Friday, October 19, 2012

George McGovern Dies - Nixon (Frye) Sings Folsom Prison Blues

The headlines today could have been about ex-president George McGovern. But the Marine bomber who became the anti-war candidate in 1972 didn't win the election. The press in 1972 were busy laughing over the impending landslide that would re-elect Richard Nixon, and only two guys, Woodward and Bernstein, seemed serious about pursuing any of the rumors of dirty deeds that "Tricky Dick" was up to.

It would be two years after McGovern lost to Nixon that the Watergate scandal broke, and the President of the United States, sweaty and shaken, scowled his resignation on national television, and not long after, gave his sick smile as he waved a farewell, taking a helicopter to obscurity.

George McGovern's loss to Nixon was a disaster unequaled in American politics. He won only one state, and it wasn't his home state of South Dakota, it was Massachusetts. (The popular vote was a somewhat less humiliating 47 million to 29 million.) Young people and free thinkers wanted to recover from the hell of the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 and the running of Hubert Humphrey against Nixon. Humphrey, you may recall, was the status quo candidate chosen after Robert F. Kennedy was murdered. McCarthy didn't get the nod, nor did "Pigasus," the live pig that the Yippies brought to the convention for a laugh. They were rewarded with tear gas. Phil Ochs was so distraught that he used 1968 as the date of his death on his tombstone for his "Rehearsals for Retirement" album cover.

But for many who grew up with The Beatles, and progressed along with Lennon to political issues and revolution, 1972 was the first time they could vote in a presidential election, and having McGovern running against Nixon and the war seemed to signal one more chance for sanity, good will, and morality. Instead, the war continued, and conservative, backward thinking prevailed. Until Watergate finally drove Nixon out. But a year or so after that, Lennon was admitting on stage, "OK, flower power didn't work...we'll try something else." And for Phil Ochs, there was nothing left to try except making a noose out of a rope.

You can read up on George McGovern, dead at the age of 90, via many sites on the Internet. You can even read books by McGovern himself, including an unusual take on Abraham Lincoln, a tome on world hunger (his cause since 1981 when he left the Senate) and a greatly praised, candid and moving book on the fate of his alcoholic daughter. Here at the Illfolks blog, it's with sadness that his passing is noted, especially the final fade, which included the inevitable "hospice care." When a loved one goes into "hospice care," you accept a certain reality, and the finality, and it's a strange twilight-zone kind of time of mourning, acceptance, and as long as the patient is able, being able to hold on for what is in essence, the long goodbye.

Being a music blog, your download is David Frye's "Folsom Prison Blues," sung as Nixon. On his blistering album, "Richard Nixon: A Fantasy," Frye imagined the long, hellish roasting of Nixon, from conviction to jailing, to even an execution. From having a landslide victory to being buried in scandal and disgrace...that was Richard Nixon, who died years ago pretty much as Mr. McGovern has now...after failing health, and a period of being "unresponsive," as family gathered to await the final breath.

A few extra reporters, a few could've been President McGovern in 1972. He lost, but for 40 years after, his run remains a legend for its nobility of purpose. He is mourned as a man of courage and principle. His name is remembered with respect.

David Frye sings: Richard Nixon FOLSOM PRISON BLUES

WALGREENS IS STILL A HEARTBREAK. Homer & Jethro and Ruby Wright

Back in 1964, Ruby Wright (daughter of Johnny Wright and Kitty Wells) had some success with novelty singles. Her biggest was "Dern Ya," the answer to Roger Miller's "Dang Me." The same year, she offered "Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens," via Nashville's RIC (Record Industries Corp) label. Her brief popularity with country novelty tunes set her apart from the other Ruby Wright...the big band vocalist who only five years earlier, had Top 40 hits on the mainstream charts with "Let's Light the Christmas Tree" and the Holly, Vallens & Bopper tribute "Three Stars."

Written by Hank Mills, and featuring an alarming "talking guitar" (not by Alvino Rey, but expert country session man Pete Drake), it could almost be taken seriously. There were probably a few fatties in trailer parks drinking some Jim Beam and stuffing Slim Jims in their pusses, (that's not a typo, that's puss, as in face), recalling some similar catastrophe of love gone wrong.

