Saturday, March 29, 2014


Wow, man. If this was 1968, you'd be staring at the above album cover a long time! Even now, it's so trippy and fascinating; four nude chicks in a plastic box on a strange planet or just (ooh) IN YOUR MIND. Back then these sci-femmes had record fans asking "where in the Southwest do we find them?" And does "F.O.B." mean "Fuck Our Bitches?"

As many an lp-cover-lover will bad-breathlessly howl at you, "There's something so COOL about naked chicks on a record album!" As opposed to a naked chick actually on a record collector…which rarely happens.

Back in the 60's, it wasn't that easy to find any chick's naked rack in a record store's racks. Even here, all we get is "side boob" which still can give you a side kick. Most of the full frontal titty pix were on "under the counter" lousy adult comedy albums from obscure guys such as Bub Thomas and Bert Henry. Weird, isn't it…guys could easily get entire magazines (Playboy, Rogue, Nugget, Dude, Gent, Knight, Cavalier, Cavalcade, etc.) for 50 cents or so, but would pay ten times that much to see ONE nudie on an album cover.

OK…it's time to at least make some sort of mention of the group and their semi-hit song. "Smell of Incense" was actually written by two guys (Bob Markley and Ron Morgan) who had come from the fartily-named band "The Laughing Wind" to form the ultra-pretentious "West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band," which, no surprise, somehow involved Van Dyke Parks for a while. Their version of their own song "did not chart," as muffin-eaters like to say, as if it justifies feeling smug about their own mediocrity and failures. What did chart, barely, just outside the Top 40, was the cover by the Dallas band called Southwest F.O.B.

That group included two guys who would go on to greater infamy: Dan Seals and John Colley. They later formed the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, whose main achievement, let's not forget, is that they weren't Seals and Crofts. Yes, Coley got an L outta there, so people wouldn't pronounce his name like he was a breed of dog.

Via Hip Records, the Fobs ("Freight on Board" is the likely meaning of the initials), offered music very typical of the times. There's the Emenee-like toy keyboard, which was popularized by The Doors. Not exactly a rival to the keyboard on "Light My Fire," the organ riff here sounds more like a parrot knocking its beak against a few notes hoping to tap out the morse code for HELP. Or OVERDOSE

The meandering melody pauses for the chorus and its profoundly hymn-like harmony. It recalls "Spanky and Our Gang" and their pretentious demand: "Give a Damn." It all works, in an ooky-spooky icky-trippy kinda way. As for the lyrics, they reflect the naive era's notion that "enlightenment" is attainable by rollin' doobies. Just cover the smell with…incense. Oh, eat some peppermints afterward, and forget about time, which is only an illusion on a strawberry alarm clock affixed to a chocolate watchband.

As with so many late 60's (and early 70's) hippie dippy trippy songs, the lyrics stand alone about as well as anyone who's had some powerful weed:

"She stood as still as the shadows of stone. She stood on the edge of my mind. I tried to push her away. I shut and locked the door. Her eyes grew large and asking. AND THE SMELL OF INCENSE FILLS HER ROOM.

She stood in the ever present fullness of expectation. What happened to her childhood dreams? The sidewalk smothers us tomorrow."

What it needs is a real ending: "Do not tell me, I am source of your knock-up. The mud elephant wading through the sea leaves no tracks." Oh, sorry, that was The Fugs, who not only wrote better real "beat poetry," but knew how stupid most of it actually was. "Norwegian Wood" seems to have influenced a few lyricists into going into a triter shade of pale. But look, if you're really wasted on pot, you might think the sidewalk can smother you, you concretin. Your recipe for being a total asshole is easy enough; just add "mushrooms."

Download this, and if you actually were part of the late 60's or early 70's world of heavy lyrics and light-headed pot usage you'll find some nostalgia. If you weren't around back then, and are just some fucking goofus with a frog not prog face, who goes to thrift shops to buy what his parents' used to wear, and walks around saying "Oh wow" a lot, and were in the "It's Psych" forum…go find a hat with a human head underneath it, and consider a transplant.

The best thing about Southwest F.O.B. remains the cover, featuring a box of twats. I'd rather be in that box with 'em, smelling something that ain't incense.



The first time I heard a tape of the Friars Club roast for Don Rickles, I got most of the references. Carson mocked Rickles for being "as exciting as watching Kate Smith take a douche." Another line made reference to the vagina of…Kay Armen. Who?

I assumed Kay was either fat and ugly, or some notoriously malodorous starlet that had somehow offended Johnny when she guested on his show. Though she did guest on his show, it 'twas the former. Fortunately for her, and Kate Smith, back then a lot of people simply listened to a lovely voice on the radio or on a record, and didn't care that much about physical charm. This was especially true of singers that specialized in ethnic numbers or "God Bless America."

