Friday, May 19, 2017


    There was a weird time in pop music when ROCK collided with POP. Thus, we had Carnaby fashions almost at the same time as we had hippie grunge. You remember The Beatles wearing those adorable Sgt. Pepper costumes and singing “Good Day Sunshine?” Retro was fine, too. The Kinks wore ruffled shirts and extolled Queen Victoria. The odd meld of rock and pop even had “bad boy” Mick Jagger singing a sanitized “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” on Ed Sullivan’s show.

    In 1966, the retro “Winchester Cathedral” was on the charts, and in 1968, Tiny Tim made a hit out of a song popular in 1929: “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.” Mainstream Kate Smith sang Beatles songs, and Andy Williams sang “MacArthur Park.” Even a dominatrix-kiss off like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” was consider cute. In 1968, cute mainstreamer Michele Lee made the Top 100 by singing “L. David Sloane…leave me alone!” 

     Who this putz L. David Sloane was, we don’t seem to know. It’s a Jewish name, though. The singer is Jewish. She was born Michele Lee Dusick. The song wasn’t a major hit (that’s why it’s here) but anyone who heard it, for better or worse, remembers it. Michele has very much out-lived it. Lee was only 19 when she came to Broadway in “How to Succeed in Business…” and had appeared in “The Comic” with Dick Van Dyke and Disney’s “The Love Bug” with Dean Jones while simultaneously jump-starting her singing career. 

    Her pert praise and put-down of L. David Sloane stalled outside Billboard’s Top 50 (at #52) but it did sell a pretty fair amount of copies. She, Liza, Barbra, Vicki Carr, Peggy Lee and even Patti Page continued to toss pop 45’s into the market even if it was becoming more and more dominated by rock. 

    Over in England there was a rather unlikely interest in strutting around and putting down L. David Sloane. But you know the Brits. Back then, it was their custom to peer across the pond, check the Hot 100, anticipate a potential Top Ten, and have one of their own do a cover version before the original artist could score a U.K. deal. Enter Kay Garner. 

      Kay grew up in Hull, which Craig Ferguson, in his memoir, called the the worst town in England. This may only mean that he didn’t spend any time in Grimsby.

    Kay didn’t seem to want to stay in Hull either, and came to London to work with The Rabin Band, broadcast on a 1962 radio show called ‘Go Man Go,” and end up a regular at “The Monkey Island Hotel,” along with the infamous Frazer Hayes (whose annoying group used to break up the comedy on “Round the Horne”). Kay sang tons of commercial jingles, recorded quite a bit, appeared on a variety of TV shows (with Benny Hill and Dusty Springfield among others) and passed on ten years ago (July 16, 2007).

    Michele Lee is very much with us. In 1974 she was nominated for a Tony, starring in “Seesaw.” She became a star on the TV night time soap opera “Knots Landing” through the 80’s, and received another Tony nomination for “Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” in 2001. More recently, she’s s been in the hit show “Wicked.” Playbill bios on her do not seem to have room to mention “L. David Sloane.” 

    Whimsical, kinda funny, a bit sexy, somewhat feminist, a bit hapless, “L. David Sloane” is still an amusing novelty. And if you’d like to sing along, why, there’s The Electric Junkyard, a group that didn’t quite rival the Chocolate Watchband, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Corcheted Doughnut Ring, Clockwork Oranges, Applie Pie Motherhood Band or eben Heironymous & the Dharma Bums. 

Michele Lee
L. David Sloane   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.
Kay Garner
L. David Sloane   Instant download or listen on line. No ransom demands.
Electric Junkyard
-L. David Sloane  Instant download or listen on line. No Dutch douchery.

Dame Edna: Greta Keller yes, Caitlyn Jenner, ugh, NO!

Shocking, simply shocking, Possums! Dame Edna dispensed with witty sarcasm or pungent satire, and simply called Caitlyn Jenner a "RATBAG."

