Sunday, February 19, 2017

It SIMMS nobody is talking about the father of Paul Simon

Only here, at the blog of less renown, do you hear about Lee Simms.

To be honest, it's because this is a peculiar place, and Mr. Simms has no reason to be considered more than an odd footnote in music history.

When Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had a fluke hit as “Tom and Jerry,” singing an Everly Brothers-type tune called “Hey Schoolgirl,” his label had another Simon issuing a 45 rpm. It was Paul’s father Louis, who was billed as Lee Simms. Whether it was to smooth over any paternal concern about his teenage son signing a label deal, or a sincere belief that Louis had talent, nobody seems to recall.

Louis Simon/Lee Simms led a dance band that was capable of standards and jazz. He also played bass. Mostly he and his group worked minor area nightclubs and halls, but thanks to his son Paul, he got to release a lone single featuring the instrumentals “Blue Mud” and “Simmer Down.”

Back then, there was a blurry line between pop and jazz and between edgy teen tunes and middle of the road music. Alongside The Beach Boys or Little Richard or The Coasters, Billboard might point to Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore,” Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” or even Mitch Miller with the “Colonel Bogey March.” Simms' "Blue Mud" sounds a bit like a Hugo Winterhalter 45 played at 33. As for "Simmer Down," you can't say it was that hot, but the gag is that it plays on Lee's last name. Har har.

Lee Simms didn't seem to ever play on his son's fame. His journeyman band did well for a while, and that was that. I think Lee Simms eventually became Louis Simon again, and took up teaching. He used to tell his son Paul that this was a much nobler profession than music. Even when Paul Simon was one of America's most important songwriters, Lou was figuring that one day, Paul's fame would wane, and he'd go into teaching.

There was a Father and Son reunion of sorts when Lee Simms' single was added onto the bogus Pickwick album, "The Hit Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel." To fill out the album of old Tom and Jerry recordings, and Paul's Jerry Landis solo singles, the label included "Blue Mud" and "Simmer Down," both credited to L.Simon/Prosen (that's Sid Prosen), and now re-titled “Tijuana Blues” and “Simon Says.”

For extra fun, the album also had “True or False,” a faux-Elvis number Lou Simon wrote that Paul recorded as Jerry Landis. Look out below. It's your chance to sample Simms, and be an educated consumer. (Oh, the clothing guy spelled it Syms...nevermind...)




Any good news in 2017?

Well…PLAYBOY announced a return to nudity. They seem to have decided they don’t want to be Millennial assholes like Maxim. They also know that nothing is going to help or hurt their newsstand sales, so better to have a big-boobed bitch fall on her shield when the mag bites the dust, than to say, “We desperately tried to be like a shitty lad mag.”

Hefner has been trying to sell his mansion, has seen a lot of changes since he bravely launched Playboy in the 50’s, and he’s withstood the sniping that involves kicking a man when he's down and old. Several ingrate siliconed sillies have gossiped about what life is like living with a very old sex magazine editor. One cunt even wrote a book about it. Be glad to be in the presence of a legend, you bitches. He’s a rebel, and YOU’LL never ever be any good.

I thanked him once, not just for the centerfolds, which included some women who went on to greatness (one married Dick Martin, one married and divorced Mort Sahl). The bigger picture beyond the three-page centerfold, was that this guy paid good money in support of an incredible list of important writers and cartoonists, and his Playboy clubs helped nurture so many great stand-up comedians and jazz artists. I thanked him for bringing us and helping out Shel Silverstein, Kliban, Dick Gregory, Mort and Lenny, Gahan Wilson and many more.

He paid big bucks just to get Nancy Sinatra to pose naked, and yep, I stood on line to get an autographed copy from her. I took a moment to mention how much I liked one of her un-critically acclaimed albums, "Nancy." It had what might be the definitive version of "Son of a Preacher Man" on it. She was hoping it would be re-issued on CD, and pretty much held up the line to talk about the album with me. Thanks Nancy. Thanks, Hef! (“Can I call you Hef??” Felix Unger)

Another bit of news: Roman Polanski has once again tried to deal with the law-assholes in Los Angeles to get all charges dropped, after ALL THESE YEARS. Yeah, beloved L.A., where his pregnant wife was butchered. L.A., where a plea-bargain was reached and a sneaky judge let leak that he was gonna lock up Polanski and through away the key, instead. PS, the girl involved has said long ago, it’s time to leave the little bastard alone. Did he ever offend again? Not that we know. Did he contribute a lot of art to the world since then? Yes.

Barbi Benton? The former Barbara Klein recently celebrated her 67th birthday, on January 28th. Thanks to you too, lady, for being another of those all-American babes that happily got naked. She wasn't a bad singer, either. Who’s a rebel today? Kanye West, wearing his dresses and his fur coats and pouting his anus-like mouth because he isn’t taken seriously as a fashion designer? Who’s a rebel today? Trump? Who’s a rebel today? Some football player taking a knee but keeping his slave name? Who’s a rebel today that could’ve been in those vintage pages of Playboy with Norman Mailer, Shel Silverstein, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce?