Born Armenuhi Manoogian, Armen's less than attractive father was a pro wrestler billed as "The Terrible Turk." Her burly brother "Bobby Managoff" also became a pro wrestler. Kay, pretty hefty herself, appeared in a few films including "Hit the Deck"(pictured above) which evidently referred to what happened when sailors heard her stomping footsteps approach. She wrote some songs, none you are likely to know: “Be Good to Yourself,” “My Love and I” and “It’s a Sin to Cry Over You.”

Armen could've become a big star with the irritating novelty song "Come On-a My House." It was written for her by her Armenian cousin Ross Bagdasarian (aka "David Seville") and William Saroyan. It was the more pleasant-looking Rosemary Clooney who made it a hit. Clooney's singing style also had a lot more charm than Madame Armen…just listen to her strident "Ha Ha Ha" novelty.

Only a horse laugh is more irritating than a forced laugh. Whether in a pop song or an opera, anyone going "Ha Ha Ha," and pretending to mean it, should be going to ha-ha hell. Below, Kay's cover/translation of "Chella Lla" which had its last gasp via Connie Francis in the 60's as "Chella'lla." It was popularized in the 50's by Renato Carosone and later Marino Marini. Kay's actually pretending to find revenge hilarious. Oh, there were many annoying songs in the 50's, and this IS one of them.

It ain't over even after the fat lady stops singing. After enduring the song, you get Johnny Carson's Kay Armen joke from the Rickles roast. Remarkably, it got a solid 30 seconds of laughter…a tremendous amount for any joke. It's even more of an achievement considering Johnny was telling it in a room full of jaded comics more likely to mutter "That's funny" than to actually laugh. The dais that night included Flip Wilson, Jackie Vernon, and Jack E. Leonard, and you can hear some admiring mumbling from Fat Jack as everyone yocked the mocking of Fat Kay.


My Fair Lady in DUTCH - Plus Holland's Copyright Thieves

Alrighty then....despite the latest affront to American culture, let's not condemn ALL of Holland. A beer company perpetrated a tasteless act, but not all Dutch people are fat, drunken, tasteless cheap bastards who should drown in the North Sea.

In case you missed the news, a Dutch beer company's new TV ad steals the likenesses of American and British icons (Marilyn Monroe, Presley, etc), places them on a tropical island (so unlike Holland) drinking their horrible fruit-flavored product. Somehow, in this Dutch dream, Kurt Cobain and John Lennon are alive…happy to get loaded on alcohol to the soundtrack of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny." Sun, and good beaches, are unknown in Holland except in their dreams…and fortunately for the Dutch, dreaming is free.

Some say that the Dutch want everything free, which is why their bloggers notoriously give away entire discographies of The Beach Boys and even James Last, and why this beer company figured they didn't need permission from the Cobain, Presley, Monroe or Lennon estates. Yes, these freebie-obsessed cheapsters live up to the name "Netherlands." They are botton feeders and social lepers. "Netherlands" means "Buttocks Lands" full of assholes. Their major cities? Rotterdam is damn full of rotters. Amsterdam is damn full of hamster-dicked fatsos. And Zwolle is where the especially swollen fatsos live. The rest of the world is in awe…of how pathetic the Dutch are. They have prostitutes in every window, marijuana all over the place…and yet these sullen oversized jerks still wish they were in Cal-E-Fornia, wearing cowboy hats and sucking Beach Boy dick. For all the tourists who toss money down to get high and get laid and look at windmills…they remain a cheap bunch of conniving copyright and trademark thieves.

Let's try to understand, that even if they make money, they fear spending it. They need to save up for dikes (no, not the ones half-naked in the windows). They know one day the Muslims in their country will overwhelm them and if they don't convert, they'll need every bit of cash to bribe 'em into letting them leave the country with their precious 1 terrabyte drives of Talking Heads bootlegs…which they can hardly hear over their "talking butts" full of gas. When you make cheese that stinky, you need to keep the air circulating.

The Dutch know…nobody is impressed with tulips, which hardly disguises the smell of a Dutchman. And you'd be embarrassed about the stupid footwear your country is known for, if you lived in Holland….wooden shoe?

Oh, let's lighten up and laugh a little, and forgive the Dutch douches their infantile thievery, and their whining and crying. Acknowledge their suicidal depression about paying for sex and drugs and still being miserable. Paying for anything makes them miserable. Justify their swiping of U.S. and U.K. artists as jealousy over having almost no home grown talent. Actresses? Sylvia Kristel is about it. Musicians? Few attained worldwide fame. Bernard Haitink, the conductor, might be it. Rockers of Dutch extraction aren't exactly prominent either….it's only Van Halen, and I don't fuckin' care about dumbass headbangin' Eddie or other jerky guitar heroes. Sax player Candy Dulfer is ok for a few minutes. Writers? Inventors? Nope. That leaves "Dutch creativity" to a few long-dead artists, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Bosch.

