Sunday, December 29, 2013

PAUL HAMPTON - I'M IN LOVE WITH A PLAYBOY BUNNY

87 year-old Hugh Hefner published his first issue of Playboy back in December of 1953.

He got off to a good start by choosing Marilyn Monroe as his centerfold girl. Not that he actually met the woman or photographed her. He simply bought some existing pictures that she'd posed for back in 1949. 50,000 copies were sold, which was good news for a guy who, at the time, was a family man married with a one year-old daughter named Christie. Hefner and his wife divorced in 1959 and in the swingin' 60's he and the magazine helped spark the "sexual revolution."

One sign of Playboy's notoriety was a cash-in novelty song called "I'm In Love with a Playboy Bunny," by Paul Hampton. Baby boomers will probably recognize Paul Hampton's voice. He wrote and sang the infamous TV theme song, "My Mother The Car." His comical tune about being in love with a Playboy Bunny is certainly rooted in truth; a lot of guys were. Some comics (Dick Martin and Mort Sahl among them) actually married a Playboy centerfold model.

It's not easy to make a living from novelty songs; Hampton actually had better luck with straight tunes. He co-wrote Don Gibson's "Sea of Heartbreak" and Gene Pitney's "Donna Means Heartbreak." He also took on a variety of roles as a character actor, appearing in films ("Senior Prom" and "Lady Sings the Blues") and TV sitcoms and dramas ("The Doris Day Show," "McCloud").

Hampton impressed Ray "Everything is Beautiful" Stevens, who gave him a shot at a straight singing career. Ray signed Hampton to his Barnaby label for "Beautiful Beginnings" released in 1970. Hampton issued a second album in 1974, "Home for Children" on the Crested Butte label. Meanwhile, the butts are still cresting at Playboy, and they still toss a bunny logo somewhere on the cover of every issue. Kate Moss is wearing the bunny costume on the cover of their January-February 2014 issue, which marks the 60th anniverary of the magazine. You can find it on most any of the still existing newsstands. As for Hampton's tune…well, that's hard to find anywhere except…right here.

PLAYBOY BUNNY PAUL HAMPTON

OOH OOH! An IDIOT spends $111.01 on a JOE E. ROSS single

Ho ho OOH OOH. What a wonderful birthday present some asshole bought for himself on Christmas Day. While people were sharing a warm holiday with friends and relatives, he spent $111.01 in cold cash to get "Ooh Ooh," a flat disc of 45 rpm vinyl. It's a Joe E. Ross novelty single that almost nobody would want to hear a second time. Ross, as most people know, was a slobby vaudeville comic who crawled out of obscurity to play a dogface in the Army sitcom "Sgt. Bilko," and parlayed that into brief success as a cop (partnered with Fred Gwynne) on "Car 54 Where Are You."

Ross, a variation on any number of Runyonesque Shemps popular in film and TV comedies in the 50's and 60's, appeals 99% to males. Most of 'em are as fat and homely as he was, and haplessly prone to laying out money to get laid (as Ross so often did). Only some aging, no-life loser would spend blowjob money just to hear "Ooh Ooh" as rasped by Joe E. Ross. $111.01 for what you can download here for free? Watta dope. "Ooh Ooh" has been on the blog for quite a while. Then again, maybe the guy in question was indulged via a check from his frail and ancient mom, and told, "Buy something nice for yourself…or maybe use the money to take a girl out to dinner and a movie." Instead he spent $111.01 for a Joe E. Ross record.

This is the type of guy who couldn't hold a job and still lives at home. He has no disposable income of his own, and probably lacks opposable thumbs. At best, he's one of those scrawny, smelly bespectacled nerds with a huge backpack doing a Quasimodo on his spine. He's got barely enough energy to visit a comic book store or thrift shop once a month, where sellers know him as "Lord of the Shit Breath." At worst, he's unsightly, smelly, stubble-faced and obese, and stays in mom's basement most of the day with his germs and a few gerbils. He uses his Internet connection to hang out in forums where he uses some stupid name like Captain Underpants, Chicken Joke King or BeerFarts to post 50's pix of Bettie Page and ask if anybody can digitize Nipsey Russell albums for him. The rest of his Internet time is spent on snipering eBay auctions, or via Google searches, getting erections from porn photos.

You, a reader of impeccable taste, an angel of the odd, probably already downloaded Joe E. Ross from here a long time ago. Quite a few, who haven't subscribed via RSS feed, downloaded it just by Googling his name and "Ooh Ooh," as this blog turns up in the Top 10 in such a search. The sound on the copy below is certainly equal to the VG+ item on eBay. In terms of comedy quality, VG- (very goofy) is about all you could give it, and that's praise enough for a quickie cash-in from a character comic who is funny only in very small doses. An episode or two of "Bilko," "Car 54" or his final attempt (paired with Imogene Coca, "It's About Time") is more than enough for anyone with a pulse.

If you want more details on "Ooh Ooh" and Joe E. Ross, just type his name into the search at the top left of this page and you'll get to the original post. Others, already exhausted from reading the above, just click the link, and you'll get, free:

OOH OOH JOE E. ROSS

"TWIN CITY SAUCER" THE $51 KEN RANK BREAK-IN SINGLE

More good news for suicidal record store owners and eBay vinyl sellers who are slowly starving! Not only did Joe E. Ross's novelty single (see above) get $111, but on that same Christmas Day, Ken Rank's dopey "Twin City Saucer" single went for $51. Yes, if you have a really obscure single, and at least two or three affluent maniacs who still collect records like they think they'll never die, you can still make money (once in a while) selling vinyl! One selling point for this indie single of local (Michigan) interest, was that it was (gasp!) actually autographed by the late Ken himself. $51 is quite a great sale for a lowly break-in single.

There are people who will break into your home for $50. For $5 even. If you're a longtime fan of the blog, you might remember a posting about Anne Pressly, an attractive blonde newscaster (KATV, Arkansas) who was the victim of a break-in. The monkey who was after a few dollars, decided to bash her face in as she lay in bed sleeping. Presley's mother could hardly identify her daughter's dead body, the pretty face smashed "beyond recognition."

Some 40 or 50 years ago, the "break-in" you were most likely to experience was yours for a dollar; a very stupid novelty single. A narrator would lob easy questions into a microphone, and the "answers" would be clips from current hit songs. Haw haw haw. Dickie Goodman was the master of such harmonic moronics, and it helped that he had a comical voice that seemed to cross Walter Winchell with Allan Sherman. His "Flying Saucer" (on his own Luniverse label) was a hit circa 1956. Here, a local disc jockey (the "Twin Cities" are not Minneapolis and St. Paul but the more obscure St. Joseph and Benton Harbor) talks about the arrival of a flying saucer (something Goodman had joked about ten years earlier):

Ken: It could be that there is more known about these objects than the public's being told. Maybe-
Herman's Hermits: "There's a kind of hush all over the world."
Ken: These things have been spotted from Benton Harbor and St. Joseph all across Michigan and even -
Tom Jones: "Detroit city…"
Ken: We talked to one Benton Harbor man, and asked him: "Sir, what effect did seeing this object have on you?"
Lee Hazlewood: "My eyes grew heavy and my lips, they could not speak…"
Ken: We asked a group of high school students: what were you doing when you saw the saucer?
Simon and Garfunkel: "Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy."
Ken: "We understand that you students were stopped by the police just before you sighted the saucer. What did the policemen say to you?"
Simon and Garfunkel" "Slow down you move too fast."

There's supposed to be recognition humor (the stars singing) to offset the incredible clumsiness of the straight line set-ups. To quote the end of a Mort Sahl joke (about an Army officer with dozens of medals on his uniform), it's "impressive. If you're twelve." Probably it was somebody who remembered this thing when he was 12 that caused him to actually sniper this item from someone who'd bid a maximum of $50. I gotta admit that when I was 12, I thought Dickie Goodman's quick-splice antics and idiot vocals were pretty funny. The guy was still doing 'em in the 70's and 80's...although by then, I found the style more nostalgic than hilarious.

Ken Rank? The man from West Plains, Missouri was a star on local ball teams (how about them West Plains Zizzers?) but following Navy service became a disc jockey. He was heard over KTCS in Fort Smith (Arkansas), WSJM in St. Joseph-Benton Harbor (Michigan) and KRMG in Tulsa (Oklahoma). It was while at WSJM (6pm to 9pm) that he and fellow DJ Tom O'Brien (9pm to midnight) wrote "Twin City Saucer." The inspiration to resurrect Dickie Goodman's ancient "Flying Saucer" idea came from actual UFO reports at the time. A spate of sightings were reported from LaPort, Indiana to South Haven, Michigan. The duo spent 3 hours figuring out questions and musical answers…and seven hours to edit and splice the result. When they played it on the air, fans instantly asked to get copies. Rank and O'Brien managed to press up some copies.

$51 to buy it recently? O'Brien recalls: "We paid $175 for 300 45's." The single was so cheaply done, they forgot about a B-side. The record label owner gave them an instrumental from one of his other artists, The Jades, and it was re-titled "Ken's Thing." Now, how to sell this indie single?

"We spent days going around to all the record stores & asking for “space.” We even had them in a fast food joint called Roxy’s Drive Inn. We worked out a deal if you buy a burger you’d get a free copy of the 45. They were on sale in Kroger’s Food Store, Goodman & Goldbaum Men’s Store and many more places I can’t recall. All 300 records sold out in 3 weeks and we placed another order – this time for 1,000. We began sending out fliers & 45′s to radio stations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Alpena and Lansing – hoping for some airplay. We even got a call from WCFL in Chicago requesting a copy. CFL never played it – and by this time the UFO stories had become a distant memory. Eventually we sold almost all of the 2nd run – about 800. The rest we gave to family & friends."

