Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Consumer Reports is singing out that rice could be bad for you. Like, it's full of ARSENIC.

This news today had me instantly flash to that peculiarly-titled solo album by Ron Nagle: BAD RICE.

A legendary cult record from the leader of San Francisco's Mystery Trend, the album sported the mysterious cover photo of, well, bad rice.

The back cover had a photo of a creepy guy with a missing tooth...which some thought was Mr. Nagle. Actually it was just a kind of warped mascot (sort of like "Old Velvet Nose" the skull that always adorned Warren Zevon discs).

Who was going to buy this weird "Bad Rice" album by this unknown "Ron Nagle" guy? Years later, Nagle went on to form The Durocs, co-write for The Tubes ("Don't Touch Me There") and Streisand and the movies...while maintaining a day job as a ceramics professor and artist.

But let's not get too far from the story of the day. BAD RICE!

According to Consumer Reports, if everything gives you cancer (uh, Joe Jackson song reference!) then don't be surprised that RICE is high on the list: "white basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan, as well as U.S. sushi rice, has about half the inorganic arsenic amount of many other rice types...(rice with) a label from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas or just the U.S. had the highest levels of inorganic arsenic."

Think you can get away from this by eating brown rice, which is actually harder to digest and for some, much more of a health hazard? "It has 80% more inorganic arsenic than white rice...Brown basmati from California, India, or Pakistan...has about a third less inorganic arsenic than other brown rices."

Jack La Lanne, the original television exercise guru who nearly lived to be 100, gave sage advice: "If man makes it, don't eat it."

Of course even if you have a diet of raw vegetables and fruits, and maybe some cooked fish (or chicken if you can stand killing one) you're still dealing with the huge amount of chemicals and pollution in the air and soil these days.

What problems are associated with bad rice? Bladder, lung and skin cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes."

Consumer Reports is not telling people to avoid rice, but they aren't happy with the stats, or the food industry's lax and apathetic view of this and every other problem with heavily processed foods.

Since there's no actual track called "Bad Rice," your sample for the great Ron Nagle is the rockin' "Marijuana Hell," with Ry Cooder sliding around on guitar. Like Zevon, Randy Newman and a few others, Nagle has the ability to stick his tongue out, or in his cheek. Is he laughing at the anti-marijuana bunch, or does he see the dangers? Or both?

America has lately been wobbling closer toward legalized marijuana in every state. So far, there hasn't been much of a problem with legalized pot in Colorado, for example. But are we setting ourselves up for a marijuana hell where people are willing to rob to pay the high price? Will they get lazy and addicted because there are powerful varieties? Will we see more synthetic versions and wiseguys sticking it in food WITHOUT letting a friend know? Oh, it's hell, folks!

Any good news? Well, yes. Ron Nagle is promising a CD release of his album, with bonus tracks. He's also put out a few new solo albums that have been under the radar (sold only on his own website). Ron's DUROCS Capitol album from 1980 was re-issued with bonus tracks. Good news? Listen to Ron Nagle! Bad news? Don't eat too much rice!

RON NAGLE Marijuana Hell w/ Ry Cooder


When "Bajour" was revived for a limited (five performances) engagement in New York, songwriter Walter Marks was there. I asked him if Ernest Kinoy who wrote the book, was going to show up. He said that unfortunately Ernest wasn't well enough to make the long trip from his suburban home. This was back in 2007. I wish I'd written to the guy, because he made The Big Trip Home last week, dead of pneumonia.

You don't know who he is. That's common for most writers. The plus side is that writers don't have the pressure of doing interviews and being under constant scrutiny. The negative is that they (or the wife, or children or friends) have to explain who they are, and when they die, almost nobody even reads the obit, if there even is an obit.

Kinoy probably would list his Broadway work as among his lesser credits. He wrote the script for several musicals, including "Chaplin," and two shows that had scores by Walter Marks: "Golden Rainbow" (hit song: "I've Got To Be Me") and "Bajour" (no hit songs). Naturally, "Bajour" is not only my favorite from Marks, but in the Top 5 of my favorite musicals.