Jenner, another media whore in the Kardashian-Jenner cartel, was dismissed for exactly what she is: "a publicity-seeking ratbag." Since Edna wasn't saying this from the stage, Edna didn't need to sugar coat it like she lathers her face with make-up, and make it funny.

"I agree with Germaine (Greer)! You're a mutilated man, that's all. Self-mutilation..." Anticipating the whining protests, Edna added, "If you criticise anything you're racist or sexist or homophobic."

If you've been to one of Barry Humphries' "Dame Edna" shows, you'll find more than a few gays in the crowd. Maybe even a drag queen or two. After all, aside from the female impersonation, "Dame Edna" often talks about her obviously gay son Kenny, and drops references that have more than a gay tinge. On Broadway, there were some gags about how good-looking TV weatherman Sam Champion was, and how Kenny loved to watch Sam's weather reports. At the time, Champion was not yet out of the closet. The crowd hooted with delight.

"Dame Edna" is a character. Initially, Humphries was simply parodying a type of Aussie housewife, doing it with the same vulgarity and cartooning found in Monty Python's imitations of British fishwives. Nothing sexual about it. No transvestism (sexual gratification in crossdressing). Over the years, Humphries simply found that "Dame Edna" was a great vehicle for razor-like put-downs. For example, as a man, Humphries couldn't possibly sit on a couch and make Nicole Kidman blush with observations of Nicole's body. "Dame Edna" could, and did.

So it's really not a surprise that Humphries would have limited sympathy for a man who actually has to go to such extremes for his "feminine side," and insist that a scalpel is what defines womanhood. That sympathy would be extremely limited in the case of someone who instantly stars in a reality show about the transformation.

It's an irony that many gays simply enjoy listening to their Judy Garland records without remotely wanting to BE or dress up AS Judy Garland. The best Judy Garland was Jim Bailey, who did not undergo any sex change operation. Neither did any of the top female impersonators, including Craig Russell and Charles Pierce.

Now in this 80's, but still threatening to bring back "Dame Edna" if he feels like it, Humphries has taken to the radio, exploring his fondness for vintage music. He wants to preserve the music he once destroyed. Literally. An early job at EMI involved making sure that records once played on the air never be played again: "“For copyright reasons, the 78s had to be broken, so I was put in a subterranean room with no windows smashing up hundreds of records, every day, with a hammer. I felt terrible, I was traumatised.”

On Barry's "Forgotten Musical Masterpieces" Radio 2 program (or programme), he's explored "“Al Bowlly, George Formby, Greta Keller, and Fred Astaire, whom I regard as one of the great artists of the 20th century. Not only was he a great dancer, he was also a splendid singer and interpreted the songs of George and Ira Gershwin beautifully.”

You know the guys, but probably not Greta Keller, who has been mentioned on this blog. Here she is, doing "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Although, as Caitlyn learned about his cock and balls, they CAN take those away, creating, if not a woman like Greta Keller, at least, a ratbag.

 Greta Keller
They Can’t Take That Away from Me   Instant download or listen on line. No ransomware, malware or spyware anywhere.  


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The album WEBB will NOT Autograph

    I was very glad to buy Jimmy Layne Webb’s memoir (yes, the first name on the birth certificate IS Jimmy). I got it at a book signing, which also allowed me to say a few words to him about my favorite (obscure) songs of his. He was very nice and friendly. While it didn’t benefit him in any way, he even indulged some typically unwashed, stubble-chinned and obese losers who whined that he should autograph EVERY fucking piece of tatty memorabilia they put in front of him. 

      Fortunately, nobody seemed to be on line with copies of “Jim Webb Sings Webb,”  a near bootleg. At 21, he was used to selling his soul to the suits. This included bartering songs for studio time and producing demos that would then be “owned” by the publisher, leaving him hoping to make money off royalties). Once Webb became known for “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Up Up and Away,” there was some interest in Jimmy becoming more of a performer than just a songwriter. That was when the owner of a set of demos licensed it all to Epic. 

