Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE OLYMPICS - "Western Movies"

Everyone's going nuts about The Olympics.

The hype from London is…what, exactly? We're supposed to care if watery Michael Phelps adds 7 Gold medals to the 8 he's already won? We should be surprised if a group of under-age Chinese gymnasts cheat and win? There's going to be some heartwarming human interest story to counter the ethnic rage, potential terrorism and moronic self-important nationalism that marks this forgettable 4-year event? Let's be honest. How many Olympic gold medalists can you name? And if you can actually think of memorable Olympic moments…including cutie-pies Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci...doesn't it also include what happened to the Israeli athletes in Munich? That's the real Olympic spirit for you...if you want to talk about a fucking torch that doesn't ever go out...this world is now dominated by psychos who scapegoat Jews. Are the Jews threatening world annihilation? Was it the leader of Israel or IRAN who declared that a race he didn't like should be "wiped off" the face of the Earth? Is anyone concerned that the London Olympics, the entire fucking country of England, could face a catastrophe because of a few Jews OR a few radical Muslims?

Nevermind. Let's escape into nostalgia and novelty.

While most websites wobble and vibrate about the Olympics, THIS blog headlines THE OLYMPICS and "Western Movies," a tune that could be relevant for today's culture because it may still hold the record for most gunshots on a hit single! Come on, hip-hop homey, try and beat it!

Time travel to...August, 1958. This is when our one-shot wonder group makes their only Top 10 appearance via Demon records. PS, they are not actually singing about "Western Movies," but TV shows. The idiot lead singer grumbles and slurs about how "Broken Arrow" has "broken my heart," and his baby would rather watch Wyatt Earp, "Cheyenne," and "Have Gun Will Travel" than suck his jive.

Today, reality shows are a plague. In 1958, there was a rage for cowboy shows. It was incredible. ABC's Sunday night line-up was "Maverick," "Lawman" and "Colt 45." Monday night? "Restless Gun" and "Tales of Wells Fargo." Tuesday night? "Cheyenne," "Sugarfoot," "Wyatt Earp," and "The Rifleman." Wednesday night? "Wagon Train" and "Bat Masterson." Thursday night? "Zorro," "Yancy Derringer," "Rough Riders" and "Jefferson Drum." Friday night? "Buckskin," "Rin Tin Tin," and Walt Disney who gave us Davy Crockett and Texas John Slaughter. Saturday night? "Wanted Dead or Alive," "Cimarron City" "Have Gun Will Travel" and "Gunsmoke." THAT'S A LOT OF WESTERNS!!!

The year before The Olympics started complaining, there was also the now-canceled "Broken Arrow," "Tombstone Territory," "Colt 45," and "Adventures of Jim Bowie." Saturday morning's syndicated kiddie classics and/or re-runs included "Roy Rogers," "The Lone Ranger," "Cisco Kid," "Annie Oakley," "Wild Bill Hickok" and many others. And while the soul men's "Western Movies" tune was roiling on the charts, the networks were readying even more westerns for 1959: "The Rebel," "Riverboat," "The Texan," "The Rifleman," "Laramie," "Wichita Town," "Law of the Plainsman," "Man from Blackhawk," "The Deputy," and, oh yes, the premieres of "Rawhide" and "Bonanza."

All those rednecks…interfering with the love life of some black guys!

"I call my baby on the telephone
To tell her half my head was gone
I just got hit by a great big brick
She says thanks for reminding me about that Maverick"

Following their novelty hit, The Olympics only grazed the Top 100 with 1959's "(Baby) Hully Gully." They kept going...nowhere. In 1965, they released "Good Lovin'" which became a monster hit the following year for The Rascals. No, 1965 was not a good year for The Olympics. In fact group member Charles Fizer was killed during the Watts riots. The band's lead singer Walter Ward did keep the group touring. In fact, he and the band performed at one of those multi-group shows, "Doo Wop Spectacular" in November of 2066. He died a month later. Who knows, like The Persuasions or The Marcels, there may well be a group called The Olympics singing "Western Movies" at a broken down theme park in Florida on this very hellishly hot day!