Feel sorry that Holland looks like a hemorrhoid sticking out of both Belgium and Germany, and those countries have far more hit-making singers and composers. Taking pity, I'll say something nice about Holland; it's not as dark and cold as Sweden. Also, the Dutch language isn't quite as gruesome as German, which is "a rather brutal language," as Max Prendergast admitted to Emma Peel.

Which brings me to the tribute…for despite the beer ad, I'm not totally pissed at Holland and their weird religion of cheapness. No, the download below isn't every album Holland ever made (who'd care?). It's a few examples from an album of "My Fair Lady" sung in Dutch! Dutch is so full of gutteral gurgles and snotty consonants, it could be called Phlegmish. Yet, such is the obsession for stealing everything American or British, that they couldn't resist grabbing "My Fair Lady" and singing it in their own language. Insane? Of course, but most of Holland's citizens should be in straitjackets. The show's premise was Professor Higgins teaching Eliza Dolittle PERFECT PRONUNCIATION of ENGLISH. Now how does THAT translate into Dutch?

Listen to"Why Can't The English Teach Their Children How to Speak" in Dutch! And…even more frightful, "I'm an Ordinary Man" (aka "Let A Woman In Your Life.") If you don't know what he's singing about, this Dutch Higgins, with his sudden outbursts, sounds like he's trying to recruit members for the Aryan Nation, hoping to get Germany to make Holland a suburb. This stuff IS bizarrely amusing. Listen to the tracks, and drink some of that Holland beer that is going to get you so high you'll think Cobain and Lennon are still alive. Or….imagine there's no Holland…



Wednesday, March 19, 2014


One of the more improbable heroes in the novelty song world is Jesse Lee Turner. Texas born (in Addicks, 1938) and raised (Boling), the small-town singer recorded "Teenage Misery" on the Fraternity label, but it wasn't miserable enough to challenge the world of teen angels, lonely boys and doo-wop depressives. He scored his hit for Carlton in 1958; "Little Space Girl," was a neat little cash-in on the craze for sci-fi films and chipmunks-type vocals.

Today, affluent little brats dictate who the huge stars are (like Justin Bieber and One Direction). Back then, little kids could, and did, push novelty songs into the Top 20. They insisted Mom and Dad buy "How Much is that Doggie in the Window" or "Witch Doctor" or "The Little Space Girl," which was even covered on the kiddie label Golden Records in 78rpm form. Yes, this IS a very silly song, with simple melody, goofy lyrics, and coy duetting between an exasperated high-voiced echo-chambered hillbilly and a too-cute female alien:

"You've got four arms." "The better to hold you!" "Three lips!" "The better to kiss you!" "Three eyes" "All the better to see! I can really rock and swing, 'cause I've got more of everything! Oh Mr. Earth Man, will you marry me?" Really, things couldn't have been any more stupid if this was a fantasy episode of "The Andy Griffith Show," and a space girl landed in Mayberry. The song, triviasts have noted, was credited to Turner, but actually written by his cousin Floyd Robinson.

I suspect, based on the B-sides and some of his other releases, that Turner's heart was in rockabilly. Fans of that genre will point to "Shake Baby Shake" among others, as evidence of his true talent. "Shotgun Boogie" should've been a hit with all those NRA fans in the red states but it didn't get the radio play it deserved. But…having had a good-sized hit for his minor record label, Jesse Lee quickly made a sequel ("I'm The Little Space Girl's Father)," tried another speed-up sci-fi item ("The Man in the Moon") and issued the topical "Ballad of Billy Sol Estes."

As somebody on his now-defunct website wrote, "'The Ballad' was on it's way to the top of the charts "with a bullet" ...that is until  TIME  Magazine  ran  an  article  about  it, printed  the lyrics, and upset some "very influential people" as they say, in Washington D.C. Virtually overnight the song disappeared from every radio station in the country! You see, Billie Sol Estes was a very important man in politics at that time and the truth, as they say, hurt. In fact, it hurt so much that the song, once destined to be another million seller,  might as well never have been written in the first place!"

And, no, this wasn't a cover of the Phil Ochs song "The Ballad of Billie Sol," this was a Turner original.

The website insists that around this time, "Jesse decided to try Hollywood. His boyish good looks helped him began [sic] an acting career and landed him starring rolls in several TV series and movies. Jesse definitely had an innate rockabilly ability that few had, but his novelty recordings sold better than his attempts at unadulterated rock 'n' roll." Just what TV shows and movies Turner made…IMDB doesn't seem to know.

