Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Original "SECRET AGENT" theme by EDWIN ASTLEY

Edwin Astley (1922–1998) first gained some fame as “Ted Astley,” touring England with his own orchestra. He had some songs covered by well-known British performers (including Anne Shelton and Vera Lynn) before making his name in TV theme and incidental music, first for Boris Karloff’s “Colonel March,” and then between 1955 and 1958, “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “Sir Lancelot” and “Ivanhoe.”

Astley’s high point was probably the album that featured one side of “Secret Agent” music, and the other side, music from “The Saint.” No, he did NOT write the famous theme for “Secret Agent” that appeared on American television, sung by Johnny Rivers. He wrote the themes when the show was called “Danger Man.” The best known bit of music from the show is “High Wire,” which sort of sounds like “Music to Whisk Eggs By,” and seemed like it was played almost constantly in every episode. The odd choice of instrument for the lead may have been inspired by the zither used for "The Third Man" mystery film. There can be something quite unsettling about a cheerful instrument used over grim noir footage, or mated to jazz drums as it is here.

Astley also wrote music for late 60’s TV shows “The Baron,” “Department S,” and “Randall and Hopkins, Deceased.” He also had many movie credits, including quite a few grim films such as “Dublin Nightmare” 1958) “Naked Fury” (1959) and “The Giant Behemoth” (1959). On the lighter side, there was “The Mouse that Roared” in 1959. He composed the orchestral music for the Herbert Lom version of ‘Phantom of the Opera” in 1962.

Fun trivia: Edwin’s daughter Karen married Pete Townshend. Karen and Pete’s son Jon Astley was in charge of many of The Who’s re-mastered CD releases. Sadly, there’s no CD featuring the best of Edwin Astley’s film scores. It’s not everyone who can make a harpsichord sound hip.

EDWIN ASTLEY -HIGH WIRE (SECRET AGENT THEME) Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

Ill-Ustrated Songs #37 - Pearl Bailey - TOWER OF STRENGTH

Was Pearl Bailey a "Tower of Strength?"

She was, as they say, a force to be reckoned with, "tall, buxom, exuberant and handsome." That's the New York Times description. Plus this: "Her voice had a distinctively warm timbre and her natural vocal inflection was filled with fascinating colors and highlights."

Of black and Creek Indian ancestry, we belatedly honor her birthday, March 29, 1918. She was married to white jazz drummer Louis Bellson (aka Luigi Balassoni) for 38 years. He fan base included jazz buffs, sophisticates, Broadway gays (she was in the pioneering all-Black production of "Hello Dolly") and Presidents, including Nixon and Johnson. In the 50's, she was known for her risque humor in nightclubs; her song introductions were sometimes bawdy, and "Pearlie Mae" was also known to song a provocative tune, too. "I call myself a humorist. I tell stories to music and, thank God, in tune. I laugh at people who call me an actress."

"Tower of Strength" is usually sung by male singers, with abject humiliation or angst-ridden despair. The original by Gene McDaniels had a trombone mocking his grief and pain. Paul Raven offered one of the more effeminate cover versions. At least, he sang it with full knowledge that he was a wimp who couldn't leave the bitch that was in control of his life. The song doesn't quite work so well as a female vocal, because Bacharach's melody is so upbeat and loaded with syncopated bumps. It's not one of those "I'm a Fool to Want You" jazz ballads. So Pearl just plays with the jazz aspect and doesn't really emote the lyrics. She cools things down.

And if you'd like to hear other versions...go right ahead down the line of downloads.

Pearl Bailey Tower of Strength Instant download or listen on line.

TOWER OF STRENGTH Gerd Bottcher- CAROLIN CAROLIN

TOWER OF STRENGTH Frankie Vaughan

TOWER OF STRENGTH - GENE MCDANIEL

TOWER OF STRENGTH - PAUL RAVEN

TOWER OF STRENGTH - PAUL RICH

TOWER OF STRENGTH - Sue Richards

TOWER OF STRENGTH cute recent Asian version by Yeongene

YOU DON"T HAVE TO BE A TOWER OF STRENGTH - GLORIA LYNNE

TOUTE MA VIE (Tower of Strength) Audrey Arno

TOWER OF STRENGTH -Lew Davis

TOWER OF STRENGTH - DO IT YOURSELF via KARAOKE VERSION!

Download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn ads or use of sleazy companies that pay a percentage to bloggers for their "hard work." The hard work was done not by upping files, but by the original writers and performers.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

DAVID PEEL - THE DAY THE CLOWN DIED

David Peel? He was a clown.

A lot of hippie-clowns lightened up the mood of revolutionary America in the late 60’s and early 70’s including Abbie Hoffman, The Fugs and the team of Cheech and Chong.

David Peel (David Rosario, August 1, 1943-April 6, 2017) was a Puerto Rican who hung around in the East Village bellowing idiotic songs. You could actually be discovered that way. Further uptown, eccentric street performer Moondog became a "legend" and got a record deal.In 1968, Peel was signed to Elektra for a sort of novelty album “Have a Marijuana,” which probably sold about as well as one of the ESP indie Fugs discs. He had a two-lp deal with Elektra so they put out a second album, which lacked a marijuana album cover picture and sold less than the first.

