Tuesday, January 19, 2016


The past week has seen the progrock world moaning about The Thin White Duke, Smiley the "Breathlessly Beautiful," and the drummer from "Mott the Hoople." I think you knew better than to anticipate a tribute on this blog to them. They have more than enough fans. So the salute here is to BLOWFLY, and I have more albums by him than the other three put together. Which isn't to say that any of 'em even contain a song at the same level as "Space Oddity" or "Putting Out Fire (the theme for Cat People)". But hey, weren't the BLOWFLY album covers a lot less pretentious than the BOWIE album covers?

In the world of Blowfly, you wouldn't waste your time on Mott the Hoople when there was a chance to Suck the Nipple. You wouldn't be squealing "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am" to a suffragette while secretly dreaming of being in bed with Mick Jagger. And your re-write on The Shirelles would go like this:

"Tonight your head is mine completely. As you jerk it in my cunt so freely…but will you still eat me when my period comes on?"

OK, I didn't say the guy's lyrics scanned that well. There was a decent, or rather, indecent shock laugh to some of what was on those old Blowfly records. A main problem with him, over 4 decades and spanning oldies parodies and funk porn, is that he was not on a major label and was elbowed aside by others. Early in his career, the stuff from Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts was much more accessible, and later, his funk was fairly mild and inept compared with the much more offensive and angry rap material out there from Ol' Dirty Bastard, 2 Live Crew or Li'l Kim.

Back in the early 70's, it wasn't easy to find Blowfly albums, which were on the obscure "Weird World" label. Record stores were afraid to put the records on the shelf, since they usually had the skankiest topless women on them, and Blowfly in his ridiculous superhero outfit. Much of what was on the black vinyl was, frankly, aimed at blacks only…and ones with a nasty sense of humor.

Blowfly was Clarence Reid (February 14, 1939-January 17, 2016). and as Clarence, he had some success in the "clean" music world. His legit songs turned up on albums by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Betty Wright, and Sam and Dave. K.C.'s label, TKO, released "Rap Dirty" back in 1980, which Blowfly would later insist made him "the first rapper," and a true pioneer. What he definitely was, in his Blowfly guise, was a crapper. This included his parody, "Shittin' on the Dock of the Bay." Like most parodists, he ran afoul of copyright holders. The courts were on his side, though, since parody was, and is, considered "fair use," as long as the profits are split. After all, if you change the lyrics but keep the music, the original composer should still be paid. Too bad if the lyricist who wrote "What A Difference a Day Makes" doesn't find it funny to hear "What a Difference a Lay Makes."

Reid's rather stupid comedy name was something he received as a child. Foul-mouthed almost from the time he could talk, Clarence liked to jerk around with whatever he heard on the radio. Singing along to Chubby Checker's "Do The Twist," Clarence changed the words to "Suck My Dick!" His grandmother declared, with awe if not enthusiasm, "You is nastier than a blowfly." Well, it could've been chigger, which would've been worse.

With his legit songwriting and his underground fame as Blowfly, Clarence managed to stay in showbiz year after year, and by the 1990's, the world had somewhat caught up with him, and he was getting better gigs and less hassles. Record stores that had been busted just for selling his "Porno Freak" album now stocked all his stuff. He toured with his sex songs and often was welcomed on the bill with other established acts, like Flea and the Fishbone, or colleague in dirty vinyl, Rudy Ray Moore. Jello Biafra was a fan, too.

But...Blowfly wasn't exactly going to sell out big venues, and it's no surprise that as he struggled into his 70's, his bookings were less frequent. That he was seeing little royalties from airplay or record sales in the age of Spotify and piracy, meant that he had to keep pushing to do live shows, even if his health and stamina wasn't what it once was. His website, not updated often, didn't list any dates after the summer of 2014 when he managed to book a few shows.

He probably sold t-shirts at his gigs. He had one as part of his infamous CD box set. The 3-CD set "Blowfly X-Rated" includes a t-shirt AND a membership card. Just who'd be impressed if you flash it, I don't know. I've never flashed it, and I've never taken the t-shirt out of the plastic bag it's in.