Ken Rank eventually left the teen-oriented Top 40 world, which was a young man's game. He knew which way the wind was blowing, and became a weather man. He diversified by owning his own video production company, VideoBase. He had his own TV show for a while, "Ken's Window" as well. In 1996 he moved to Tulsa, producing both local TV commercials and material for the national cable Weather Channel. Health problems slowed him down in 2002. On January 9th 2004, he underwent a lung transplant, but he died of complications from the surgery on June 20th.

TWIN CITY SAUCER

Thursday, December 19, 2013

AL GOLDSTEIN DIES - R.I.P. - REST IN PUSSY

After some alarming tweets from Penn Jillette, including the news Al Goldstein was "unresponsive and not doing well" at a Brooklyn nursing home, the bad news came today. Al Goldstein has died.

Ironic, that a few years ago he was convalescing in the same V.A. Hospital that Bobby Cole was in. Bobby managed to leave, after a heart episode and return to playing the piano and working nightlubs. Al suffered a stroke, lost weight, and was clearly in declining health over the past year. Even so, he managed from time to time do a few interviews from his hospital bed, and to meet with some of those who still were loyal admirers.

Sure, Al was a publisher…he made a hell of a lot more money than his staff or his freelancers. He showed it off, too, in some maddening ways. The guy had a room in his lavish townhouse that was pretty much a damn store, with a million bucks worth of watches in plastic cases. He was certainly crude, arrogant, exasperating and wrong in his handling of many things, but he also had the humility to be self-effacing and humorous about himself.

Frankly, our paths did not intersect very often. I think I had maybe three conversations with him. He was, in a way, just another of those guys better admired from afar. But what he's left behind IS a legacy, and if he hoped that one day he'd be remembered in the same way as Lenny Bruce, his wishes came true. The New York Times obit was pretty complimentary, and gave him his due.

He is a classic example, to misquote Shakespeare, that "the smutty, repulsive things men do live after them, the merely stupid are just in turds with their bones." Meaning? Meaning that for all his faults, and whether he only intended to make money and get laid or not, Goldstein should be remembered as a freedom fighter, as a guy who literally put his life on the line as he challenged bigots and antisemites and bluenoses, rolled through the courts fighting censorship, earned the praise of cover-story celebs John and Yoko (among others), and helped launch the careers of many artists and writers. Larry Flynt would be nobody without Goldstein. If he hadn't battled Pillsbury, the right to parody a big company may have inhibited other writers and publishers for years. If he hadn't found a way to keep a newspaper going by backpage hooker ads, The Village Voice would have wanly wavered into oblivion years ago.

I could go on, but I just found out about Al's passing, and I did want to get this onto the blog as soon as possible. I was thinking, what kind of tribute song, or songs could I put with this? I was thinking of Chinga Chavin's stuff, but frankly, it ain't revolting enough. Al's great SCREW magazine (actually a weekly tabloid) was loaded with great, gross humor. So, on short notice, here's two from Larry Pierce, a C&W guy who does specialize in, least, Hustler-esque (ie, not urban Jewish) filth.

"Girls were made to Fuck" is about getting caught by Dad while reading a dirty magazine. "Good Hard Fucking" is just a smutty catalog of dirty doings, with a refrain that suggests that kink may be ok, but "good hard fucking" is still best of all.

Here's hoping that if there IS something after death, Al Goldstein is enjoying a part of it. And that his afterlife began by saying to the Grim Reaper, "FUCK YOU!"

GIRLS WERE MADE TO FUCK GIRLS WERE MADE TO FUCK

GOOD HARD FUCKING

John and Yoko reading SCREW. Their interview in SCREW was conducted not by Al, but by his co-founder of SCREW, Jim Buckley. It's in the hardcover "Screw Reader," which was published by Al's maverick colleague, Lyle Stuart.

"There's so much to be angry about, because people are ripped off, the election went to the wrong person, the good guys usually lose and society sucks." AL GOLDSTEIN

BOBBY COLE - THE OMEN

It's once again time to "officially" remember my friend Bobby Cole (September 8, 1932 – December 19, 1996). I suppose it would be more fitting to celebrate his birthday, but, like John Lennon, the date of his death in December is much harder to forget.

I've covered the circumstances of his departure from this orb in other posts. The basics of his life have also been covered here, and you can read his bio on Wikipedia, which seems to undergo revisions now and then, as various come-latelys manage to work in a line or two to get their name mentioned. Gone forever, fortunately, is the paragraph (from the defunct Jazzman website) that ridiculously described Bobby dying after slipping on an icy pavement and hitting his head.

Now, to "The Omen," which most fans of Bobby Cole never heard of. Guess what. For a long time, neither did I, and I was a close friend. I was close enough to have a key to his apartment (which was necessary during the times when his binge drinking required keeping an eye on him and making sure he was taking the medication that was supposed to help keep him sober).

One thing about knowing anyone with an interesting occupation, is that you often find yourself having to curb your curiosity. You don't want to seem like a brain picker. You know a doctor...you don't ask medical advice. You know a singer, and you refrain from asking a lot of dumb fan questions. People who don't know me well, and start quizzing me about music, publishing, photography, radio, or other things that have marked my professional career, are not going to waste my time for too long. And those that do know me well, sometimes won't get much of a response if the questions are boring and involve things I've discussed way too often.

Fortunately with Bobby, I really didn't give a damn about Judy Garland (the subject of most fan interest in Bobby, due to his years of working and romancing with her). Bobby would often relax and regale with stories about Judy or Sinatra, or talk about the heyday of Jilly's etc., but it was of his own volition. But, if I followed up with a question, he might change the subject, as if I was getting too personal, or coming on like a reporter with a note pad. (The Photoshop montage is from an appearance on "The Judy Garland Show" made about three years before he recorded "The Omen.")

What I was more likely to ask about, instead of gossip about star-friends of his, was his music. Maybe a lyric line, maybe why he wrote his sheet music in extremely complex keys with a ton of sharps and flats. Mostly he liked this kind of shop-talk. After we were discussing the status of his new demos (for "Hole in the Corner Man," the album he kept putting off finishing), I said, "I've got your Columbia album, the one on Concentric, and the Bojangles single. Do I have everything?" He glanced, looked away, and said "Yeah." But…

….your download is the follow-up single to "Mister Bojangles." It's called "The Omen." It fulfilled his two-record contract with Date Records. Why he didn't mention "The Omen" to me, I have no idea. By the time I came across it Bobby was already gone.

Bobby was a complex guy, more than just a jazz singer, or a saloon piano player. Despite his gruff New York demeanor, he was quite erudite and well-read. His lyrics often had some intellectual cool. A lot of brainy jazz writers (Leonard Feather, Nat Hentoff, etc.) liked to mention that jazz lyrics weren't just light, or scat-singing silly, but often could be starkly poetic ("Strange Fruit") or sophisticated with complex inner rhymes (Cole Porter, etc.). Bobby's lyrics sometimes winked towards Cole Porter ("No Difference At All" comes to mind) or contained a poet's haunting imagery ("Growing Old"). Symbolism and references requiring some education ("Bus 22 to Bethlehem") were also part of Bobby's artistry.

"The Omen" seems to me a pretty defiant choice for a follow-up single to "Mister Bojangles," the Jerry Jeff Walker song that Bobby had masterfully transformed from a C&W strum into a moving ballad. His arrangement, used in subsequent cover versions from George Burns to Sammy Davis Jr. and back, emphasized the poetic aspects of the song, and the internal rhymes. The flip side, "Bus 22 to Bethlehem," was pure Bobby Cole, reflecting his life-long interest in religion (he did attend Sunday services after a wild Saturday night). And for his follow-up, he chose an even heavier set of lyrics.

"The Omen" begins with serious portent (the tolling of bells) and if that didn't put off disc jockeys, the tune's flute accents and jazz-pop arrangement had to. Then there's Bobby's voice. While he could actually drive home any song powerfully in concert (he was only about 36 when this single came out) he had chosen to sing softly on "Bojangles" and this song also has him in kind of a haggard state, world-weary as much as worldly-wise.

The lyrics, at the dawn of the psych-pop age, were still way too symbolic and advanced for a Top 40 single, and probably mystified any disc jockey who tried to make sense of them. There were exceptions ("Whiter Shade of Pale" a hit in the summer of 1967, a year before this was released) but not many. Even The Beatles kept their weirder stuff for their albums, not their singles. Ironically The Zombies were on Date Records at the same time as Bobby, and the somewhat mystical "Time of the Season" (Date 1628) was probably part of the same batch of new releases as Bobby's The Omen (Date 1630). Too bad that Date (basically a singles division of Columbia) didn't springboard "Bojangles" and "The Omen" onto a full album back then.

When daylight was still sleeping under the sea
And a few lingering stars in the heavens shone
Up from her pillow rose the blushing bride to be
It was the last time she was to sleep alone

Twas a handsome youth she buried her heart and her soul in
and she vowed to make the last tide just before noon
and it's been said that once the heart of a maid is stolen
the maiden herself will steal after it soon

She looked in the glass which few women miss
In which all women find time for a sly glance or two
A young butterfly fresh from a night flower's kiss
Flew between her and the mirror shading her view

Enraged at the insect for hiding her graces
She brushed him aside, and he fell, never to rise
Ah, said the girl, such is the pride of our faces
For which the soul's beauty and innocence too often die

Sometimes Bobby and I talked about his lyrics…sometimes there was a particular phrase that was intriguing. "'Melancholy bait? How did you come up with melancholy bait?" Or he'd explain why he wanted to call his new album "The Hole in the Corner Man." But "The Omen." You're on your own. Bobby's still around, but only when your turntable is spinning. Or your iPod is glowing. Remembering...my friend Bobby Cole. Here's THE OMEN.

THE OMEN BOBBY COLE

PETER O'TOOLE: THE STUNT MAN THEME and DUSTY SPRINGFIELD'S BITS

There are few "living legends" among actors, and one of them died last week: Peter O'Toole. Most everyone over the age of 30 could point to at least one performance by this actor that is classic. It may have been one of the roles for which he was nominated (but didn't win) an Oscar: "Lawrence of Arabia," "Becket," "Lion in Winter," "Goodbye Mr. Chips," "The Ruling Class," "The Stunt Man," "My Favorite Year" or, in 2006, "Venus." It seems that in the past decade, the bar for fine acting has been lowered, and the "actors" who do well at the box office include Ben Stiller, Vin Diesel, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and Will Smith.

