Friday, November 29, 2013


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




"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!


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 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 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


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


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


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


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.