Friday, July 29, 2016

Brigitte Bardot - LA MADRAGUE (the late Gerard Bourgeois)

Oui! Lucky Frenchies not only got to hear the sweet voice of Brigitte Bardot on the pop trifle "La Madrague," they also got to see her.

In the "music video" for the tune she languidly explores her home and environs in Saint-Tropez. As you see, she doesn't have a wardrobe malfunction like Lindsay Lotion, stick out her tongue like Viley Virus, have a coconut for a head and sport hanging fat-bags of silicone like Amber Nose, or display the elephantine butt of Kim Kuntrashian. She was truly beautiful. She appealed to normal males, and not retards, gorillas or drug-addled freaks.

Some insist that it was Bardot who turned Saint-Tropez into a desirable tourist attraction, thanks to her films and photo shoots there.

The song is by the recently deceased Gerard Bourgeois (June 17, 1936-July 8, 2016). Yes, this particular "obit with music" is just an excuse to run a few pix of Brigitte, and to state once again, that she is one of our greatest women; beautiful in her youth, and perhaps moreso now, having spent so many decades promoting her foundation for the care and welfare of animals. She also stood up to the moronic Muslim menace by declaring that France should retain its identity, customs and language. In other words, if you want to migrate to a new country, show some respect and assimilate, asshole. (For stating her view, she was fined. Talk about "freedom of speech," man!)

OK, back to Monsieur Bourgeois. Unless you're French, you probably have no idea that he wrote over 400 songs, and that many were covered by his country's best singers, as well as a variety of International superstars.

The stars and the tunes include, if you want some English tranlations: Dalida (It Takes All Kinds to Make a World), Jocelyne Jocya (Forget Everything Else), Eric Charden (Save me ), Nicole Croisille (Song of Love), Frida Boccara (The Gates of Love), Jean-Claude Pascal (Between the Sea and You) Michèle Arnaud (When love is Written), Sylvie Vartan (The Kid), Jacqueline Danno (This wonderful Silence), France Gall (Snowing) and Rika Zaraï (You Invite Me to the Party).

His songs were also covered by Sylvie Laurent, Françoise Hardy, Serge Reggiani, Tino Rossi, and the unusual Juliette Greco who probably had the biggest hit for Gerard, other than Bardot, with "Un Petit Poisson, Un Petit Oiseau," which you probably can figure out if you took French in high school. No? OK: "petit" is little, "poisson" is fish, and "oiseau" is bird. There.

BARDOT La Madrague Au revoir, Gerard. Love you forever, Brigitte.


Jack Davis (John Burton Davis, Jr. December 2, 1924 – July 27, 2016) was an original, an icon in the world of cartoon art. You may remember him best for his early, demented “Tales From the Crypt” and “Vault of Horror” illustrations. When Harvey Kurtzman's E.C. Comics evolved into William Gaines' Mad Magazine, he switched from ghoulish grotesques to hideously hilarious caricature.

His style was so infectious, Jack found himself in huge demand from Madison Avenue, the very people that Mad Magazine loved to parody. His frantic artwork was often on the cover of TV Guide, and many of the 60’s and 70’s wackiest movies were promoted by frenetic Davis posters, including “Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” “Viva Max” and “Bananas.”

Jack was from Atlanta, Georgia and had a special affinity for crazy country music. While he contributed cover art to many types of “musical mayhem” (including “Monster Rally” by Hans Conried, and discs by Spike Jones, Johnny Cash and Ben Colder,) he was most prolific for Homer and Jethro.

I remember buying “Old Crusty Minstrels,” when it came out, since I knew I’d be getting a funny album, and I’d have the extra fun of staring at the jacket a whole lot. Yessir, Jack’s album covers made most any record worth the money.

When he died, I recalled those Homer and Jethro records, as well as my copy of “The Art of Jack Davis,” which included a signed lithograph. I was rather disappointed to see that a similar copy was sitting, unsold, on eBay for just $95. This, after news of Jack’s death was all over the media! What a fucking insult.

Why does a music blog have an entry for a non-musician? I made an exception for three reasons. First, it’s my blog. Second, Jack contributed mightily to the sale of many recording artists. And third, Homer & Jethro’s definitive take on “The One on the Right Is On the Left” is more timely this week than ever.