Blowfly was popular enough to even grant interviews with such prestigious publications as SCREW. I dug up some Q&A from a slowly tanning few pages from a 1991 issue of SCREW. It's Blowfly talkin' with Al Goldstein:

AL: "You are not on everyone's list because your message and your songs have not reachd the public. How do you view your career? "

BLOWFLY: "Most ofthe other guys just be plain nasty. Anybody can be nasty…it takes blues like "When somebody fucks you, it's no good unless he fucks you all the way…" You can't help but laugh. It's the combination of nasty and funny."

AL: "Is a black woman offended by being told hey, you're my bitch? "

BLOWFLY: "No, because they're used to hearing it. They know the definition of what it means….Bitch is just like calling a man he's a motherfucker. Bad means, like, good." AL: "It used to be when I was in school the black guys would say "My Bitch will suck my dick but I don't eat her pussy…" Has that changed?

BLOWFLY: "Oh, that has changed now. It's like the opposite way. We got it from you Jewish guys."

AL: "Have you had any relationships with Jewish women?"

BLOWFLY: "A couple."

AL: "They like to be in charge. They want you to be submissive. Do you enjoy that?"

BLOWFLY: "Well, his particular chick wanted me to get into a sexual thing with her and she wanted to play the dominating role. The least I can do is obey her, because one favor deserves another."

AL: So you're saying she made you do it…and you put the dildo up your ass for her sake. Is that what you're telling us?"

BLOWFLY: "Shut this guy's mouth!"

And now, Blowfly's mouth is shut. However, like a corpse in a badly constructed casket, the smell lingers on. Below are two examples of the Blowfly's nasty sting.

ROTTEN FISH, a Jamaican novelty, channels Benny Hill, turning an old joke into a rhyme: "…I can always tell when a chick is a nasty whore. When she's dancing and doin' the splits and her ass sticks to the floor."

SHE'S BAD, something Michael Jackson might've done had he been heterosexual, is really no different from a lot of rap and R&B from the late 80's and early 90's. Reid's vocals don't add much to the predictable melody and sass: "The bitch is built to the hilt, she keep her pussy wrapped in silk…she will make you come in yo pants until there's nothin' left. Her pussy's so motherfuckin' good that she wanna fuck herself!"

ROTTEN FISH Blowfly tries some raunchy reggae

SHE'S BAD How bad, Blowfly? Less feminine-looking than Michael Jackson?


Regular readers of this, the "blog of less renown," know that Glenn Frey is too famous to be chronicled here. Unlike some stars who I've defended here (such as Patti Page and Frankie Laine), nobody questions that Frey (pronounced Frye) was a cool and talented musician worthy of respect.

So…below is NOT a Glenn Frey song. You probably own as much solo Frey and Eagles stuff as you want already. Your link is to a parody of his best lyric, "Hotel California." It's by the obscure team of Rick D'Elia and Adam Stone. They impersonate two stereotypical Mexicans illegally invading Southern California, where they delight in the smell of a Taco Bell (the restaurant, not a person). In the low budget video for the song, they are seen selling oranges on a highway and acting like a moronic version of Cheech & Cheech.

This is pre-Donald Trump and his idea of building a wall at the border, but it's still easily categorized as "racist," which is applied to any ethnic comedy today. Let's be honest, it's now impossible to make fun of annoying ethnic characteristics and behavior without hearing a whine of "ewww, yew are prejudiced." You know who says that most? Faggots. But I digress (and I assume I needn't add that I was also joking?)

Fact is,there are a LOT of reasons why something isn't funny, besides racism. This thing barely gave me a chuckle or two. But it's here to a) call attention to Frey the lyricist, and b) point out that Mexicans are annoying. (I keed, I keed).

No, point a is quite valid. Is Frey usually on any a list of lyricists? One that would include Taupin, Robert Hunter, or even Sting? Nah. And yet at times this guy was sort of a working man's Keith Reid, honing the lines down to blunt couplets: "It's a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford" ("Take It Easy") and "Wonder why the right words never come. You just get numb" ("Tequila Sunrise"). He also had a co-write, with Don Henley, on "Desperado."

