warmth to the hearts of millions of people…thousands and thousands filling that "Moon River" theater in Branson all through these past decades…is a testament to just how special this average-looking, pleasant-voiced all-American from Iowa actually was.

There was nothing "huckleberry" about watching or listening to Andy Williams and thinking he was your friend.

Sapristi! Andy Williams takes a stroll in MACARTHUR PARK

Sapristi! Andy Williams - three songs written by Steve Allen: I'm Playing the Field, Impossible, and Young Love.

Bardot's Birthday Wish: STOP Wearing FUR, Sophia!

"Yesterday it was my birthday…I hung one more year on the line…"

No need to stick a Paul Simon song on this blog. Everybody knows all about him and his music. Instead, a salute to the woman who should be Queen of France, the forever beautiful, the always free-spirited and sincere Brigitte Bardot.

She turned 75 yesterday, September 28th, and what did she wish for?

"I wish a happy birthday to Sophia Loren, my splendid twin, and I ask her to stop wearing fur - that is the best gift she could offer me."

How sad that Sophia, who can be forgiven the plastic surgery that keeps her looking half her age, can not let go of the useless vanity involving draping herself in death.

Nothing speaks more of ignorance, vapid intellect and insensitivity than the sight of a fur coat on a beautiful woman. You didn't need fur, Sophia. If you did, God would have covered your body over in it.

We all know how easy it is to rationalize and make excuses for all bad behavior. It seems that aside from some ignorant old ladies who need to go around in walrus-sized coats even when there's global warming and it's not even cold out...and aside from some arrogant rich scum who think that being insensitive and obnoxious is cool and sexy, most lamebrains who wear fur have this rationalization:

"The animals need to be killed because they encroach on man! I help keep the population down!"

Yeah? Ever see an animal writhing in a trap? See it being skinned alive? And isn't it time you stopped procreating to the point where you're shoving animals out of their homes and eating up every fish in the sea and using up all our natural resources? PS, lard-brain, what endangered species are you wearing? Tiger? Leopard? Listen, if you want to keep an animal population down, wear a coat made out of rats.

Fake fur is good enough for real people. Sophia, there is no excuse for wearing fur. None. You are an admirable woman in so many ways…(and happy birthday to YOU, belated though it is, September 20th)…please consider Brigitte's request. And mine. I know you read me faithfully. People are always telling me my blog's for Loren.

No tribute songs for Sophia. Here are two about BARDOT, the great lady who believes in the environment, and in being kind to animals, and in keeping her beloved country free, strong, proud, and resistant to Islamic extremist fanatics who want to dictate their way of life to every country they swarm into. Brigitte, vous êtes quelqu'un que j'aime et admire.


BRIGITTE BARDOT BARDOT (De Emeralds) Instant download or listen on line. No Crapidshare wait time, no porn ads, fake download links or pop ups from Eurotrash websites, Kim Dotcom Nazis or hackerspies.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brahms, Mel Brooks, Nelson Eddy: Hope For the Best, Expect The Worst!

There's some anonymous dead Hungarian still spinning in his grave because Brahms borrowed his melody for Hungarian Dance #4. And Brahms himself probably did a little death rattle dance when hokey lyrics were mated to his music and turned into pop fodder by Nelson Eddy, a once-popular tenor. Such is life.

Ultimately, a measure of justice was restored when Mel Brooks took over. Life's sniffles, sobs and snickers…its indignities, humiliations and laughingly horrible ironies…are in the lyrics used for yet another adaptation of Brahms' and that poor dead Hungarian's melody. It's the theme song for "The Twelve Chairs," Mel's last great original (vs parody) movie.

"Hope For the Best, Expect the Worst" is in the style of Jewish comedy, contrasting the pessimism of rage and cynicism with the only and optimism. As Sholom Aleichem's Tevye said, "life must go on…God willing." And, come to think of it, even if you don't believe there's a God, there's still a You. And here you are, at the illfolks blog. Oy!

About two minutes into the Brahms original, there's a peculiar second melody that was not used by either Nelson Eddy or Mel Brooks. It's a rare example of a "master's work" justifiably edited. The melody adaptation Mel and his arranger chose is much better.

Submitted for your approval, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Shit! It's Brahms' Hungarian Dance #4, Nelson Eddy, and the "12 Chairs" soundtrack.



Sapristi! The original BRAHMS HUNGARIAN DANCE #4 by Brahms.