Of the Oscar statue, O'Toole wryly mentioned that he would like to "win the lovely bugger outright." rather than get an honorary one. By that time, he was one of the last of his generation...classically trained, possessing true "star" magnetism, and living a life that could (and has) been told via a stream of outrageous anecdotes. O'Toole himself liked to amuse talk show hosts with his tales of alcoholic excess, but he was quite mum on the consequence of it...an operation that took out much of his intestines. Just how this affected his digestion and diet may have damaged his image as a carefree bon vivant.

Of all the movies in the Peter O'Toole filmography the one that instantly came to mind when he died is "The Stunt Man." He plays the symbolically named Eli Cross. It was originally promoted as a thriller where "nothing is quite what it seems." Most every frame is loaded with double meanings, doubt or enigma, and O'Toole presents devilish and God-like properties to add to the confusion. As the charismatic director of fantasy and twisted reality, he's of sexual interest to females...and males. "The Stunt Man" was one of the first O'Toole movies that made comic and ironic use of his campy streak of world-weary sophistication. Of course, his most famous character, T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) was a homosexual masochist, but few knew that at the time and fortunately the film was G-rated. The very gay Noel Coward mentioned at the time that the beauty of O'Toole was grand enough to re-name the movie "Florence of Arabia." A few more decades, and with waning testosterone, and O'Toole often make talk show appearances dressed as a theatrical dandy, with slouch hats, garish neckties and a flamingly loud silk hankie tucked into his breast pocket. It was all part of O'Toole's larger-than-life persona, right up there with Richard Burton or Richard Harris. And, speaking of Dicks, Groucho was a big fan because Peter O'Toole, he said, was a name with two slang terms for "penis."

The soundtrack music for "The Stunt Man" is by the underrated Dominic Frontiere. He began his career working for Randy Newman's uncles, Lionel and Alfred Newman. He scored TV shows in the 60's, seeming to do his best work on rousing series such as "The Rat Patrol" and "Twelve O'Clock High." His march-tempo main theme for "The Stunt Man" is in that category; just overblown with an almost Monty Python Theme'd (Sousa) circus-like excess. Frontiere's movie credits before "The Stunt Man" include "Hang 'em High," "Chisum" and "On Any Sunday," and he worked on two films afterward: "Modern Problems" in 1981 and "Color of Night" in 1994.

Frontiere won a Golden Globe for his score to "The Stunt Man," which is pretty remarkable considering that he basically used only two themes for the entire film. One appears on the album under multiple titles ("Stunt Man Main Theme," "Stunt Man Main Title," "Stunt Man End Title," "Film Caravan") either speeded up or with a tempo change. The other theme is heard as a fast instrumental ("The Chase") and in song form, sung by Dusty Springfield, as "Bits and Pieces."

Like "Windmills of Your Mind," the Norman Gimbel lyrics are intentionally over-the-top with heavy wordplay, which does reflect the movie's puzzlements and suspense. The hero here (Steve Railsback) is so confused and miserable about figuring out the mystery of his life, that he is more often questioning things rather than enjoying them. In other words, "Let it Be" would've been the wrong choice.

Dusty sings: "Out of nowhere into sight, out of darkness into light. You come running pushing time, out of reason out of rhyme….With your secrets in your eyes and your feelings in disguise, you come running in your fright seeking shelter from the night…And you watch and wonder where you belong, and the crowd, it moves and takes you along. And the colors splash and repaint your sky. And reality is yours to deny. And you look for someone your arms can hold, who will let you tell what begs to be told. Then you ask yourself what good are your dreams — on a world where nothing is what it seems…"

Your download springs Springfield on you, and at the end, the oom-pah loopy death march "Stunt Man" theme.

Dusty Springfield and Dominic Frontiere BITS AND PIECES & THE STUNT MAN THEME

MERRY CHRISTMAS…FROM YOUR FRIENDS, THE JEWS

Yes…some of the great Christmas songs…were written by JEWS.

All those Nazis out there, those Tea Baggers, those fundamentalist Christians showing up at cemeteries to show off hate placards…they'll be home for Christmas. You can count on them. They'll be full of peace on Earth and good will toward everyone who is the same race and religion as they are. They'll listen to Christmas tunes (listed below) and ignore the truth…that they were written by Jewish songwriters who had enough empathy and appreciation for Christmas tradition that they could convincingly write classic songs about the holiday.

True racism is such a sign of stupidity. EVERY member of a particular color or religion should be shunned? Some "good Christians" who admire Paul Simon, Dinah Shore, Dear Abby, Kirk Douglas, Freud, Einstein or Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, or Bob Dylan…or who ogle Lauren Bacall, Natalie Portman or Tina Louise…would want them dead?

How bizarre, hypocritical and just plain dumb are people who think theirs is the "master race," and would not hire or allow a relationship with someone "not like us." Even more sinister is when "not good enough to marry my sister" or "not someone I'd invite to the house because of THAT color or THAT religion" escalates to economic sanctions ("I won't hire HER") or outright violence. Really Mr. Christian? You are entertained by these people but you hate them and make jokes and vicious remarks about Jews? About Jake Gyllenhaal, Mila Kunis, Shia LaBeouf, Emmy Rossum, Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter), Michelle Trachtenberg, Elizabeth Berkley, Adrien Brody, Brooke Burke, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kate Hudson, Amanda Peet, Winona Ryder, Maya Rudolph, Alicia Silverstone, Tori Spelling, Rachel Weisz, Jack Black, Gina Gershon, Lisa Kudrow, Lou Reed, the duo known as Steely Dan, Pink, Lenny Kravitz, Adam Levine, Warren Zevon, Carole King, Carly Simon, David Lee Roth, Mark Knopfler, the J. Geils Band, Herb Alpert, Andrew Dice Clay, Janis Ian, Geddy Lee, Marc Bolan, Mama Cass, Leslie West, Groucho Marx, Billy Crystal, Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, and Phil Ochs??

You, Mr. Antisemite out there, you'd LYNCH the Three Stooges?? Idiot bigots would rather scream the bullshit about how the Jews killed Jesus, than acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew. Jew ready for the list? It features some of the best…and worst of the holiday (Christmas, wintertime) soundtrack.

WHITE CHRISTMAS - Yes, this was just one of many ("Easter Parade" and "God Bless America" being others) from the pen of Irving Berlin. He also wrote "Happy Holiday." Go ahead, say he was just a conniving Jew out for money, and clever enough to write one of the most sincere and lovely ballads ever to be groaned by Bing Crosby. Except, for a Jew, Berlin was awfully generous…every cent from "God Bless America," for example was donated to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations. David Hinckley of the Daily News: "If it weren’t for Jewish songwriters and moviemakers, a big chunk of our Christmas tradition would melt away faster than Frosty the Snowman….“White Christmas,” was written by Irving Berlin, whose Jewish parents transported young Israel Baline from Siberia to the Lower East Side some 50 years earlier…he told his secretary, “This is the best song I’ve ever written. Heck, it’s the best song anyone’s ever written.' What’s clearer and sadder is that Berlin, while not an Observant Jew, found little personal joy in the day. His son Irving Jr., three weeks old, died on Christmas in 1928.That might be part of the reason “White Christmas” has such a strong undertone of melancholy, yearning for something that feels just out of reach."

SANTA BABY - by JOAN ELLEN JAVITS and PHILIP SPRINGER. Oh, those Jews. TWO of them in this case, and not only did they write a hip pop tune, it was sung by Eartha Kitt, a black woman! Joan Javits was the niece of Republican-Liberal senator Jacob Javits.

SANTA CLAUS IS BACK IN TOWN - is another item in the vast songbook of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote so many great songs for black artists (including Big Mama Thornton and The Coasters).

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER - Just about the most annoying novelty record of all-time, it was written by the team of MARKS and MAY. Johnny Marks redeemed himself, slightly, with the less obnoxious "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Marks is the great uncle of Steven Levitt, author of "Freakonomics."

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW - One of the world's wimpiest tunes, it embarrasses me every time I hear Dean Martin emote, "The weather outside is FRIGHTFUL." Yeah, like he didn't live in California and Las Vegas most of the time. The song was written by Julius Stein and Samuel Cohen (aka Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn). The duo also wrote the more obscure "Christmas Waltz," and there's also "Be a Santa," which is in the Jule Styne musical "Subways Are For Sleeping"

SILVER BELLS - inspired by the dingers the Salvation Army volunteers wave at people to get donations at street corners, the song was written by Raymond Bernard Evans and Jacob Harold Levison (the latter better known as Jay Livingston). PS, those two wrote a helluva lot of songs the rednecks love, including the theme for the TV show "Bonanza."

YOU'RE A MEAN ONE, MR. GRINCH - Yes, the lyrics were written by the Jewish "Dr. Seuss." The music is by the former "Albert Marcuse," who grew up in Berlin. But to avoid being killed in Berlin by Nazis, the family name became Hague, and they became Lutherans. But to antisemites, if you're born a Jew, you'll die one…which is pretty damn Grinchy.

WINTER WONDERLAND - This rather annoying song (the parody "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear" is even preferable) was the lone hit lyric for Richard B. Smith, who died a year after Guy Lombardo first recorded the song in 1934. Smith was just 34. Jewish? Nobody knows, but the guy who wrote the music was Jewish…Felix Bernard, born Felix Bernhardt in Brooklyn.

SLEIGH RIDE - Do Jew haters also hate the lyrics for this song? One group is not exclusive to the other. The lyrics ARE very irritating, and the work of Mitchell Parish, born Michael Pashelinsky in Lithuania. Parish wrote many lyrics better than this ("Star Dust" among them), and Gentile composer Leroy Anderson wrote a few tunes much better, too, including "Syncopated Clock," and that goofy "The Typewriter" that Jerry Lewis mimed on most every variety show he ever appeared on.