"Hotel California" is somewhat Dylanesque, as in "what the FUCK is going on, is the place haunted? Who is dead? Is it Frey? But he didn't die till the other day, when Don Felder said "TGIFD, Thank God it's Frey Dead (and not ME, and hey everyone, I wrote the music to that song, dammit! And did you miss me being on the reunion tour??")

Speaking of reunion tours, the Eagles did make it out on the road with Frey a year or two ago, which would indicate that his ulcerative colitis was somewhat under control. The problem is that it can flare, it can be so bad an operation is needed, and drugs for it can leave a patient open to more immune-deficiency diseases. Frey had rheumatoid arthritis, which, yes, is another of the awful-awful illnesses that are becoming more and more common in this germ-infested, stress-filled world. Ultimately, with these two illnesses, Frey was in a very weakened condition. It's also hard to imagine how hellish it was, to be suffering stomach agony, inflamed bowels, and also arthritic conditions rendering the body creaky and immobile and in pain.

Ultimately, as Bob Seger mentioned the other day, "...he caught a very virulent set of pneumonia. They were trying like hell to keep him alive. He'd been at Columbia Medical Center since November...." and Glenn was even placed in an induced coma, to try and give his body a chance to heal. It was reported that Frey had undergone intestinal surgery, which would be the most desperate option for acute ulcerative colitis. It would mostly likely involve removing the colon and creating an opening for a colostomy bag. With someone already having a compromised immune system, pneumonia could be a hazard.

Yeah, combine constant pain and having to run to the bathroom with being too arthritic to run to the bathroom, and you have hell on Earth. As for pneumonia, my late father called it "the old peoples' friend." Meaning, when you're so aged that life is nothing but misery, pneumonia comes along and puts you into a lovely coma, sometimes pretty quickly. But Frey was, at 67, not old. Not by today's standards.

And so, the inevitable happened: TWEETING.

Almost as deadly as the above diseases, are tributes from well-meaning but moronic celebrities and D-list idiots. Below, picked at random from the "Tweeting" that serves as an easy way of sending condolences and a fine publicity ploy, we find three examples. There's media whore George Tacky Takei throwing in some kind of "Star Trek" space-type reference. We find Rita Wilson, a singer better known as the wife of Tom Hanks and proof that he isn't gay, offering something even a Muppet would find maudlin. Yeah, that "rainbow above you" line is actually a glaring clinker in "Desperado" but it is much worse pulled from its comfy musical moorings and thrown on a Tweet like a Hallmark card through the letter slot. And last but not least, Steve Martin. Let's believe he knew that Glenn's last name was spelled FREY but typed FRYE so that everyone would pronounce it right.

The song "Hotel California" is often considered, along with "Stairway to Heaven, "Whiter Shade of Pale," and "The Laughing Gnome," to be a masterpiece of progrock. As such, the blog acknowledges its main creator, the unfortunately disease-ridden-to-death Glen Frey. And also as such, the blog offers a tasteless and stupid parody of the great song.

Hotel California Parody Mexican Illegals: Welcome to South California

Saturday, January 09, 2016

KITTY KALLEN - The Jewish Lady who sang Big Band and Buddy Holly

A new year means new deaths. One of the first casualties of 2016: Kitty Kallen (May 25, 1922-January 7, 2016). To the dismay of Roger Waters, thousands of Allah-kazam followers of Islam, and the skinhead Orbison lovers who wear Nazi-esque Iron Cross medallions, the obits have all mentioned that her real name was Katherine Kalinsky. She was Jewish. Yet she could sing like she was born in Tennessee, like Kitty Wells.

Kitty Kallen began her career as a big band singer, and her hits were anything but Jewish. The first, in 1944, was the #1 novelty "Besame Mucho." Which, if you're Jewish, could translate as "Joe Besser is Too Much." But it actually means "Kiss Me A Lot." Fronting the Harry James orchestra, Kitty hit the Top Five with "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "I'll Buy that Dream" and "It's Been a Long, Long Time." And as long as she had a generic name (like another Jewess, Dinah Shore) nobody was insisting she stick to "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" (which was a hit for the goyish Andrews Sisters. Go figure).