    Jimmy was upset that his “debut” album was going to be unauthorized demo material, stuff he did years ago. He was surprise that Epic would not listen to reason, and allow him to give them “good” stuff instead. Epic was not known for being so nasty and underhanded as to release material against an artist’s wishes. That’s what Fantasy and Roulette were doing, among others. Perhaps their logic was that they’d already invested money into a project they felt was pretty good. Webb’s demo tunes were certainly up to the level of some other Epic pop artists (like the invented “Third Rail” collection of studio musicians). They’d already gotten producer Hank Levine to beef up the demos by adding his own arrangements and orchestration. Epic ignored Jimmy Webb and even compounded the misery by dubbing him “Jim Webb.”  

    Jimmy mentioned at the signing that he would NOT sign that album, and that fans who are crazy about that record are just plain crazy. 

    Judge for yourself. The first two tracks are below: “I Keep It Hid,” which has been covered by a few artists, and “You’re So Young,” which probably hasn’t. I don’t think that any of the tracks besides “I Keep It Hid” found life in the throats of other artists. That includes: “Our Time is Running Out,” “I’m In Need,” “Life is Hard,” “I’ll Be Back” and “I Can Do It On My Own.” 

    Webb’s memoir, “The Cake and the Rain”  lists the dozens and dozens of artists who sang “MacArthur Park,” and lists page after page of (sometimes obscure) songs he’s written, but there’s no annotation of who covered them. There’s also a list of his Grammy nominations and Top 100 hits. 

    Oddly enough, those pages almost diminish him. When you think of Jimmy Webb, you think of a one-man Bacharach who wrote dozens of hit songs over many decades. If you disregard the County charts (where “The Highwayman” was a #1) you can count his hits on your ten fingers. There are the Campbell classics (“Phoenix” “Galveston” and “Wichita” as well as the lesser known “Honey Come Back.” in 1970). You’ll remember the cringeworthy “Up Up and Away,” “The Worst That Could Happen” from the Brooklyn Bridge, Art Garfunkel’s early 70’s solo hit “All I Know,” and Joe Cocker’s 1975 “It’s a Sin When You Love Somebody.” Add “MacArthur Park” from Richard Harris and the disco remake from Donna Summer in 1978, the last year a Webb song hit the Top 20. Add it all up: ten, with the last Top 20 entry nearly 40 years ago!  

By comparison, Bacharach was at least creating new songs with Elvis Costello not long ago, and Randy Newman has scored hit songs in Pixar movies, and finally got a "Best Song" Oscar. All this, while Webb admittedly has treaded water with duets albums and recycling his greatest hits (including a very nice solo piano CD...something Newman's done a few times as well). 

    “Didn’t We” by Barbra Streisand stalled at #82, Judy Collins’ “The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress” apparently missed the Top 100 entirely, and the last time a Webb song even scraped the Top 100 (if you discount the theft of part of a melody by Kanye West for “Famous”) was Linda Ronstadt’s “Easy For You to Say” in 1983. It’s also disturbing to realize Webb never had a hit on his own, despite developing into a very fine interpreter of his own songs including some great ones on his last album “Suspending Disbelief” back in in 1993 a mere 24 years ago. 

    Webb’s reputation resides, for most people, on the three years, between 1967-1969 when the public loved “Up Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” “MacArthur Park,” “Worst That Could Happen,” “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman.”  Fans of “album tracks” and idiosyncratic singer-songwriters, probably new all along that like Randy Newman or Warren Zevon, Webb’s solo albums were not big sellers, even if they had a lot of great songs on them. “And So On” for example, features his sly disc jockey number “All Night Show” and “P.F. Sloan,”  the catchiest sing-along every to bear the warning “don’t sing this song.” When I had my own radio show, I played his stuff quite a bit. I didn’t realize how few were buying it.