Jesse did keep trying with novelty singles. A more overt Ray Stevens-type bit of corn is "The Elopers," about a hapless stooge and the idiot chick he wants to run away with. "The Voice Changing Song," with a chunk-a-chunk Johnny Cash type strum, has Jesse doing an imitation of a teenage boy who is embarrassed at how his voice keeps breaking when he tries to introduce himself to a girl.

One of Jesse's last stabs at the singles charts was "Just a Little Girl," a 1975 effort for MCA. The label lists the performers as "Jessie [sic] Lee Turner" and Floyd Robinson Floyd also wrote the song.

As they say at AA, meetings: "Let go, and let God," and so Turner eventually turned from musician to minister. Look, if it worked for George Foreman, why not Jesse Lee? Just what small church he was involved with, or whether his was a traveling road show, I have no idea. He made a soft rumble just under the radar of most people, by issuing an obscure item called "Jesus for President." Was he serious? How do you get a guy on the ballot who hasn't been seen in 2000 years? Registered as Democrat? Republican? Independent? Green Party? What would Jesus do to get on a ballot?

Some of us were amused if not amazed that a fave with a kiddie-hit in 1958, had emerged, some 40 years later, doing sort of a jokey if sincere album about the importance of Jesus…demoting him from Son of God to Presidential Candidate. Jesse's website said he was ready for a comeback: "Jesse began to write Christian lyrics for songs like "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On", "Great Balls Of Fire ", "House Of The Rising Sun " ….and has now been singing (Jesus-themed) songs… in churches all over the nation for over 10 years and it's time for the next step. He is finally ready to offer his music to the world, through 6 separate CD's! It's… time to praise the Lord with some good old fashion Rock & Roll! Like Jesse screams..."Oh, I feel good"!!! Contact Jesse to Minister at Your Church or Event."

Sadly, "Jesus for President" didn't get much attention and and Jesse's modest website disappeared from the planet. Only the faithful will believe that it may return in time for Easter.

And so while a few of us ask, "Jesse Where Art Thou?" here are two tidbits that remain pretty memorable, way beyond the good-but-typical rockabilly stuff he did...

Jesse Lee Turner... Jesus for President

And... Little Space Girl


There's a good and a sad reason for this post. Sophia Loren? She's not known as a vocalist, so it's a good reason to give her some attention here. Circa 1960 her best known vocalizing was with Peter Sellers on some light and silly songs. They starred in a forgettable movie together, and Sellers was hopelessly smitten with her. She was flattered but not interested. As the 70's began, she was cast as Aldonza in the film version of "Man of La Mancha," a bloated, ill-fated Hollywood mess.

Her high point was the angry reality-check hurled at Don Quixote. The Don seems to be wearing rose-tinted glasses, deciding a whore named Aldonza is actually "Dulcinea," the chaste beauty who will inspire his chase for the impossible dream. Sophia's voice and her command of English are just about adequate (English as a second language is confirmed by her pronunciation of "whore"). It does take a trained Broadway star to both sing and act at the same time, but this is still a show-stopping number thanks to the strong lyrics and music...and look at the photo...she's worth every penny she charges...and more!

I'm not a big fan of "show tunes," and for years, thought "Man of La Mancha" was just some corny musical with a war horse hit song ("Impossible Dream") tearfully sung way too often on "Britain's Got Talent"-type shows. Persuaded to attend the Broadway revival, I was dazzled by Marin Mazzie as Aldonza, and moved by the dark drama of the show, which doesn't turn a blind eye to the delusions we all create for ourselves on the way to the grave. Put it this way, there was no rape scene in "Mame" or "Hello Dolly." PS, in the context of the show, "Impossible Dream" actually can bring a tear to your eye, and have you leaping to your feet to give the singer (Brian Stokes Mitchell) a standing ovation. PPS, that very nice lady Ms. Marin is now in the new Woody Allen musical "Bullets of Broadway," currently in previews, and I hope it's a huge hit.

The music was written by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics by Joe Darion.

Mr. Leigh died a few days ago. He was born Irwin Michnick in Brooklyn (January 30, 1928 – March 16, 2014). Probably the first time anyone took notice of him was in 1955 when he supplied the jazz for comedian and radio personality Jean Shepherd's "Into the Unknown with Jazz Music" lp. The late 50's was a time for "word jazz" of various types, including albums featuring Kenneth Rexroth and Ken Nordine. Leigh and Shepherd got some cult interest, but Mitch made his living as creative director of Music Makers, Inc. He composed commercial jingles including the music accompanying the catch-phrase for a frozen cake company, "Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee." Which was pretty damn accurate, come to think of it.

Fast forward ten years, and a made-for-TV play called "I Don Quixote" became Leigh and Darion's smash hit "Man of La Mancha,"making a huge star of Richard Kiley. It was the last hurrah for Joan Diener as Aldonza…who had captivated audiences in "Kismet" a decade earlier.