Kinoy contributed a joke-flecked sitcom story, and Walter Marks the songs. Walter's melodies are catchy and his lyrics are very, very clever. Like Cole Porter and later, Tom Lehrer, Marks was a fan of wordplay and inner rhyme. In a story about an anthropologist (Nancy Dussault) fascinated with a bunch of gypsy con-artists in New York, she sings about a "diatribe on why a tribe" is worth writing about. She notes that an anthropologist must discover an ethnic people, the same way "you're not an etymologist until you get the word, you're not an ornithologist until you get the bird."

In the insane Marks world, the villainess (Chita Rivera) brags to her tribeswomen, that she's "a pungent limburg cheese to you insipid camemberts."

It was a musical where a shout of "Virtue" was met with "Gezundheit," love advice was sung by Betty Boop (Mae Questel, who recorded the cartoon voice decades earlier) and two gypsy leaders (Herschel Bernardi and Herb Edelman) engage in insults about their offspring: "I hear you got a daughter so ugly, nobody would look if she was barefoot up to the neck!" "I hear you got a boy so stupid, even if he did look, he wouldn't know the difference!"

Their duet, "Honest Man" is below. The subplot of the show was the combining of the two tribes, thanks to a convenient marriage. Still, the gypsy leaders eye each other warily, and catch-phrases like "that's what you think" and "big deal" and "wise guy" take on both friendly and insulting meanings.

It might be the first time "Up Yours" was heard on Broadway.

Most Broadway shows have one obligatory comic song. This one had several. Maybe that's part of why it didn't last more than one season. The designated love songs and pop singles ("Why Must It Be Love" "Love is a Chance") were pretty good.

What did Ernest Kinoy do before and after his Broadway shows with Walter Marks? Everything. The man was a genius. But first he had to get through World War 2, which wasn't easy. Captured, he was taken to a Stalag (yes, just like Hogan and his heroes) but when the Nazis discovered Kinoy was a Jew, they hauled him to a tough, slave labor camp instead.

After the war, Kinoy wrote for sci-fi radio shows ("Dimension X" and "X Minus One"), Frank Sinatra's short-lived "Rocky Fortune," and then TV ("Studio One," "The Defenders," "Naked City," Dr. Kildare" and others). He won Emmy awards, and moved on to made-for-TV movies and theatrical films. Being a good Jewish liberal writer, he tended to write not about his people, but the other minority group, blacks. He wrote movies for Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte (including "Buck and the Preacher") and "Roots The Next Generations" and "Victory at Entebbe" about Idi Amin.

One of his last major works was "Chernobyl," a 1991 TV movie starring Jon Voight. Ernest's wife Barbara died in 2007. The next of Kin-oy are two children from the marriage. A fine writer, was Ernest Kinoy (April 1, 1925 – November 10, 2014), a versatile man, a heroic man, and an honest man. I wish I could've said or written "thanks, Ernest" to him personally.

Herschel Bernardi and Herb Edelman "Honest Man"

JIMMIE RODGERS - TROUBLED TIMES "Do they Know He has a Christmas Album?"

Yeah, the TV commercials are blasting away and stores are full of seasonal goodies. It's THAT time of year. For the older musicians, it's a time when the year end royalty check either doesn't come, or it's chump change. Joining the rest of their albums on the "music should be free" Internet, are any Christmas they made. What would Jesus do? Set up a Christmas blog and give away every seasonal album from Dean Martin to Bob Dylan? Some people must think so!

Jesus could also turn water into wine while mere mortal singers and songwriters can't magically fill the kitchen with loaves and fish sticks. They need payment.

Millionaire Bob Geldof isn't concerned with pioneering figures of the 50's and 60's who aren't getting decent royalties and can't tour 100 dates a year in their old age. Charity begins at home, Bob. Do you know how most in the music industry spend Christmas? Clue: the problem is people NOT spending money on music.

Jimmie Rodgers has a Christmas album and you can order it at He'll even autograph it. The tracks include: O Holy Night, The First Noel, Silent Night, We Three Kings, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Come All Ye Faithful, White Christmas and more. They're sung in what is actually a pretty unique style. Rodgers, a folksinger originally, with country leanings (we all remember "Honeycomb") did have a gentle Como-type of voice. It was well suited to the gentle protest song "Child of Clay," which was a big hit before he got "the big hit" from an insane cop who pulled him over on the freeway and nearly killed him.