Without having to re-write too much of it, Homer & Jethro harmonized on their own version, raising the level of comic pathos to new heights of pathetic humorousness. (Feel free to click the picture and look at the bigger version. H&J and Ruby are so photogenic...and the photoshop job adding Sears and Walgreens looks so real...)

It ain't too funny that so many of our beloved chain stores have disappeared since Ruby Wright and Homer & Jethro sang about Walgreens. Gone or soon to be forgotten: Woolworths, Montgomery Ward, E.J. Korvette, King Kullen...Macy's can no longer tell Gimbel's anything…the latter went under long ago, along with Lamstons and Filenes and Daffy's and Abraham and Straus. How about the chains that still survive, but maybe pulled out of a neighborhood near you…a Baskin-Robbins, White Castle or Jack in the Box replaced by a Starbucks or Applebees or just a "for rent" sign.

Best Buy is teetering toward the same edge as Circuit City, because people go in there to handle the camcorders and see the computers…then rush back to Amazon to get the item for ten bucks cheaper and free shipping. Sears? Are they a factor anymore? Were most of them taken over by Wal-Mart? As for Walgreens they've been partnering up with other drug chains notably Duane Reade (an outfit that's emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy), and will probably stay around because our dependence on drugs for headache, stomach pain, and all the new ailments brought by stress and the environment is only going to increase.

Will anyone break your heart at Walgreens in the near future? No, you'll have your heart broken on Skype. Or you'll discover your sexy Facebook friend's latest sexting texts have other names on 'em and were sent in error to you. Or your heart will break when you discover your sexy Internet friend can't meet you in person because you'd discover that the person is actually 30 years older than you, and of the same sex! Vividly miserable at Walgreens is being replaced with being momentarily pissed off about the e-mail sex partner who now sends you nothing but spam about needing money and how you should deposit money in a Nigerian bank via Western Union. You might shed some tears but...

On the Internet, nobody hears you cry.

Sapristi! RUBY WRIGHT'S Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens….

Sapristi! Homer & Jethro's She Broke My Heart at Walgreens….

OBNOXIOUSLY CENSORED "Rajah of Astrakhan" - Mighty Absalom

What the fuck?

Anyone buying a dirty record is not going to be offended by dirty language! That's the point of getting the god damned fucking record! Jesus Shit!

My guess is just before "The Mighty Absalom Sings Bathroom Ballads" was released, some frightened bunny at the record label thought, "It's got obscene words on it. A record store owner could be arrested. WE could be arrested!" The songs could've been re-recorded (perhaps in the style of Rambling Syd Rampo, who used nonsense verbs like "wurdling"). Instead, a sound engineer inserted loud BEEEEEEPS over every bad word.

Sung to the tune of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," the choice sample from the album is "Rajah of Astrakhan." It's just a typical "bawdy" song but instead of hearing something about titties, you might get tinnitis. Weirdly, over in the U.S., Ed McCurdy and Oscar Brand released many similar albums, sans censorship.

Fortunately for Mighty Absalom, after breaking in the easy way, via smut, he was able to work his way upward. At this point he considers this 1965 effort, done when he was 25, a forgettable debut, and his website discography declares, "you don't want this one!"

In 1968, now billed simply as Mike Absalom, he released the quirky album "Save The Last Gherkin for Me." He started and ended the 70's with more oddities, including "Hector & Other Peccadillos" and "The Great Grombolian Connection." He recalls, "I played the Royal Albert Hall, appeared on "The Old Grey Whistle Test"…the 1970s were an all night party that spilled over into the days. Afterwards I spent a lot of time on mountaintops ironing out the hangover. I passed the next quarter of a century in Canada. In tune with the solid decorum of that country, I calmed down and became a pillar of the local community. During those years, I made my living as broadcaster, children’s entertainer, puppeteer, harpist, fiddler and Celtic bandleader. I also wrote newspaper articles, did performance poetry and toured North and South America as the male member of an all girl harp group. For a while, I resided in Paraguay where I studied harp and got up to no good, which, after Canada, was certainly worth it. I was dysfunctional and quite happy with the world and myself…I crossed back home over the Atlantic…Now I paint."

For much more, check out the MikeAbsalom To hear the evils of censorship, rather than the delights of the flesh...