Unfortunately Mitch Leigh's subsequent shows, no matter who wrote the words, either closed before getting to Broadway, or shuttered within a few weeks of receiving poor reviews: "Chu Chem," "Cry For Us All," "Home Sweet Homer" and "Sarava." The latter managed to reach 101 performances mostly because of a relentless TV ad campaign that brainwashed some people, Latinos most likely, into buying tickets. I remember seeing those ads and not wanting to go even if the seats were free. Other disappointments were "Ain't Broadway Grand" with words by Lee Adams, and "Halloween" partnering with Sidney Michaels. Leigh's shows often had strong lead stars but not even Yul Brynner or Jose Ferrer could save a production after it got withering notices in the New York Times.

There probably are some great songs in those shows that never got an "original cast album" release. There's no question that "Impossible Dream" is immortal…and if you want to name a song that moves the plot and defines the character's emotions, "Aldonza" is a terrific example. Here's to the late great Mitch Leigh, and to one of the great ladies of the screen, Italy's premiere gift of cinematic beauty to the world, Sophia Loren.

SOPHIA LOREN gives a reality check: ALDONZA


Below, your download of "All I Really Want," as performed live at The Old Waldorf.

Now, why would someone as famous as Tim Curry be here, on the blog of less renown? Because his solo career didn't get the attention it could have, and even a "Best of" CD on A&M was remaindered very quickly. Still known musically for "Rocky Horror," and as an actor, Tim's "straight" albums have been unjustly ignored. I can understand why; he disappointed gays and cultists expecting nothing but campy "Rocky Horror" stuff. His rock style was still too tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top for average rock fans who expected Alice Cooper (very masculine despite the name and make-up) or Mick Jagger (who was clearly hetero despite the"faggot dancing").

Case in point, "All I Really Want," Tim's cover of a classic Joni Mitchell song. With his bombastic trombone-raucous voice, he stomps all over what was originally a cutesy number strummed by an earnest folkie. He sings in italics at times, which makes it a bit campy, BUT…he doesn't stomp in high heels. He also made sure to change some female gender words to male gender in the song.

When I interviewed him, back when the album was new, I asked him if he was deliberately separating himself from his Sweet Transvestite character in "Rocky Horror." Yes, he admitted. He changed "Rip my stockings (in some jukebox dive)" to "bop till I drop"because he very much wanted to present himself as a straight-forward (accent I guess on straight) rocker.

He presented himself as very straight at the interview…not a hint of flamboyance, not even some kind of Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty apricot nylon scarf. He was dressed conservatively in black slacks and a white shirt, with a skinny tie hanging undone around an open collar. As for Bonnie Miss Mitchell (Bon Joni), Tim admitted, "I found a certain sense of self in her songs," and he had a good time changing the phrasing to satirize and reflect it: "All I really really want our love to do, is to bring out the best in ME. And in you, too." Even if the effect is a bit tart and Bette Midler-catty, he still resisted any hint of transgender. "I want to knit you a sweater" becomes "I want a hand up your sweater."

Unfortunately for Mr. Curry, the occasional wry cover version ("Harlem On My Mind" by Irving Berlin), or song reeking of flamboyant costume choices ("Birds of a Feather") went just a bit too far for some straights, which is quite ironic considering that Tim worked with Alice Cooper's producer Dick Wagner. To me, his songs weren't overly fruity, just playful in the same spirit as Jagger's "queer sounding" numbers such as "Miss You," or "When The Whip Comes Down."

All he really, really wanted to do…was to be a rock star…bringing out the best in himself…and entertaining you, too.

Tim Curry Live All I Really Want

Sunday, March 09, 2014


"Ding Ding Ding!"

Seriously. You remember Ol' Blue Eyes. Asked for his opinion on rock and roll, he called it "The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear."

I think his reasoning was that…rock doesn't "swing," and the lyrics don't usually include "dooby-dooby-doo." Or, yes, "Ding Ding Ding." But when rock and pop took over the Top 100 in the 60's, Frank began to pick out and customize cover versions. In THIS case, The Chairman of the Board simply erased some of Simon's lyrics and added new ones. Ay, ya think Frankie was gonna dis Joe DiMaggio? No no no! PS, there were too many lyrics in that wacky little Jew's original version, so Frank cut a full minute out. Ding Ding Ding!

So DIG the NEW lyrics, the kind that could make this tune worth singin' at Jilly's.

Frank sounds proud of himself, like he improved a tepid rock tune and made it...COOL! The guy still wished he was doing Cole Porter stuff, I'll bet. The guy who wrote "Strangers in the Night" recalled finally getting a chance to meet Ol' Blues Eyes. He introduced himself as the author of what was one of Frank's few Top 20 hits of the 60's...and Frank glared at him and walked away.