       To this day, I think Jimmy Webb is still rather unfairly derided for the few numbers in his catalog that are either dated pop pap (like “Up Up and Away”) or awfully purple and precious, like “Adios,” or the sugary “Marionette.” Balancing that are so many songs that do rock (“Friends to Burn”), that have beguiling and tricky melodies and rhymes (“Elvis and Me”) and have an honest message ( “It Won’t Bring Her Back,” a song that features Jimmy’s trademark twang and his habit of making a quiet “i” a lot more audible. “Maniac” is sung as “mainy-HACK.”

    Webb’s book, by the way, is weirdly constructed. Each short chapter ping-pongs between early years getting beat up as a four-eyed Preacher’s kid to glimpses of star encounters with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the various Beatles. As befits a guy who considers himself part of the sex and drugs and rock and roll world, and not a sappy pop songwriter, he gives us glimpses of his excesses, and his relationships with a variety of hot babes. An irony is that songs of love and loss were generally inspired by him being the one to fuck things up. He’s the one who cheated on his muse Susan, and who ultimately moved on to find someone new. 

    In this free-love era, married women happily jumped into bed with other men, and his most enduring relationships after Susan, were with ladies who didn’t feel like leaving hubby: Evie and Rosemarie. His kiss-off song “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” could easily have been sung by Rosemarie, who left Jimmy “so many times” to go back to her husband. A true tease, she kept popping up to romp with Webb. The vixen (perhaps hoyden, perhaps minx) once showed up saying that she would get a divorce and marry Jimmy IF he bought a house by the beach. 

    Webb dutifully shopped around with her, and she picked the most expensive one. He called his manager to arrange for selling his house and getting a loan to pay the difference. The couple celebrated with intimacy at their motel, but the next morning, Rosemarie enigmatically got dressed, kissed him on the cheek and with the sad smile of somebody pitying a fool, and walked out:  “I didn’t hate her…Nobody makes a fool of anybody, country music notwithstanding. Fools are volunteers.” 

    A big selling point for the book is that Jimmy dishes a bit on the “lost weekend” involving himself, Lennon and Harry Nilsson. Lennon turns out to be even more of a prick than McCartney. John’s excuse was being baked by drugs. There was the notorious nightclub incident that had John sporting a Kotex on his head and allegedly shoving or even punching a female photographer. Harry called Jimmy asking for help: please LIE and testify that you were with me and John, and that John is innocent! Webb dutifully testified that he did not see John strike the woman. (Sure, because Jimmy wasn’t even there!) 

       Webb found Lennon to be ungrateful, insufferable and self-privileged, but the ex-Beatle had style. One day, when Harry and John had exhausted themselves, they sent for Jimmy to bring more money and drugs. Webb found Lennon rolling up hundred dollar bills tightly, and placing them in the twat of a spread-eagled Asian woman (no, not May Pang). 

    You won’t need to roll up a $100 bill, with or without cocaine, to land a copy of “Jim Webb sings Jim Webb.” There are some hapless eBay dealers trying to unload it for $5 or $6, and there’s some kind of CD version of it out of Japan for $20. But no amount will get Jimmy to autograph it for you.

  I KEEP IT HID - YOU’RE TOO YOUNG    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