What's so funny about a man being shot to death?

I could say, the same thing that's so funny about peace love and understanding. But instead, check out that moment in the 1939 classic "Gunga Din." It inspired several 45 rpm parodies and even an adaptation below where your pal, Ill Folks impersonates three Goon Show characters to aid and abet the soundtrack to the Peter Sellers film "The Party," which also mocks the "blasted bugler."

Spoiler alert: you can skip the rest of this paragraph if you didn't see the movie and plan to. Brave Gunga Din sacrifices himself for his cause. He uses his bugle to sound the alarm when a Kali-loving death cult is about to launch a surprise attack on British soldiers. The enemy fires on Gunga to literally blow him away, but Gunga makes sure the British have heard him. Unfortunately his last gasps into the bugle are off-key and farty and...funny. You can't help chuckling, no matter how engrossed you are in the drama, or how badly you feel for the poor heathen black-faced Jew (first two terms found in Kipling's poem, the last, well, Gunga was played by Sam Jaffe)

Fast forward to 1962, and Sonny Gianotta's parody single on ABC Paramount…and the quickie cover by "Lord Didd" on the Mr. Peacock label. ABC's version had a picture sleeve!

Gianotta's "The Last Blast of the Blasted Bugler" was written by Phil Cammarata, who later produced some "funny photo caption" novelty books, including "Sex and the Single Dog" and "Who Farted." Phil does his own narration for the flip side, "Pain Set to Music."(The single has split credits, Gianotta on the A-side, Cammarata on the B-side). Tommy Cardinale, who performs the gut-busting trumpet playing (what, no bugle?) gets a mention on the side of the label, not below Gianotta's name. Why Gianotta did the narration and not Cammarata is unknown. As a narrator, Gianotta is pretty bland.

Lord Didd at least puts on a British-accent. He was actually a disc jockey, Pete "Mad Daddy" Meyers, who probably chose an alias to avoid a Payola charge for playing his own record. His almost identical script is credited to "A. Boyce." Mr. Peacock Records only managed 15 releases for that entire year, including this one-shot, and songs by The Viscounts, Betty Brye, Frankie Lettle, Nino and the Ebb Tides and Danny and the Zelltones.

Billboard, February 24, 1962, reviewed both versions. Each got four stars. "Here's the finale to the story of "Gunga Din," a reviewer declared of Gianotta's single, "a wild and woolly and funny novelty…." Especially fun for Billboard's scribe, aside from "the bugler, dying," was the lead up, "the sound of cannon, rifle fire and charging steeds…" Below this, with no reference to its rival, is the Lord Didd cover (only the flip side is credited as Lord Didd and the Didn't): "The saga of "Gunga Din" is relived here with… horses galloping, guns going off and the bugler struggling with his horn. Can grab novelty action."

Lord Didd's release had some good luck in a few regions. In March, it scraped the Top 40 in Chicago, and KLMS in Lincoln, Nebraska, alerted Billboard (March 17th issue) that the single was on their "wax to watch" list. They didn't mention if it was also on their "wax to play" list. And as often happens when an original and cover version fight simultaneously…neither song won enough airplay and sales to make it a hit. But you get the double dose here! Enjoy your Din-Din!

Six years later, Peter Sellers played a mediocre Indian actor in "The Party," and the opening scene offered the bungled bugling. Too bad Spike Milligan wasn't invited to play the trumpet for the soundrack! Rather than just give you the sound effects, Ill Folks steps up to the microphone and adapts the introduction used by Sonny & Didd from 50 years ago! I do the voices of Peter Sellers' Goon characters Major Bloodnok and Bluebottle, and Spike Milligan's Eccles. It's free, folks, as the days of buying 45 rpm (or Ill Folks being 45) are over.

PS, the Jim Croce recitation-song "Ballad of Gunga Din" has previously been posted on the blog, but in case you missed it, the new link is below, Also below, "Legend of Gunga Din" by The Crew Cuts. No comment on that one…I've simply run out of air.





Sapristi! Ill Folks impersonates the Goons, with Peter Sellers' soundtrack for The Party

ALFI and HARRY - "The Trouble with Harry"

Last month, Happy Pierre (Mark McIntyre) finally got his due at the Illfolks blog…but it naturally raised a question: "what about his brief teaming with Alfi (David Seville)?"

For those who asked for it…download and satisfy your very morbid curiosity!