Despite this thuggish behavior (and my friend Bobby Cole told a few stories about just how much of a prick Frank could be), I got nothing against the father of Woody and Mia's child. The guy did have a way with a dark ballad (gotta love his miserable concept albums, such as "Where Are You?"). It's just…well, it's been many months since the last "ILL-USTRATED SONG" was posted here, and this one really needs no words of description. Just listen for yourself at how he's changed a rock tune into something…that really swings.


No egocentric passwords using the blogger's last name. No "tip jar" requests for the blogger's "hard work." No idiot capcha codes. No use of a "service" that wants you to pay to be a "premium" member for faster downloads. No money being made here on somebody else's song….no money taken away from the artist, either.

Daylight Savings Hell, and "Sock It To Me Sunshine" The Curtain Call

Today is Sunday, and it's a day of rest…but also exhaustion, since the government-enforced "Daylight Savings" has screwed up everyone's circadian rhythms. Have you finished changing every clock and wrist watch because the government is run by Fascists who actually rule TIME ITSELF??

Speaking of screwed up rhythms, the download below: "Sock it to Me Sunshine."

It's offered here as a sticky tribute to two of the worst things on the planet: "Daylight Savings" (which marks the end of freezing and the beginning of burning) and "Sunshine Pop," a brainless musical form from the late 60's. "Sunshine Pop" suggested you could get a natural high off rainbows, butterflies and paisley blouses. It was incense without the pot. It was maple syrup instead of Southern Comfort. It was psychedelic music dumped into the middle-of-the-road and run over by a kiddie calliope. You were expected to go out to a park or the beach with this melty ear wax trickling its treacle from your transistor radio, Soon you'd be overdosing on cans of sugary soft drinks, feeling "sun dazed," and staring at clouds (without getting to know them). You'd be "feeling groovy," and thinking about getting real trippy IF you knew the way to San Jose

Essentially lame, despite the "psychedelic" names, most of these sunshine stomach-acid bands dressed like preppies. The guys had on sweaters and white pants. The "chicks" maybe wore miniskirts and a sweater with some beads around their necks or a chain with a peace symbol. Some of these bands looked middle-aged…like The Fifth Dimension. Many seemed to get signed to record labels that were looking for something harmless "that the kids might like," to replace low-selling crap from Mitch Miller, The Four Lads or Acker Bilk.

"Sock it To Me Sunshine" by the Curtain Call, turned up on Dot in April of 1968., nobody figured they were named for a dot on a piece of paper that actually was LSD.

In 1968, Dot was a sad, out of touch record label; they were still releasing singles by Pat Boone, The Mills Brothers and Rosemary Clooney. Rosie was trying to remain current with stillborn ballads including "One Less Bell to Answer," and having less success with each attempt. The label still believed in instrumentals...Muzak versions of pop hits ("Mrs. Robinson" from Sound Symposium), Billy Vaughn (why, in 1968, release a cover of "St. James Infirmary") and Neil Hefti (the bouncy theme from "The Odd Couple" movie).

Not sure what the hell they were doing, they signed "hep" bands with funny names or wacky-named songs, and hoped for the best. How about "Dooley Vs the Ferris Wheel" from the Irish Republican Army? How about "Reptilian Mindblower" from Boots Brown and The Pfugelpipers? Surely somebody wants "Baja California" by the Chuck Barris Syndicate? The Dot Have-Nots tried cover versions of popular hits ("Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Dick St. John and "Alfie" from the Anita Kerr Singers). They even threw money at a few famous movie and TV personalities. Mia Farrow released "Lullaby from Rosemary's Baby" and Leonard Nimoy had "I'd Love Making Love to You."

"Laugh In" was a big TV hit, with its sunny, harmless brand of "counter-cultural" comedy, with flower-power ditz Goldie Hawn, lantern-jawed Ruth Buzzi as a spinster, and Arte Johnson doing a Nazi soldier apparently on leave from "Hogan's Heroes," with the cute catch-phrase, "Verrry interesting." Many of the "Laugh-In" bunch issued cash-in singles, and the sexual soul phrase "Sock It To Me" was now Judy Carne's comic signal for water dumped on her head…some kind of sitcom bukakke.

Also cashing in on "Laugh In" was "Sock It To Me Sunshine" (b/w "Say What You See") from The Curtain Call. Everything terrible about "sunshine pop" is in this song, thanks to its borrowings not only from "Laugh-In," but from the retro-crap "Winchester Cathedral" and the craze for anything from the 20's (movie theaters were pushing everything from "Bonnie and Clyde" to "Thoroughly Modern Millie"). It's got campy Chipmunks-meet-the-Andrews-Sisters vocals, baja marimba noodlings, whizzy wolf whistles, fruity brass and the rest of the pungent faux-vaudeville cheese. And like most things left out in the sun, in under two minutes, this overripe item starts to stink.

