Sunday, August 19, 2012

JOAN BARTON : THE MOST FUN I HAD WITHOUT LAUGHING

With Rusty Warren adult comedy albums selling well, and looking fondly back at the success they had with cute Dorothy Provine, some funster at Warner Bros. decided it might be safe and profitable to put out an album of mildly risque songs done by a saucy-voiced blond. That's as good a theory as any for how record racks briefly held Joan Barton's album of sanitized Bessie Smith numbers ("Kitchen Man") and "sophisticated" tunes that Charlie Drew and other hotel nightclub bon vivants sang ("She Had to Go And Lose It At the Astor").

And so we take a very quick look 'n' listen at Joan's "Low Lights and Laughs" album. "The Most Fun I Had Without Laughing," won't be the most fun you've had at the blog, and you won't be laughing. But you've gained in your knowledge of Joan the Obscure. (Anyone get the Thomas Hardy reference? Now you see what becomes of literacy...writing to nearly nobody on a free blog!)

Just who the hell was Joan Barton? Well, at 14, dubbed "Mary Ann," she sang with Phil Spitalney's Orchestra. She sang on radio shows hosted by Rudy Vallee and other names nobody cares much about anymore. She did the obligatory USO tours and was welcomed by the soldiers because her measurements were 37-24-35. After the war, 1947, age 22, Joan reached the height of her success with a role in John Wayne's "Angel and the Badman," performing several songs. Sadly, attention spans were as short then as they are now, and she didn't get much film work after that. After her follow-up 1948 film "Mary Lou," she was pretty much a has-been.

Barton managed an "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance in 1950, worked nightclubs, and went from dating A-list guys like Dick Powell to marrying used-car dealer "Madman" Muntz, notorious for his pioneering hard-sell and totally ludicrous TV commercials. Joan would soon be Barton-Upon-Humble, because the "Madman" was not the kind to stay married to one woman for long. Muntz went bankrupt in 1959 and in 1962 Joan failed to make cash registers ring for Warners. What happened to her after "Low Lights and Laughs" I have no idea, except there was the inevitable: she eventually died.

A salute to Joan Barton as we near the anniversary of her death, August 27, 1976. She was a fine singer. If you're not morbid, wait a month and celebrate her birthday, September 20th, 1925.

JOAN BARTON

The Most Fun I Had Without Laughing

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ITSI BITSI PETIT BIKINI - DALIDA

It's August, and see how bright and warm it is! It's even hot in Greenland, Sweden and Norway. Thanks to global warming, radical Muslims are saying, "Brain-frying heat soon way up North?!? Let's immigrate and take over!"

It's probably still flat, cold, gray and unpleasant in Holland, though. Especially where big fat Dutch people tred in their wooden shoes. So let's stop insulting minor-league countries and...pretend we are all in Cal-eee-fornia, and we've got our hans on a nice big bottle of zuntan oil, und ve are vatching vimmin in itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis!

Just to make Eurotrash feel at home, the choice of bikini song is not in English. It's "Itsi Bitsi Petit Bikini" courtesy of the late great Dalida. The "zun" shined on her in terms of professional success: over 50 gold records and millions of copies sold in ten different languages. But her private life was marked by depression, some health issues, and the increasing number of people around her committing suicide.

And this entry started out so bright and cheerful. Sorry, but sunlight doesn't last all night. But night can last all day. Just ask the Swedes. No wonder they too are driven to suicide. Or stealing music in a desperate attempt to be happy.

And another apology to any rabid fan who thinks its sacrilege to Photoshop the beloved lady onto a bikini-clad model. It's a tribute. No, it's a pun. No, it's irony. No...it's...what's that thing that is the same backward and forward? Yes, what it is, is a palindrome. Now back to our morbid story.