The tune's on “Old Crusty Minstrels,” which has a very good balance of corny gross-out tunes (Homer bites a dog and it gets rabies), timely political jabs (about “The Great Society”), bunion-tender satire (“She Broke My Heart at Walgreen’s and I Cried All the Way to Sears”) and even a failed TV theme (“Camp Runamuck”). The song is a cautionary tale for those who were bored, annoyed or enraged by the fucked up Democratic and Republican conventions...and the jerks who kept yapping about 'em.

The crowning of two disliked people for President brought out the worst in just about everybody, including the candidates. The coverage was tedious. The people attending the conventions were obnoxious and often intolerant. That includes the "Black Lives Matter" bunch who heckled a moment of silence for dead police officers, and the naive nitwits screaming "Bernie or Bust," intent on forcing their choice or else. Or else what, littering the floor with granola? Both sides called on pitbulls to heave insults at the opposition while the crowds roared and waved banners.

People basically showed up to hoot, holler, get drunk, jeer, scream, bellow, and be far more bellicose and corny than any audience at a Homer & Jethro show. This took place during a blistering heatwave throughout the USA, and the news that aside from unendurable weeks of oppressive humidity, there would be three SOLID MONTHS of oppressive stupidity, with the candidates riding every poll and trying to push ahead via inane hyperbole.

Unfortunately, you can’t turn off your friends. Even if you avoided newspaper and TV coverage of the primaries and convention, your friends would NOT SHUT UP. Right? Talk to them in person or read e-mails and Trump, Hillary and Bernie were a main topic. On Facebook, you had to be astonished at which of your non-friends turned out to be irrationally for one clown or another, and insisting you had to read their slanted and biased and witless MEMES.

I think quite a few people on Facebook began to defriend idiots who just wouldn’t stop with the idiotic, sappy insults hurled at any "Libtards" or "Rednecks" or anyone who didn't agree that "Donald Rump" or "Crooked Hillary" was the devil returned to Earth. What happened to the good old fashioned apathy of "they all suck?" Why did anyone have to become so fucking shrill in rooting for their particular delusional choice? DEFRIEND! FUCK OFF! PLEASE, SHUT UP!

It comes down to this song, which not only has one of my favorite chord changes of all time (wait for it, “and the folk songs of our land”) but a vital message: “If you have political convictions, just KEEP ‘EM TO YOURSELF.”

And let’s agree that Jack Davis was one of the greatest cartoonists of all time.

HOMER AND JETHRO The One on the Right is On The Left

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gary Paxton Dead: Monster Mash, Alley Oop - THE TWO DAB MAN

Gary Paxton was a two dab man.

Actually, more than that. While he may be best known for two novelty hits, "Alley Oop" and "Monster Mash," he dabbled in music for over 40 years as a producer, writer and singer, amassing dozens and dozens of credits.

Gary (Larry Wayne Stevens, May 18, 1939 – July 16, 2016) was one of those somewhat obscure guys in the music business. Some seemed to love him, and others were wary. I guess it depended on whether you knew him as a jovial writer-singer or as a producer-business man.

Almost a cliche of the guy smiling on the outside, but hurting on the inside, Paxton dived into the world of "novelty" music, escaping the confusion and misery of real life:

"My mother was 14 and my dad was 15. I was nine pounds when I was born, and when I was one, I was seven pounds, because they didn't have anything apart from ketchup and water to feed me with...Then this old couple who had lost two children heard I was available, so they adopted me. We lived on a farm in Coffeyville, Kansas. We had no electricity, no water, no heating..."

Adopted and name-changed, he grew up in a bleak environment, molested at seven by a neighbor, and suffering from spinal meningitis at eleven. Things improved when, at fourteen, the family moved to Arizona and he began to lose himself in garage bands, mostly playing country music. His past caught up to him when a woman in Arizona looked at him and declared "I am your mother! I've been looking for you for a long time and if you don't believe me, go call your parents." He then learned the truth, that he was adopted by Christians, and his real parents were a mix of Native American, Jewish and Irish blood.