A word about "sunshine pop." The word is: shit. The vinyl for even the better examples of it (The Fifth Dimension's "Up Up and Away," or the tongue-in-chic Harper's Bizarre versions of Randy Newman songs) should be melted down for potato chip dishes. Any man who clasps his pudgy hands with delight at the sound of this drek probably has a hole in his head…self-lobotomized by a 45 rpm adapter spindle. PS, The Association's "Along Comes Mary," or The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreaming" are too dark to be "sunshine pop."

The Curtain Call, getting some Top 100 action for "Sock it to Me Sunshine," stole another phrase off "Laugh In," and tried for a follow-up about "Beautiful Downtown Burbank." The flip was the odious "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby." Another single, "Philadelphia Heartache" b/w "Country Living" launched and sank in 1969. No Curtain Calls.

Dot, incidentally, issued a full length album called "Uncle Bill Socks It To Ya," another cash-in on the "Laugh In" phrase. It also tried to exploit the retro-craze for zany 20's and 30's comedy film anarchists (in this case W.C. Fields). College campuses were rediscovering Fields, The Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy...with new books about the legends, and cash-ins a'plenty. "Uncle Bill" (a Fields look-alike named Burt Wilson) was backed on that album by (get ready) "The Peppermint Trolley Co" and he covered "Yummy Yummy Yummy."

Triviasts have noted that a few members of Bread (make that white bread…) and Pleasure Faire were involved in the production of some of The Curtain Call material. For that they don't deserve any curtain calls, just lots of ripe tomatoes.

"Daylight Savings" is an irritating ploy by Capitalist assholes to push people outside longer, to consume more hot dogs, spend more hours spending money at the mall, and wasting money on trips to Disneyland and other tourist traps. "Daylight Savings" means most any hour of the day you can get side-swiped by obnoxious bastards on inline skates and skateboards, tangled up in the leashes of senile morons walking their yappy dogs, or given an ear-ache from motorcyclists whizzing by or jackasses loitering loudly in front of your house consuming a lot of beer.

The idea is to enjoy the extra SUNSHINE. Which is fine if you're twelve, but a headache for almost everyone else. And, also fine if you're twelve, and a headache otherwise, is SUNSHINE POP, especially when it's poop like "Sock It To Me Sunshine."

After a long, brutally unpleasant winter where there was constant rain and flooding in England, and horrifying blizzards in America (in some places, you couldn't manage three days in a row without an interruption for snow), the reward is longer days, blinding sun and blistering heat. Soon humidity will be clinging to you like a snot-covered maggot. The air, as Spike Milligan once described it, so thick you can squeeze the sweat out of it. There's a good reason for the phrase "hell on Earth." And "Daylight Savings Time" is the beginning of it.

Sock It To Me Sunshine THE CURTAIN CALL

KISS OFF: "I Can't Take You Back" The Hall of Fame and Run-a-Rounds

My take on KISS getting into the Hall of Fame…only to bicker over who is onstage playing? Well, I was there when they were at the height of their fame, and at the time, I spent over an hour with each individual member for interviews. Yeah, they're worth inducting for their stage show, make-up, and the $$$ they made with double platinum albums and world-wide hysteria. Not because their music was any good.

And yeah, the ORIGINAL members should be inducted, because that's when they were famous. That's when they actually had hits. Those were the years when the band formed their identity. That Ace and Peter were easy to replace, and the replacements have been at it for some 15 years now…OK, very nice, stepping into the make-up the other guys wore. But KISS now is a nostalgia act, even with original lead singers Gene and Paul still fronting it.

Ace was the one who instantly alerted fans NOT to buy tickets to the Rock and Hall show (if they were expecting him and Peter). His reasoning was sound. Why the hell should he put on his famous make-up and be on stage…where some other guy is ALSO wearing the same make-up? That's like two prima donnas going to the Oscars and wearing the same dress. Peter Criss quickly fell in line behind Ace. What, he's gonna be in his cat make-up and sit behind drums, and right next to him, some pussy also has a drum kit and make-up??

Ace and Peter have been gone a long time…let's not forget that there was also Bruce Kulick (who was lead guitarist for about a decade) or the first drummer to replace Peter Criss: Eric Carr. Carr was also around for some ten years or more.

What could've been the solution? Perhaps…having each incarnation do one song. Which would be a revelation to non-KISS fans, who probably couldn't name, or sing along to ONE song, much less TWO. Surely, Ace is not so spaced out that he doesn't recognize the reality that he WAS replaced for some 25 years. (Just don't call him Surely). And if the other guys are fine with Peter's tell-all book, then prove it. There also seems to be some questions about "Hall of Fame" rules…which seem to suggest that only original members of a band can be inducted, although replacements can appear on stage…but I'm too bored to research that point. There's no question that Ace is the guy who initially said NO…which is why Ace is the guy you see in the illustration above.