One of the great loves of Dalida's life was the suicidal singer Luigi Tenco, who was probably already depressed because his last name was too close to Tesco. In 1967, he and his bride-to-be Dalida did a duet of "Goodbye, Love, Goodbye," ("Ciao Amore Ciao") but when the song failed to win at the San Remo Fesival, he shot himself in the head. Dalida discovered the body, and his suicide note directly implicating the tone-deaf judges of the contest. Dalida tried to get over this horrifying trauma but within 30 days she sentenced herself to death, taking an overdose of pills. For five days she was unconscious before medics were able to bring her back to life.

Life went on…Dalida found a new lover, got pregnant, had an abortion…and the procedure left her unable to have any more children. But she still had plenty more traumas. In 1970, another love of her life, Lucien Morisse, shot himself in the head.

In 1972, she found stability with a new love, Richard Chanfray, and that may have also helped her cope with the 1975 suicide of her beloved friend Mike Brant, who tossed himself off a building in Paris…the same romantic city where Dalida had taken her overdose. Her relationship with Chanfray soured by 1981 and, you guessed it, Chanray killed himself in 1983.

The always amusing Wikipedia notes that after this man's death, "Dalida had relationships with various anonymous men such as a sound technician, a lawyer, an Egyptian jumbo jet pilot, and lastly a French doctor named Fran├žois during the period 1986-1987." That was quite a period this woman had. Along with all her personal turmoil, Dalida continued to work. Despite two risky eye operations, she was able to not only continue her recording career, but star in a movie and take on live concert dates. She was reportedly in the midst of recording sessions for a new album in late April and early May of 1987. Sunday May 3rd was an off-day…and she took it literally, offing herself with sleeping pills. Of the ten languages she spoke, she chose to write her final words in French: "La vie m'est insupportable. Pardonnez-moi."

But…always look at the bright side of life. Dalida left behind hundreds of songs (including a haunting disco number previously posted on this blog) and if you walk outside, you just might enjoy the nourishing light of day, the fresh August breeze, and the sight of some beautiful girl in a bikini! Or, you could get sunburn, breathe air pollution, and realize you have no chance with that girl at all.

The doll DALIDA!

Itsi Bitsi Petite Bikini Download or listen on line. No capcha codes, no wait time, no DepositFiles bullshit of stupid ads for losers who play video games or love Japanese anime. No visits to a crap-cloud that serves you pop-unders from spammy spyware sites that give you the "are you sure you want to navigate away from this page" sticky stuff to keep you trapped till you have to force-quit.

"RUSSIAN BANDSTAND" - PUSSY RIOT IN JAIL

Back in 1959, Dickie Goodman and Mickey Shorr, as "Spencer & Spencer," released a "break-in" novelty single, "Russian Bandstand." Unlike most of Goodman's demented 45's, it had some edgy jokes on the lethal nature of the Soviet mentality. What happens if somebody doesn't like a song or a disc jockey? BANG!

"The Red Menace" was not a joke at any time in the 20th Century. There was this guy Stalin, and "pogroms," and in Dickie's era Nikita declaring "We will bury you." The "Cuban Missile Crisis" nearly blew up the world.

But hating "Commies" became an Archie Bunker joke. Movie hero Ronnie Reagan said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall," and it seemed like the Russia just dissolved like an Alka-Seltzer tablet in vodka. Billy Joel and Paul McCartney played Russia. Russia? Evil Commies?

Two words: Vlad Putin.

His latest sinister outrage: creating a terrorist state where "freedom of speech" is once again no longer an option. And a silly punk trio called "Pussy Riot" were denied bail, and after three months in the clink, got sentenced to two years in jail. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, comrade, because Vlad's done a lot worse.

In America, Opie and Anthony wouldn't have spent a night in jail for what Pussy Riot did: singing in a church for a minute or two. If two or three pimply Brits from Lulz-Sec actually crawled out of mommy's basement and protested in a church rather and pulled the stunt Pussy Riot did, the right honorable police would've simply escorted the lads off the property, that's all.