Another surprise was when a demo he recorded with his pal Clyde Battin was released on the tiny Brent label. The label called them "Skip & Flip." Paxton had no idea until he happened to hear the tune on the radio. The song, "It Was I," became a surprise million-seller novelty. They followed it with "Cherry Pie." He ambitiously moved to California and started to produce records, even releasing songs on his own obscure labels. He acquired a "mad genius" reputation, thanks to more novelty classics. "Alley Oop," written by Dallas Frazier, became a hit from "The Hollywood Argyles," with Paxton offering up the narrative opening. Paxton produced his own "answer" to it, "Alley Oop is a Two Dab Man."

In 1962, Paxton had his graveyard smash, "Monster Mash," which was initially released on his own Garpax label. Once again, his skills as a producer made the industry take notice. His production on that single was admirable, from the sound effects to the back-up singers. He also played piano on the session. The tune made an instant star out of Bobby "Boris" Pickett, and Paxton instantly began cranking out sequels, including "Monster Motion" and "Monster Holiday." He also recorded "The Scavenger" as a solo project for his Garpax label, as well as "Two Hump, Dual Bump Camel Named Robert E. Lee," which he co-wrote.

His eccentricity at the time included parading an elephant through the streets, protesting radio stations that had refused to play "Elephant Game," by Renfro & Jackson.

As a producer and engineer, he eventually sought new types of sound, and he left pure comedy behind, guiding "Sweet Pea" (Tommy Roe) and both "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish" (The Association) up the charts. Simultaneously, Gary was hoping for solo success, releasing a variety of singles including "Sweet Senorita Sante Fe" (1964 on Felsted) and "It's My Way of Loving You" and "Goin' Thru the Motions" (Capitol, 1965 and 1966).

He returned to his country roots, writing the hit "Woman, Sensuous Woman" for Don Gibson, "L.O.V.E." for the Blackwood Brothers and "No Shortage" for The Imperials.

By the time I was part of the music business, and hoping to perhaps meet him, or to crack open a fresh novelty single he'd produced, he was in the arms of the Lord. Meaning, he was a Born Again Christian, producing and writing for the new wave of Christian records now on the market. I wrote an article on this phenomenon, which included in addition to the former "Alley Oop" and "Monster Mash" man, a newly optimistic Barry McGuire, a Jesus-freaked B.J. Thomas, and the emphatically NOEL Paul Stookey, putting out overtly Christian music as a sidelight to his work with Peter and Mary.

I didn't get to interview the elusive Paxton, but I did marvel at the album cover that showed a Quaker-esque guy with a big beard and oversized hat. He issued several such records for his "NEWPAX" label, and seemed to have achieved a balance between reverent songs ("He Was There All The Time") and slightly lighter material ("Jesus Is My Lawyer In Heaven"). His songs confronted abortion (against it), cigarettes (against it) and death (unavoidable: "When The Meat Wagon Comes For You"). His label also released material by the infamous Tammy Faye Bakker, and some gossips insisted Gary had an affair with her, which he denied.

He seemed to be headed toward, as Lord Buckley might phrase it "the groovy sands of serenity." seems that Producer Paxton had run afoul of Vern Gosdin who was lethally pissed off at him and wanted out of his contract. Paxton had worked with Gosdin in 1967, and it was Gary who coaxed the irascible thrice-married curmudeon out of retirement for the 1976 album "Till The End." A few years later, and Gosdin wished the end on Paxton.

A few days after his Lord's Birthday, December 29th 1980, Gary was lured outside his home by Darrell Bailey and Darryl Langley. The two Darrels claimed to have car trouble. They attacked him, beat him, and in the scuffle shot him twice in the back. Hitmen couldn't kill the hit man. In a show of Christian charity, he even "forgave" the hired men. Apparently nobody could pin anything on Gosdin himself. Gosdin refused any interviewer when it came to questions about Paxton.

Some insist that the two hitmen were hired by a jealous Jim Bakker. Just why the two Darrels would dare implicate Gosdin, when it would've been easy to simply claim they were hired by an anonymous man they never met face to face, is unclear. What's beyond dispute is that the prosecutor in the case did not pursue a case against either Gosdin or Bakker.