PS trivia fans, Walter Ward's "Well Baby Don't Go" (B-side of the beloved "Western Movies") was covered by John Lennon on "Some Time in New York City," and another version turned up on the posthumous Lennon "Anthology" CD.

Your double-barreled download is both The Olympics version, and the budget no-name cover version that circulated on the album "Pops for Tots" and probably a 45 rpm from Promenade or Tops or one of the other companies doing 3-songs-per-side cheapie 45's. See how much of the lyrics you can make out besides "Mahhhhhhh baby love da west-on moooo-veees" and Mr. Bassman grunting (he's supposedly singing "Bam, bam, shoot 'em up Pow.) and dig all those gunshots…

WESTERN MOVIES: "Pops for Tots" Cover Version

WESTERN MOVIES: The original from THE OLYMPICS Instant download, listen on line, no dumbass capcha codes, links taking you to an idiot website where you can play video games, or extortion demands that you wait 30 seconds or pay off some sleazy Euro-trash conman who is using some Putin-smelling site in Croatia or Russia to fuck copyright owners and the economy of your country.


When old Andy Griffith died of the heart attack he was expecting any day, he was at peace knowing his main request would be carried out: his body carried off to be buried FAST. No memorial. No idiot fans driving in with their SUV's and trucks and waiting for a glimpse of Ron Howard in black or Jim Nabors in maroon.

Within five hours, Griffith was planted and obits on the TV news focused on how great his folksy sitcom was, how foxy "Matlock" was, and that a long time ago he was on Broadway in "No Time for Sergeants."

Largely forgotten was Andy's roots as a stand-up comic and novelty singer (beware...the ping pong song is coming!). Also rarely mentioned were movie roles closer to his own nature than the ever-smiling and patient Andy Taylor. Watch "Face in the Crowd," "Strangers in 7A" or "Murder in Coweta County," (his bald head in one scene was Photoshopped into the ping pong picture above)

Andy, who bore with religious faith and stoic humility the every day pain caused by Guillain-Barré Syndrome, made his exit from the entertainment world a touching and memorable one via his supporting role in "The Waitress," written by Adrienne Shelly. His film character turns out to be more wise than foolish, and more humanly cranky than comical. Shelly, by the way, did not have the long life Andy Griffith did. This rising star, who could write, direct and act, was killed before her film was released. She was the victim of an illegal-alien sub-human. The monkey-man was doing some cheap labor involving endless noisy hammering, and when Shelly came downstairs to ask when he'd be stopping, he killed her. Then he clumsily hung her body up to make it look like suicide. He's now in prison costing taxpayers more than the average person makes a year. Probably a half-dozen people born in the U.S.A. and needing just a little help with food or rent, are denied benefits that could lead them to self-succifiency because the money's going to cage an illegal alien monkey instead. End of digression. Time for freeee muuuuuuusic.

Below are examples of Mr. Griffith that, until now, you had no idea existed. "St. James Infirmary" reflects the tradition of the nightclub entertainer circa 1958. Like his contemporary, jazz-hipster Southern comic Brother Dave Gardner, when Andy performed, he was expected to joke around, do some set routines, and offer up a bunch of songs. Here's Andy doing his then-popular country-rube-comic bit (several notches cornier than what he'd use as Sheriff Taylor of Mayberry) before vamping into a jazz-country take on the venerable blues classic.

As for "The Whistling Ping Pong Game," maybe some Demento-heads will recognize this comic style as a horrid hybrid homage to Leroy "Syncopated Clock" Anderson, or Fred Lowery meets "Nola," or yet another one-joke one-word musical novelty that made failures of "Very Interesting" (in both the Jackie Kannon and Arte Johnson versions). To put it another way, if this thing was in stereo (persuasive percussion) it would be a "lounge" classic, cheered by the same WFMU (Weird, Fucked-Musically-Up) people who wet themselves over a download of an old Marty Gold record (in STEREO, dammit!)