But Russia?

They ignored Sir Paul McCartney's plea for lenience! Do you believe it? Lovable peaceful Paulie, Mr. "Back in the USSR," gets no respect from the Ruskies! Madonna wore a "Pussy Riot" sign on herself and Putin didn't notice? He ain't human.

Patti Smith remarked that Jesus would've forgiven the girls. Tikhon Shevkunov of the Sretensky Monastery (real tight with "Pooty-Poot" as Dubya called Putin) said: "We did forgive them from the very start. But such actions should be cut short by society and authorities." Oh yes. Like the pogrom days…Jews aren't bad people, we just don't want them in our country and their lives should be cut short.

Citizens living in Russia were pissed off. Chess master Garry Kasparov joined a group that protested the harsh sentence. Reports say the mob was quickly dismissed and Kasparov beaten. Fighting for freedom in Russia, 2012, is as dangerous as being a Jew in Russia in 1912.

A rock band tossed in jail? This may surprise some bloggers, "sharing" forum members and torrent-lovers, because to them, RUSSIA IS GREAT.

To pinheads, Russia is the "don't spoil our fun" country. They "don't let the bastards win," at least when it comes to copyright. "Don't worry," ADMINS of piracy sites tell their bunnies, "if we have any problem, we go to a RUSSIAN SERVER! And thank God there ain't no SOPA or any other law or block these wonderful RUSSIANS who do what they do...oh, because they are so NICE.

Actually the Russians are making money off American and British artists by hosting illegal files. Grateful and stupid Americans and Brits are selling out their own artists. Only they are suckered into shouting "Fuck Capitalism, dude," and "Freedom of Speech against American Tyranny!"

That's pretty stupid. It's one thing to ignore reality because you're a lazy dumbass too high to know any better or care. These are the people who shrug, "I love my doobie, and don't scare me with that crap about how the money I give my dealer somehow goes to organized crime, or beheadings in Mexico or oppression in Colombia. That's booo-sheeed, dewwwwwwd."

So the "music is sharing" assholes don't want to hear that using Russian websites puts money into the pocket of Putin, and that Putin uses it to kill "Freedom of Speech" and to literally kill people. Like Alexander Litvinenko. In England. In a crowded British restaurant. Nobody ever prosecuted. Missed that? Here, succumbing to a lethal poison, are Litvinenko's last words, a declaration to Vlad the Killer:

"… You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value. You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilised men and women. You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life…."

You think Russia is wonderful because they don't think writers and artists and singers and film makers should be paid? But that Russian websites should profit with their hosting and their credit-card gimmicks for "premium" accounts and downloading whole albums for less than a dollar? You think the RIAA is run by creeps? Well, Russia is where Pussy Riot is rotting in jail. Russia is where freedom does not exist. Russia is where lethal power games are played, and I'm not talking about a "conspiracy" to make you pay $10 for a music album YOU don't happen to think is worth it. I'm talking about Putin making sure a psycho country such as Iran is still part of the United Nations and not sanctioned Putin making sure North Korea, another psycho country, remains powerful. Putin making sure to do whatever he can to weaken the American economy. Think he doesn't remember Nikita's line, "We will bury you?"

Communism is a "commune," where everyone "shares," whether they like it or not. Disagree, and you are DEAD. Communists don't believe in copyright. They don't believe in human rights. They don't believe three stupid girls in a punk band should be able to pull a musical stunt that tweaks the nose of authority.

They don't believe in charity. When a bunch of Africans are starving, do they cry out to Russia for help? No, they cry out to America. When there's a flood in Asia, what language do you see on the planes and boats bringing aid to the people? English words.

The piracy companies now hiding behind the Iron Curtain are making a fortune off British and American artists, the record labels, management companies, offices, staff, studio technicians, disc jockeys, etc. etc. Not only is it killing the economy in the English-speaking world, it's fueling acts of terrorism and violence by Putin and his terrorists.