Sapristi! Download the Mighty Absalom's heavily censored... RAJAH OF ASTRAKHAN


"Albums don't have the same significance they did 10 years ago," says Elvis Costello. "You can't even find a record shop. My last album was in a coffee shop." Yep. Carly Simon, Bob Dylan, Elvis…a lot of artists have turned up in Starbucks where the last of the affluent Yuppies toss an extra $12.95 at the counter because it's not much more than they spent for a latte. But Starbucks has cut back on the number of titles they sell. Costello's last didn't even make the cut.

Rolling Stone, back on March 1st: "Many cities have no record store, not even a Best Buy or a Target (which don't stock many CDs). You've got to order from Amazon…." And does anyone? Not when Amazon pushes mp3 downloads: "With streaming services like Spotify rising and iTunes entrenched as the world's biggest music retailer, digital sales in 2011 outstripped physical sales for the first time ever…" People under 50 overwhelmingly buy digital: "In the first week of February, Leonard Cohen's OLD IDEAS sold roughly 79% percent of its 41,000 copies on CD. Lana Del Rey's BORN TO DIE sold just 26 percent of its 77,0000 copies that way according to Billboard."

More bad news. Because of piracy, digital music sales are nowhere near the sales figures when CD or vinyl was popular.

Rolling Stone's answer to its own headline, "Is the CD Finally Dead?" is YES. "Within three years," the magazine predicts.

Charging less for a CD isn't the answer. The discount-pricing strategy might have slowed the demise of CDs "but sources say it also pushed profits on CDs down." So says Rolling Stone.

The Village Voice: "CDs came out in the 80s and, by the late 90s, you could make your own at home. Then, when the digital download came out...even companies are saying, 'Why are we making CDs if people can just download the whole album?'" Around Christmas some fogeys might buy a re-issue box set on The Beatles or Neil Young, and some ancients will buy Susan Boyle, but that's not enough to sustain CD manufacture.

Sony shut down its CD manufacturing plant in New Jersey laying off 160 workers…and now has only one plant in America making CDs!

Am I ranting? No, it's just facts. Technology does this. Pro Tools has killed off a lot of recording studios. It's progress. It's part of why our economy is so bad, but it's been going on ever since Henry Ford built his first assembly line. Woody Allen said his father lost his job to progress: "a machine does what he did, but ten times better. And my mother bought one!"

In a generation or two, we went from vinyl, to tape, to CD to mp3. We went from making a tape copy to perfect digital duplication. Now, copying is so common, blogs are disappearing. You can find most of what bloggers used to post all over torrents, lockers, YouTube, and more. The "usual suspects" still doing blogs are mostly half dead zombies who monotonously re-post the entire Beach Boys catalog over and over. Or they croak "not to be missed" about a once-rare psych album all over the Net and one they re-posted a dozen times. Or they steal a download, re-up with their dopey name as the password, and get some senile kick out of the same "nice comments" left in the shout box, all about "thanks" and "we are not worthy," and "you are God." Even if the number of these comments has shriveled smaller than the uploader's dick.

Meanwhile the death of CD and the proliferation of mp3 means file lockers like Rapidshare have lowered their price for an account. Too much competition, including the huge torrent sites that make money with fake dating service ads or click-throughs to game sites full of spyware.

Joni Mitchell didn't know clouds at all. Heh heh. Now she does. Clouds and new sharing via Kindle devices and iPhones mean the percentage who buy music (movies, books, magazines) is shrinking every day, like the polar ice. Hell, there's so much free entertainment, even free entertainment isn't a lure, so TV shows are sinking in the ratings…and even low-budget reality shows cut down on staff. Sports stars are likely to see less money too, thanks to free streams of "pay per view" events. Buy entertainment? "Zero paid" is the goal. At best, a new album comes out and sells 40,000 units instead of 400,000 or a million.

Well, Brother, a lot of people are begging for a dime now. Three companies have emerged to become like Germany, Italy and Japan in World War II (that would be Google, Amazon and Apple) but those giants do NOT employ all that many people.

Remember when "sharers" had an answer to piracy? It was "find a new paradigm." Like, sell t-shirts. Or tour till you drop dead and never mind if the club is tiny and your hotel bill cuts your profits. Or sell music so low that a million would buy for a dollar. None of it worked.

Unemployment, like climate change, is not going to ever get better. Those who are out of work, or forced to accept a soul-killing job that barely pays the rent, can soothe themselves in the evening with free YouTube or torrent downloads, or cheap home-made meth (good weed, like any good crop, is tougher to get at any price).