John Lennon, fascinated by the variety of freaks in his adopted New York City, pronounced David Peel “real” for singing “the Pope smokes dope every day.” Thanks to John, who gave a muttery introduction to the title track, and produced the record, "The Pope Smokes Dope" arrived in stores. And yes, since I was buying everything John was on, or endorsed, I bought Peel's album, too.

It was a dumb piece of shit then, and it took Peel's death to make me listen to it again. Peel’s braying New Yawk retard-voice doesn’t help put over the witless refrain: “The Pope smokes dope! GOD GAVE HIM THE GRASS!”

Peel could've joked that the President (or POTUS, as Millennial twits call him) was a secret head, but I guess pissing on the head of the Catholics was a lot more, what, Lenny Brucey of him? Mixing up a protest involving religion does generally get people even more enraged. But who could get that upset about a skanky idiot from the Lower East Side spouting stuff Andrew "Dice" Clay would find childish? Part of the song's lyric:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jill forgot to take a pill and now she has a daughter! Taking pills is not a joke for a groovy Pope. Birth control can be a toke of marijuana smoke!”

Put it this way, it's sad that Peel had a massive heart attack a few days ago, and did not recover, but I still remember being out $2.99 for buying this stupid album.

To be charitable, let's say that David could have influenced The Ramones, the aforementioned "Dice" Clay, and even Howard Stern. Being a moron in public would turn Stern into a millionaire. While Howard didn't sing, he had people getting up at the crack of dawn to hear him talk to retards and have arguments with nitwits like Baba Booey and Jackie the Joke Man. "Dice" Clay would fill Madison Square Garden with goofs wanting to hear him re-cycle old Pearl Williams and Belle Barth gags including the spider saying to Little Miss Muffett, "What's in the bowl, bitch?"

Somehow, college twits of the day loved to replay Cheech and Chong doing “Dave’s not here” for five minutes, and elbowed each other over The Fugs being allowed to sing "River of Shit," but copies of David Peel albums slipped into the bargain bin, under-appreciated. Now, only truly dumb fuckheads consider them, and his subsequent stuff "collectors items" for their basements. (As you can see from the photo, Lennon seemed to have gotten a bit tired of David's schtick, too). Maybe Peel's record label should've added a giant piece of rolling paper? Or paper panties? Then a Peel disc might be worth the same bucks as a certain Cheech and Chong effort, or Alice Cooper's "School's Out."

Check eBay's list of what was sold in the past month (before David's death) and "The Pope Smokes Dope" went for $11.77 on January 15th, another copy $9.91 on February 19th, and another for $15.49 on March 5th. Currently, some kneejerk idiot is paying $49.95 for a listed copy, but another one, just posted for $9.95 will not likely get much more than that.

Like Tiny Tim, Dean Friedman, Kinky Friedman and herpes, David Peel did not disappear with the 70's. His discography allegedly includes "John Lennon Forever" (1987), "Anarchy in New York City" (1993), "Legalize Marijuana" (2002), "Up Against the Wall Street" (2013), and "Give Hemp a Chance" (2015). I don't have any of those. I still remember dropping $2.99 on "The Pope Smokes Dope," and I'm sure all that stuff will turn up on YouTube or Spotify or Zinfart or some other place that is making sure that we'll not see an indie artist like David Peel be able to survive and make any kind of a living doing what he enjoys.

It's nice that Peel, who leaves no family behind, did live long enough to see medical marijuana legalized in his home state of New York. And it's nice that Peel didn't sing "Mohammad Smokes Dope," because if he did, he would not have died of natural causes. Which is a way of saying that the era of comical David Peel-type protest songs is in as rough shape as David is now, and those 43 Coptic Christians who went to "Palm Sunday" services today in Egypt and didn't realize some Muslims don't believe anyone should be alive who isn't Muslim.

The Pope Smokes Dope DAVID PEEL Instant download or listen on line.

LOLA ALBRIGHT goes into DREAMSVILLE at 92

Albrighty, then!

I guess it’s only a few hardcore lounge music spuds and “Peter Gunn” goons who remember Lola Albright. For a few years she was a mature, classy, exotic flame on TV and in movies. Lola Jean Albright (July 20, 1924 – March 23, 2017) got her first big break in the Kirk Douglas boxing movie "The Champion" (1949) and then turned up in "The Good Humor Man," opposite bulky comedian Jack Carson, whom she married a few years later (and divorced in 1958). It was in 1958 that she dazzled TV audiences as the nightclub singer who was involved with stoic private eye "Peter Gunn."