RUSSIA and Big Brother…GOOGLE…will tell you "Internet freedom" is vital. Taking away the freedom of Pussy Riot for a couple of years? Eh….not so important. So let's make sure Russian websites aren't blocked, and the money pours in so Putin and his religious crackpots can continue keeping the people down…if not six feet under.

Remember this: when you speak English, you are SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF FREEDOM, and you should be ashamed of yourselves for using this language to endorse piracy, or to say "fuck America" and "let's download from Russia." And don't use English for double-talk: "let the entertainment industry find a new paradigm for making money.

Freedom — real Freedom — not "cut off their heads" talk from kings and queens — became a reality when some British people crossed the Atlantic and created "The United States." Yes, some Dutch were involved. Some French. But the language of the United States? ENGLISH. Great men of British descent such as Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson ignored monarchy for Democracy. They believed in "The Bill of Rights." Human rights. Copyright.

Your heroes and my heroes…from John Lennon to Phil Ochs, believed in America, were patriots for America's ideals. Even when they disagreed with American policy, they weren't about to go to Russia. John fought to stay in America. McCartney came to America after 9/11 to sing FREEDOM.

Now a quote from one of the PUSSY RIOT girls. She's not like the male counterpart her age, some lazy, bratty sod from Lulz-Sec or Pez-Dispenser or whatever, who sits around in mommy's basement spouting comic-book threats about "DOS" attacks in revenge for copyright owners standing up for themselves. No, HER idea of change doesn't involve tossing other people's movies around, or making secret money by SELLING hacked social-security numbers to RUSSIANS.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said this after her sentencing:

“To my deepest regret, this mock trial is close to the standards of the Stalinist troikas. Who is to blame for the performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and for our being put on trial after the concert? The authoritarian political system is to blame. What Pussy Riot does is oppositional art…. it is a form of civil action in circumstances where basic human rights, civil and political freedoms are suppressed.”

Large scale piracy, of the Demonoid, Megaupload and "torrent site in Russia" type hurts the Capitalist society YOU live in. The Russian government under Putin kills "freedom of speech." Those are facts you can not and should not rationalize. If you want to, do it in Russian. If you want to laugh about Russia, download "Russian Bandstand."

Spencer & Spencer RUSSIAN BANDSTAND Download or listen on line. No capcha codes, no wait time, no DepositFiles bullshit of pop-unders to a spammy page of spyware from creeps such as withbinaryoptions.com who give you the "are you sure you want to navigate away from this page" sticky stuff to keep you trapped till you have to force-quit.

The late Tony Martin and immortal TENEMENT SYMPHONY

I guess my first impression of Tony Martin consisted of three words: "Please Go Away."

This was also my first impression of Allan Jones and Kenny Baker, who also got in the way of the Marx Brothers by stopping the movie for a song. The excuse in Martin's case, was he played a song-plugger in "The Big Store."

Martin's big number in the film was the infamous "Tenement Symphony" a grandly pretentious exercise in fake-Gershwin with florid and sappy lyrics (Sid Kuller, who later produced a peculiar album of adorable things kids say, set to music, was a culprit) about the harmonious melting pot that was "the tenements." This was specifically the Lower East Side ("the blacks" were in Harlem and "the PR's" in Spanish Harlem, both uptown).

Thanks to "The Big Store," generations who don't care a damn about big band singers, and couldn't name most of them, know who Tony Martin is. Some know him derisively while others are more loving, as reactions to this song range from loathing to "so bad it's good" laughter. Oddly, there wasn't a "melting pot" presence among customers in "The Big Store," except for Chico Marx, and some stereotypical over-populating Italian immigrants looking for bedding.

Despite being so memorable (mostly for all the wrong reasons), Tony's song was not released as a single until 1948. The earliest versions were 1941 (Larry Clinton) and 1944 (Anne Shelton and the transportation-challenged Dorothy Carless). It's last significant cover versions were in the 50's (Arthur Godfrey and Marion Marlowe) and 60's (Sammy Davis Jr.) From there, the musical tenement was pretty much condemned.