David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian) is today best known for his speeded-up vocals on all those Chipmunks songs and "The Witch Doctor." Another, more perverse style of comedy he enjoyed was the long running joke of ever-increasing exasperation and frustration. Some of this was on the original "Chipmunks Song," where Seville is constantly irked by Alvin coming in late, or singing flat, etc.

Here, the gag is Alfi (Seville, Bagdasarian) complaining again and again that Harry (Happy Pierre, Mark McIntyre) keeps playing the same seasick and monotonous melody. But, "that's the trouble with Harry!" Ha ha.

The Liberty single, which credits three people for authoring the song (McIntyre is one of them, but not Bagdasarian) bears the note: "Inspired by the Paramount Picture Alfred Hitchcock's "The Trouble with Harry."

The 45 came out in 1956, (b/w "A Little Beauty") and it meandered near enough to the Top 40 to encourage Liberty to let the guys try again and again: "Closing Time" b/w "Safari," and "Persian on Excursion" b/w "Word Game Song." Liberty had better luck that year with another duo. McIntyre's daughters Patience and Prudence hit the Top 10 with "Tonight You Belong To Me."

As for papa, he was allowed to become "Happy Pierre" and stuck an instrumental version of "The Trouble with Harry" on his one and only solo album. (Parenthetically, band leader Les Elgart also seemed to think the song had potential and released his own 45 of "The Trouble with Harry" for Columbia. It also included that peculiar credit of "inspired by the Paramount Picture…" Elgart's big band arrangement merely had a horrible male chorus cry out "That's the trouble with Harry!" after each repetition of the melody.)

The movie is not about an idiot pianist playing the same melody over and over, it's a black comedy about a corpse named Harry that needs to be buried. And so the illustration depicts a scene from the film, now starring Bagdasarian and McIntyre, alias David Seville and Happy Pierre, alias Alfi and Harry, trying to resuscitate a Liberty Records executive.

And Bagdasarian? Yes, he made a fortune off The Chipmunks, but he also tried to get attention under his own name. And so among the downloads below, a sample from his solo album "The Mixed Up World of Bagdasarian." It was released in 1966, and includes several cutesy monologues with music (with ragtime piano that may have been supplied by Harry/Pierre). Typical is the opening track, "Gotta Get To Your House," where he plays a Spoonerizing kid rushing to meet his date on time: Pretty brown hair, pretty pink dress! Pretty pink eyes, pretty brown dress!

Sapristi! Trouble with Harry, by Alfi and Harry

Sapristi! Trouble with Harry, Happy Pierre version

Sapristi! Bagdasarian: Gotta Get to Your House!


Forgot about the girls already? Last month a few people shouted "Free Pussy Riot!"

Then they went back to "Music Should be Free," happily downloading from Croatian cocksuckers, Russian thugs, and any other Commie bunch eager to screw up the UK and USA economy.

People download so much, music is disposable and radio stations are no longer influential. Which means protest songs get little attention. "Give Peace a Chance," or "I'm Not Marchin' Anymore," (to quote the Father, Son…both now holy ghosts) were big years ago. Now? Such songs don't work if nobody hears them. So even if Pussy Riot's song was in English, not Russian, it would be lost...heard on a blog and forgotten, because no matter what the issue, it's rare when people take it to the streets.

Instead, they shrug and continue to sit at the computer all day. At best, an activist might go "hacktivist," and in this case momentarily launch a DOS attack on the Kraft Foods website for selling Russian dressing. Then it's back to spam e-mails, fake photo postings or other bullying of some undeserving Internet target, most likely a pimply friend or a Facebook foe. Or a copyright owner with a legitimate complaint about being stolen from, who needs to "learn a lesson" in "not spoiling our FUN."

What can you do? What you can. First, recognize that Putin is evil, and his country isn't "nice" because they'll host places where you can steal American and British music. Shouting "Free Pussy Riot" won't get the girls out of jail, but the more injustices are exposed, the more the sense of outrage builds, and opposition, so that Putin (or other bullies) think twice about how far they can push things.

Even if you believe that totally out-of-control downloading "does no harm," the minimum you can do is avoid Avax-type websites, or bullshit Croatian blogs run by the world's scum. Yes, they are happy to give you American and British music in exchange for your soul. In exchange for your freedom. In exchange for making them richer and more powerful and more able to quash human rights. I've been saying for years, copyright is a human right. Pussy Riot is in jail for the next two fucking years (and that's a long time to keep pussy in a can) because Putin CAN. Because he benefits from every penny stolen away from American and British business, and every penny Avax and others make.