At the time, Rodgers was enjoying a well-deserved "second act" in his career. Signed to the same label as Phil Ochs, he was balancing social conscience songs with the moody pop hits of the day ("Windmills of Your Mind," Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," Joni's "Both Sides Now") as well as genial up-tempo numbers. He had grown up from the simple days of "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," without alienating the old fans. He was finding new ones. But after the attack, the handsome singer lost vital months to rehab, and his momentum was lost. The affects of his near-fatal beating haunted him and hindered him.

"Troubled Times" was the appropriate name of the "lost" A&M album that came out after "Child of Clay." While Collector Choice put his first two A&M albums on a CD, this one, no. Other cuts include "Woman Crying" and "The Good Times Are Gone."

Rodgers' "Troubled Times" album isn't really that gloomy. It reflected a kind, optimistic personality. Now about 80 years old, he still likes to get out there from time to time, and appear at a "celebrity show" if he can. He and his manager run the website and a Facebook page, and he has music and even an autobiography for sale. Geldof was proud to say he raised a million dollars in less than a day with his latest starfest Christmas song, the money disappearing into some black hole (as has happened since George Harrison and "Bangla Desh"). Too bad Geldof and the others aren't concerned with the pioneer singers and songwriters who came before them and built up the pop industry they plunder.

Jimmie Rodgers has a Christmas album for sale (and not on Spotify; something Taylor Swift understands, but Geldof and his pals do not). Blessings to those who know it's out there, and want to buy it.

Jimmie Rodgers "Troubled Times"

Sunday, November 09, 2014

RICHARD TURLEY - The Rockabilly Who Got Blindsighted

Here's Part One (the early years) in my salute to Turley Richards, who has just published his memoir "Blindsighted."

His early singles on the indie Fraternity label, were issued under his real name: Richard Turley. The teenager's very first recording, "Makin' Love with My Baby" fit right in with what Elvis, Jerry Lee and Bill Haley were doing, and remains a rockabilly "Hall of Fame" classic. From the start, Turley was not only a great singer, but he could write a solid song, too. This was already an achievement for a kid who could've been written off when he was just four.

At four, the kid from West Virginia was playing with some friends. The game was for the oldest kid (twelve) to show off with a bow and arrow. The giggling kids would bend over and use a pillow as the "target." Wham! Ha ha!

You guessed it. All went well till it was Richard's turn. He waited. He waited. He turned around to see what was delaying the arrow…and it lanced his eye.

This was the start of a literally scarred childhood. An infection in the damaged eye spread to the other. It was almost a race against time for Richard Turley to become a superstar while he still could see the faces on the pretty girls who flocked around him. He endured bizarre treatments (the doctor would pop his good eye out, clear scar tissue, put it back in). Because he grew to be a 6'4" 200 pounder, had to literally fight off a variety of clowns who wanted to take down a big man, not realizing this was a man blind in one eye. As page after page of his book shows, this guy had to fight almost all of his life.

The most difficult opponent was luck. Every time he seemed to have won, and defeated an obstacle, a new one would appear. He'd sign with a new record label for more money and more prestige, only to lose out because of the whims of radio stations or an error in management or confusion over musical direction (C&W, rockabilly, rock, folk, gospel, R&B…he could do them all).

The colorful stories in his book could make for one hell of a movie. He learned the hard way. How about singing "black" to the point where he got bookings in the South…only to be shot at by racists? How about getting a chance to tour, only to discover how easily club owners could screw an artist? One owner offered no money up front, but a percentage of the door? When Richard and his band received no money, the gang unscrewed the front door from its hinges. The club owner shouted, "What the hell are you doing?" Turley: "You said that we could play for the door. Well, we played, so now I'm taking what we earned!"

People outside the business thinks it's easy to get a demo into the right hands, and anyone who makes a record has gotten a huge advance and is doing well from brilliant management and an agent who arranges well-paying tours. Uh, no. This book will tell you the truth. In fact, the early days almost ended the career of Richard Turley.