She sang during the show's three seasons, but there was plenty of competition for her record stores, including plenty of gorgeous Julie London discs with sexy photos on the cover. That may be why “Dreamsville” was about it. Though Lola was an authentic MILF type (in 1961 she starred in "A Cold Wind in August" about a 30-something stripper getting hot for a 17 year-old), Julie London, was the queen of that genre, a sophisticate who seemed to know every nuance of romance. Another fun role for Lola was as "Paula Marshall," a confident mature vamp intimidating stammery Rob Petrie on an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

Eventually Angie Dickinson became the go-to mature sex goddess on TV, and Lola slipped into retirement.She made her last film in 1968. She divorced her third husband in 1975, and didn't seem inclined to do memorabilia shows and sit around letting grinning, sweaty Huelbigs paw her for a $25 photo op.

Despite Henry Mancini behind the baton (he also co-wrote most of the tracks), "Dreamsville" is more of a daydream. It's pretty mild stuff, and Lola doesn't demonstrate much individual style. Still, she was a pretty woman, and she had a pretty nice 'n' easy voice. Believe it, or download "They Didn't Believe Me."

LOLA ALBRIGHT THEY DIDN’T BELIEVE ME Instant download or listen on line. No obnoxious pop-up ads to idiot porn or gaming sites.

OLD FOLKIE PEGGY SEEGER - FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE

There's been some hub and bub regarding old folkies lately who are doing slightly odd things.

The always unpredictable Bob Dylan continued his fetish for tormenting the standards by releasing three more CDs of songs Sinatra and others have done better. That Willie Nelson did a lame album of "Stardust" and other worn out tunes over 30 years ago hasn't mattered. Most critics have indulgently bought the line that Dylan is a valid interpreter of everything from "As Time Goes By" to, yeah, "Stardust." And he isn't. He's put out 5 novelty albums. Some tracks are downright embarrassing. Play this stuff to anyone who isn't a starry-eyed and indulgent rock critic, and they'd say "what fucking amateur retirement home idiot is hacking away at this shit?"

Bob's former girlfriend Joan Baez hasn't been doing the standards. She's gone back to singing topical folk songs (she has a new one yodeling about Trump). She's now considered a rock star, for having made it into the rather pointless and obscure “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” It’s located in Cleveland. That’s how unimportant it is.

Joan humbly acknowledged that she is not now and never was a rocker. She's a folkie who's had crossover appeal by covering a rock song (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”) or singing about Bob Dylan (“Diamonds and Rust.”) She toured in Bob's "Rolling Thunder" shows, sometimes dressed in Bob drag, but others did the rocking. So Joan made sure to let everyone know that she was entering rock's "Hall of Fame" with a slightly apology and a lot of gratitude. Funny, there was nobody apologizing for Tupac Shakur also getting into the Hall on the same ballot. What the FUCK does that dead thug have to do with rock?

Joan Baez is 76. Bob Dylan is 75.

Also touring, at 81, is Peggy Seeger.

While Joan enjoys her unexpected shot-in-the-arm, which has led to renewed interest in her catalog and sold-out performances with the God-awful Indigo Girls, and while Bob continues to amaze (people who said his voice was shot have to admit, he can be smooth and actually hit high notes on the "standards") Peggy Seeger continues along.

The most hardcore folkie of them all, Seeger isn’t begging for Kickstarter money or haunting YouTube or Facebook asking to be LIKED. She remains somewhat obscure and uncompromising, playing for that small circle who admire traditional music sung and played with total integrity.

In other words, her stuff is far more difficult to take than Dylan's standards or his Christmas album. Her flinty voice is not going to win over people who find Baez's warble seriously annoying after ten minutes. She could care less. And she tours and makes CDs when she feels like it.

Seeger wrote one of the greatest modern folk songs, “The Ballad of Spring Hill,” (aka Spring Hill Mining Disaster, and Ballad of Springhill) which has been adapted and covered by everyone from classic balladeers such as Martin Carthy, to the dreaded U2 and the unheralded Ivy League Trio. She and husband Ewan MacColl covered it, too, with Ewan adding a few authentic touches to the lyrics, related to mining technique.

MacColl, who was born James Henry Miller (January 25, 1915 – October 22, 1989) is the father of Kirsty MacColl via his second marriage, to Jean Newlove. Ewan was still married to Jean when he fell for Peggy, 20 years younger. The circumstances, Peggy is quick to say, “are none of your business.” Meaning, don’t ask her if she felt uncomfortable about taking a man away from his wife. Legend has it that Ewan wrote “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” as a love song to Peggy, and she first heard it via a tape sent by mail.

MacColl’s other famous songs include “Dirty Old Town” and another great modern folk song, “The Ballad of Tim Evans” (aka ‘Go Down Ye Murderer”), which was covered by Judy Collins and the Ivy League Trio among others.

Severely traditional folk singers are an acquired taste, especially in the decades that have seen the rise of folk-pop (The Weavers and Peter Paul and Mary) and folk-rock. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” after all, only became a hit when it was softened up and sung by Roberta Flack in 1972. Below, you get the oddity of a woman singing a tribute song to herself. Oh, I’m sure Peggy was imagining the countenance of the controversial Commie Ewan MacColl while she was singing it, and not singing it to a mirror. But Peggy was the inspiration.

Peggy Seeger First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Instant download or listen on line. No egotistical Zinfart password to type in.