Kids can adapt. They don't give a damn about paying attention to music and holding a CD in their hands. If the doctor's waiting room doesn't have a copy of Newsweek, so fucking what, a zillion mags are on KickAss torrents to be put into their kindle. Who gives a damn about the news anyway? All they care about is what Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian are up to. Anything else and there's always Huffington Post and Google News which give you all you need to know for free. "Fair use," you know.

Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

This isn't a rant about thoughtless, greed-headed pirate assholes like Kim Dotcom or some retarded bloggers going overboard, or whether it's moral to avoid buying HBO, Showtime or over-priced PPV sports events by getting it free . It's not a complaint about stupid punks who think that "free speech" and "fair use" and "no censorship" is an excuse to steal.

This post is just a statement of fact: there are no new paradigms, and brother, it's hard to make a dime. That's all. Even "totally fuzzy" music "sharers" have come around to admit that not paying for music is a bad thing. Capitalism thrives on buy and sell. But it's all over now, Baby Blue. Just like it's all over for the blue whale, and fresh-caught salmon. Like it's all over for record and bookstores. Like it's almost all over for movie houses, or the post offices. Might as well play an old Ray Davies song mourning that we don't have Queen Victoria anymore. So? We got Queen Latifah and Lady Gaga and Queen touring without Freddie Mercury.

Back in the 30's, when "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" became a popular song, things were different. There was a work ethic. Immigrants came to a new country to work, not demand benefits, refuse to speak the language, and plot to blow up buildings. Second, most any skill you had could be applied to a new job opportunity. Cylinder records went obsolete? OK, the factory makes 78's. 78's went obsolete? Manufacture 45's and 33's. Vinyl goes? Manufacture CDs. But now…the manufacturing plants stand empty, ready for the wrecking ball. Music, movies,'re supposed to give it away on Google's Blogger, YouTube, cloud systems or watch it get stolen via Google's copyright-raping search engine and their digitizing of every book and their pointing toward every blog or YouTube free version. Google's "monetization" of your YouTube account ain't the answer, neither is their pledge to toss a few pennies to publishers. And Spotify is not giving songwriters the living wage that radio once did.

Among the books nobody's buying is one called "Free Ride" by Robert Levine. In it, Levine writes: "At what point did free music become a social cause? If artists want to give away their music, that's great. They just shouldn't have to do it when they don't want to."

Perhaps a better quote comes from Kurt Vonnegut, who no longer needs royalties: "And so it goes." Right down the drain.

Rolling Stone, the anorexic magazine that could drop dead any day and go to digital only, is actually trying to get more people to check their website for exclusive site-only features. They know you can download every new issue from some torrent or other. So while I still have a subscription, I know one day there won't be a magazine in the mail box anymore. And that Rolling Stone will have a staff of only a few people, and not enough for well-researched exposes, and they'll just have puff pieces on Justin Bieber, and reviewers who take hip-hop seriously.

So be happy CDs are dying and a few external hard-drives store everything. Hope that the 1% who can afford to pay for downloads do so, and it's enough to keep some artists and production companies and publishers in business. Move into a smaller low-rent place and save your money for food, since crop erosion, spoiled oceans and fetid slaughter houses will make the price for a healthy meal go up while your pay check shrinks down. The answer my friend, is that music, movies, and book downloads are just blowin' in the wind. And some incinerated dust that was once human, will be blowin' along with it.

"I've seen the future…and it's murder." Oh, that was Leonard Cohen. Let's go back in time to find more optimism. to the 30's, when a bum asked for a dime and got it, instead of a cackle and a sneer of "get a new paradigm."

"Brother Can You Spare a Dime," a zip file of obscure versions as well as star turns. Vintage: Charlie Palloy, and ("Hey, don't you remember, they called me Al") Jolson. Recent: Mandy Patinkin's half-campy brawl on Letterman's show and a slow, slow funky meditation from Dr. John and Odetta. Brother Can You Spare a Dime Four Times

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Girls just wanna have fun…but what happens if the guy is having fun with somebody else?

As the drums throb and the keyboards slink along the minor keys, the shadowy Deborah Galli emerges to confront her now very definitely EX boyfriend. Singing in a Cyndi Lauperesque accent that is pungent with the dumps of Brooklyn and the sewage of New Jersey, our Deb declaims with lethal bitterness:

"I saw you with your woman. My God you make a beautiful peyy-uhh. I heard her call you 'Honey.' I saw the way she ruffled your heyy-uhhh." (That's a rhyme of "pair" and "hair" folks).