Same thing applies to Croatia. Maybe you weren't aware of the Croatian who beat the shit out of a Jew in upstate New York, went to his embassy, and instantly got an escape pass back home. Wasn't extradited. Got a slap on the wrist for nearly killing a man. But go ahead, download from some asshole with a blog located in Croatia, and leave him "nice" comments.

Putin is an insidious Commie bastard. Don't people know that? I guess not. They didn't think "Kim Dotcom" was a Nazi bastard! When Megaupload was finally shut down, most mourned it, and mourned poor fat Kim as a humanitarian, not a gluttonous, thieving swindler who arrogantly owned the biggest mansion and most land in the nation, by turning copyright owners into his slaves. Yes, slaves, the "niggers of the world" who didn't get a dime off the premium account money HE made off their work.

Over here, closer to reality, the grayzone is that offering a download of a song, one usually obscure, out of print or not of a high bit-rate, is educational and useful. It's intended to get attention for the artist, which (rationalization though it is) offsets the minor loss of a few pennies. Which is less humiliating than trying to make a living off the few pennies being offered to copyright owners via the streaming SpottyPie or the discount dotcom download site eekMusic. Yeah, they are SO much better than the record keeping the profits for themselves. Why do you think there's an "I" in front of iTunes? Because the guys who run it say, "I get a bigger share than the artists!"

As for Pussy Riot, these tiger lillies sound like they actually practiced in the basement more than once.

Since you don't speak Russian, yet, here's the translation for "Putin Lights Up the Fires," which references another thing about dictators…their vanity. Napoleon had his penguin outfit and silly hat. Hitler and his mustache. Pooty-poot (to use Dubya Bush's affectionate term for him) has a thing for plastic surgery ("botoxed cheeks"). He's also generated faked images of himself holding guns and pretending to be hunting dangerous prey and risking his life. He is sure into homoerotic shirtless posing, which probably would turn on "Father Lukashenko." To give you an idea of how appalling Lukashenko is, Congress actually noticed him, and passed the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 to combat some of his idealogies. Now to the song...

This state may be stronger than time in jail. The more arrests, the happier it is. Every arrest is carried out with love for the sexist who botoxed his cheeks and pumped his chest and abs.

But you can't nail us in the coffin. Throw off the yoke of former KGB!

Putin is lighting the fires of revolution….With every execution: the stench of rotten ash, with every long sentence: a wet dream.

The country is going, the country is going into the streets boldly…the country is going to bid farewell to the regime
 The country is going, the country is going, like a feminist wedge and Putin is goin to say goodbye like a sheep Arrest the whole city for May 6th. Seven years isn't enough, give us 18! Forbid us to scream, walk and curse! Go and marry Father Lukashenko

Sapristi! Putin Lights Up the Fires

THE DEPRESSIONS (Tonight I'm Gonna...) "SCREW YA"

From the punkettes of "Pussy Riot" we look back to the punks who sang "Screw Ya."

Hey, what if you take the Dr. Hook eye-patch look, a ton of peroxide off Billy Idol of Generation X, and instead of a Richard Hell "Love Comes in Spurts," go all Screw magazine with it, and snarl a Sex Pistol "Tonight I'm Gonna SCREW YA?" What happens??


Depressing? Well, if you've named the band The Depressions, you can probably handle it. Whatever became of E. Wright, the author of 'Screw Ya?" Or the girl on the receiving end of: "(I'll) bring tears to your eyes and cream to your thighs, I'm the best that you had so far yet!" What about other band members? Producer Paddy Bergin? (The good thing about rhetorical questions asked on the Internet, is that somebody or other will take it seriously and reply in the comments!)

I think I probably gave the record a good review at the time…(the time of getting paid, being part of rock magazines that had circulations of 200,000 to 500,000). I still have the album in pristine condition. Meaning, I've rarely played more than the amusing open track, a punk brag that you don't take too seriously. Or shouldn't. At the time, quite a few reviewers were actually offended. Typical was this from Record Mirror in the UK: "It's awful. Just dreadful…"Screw Ya" tells of the moronic behaviour of the lowest kind of male ego…male macho rubbish. It's third rate punk."