Kitty's most memorable #1 was "Little Things Mean A Lot" in 1954. The following year her father died, and coincidentally, she suffered "paralysis of the vocal cords," which kept her silent for several years. She went to several therapists to see if the condition was psychological, as well as checking in with doctors and voice experts. Eventually her voice returned, and with Big Band no longer popular, she turned to country-pop. Her cover of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" arrived in 1961, as did an album track of Buddy Holly's "Raining in My Heart."

Her last Top 20 hit was "My Coloring Book" in 1962. Just where a girl from Philadelphia got the voice of a Tennessee gal like Kitty Wells, I have no idea, but Kitty Kallen had it. Of the crossover artists, Kitty's sound might remind you a bit of Gogi Grant, who sang "The Wayward Wind." Gogi was also born in Philadelphia, her real name Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg.

Not long after "My Coloring Book," yet another health ailment, this time involving her lungs, sent Kitty Kallen into retirement, and the life of a housewife. It also set the stage for Kitty Kallen imitators to try and fool nightclub owners into hiring them. A headline in April of 1978 was: "KITTY KALLEN DEAD? NO, SINGER REPORTS." Kitty was alive and well in Englewood, New Jersey. Her husband had gotten the shocking call asking about his wife's death. Huh? She'd just stepped out to do some shopping! One of her imitators, Genevieve Agostinello had passed on in Los Angeles, and since she was prone to cashing check as "Kitty Kallen" when she worked, she had some ID and papers that fooled the hospital where she died.

The last time most of us heard of Kitty Kallen was in February of 2008, when she joined Patti Page, Frankie Laine, Tony Martin and others in filing against Universal Music Group. It was, of course, a losing battle.

As the New York Times reported: "“The estates of some of American music's biggest names, including Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Sarah Vaughan, have sued Universal Music Group for more than $6 million, claiming the company cheated them out of royalties, The lawsuit, which was also filed on behalf of some living artists, asserts that the company withheld record royalties, engaged in self-serving schemes with record clubs and suppressed payments from Apple’s iTunes and other digital distributors. The court papers accuse Universal of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment. The 14 plaintiffs are Patti Page, Tony Martin, Dick Hyman, Richard Hayman, Kitty Kallen and the estates of Basie, Goodman, Vaughan, Woody Herman, Les Brown, the Mills Brothers, Jerry Murad, Frankie Laine and the gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, says Universal has been using questionable accounting practices since at least 1998."

Obviously, the lawsuit didn't help Kallen or her fellow musicians. And by that time, the Internet was doing worse damage. Idiot "Seniormole" types and Mephisto-jerks claimed stealing music was a good idea because big record labels and the RIAA and ASCAP were already cheating the artists out of money. They could point to Kitty's lawsuit for proof.

Just why they figured it helped matters to scream "copyright is copy wrong" and help Kim Dotcom of Megaupload become a billionaire by selling premium accounts and cheating artists, I have no idea. Why they also thought Spotify was the "paradigm for the future" is also bizarre, but it's not uncommon for people NOT in the business to claim they know how to run the business. And not listen to the phrase "mind your own business."

Below, a little tribute to one of the greats of a bygone era. She was a talented lady, and at a time of great unrest due to religious fanaticism, her work reminds us that assimilation is possible and something to be proud of. Kitty Kallen sounds like what she was: an American artist. Imagine no religion? It's easy if you listen….

KITTY KALLEN The Jewish lady goes all country-Buddy Holly. Shel Silverstein was probably impressed. RAINING IN MY HEART


"American Beauty" And Sappy Movie-TV-Commercial Soundtrack Music

Have you noticed how lame movie soundtracks are? TV soundtracks? Music in TV commercials? It's worse than Muzak now; it's New Age shit. It's either loaded up with synthesized strings or a dull wash of anesthetized, meandering chords. The average idiot Jennifer Lawrence movie, the latest dumbass romance film of any kind, even the dopey Daddy-Is-a-Moron film comedy, will have repetitive meditative noodling going on.

It's bland music for bland scenes like "Dad goes for his morning jog" or "it's 9am and the business office is coming to life" or "Yuppie couple realizes they are attracted to each other while they look at naked statues at the museum." Inane moments of screen time are matched to a few idiot notes repeated on a marimba, or a Casio programmed to "fake violins."

This shit's been adopted for TV commercials, which try and hypnotize you by playing two or three notes over and over while you're told what headache reliever to buy.