The couple once made love to innocent tunes on the radio ("Underneath the Boardwalk…Be my little baby") but their hot-blooded affair curdled into a witch's brew of conflicting emotions: "Sometimes we were a play by Chekhov. Sometimes a rock and roll cartoon."

Check off Chekhov and cue the Poe, because Deb quotes "Dream within a dream." Pretty spooky, huh? Too bad other cuts on the album were aiming more for the "have fun" crowd, and something for Lauper-types to dance to at the disco.

Record labels seemed desperate to have their own Cyndi, and no doubt Galli was encouraged to fill her debut lp with up-tempo numbers and frivolity. Her label's choice for a 12-inch single was not this song, but a generic disco-pop number called "I Go To Zero," which didn't go to the Top Ten.

Ironically the dopey "girls just want to have fun" faded fairly quickly, along with girls wearing garbage bags (Total Coelo) along with garish wigs. Cyndi's next hit was the mournful "True Colors." The one time I did meet up with Cyndi she looked anything but happy. And I don't take the blame for it, as she was morose before we were introduced. And this was when "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was making her rich and famous. I met her up at Black Rock (the nickname we tiresome insiders use for the CBS building on 52nd Street). She was sitting around looking like a school kid in detention. She was probably called up to the Epic office to do interviews, and maybe sign some promo lps to send to disc jockeys. So when we were introduced (I was there to interview somebody else, and grab some new releases) she forced a glum hello and then continued staring off into space.

Not long after, I'm opening up promo packages, and I find yet another debut album by yet another label's Lauper wanna-be, with hair dye and punkish makeup. Only she looks a tad moody (the gun in the photo is Photoshopped). I dutifully audition some tracks, and love her self-penned "French Kisses." Why wasn't this the single? Would she be available for an interview? Was this a posthumous release? I had to keep wondering. Because...

Not everyone on a record label gets any kind of push. Sometimes even a direct call to a publicist yields, "Huh? You sure we have that artist on our label?" Or, "Have no idea about interview availability. But Cheap Trick can do a phoner…"

Ironically in 1985, a year after Galli's album came out, the movie "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" briefly hit movie houses. It starred embryonic starlets Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt and Shannen Doherty. The producers didn't use Lauper's version of the song. Instead, the piece was performed by the trio of Tami Holbrook, Meredith Marshall and Deborah Galli.

What's become of Deborah Galli since 1985? Hopefully she's not in any "sticky situation" (a grim phrase in the song related to clotted gore). Meanwhile, enjoy this immortally mortal, chillingly weird, New Yawk-tinged goth number that fell through the cracks like a Raid-sprayed black widow spider. Girls just wanna have fun, but women bleed. And they just might take you with 'em when they do.

FRENCH KISSES - Deborah Galli

Dead Insect Eater Edward Archbold should've done THE COCKROACH STOMP

Edward Archbold could've gotten some exercise dancing to "The Cockroach Stomp."

Instead, he crammed giants roaches down his throat. A fatal mistake.

Hope it doesn't tarnish the enthusiasm we have for "Competitive Eating" competitions! After all, nothing is more entertaining than watching somebody gorge on hot dogs on the Fourth of July, or gulp down hard boiled eggs for the glory of a "World Record," which we can watch on a 50 inch plasma TV, unlike starving people who have no TV and would be grateful for a handful of rice.

At the Ben Siegel Reptile Store (Deerfield Beach, near Miami) the prize was…a python. And who wouldn't want one? Why have a cat, for example, when you can call attention to yourself with a python? Although perhaps a shrubbery would be just as peculiar to be proud of. Or a herring.

At Siegel's "Midnight madness" event, Friday night, October 5th, contestants had just four minutes to consume as many bugs as possible. Lucky Edward Archibold was declared the winner. Then he threw up. Then he fell down. And by the time he was hauled to the hospital, he wasn't doing anything, not even breathing. Last report, he's getting a free autopsy at the Broward Medical Examiner's Office.