THE CHRISTMAS SONG - aka "Chestnuts Roasting…" was written by two Jews. Bob Wells wrote the lyrics to this 1945 classic, and the French-sounding Mel Torme wrote the music. Torme's parents were Russian immigrants.

IT'S A MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR - this propaganda song for what is really the coldest and most depressing time of the year, comes from the Jewish songwriting team of Edward Pola and George Wyle (who was born Bernard Weissman). A better and less annoying song, at least to me, is the "Theme from Gilligan's Island," music by Mr. Wyle, and lyrics by the show's producer, Sherwood Schwartz.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - has music from Bob Allen (original last name Deitcher) and words from Al Stillman (born Silverman). Stillman also wrote the lyrics for the very religious Frankie Laine hit "I Believe," and "Chances Are," the Johnny Mathis classic.

GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS - You're asking, "What? Don't quite know this one." Paul Simon's bid to join John Lennon and Paul McCartney in having a perpetually annoying Xmas song on the radio didn't quite make it. Maybe the African rhythm had something to do with that.

BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE - one of the creepiest of winter songs, it seems to get tossed onto too many Christmas playlists even though it has nothing to do with the holiday. It was one of the lesser songs written by Frank Loesser.

I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - one of the better Christmas tunes, featured music by the Jewish Walter Kent (born Walter Kauffman) , and lyrics co-written by Buck (born Samuel) Ram (Jewish) and Kim Gannon (not). Kent also wrote "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die." Buck Ram…well…there's some controversy about the guy. Some say he didn't write much of anything, just bought songs and put his name on them (including various hits for The Platters). Supposedly he didn't even write any of "I'll Be Home For Christmas," but somehow twisted a few arms to get a credit for it. He used to tell people the song was based on a poem he wrote when he was a teenager…and that his co-writers merely polished it.

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING - goes back a long, long way. Not a Tin Pan Alley number, it was written by Felix Mendelssohn, a Jew whose family eventually converted to Lutheran…a good idea, healthwise, at the time.

It's also worth noting that many of the wonderful songs that good Christians love to steal via blogs and forums, were not only written by Jews, but performed by Jews. At this very moment, in some antisemitic households, there's no doubt some people happily listening to Christmas songs and albums sung by Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Ed Ames, and even the very obvious Barbra Streisand. Let's not forget that bizarre Christmas album from Bob Dylan!

Your download? "I Want You For Christmas," sung by Betty Boop voice Mae Questel. I don't know if the composers were Jewish, but Mae certainly was.

I WANT YOU FOR CHRISTMAS MAE QUESTEL

Monday, December 09, 2013

NELSON MANDELA : "MY BLACK PRESIDENT" by Brenda Fassie

The media...the hype-filled, bizarre, manipulating media...has really pushed Nelson Mandela's death into some GLOBAL EVENT.

Even though Mandela's legacy is local, and most of the action is taking place in South Africa, the media has descended with full force to provide literally hours...and hours...and hours...of coverage of every gathering from happy dances of joy over his death, to the lighting of candles and creation of fire hazards all over Soweto, Pretoria, and other places you've never considered a tourist destination.

The goal of the media is to make this slow-news time MANDELA time, and fire up the editorials about oppressive white people (blacks would NEVER be mean to a minority. Nor Japs, Germans or Serbs or Irish or English or Pakistanis...). As the slow, slow days move along (several days mourning he died, several days discussing the funeral, three or four days he'll be lying in state) keep the coverage only on Mandela and forget what else is going on, like Iran's nuclear antics, the latest gang rapes in India, or the bizarre climate change incidents around the world including sudden floods in parts of Great Britain that had never suffered devastation before.

If the goal is to not only cover, but exaggerate Mandela's world influence and prolong this death and burial till everyone goes into a coma, the media has succeeded.

Oh, maybe they neglected a few things...sober coverage of what this guy did and didn't do, for example. Or giving us an example of one of the many songs written and sung about him when he was at the height of his triumph, released from jail and in power.

That brings us to the lady they called Mabrr. She's just one of the many South African (and African) musical artists unknown around the world. It seems that unless the rhythms are stolen and then performed by a Paul Simon (or in tribute to Biko, a Peter Gabriel), there's still some kind of apartheid going on. Oh, just a little irony, that music is free (via air waves or the Internet) but people choose to segregate it. To paraphrase the Claude Rains character in "Casablanca," I am "Shocked...shocked...to find this is going on." Racism is the only possible answer. Don't people realize South African music is JUST as good as any other country's music?

Anyway...Mabrr, better known on a record label as Brenda Fassie, formed "Brenda and the Big Dudes," (although her interest wasn't just in dudes, but in women as well...this is someone who truly believed in equality!). One of her earliest hits was "My Black President," in honor of Nelson Mandela. Ten years later, she made her debut in America, as covered by Time Magazine: "The audience gasped, but Fassie unabashedly grabbed her bare bosom and thrust it at the crowd. "This," she proclaimed, "is Africa!" But America, it seems, was not yet ready for that part of Africa. "The promoters asked me not to do that again," she said afterward. Which is too bad, because back home Fassie is known (and loved) for her outrageousness."

Almost all her albums were platinum in South Africa (you'd think in that country the designation would've been "gone diamond").

In South Africa, 50,000 copies means platinum...but Fassie once sold that amount in a single day (her 1998 album "Memeza").

100,000 to 300,000 was more like it. In May of 2004, she suffered a cocaine overdose and went into a coma. Nelson Mandela visited her in the hospital, but she was brain dead, and eventually taken off life support.

On and off life support in recent years, Nelson Mandela finally died a few days ago, at 95. Hardly unexpected, but this blog MUST join with the entire world in saluting the man who is really just a notch below Jesus and Mohamed in having had a huge influence on the entire world.

Hasn't he?

Of course he has. The fact that he rose from woman-chaser and prison martyr to become President of a fairly unimportant country makes him a world figure. And while Dr. Martin Luther King may have gotten there first in making segregation an issue, and actually died for the cause, well...race is still a problem in the USA. But not in South Africa, right? Mandela didn't just make progress against apartheid by ending up President for a while, he erased it! Didn't he? Isn't that part of the celebration? Has to be. That's why the whole world has to hear about this for ten solid days.

It's like saying that because Obama became President, the United States is now free from segregation, unsubtle apartheid in hiring or not hiring blacks, etc. In the race to turn Mandela's death into a pre-Christmas holiday, the vast amount of racial unrest...affecting ALL races...has been erased from memory like everything on a DELL computer a day after warranty.

Forget about little bumps in the road, like the murder of WBO heavyweight champ Corrie Sanders just last year, September 22, 1021. (Besides, the South African was white, his killers black. So it doesn't count). And forget about the latest hero athlete from South Africa, Oscar Pistorius, who shot his girlfriend through the bathroom door. Heck, just because the guy felt so unsafe in South Africa that he needed a lethal weapon beside his bed...that doesn't mean that Mandela isn't a world-influencing hero or that South Africa isn't the bestest place on Earth to spend your vacation, or end your life.

We're in the midst of a 10 day grief-fest, with tears of joy and shouts of triumph. People are having a great time mourn-ebrating the death of Nelson Mandela, and anyone who does NOT agree this is an event the whole world should be involved in, not just South Africa, is one hell of a rotten realist. If Jackie Robinson died a few days ago, perhaps the media would likewise insist the whole world have a 10 day grief-fest, even if baseball isn't played in every nation on Earth. Why should it matter? Robinson, like Mandela, achieved something for his people, so all people should celebrate it and take a good happy hit off the inspiration bong. Any excuse to party, right?

Celebrate real world figures? Nah. Moses? Let the Jews celebrate him if they want. Jesus? His teachings are ONLY really for fully ordained television ministers who know exactly what that Son of God was talking about. Mohamed? He's for Muslims...you need not pay attention unless a knife is put to your throat by an Islam extremist who expects you to convert or die. But Mandela? THERE'S A KIND OF HUSH ALL OVER THE WORLD...

...Because the man fought apartheid, single-handedly. No help from entertainers who refused to play Sun City. No inspiration from Dr. King. No support from the United Nations. Nothing to do with changing times and attitudes towards blacks around the world...or the fact that for several decades, blacks were being given much more visibility in teaching, banking, and other positions, as well as in politics...and that a guy like Arthur Ashe could be winning on a tennis court instead of sweeping it. Oh...let's forget that a Jewish tennis player can't play a tournament in Dubai at the moment. Just how Mandela, the world figure who cured the world of prejudice, couldn't fix that up...who knows. Who cares. Jews shouldn't play tennis anyway. What do they need it for? Most are employed by the Wiesenthal Center faking holocaust photos.

Still with me? Then join with me in saluting the British press, and the British people, because though many cities over there were just in the midst of a huge downpour and flood...the kind most have NEVER seen before (what, Nelson Mandela didn't also prevent global climate change?), coverage happily turned away from tragedy and toward the Great Mandela Fest. I hear next year's summer rock concerts will be name-changed to Mendelabury. Peter Gabriel will headline, now that he's got to write a song about Nelson, to eclipse the feel-good dirge he wrote about Biko. You know, the one he wrote and sang in a fake African dialect (having left his Jolson black-cork at home).

Hey, fuck the British floods and the people who lost their homes and all the rest of that...or those who lost their lives at 20 or 30, not 95 after decades of doing little except posing for photos and being told "you're great."

Happily the British press knows their priorities. And if they didn't, Photoshop did.

Right now, nothing eclipses the constant coverage of Mandela's death.

President Obama, too overcome to offer up something original, like his catch-phrase about the "audacity of hope," re-cycled Secretary of State Stanton's line after Lincoln was shot: "Now he belongs to the ages." Stanton was pretty good, ad-libbing that at a traumatic time. Lincoln was, after all, shot in the head and still president.