THE CONTESSAS - A world-wide WEBB Discovery

    If you check pages 140-142 of Jimmy Webb’s memoir, “The Cake and the Rain,” you’ll learn that back in 1965, the ambitious wunderkid from Oklahoma “was damned proud” of producing his white version of The Supremes. “I hoped Motown might want to sign them,” he writes. Fronted by curvy Suzanne Weir, the group included Webb’s own muse Susan Horton, as well as Alyce Wheaton and Sharon Johnston.
      Webb was a struggling songwriter at the time, and didn’t have the money to launch his group He managed to get a friend of his to fork over $3,500 to start “E Records.” The name was a tribute to “E” Street in San Bernardino. Webb hired the best studio musicians possible, wrote charts, and then bravely assembled everyone so he could produce/direct the session, beginning with a less-than-confident mutter of “What do I do?” Fortunately, the musicians were impressed by his charts, and didn’t think The Contessas were amateurs.
    Legendary drummer Hal Blaine said after the session “You need to stick with this.” It was a much-needed vote of confidence.
       Supporting their indie-label debut, The Contessas  dutifully flirted with local radio disc jockeys, made public appearances, and amazingly, managed to get on Shivaree, a distant cousin (in ratings) to Shindig and Hullabaloo. Still, sales weren’t that brisk for “This Time Last Summer” b/w “Keep On Keeping’ On.”
    Webb was “keepin’ on” despite several setbacks. His mother had suddenly died from a brain tumor, and his preacher father left California to go back to finding a parish in the Mid-West. Webb made a gutsy decision to stay behind, and his father took out a battered wallet, handed his kid a few twenty dollar bills, and apologized that it was all he could spare. Webb made the most of it, finally moving from shaky relationship with Jobete, the division of Motown that had hired him as a staff songwriter, to his big break when producer Johnny Rivers (yes, of “Secret Agent Man” fame) chose  “Up Up and Away” as a single for The Fifth Dimension. 
    Do you suppose The Contessas single would’ve taken off if they were called The Cuntessas? The song could’ve been re-written as “This Is Where You Came In.” With a lovely picture disc showing where.
    I digress. Very much an item of its time, you’ll find these girls to be pleasant xerox copies of Jackie DeShannon or Dusty Springfield.  “Keep On Keeping On,” a phrase that is now associated with Bob Dylan, even has the typical “hey hey hey” that Dusty used with white soul effectiveness.  
    The Contessas broke up fairly quickly, but Webb continued to find a muse in Susan Horton, and says he wrote many of his hits with her on his mind. He did get to fulfill his dream of producing a white version of The Supremes by producing a pale version of The Supremes. By the time he got the assignment to produce and arrange a new album for the group, Diana Ross had departed. Just how good or bad the album is, I have no idea. Look, I can’t get around to listening to every damn album out there. Sometimes it’s hard enough finding time for an obscure single. If you have the time, take a listen to….


THIS IS THERE I CAME IN    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

KEEP ON KEEPING ON    Instant download or listen on line.  


    “Muck-Arty Park” is a very atypical song from Soupy Sales. He released it, very atypically, on Motown. Huh? Wha? The album was called “A Bag of Soup.” His bag was to present himself as something more than a kiddie show icon, or the singer of a semi-hit novelty dance tune called “The Mouse.”

       Written by Ronald Miller and Tom Baird, the chosen single from the album takes aim more at Richard Harris than at Jimmy Webb. Unfortunately, the swipes at Harris and at hippies were not likely to appeal to many peope, and Soupy’s impersonation of Richard Harris sounds like any generic Englishman. His voice pitched low, unless you were told, you wouldn’t even know it was Soupy Sales. Not if you remember his comical straining to reach the high notes on his lone hit: “Heyyyyyy….do the MOUSE….”

    While this artless (Mucky-Arty??) ditty does tweak at the original’s time changes (here a a ragtime bit of “Hold That Tiger” collides with grandiose chords) it’s really a mess: “San Francico’s gone to pot. The kids forgot their Camelot. The flower children traded in their beads and poppy seeds for English tweeds. (Oh no!) Oh yes. (Oh well). Muck-Arty Park will never be the same, all the sweet young hippies blew their thing. Someone through the cook out in the rain. it was just eleven-thirty when they learned his pot was dirty, and he’ll never have that recipe again. (Oh no) Oh yes. Oh shucks!” Oh, fuck and off.  
    So why is it even here on the blog? Oh, just as part of the celebration of Webb’s memoir, and maybe a defense of this much-despised song. It’s almost self-parody and certainly didn’t need Soupy’s version. All anyone has to do for a rueful laugh is play the original, with Richard Harris singing in a fey, almost faggy way, and requiring endless studio splices and tricks to stay on key and hit the high notes. He basically was doing karaoke to a track already produced, and still needed hours and hours of re-takes.
    “MacArthur Park,” on length alone, broke barriers. AM radio, which broke almost every song, favored two or three minute ditties. While “extended play” 45’s were somewhat known, they were mostly used as hybrids: four songs from an artist that couldn’t produce a whole album, or six cover versions from a budget label trying to give poor kids a break. Nobody thought of putting ONE song on an extended-play 45 rpm. And how many radio stations, knowing the attention span of teens, would dare play such a long song??