Some armchair detectives wonder if the end of Gary and Tammy's association times well with the attack, and if Paxton, Mr. Christian, would never, ever want to admit to stepping in on another man's wife. Others figure cranky Vern Gosdin wouldn't be beyond asking a few guys to put a beating on somebody, perhaps a fatal one.

Adding insult to injury, Paxton's partner embezzled a half million from him while he recuperated from his near-death experience.

Over the past 30 years, Paxton's "look" changed from Jolly Quaker to mover-and-shaker, to God's Little Acher, to orange-haired faker. Let's say it reflected his varied musical interests and directions, which kept shifting.

Paxton started the 21st Century in Branson, Missouri, the haven for older country and gospel performers. He became friendly with Bill Medley, Andy Williams and others who were able to bring in the tourists. Despite Hepatitis C, he performed sometimes as "Grandpa Rock," wearing a mask, and continued to write and produce songs. For his newest record label, LUPAX (with Jim Lusk) he offered "Vote 'Em Out Boogie" in 2011 and the "AARP Blues" in 2014. Yeah, he still had some kind of sense of humor, despite the death threats, childhood molestation, ups and downs of novelty songs, the Jesus albums, and four marriages. Not totally forgotten, the U.K. re-issue label ACE has discovered a lot of early Paxton productions for their CD compilation "Hollywood Maverick: The Gary S. Paxton Story."


A Cheap Trick: Tammy Faye Starlite and a sexual "SURRENDER!"

Anyone remember Nico? Still care about Marianne Faithfull? OK. And you still care. More on them later.

Anyone remember Tammy Faye Bakker Messner? Not so much. And you care even less!

Harry Shearer once said "her only claim to fame/notoriety was to have been the marital partner of a convicted crooked televangelist," which denies her fame and notoriety as a campy TV personality who rode the tabloid roller-coaster like a pro.

In her prime, she was a frightening parody of Christian wholesomeness, with her drag queen make-up, creepy singing, and her championing of hubby Jim, an Evangelist who seemed to be bisexual, crooked, and about as charismatic as Rick Moranis with vertigo.

In a country that still values inane personality over talent (the Kardashians and Jenners), it really is no surprise that a nutjob like Tammy got a foothold into the public's eye (and wallet) and went to her grave kicking and screaming for just a little more of the spotlight. She went to her grave telling the world that she was really going to heaven. America bought her act. Why not? Just before she died she insisted on going on Larry King's show. She weighed just 65 pounds (and 55 of them was probably make-up). She had endured the collapse of a marriage, a second lousy marriage, infamy and scorn, and 10 years struggling with cancer, but was STILL raving about God existing and being merciful.

So in the end, Tammy Faye Bakker was the Lucille Ball of televangelists; charismatic, unique, and possessed of a deep instinct for survival. Both married assholes first, and parasites second. In Tammy's case, a goofy-faced sex fiend who over-sold timeshares, followed by a fame-clutching ex-con who did time for bankruptcy fraud.

At this point, the details of the scandals have faded, replaced by the latest idiocies from Kim and Kanye and Caitlyn and the rest of the clowns. Did Jim Bakker and a friend drug and rape Jessica Hahn? Did Tammy know how he amassed the money for their three luxury homes? Did she think owning gold faucets was Christian humility? Was a Christian theme park garish and un-Godly? Was she closer to the schemes of Falwell and Swaggart than the sincerity of Billy Graham? At this point we have other things to worry about. Like the gruesome leaders of a religion OTHER than Christianity that is causing trouble.

Yes, mercifully perhaps, some eyesores have faded from view, and Tammy Faye is one.

Other ladies, underappreciated in their time, endure, like Nico.

And so it is, that Tammy Faye Starlite, who first came to semi-fame by mocking Tammy Faye Bakker via a Cheap Trick parody, is still with us, and now impersonating Nico and Marianne Faithfull.

A Jew from New Jersey, the re-named Tammy Faye Starlite has come a long way from 2003 when she was doing country song porn parodies. She's been touring for several years with a Nico tribute. She offers up about a dozen songs doing her 90 minute set, ranging from "I'll Be Your Mirror" to Nico-tributes to ex-lovers. Yes, Tammy-as-Nico sings Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" and Jackson Browne's "These Days." "Nico" insists Bob Dylan "was in love with me..." and she hooked up with Jackson when "he was only 16." "Nico" also has some winking remarks about other famous men, like Lou Reed: "He was a usurper of souls, like a cat. He never really liked me because of what my people did to his people. I can't make love to Jews anymore!"