Roach eating contests. Food eating contests. Recreational eating and snacking. Why, in the good old days, people were told to respect nature, guys such as Jack LaLanne believed in eating natural foods, fruits and vegetables and nothing processed and man-made, and it was a sin to waste food and…there were cute novelty songs like "The Cockroach Stomp." Eat roaches? No, stomp on 'em! Which was, come to think of it, pretty good exercise, too. People also did The Twist. Now pudgy fingers can barely unscrew a twist-top can, and angry slobs like Chris Christie and Rosie O'Donnell and Jennifer Livingston growl like grizzly bears when anyone suggests they be like Al Roker, Oprah Winfrey, or Ricki Lake and shut the cake hole for a while and then eat smaller portions, healthier foods and…get some exercise besides holding a knife and fork.

Anything wrong with over-eating for the fun of it? Just ask John Candy. Chris Farley. Or Edward Archbold, who, it must be admitted, died a winner! At least, this final act may have been an improvement on his last brush with fame…a 2004 arrest (and conviction) for indecent exposure.

The dead roach-eater could end up in a wood box six feet under…and be part of a contest for hungry maggots. They'll consume him in record time and not throw up a single morsel. Some creatures were made to eat dead meat. Maggots. Parasites. Oh yes, and people who enter eating contests and happily visit Applebees, Burger King and the fast food chain that Morrissey likes to call "Kentucky Fried Shit."

Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan The Cockroach Stomp


Fans of eye catching album covers or head scratching music might've overlooked "The Two Sides of Larry," but there was something about that face. That was one side of Larry, and for a buck, I was willing to find out more. I'm referring to the British import, which made things all the more exotic.

The title, as it turns out, referred to Larry Cunningham's love of both traditional Irish music (he was from County Longford) and C&W crooning (as made popular by Jim Reeves).

A kid singer and actor (on the TV show "Christmas Pantomime") as well as a violinist and accordion player, the versatile, if oddly headed long-nosed and jug-eared entertainer got his big break in 1963 by actually replacing Jim Reeves on stage in Donegal. Reeves was a huge star in Ireland, and (with perhaps a little bit of a strong-arm from the Irish Federation of Musicians) included local Irish show bands in his performances. But all did not go as smoothly as his crooning, and at one notorious performance, he could no longer deal with a piano that wasn't up to his standards, and he walked off. The show went on without him: Larry and his "Might Avons," well-schooled in C&W, gave the audience all they could want.

Reeves, attempting to pilot his small plane through a thunderstorm, crashed and died on the afternoon of July 31, 1964. Larry Cunningham recorded "Tribute to Jim Reeves," and became the first Irishman to have a hit record on the British Top Ten charts. Then, to show his "two sides," in 1965 he rode "Lovely Leitrim," a more traditional Irish ballad, to #1, and with that, he flew right over Great Britain to Carnegie Hall, making a successful American debut. Larry left the Mighty Avons in 1969 to lead his own group, but his marriage (in 1972) and his four children had him thinking of a more stable life, which involved less touring, and more time at home where he owned a supermarket. He had three Top Ten hits in Ireland in the 70's ("Goodbye Comes Hard To Me" in 1973, "This Time of the Year" in 1974 and "My Kathleen" in 1975) and one Top 20 in the 80's ("The Story of My Life" in 1983). His last single to get significant airplay was "Walk On By" in 1984.

Larry's cunning plan to Cunningham the charts made him a figure of some respect in the 70's and 80's, but we'll go back to his glorious debut in the mid 60's in order to sample his two sides. Actually, three. His version of "My Heart's In the Heart of Killarney" is not only Irish, it's South American…he's got a kind of Desi Arnaz rhumba arrangement to it, which will throw off anybody trying to clog dance with their hands cemented to their thighs. This is followed by the appropriately named Jim Reeves hit "I've Enjoyed As Much of This as I Can Stand."

Sadly, "face up" but six feet under is the current side of Larry Cunningham, but as long as there's vinyl, there's immortality for the traditional Irish and C&W-loving singer with the smooth voice and distinctive face.

CUNNING LARRY: My Heart's In the Heart of Killarney…I've Enjoyed As Much of THIS as I Can Stand.


One of the tedious traditions of October is for bloggers to toss "Monster Mash" all over the Internet. Or "I Put a Spell On You." Or "Don't Fear the Reaper." Or maybe Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" with some simpleton reminder that it's famously used in horror movies. Yeah, yeah, Forry, we all know the Phantom of the Opera played it to take his mind off his face.