The review is from the UK because this thing never got across the pond. I may have been among the few who was so connected to the import field, that I regularly reviewed such obscure stuff (and had venues that appreciated a writer doing more than begging to hear the latest from Brooooos). The Depressions were apparently a pretty big hit in their home town (Brighton), where they debuted with promising singles, including "Get Out of this Town" and "Messing With Your Heart." After receiving offended and huffy reviews for this album, and doing some tumultuous live shows that seemed to generate disgust more than Sex Pistols-type admiration, they became The DP's and issued their finale, "If You Know What I Mean."

After all these years, there's two pieces of wisdom you can take away from this band: 1) a good way to handle depression is to screw and 2) it's not likely to happen if you approach a girl singing this song.

Sapristi! (tonight I'm gonna) SCREW YA


Oh, the games people play. Like taking my idea for "obits with music" and turning it into the usual "he's dead, here's a link" lists. Some bloggers have no imagination, except to imagine that they are loved for what they steal...whether it's an idea or copyrighted music.

True originals…are creative. They see things, comment with an original point of view, and the result is entertaining. Joe South (last name originally Souter), was one of those. He wrote so well, you thought that the singer was also the songwriter. Right? You thought Billy Joe Royal wrote and sang "Down in the Boondocks." You thought some druggie in Deep Purple wrote and sang "Hush." You figured maybe Parton, or Wynette, or Anderson, or whoever sang "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden" also wrote it.

Singing his own songs, Joe only had one hit: "Games People Play" in 1969, based on the title of that era's best-selling self-help book. (He'd come a long way from his cash-in attempt to score off Sheb Wooley and David Seville via "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor" in 1958. It peaked a little above 40 on the charts). After that, it was total originality that made him a success.

Joe may have had his best hits in the late 60's and early 70's, but he didn't fade away. He made a new album once in a while, and toured with his enduring songs, and those hits are easy to find via his "Classic Masters" re-issue.

Rather than pay tribute by grabbing a song he sang that you could buy off iTunes, the illfolks choice is a cover version done by Paul Frees as Bela Lugosi. It was a game few people felt like playing on a turntable at the time…the great voice-man mating MOR hits to his mimcry of W.C. Fields, Ed Wynn, Boris Karloff, etc. Why he thought Lugosi suited this Joe South song, is a question lost to the ages.

Lost to us at 72, Joe South.

"Early on September 5, 2012, the music industry lost a genius, mild mannered, giving, precious soul named The Reverend" Joe South," were the words posted on his official site (joesouth dot com). The site even listed the funeral parlor where fans could come to say farewell, and the last stop: "MOUNT HARMONY CEMETERY, 581 VETERANS MEMORIAL HWY., MABLETON, GA."


Sunday, September 09, 2012

HAL DAVID, the Conversational Lyricist


Lyricists. They tend to look ordinary, talk ordinary, and sing ordinary. So in death, as in life, they get little attention. Anybody know what Hal David looked like before the obits arrived? Anyone write him a fan letter and ask for an autograph? Maybe it was just as well. Being able to walk around without being recognized allowed Hal David to observe ordinary people…and write extraordinary "ordinary" lyrics.

Most of Hal David's work simply captured the emotions of every day people. His genius was in giving singers very conversational words to work with. There's not much symbolism, metaphor or other wordplay in the man's lyrics…it's just straightforward feelings expressed almost as simply as what you'd find on a greeting card.

"What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love." Very simple message. How about a song that opens with intimacy and not pretense, asking a question: "What's it all about, Alfie?" Or "Do you know the way to San Jose?" What's simpler than: "The look of love is in your eyes," or ""This guy's in love with you," or wanting to get "Close to you"?

Though these songs seemed simple, there was always something special about them, enough to make people keep on listening and cherishing them. There was "always something there to remind" you that what he wrote about involved basic truths.

Hal David made it seem so easy. That's one reason he became a millionaire, but wasn't exactly respected by the rock world. It didn't help his cache with the hip, that The Carpenters, Herb Alpert and Dionne Warwick were among the middle-of-the-roaders having hits with his material. But Hal David was so good, so natural, that you may have figured B.J. Thomas himself wrote that laconic classic, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," the white man's "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay."

Here's the start of a song, which instantly has the listener picturing a credible human, and not a superstar diva: "The moment I wake up, before I put on my make-up, I say a little prayer for you…" Hal wrote easily from the female point of view, from "Wishin' and Hopin'" to what became a feminist anthem, "Don't Make Me Over."