A versatile performer, if you want to book her for both a Friday and Saturday Night, she can do a completely different show each time. "Broken English In Its Entirety," has her performing as Marianne Faithfull. And yes, that does include the entire album.

That is now. Below is then...a twisted Tammy Faye parody of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." You can't go wrong with a song that begins...

""Mother told me, yes she told me, pray to Jesus Christ! I didn't listen, was not a Christian, I led a sinful life...suddenly I heard a voice from somewhere up on high...oh just swallow it..."

Download or listen on line (and may God have mercy on your hole). SURRENDER

George Melly goes cheerfully to THE ELECTRIC CHAIR

What about Liverpool's George Melly?

Well, based on the odd "Send Me to the Electric Chair" below, American listeners might get the idea he was some kind of cross between Lord Buckley and Judy Henske. He obviously was eccentric, and didn't let being white prevent him from enjoying raucous jazz. In fact, the traditional blues in this song might have you tracing it against Henske's "Oh You Engineer" (written by Shel Silverstein) and the barrel house melody from "Low Down Alligator."

Melly, as you might guess from the photo, kept working almost till the end. Van Morrison was a fan (appearing on "The Ultimate Melly," released a year before George died. With encouragement like that, George kept getting up on stage, resisting cancer treatment, continuing to tour, and vowing to have a damn good time to the end. Only a month or so before he died, he was performing with the Digby Fairweather Band.

George Melly died July 5th, 2007 at 80 (He was born August 17, 1926). An eccentric with varied tastes, he was nearly tossed out of the Navy during World War II for distributing "anarchist literature." He haunted art galleries, championed surrealism, and played in jazz bands that favored New Orleans-styled rhythms. Noting that it wasn't a good idea to quit a day job, or to avoid steady payment, Melly temporarily retired from music in the 60's and 70's to become a film and television critic for The Observer. He also wrote for Punch, for the Daily Mail's satirical newspaper strip Flook, and scripted the 1967 film "Smashing Time."

Ultimately realizing that he could show most performers a thing or two, George returned to the stage, performing original material as well as classics from the days of Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. He put out a bunch of albums, helmed the British Humanist Association, worked to bring recognition to his comedy idol Max Miller, and when new wave became popular in the late 70's, why, there was George, recording "Old Codger," especially written for him by The Stranglers.

He was legend enough to write three autobiographies, which accentuated his musical interests as well as his bisexuality. He was married, but was considered, at least by one friend, "a mighty camp heterosexual." He was a cheerful exhibitionist. At parties he might strip naked and twist his bulky body from man to imitation woman, and then on all fours, a bulldog!

One of the last of the bohemians, in later years his coy garb and eye patch making him look like a butt pirate, Melly could discuss art with an intellectual, or sing dirty songs to a bar maid. Typical of his flamboyance was his appearance at a 1985 exhibit, "Salute to British Surrealism." The paintings weren't the show: "The entire art world had come from London for the opening and there was George wandering around naked."

The track below is delivered with a hip howl:

"Judge yo' honor, hear my plea...I don't want no sympathy, I slit my woman's throat! I found her with another man, I warned her 'bout it before. I took a knife and...the rest you oughta know! Oh judge, judge, good Mister Judge...wanna pay a visit to the devil down below..."

Melly was way too lively to really want to off himself before his fact, it took a sly Ill Folks photo-collage to actually stick him into an electric chair.

Here's an electrifying performance from the Unchained Melly Instant download or listen on line. No waiting, code numbers or porn ads.

Vampish vixen LYS GAUTY - "CREPUSCULE"

Remember the fun of going into a record store and just flipping through a few boxes of assorted bargain records?

Yeah, you'd have to have a LONG memory for THAT.

Sometimes, an unknown artist would suddenly loom into view and stop you in your tracks, thanks to either a great photo, or the genius of the record label's art direction.

When I saw the cover portrait of Lys Gauty on a 2lp set, I had to wonder...did the woman actually look like that??