Barbi Benton HE'S A REBEL Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

Grammy dis of Jimmy Webb (Pocketful of Keys - Thelma Houston)

What was the big news at the Grammy awards? Low-class cow Adele won a “Best Album” award and instantly brayed that it should’ve gone to the tacky, ridiculous Beyonce. Oh, the racism! The head of the Grammy show also had to defend the show and tally up how many nominees "of color" there were, and contrast it with the number that won. Meanwhile, isn't it a fact that rap and R&B get so much time on the show that entire categories are ignored, and classical artists almost never get to perform? Hasn't Jay-Z been the host more often in the past years than anyone else?

One thing that was not addressed was why black artists have legitimized stealing. It’s called “sampling.” Or, heh heh, “sharing.” These days it’s hip (hop) to take somebody else’s melody and vocoder it a little and say it’s uniquely yours. It’s cool and legal to grab a sound effect somebody worked hard to achieve, and use it on your own song. Yo, be like Kanye the Genius - steal a third of a Jimmy Webb song, call it “Famous,” get Grammy nominations, and shrug when Webb isn’t nominated.

Since the media is too busy kissing Beyonce’s ass (how many people worked on her "Lemonade" album...dozens), and Kanye’s ass (17 people credited on "Famous") they sure as hell ignored old Jimmy’s complaint. Jimmy is a member of an unfashionable minority group. He's one of those antiquated singer-songwriters who don't rely on a committee of people or a dozen different producers to put out a product. Ageism is ok, while we cry about how Black lives matter and no other group. Not the Native Americans who tried to block a polluting pipeline. Not even the Latinos being literally walled out. Not older musicians who can't get label deals or any respect from companies that pay more attention to twits like Ariana Grande and twats like Beyonce.

Webb's attempt at seeking publicity and justice turned out to be just another hapless grumble on somebody’s Facebook page. HIS. Yes, reduced to muttering to his fans on Facebook about it, Jimmy pointed out that “More than 35% of ‘Famous’ is rooted in my song ‘Do What You Gotta Do.'”

Kanye West’s “Famous,” was nominated for Grammy awards in both the Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Performance categories. Webb has had a long, long career and written dozens of hit songs and dozens more that are excellently crafted works of art. How many Grammy awards do you think he has? Three. And, (shiver), his “Song of the Year” Grammy was for the horrible “Up Up and Away” sung by the black group The Fifth Dimension. Some of his most obscure songs ("Laspitch," "Friends to Burn") beat the entire Rihanna catalog.

Today, most performers rely on a formulaic bunch of producers and writers to give them the BEATS and EFFECTS to ride mediocre music and lyrics into the ears of moronic Millennial listeners.

Jimmy: “There are twelve writers on ‘Famous’ nominated to win Grammys, each responsible for about 5% of the song. And I, Jimmy Webb, AM NOT a nominated songwriter for ‘Famous....'So why am I being denied a nomination? Grammys ‘do not credit writers of sampled material or interpolated material in any of our song categories’. This is not a mere sample and it is more than ‘interpolated material’: ‘Do What You Gotta Do,’ with a new recording of Rihanna singing, is the first thing the listener hears, and what draws them in on West’s ‘Famous’ – it is the face of the song. The use of my chords and melody throughout becomes the backbone. And there it rests on the great Nina Simone singing ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ at the end. ‘Do What You Gotta Do is what the listener is left with, it is the foundation of ‘Famous.’ ‘Famous’ doesn’t stand without ‘Do What You Gotta Do.'”

The Grammy jerks told Jimmy that he could “submit a proposal” to alter the “rules.” Right. The rules are rigged and they won't change. They favor the NEW power, where record labels are bastard children to Spotify, Amazon and iTunes, and ego jerks such as Beyonce and Kanye are royalty. For all the whining about blacks not getting their fair share, those two, and a lot of rappers, outsell Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and Elton John. Guys like Jimmy Webb or Randy Newman are lucky to be on a label at all." The situation would be less painful if the work was "art." If it was GOOD. It sucks. Ed Sheeran sucks. Taylor Swift sucks. As for Beyonce and Kanye, they are even more annoying, as they parade around in Goddess gowns or flaunt gold-plated toilet seats. Queen Bey poses pregnant like she's the newly crowned Queen of Sheba. His Lordship of the Leather Skirt and Fur Coat, Kanye West, sinks into a glower if people don't bow down to him, or acknowledge his shit-eyed fat-assed Kardashian porn-video-leak-whore as beautiful and talented.

