Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Single from Baseball Legend Tony Conigliaro

Young and good looking, Boston Red Sox home run slugger Tony Conigliaro (January 7, 1945 – February 24, 1990) had a bright future back in 1965. He led the American league with 32 home runs. It was not a big number compared to what Mantle and Maris hit a few years earlier, but it was good enough for the home run king to get a deal for some pop singles.

“Little Red Scooter” was no competition to “Little Deuce Coupe,” especially not with the anemic chorus of “no more Put-Put!”

His better known single was “Why Don’t They Understand,” which sounds a bit like Fabian coming back to the echo chamber after a funeral. It probably would've suited his image to cover "The Wanderer" or some other urban sass from Dion, than a sad sack track that had gotten minor play back in 1958 for George Hamilton.

The flip, “Playing the Field” was a not-so-clever play on words. The bland vocalizing from Tony didn’t hint at the charisma that was getting him attention from not only Boston babes, but even celebrity party girls like Mamie Van Doren.

Tony’s biggest hit was, unfortunately, a baseball to the eye on August 18, 1967.

Batting against California Angels’ Jack Hamilton, Tony couldn’t get out of the way of a hard pitch tailing in on him. He was smacked on his left cheek, with the powerful shot blurring his vision and dislocating his jaw.

It was one of the most severe injuries any hitter sustained at home plate. It rivaled the notorious smack in the face in 1957 when a line drive from New York Yankees’ Gil McDougald connected to Cleveland Indians pitcher Herb Score’s face.

Herb Score's career ended, mostly because he tore tendon when he made his comeback after so much time off. In trying to make adjustments in his pitching motion to ease the pain and strain, he injured it yet again.

Tony Coniglaro's fate was different To the surprise of some, he returned to even greater success, and belted a career high 36 home runs in 1970. The Red Sox helped his problem eyesight by putting a black tarp over a section of seats in centerfield, so he could more easily pick up the ball as it was leaving the pitcher’s hand. The major leagues, eager to prevent any more injuries like Tony's, encouraged batters to wear a helmet with a protective flap over the ear, leaning partially toward the cheek.

In 1975 Tony C. retired to a broadcasting career. In 1982 he was felled by a heart attack and soon after, a stroke. It left the hard luck baseball hero almost helpless. His family and his brother took care of him until his death, only 45 years old.

TONY CONIGLIARO Playing the Field

TONY CONIGLIARO Why Don’t They Understand?

Dead Dandy Dan Daniels - IS THAT ALL THERE IS

At one time, London and New York City had the most influential disc jockeys in the world, from Murray the K to John Peel. With very few exceptions (Dick Clark on national television and syndicated shows from Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem) AM and then FM music was changed by New Yorkers like Cousin Bruce Morrow and Scott Muni, and “the night bird” Alison Steele

In the prime years of the 60’s when AM radio ruled, New York City had three stations blasting rock into teen ears. There was WINS, WABC, and way down on the dial, WMCA. WMCA had the least powerful signal, and no superstar DJ. The best known, who died a few days ago, was probably Dan Daniels (December 18, 1934 – June 21, 2016).

Born Vergil Daniel in Texas, “Dandy Dan” worked his way up from a year or so at Houston’s KXYZ to four years at WDGY in Minneapolis, and then in 1961, the big time, WMCA, ending up with the prestigious afternoon “drive time” gig, 4 to 7pm. Some time during his NYC run, “Dan Daniel” turned plural, and became “Dan Daniels.”

The humble Texan said at the time, “A lot of guys west of the Hudson River are good enough to be here in New York. Just the same, many guys have bombed out in major markets, mostly because they thought too highly of themselves. You have to be constantly good, with the insecurity on your back, otherwise you’d get lazy. If deejays had security, as a class, radio would be so dull it would go out of existence. As it is, you have to make your own security by being good…insecurity forces a deejay to diversify, to…become more than a deejay.”

His best known rivals were gravel-voiced hipster Murray The K at WINS, and hyper “Cousin Brucie” at WABC. The Dandy One chose a more natural identity: “A deejay can be excited, use sound effects, voices, whatever. But when you talk to people, you’ve got to relate to them. When you give the time or the weather, anybody can do that, so you do it in your own style…”

Like a number of disc jockeys, Daniels harbored a bit of a dream about becoming another “Big Bopper,” and having a hit record. A problem with that was the suspicions regarding Payola. Another: it’s just very difficult to have a hit record, even if you have personality and even a pretty decent singing voice. In 1968 he discovered an unrecorded oddity from Leiber & Stoller called “Is That All There Is?”