Yes, Andy's musical-novelty work is a small forgotten part of his long and beloved career. That's why it's being remembered here. And it may be hard to forget these two songs after you've heard 'em!

Andy's comedy intro and song ST JAMES INFIRMARY

Andy Griffith Whistling Ping Pong Game


You've heard the theremin.

Now hear a martenot. It was invented in 1928 by, yeah, a guy named Martenot. Maurice Martenot, to be exact. The versatile instrument had a keyboard; you didn't just wave your hands in front of it. But in this era of easy digital sampling, a cheap laptop keyboard can sound like a theremin, martenot or a Dutchman making animal noises. There are few professional musicians out there making a living as martenot players. Janie De Waleyne wasn't even one of 'em.

Janie De Waleyne's A-side single, "Faces in the Dark," was written by Mikis Theodorakis, and if that Greek name is familiar to you, it's because of his soundtrack work on "Phaedra" "Serpico" and "Z." Yes, there actually was a movie called "Faces in the Dark," starring John Gregson, Mai Zetterling and John Ireland, and this is the theme from it.

Three odd things about this woman and the theme song. First, of course, is that she uses the martenot, and in a way as dramatic as the theremin use in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," or the rusty-sounding autoharp Henry Mancini employed for the "Experiment in Terror" theme. Or how about Khachaturian suddenly injecting the wobbly and wacky flexatone into the otherwise straight andante movement of his piano concerto?

Second: when this Top Rank single was re-issued on the Oriole label, some double-visioned goof spelled her name "De Wayleyne." Which didn't help her get bookings. If she was trying to make a career as a martenot player.

Third: Janie's vinyl catalog mostly involves singing. She's featured on some fairly annoying tracks from Baden Powell such as "Blues a Volonte" (she sounds like Carmen Miranda trying to be Astrud Gilberto) and the more leisurely "Violão vagabundo" (sounds like Doris Day recovering from a concussion caused by a falling coconut).

Sans vocals...get set for a few cool and eerie minutes in the dark as you face your speakers and the martenot of Janie De Waleyne. Listen on line or download JANIE and her FACES IN THE DARK

Jerry Lawson, The Marcels & Marcels rip-offs

My post last month on The Persuasions drew an important comment: that The Persuasions no longer has Jerry Lawson, the heart and soul of the group. He left in 2003 after some 22 albums, forming "Jerry Lawson & Talk of the Town." You can catch up with Jerry at his website:

Jerry wrote and performed "It's All Right," my introduction to The Persuasions. It would not have been "All Right" if I'd gone out to see the current version of The Persuasions, brought an old album, and asked to get an autograph from Jerry Lawson! It's a shame that so many older groups on tour either have no original members, or don't have the key ones, or don't even bother to have a sound-alike that in any way approximates a Jerry Lawson, Levi Stubbs (The Four Tops) or Cornelius Harp.

Yes, the Lawson comment has finally led to a mention on the blog of the underrated MARCELS, which was led to Top 10 greatness twice by Cornelius Harp

The Marcels are remembered for putting a doo-wop spin on the American songbook. They scored a massive, unexpected hit with "Blue Moon," which was just a time-filler at their recording session but became a hit single after notorious disc jockey Murray the K began playing the demo over and over

Unlike The Coasters, who dazzled with dozens of novelty tracks, The Marcels wore out their welcome after several formulaic zooty upgrades to Broadway and big band classics. Perversely, singles they released that didn't have the trademark doo-wop sound were ignored. The Marcels shot to #1 with "Blue Moon," followed it with the Top Ten "Heartaches," and slipped away from major labels soon after.