Dark songs such as the latter were kind of rare for Hal David, especially since Burt Bacharach's music was usually romantic and bouncy, but the team did come up with a few dramatic numbers. "Anyone Who Had a Heart" is one of them, and another is "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," which got the attention of punk and new wave fans when it was covered by Elvis Costello on the "Stiffs Live" tour.

[The Photoshop pun-line about shelving refers to the fact that CDs and Records are now obsolete. So WTF will the brats of the future collect? Nothing. Even external hard drives will be obsolete, replaced by "clouds." Total ephemera for a planet not long for this world anyway...ready to be destroyed by a mushroom cloud or global warming. Maybe you noticed that in "future" movies, or Billy Joel's "Pressure" video, a person's room is barren of everything but a giant screen? Yes, that's why there won't be shelving very long. First off, Ikea's stuff doesn't last and ain't worth buying. Second, all anyone needs is a computer and a flat screen TV covering the whole wall.] Now back to the obit...

For a download of songs Hal wrote before he teamed with Burt, submitted for your approval, an invite to Lee Hartsfeld blog:

Burt and Hal teamed circa 1962, another Brill Building pair churning out song after song and hoping somebody, anybody would put it on wax. Perry Como was one of the first to chart for them via "Magic Moment." Then came the Warwick hits, and additionally, the call to Hollywood for film soundtracks and theme songs.

They came to Broadway with "Promises, Promises," which ironically was low on hits…to the point where the recent revival with Kristin Chenoweth, which I saw, imported "I Say A Little Prayer" to bolster it. The crowd roared with delight over the opening notes. They cheered equally for "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," another gentle, vanilla-tinged examination of love-sad emotions.

To get vanilla, you gotta grind up a lotta beans, and Hal David put in some grinding hours to get what he wanted. "What the World Needs Now" seems like it could've been written after a cheeseburger and a Valium, but, no. It took two years before he had something to show Bacharach: ""I was stuck. I kept thinking of lines like, 'Lord, we don't need planes that fly higher or faster ...' and they all seemed wrong. Why, I didn't know. But the idea stayed with me.Then, one day, I thought of, 'Lord, we don't need another mountain,' and all at once I knew how the lyric should be written. Things like planes and trains and cars are manmade, and things like mountains and rivers and valleys are created by someone or something we call God. There was now a oneness of idea and language instead of a conflict. It had taken me two years to put my finger on it."

To "try to say things as simply as possible, " David remarked, "is probably the most difficult thing to do."

The team broke up over the long, tedious, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to make a musical out of "Lost Horizon." Both men worked with other partners (Elvis Costello put words to an entire album of Burt's music) but for both guys, the golden era of their best work was the 60's. Hal David (looking quite healthy in June 2011, as you see in the Costello photoshop job) suffered a major stroke in March of 2012. His death several weeks ago came from complications from another stroke. President Obama eulogized:

""Above all, they stayed true to themselves," Obama said. "And with an unmistakable authenticity, they captured the emotions of our daily lives — the good times, the bad times, and everything in between.

I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself... Except to download Costello's version from the "Stiffs Live" tour

The Road to Hong Kong - Bob Hope & Bing Crosby

Hey record collectors…are you like me? Did you ever buy a record, decide it was stupid and trade it in…and then realize later you really liked it after all…and bought it again?

Here's one (of many) examples for me: the title song for the last road picture made by Hope & Crosby (Dorothy Lamour and Joan Collins were the leading ladies). Bob and Bing were an odd comedy team…Crosby fancied himself a droll fellow who deserved to get some of the laughs, and Hope believed he had a pretty good singing voice, and loved to croon his theme song "Thanks For the Memories."

In their "Road" movies, they easily gave each other a chance to get some chuckles, which was a change from the standard comedy team where there was a defined line between straight man and stooge. This song reflects their smooth willingness to let the other have the spotlight (to some extent, anyway..."rivalry" was part of the Bing and Bob forumula, especially when the film had only one leading lady).

This middle of the road number has a middling amount of mild humor. Neither take the melody too seriously, either. Bing gets to sing the inane refrain: "Sip a little oolong tea" (to 7 familiar stereotypical Asian melody notes).

The venerable team of Cahn-Van Heusen hacked this on automatic pilot with vaudevillian music you could swear you've heard before, but listen to how they get away with the tricky rhyme scheme that unashamedly keeps rhyming Hong Kong to anything from gong to Fong, without going wrong.