    After this blockbuster, there was “Hey Jude.” In his book, Webb insists that McCartney deliberately extended the fade to reach the magic seven minute mark. Macca was competing with “Mac Park” (a Jimmy calls it) the same way he competed with Simon & Garfunkel, writing “Let it Be” as a spiritual answer song to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” PS, in his book Webb indicates that Paul was a bit of a prick. After Webb took too much time to reply to a request to write something for Mary Hopkin’s debut album, Paul refused to recognize Jimmy by name. He’d pointedly call him by some other name, even after repeated “I’m JIMMY” reminders from Webb.

    Have I digressed enough yet?

    Let’s add that arguably, “MacArthur Park,” from a trained classical pianist, helped spawn the “classical rock” genre, which would include Boko Haram’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” and Mason Williams’ smash “Classical Gas.” Even Roy Orbison gave grandiose rock a shot when he recorded, “Southbound Jericho Parkway” which clocked in at 6:59. That’s quite a jump from “Claudette” which was exactly two minutes.

    Some people absolutely HATE long rock songs, and back in the day Chapin’s “Taxi” and certainly “American Pie” took a lot of abuse. What set people off about Webb’s song was more the singing and the lyric than the music itself. For better or worse, Richard Harris made for a compelling hero, and the uneven-voiced “Camelot” star made the most of his over-baked rendition, which included a lot of quivering, quavering, and of course the almost effeminate high-pitched “Oh noooooooooo.” Only Harris could get away with Webb’s attempts at connecting to medieval balladry, with such awkward phrases as “stripe-ed pair of pants.”

    While falsetto goes back to Lou Christie and Frankie Valli, and somehow people gave a pass to guys getting emotional in a high-pitched voice, and even operatic (Mr. Orbison again), it was a bit uncomfortable, if not ridiculous, to hear a grown man getting hysterical over a cake recipe. It’s possible Webb could’ve re-written his lines to make it seem like his doomed lover had baked the fucking thing: “Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it, ‘cause SHE took so long to bake it. And SHE’ll never have that recipe again….”

    Oh well. Last point on the lyrics, is that, like Boko Haram’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” there really isn’t much cause for concern. This is just abstract words, like an abstract painting. Do we get bent because Seurat used little dabs of paint for his pointeliist effect? Are we upset because Picasso stuck two eyes on one side of a model’s head? We get it. Boko’s song about a girl having an overdose at a party, was rendered with spacey symbolism. So here, (and confirmed in Webb’s book), the sad drama of a break-up during the psychedelic 60’s is rendered with LSD smears. The park’s lawn becomes “sweet green icing.” There’s symbolism of a rainy day in a park. There are the glimpses of park scenes, including old men playing checkers. It’s not THAT obscure.

    “MacArthur Park is melting in the dark” isn’t that far removed from the era’s “Raindrops keep falling on my head.” For Webb, the main irritation was that Richard Harris kept singing MacArthur’s Park.” There wasn’t a way of slicing off the “s” every time the amiably drunk and/or histrionic actor repeated that line.

    Webb has a good sense of humor and a self-deprecating way about him. A few weeks ago he did a podcast with little Gilbert Gottfried, and was a good sport in playing keyboard while Gilbert rasped and strained over the famous high notes and “Oh no’s.”  Webb, Gilbert and the crew were breaking up with laughter, which is more than you’ll do listening to this historic but hardly hysteric curiosity by the former Milton Supman.


sings MUCKY-ARTY PARK    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

The WEBB of Infidelity: "EVIE"

Reading Jimmy Webb’s new memoir, “The Cake and the Rain,” I learned that his rather obscure song “Evie” nearly won an International song competition in Brazil. It’s about a real person. Evie is the fun-loving wife of Leslie Bricusse (both still alive) and in her early days as an actress, appeared in a few Hammer horror movies. In the days when England swang like a pendulum do, she was frisky enough to openly cheat on him with Webb. He wanted to marry her. She wasn’t sure. Bricusse got more prickly about this as the situation became more and more serious. This led to a very engrossing confrontation that saw Webb-fan David Hemmings get between Evie’s two rivals before any punches could be thrown. 