“Dandy Dan” opted to style himself after Sinatra; ring-a-ding with a tongue-in-cheek dash of AM disc jockey cool. The result? Almost a parody of what would become known as a depressing cabaret piece. Obviously a male is not going to be that broken up over not enjoying the circus, or having some twat walk out on him; “Dandy Don” treats these traumas with amused cynicism. And the ultimate fate in life? Death? He may not have snickered quite as horribly as the “Big Bopper,” but he gave it some hearty ha-ha’s!

No wonder Lieber and Stoller didn't want Dan's version to hit the air. Instead, with an arrangement by Randy Newman, and the sophisticated deadpan of Peggy Lee, the song became a sensation.

Two years later, the 70's arrived and AM radio was on the decline. It was longer the time of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, “Monster Mash” or “Purple People Eater” novelties…or “Dandy Dan” and the WMCA “Good Guys.” He moved on to other things.Further up the dial, WINS, where Murray the K had ruled as “The Fifth Beatle,” switched to all-news. FM stereo created a demand for a “serious” style of rock disc jockey, someone who spoke softly and intimately, and played entire sides of albums.

And now there’s Spotify and Pandora and everybody’s their own disc jockey. Almost all the great disc jockeys are either retired or dead. IS THAT ALL THERE IS? It’s your download below.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

HARVEY KORMAN - 25 MINUTES TO GO (temporarily live)

Your typical “miserable” comedian, Harvey Korman tended to fret and complain. While he was brilliantly funny to audiences on “The Carol Burnett Show,” he wasn’t exactly hilarious to her. At one point, she confronted him about it. She said something like, “If you’re not having a good time, maybe you should leave.”

That snapped Harvey out of it. At least, he knew to keep his misgivings and insecurities to himself. Perhaps the closest character to the true Harvey Korman that he played, was Bud Abbott in the ill-fated made-for-tv movie that co-starred Buddy Hackett. He portrayed Abbott as the worrier, the one who carried grim realities with him, which included his own physical failings (epilepsy). While Costello was freewheeling on stage, getting the laughs, Abbott had the responsibility of keeping his partner from ad-libbing too much and milking the laughs.

In TV sketches and also in films, Korman kept an edge of reality to his work, and let Mel Brooks, Tim Conway or other top bananas make the faces and get the big laughs. He got chuckles from his chagrin and his frowns and his inability to make sense of the idiotic world around him. One of the biggest laughs on the Burnett show was when Carol descended a staircase wearing a curtain for a gown, complete with rod. Korman, as Rhett Butler got some laughs by remaining dead serious, and failing to see how ludicrous this outfit was.

I mentioned to him once that I thought he was a fine dramatic actor. At the time, the movie “Shine” was in theaters, and as I watched Armin Mueller-Stahl I kept thinking, “This would’ve been perfect for Korman.”

Harvey often teamed up with Tim Conway for live performance tours, and did find some reasons to be cheerful, sometimes. But he remained a realist. When Viagra became available, Harvey was not that thrilled. As he put it, "It's like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building."

One thing Harvey didn’t do much of, was sing. For some reason, one night the Burnett show cast performed a kind of tribute/parody to C&W and "The Grand Ol' Opry." Each cast member got a solo. Just why they chose the grim Shel Silverstein song “25 Minutes To Go” for Harvey to sing, I have no idea. It was a hit for Johnny Cash, but it doesn't really suit Harvey's style. He doesn't have the outrageous personality that makes such a chilling song wild and over the top. Silverstein's original version of it is hoarse and manic. Cash drawls many a colorful line. But Harvey is a bit more like Hedley in "Blazing Saddles," viewing the proceedings with a certain understandable distaste. Note that the song is chopped from 25 minutes to 15 (and leaves out the anti-social stuff about hating the warden, the sheriff and the governor). It’s quite a curio, though, and was never released as a single.

25 minutes to Go

DAVID GATES produces Jack Bedient - IT’S OVER!! + BOB DYLAN

Yeah, David Gates. The guy produced material for varied tastes, although he’s best known for Bread.

As an arranger, in 1968 he had the chops and nerve to try and top Roy Orbison’s original version of “It’s Over.” While the original had the crescendo ending, Gates decided to START with histrionics, and he sure had the guy to do it, in Jack Bedient.

Jack Bedient (September 12, 1937-June 4, 1998) starts right in, blowing his stopped-up Pitney nostrils with a wail of “IT’S OVER.” Where do you go from there? Isn't it over?? No. With Gates’ arrangement swirling flutes at him, like moths in his face, Jack explains, “your baby doesn’t want you anymore.” Oh. And over the next few minutes, Bedient jacks up the pressure in describing that disobedient bitch who said “there’s someone new, we’re through-ooo-oooo.”