You'd think that after the first hospital scares, and being in his 90's, Mandela's condition would've prompted America's Big O to start thinking up something really good.

Now, Nelson Mandela was a good man. Maybe even a great man. Most don't know how he made it from screwing a lot of women to vegetating in jail for two decades, to becoming President of South Africa. But I'd like to think that a few people know that South Africa is a lousy place to live, and it's on a continent that is a lousy place to live...an ENTIRE CONTINENT that is horribly overloaded with savagery...where women are circumcised, oppressed and attacked. If they didn't have cunts, there would be apartheid against them. The African continent is wild with crazy bands of nuts killing other crazy bands of nuts...tribes warring against each other, and with no white people to blame all the shit on, they go attack anyone who is albino. It's the continent where poverty, caused by over-breeding and by stupidity, is considered an excuse to attack any ship that happens to be within sight of Somalia. There are also excuses to attack and kill people in shopping malls...the few examples of civilization in a land that nobody would visit at all if there weren't lions and elephants and diamond mines.

OK, that's enough. A little too much information and a bit of sacrilege here? It's just a response to a little TOO much coverage of Mandela this week...turning an expected death of a 95 year-old political figure into a junior Kwaanza.

Your reward for reading is listening...to...a download of "My Black President," which is about Nelson Mandela...not Obama. But hey, Obama is irrelevant. No point in changing the world. Mandela did that. And Mandela died at 95 knowing he not only helped his people take a few steps closer to equality...but that his example made blacks in EVERY country on Earth equal and free. Just ask any black in Alabama, Newark, Cleveland, Compton, London, Paris, Dusseldorf, China, Russia... Oh. Russia. They don't let blacks in. They still have apartheid. Also ethnic cleansing. And they're currently torturing a few punk rock chicks who dared to sing in a church. Oh well. Don't let anything stop this week's grief-fest. Reality is that any kind of racial quality or even sanity or tolerance is still a baby step for mankind...even with the efforts of the man named Mandela.

MY BLACK PRESIDENT Brenda Fassie. Her tribute to Nelson Mandela

MISTLETOE MUSTACHE and more: Priscilla Paris and THE PARIS SISTERS

If you like stupid holiday and winter tunes…from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to "Baby It's Cold Outside" to "Let It Snow" to "Feliz Navidad" and "Wonderful Christmastime," you'll be delirious over the Paris Sisters and "The Man with the Mistletoe Mustache." You can bet that at this blog, a concession to season's gratings would have to be a truly annoying little Christmas obscurity.

The Paris Sisters, who did have a Top Ten hit in 1961, don't deserve to be as forgotten as they are. Though they did commit the occasional hideous novelty tune or Andrews Sisters sound-alike atrocity, much of their work is as pleasing as The Shirelles, The Ronettes or most any other girl group more likely to be represented on an Oldies CD collection or PBS fundraiser DVD. As they moved from a harmonious homogenized trio to Priscilla Paris and two back up singers, they specialized in super-sweet tracks of pleasing pop. The route to teen-pleasing perfection took seven years.

Priscilla, and older siblings Albeth and Sherrell, literally followed in the Andrews Sisters footsteps back in 1954. Their aggressive stage mother arranged a backstage meeting when the trio came to town. Patty, Maxene and Laverne actually liked the young girls and gave 'em a break…an on-stage chance to sing along with them on their hit 'Rum and Coca Cola." The Paris Sisters signed with Decca that year and issued "Ooh La La." They turned up on the Imperial label in 1957, still imitating the sassy close-harmony stylings of both the Andrews and the McGuire sisters as well as The Chordettes.

It was when they signed with Gregmark in 1961 that owner Lester Sill and one of his top producers (a fellow by the name of Phil Spector) transformed the trio. If you'll pardon the term, the "zeitgeist" at the time was sugar pop; soft and sweet groups such as The Fleetwoods and the Dixie Cups would be topping the charts, along with easy swinging solo artists such as Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka and Annette Funicello. The Paris Sisters scored a Top Five with "I Love How You Love Me," (music by Barry Mann, lyrics not yet by Cynthia Weil), and also did well in 1962 with the singles "He Knows I Love Him Too Much" and "What Am I to Do," also produced by Spector…who soon got involved with several more girl groups, leaving the Paris Sisters behind. (Phil's 73rd birthday comes up December 26th…get him a cake with a file in it).

As pop underwent radical change in the mid-60's, smart producers were mixing messages into the mush…exemplified by the subversive "Along Comes Mary" from The Association and the overt "Give a Damn" from Spanky and Our Gang. There still seemed hope for the Paris Sisters, now on Reprise, and working with former Spector arranger Jack Nitzsche. Their 1966 album "Sing Everything Under the Sun" remains an unsung classic of the waning girl group era, featuring several original compositions by Priscilla that stand comfortably alongside contributions from Goffin and King (Some of Your Lovin') Bacharach and David ("Long After Tonight is All Over") and Mann and Weil ("See That Boy"). The album had their smart re-working of "It's My Party," transformed from Lesley Gore's squealing angst, to vulnerable, wide-eyed baby doll heartbreak.

Your download below does have "It's My Party," but rather than the obvious early hits, also includes two rarities: both sides of a GNP Crescendo single "Stand Naked Clown," backed with "The Ugliest Girl in Town." The latter was the theme song for a short-lived TV show about a guy who invades the kicky British fashion scene in drag. It pre-dates Lady Gaga by a generation.

Call it Diana Ross syndrome, or just common sense; Priscilla went solo in 1967. The age of the singer-songwriter had arrived, and she had enough original material for the appropriately titled "Priscilla Sings Herself." Writing to what she perceived to be her true vocal talents, there was a marked shift away from breathy intimacy and the world of Claudine Longet or Astrud Gilberto. Instead of fluff and easy listening, there was the moody "Stone is Very Very Cold" and the bombastic "message" tune "He Owns the World," two tracks that seemed to be Priscilla's bid for entering the territory of Dusty Springfield and Shirley Bassey. Hey…Dusty and Shirley didn't write their own music and lyrics…these hold up, too. But…the album didn't get the attention it deserved.

Her next album switched styles again; the Pat Boone-ish concept album "Priscilla Sings Billy." Yes, they spelled Billie Holiday's name wrong and offered middle-of-the-road interpretations of Lady Day. It didn't thrill purists who loved the original's weary jazz lilt and boozy phrasing, and it had no appeal to pop fans who didn't want to hear Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy." The middle aged white audience had no idea who she was, so would've only bought that kind of album if it was from Rosemary Clooney or Doris Day.

After her 1978 comeback attempt, "Love Is…" Priscilla suffered an accident resulting in partial facial paralysis, sidelining her music career for a number of years. By the 1990s Priscilla was again playing the occasional Parisian club date, and in the spring of 2002 she returned to the U.S. for a proposed Paris Sisters reunion concert. Sadly, nothing quite worked out for her and her sisters, and she died just two years later, on March 5, 2004, from injuries suffered in a fall at her home. She was 59. Last year, an excellent compilation album was released on the Paris Sisters featuring a lot of rarities, and "Under the Sun" has been given a Japanese CD pressing.

Your download file feature five tracks: It's My Party, Stand Naked Clown, Stone is Very Very Cold, The Man with the Mistletoe Mustache, The Ugliest Girl in Town. For those with bandwidth problems, or dodgy wi-fi, there's a one-off separate file for "He Owns the World," which you can own in less than a few minutes.

FIVE FROM PRISCILLA PARIS / PARIS SISTERS: Five Tracks including the rare GNP single

Priscilla Paris He Owns the World

TOO MANY MONDAYS! - KISS and B.J. -- also Mary and Mann

TGIF is well known. Not so much JFCIM (Jesus Fuckin' Christ It's Monday).

Also not well known is the genial Mann-Weil song "Too Many Mondays." It doesn't express much existential angst over heading to work. Maybe the song's lack of success is that it reflects the laid back early 70s, when hippies cut their hair and became Yuppies, and started to accept the idea of having to earn a living in the real world. The song certainly has none of the sourness of "Mr. Businessman," or even the masochistic irony a Ray Davies might express in being home in Shangri-La on a sunny afternoon, ignoring the taxman.

In the 70's the song was recorded by two guys, a girl, and a group. I first heard it via author Barry Mann's solo album on Columbia, done about a decade after he had a novelty hit with his single "Who Put the Bomp." His mature voice was all right, but at the time the singer-songwriter category was dominated by Southerly stylings (James Taylor and Elton "Tumbleweed" John) rather than urban New Yorkers. A more folkie version turned up on one of [Peter, Paul and] Mary Travers' solo albums, and B.J. Thomas also sang it, probably glad that the Monday at least didn't involve a forecast of raindrops.

The most obscure version comes from the rock group Wicked Lester…which evolved into KISS. Yes, that's Gene Simmons on lead vocal. And it would be a few years before a Monday involved Gene sitting at the Aucoin office and having an interview with me, which ended up with some un-PC and unpublishable comments on everything from horror movies to Gene remarking on the strange high-pitched sound that can only be made with a stadium full of screaming Japanese fans.

As a few fans of the blog know, items are only posted on the 9th, 19th or 29th. Not too often has that number landed on a Monday, but now that it did, here's...

FOUR VERSIONS OF…. Too Many Mondays

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Friday, November 29, 2013

FRED STEINER: "Park Avenue Beat" aka "PERRY MASON THEME"

A dignified, dark and moody theme song that conveys an aura of mystery….

Yeah, you could say that about "The Perry Mason Theme." But what if that music wasn't played while glowering Raymond Burr stood in a court room, pondering new and startling evidence?

If you listen to the music without conjuring up an image of Raymond Burr, you might agree that the original title, "Park Avenue Beat" is appropriate...and this is actually some pretty sexy R&B jazz. It's the kind that could be played while a stripper performs, or in a nightclub as hip couples grind against each other with their full bodies (and full bodied couples grind against each other with their hips).