Evie had called Webb from her home, desperate for a rescue. In fact, she chose to escape with Webb, leaving her husband with Hemmings. But…a few days later she returned to him. Oh, Jimmy eventually realized, maybe it’s for the best.  

As most every sensitive singer-songwriter would admit, what’s the point of a life experience if it can’t be fodder for a song? “Evie” is one of those rather self-indulgent ballads in which the hero gets to show there are no hard feelings, just maybe a lingering hardon now and then. I’d put it in the category of an “I’m gonna stand tall” number from Gene Pitney, but somewhere in the book Webb wryly quotes Pitney as saying, “I never got Jimmy Webb.”  

Webb figured that Bill Medley, the lanky, dark-haired half of the Righteous Brothers, was the perfect choice to put “Evie” into the Top 10. Medley was willing to go down to Brazil and sing it as America’s representative in the song contest. As it turned out, the song never made the Top 100 and the entourage (Medley, Webb and a variety of musicians and users) figured the contest was more an excuse for partying than anything else. How could the song win in a corrupt country that was going to rig the judging for its own entry? 

As Jimmy relates in the book, the main thing was to try not to get killed down there. Angry Latinos were shouting the Spanish word for “fag” at him (for having long hair) and the Fascist police seemed to be losing patience with the gringos and their attempts to smuggle marijuana. 

Poor Bill Medley, saddled with a second-rate “Didn’t We,” gets kudos for being determined and gutsy, singing this rather awkward slow ballad to a restless and downright dangerous crowd. The audience was only calmed when another singing contestant came out to try and shield him, and make sure nobody threw anything dangerous at his head. It’s just one of many vivid anecdotes in this engrossing memoir. 

Despite some hype here and there from his publisher, the book is NOT “the story behind the songs” in most cases. “Evie” is an exception. There’s nothing about one of my favorite rock songs of his, “Laspitch,” which is a Harry Chapin-esque O.Henry story-song about a preacher’s infidelity, and how the Man of God’s wife reacts. Webb doesn’t even bother to cite the song as a very unusual example of a number where the closing instrumental is actually longer than the song itself. 

The dramatic music, perhaps intended to accentuate and continue to shake up the listener after the punchline, continues for another three minutes. The song ends up almost as long as “MacArthur Park.” As Webb progressed from songwriter to singer-songwriter, his work became much less commercial. He was pretty much “hired” to write the awful and overripe “Up Up and Away” for a proposed teen movie about ballooning, and it became one of his major hits. Less known would be “If You See Me Getting Smaller I’m Leaving” describing his decision to have a “borderline career” touring small clubs and be taken seriously. 

In discussing Webb’s work, detractors often get stuck on Jimmy’s work for traditionals like Sinatra and Streisand, and how the MOR-world embraced him for his work with The Fifth Dimension, or how even Andy Williams took on “MacArthur Park.” But his work has encompassed every form of music, from soul and R&B (take Pocketful of Keys” from Thelma Houston), disco (Donna Summer), doo wop (Johnny Maestro and “The Worst That Could Happen), and tough C&W (“The Highwayman” as sung by The Highwaymen). (C)rapper Kanye West even stole a melody off Webb for “Famous.” In addition, Webb worked his way up from a rather nasal and annoying variation on Neil Young into a class act playing the same venues as Randy Newman, and attracting almost the same kind of intelligent, informed crowd. 

Have I digressed? Say hello to EVIE, the frolicsome 60's babe and ex-scream queen (who performed as Yvonne Romain.

EVIE BILL MEDLEY sings WEBB Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.