"Heartaches" was my introduction to them. From the time I was 5, and old enough to use a turntable, I wanted 45's for my birthday. The first single I had from a band and not a vocalist, was "Heartaches." It was a "rock" single but like most songs at the time, it sounded like a kiddie record! The doofy doo-wop dips and wurps fit in very well with what I also heard from The Chipmunks, "Witch Doctor," "Monster Mash," etc. etc.

"Heartaches" remains a gem of passion and insanity. You've got the heart-beating bass of Fred Johnson and the soulful soaring tenor of Cornelius Harp. As Dr. Edward Morbius might over-analyze it, it's the subliminal "mindless primitive" and the pained intellectual lover both crying out in remembered ecstasy and current agony. The heart can't put it into words and the mind can; the bass pounds with a goofy sense of humor while The Platters-type lead singer offers deadly serious words...and there's no resolution of the conflict, which is why it can be played again and again.

The resolution to the conflict within The that the current version has NO original members.

The problems apparently began in August of 1961 when the bi-racial group toured the South. Allegedly to preserve bookings and perhaps save lives, the two white guys (not exactly vital members anyway) were replaced. One of the new members of the now all-black Marcels (it was this incarnation that recorded "Heartaches") was a guy named Walt Maddox.

A year or two later, The Marcels no longer signed to Colpix, no longer guesting in rock movies, the band broke up. They'd get back together for tour dates and a few recording dates, with or without key members. In 2004, according to The Marcels "official" website, Walt Maddox managed "after a lengthy court battle (to be) awarded all rights in the Marcels and is the only individual legally permitted to book the group." Without Harp or Johnson, they average only 3 or 4 bookings a month, and not usually the best-paying locales.

Fortunately back in 1999 all the original members of the band who were still alive (including one of the white guys, the other passed in 1983) appeared on a PBS "Oldies" show to run through "Blue Moon" (as pictured above). It's one of the few existing videos on the group, with Fred Johnson showboating many an added dingy-dong-ding.

Back when Colpix wanted the group to flog their formula to death, several other groups and indie labels wanted a quick cash-in as well. And so in addition to the beloved "Heartaches" from the real Marcels, you get Marcels wanna be's! The Matadors copy the Marcels and bop and dip "Perfidia," a popular Latin dance band number of the big band era, while Little Joe and The Thrillers dupe The Marcels' trademark nonsense-word introductions by doing a bang-bang walla-walla-walla on "I Love You For Sentimental Reasons."

PERFIDIA means FAITHLESS. Copying The Marcels is just plain wurped. MATADORS - PERFIDIA

A Marcels-styled version of I Love You for Sentimental Reasons LITTLE JOE AND THE THRILLERS


As always, instant downloads or listen on line. No crappy captcha codes, no dimwit pop-up ads for porn or for infantile video game websites, and no sleazy demands to pay for a premium account to enrich Commie asshole parasitic scumbag Euro-trash weasels who hide in some foreign country ripping off copyright for profit.

"Zag" Zigged for "Vegetable Love"

From a Google Groups post by Roger Ford, a Brit with an itch for C&W shit: "While I was out working last night I'm tuned into the local station here that plays old country stuff in the hour from 2100 till 2200 including some real oddball hillbilly shit. One they played I'd never heard before,dopey song but quite contagious and one I found myself liking  Zag Pennell and "Vegetable Love" from 1954 (according to the info I have) I can't find an mp3 on this. Anybody here have it?"

Yes, Roger, old novelty tunes can still be impossibly catchy and...still hard to locate. Even though mp3 downloads can be easily made from scratchy public domain 78's, there's simply no money in bothering — not with eekMusic and Spotty Pie paying a few pennies per 100 downloads, and a glut of songs making the supply greater than the demand.

So where do you turn except to some eccentric blogger or some oddball hobbyist on YouTube who might train a camcorder on a turntable? Oh, ten years ago, the answer might be checking an outfit like "Records Revisited," which had an office in the Empire State Building, and either sold the 78rpm outright, or put the tune on cassette for the price of tape and labor. But Morty Savada, the guy who owned it, is now dead. We no longer have many record store owners who serve as curators and trustees for finding and preserving rare music.