Just download this and listen for yourself. Then delete it. Then, a year later, come back to the blog and download it a second time! Some tunes are like Chinese food. Just when you think you don't want any more…you're hungry again.

The Road to Hong Kong


If you haven't snatched it from the torrents and forums (where FLAC editions were thrown around since last week), Dylan's new album is "officially" on sale 9/11.

You can't argue with success: Bob's last 3 growly albums of swamp rock and Delta blues, have been hits, and one of 'em was his first to ever debut at #1 on both the USA and UK charts. This one's similar, full of long blues songs, but some of the lyrics are among his weakest.

Bob's ditty on John Lennon ("Hold On John")? A kid in songwriting class would get a C+ on it, and told to study how the masters do it, like John Lennon or Bob Dylan (pre-"Tempest"). It opens with a

less than accurate take on the murder:

"Doctor, doctor tell me the time of day. Another bottle's empty, another penny spent
He turned around and he slowly walked away. They shot him in the back and down he went."

"They?" Next, a pointless stanza on John's early days with The Beatles in Hamburg (coming before The Quarrymen in Dylan's time frame):

"From the Liverpool docks to the red-light Hamburg streets. Down in the quarry with The Quarrymen
Playing to the big crowds, playing to the cheap seats. Another day in the life on your way to your journey's end"

Pretty dark, calling John's debut years the beginning of the (journey's) end. But it's still not good writing. Next, Bob lurches forward to John's battle with USA immigration, "like any other slave…no way out of that deep dark cave."

Bob, exciting on the flawed bios of "Hurricane" and "Lenny Bruce," is dull here, going through the motions like he's using a rhyming dictionary. Once again recalling Lennon's death: "I heard the news today, oh boy...Now the city gone dark, there is no more joy."

Another easy reference to a Beatles line turns to doggerel: "Slow down you're moving way too fast...Your bones are weary, you're about to breathe your last." What? John was working on a comeback album that night, that's "moving way too fast?" He was 40 years old, his bones weren't weary. Mark Chapman could've spoken those lines: "You're moving way too fast…you're about to breathe your last."

From here, Bob goes far afield ("Take the right-hand road and go where the buffalo roam…") and then starts quoting William Blake. This impresses the vast army of illiterate Dylan fans who think dropping a dead poet's line into a song isn't lazy, but a sign of scholarship: "Tyger, tyger burning bright, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. In the forests of the night, cover 'em over and let him sleep."

The title track, "Tempest," is a terribly tedious Dylanization of "The Titanic" legend, with easy rhymes, references to "Leo" DeCaprio, and these silly lines invented about the ship having its own whorehouse on board:

"Davey the brothel-keeper, came out dismissed his girls
Saw the water getting deeper. Saw the changing of his world."

There have been better songs about Lennon, and, at least in an entertaining way, worse ones about The Titanic. Harry Chapin's "Dance Band on the Titanic" took a light and splashy approach to the obvious ironies about man's failings and the certainty of death. And below? A track you can't find on iTunes, "Danger on the Titanic," a catchy if ridiculous pop tune by Sailor. Who?

Sailor was a foursome: a married couple and what looks like two gay guys. In the late 70's, many tried to copy Abba pop or Queen pretentiousness. This quartet has more than a dab of Abba, and there's a dragging Queen break, a shift into a No-themian rhapsody that makes the Titanic's winter horror quite summer campy.

The lyrics by Philip Pickett pluck all the gamey strings of wordplay that anyone would want: "I'm drowning in my salty tears…Don't leave me drowning with tears in my wine. Just when I found you we hit an iceberg. It's man overboard!" Predictably, "Titanic" rhymes with "panic."

Was it a dream? Is a ghost doing the singing? Maybe the latter. Ghosts have hollow heads, and in life, this guy may not have been too bright either:

"We danced the tango as the waves crashed down upon the dance floor.
We carried on, 'cause this was our favorite song."

Then they began to do "The Swim."

At the risk of getting the "Bob can do no wrong" Dylan fans into a Tempest tantrum, I think he took a wrong turn with his Titanic song. He has a dark sense of humor and could've used it more, taking the tune into the direction he used on another long song, "High Water." In that one, he sang, "It's tough out there, High water everywhere," and shouted to a lady, "throw your panties overboard…" In other words, gal, if the ship's going down, you should, too.

Sapristi! It's Titanic disco cheese! Sailor sings... Danger on the Titanic