After frustration with touring, and a deal with Dot Records that fell through, he sold his guitar in California and came back home. "Everybody says that you're the best singer they've ever heard," his mother told him. "God gave you a gift, and you've got to use it. I taught you to never give up and defeat is no option…You might be totally blind someday, and music is how you're going to earn your living."

And so he continued. Deals came and went. In one bizarre chapter, he talks of becoming a "Midnight Cowboy." In the film, Joe Buck comes to New York with the intent of becoming a rent boy. He failed. Turley succeeded. While he did have to sleep in Central Park before he made it as a stud, eventually two girls sharing an apartment decided to share him, too. He drifted among the rich girls, but kept moving any time things got serious. The guy was always very stubborn and independent…at one point becoming the lead singer for The Kingsmen on tour, only to part ways, figuring he could do better.

The book is loaded with stories about his wild times in the big city, and sharing the stage with up-and-coming talent including Richard Pryor (Turley actually ad-libbed stuff that had Pryor on the floor) and Jimi Hendrix. He got signed to Columbia and a single came roaring up the chart…until someone got the bright idea of putting a photo of him in Billboard. It turned out black radio stations were playing Turley's R&B song, and when they discovered he wasn't really black, they stopped. That's show biz…and rotten. And it got worse. The same thing was going on with his health. His eyesight was improving but the medication was destroying him with side effects. Eventually the meds stopped working and the light failed…just as he was getting his biggest break…a deal with Warners.

Below, the "rockabilly" Richard Turley…before he became the rocking Turley Richards.

Richard Turley Makin' Love With My Baby

Richard Turley "I Wanna Dance"

TURLEY RICHARDS: "Love Minus Zero" Plus Hard Luck

It always seemed Richard Turley would turn his luck around…especially when he literally turned his name around, into Turley Richards. In November 1969, 45 years ago this month…he signed with Warners and covered Bob Dylan's "Love Minus Zero (No Limit)." It hit the Billboard Top 100. What could go wrong?


Turley Richards, with a five octave range and the ability to sing any type of music, was now being sold as a singer/songwriter. Warners in 1969 positioned him as part of their folk-rock stable, which included James Taylor, acid folkies Pearls Before Swine and Greenwich Village legend Hamilton Camp. Warners was happy that Turley's single was charting. But instead of grinning, they should've been manufacturing the album.

"It was virtually unheard of for a record label not to release an album right after the single charted," Richards writes in his new book "Blindsighted." Even so, there was reason for optimism. A track on the album, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus," was a critical sensation. It not only showed off his five octave range, but his ability to do everything from deep, righteously brotherly crooning to anguished, gravel-voiced gospel-shouts. It fulfilled the promise he showed when he turned up on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" with a full-ranged version of "Summertime."

Richard was also touring, winning praise from others on the bill, including Laura Nyro and Miriam Makeba. While "I Heard the Voice of Jesus" was too long for a single (there was a 4 minute promo made), Warners figured another album of light rock tunes would continue the success he had with the rather mild "Love Minus Zero (No Limit)." Unfortunately there was no shortage of "mellow" at the time, especially from James Taylor. Despite a Vanilla Fudge-styled slow-mo version of the soul classic "My World is Empty Without You Babe," the album didn't do too well and the "West Virginia Superstar" had to find a new record label.

What he found was more frustration, whether it was Epic or Atlantic, whether the promises came from Ahmet Ertegun or Mick Fleetwood. He had a manager who turned down an amazing offer from Merv Griffin, who wanted Turley as a regular. Turley invested money in himself to try and push a song called "You Might Need Somebody" (Atlantic) to the top, something that Kapp, Columbia and Epic couldn't do with their chosen singles.

The song zoomed up the Billboard charts, but the rocket disintegrated in mid-flight. The album seemed to disappear off the chart without a trace. "I had paid $15,000 out of my own pocket to an independent radio promotion man…now I called him to ask what the hell just happened. He told me he had never seen anything like it in his entire career of promoting records…I smelled a rat…."

Turley has a good sense of humor (his album "Therfu" borrows from the middle portion of "motherfucker") but after all these years, the ups and downs were no longer funny. Eventually there came the big decision; accept yet another record deal, take another tour on the road…or stay home and work some kind of day job. He chose to stay home. "Not only would I have missed my kids growing up, I would have been shirking my responsibilities as their dad. Today, there is no father out there who knows that his kids love him with the depth that I do. We have a very special bond and I wouldn't trade that for all the record deals in the world." He learned how to get along despite his blindness. He was able to learn how to use a computer, how to get around without a guide dog, and how to set up his chosen business (teaching singing and songwriting).