Turns out, not really. Alas, Madame Gauty in real photos, is not quite so vampish or tarsier-like. Her music, likewise, is fine, but not spooky or sexy. Only a few songs were anything close to suggesting the supernatural, like the pale-eyed visage on the cover.

Below is your sample, "Crepuscule," which, students, translates as "twilight." It's the time of day when crepuscular creatures with huge eyes, such as lemurs and tarsiers, become active.

Music and lyrics by Django Reinhardt and Francis Blanche.

Lys Gauty shares something in common with today's spookiest French import, the great Mylene Farmer. Both were born with the last name Gauthier. Lys (Alice) Gauty (Gauthier) was born in Franc, February 2, 1900, and died there on January 2, 1994. While unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old, Lys was dubbed un "monstre sacre" by no less a celebrity than Colette. Colette is also unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old.

The bi-lingual Jean Cocteau (also unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old) helpfully dubbed Lys "a vulture of virtuosity." Critic James Kirkup noted she "set the stage afire with her strange personality, her unusual, spellbinding vibrato growl and her heart-breaking songs."

She became famous in the late 20's and 30's, a heroine of the Parisian Music Hall scene. Kurt Weill wrote songs for her, including 'La Complainte de la Seine'. Her song 'Israel va-t-en' expressed support for the French Jews, who were discovering the shock waves of antisemitism coming from Hitler's Germany. Soon enough, the Nazis took over, and Lys ultimately fled to Monaco. She was nearly killed for her views (and for having a Jewish husband), and kept a souvenir of a bullet that barely missed her.

She had fans all over the world. Some were lucky enough to get a post card...

The song below was recorded during the war, 1943. The song is about shadow and substance, of things and ideas; it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge...a dimension of imagination. Your next stop: The Crepuscule Zone.

Instant Listen or Download: LYS GAUTY

DOODLES WEAVER - Give a Horse a Man He Can Ride!

Unlike his brother Pat (president of NBC and father to Sigourney Weaver), Winstead Weaver looked like a "doodlebug" (his own mother's opinion!). He acted like one, being a cornball comic/singer all his life.

The dude gained fame with a manic "William Tell Overture" horse race routine on a Spike Jones novelty single. A sequel, music based on "Dance of the Hours" offered a car race. Doodles also loved spoonerisms, mispronouncing song lyrics in frantic gibberish till he'd clear his mind with a bellowing "OOOOH!" That, along with deliberately awful jokes, made a hit out of "Man on the Flying Trapeze," also while a member of the Spike Jones band. On that single you can hear Spike ask "Are you in voice, Winstead?" at the beginning.

After many years with Spike Jones, Doodles was fired for a lethal combo of alcoholism and natural nutsiness. He had bit parts in movies, notably the 1940 version of "Li'l Abner," and in 1951 prevailed upon brother Pat to help him land a summer TV show on NBC. He turned up on an episode of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" (photo above, right). After Doodles admitted his profession was a comedian, and that he was looking for work, Groucho sympathetically wished him luck. In 1965 Weaver briefly starred in the goofy "Day with Doodles" each episode just six minutes long, ready to be slotted anywhere in a daytime line-up, or used to give a bathroom break to some local kiddie show host.

Throughout the 60's The Dood took minor roles in sitcoms, from "Dick Van Dyke Show" to "The Monkees" to "Batman" (as "Crier Tuck). His curly hair, tubular head and large eyes helped the comic ambience of any scene, even if his lines were few.

The older he got, the more bitter and disillusioned he became. Friends and fans knew that he was unhappy with his health, and despite of or because of alcohol and pills, be simply couldn't stand to live more than a few weeks into 1983.

Not too many years before his suicide, Doodles went into the studio one last time to make a solo disc. He offered some updated Spooner routines (Dr. Demento enjoyed the somewhat appalling version of "Eleanor Rigby") and he even tried to work his dentures through his classic Feetlebaum routine...which was now more of a trotter than a horse race.

Here's a double dose of Doodles, rare radio transcriptions, including, of course, his Spoonerized "Man on the Flying Trapeze."

All Weaver wanted was to get some laughs, and even if you're not a corn-comedy buff, you'll listen to these things and admit, he Dood it.