Readers under 30 (if there are any) should know that "The Cohens and the Kellys" is a reference to an ancient ethnic play and comedy film series, and that "Oh Marie" was an Italian song, thus hilarious when referenced to an Italian girl going out with a Jew.

Schubert wrote a symphony
Too bad he didn’t finish it
Gershwin took a chord in ‘G’
Proceeded to diminish it
I sought a variation on a theme that I thought pretty
And I found my inspiration on the east side of the city

The Cohens and the Kellys, The Campbells and Vermicellis
All form a part of my tenement symphony

The Cohen’s pianola, The Kellys and their victrola
All warm the heart of my tenement symphony

The Campbells come tumb’lin’ down the stairs! Hoodlya! Hoodlya! Hoodlya!
"Oh Marie, oh Marie" you’ll be late for your date with Izzy!

And from this confusion, I dreamed of a grand illusion
It’s my tenement symphony in four flats!

The kid on the first floor practicing the minuet.

The kid on the second floor yelling for the dinner that he didn't get.
The guy on the third floor waking from his slumber by the guy on the fourth floor practicing the rhumba!

The songs of the ghetto inspired the allegretto!
You'll find them in my tenement symphony!
The cry of the vendor made a lullaby sweet and tender!
I combined them in my tenement symphony!
The yelling of children will greet your ears: "Doolya doolya doolya!
Holy gee Holy gee! Gotta stop! There's a cop!"
Aaaaand from this confusion, I dreamed of a grand illusion. It's my tenement symphony in four flats!!

Speaking of ethnic diversity, few knew that Tony Martin was Jewish. He seemed to have more in common with Perry Como. He was born "Alvin Morris," and got an early break when he appeared in "Sing, Baby, Sing," with one of the era's best loved and now forgotten female vocalists, Alice Faye. Could anyone under 50 even name a hit song for either Tony or Alice?

They were married in 1937 and divorced in 1940. By then, Martin could be spotted in many a spotty "variety" movie…a mix of song, story, and maybe a laugh or two. "The Big Store" arrived in 1941, and after World War II, Tony returned home for hit singles (the best known, though maybe not in his version these days, is "To Each His Own"). He married Cyd Charisse in 1948, and in the mid-50's, made more movies that nobody wants to see these days, including "Here Come the Girls" and "Hit the Deck." Interest in Tony Martin…as well as Perry Como and most others of that type, waned in the 60's, and competition came from a new generation of easy-going singers, such as Allan Jones' son Jack Jones, and everyone's huckleberry friend, Andy Williams. To say nothing of Wayne Newton.

But Tony Martin's stuff still sold to old fans who were finally giving up their 78's for vinyl and CD, and the New York nightclub Feinstein's booked him in 2008, when he was in his 90's. He got as decent reviews as ex-Marx Brothers vocalist Kitty Carlyle did when she also turned up at that club for a few nights of "yes, I'm still alive, I can still sing, and look, I'm not wetting the floor."

Reviewing the show, NY Times cabaret reviewer Stephen Holden called Tony "his generation's Last Man Standing," a reference to late colleagues Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Russ Columbo…and a nice snub of Tony Bennett.

We'll let Holden finish up this obit. He made it look so easy, he was so easily overlooked. But, quoth The Times, despite the "laid-back persona...Mr. Martin rarely appeared out of black tie. Young swains of the 1950s preparing for their first prom could avail themselves of a popular tuxedo model called the Tony Martin.In a sense Mr. Martin represented an earlier fantasy, stemming from the 19th-century European operettas and musicals, that of the impossibly elegant troubadour warbling to equally elegant (and mythical) audiences at nightclubs and balls. In the 1940s Mr. Martin was to popular song what Fred Astaire was to dance."