Let Fred Steiner describe the origins of this double-named tune:

"The original title was "Park Avenue Beat," and the reason for that was I conceived of Perry Mason as this very sophisticated lawyer; eats at the best restaurants, tailor-made sutis and so on. Yet at the same time he was mixed up with these underworld bad guys, and murder and crime.

"So the underlying beat is R&B, rhythm and blues. In those days, jazz, R&B whatever, was always associated with crime. Those old film noir pictures, they've always got jazz going. It's like whenever you see a Nazi (in a film) they play Wagner. It's kind of symphonic R&B, that's why it's called "Park Avenue Beat," but since then it's been known as "The Perry Mason Theme."

"It's gone through several changes depending of the timing…they would change the main titles year in and year out. " Mostly, the changes have been in tempo. There's one big difference in the Perry Mason theme used for the 1980's made-for-TV movies: after the ominous introduction, there's a cymbal crash before the main theme begins. You get that version as well as one of the many vinyl cover versions released back in the day. Yes, Hatch is the guy who was behind so many Petula Clark hits of the early 60's...and he radically changes the tempo to make this more of a teen dance number, that frug-head.

The Perry Mason Theme…. Hatched by Tony

THE MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE THEME VERSION OF… The PERRY MASON Theme

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RAY STEVENS : REDNECK vs WETBACK

"Everything is beautiful," Ray Stevens once sang, but he wouldn't include every porcine Mexican doing a jumping-bean dance over the border.

The good ol' boy (now 74) thought it was kinda funny when guys were runnin' around nekkid and upsettin' good Christians (remember "The Streak" a 1974 hit). But Beaners storming the border, holding out their hands for welfare checks and food stamps! Ain't so amusin' to some folks!

PS, they hold out their hands and mime what they want 'cause…guess what…they don't speak English and don't intend to. They also don't need to. Not when the government happily supplies translators and Spanish versions of every pamphlet outlining what they'll give away to not only immigrants, but illegal ones. The Hispanic population is so large now, all any Latino or Latina has to do is wander into any store or office, and put on the sorrowful big dark-eyed expression of woe. You know, the one "Puss in Boots" (voiced by Antonio Banderas) uses in those "Shrek" movies. Then somebody will step forward to speak to 'em in Spanish. Heck, the SAP channel on the TV makes sure these folks from the fattest nation on Earth (America's second) can sit back all day and get Spanish translations of every boxing match, soap opera and taco commercial.

Now, if Ray was Rush Limbaugh, he'd also add: Why is it that every immigrant group (even the allegedly stupid Poles) gratefully learned the language of their adopted country…but the over-populating Latinos don't?

Ray isn't Rush, who makes a fortune percolating Red State loonies with tea bag racism and hot-headed Harper Valley PTA hypocrisy. So, how does Ray turn this problem of welfare abuse and illegal immigration and refusal to speak English and not remembering the Alamo, into something that might raise a smile instead of a shotgun? Maybe the answer is "Mi Casa Su Casa." Maybe not. You decide.

No question, Ray Stevens has been making people laugh for over four decades. Most everyone can think of at least one classic Ray Stevens goofball novelty song that's been borderline tasteless. That includes his first good 'un, "Harry the Hairy Ape" from 1961, in which he sounds black, and utters some fairly un-PC stuff about apes sounding like Presley-type rock singers. Or, the following year, "Ahab the Arab," which Muslim extremists would self-detonate about, not to mention, 40 years later, Ray scoring with another gold single, "Osama Yo Mama" in 2002

Thanks to the Internet, nobody needs to buy a novelty song when it comes out. It's thrown all over the place by the great Americans who say "Freedom! Everything should be free!" So Ray's concentrated on touring (go buy a t-shirt) and holding his tin-cup out to Google's 'YouTube' where they pay a few pennies per thousand hits on a music video. Which can add up; "Come to the USA" another comic jab at illegal immigration (this one about all races, not just Hispanics), has gotten over six million views.

Years ago, there was some kind of "center" to entertainment. Both Liberals and Conservatives could listen to a Ray Stevens song and enjoy it, the same way they might tune in "The Andy Griffith Show." Now? The Liberals tend to only tolerate country crossover acts like Shania Twain (briefly) and listen to Jon Stewart for laughs, while the tea baggers go into deeper circles with their NASCAR preoccupation, and listen to Ray Stevens scoff about global warming and make faces at illegal aliens.

The danger with Ray and his "tea party" mentality is that he's appealing to redneck assholes who'd fire a rifle into a crowd of Latinas at a day care center or run some Pakistani out of his 7-11 store even if there ain't no white guy named Duane who'd want to put in 12 hour days at minimum wage making sure that jerks could buy Slim Jims and Budweiser. At the end of his "Come to the USA" video, Ray offers a disclaimer that salutes the immigrants who work hard "and chose to "Come to the USA" the right way." Really, Ray, that would include the two brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon? Them guys was legal immigrants, fella.

But heck, a novelty song IS a novelty song. Most are intended to get a laugh, a nod of the head, and after a few more spins, ain't never get played again. It's hard, in under 3 minutes, to present all sides of an issue, and a lot of racist, sexist or insult comedy is intended as a safety valve for people who need to laugh instead of cry, and most certainly chuckle instead of going for the gun belt buckle.

In the end, real "freedom" is accepting other points of view without screaming "politically incorrect" or "racist" or urging censorship. Let some Mexican humorist come up with a funny response to "Mi Casa Su Casa" - and do it in English! So far, nada! Lo siento, es verdad!

MI CASA SU CASA

The Legendary RAY STEVENS

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

PAKISTAN IS FULL OF SHIT + Outhouse Song by Billy Edd Wheeler

This is, no joke! It's WORLD TOILET DAY, November 19th...so proclaimed by The United Nations.

A child dies EVERY MINUTE because of SHIT!

One of the main countries targeted for WORLD TOILET DAY is filthy Pakistan. No wonder so many Pakistanis have emigrated to the United Kingdom and to the United States of America. Famine. Racism. That's nothing compared to being knee deep in SHIT! This is a country where hundreds of thousands of people just drop a load anywhere...like dogs.

The Associated Press, with bigger shit to deal with (the latest on Kanye West and Kim Kardashian) only gave a few scant paragraphs to the reason why the United Nations is concerned:

"Some 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation, the United Nations says, and more than 1 billion practice open defecation — a problem that contributes to countless deaths from preventable diseases.

"We must break the taboos and make sanitation for all a global development priority," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in declaring Tuesday to be the inaugural World Toilet Day."

However in Pakistan, WORLD TOILET DAY is part of a huge movement, and the websites over there are overflowing with big pieces about this shit. Here, read for yourself:

Now, what song could commemorate such a dark day? Maybe Billy Edd Wheeler's "Ode to the Little Brown Shack." This novelty tune was informally recorded during a live performance…and it created such a rumble, it was rush-released, even though the sound quality was fairly crappy. Flushed with pride, Wheeler sold a load of the "ode," even if he would ultimately be better known as the author of "High Flying Bird" and "Coal Tattoo," two folk-rock standards (both covered by Judy Collins, but the former best done by Judy Henske, and the latter well performed by Wheeler himself).

In Pakistan, a child dies every MINUTE from diarrhea. So let's be a little tolerant of all those Pakistanis who have formed gangs in England to indulge in white slavery and abduction of teenage girls for prostitution, and the ones in America who are simply running around like chickens with their heads off, babbling incoherently and screaming about Allah and letting us know that Pakistan has nuclear capability. Once every Pakistani has a clean and sanitary place to take a dump and once this overpopulated world has a toilet seat framed around every single asshole…THE WORLD WILL BE SAVED.

But yeah, the odds are better for some crazy Allah-kazams to blow the world to bits, or for oceans and rivers of shit to overflow onto the land bringing disease and ultimately... death will hold illimitable dominion over all. Aw, shit. But let's be optimistic and wish everyone, especially every Pakistani, a HAPPY WORLD TOILET DAY!

WORLD TOILET DAY! Ode to the Little Brown Shack

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #27 - THE VILLAIN'S THEME!

The most famous bit of ooky spooky music of all time, "The Villain's Theme" would be played whenever some evil creep in a cape began to tip-toe toward the two lips of a sleeping heroine. Eventually it became such a cliche that it was used mostly in parody, in cartoons.

The only piece of music more famous than this, in the horror genre, is "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," which seemed to be played any time Lon Chaney sat down on his organ in "The Phantom of the Opera." It was also used in Herbert Lom's Hammer update of that movie, and turns up performed by organist-Satanist Boris Karloff in "The Black Cat" and by the little spook Peter Lorre in "Mad Love."

Everyone knows who wrote "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor." Bach. Not Gary Brooker. The composer of "The Villain's Theme" is much more obscure, and sometimes the piece is credited to the wrong person. Back in the silent era, a lot of professionals offered up generic sheet music that theater pianists could use. For example, there was a piece called "Burglar Music" by the prolific composer Zamecnik, published in 1913. Some also call it "The Villain's Theme," but it ain't.

"The Villain's Theme" (aka "Mysterioso Pizzicato") is the work of James Bodewalt Lampe, and was first published in 1914 in the "Remick Folio of Moving Picture Music, vol. I." Just why it wasn't recorded on a 78, or given a rousing 45 rpm version via some Halloween single by The Ventures or Duane Eddy, is pretty mysterioso. I found it on an album called "Music from the Silent Films," which I found via bargain bin in October of 1966, having been nearly small enough to fall into the cardboard box. Released via the budget Parade Records company, there was no credit on the back cover for the performers, just "featuring Mike Di Napoli" on the label itself. Decades later, the album had a vinyl re-issue from Omega Records. There's also a CD called "Silent Film Music" by Al Weber, released in 1992, one of the few other ways of getting the dastardly ditty.