I believe the father of this horrible Muzak is Thomas Newman, cousin of Randy. Randy's soundtrack music can be pretty sludgy but Tom's is written to a formula of predictability. It goes on and on; people listen to it the way they chew gum that's lost its flavor. It's just a monotonous, somehow-comforting ritual.

For me, music intended to soothe is enraging and distracting. The first Thomas Newman soundtrack that had me growling with disgust was "American Beauty," a sicko film that promised pedo-Lolita lust. Instead it was just metrosexual wimpiness that ended up with some bizarre message that most fag-haters are actually latent homosexuals…and probably most men who crave young girls would be just as happy with young boys.

The music for this drek-flick was a creepy combo of "perky" marimba percolations and oh-so-pretentious portentious smears of aural goo. The "best" of the soundtrack is below, 12 of its 40-odd minutes. If you can stand it, congrats, the Percodans have rendered you permanently mellow.

Thomas Newman's father was the famous Oscar-winning soundtrack composer Alfred Newman, who died way back in 1970. Alfred, along with Max Steiner, Franz Waxman and Erich Korngold and a few others, specialized in grandiose, symphonic sweepings that bore the general term "semi-classical." Folks that couldn't stand to put on a symphony or even Ravel or Debussy because there were quiet or difficult moments, could get "the best" of symphonic music with this lush, easy-listening stuff.

But by the 60's, Alfred Newman was out of style (and almost dead). There was Henry Mancini. There was Dominic Frontiere, John Williams and Bill Conti, who would give you one bombastic and memorable piece of music for a movie's climax. Maybe if you were lucky, a film like "Theater of Blood" would have a haunting semi-classical opening theme (by Michael J Lewis). The average commercial flick might open with a catchy Burt Bacharach or John Barry song. But by the 80's nobody was buying movie soundtracks because the generic music sucked. It was the duty of small labels like Varese Sarabande to bother with most of this boring crap.

Thomas Newman, who got his first Oscar nomination for "The Shawshank Redemption," quickly joined Danny Elfman in self-parody. Newman would go on to join his cousin Randy in being nominated over and over for predictable background music. In Tommy's case it was for "Road to Perdition," "Finding Nemo" and "Lemony Snicket's Unfortunate Events" among others. Give him a cloying topic like "The Help" or "The Iron Lady" and he would dutifully create busywork-music for it, helping a lazy director set the "oh, this is a comedy" mood, or help a wooden actress with a "this is supposed to be serious" scene.

You can do some of this yourself, especially for TV commercials. Take two fingers. Place them on a keyboard in a music shop. Toggle those two notes back and forth. That's the soundtrack to a dozen TV commercials for latte, yogurt, gluten-free cheese, tasseled loafers and pubic hair remover.

While "elevator music" has been part of our lives since the 50's, it used to be scorned. Albums of it by Mantovani and his pals were not taken seriously at the Grammy awards. Companies that intentionally reduced the formula to a science, such as Muzak, didn't even bother marketing that stuff to record stores. Now every movie is pluckin' ridiculous, with dumbed down New Age hokey-yoga baby-on-board lullabies and narcotic repetition, far removed from David Rose's notorious "Holiday for Strings" or Strauss's annoying "Pizzicato Polka."

If you have any taste, you probably won't be able to stand more than 2 minutes of the "best" of "American Beauty" below. It's on the blog only as criminal evidence of the state of soundtrack music today. You'll prefer being waterboarded. The "Medication Valse" from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is less numbing and more satisfying as movie soundtrack music. So is Liberace plinking the keyboard and playing "Humoresque." Movie and TV and TV commercial soundtracks aren't funny.


WOOLY BOULEZ - Pierre Boulez Dies at 90 - "Pavane for a Dead Princess"

What a Jeckyll and Hyde this guy was. Pleasant and radical!

To the average music fan who considers classical music an amusing high-brow dabble, like going to a museum, Pierre Boulez ( March 26, 1925,-January 5, 2016), was just a teddy bear. He won dozens of Grammy awards for his interpretations of the standards as he led the London, Cleveland, New York and Chicago symphony orchestras.