TENEMENT SYMPHONY (Hal Borne / Sid Kuller / Ray Golden) TONY MARTIN

MARVIN HAMLISCH - HAIMISH TO THE END

The first time I paid any attention to Marvin Hamlisch, nobody was paying much attention to him: he was at the piano when Groucho Marx made a comeback tour that included Carnegie Hall. Hamlisch, a Fenneman with a keyboard, took comical abuse and prompted the aging comedian for songs and anecdotes.

As it's turned out, accompanying Groucho was probably the least of Marvin's accomplishments. There are less than a dozen people who won all four major awards entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) and Hamlisch was one of them. Add to that the Golden Globe and Pulitzer Prize.

Marvin (June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012) was one hell of a prodigy, a Juilliard student at 7. Before he'd even graduated from Queens College he was earning bucks as a Broadway rehearsal pianist (for "Funny Girl" with Barbra Streisand). His first hit song, age 21, was writing "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" and the much better, kind of haunting "California Nights," both for Leslie Gore). Speaking of haunting, his first film score was for the bizarre film "The Swimmer," a kind of overlong "Twilight Zone" episode starring Burt Lancaster (and in a small role, Joan Rivers). This was followed by the antic music for Woody Allen's "Take The Money and Run" and"Bananas."

Hamlisch adapted Scott Joplin's ragtime music for "The Sting," and won many awards for two soupy and romantic ballads, "The Way We Were" and "Nobody Does it Better" (for the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me"). The latter was co-written with his girlfriend at the time, Carole Bayer Sagar, and the two collaborated on the Broadway show "They're Playing Our Song." Marvin had better Broadway success with "A Chorus Line," and later worked on two intriguing failures; a musical about Jean Seberg (called "Jean Seberg") and a song-version of Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl."

Marvin wrote the soundtracks for "Ordinary People" and "Sophie's Choice" and served as a "Pops" conductor for various symphony orchestras. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed one of his few classical compositions, "Anatomy of Peace." In the late 80's and 90's, Marvin still wrote for movies but didn't get much acclaim for such entries as "Little Nikita," "January Man," "Shirley Valentine" and "Three Men and a Baby," or "Switched at Birth," "Frankie and Johnny," and "Seasons of the Heart." He seemed to sense his best years were behind him when he wrote his memoir "The Way I Was" in 1992. After "The Mirror Has Two Faces" (1996) Marvin didn't work on another film until "The Informant" in 2009. However at the time of his death he was working on several new projects, including a finished score for a Broadway musical based on the Jerry Lewis movie "The Nutty Professor."

Hamlisch's music was mostly "haimish." And although some of his "soft" music is a bit annoying, you must admit it's hard to get "The Way We Were" or "Nobody Does it Better" out of your head after you've heard it piped into your ears at the mall. When he passed on, my thoughts were not about those two songs, but about "The Swimmer." And so, along with a photo he autographed for me above, is a chunk of that soundtrack music below. It's in mono, 'cause that's my radio disc jockey white label copy and for the big AM radio audience at the time, stations often issued their promos in that format.

Marvin's funeral at Congregation Emanu-El in Manhattan drew an array of famous people and fellow composers. In the latter category were Sheldon Harnick and Rupert Holmes. More recognizable to most would've been ex-Yankee manager Joe Torre, Ann-Margret, Robert Klein, Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell, Leslie Uggams, Richard Gere, Diane Sawyer, Liza Minnelli and Mike Nichols. Barack Obama sent a message, and Bill Clinton was there in person. He said of Marvin: "Genius is rare enough, but a good-hearted genius is rarer still." And this man, said Mr. Clinton, was "a good-hearted, humble and hilarious genius"

Swimmer! Marvin Hamlisch THE SWIMMER

Who really was HAPPY PIERRE IN HI-FI?