Since this year's "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" show promises to be as tepid, absurd and boring as most all of them, with poor choices of inclusion, pompous speeches and woefully fabricated "highlight" moments…perhaps this cornball show from nowhere-land (Cleveland) does need the huge build-up of the great KISS band arguing and bitching right up to…who knows, "this magic moment" when they do follow my advice, and each play a song?? I use the term "this magic moment" because, really, the whole thing is as pointless and nauseating as to mention that there was a "Jay" helming "The Americans" before and after Jay Black had his hits with them, and the group still does oldies show with yet another "Jay."

I know, you want my take on the KISS guys and what they were like in person. (Shut up, I know you do). No surprise, Gene and Paul were the most egomaniacal, with Gene at least showing more charisma. Like Howard Stern, he kept up a lively mix of opinionated bullshit, amusing stories, and a good dose of humor. Ace? About as down to Earth as a druggy spaceman could be. He also had a good sense of humor (to go with his admittedly peculiar and comical speaking voice…which I recall as sort of Jay Leno imitating Frank Fontaine's "Crazy Guggenheim" character). Peter was the "regular guy," very likable and easy to talk to. Though not a fan of their music, I liked those guys, and, if was being paid, wouldn't mind talking again to three of the four.

Since KISS is a famous band, there's no need to "introduce" them with a download. So…here's the Run-A-Rounds, an obscure bunch of garage shoegazers who recorded circa 1967 on the indie Manel label. The chosen song, quite relevant to Gene and Paul's views on Ace and Peter, is "I Can't Take You Back." But perhaps your view is closer to another Run-A-Rounds song called…"I Couldn't Care Less."

"There's so much to forget. There's so much on my mind…your request seems unreasonable, after you did me so much dirt…I can't take you back…I can't take you back…should have learned a lesson. Don't play friend against a friend…"



Why pay $20 or $40 or even $100 for a mediocre album of jazz pop played by a very ordinary trio? Why, so a record collector faux-hipster can show it to his friends! Then, with an elbow to the ribs, he guffaws and says "See that guy at the piano? It's REALLY a WOMAN! Haw haw haw…"

The problem here is that most record collectors have no friends. That's the point of record collecting…to have a special room full of cool vinyl with maybe, some "action figures" on a whatnot shelf along with a real cool non-working Victrola on a pedestal. Or, hey, maybe a false-phallus…the kind of dildo and harness that Tipton, pianist-sans-penis, used on her women. Which, since a woman isn't around the average record collector, the record collector can use to go fuck himself.

Guess which album is a collector's item, and which doesn't? Right. The record with Billy and two bosomy babes is pricey, and the one with an ordinary, generic female cover girl, ain't.

So what was the deal on Billy Tipton? I actually did read the book about him/her, cleverly titled "Suits Me," all about how Dorothy Tipton used to find work as a pianist by dressing as a man…and because she also happened to be a lesbian, kept up the secret in private life. Tipton had a few obscure relatives who knew the secret, and since the musician was almost unknown outside of small clubs, and only recorded a few albums for budget labels, no reporters went prying into his pants. The biography about Tipton is fairly slim and hasn't much to say, since the pianist wasn't a swinger, didn't play lesbian clubs, wasn't crusading for transgender rights, didn't surgically change sex, and simply seemed to be nothing more than a somewhat androgynous-looking minor lounge act. And nobody was questioning major lounge acts like Wayne Newton, who in the 60's looked like a dyke.

A few of Tipton's wives talked to the author of the book…but what could they say? They claimed "Billy" never took a shower with them, undressed in the bathroom and made love in the dark. They said they had no idea about Billy's secret, but they might be lying, not wanting to be known as freaky old dykes. Whatever, Tipton had an uninteresting life playing boring clubs and playing fairly crappy familiar jazz tunes that were mostly middle-of-the-road with a dash of Dixieland. Even in retirement, and into the 80's (Tipton died January 21, 1989), "Billy" stayed in the closet. Let's remember that Hilary Swank's "Boys Don't Cry" didn't arrive for another decade. So who knows if Billy was afraid of embarrassment or getting beaten to death.

Only when Tipton died did the news come out that the local musician had led a secret life…and that the stiff in the morgue never had a stiff that couldn't be stored in a bedroom drawer.

Your download? A sample of Billy Tipton's music…which is professional, competent, and not very interesting. Sort of like Wayne Newton albums of nearly the same vintage. Say, Billy looks a bit like Wayne, doesn't he? Not that there's anything wrong with that…