But Pierre was also Wooly Boulez, and he championed Arnold Schoenberg and Frank Zappa ("The Girl in the Magnesium Dress"). He composed difficult weird stuff, like the eerie atonal and dissonant "Hangmen of Solitude" (based on a Rene Char poem). He made his money via standards in staid concert halls, but he often wished he could invade the Fillmore or Palladium with his radical music: "The most expensive solution would be to blow the opera houses up. But don't you think that would also be the most elegant?"

Boulez began his career as an "infant terrible" composer, amusing the avant-garde world and pushing boundaries, tonalities and theories. Back then, audiences were having enough trouble just appreciating Stravinsky. Just as art lovers go to the museum to see Renoir and Matisse and only glance at Rothko or Pollock classical fans want Mozart and Debussy, barely tolerate Stravinsky, and time their bathroom break for when the program includes a "modern" classical piece.

And so it was that Boulez made his living as one of the steady conservative conductors in the post-"Living Stereo" 50's era. Back in the late 50's and early 60's "Living Stereo"-styled records made stars of Reiner, Stokowski, Bernstein, Walter, Von Karajan, Munch, Steinberg and many more maestros. They laid down definitive versions of the classics and stereophiles tossed their Toscanini monos.

All that Boulez, Haitink, Abbado and the others from the 70's onward could do was keep the podium warm, and put out "souvenir" recordings for people who attended the shows, or who thought digital CD sound was better. Boulez suffered comparisons to Leonard Bernstein, whom he replaced as leader of the New York Philharmonic. About the only thing they had in common was that they were gay, but Boulez chose to be secretive about it while Bernstein, especially toward the end, was outrageously flamboyant. I saw Bernstein take the stage once trailing a 20 foot long feather boa, his nose in the air, being as campy as a drag queen.

I never saw Boulez conduct in person (not that he was an exciting guy to watch…he didn't care for the traditional tuxedo, or even a baton) but I did buy some of his records way back when. Below are a few downloads from my vinyl of "Boulez Conducts Ravel." And no, I didn't buy his own wacko compositions. Boulez cautioned, "I don't think music is an entertainment product. It's a product of culture — not for marketing, but to enrich lives…All these years, I've been trying to convince people that music is not there to please them; it's there to disturb them."

Had I the chance, I would've asked French Pete, "Isn't it more difficult to please people than to just disturb them? You can bash around on the piano without even knowing how to play, and you'll happily enrage the crowd. But it takes years of practice to soothe the savage breast by being able to play even a simple Kabalevsky ballad. Yeah?" Meaning, while I appreciate Pollock's paintings, and understand modern classical and modern jazz...I can only stand it in small doses.

Below are two examples of more traditional classical music by Ravel, taken from my own well-used vinyl. The more challenging of the two is the "Danse generale" from Daphnis and Chloe Suite No 2. Don't worry, this excerpt is the length of any rock song: 3:30. It's a pretty fucking remarkable piece of work, with soaring voices adding to the excitement.

The previous post mentioned the garbage-like nature of movie soundtracks. Here's a study in the difference between real classical music and limp fakery. Even the best movie soundtrack guys couldn't come up with something like this.

Since the guy's dead, it was logical to include the contemplative "Pavane for a Dead Princess," sometimes translated as "Pavane for a Dead Infant." French composers seem to enjoy oddball titles for their works. Satie was a master at this, with his "Flabby Preludes for a Dog." Ravel himself cautioned that a pavane is a just a dance. Go ahead, think about a deceased princess or any loved one, and appreciate that you can dance, and be thankful to be alive. It's no different than Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" with new lyrics about Princess Diane. Sad songs say so much…mostly, "she's dead, I'm not, and I'm glad to be able to enjoy this sweet music." Or dance a pavane that is slow enough that you won't get a heart attack.

Living to the ripe age of 90, it's doubtful the average Boulez fan shed a tear over his passing, but if they dusted off the old vinyl as I did, and played "Pavane for a Dead Princess" and a few others, that's tribute enough.

DANSE GENERALE Boulez conducts a little stunner. No, really.

PAVANE FOR A DEAD PRINCESS In other words, be thankful that while the earth has stopped up the ears of the dead, you can enjoy this, and even slow-dance to it.