In 1957 a kind of wacky album of honkytonk'd French music appeared from Liberty Records...the label Spike Jones was on. "Happy Pierre" seemed to order his arrangements "spiked" with too much percussion, vaudeville and the occasional wolf whistle. The silent movie comedy approach he takes turned deadly items like Piaf's "Mon Homme" into something, well, happy. Liberty would also be issuing The Chipmunks via David Seville. Seville was a made-up name. But "Happy Pierre" didn't even have a last name on this debut. Who was this guy?? Spike Jones in another "Hangnails Henessey" disguise??

All seriousness aside, KWFB-AM disc jockey Bill Ballance wrote fake album notes joking that Pierre was "worth his weight in Miltown," and that his album was much better than "Lassie Howls Rodger and Hammerstein and Boris Karloff Presents Music to Exhume Bodies By." Of "Mon Homme," Bill noted it was "First heard as a melody (malade) whistled by Bonaparte (Irving Bonaparte) when he stormed ashore at Elba. It's like getting hit across the chops with a wet moccasin, or as Happy Pierre himself often remarks in Latinn "Nux vobiscum pluribus magnum divisa set." (We're sliding too close to the bandstand)…."

(Parenthetically, it turned out that the album notes writer would become more notorious than the artist. Ballance put out an album (picture disc, and ugly) called "Feminine Forum," and eventually made headlines as the former boyfriend of "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger, the guy who leaked nude pix of her to teach her a "lesson" in morality)

Speaking of morality, in the August 3, 1957 issue of the L.A. Daily Mirror, various KWFB-AM disc jockeys listed their "predicted hit" record of the week. Larry Finley picked a song by Bonnie Guitar. Al Jarvis chose one by Kay Starr. And Bill Ballance picked "Happy Pierre in Hi-Fi" by Mark McIntyre. Not payola from Bill, but he didn't disclose he wrote the album notes.

But wait a minute, "Mark McIntyre?" That name does not appear on the actual album, any more than Jo Stafford's did on her Darlene Edwards or Red Ingle stuff, or that members of Spike Jones' band did on "The Alley Singers," where they were fake-credited as Phil Stern and Al Brennan. And the tradition continued via Winston O'Boogie and beyond.

So finally, in praise of "Happy Pierre" and to answer the question nobody's asking: the man behind the badly retouched French mustache and goatee on the cover, the one un-named on the album itself, indeed is Mark McIntyre. A band leader, arranger and pianist from Texas who worked on many Frank Sinatra recordings in the 40's, he wrote songs with Ross Bagdasarian (who later called himself David Seville). It was Ross who got Liberty to issue a single by Mark's daughters "Patience and Prudence." Yes, at 11 and 14, the precocious girls hit the Top Ten with "Tonight You Belong to Me" in 1956. It was followed by the less successful "We Can't Sing Rhythm and Blues" co-written by their Dad.

When Dad finally got his change, it wasn't under his own name. McIntyre and Bagdasarian were "Alfi and Harry," for a few less than successful singles. And then, the ever-optimistic folks at Liberty released "Happy Pierre in Hi-Fi."

Billboard, appraising Pierre's single ("My Man" backed with "Eleanor") declared: "Not too much here…hurdy-gurdy Nickelodoeon-type tempo has been done often - and better. No commercial threat."

Billboard turned out to be correct. "Happy Pierre" disappeared, while Mark continued to work as an arranger and songwriter. Ross had speeded-up hits with "Witch Doctor, "The Chipmunk Song," and enjoyed the monkeymaking Chipmunks franchise for the rest of his life. Which wasn't all that long. Seville, only 52, died in 1972. Mark McIntyre's lifespan was tragically short as well (born July 20, 1916, died May 13, 1970).

And so, while there's a cult for David Seville, and even for Patience and Prudence, it's up to the Ill Folks blog to cast a few songs out, and say a fond "Merci!" to the Irishman who was "Happy Pierre."

HAPPY? Searching for Titine-My Man