Jack Bedient, from the state of Washington, was a journeyman who first tasted the Top 100 with “The Mystic One,” on the Era label in 1961. He and his trio, The Chessman, played wherever they could, most often in the tourist trap towns of Nevada where the crowds wanted to drink and listen to cover versions of pop and rock hits. One member of the group was Billy Britt, who passed on just a few months ago, February 15, 2016 at the age of 74. While The Chessmen didn’t quite make it to the Las Vegas lounges on a regular basis, the group found steady work in Reno, Carson City and in Lake Tahoe, and sometimes played tourist hotels in Hawaii as well. “Two Sides of Jack Bedient” was his first album, on the Trophy label in 1964.

Jack and his Chessmen managed to sign with Fantasy in 1965, which specialized mostly in jazz and Lenny Bruce. “Double Whammy” scored some minor radio action, and led to their ‘Live at Harvey’s” album, which led back to the minors. Struggling with indie releases on Palomar and Rev, and going through some changes within the group, it seemed doubtful The Chessmen would get another major label chance, but Columbia signed them in 1967. The first 45 was “Love Workshop.”

Three singles were sent out to DJ apathy in 1968: “Pretty One,” “The Pleasure of You” (written by labelmate Gary Puckett, with “It’s Over” on the flip side), and “My Prayer.” In the clubs, patrons could buy souvenir albums on the Chessmen label, including ‘Songs You Requested” and “In Concert,” which was a re-issue of the Fantasy disc.

There’s a minor cult for Jack Bedient and the Chessmen, who managed to turn out some garage band rockers that hold up to stuff by any of their rivals, including The Kingsmen. Jack’s version of Dylan’s “Subterranian Homesick Blues” is a fairly bizarre Paul Rich-as-a-Hillbilly take that somehow works. And through the 70’s, Jack continued to update his song material and work minor clubs in Nevada and California, ultimately retiring from show biz to run a tanning booth business.

But…as Dylan might say, “death is not the end.” It’s not over. Not until you at least hear his take of “It’s Over,” aided and abetted by Mr. Gates. Gates throws out climax after climax, as the tidal wave of emotions ebbs and then lashes back again. All wet? You bet! Roy’s version had the finality of despair. His version has that last primal cry of “It’s OVER.” Bedient? He hits the high note, but there’s a swirl of harp around it. Does that mean he dropped dead and went to heaven?




In 1970, Eydie Gorme recorded a big ballad penned by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. “My World Keeps Getting Smaller Every Day” proves that it’s hard to sing BIG when the topic is small. The melody is bombastic and may have done better if the lyrics were more dire. Think, “Anyone Who Had a Heart” or “Delilah.”

The lyrics are actually rather pensive, working better with some sad little “Charade” melody and without trumpets are thudding drums. Poor Eydie, she’s got windmills in her mind, she’s got green icing flowing in her brain, and those were the days my friend:

“In the lonely of the morning when I’m waking up. I find you standing at the bottom of my coffee cup. I see you on the freeway when I’m driving in the car. Downtown when I’m shopping I just turn and there you are…”

And there you are, a song that did sort of follow established big ballad patterns, and literally strike familiar chords that worked well in other songs. Listen to it, and you’ll be thinking, “some of these notes are awfully familiar…some of the effects, like the boom-boom drums that stop the song with fatal punctuation…where have I hear this shit before?”

Which doesn't mean you won't enjoy this thing. Oh, what a gormless Gorme-less world we live in. Unlike your average Viley Virus, Arreola Grande or Taylor Twat piece, THIS song DOES have a melody.

It’s possible that five years earlier, and via Dusty Springfield, this thing could’ve had a chance. By 1970 Eydie was rather long in the tooth for 45 rpm glory, and “the kids” were the ones buying most of the singles, leaving Dusty, Tom Jones, and even Streisand to hope for album sales without the kickstart of an AM radio hit.

Indeed, for Eydie, and her husband Steve Lawrence, and a lot of Vegas acts of the day, the world was getting smaller. No “Ed Sullivan Show” or “Hollywood Palace,” no write-ups about being a fresh new face, and not much interest in a formula that had been flogged practically to death by Mancini and Bacharach all through the 60’s. And saddest of all, no matter how small your world gets, you still might not be able to find a cake left out in the rain.

EYDIE GORME MY WORLD GETS SMALLER EVERY DAY (ps, is Pluto still a planet?)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

"That's The Way It's Gonna Be!" La Lupe Wolfs Down Phil Ochs

"ALLEZ LUPE!" as we say in French.

Let's have some International women today. First up, the loopy Lupe, followed by a Swedish girl named Siw, and a South Korean Joo.

Ill Folks gives you Phil Ochs...via the Latina legend, La Lupe.