The reason it's on the blog now, instead of in October for Halloween? If you were Poe, you might call it "the imp of the perverse." lt's a musical tonic for this most nefarious time of year…when monsters creep around in Santa Claus hats, haunting you with demands about giving to charity...while even more hideous villains use Christmas music in radio and TV adverts brainwashing you to BUY, BUY, BUY!

By God, this evil minor key melody is the real music for a hellish time of year...reflecting the ghouls, goblins and goons that stalk you with greedhead grossness, and hellishly howl with fiendish enthusiasm over the trifecta of terror that is Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve. So here's something you can play after a trip to the mall has fractured your skull with "Let it Snow," "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," "Sleigh Ride," "Feliz Navidad," and "Wonderful Christmastime..." and the rest of the obnoxious music that Jesus hates so much he will NEVER come back again.

And no, that's not a Snidely Whiplash puppet popping out of the nun's habit, it's Beany & Cecil's arch enemy Dishonest John.

The Villain's Theme

SUFFOCATE (Ralph Smedley) and "Sloppy Madison," too! JACK GALE

How about a new dance craze where you try and suffocate yourself? Or your partner? How about a vocalist who sounds like Popeye imitating Arnold Stang? How…could this novelty single miss? It did. And nobody bothered with the flip side, "Drown." But that's the way it is (and was) with oddball singles. For every fluke hit that tops the charts, like "Purple People Eater," there's 99 other flukes that sink to the bottom. Most of 'em are equally as stupid, so it's just dumb luck when a tune gets a lot of airplay and somehow makes people dazed and confused enough to buy.

Ralph Smedley may not have succeeded, but he did appear often on Jack Gale's radio shows. That's because he was actually Jack Gale. And Jack Gale would eventually try again with another parody of stupid dance music, convincing a major label (Columbia) to issue "The Sloppy Madison." This one has nothing to do with Oscar Madison from "The Odd Couple." It has everything to do with broadly mocking "Madison Time," an irritating but successful tuneless tune (also on Columbia) that does nothing but order people around with bewildering instructions and a shout of "Hit it!" The flip side to Gale's single, "The Medicine," is another overt jab...this time urging pill taking along with insane dance instructions. Sick!

Gale was the winner of "Disc Jockey of the Year" in 1970, Jack seemed to develop a hatred for novelty dance numbers from having to spin them so often, since he first hit the airwaves in 1954. He spent the most of his time in Cleveland (WSRS), Boston (WMEX), Florida (WPDQ, WKKO, WRKT) and Baltimore (WSID, WCBM, WITH, WWIN), but also turned up in Charlotte, Norfolk and Charleston in his long career.

Aside from spinning discs, he offered jokes and sketches, and his "Mighty Gale Players" presented the soap opera spoof "Life Can be Miserable." Ralph Smedley was a comedy character Jack often voiced on his shows, along with Dawson Bells the Poet Un-Laureate, John Goodvoice, Helicopter Harry, Lowell Pressure, Old Pop and Dr. Souchon, among many others. Jack is still active in the voiceover field, doing radio commercials and offering clients a variety of voices to choose from.

The owner of Playback Records, he produced for a lot of country artists including Johnny Paycheck, Del Reeves, Johnny Cash, Bobby Helms, Melba Montgomery, Ronnie Dove, George Jones, Sheb Wooley, Crystal Gayle and Jean Shepard. He also managed and produced Johnny Cymbal, who had one of the smash novelty hits of all time with "Mr. Bassman."

Want to know more about Gale? You don't know Jack…unless you order his book "Same Time…Same Station." Jack Gale fans: Send that check or money order for $22.95 (includes shipping)
to: JALO BROADCASTING CORP, 5318 Brett Circle, Sebring, FL 33872

SUFFOCATE Ralph Smedley

THE SLOPPY MADISON Jack Gale

Risque novelty! THEY ALL ASK FOR YOU - Paul Gayten

"Down by the zoo…they all ask for you." And if you don't pronounce a "k" too well, and New Orleans jazz man Paul Gayten doesn't, it's hilarity. Because "the monkeys ass…the bears ass….the giraffes ass…HEY! "

Yass yass yass, "and the hyenas ass, and the cats ass, and the birds ass, the bees ass…the jackass ass…they ALL ASK FOR YOU!"

Oh, like Viley Virus twerking her ass is such sophistication? Now she's calling herself a feminist, and the press says she's "edgy." A few generations ago, a stupid novelty was simply acknowledged to be nothing but a stupid novelty.

So where did we go wrong, I ass you?

Ass for Paul Gayten (January 29, 1920 – March 26, 1991), he wasn't your typical risque novelty song guy, he was a veteran New Orleans pianist and band leader. He had some good credentials as a songwriter as well ("For You My Love" a hit for Larry Darnell, "But I Do" for Clarence "Frogman" Henry). Some of his early hits featured Annie Laurie as vocalist ("Since I Fell For You" in 1947). Shifting to New Jersey's Regal label in 1950, he and his band became one of their biggest selling acts. They toured the club circuit throughout the East Coast. When Regal cashed in, in 1052, it was good news for Gayten. He ended up on a major label, Okeh, and Paul himself handled the vocals for his first release, "All Alone and Lonely."He label issued his singles in both the 78 rpm and 45 rpm format.

Oddly enough, Gayten got the assignment to sing "They All Ask For You" with the Kelly Owens Orchestra for the 1952 Okeh release below. These one-off jerk-off was atypical of the R&B singer, who started 1953 with "Don't Worry Me," and then "Time Is a Passing," and "Cow Cow Blues." While solid on the R&B circuit, Paul's singles didn't inspire Okeh to sign him for more. In 1956 he recorded for Chess subsidiaries Checker and Argo, and had a surprise hit with disc jockeys via "Be My Baby." Dance and swing helped the versatile Gayten band retain airplay, and he was even touring with New Orleans R&B-rock star Fats Domino, releasing "Flat Foot Sam," "Nervous Boogie" "Music Goes Round and Round" and "Tough Enough."

While so many not in the music biz say "The music should be free, make your money touring," it's not easy to find venues, life on the road is hard, and sometimes things get just plain boring. Gayten was able to work as a talent scout and producer at Chess Records, and get his songs placed as well. He combined all three with the signing of Clarence "Frogman" Henry. Sometimes sitting in on recordings, it's Gayten playing piano on Chuck Berry's "Carol." In the late 60's, when soul and pop became hot sellers, and Big Band and jazz less so, Gayten tried to start up his own record label to support the older performers. One of his first signings for Pzazz in 1968 was the veteran Louis Jordan. Gayten retired from the music biz a few years later.

By the late 70's and early 80's, the older music of a Louis Jordan or Fats Waller found a new audience and some fresh respect, and pioneering R&B performers were being treated to vinyl re-issues and "greatest hits" compilations. There was also renewed interest in "risque" tracks and ironically enough, for many, the only Paul Gayten track they've heard or heard of is "They All Ask For You." But you can ask for more Paul Gayten at your local record store…although it may take an express bus or train to find a local record store…

GET A PIECE OF... They All Ask For You

Saturday, November 09, 2013

CLAM CITY BOOGIE - DANNY FLORES

You know Danny Flores. You know him for one word: TEQUILA! Drink enough of it, and you might start doing the"Clam City Boogie."

Danny (July 11, 1929 – September 19, 2006) was born in Santa Paula, California, then moved with his parents to Long Beach where he formed the 3-D Ranch Boys, and later recorded as Danny Flores and His 3-D's. Their best recording might well be...CLAM CITY BOOGIE.

Dubbed "The Mexican Hillbilly" for his rockin' mix of blues and country, the sax-playing young star ended up with yet another identity: Chuck Rio. Stuck in a contract that was holding him back, he needed a different name to record new music for a new record label. Danny/Chuck's new group was The Champs. The debut single was "Train to Nowhere." Needing a B-side, Flores chose to highlight himself on sax via an instrumental…interrupted by periodic shouts (if not shots) of "Tequila!"

As often happens, the B-side was the one disc jockeys played, and they kept playing it. "Tequila" shot to #1 in 1958, and won a 1959 Grammy. As often happened, he was lured into signing away the U.S. rights. At the time, many composers and singers figured a lump sum payout was a good bet. Who could know that quickly done rock tunes would have an extended life via oldies re-issues, CDs, commercial use or movie soundtracks? Fortunately, he held on to world rights, and continued to get some decent paychecks from overseas.

Who can do without "Tequila?" Not Danny Flores. He gigged regularly in California through the 70's, hiring a back-up singer named Sharee…who would become his wife. Thirty years later, and hundreds of local shows later, she recalled, " 'I can honestly tell you he never got tired of playing that song." No word on how often he performed "Clam City Boogie." It's probably fair to say that when it came to royalties, the song didn't generate too many clams.

Danny Flores Clam City Boogie

BOBBIE GENTRY RETIRES AFTER A PATTI DAHLSTROM SINGLE

Below…the last of Bobbie Gentry. Her cover of Patti Dahlstrom's "He Did Me Wrong But He Did Me Right" sank like something tossed from the Tallahatchee Bridge. Too darn bad, but a lot of great Patti Dahlstrom songs failed to get the attention they deserved, no matter who recorded them.

The year was 1978. After a Christmas Eve appearance on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," nobody saw Bobbie Gentry again. Since she hadn't had a Top 10 hit since "Fancy" in 1970, she wasn't exactly missed. By the time people began asking "Whatever Became of…" she had put up an effective barrier that kept her privacy intact. She wasn't big enough, (or her new life interesting enough) for the heavy tabloids to bother. As for fans, those knowing her whereabouts respect her too much to even sneak a snapshot of how she's looking these days.

Gentry was born Roberta Streeter. She took her last name from the strong film character "Ruby Gentry" played by Jennifer Jones. She seemed to come out of nowhere in 1967 with the #1 hit "Ode to Billie Joe." The song was originally over 7 minutes long, a demo with guitar. Capitol edited it down to make it into a single, subtracting enough verses to make the song much more mysterious, and adding the string arrangement that made it even more dramatic.