Below, your download of "Vegetable Love." These days, nobody much cares about album notes, and it's doubtful mp3 files will ever need to expand to include much information about the artist. But here? Here's a few words about "Zag" (Daniel) Pennell.

Like Don Grady (see obit below) Dan was one of the many who somehow managed to make it to another birthday before dropping dead (April 24, 1923-April 29, 2007). Pennell was primarily seen on stage and heard on radio in Virginia and West Virginia. He was a guest on the "Old Dominion Barn Dance" show via WRVA, and issued four singles for Columbia. His first caused the most commotion: "Vegetable Love." It was downhill after that, with not much play for "Some Kinna," "I'm Doing All Right," and "Everything Needs Something." The latter had the prophetic B-side, "How Could It Be Wrong." It could. Pennell fortunately had better luck inside radio than on it. His steady job was managing WXGI in Richmond. A few years after his last Columbia single, he moved on to become the station manager of WELD in West Virginia, and stayed there for 26 years until his retirement in 1985.

Now it's time for Pennell and his puns. Ow: "when we can elope... lettuce name the day…water meloncholy feelin' when I'm nuts with you, Olive for the time when I can spinach night with you…we don't need mush room to love, so love me honey dew…..."

Consider this song the primitive ancestor to Benny Hill's "Garden of Love," Kip Addotta's "Life in the Slaw Lane" and Steve Allen's "I Never Hurt an Onion." And speaking of primitive ancestors, the illustration for this entry is the classic painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who was way ahead of his time. I had some fruit salad back on July 11th, commemorating the anniversary of his death, in 1593.

VEGETABLE LOVE: Forget Zab, try Zag, you corny Ziggy


Why, it seems like just two years ago that I was saluting my (Facebook) friend Don Grady on his birthday (June 8), and in a blog post, mentioning that his self-named website was buzzing with activity, including samples and sales of his new "Boomer" solo album.

He lived past his June 8th birthday this year, but died of cancer on June 27th. One of Walt Disney's original musical Mouseketeers, Don was best known as one of Fred MacMurray's "My Three Sons," appearing in over 300 episodes of the sitcom, which ran from 1960 to 1972. In music, he led The Yellow Balloon, scoring a 60's hit with a song the just happened to be called "Yellow Balloon." His lone hit as a solo artist is in the download below: "The Children of St. Monica" on the indie Canterbury label.

His adult years included a lot of journeyman credits as a songwriter, from writing the theme song for "The Phil Donahue Show" to working with Michael Crawford in Las Vegas, to knocking off songs for the TV series “The Kid-a-Littles” and co-writing “Keep the Dream Alive,” which turned up on albums by Herbie Hancock and Della Reese among others. He tried solo albums from time to time. "Homegrown" came out in 1973, but his more recent effort was "Boomer," completed a few years ago. Back to "Children ofSt. Monica," which was weird then, and is still weird now.

"The Children of St. Monica" is sunshine pop with some dark overtones. The melody is so perky that only ill folks wouldn't be seduced into ignoring the lyrics. For those who check the words, it turns out that the children are being observed as "the sun goes down" and start "joining hands around the burning candle" at the St. Monica Church. What do they do next? Apparently an impression of the Swingle Sisters (how many kids warble wordless vocalize jazz??)

The kids also weep "quiet tears they share with one another," which hardly matches the joyous music and the Sammy Davis Jr.-styled impression of a twangy guitar ("now na now now na now."). Ultimately: "Heads are bowed in honor of the fate that cast their will. Who could ever know just what they're saying?"

And is Don hanging around with St. Monica at this very moment, playing her some sunshine music? As Hemingway used to put it, wouldn't it be pretty to think so.

DON GRADY Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time.