Over the past 20 years, Turley's performed in local clubs in the Kentucky area, as well as "corporate" gigs. He's tried to sell his music through downloads on his website, and at one point I recall he even tried a "buy it if you like it" deal, offering a new album free, with a link to Paypal. In the book Turley notes that indie labels have "no artist development money. These types of labels rely on the artist playing at least one hundred dates a year." The last time he signed with a label like that, all he got was boxes of CDs taking up space in his garage.

Now he may have a box or two of books in there as well, but hopefully these will start to move as word-of-mouth builds. This is a great memoir. He opted to self-print his book, and while that usually means an amateurish product, that's not the case here. His book is well-edited, thoroughly professional, printed on quality paper, and the bonus is that it comes with a 6 song CD including a remastered "I Heard the Voice of Jesus." Go to his website to order it:

I was glad to get this book because I always wanted to know more about this mysterious guy who created one of the most awesome tracks of all time with "I Heard the Voice of Jesus." Not many ever achieve something like this. The most recent person I can think of, is Siobhan Magnus, who stunned "American Idol" with "freakish notes" in her cover of "Think," and then "Paint it Black." But she didn't win the show and hasn't solved the problem if how to make a living touring and selling albums. She, like Turley, couldn't simply do "the gimmick" over and over, and turn every song into a showcase for octave range and varied stylings.

If you don't know Turley's music, I'm sure the downloads on the blog will be an inspiration to collect his albums and singles. I hope it also inspires you to buy the book. It's Turley's tale but it's also the story behind most any unique artist you like; one who made a few albums on different labels and earned your love and respect, even if it didn't translate into fame and fortune.

Love Minus Zero No Limit

"Young as You Are" Sal Mineo and his bums

One of the odd things in music is how often you hear "bums."

While doo-wop produced a lot of nonsense words, and many singers can't resist an orgasmic "ooh," somehow there's been a fetish for "bums." Probably the record for the most "bums" belongs to The Chordettes: "Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum, Mr. Sandman…"

In the days of madrigal (when you'd go find a gal in Madrid, on summer holiday) the nonsense words were "fa la la." Illiterates got a chance to sing choruses. People got bored with that, and looked to more interesting nonsense words, like "whack fol the daddio." Then pop music came along and things got simpler again. But why, you can almost hear Terry-Thomas sigh, "the preoccupation with BUMS?"

Why is it that singing "bum bum bum" is supposed to remind people of bells or something, when the actual word means hobo or butt?

Here, Sal Mineo's backing vocalists offer a lot of bums.

The BBC never censored a song for having too many bums? Maybe they would not have cared if the chorus was actually butts, butts, butts?? I don't think they even censored The Beatles when those cheeky monkeys chose a deliberate chorus of "tit tit tit tit tit." You remember that song, it was about the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry. Sorry you ever thought of ramma lamming your ding dong in her.

As to the singer, Sal Mineo, what can one say? He was one of the many straight/gay idols of the day who sang well enough to get a record deal. Movie studios liked a star who could self-promote via "The Ed Sullivan Show" and music on the air waves. Anthony Perkins made a lot of records, and not to long after that, Richard Chamberlain.

Sal remains a cult favorite thanks to "Rebel Without a Cause," (and to a lesser extent, his psycho-killer role in "Who Killed Teddy Bear," with comedian Jan Murray as the cop trying to track him down. Gays took him to heart after gossip had him stabbed to death by a jealous lover (no, it was just a burglary gone wrong). Mineo did seem to spiral downward after his "teen idol" years, but he was always more than just a pretty boy. In his prime he showed off a lot of ethnic diversity. He was a Sioux Indian ("Tonka," 1958), a speed-driven drummer ("The Gene Krupa Story" 1959) and a Jew ("Exodus," 1960). Perhaps somewhere, on TV, in a film, or on stage, he may have even played a bum.

Visit Mineola "Young As You Are (bum bum bum)"