Bobbie walked away with four Grammy awards that year including Best New Artist, Best Vocal Performance/Female, and the somewhat similar Best Contemporary Female Solo Vocal Performance. There was also a Grammy for "Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist."

Sultry and smart, she recorded some pretty interesting songs on her albums, and tried to challenge Top 40 radio now and then (how about "Casket Vignette.") But…her popularity in 1968-1970 was mostly due to a set of duets with Glen Campbell, including "All I Have to Do is Dream." Her single "Fancy" was only the second (and last) time she had a solo hit in America. Also in 1970, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" grazed the UK Top 40.

"But I Can't Get Back" was the prophetic title of the single released in support of her album "Patchwork" in 1971. It hit #37 in the US, didn't do much overseas, and disc jockeys didn't see her name on much vinyl after that. In 1974, she spent the summer in England starring in a limited (four episode) run of "The Bobbie Gentry Show." And yes, four years later…she issued the Dahlstrom-penned single, appeared on "The Tonight Show," and disappeared.

Gone, but hardly forgotten. She's missed by both male and female fans. Jill Sobule, everyone's favorite Jewish lesbian singer/songwriter, may have offered the best tribute. It's her song, "Where is Bobbie Gentry," and here are some choice lines:

Where is Bobbie Gentry?

Up in Alaska, Hollywood, or maybe in Japan

I bet that she’s still beautiful, goes barefoot everywhere she can

Does she still play guitar or write a song or two?
Maybe that was over; she’s got better things to do

If I could just find you

I would love you, then I’d leave you alone

If I could just find you

I would love you and I’d leave you alone

HE DID ME WRONG... But He Did It Right

NIGGAH LOVES HIS POSSUM - Collins and Harlan

You think the "Nigger/Niggah" debate is new? Nigga, please! It goes back over a hundred years. Check the sheet music (make that "white sheet" music) for the 1905 Paul Dresser tune"Niggah Loves his Possum." That spelling was used on Collins and Harlan's Victor single in 1908 (as well as an Edison Blue Amberol four-minute single). When it was re-recorded in 1922, the spelling changed to the more widely used"Nigger."

Offensive? Perhaps 20% of ethnic humor then, and now, is intended to be. We make fun of people that annoy us, and that includes rich people, Valley girls, and ethnics. Strangely enough, in the ethnic category, a lot of times we laugh with and impersonate the race…few were offended by "The Beverly Hillbillies," Carroll O'Connor didn't normally talk like Queens native Archie Bunker, and Amos and Andy (both on radio portrayed by whites and on TV portrayed by blacks) were beloved. Dean Martin and Johnny Carson continued their winking impressions of Kingfish dialect on into the 70's. The Wayans Brothers were in white drag for "White Chicks."

Back at the turn of the 20th Century, in both American vaudeville and the British Music Hall, a lot of performers appeared in blackface to sing heartfelt songs of suffering, or giddy tunes of joy. Why in the world did they choose to impersonate another race? Because they had empathy, and in some way, a strange desire to become black in order to emote without seeming corny, or joke without inhibition. That hasn't changed. Lord Buckley, the stand-up hipster of the 50's used Amos and Andy dialect when he brought whites on stage for his "puppet" routines, and re-told Bible stories in "Negro dialect," a "hipsomatic" way of attaining comic purity. White artists from Genya Ravan to Bonnie Raitt to Eric Clapton, Jagger and Dylan adopt black phrasing and music styles to get their messages across.

The most famous singer in the minstrel era was Al Jolson. Here's a guy blacking up to sing about the misery of being "Old Black Joe," and of his heart-rending love for "My Mammy." Huh? He also sang "Kol Nidre," but buyers didn't find Jewish suffering nearly as much fun as sad songs sung in blackface. Eddie Cantor was another who corked up, but considered himself anything but racist for doing so. Cantor was a good friend of the legendary Bert Williams, a light skinned (born in the Bahamas) black man who performed with his skin darkened with cork. This was not unusual at all…decades later, Pigmeat Markham was still "blacking up" while working the black vaudeville circuit, and his audience didn't object. Williams was one of the most highly paid stars of his era, but was treated poorly off stage. He told Cantor, "“It wouldn't be so bad, Eddie, if I didn't still hear the applause ringing in my ears."

At this point, Jolson movies and the Larry Parks bio are available on DVD, and while somewhat cringeworthy, weird blackface and dialect scenes in major movies aren't cut when broadcast. Film historians are now praising Stepin Fetchit and Mantan Moreland and noting that Martin Lawrence or Tyler Perry play with black stereotypes in just as broad a way. And yes, rappers who use "Niggah" or "Nigger" continue to enrage some and liberate others.

In the era of Collins and Harlan, there were definitely some intentionally insulting songs and monologues released on the major labels…not only in black dialect, but in any ethnic dialect. There were tasteless songs about Jews, Irish, Italians and Germans, and some of the buyers were…yes, Jews, Irish, Italians and Germans who laughed too, as a way of distancing themselves from those who hadn't assimilated. Verrrrrry complicated, this world of ethnic songs and humor.

As for "Niggah Loves his Possum," it's sort of right down the middle. It's a catchy, jolly tune, humanizing the "spooks" that many feared as dangerous. They portray these people as pretty simple in their basic needs: possum, alcohol and watermelon. Then again, all Flip Wilson's Geraldine wanted was a good man and some Ray Charles records. If Tyler Perry or somebody else in a blaxploitation comedy was seen righteously digging into some fried chicken, and guzzling from a huge bottle of Colt 45, who is to say that an all black audience wouldn't be roaring with laughter and recognizing a relative or friend?

Speaking of politically incorrectness, Arthur Collins (February 7 1864 - August 3, 1933 and Byron Harlan (August 29, 1861 – September 11, 1936) were often known as "The Half Ton Duo," because they were so obese. Fat fucks singing niggah-nigger songs? Yes, but these were more popularly called "Coon songs," as if that word's any improvement. They recorded "Lazy Spells Lazy," "My Bambazoo" and "In Monkey Land" and were an equal opportunity in insulting women and other ethnic groups with: "My Wife's Gone to the Country, Hurrah Hurrah," "It was the Dutch," "Night Time in Little Italy," and "My Brudda Sylvest."

The duo also sang plenty of ordinary tunes, and were the first (1911) to record Irving Berlin's rousing "Alexander's Ragtime Band." They were among the first to record a "jazz" or, as it was also known "jas" tune, including "That Funny Jas Band from Dixieland," recorded November 8 of 1916, and "I Want a Jazzy Kiss."

When a song became a hit, it was covered by plenty of competing artists, and in those wild days of limited copyright protection, the duo often re-recorded for other labels. Often they had to re-record because the master would wear out after a certain number of pressings. Collins and Harlan freelanced for Victor, Edison, Columbia, Emerson, Okeh, Gennett, Operaphone, Pathe and many others.

Show biz was tough even back then. Collins was the baritone, the self-proclaimed "strong man of the team," with his deep and powerful voice. He considered Harlan (who used his tenor voice to play women in some of the novelty songs) as sometimes just a harmonist. So…Collins would sometimes negotiate to get more money or special perks for himself from the record labels.

The team fell out of favor in the 1920's, and plenty of other performers became stars in the new medium of radio, including the famous "Happiness Boys" Jones and Hare. Collins, of Hempstead, Long Island, and Harlan, out in West Orange, New Jersey, were finally outsiders, treated in their last years as perhaps John Lennon would put it; like niggers of the world.

NIGGAH LOVES HIS POSSUM Collins and Harlan

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THE BIRDS IS COMING! Hitch yourself to LOUIS JONES

Though he had a common name, there's only one great R&B singer called Louis Jones. Louis was born in Galveston, Texas on April 28th, 82 years ago. He's no longer with us, but he recorded soul greatness for a variety of labels, mostly circa 1956 and 1964. He recorded as "Louis Jones" and also "Louis BLUES BOY Jones," tracks including "I Believe To My Soul" on the Enjoy label, "Come on Home" from Sabra Records, and the ultra strange, especially for a major label such as Decca, "The Birds is Coming."

Straining and frantic R&B singers were not too popular on AM radio back in 1963. Louis Jones is so raspy, just listening you'll want to reach for some cough drops. Adding to the growling and howling....some actual bird noises in the mix! Pretty amazing for its time.

The song attempted to cash in on the latest Alfred Hitchcock movie, which had gotten a lot of advance publicity thanks to the master's own choice of slogan, the correctly grammatical (referring to the title of the film) "'The Birds' is Coming." There were no black people in Bodega Bay (location for the movie) and Tippie Hedren is about as white and waspy as a leading actress can get, so it's hard to figure why anyone thought an R&B rave-up would be a tie-in. With it's constant cry of "The Bird is Coming," the few R&B radio stations out there probably didn't play the song, suspicious that it sounded more like a long movie commercial.

Jones' soulful style had zero crossover chances back in 1963, when even raw and raucous James Brown wasn't getting on the same radio stations that favored the smooth pop harmonies of The Four Seasons, who were on the charts with "Walk Like a Man" (Not "Run from The Birds.").

Yes, Top 40 radio aimed at white teens did offer black artists, but they had to be smoothies: Ruby and the Romantics with "Our Day Will Come" or cute girl group The Chiffons (who at the time of this Louis Jones release, were riding high via "He's So Fine," aka "My Sweet Lord"). Teenage ears in 1963 were much more likely to accept "Blue Velvet" from Bobby Vinton and "Surf City" from Jan and Dean. The following year The Beatles discovered that fans preferred a whiter shade of cover version over the then-obscure originals by Little Richard or Chuck Berry.

Now, most everyone's ears are attuned to gospel, Delta blues, rap, righteous R&B, and all ethnic stylings. Well, even so...BE WARNED! You have not heard anything quite like Louis Jones. This ain't no funky chicken. This is serious! Deadly peckers! Cover your heads. Protect your ears....

THE BIRDS IS COMING! LOUIS JONES