Most any Halloween playlist is rottenly ripe with overly familiar novelty tripe. Or crappy death metal cookie-monster garbage, or long instrumentals that are very dated and uninteresting but happen to be titled "Frankenstein" and played by Edgar Allan Winter or somebody or other. Here?

Your holiday Anhedonia won't be brightened that much by the six women who sing about death, or being haunted, but at least you're not being asked to suffer through the theme from "Ghostbusters." I know your thanks will take the form of razor blades in the apples I'll get on October 31st.

DREAM WITHIN A DREAM - Jennifer Hope. You've been Hope-less up till now, and don't worry, you'll stay that way. Jen's a wretched wren, a sincere, dreamy, druggy Goth chick. In her musical hobble through the misty mid-regions of her weird haunted home studio, she moans a question of whether life is but a dream within a dream. No, Jen, it's often as grim and depressing as a Sarah McLachlan animal abuse TV commercial. Like the sister of Roderick Usher, lurching through a gloomy mansion, Jen meanders through the melody but never quite finds it. If you can find some laudanum to imbibe, you'll hallucinate that her untrained voice has snagged the key to a high note like Renfield grabbed for a spider.

GLOOMY SUNDAY - Ketty Lester. Probably you've heard this one via Billie Holiday. What's nice about hep kitten Ketty's cover is that she keeps it down around the two minute mark, and slashes the cop-out refrain, "Dreaming…I was only dreaming." The American lyrics via Sam Lewis (for the music by Rezs┼Ĺ Seress, who did kill himself three decades after he penned the song) are the ones that almost every singer has used. Two women recorded the more stark (and gloomy) set of grim grumbles as penned by British wordsmith Desmond Carter: Greta Keller and Diamanda Galas.

FLASH FROM THE BLUE - Karen Chandler. This coy 50's pop tune mentions something about a "fiery witch making love to the moon and the moon taking off like a bat." Which could be eerie and erotic if Chandler didn't sing in the bombastic style of Betty Hutton, driving the melody down Broadway with the car doors open (as opposed to her top down). It's here for a trivial reason: the lyrics are by Jerry Stevens…who wrote material for Donn Arden's Vegas showgirls to sing in revues in the late 50's. In 1960 under his real name, Joseph Stefano, he adapted Robert Bloch's "Psycho" into a hit movie, adding some key elements of dialogue and subplot. His next step beyond was the "Outer Limits" TV Show.

HAUNTED - Carole Bennett. Another single that, like Chandler's number, could've been done by Abbe Lane or Juliet Prowse on the Sullivan show, with bumps, grinds, and her jazz-hands ruffling into her mane of tousled hair. A doofus male back-up chorus does the woo-wops while Carole vamps about being a "Hawn-TED Luv-UHH." Not too spooky but if you're a cool ghoul you might play along on the bongo drum you made out of human skin. Another reason why it's on the blog: it was written by the Pockriss-Vance team, who also wrote "Ape on my Fire Escape." Don't remember that one? Alrighty then: "Leader of the Laundromat" and "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." There. Now drink your soup before it clots.

DEAD - Carolyn Sullivan. Unlike Carole Bennett, this soulful lady is seriously depressed, and there's not enough oil in anyone's joint to crank her back to life. Her clam shell has shut like a coffin. She wants to be alone…six feet under. I think her record label, Phillips, did what they could to bury her and her song, but the title ("DEAD") makes it hard not to give her an airing around this time of year. What's that smell? Carolyn issued this notorious single in 1967. The following year Dana Gillespie covered it.

I DON'T WANT TO BE A ZOMBIE - Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts included the infamous (as opposed to famous) Barbara Markay, who also self-pressed an album called 'Hot Box" with liner notes suggesting she was the next Lenny Bruce. She did curse a little, that's about it. It was neither funny nor shocking. You might charitably say she was the precurser to Julie Brown, who would be much more successful in recording sassy novelty songs with a charming lack of taste. But the tastelessness was usually more violent than sexual ("Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun.") Julie mocked the notion that all a girl had to do was be blond, act as stupid as a zombie, or show off her figure. The Girl Scouts seemed to think all they had to do was show off and claim not to be zombies. And what do they have to show for it? A mention on the Illfolks blog. As Ross Perot used to say, "that's just sad."

SIX HAUNTED CHICKS A Half Dozen Tainted Clams -