Sunday, March 09, 2014

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. Dot...no, 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

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