That’s the “sea change.” That’s the “paradigm.” That's having the power to ignore Webb's plea for fairness.

Back in the day, black artists recorded Jimmy Webb’s songs and he got paid. It was that simple.

They didn't "sample" something. They respected the artist, and sang the lyrics as they were written. Back then, it did not seem to matter if a white guy wrote the song a black artist sang, or vice versa. Yes, the music biz was corrupt, with its Payola and its power struggles, but people got paid. Maybe Webb and Donna Summer got a lot, with “Macarthur Park.” Maybe the royalty check wasn't so much when Thelma Houston recorded “Pocketful of Keys.” It was a better system back then. The latter song is your download. It's worth noting that back then, there wasn't a lot of racial cliche shit going on. Thelma Houston didn't buy into the cliche of singing nothing but soul songs. She wanted to cover a very thoughtful character study from Mr. Webb, and she did. No wonder it's so obscure it gets mentioned here. Good songs are rarely popular, huh? And the “songwriter” is more endangered than the manatee.

Pocketful of Keys Thelma Houston

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Stan Boreson - Just Doesn't Look Good Dead

No, no, that's NOT one of my Photoshop jobs. That actually is Stan, in a moment from his music video for "I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore."

Irwin Corey lived to be 102. Stan Boreson lived to be 91. For most of us, we can rationalize, "well, they lived a long life." But you can bet they would've wanted to live longer. This would be especially true of Stan Boreson, who was not only a very functional 91, but still had the company of his beloved wife Barbara.

So, all grim humor aside, you can be sure he didn't look good dead, and didn't want to be dead. He would've wanted to go on performing novelty songs, one of the last of the comic jingle-guys.

But "ordinary" novelty songs isn't what made him famous. It was Swedish dialect stuff.

Musical ethnic comedy? Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, there was tons of it on vinyl. You wanted Italian stupidity? Lou Monte. You wanted Jewish idiocy? Mickey Katz. Any accent, from Irish to ‘Negro,’ was hilarious, and singing in that dialect even more fun. As Jose Jimenez, Bill Dana got huge laughs from bleating a Latino-accented version of Hildegarde’s “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup.”

Generally, members of the ethnic group being "insulted" laughed the loudest and wanted more. As offensive and nasal as Mickey Katz's schtick was, the Jews bought it. And in places where Scandanavian immigrants were plentiful (especially the states of Washington and Minneapolis), the record stores had plenty of Swedish accent comedy from Yogi Yorgesson (born Harry Skarbo, who also performed as Harry Stewart and even sang Japanese dialect as Hari Kari) and the team of Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg, who began by covering Yogi's "Yingle Bells" Swedish Christmas parodies.

Ultimately, it was the solo Boreson (May 5, 1925- January 27, 2017) who became the “King of Scandanavian Humor. Boreson was also a big favorite on local TV in Seattle. He was still active even as CDs began to eclipse vinyl. On his website, you could order all of the classics, both the stuff with Setterberg and the solo albums, from “Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” and “Stan Boreson Fractures Christmas” to “Those Swedish Meatballs” and “More Scandihoovian Hits.” Fans were delighted when there would suddenly be a new novelty song from the old master.

Stan was married to his wife Barbara for 64 years, and she reports that the end “was peaceful.” After dinner, he collapsed. It was a stroke, and he didn't survive much longer after the attack.

Unlike Jewish dialect or many other ethnic dialect comedy, the market for Swedish goofery wasn't that large, and the Grammy award people didn't come nominating. The early albums with Setterberg and the later stuff on CD didn't exactly go Gold. Still, there was always the sliver of comedy record collectors who bought anything for the collection, and the larger swath of fans in Washington who loved him and his Swedish accent. Though not seen too often on TV, Boreson did get some recognition beyond local media. King Harald V of Norway presented him with the St. Olav’s Medal in 2005. Which is pretty impressive for anyone who knows what it is.

While it might be argued that Yogi Yorgesson’s name should come first, since he pioneered Scandanavian novelty songs and wrote many of them, Boreson was more prolific. As times changed, he wisely varied his act to include more than just dialect stuff. That includes your download below, a self-parody that most any elderly person could relate to. What makes it funny is hearing the self-deprecating Boreson make the sad reality into comedy. Comedy is when Stan sings about it. Tragedy is when it happens to you!

Stan Boreson, sans Swedish dialect… I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore

Springtime Cometh...Irwin Corey Goeth

He was "The World's Foremost Authority," and may be "The World's Longest-Lived Comedian." Professor Irwin Corey died at the age of 102. That beats George Burns. 102 is beyond being a ripe old age. It's pretty rotten.

I don't know in what state of infirmity Irwin spent the last two years of his life, but, happily, he was still spry when he hit 100. A party was held for him, and he offered up a few lucid jokes for the cameras. The only signs of age were a few missing teeth, and a gruesome cataract in one eye. He also was missing his wife, who had died a few years earlier. Their life together was the subject of a TV documentary.