"That's The Way It's Gonna Be" is an unusual choice for her, and it's a kind of schizoid song; gloomy minor key clouds keep breaking for a resolute melody line that forces optimism. Phil co-wrote it with Bob Gibson. One wonders who was the McCartney optimist and who was the Lennon pessimist ("got to admit it's getting better...can't get no worse!")

The song darkly acknowledges pessimism, but breaks into a chorus of hope. As for La Lupe, in her bizarre Latin twist, it seems like she relishes the evil aspects, and adds some witchy laughter. You get the idea that she's happy to be dancing on the road to hell and simply enjoying the ride. If she's walking with her "heh hell hi" (head held high) it's just because you can see every gruesome detail that way.

La Lupe usually sang in Spanish, and as the photo shows, she was such a legend that a Spanish Harlem street was eventually named for her. Sizzling to the point of becoming a charred Charo, she somehow creates an interpretation that is both amusing and riveting, kind of funny but also fierce.

That's The Way it's Gonna Be Wait and See.

"Mr Sandman" in Swedish! (Looking for ABBA? Siw Me!)

"The World is Saved," to quote a Stina Nordenstam song. Why? The ABBA bunch re-united at a PRIVATE party. Somehow, this news was greeted with great glee, and a blurry photo posted on their Farcebook page (or was it Twatter or Instagrab) was re-posted all over the Net. No, it's doubtful they will tour (Agnetha being especially phobic), it's doubtful they could write anything as moronic as they did in their youth, and why bother when Swedish meatballs in their own country would make sure it was given away as free downloads?

However, to celebrate this exciting moment, which had me feeling especially tired and sleepy, here's a perky version of "Mr. Sandman" in Swedish. It was probably much appreciated at the time, as Sweden is often dark and gloomy for long stretches of the day, and they breed platinum blonds so that any ray of sun will reflect off their heads and help light the streets.

Siw Malmkvist, now 79, first achieved fame representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960. Adept at German, she later represented West Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.

Over the years Siw expanded from pop singer to stage star, appearing in a variety of roles, including "Sugar" (the musical version of "Some Like it Hot") and "Nine" (the musical inspired by "8 1/2"). Just a few years ago, she and Thorsten Flinck (who surely needs no introduction here) had a hit with her Swedish version of "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (originally from Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue).

Siw has recorded hundreds of tunes in Swedish and in German (and a few other languages as well). Once in a while a slab of her vinyl has turned up in America and if the price is right, I'll buy it. So far, I have one of her albums.

Yes, this is an original rip from that vinyl. Enjoy this quickie! Wham, bam, Thank You, Malmkvist!

SIW sings! MR. SANDMAN IN SWEDISH Download or listen on line. No pop-ups or porn ads.

Eun-Ju Lee and the Corrs - Only When I Sweep

It's June...and a remembrance of Eun-Ju Lee.

Like a falling star, Eun-Ju Lee was a bright and beautiful presence for a short time.

She rose to fame via perky roles in comedies, and showed great depth in dramas. The pretty South Korean actress seemed able to deal with each new challenge in her career. From teen romance roles to the more difficult parts of a blind woman, a woman dying of cancer, and a reporter carrying a deadly fetus, she worked at an increasingly hectic pace.

The young actress also found herself with such an adoring fan base that she was wanted for TV commercials, endorsing a variety of beauty products.

In many films her screen character suffered and died, and it seemed tough for this increasingly depressed and weary young woman to go home at night and shake off the day's shoot. She had to keep working, apparently taking on the pressures of family debt.

She appeared in "Tae Guk Gi," which was to South Korea what "Gone With the Wind" is to the U.S.A., and starred in "Phoenix" (aka "Firebird") a huge TV soap opera (a 9 DVD disc set). In "The Scarlet Letter" she played a bisexual nightclub singer in a script rife with nudity, violence and gore. Aside from grotesque scenes in which she was blood-spattered and screaming, and a passionate naked love scene in which she seemed to be writhing in agony more than ecstasy, she also had to be convincing as a singer. The film's highlight had her covering theeerie Corrs song "Only When I Sleep."

She chose to sing it in English, which adds a slight touch of humor, as she has the traditional Asian problem with pronouncing an "L" sound. Not long after the film was made, and only weeks after graduating college, Eun-Ju Lee slit her wrists and hanged herself, leaving an apologetic note to her mother.

Not many of her films have had a DVD release in the UK or USA, but you can find some clips of her on bootleg central, YouTube. You may have to type in alternate spellings, as her first name is sometimes written as Eun-Joo or Oon-Joo, and be aware that in South Korea, last names come first. South Korean uploaders will refer to her as Lee Eun-Ju.

She was talented, beautiful, and for as long as it was possible for her, determined and brave.

Eun-Ju Lee covers ONLY WHEN I SLEEP