Corey (July 29, 1914-February 6, 2017) was often described as "puckish." The little guy developed his persona as an eccentric, windy lecturer. Just as his contemporary Brother Theodore would come out garbed in black, and fully in character, he would arrive in a long frock coat, mussed hair, seemingly dazed and confused, the very picture of an oddball academian. He had the guts to ignore the audience, make them wait, and maintain a long silence while he pulled faces and seemed to be trying to think of the right way to begin his talk. He'd then utter a emphatic "However..." as if he'd already been on stage for 10 minutes. The crowd loved it. They loved him.

Corey had a strong, strong personality, and his sly wit and satire, snuck in under the guise of confusion, was a great gimmick. As the years went on, he became a very radical and outrageous comedian. From mainstream humor, he followed Lenny Bruce into political and religious jokes. The more he was asked to tone it down, the wilder he became. The hilariously rambling guy would keep right on pontificating on Steve Allen's show, while Steve cried out for a commercial break. He became a bit too uncompromising for network TV. You just weren't sure what he was going to say.

"Is there life after birth?" the seemingly innocuous and confused professor would ask. "Well, Richard Nixon...he's an example of afterbirth!"

He became pretty bitter when the TV talk shows stopped booking him, and he'd end up on SCREW's cable show "Midnight Blue" instead. Like so many older comics he admired, including Sahl and Winters, Corey wasn't getting the stand-up work he craved. The comedy clubs that booked Seinfeld, Emo, Tenuta or Kinison just didn't book the older stars.

Fortunately Corey was also a pretty good actor, and he could find some work in movies and on the stage. I don't know that he sang often, but one musical item survives: "Springtime Cometh," from the failed musical "Flahooley." This show, actually, was on the boards when Corey was a rising comic, not at all controversial. The show was a can't miss, with a wild cast that included an exotic sensation named Yma Sumac.

I actually saw a revival of the show, and it made no sense. I think it had something to do with a genie (played by Corey). It wasn't too musical, it wasn't a comedy, and the name of the show made it seem like it was a variation of "Fiorello" and about an Irish politician. I remember being pretty bored, and wondering if it would've been saved if the original cast was doing it. Below, you will find it, for your morbid curiosity. And to satisfy the blog's requirement that it BE a music blog, and no entry be an exception.

Corey was, as you might imagine, a very eccentric guy in real life. Married to the same woman since the 40's, he could seem quite normal, stable, and friendly. But he could also be irascible, feisty and stubborn. New Yorkers were sometimes startled to recognize him, in his 90's, seeming like a homeless man, selling used magazines to strangers. He simply didn't like to see the discarded magazines in his building go to waste, and with nothing much better to do, enjoyed hawking them at half price, or whatever, with the proceeds going to charity. His idea of a charity was sending it to the Cubans. Hey, Castro wasn't all bad.

The last time I saw him was when he performed in a revival of "Sly Fox." The guy who was known for mad ad-libbing and refusing to let Steve Allen break for a commercial, was an absolute pro in what was a small but running-gag role. He didn't "break the wall," wink to the audience, or put any excess "Professor" spin on his lines. He played it absolutely straight, and got huge laughs every time.

Irwin didn't quite make it to Springtime or to the summer that would've brought him to Jiminy Cricket's hoped-for age of 103. But he did reach a feverish 102, and he was a legend in his own time as well as, of course, in his own mind.

Irwin Corey sings... Springtime Cometh

Lyrics to "The Newlywed Game Theme" via Eddie Rambeau

Yeah, the blog does have a lot of "obits with music."'s a celebration of THREE guys who are STILL ALIVE.

Snickering Bob Eubanks, who hosted "The Newleywed Game," and wrote his autobiography is still around. The book is called "In the Book, Bob," a play on "In the BUTT, Bob," which was a famous reply on that game show. Asked for the most unusual place she'd ever made love, that's what one newlywed replied.

The Newlywed Game had nothing to do with Anthony Newley. He didn't write the theme. The theme was actually written by Chuck Barris, who had a hit for Freddie Cannon with "Palisades Park." That one was pretty much a two minute commercial for a New Jersey theme park.

Barris is still with us. This, despite embarrassing and often ridiculous ways of shooting himself in the foot and wanting people to kill him. This includes that autobiography claiming he was a paid killer. Chuckles knew how much money a TV theme can be worth, so he snuck in his own tune, sans lyrics.

The original was called "Summertime Guy," and was waxed by Eddie Rambeau (also still alive, and pictured in his prime teen-idol days). Most people don't know the infamous game show theme had lyrics. Most don't care. And that opinion won't be changed by listening to the download.

SUMMERTIME GUY, music later used as... The Theme for the Newlywed Game

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