Sunday, November 19, 2017


Here's "Turkey Mambo." 

Thanksgiving is next week. So get your Tofurkey NOW. If you eat a real turkey, you might feel like the covergirl above, and think you've been cut in half at the stomach.

No way would this blog endorse or celebrate killing animals. There's a reason the President of the United States always pardons a turkey. It's to send a subtle message against cruelty. Although this year, if Trump pardons a turkey, visions of his ugly demented sons murdering elephants and lions will still be hard to erase.

The irony is that most people don't even like turkey (not when dere's frahhhd chickun). Chicken is much easier to cook. Just ask Curly Howard. Roasted turkey requires time, stuffing, basting, and great care to avoid a dry and overcooked disaster. PS, we all know there's a drug in turkey that makes you so sleepy that if you don't pass out on the couch, and instead try to drive home, you just might smack into a lightpole.

(Parenthetically noted, if you wonder why this blog is topical over Thanksgiving, but is not devoting space to the recently deceased Malcolm Young or Mel Tillis, it's because those two artists are very famous. Young's AC/DC sold FIFTY MILLION copies of "Back to Black," which ranks it second ONLY to partially black Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in sales. FIFTY MILLION copies. This blog is for obscurities, like "Turkey Mambo," which maybe sold 5,000 at best.)

Richard Hayman (March 27, 1920 – February 5, 2014) ) was a virtuoso on the harmonica, and a capable music arranger and conductor. After a stint with the Harmonica Rascals, and working for the MGM music department as an arranger, he created charts for Vaughn Monroe's big band. He signed with Mercury for a bunch of easy listening albums. And as any dumbfuck would tell you, listening to music is very difficult. The average jazz or classical piece is WAY too challenging. 

The Haymaker's version of the movie theme for "Ruby Gentry" (simply titled "Ruby") was a big hit in 1953. He worked as an arranger for the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler, and later conducted "Pops" concerts himself for many years with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. With "easy listening music" no longer selling (and being given away by emotional Dutch bloggers instead) conducting 4th of July concerts and holiday-fests was a way for Hayman and orchestra musicians to keep doing what they loved. 

Hayman's albums were not just Jackie Gleason or Melachrino-type collections of sound-alike romantic violin music. More similar to MOR albums by Charlie Barnett or the Elgart Brothers, each album side kept listeners alert with actual changes in tempo. They sometimes snuck in a novelty tune. "Turkey Mambo," which turns up on "Let's Get Together," is much more ridiculous than other, more usual tracks, such as "Port of Spain," "Song of April," or "Never Again."

"Turkey Mambo" is a mild big-band version of "Turkey in the Straw," which is stupid enough, but what renders this even more ridiculous, and delightful, is the chorus of middle-aged men who happily call out "TUR-KEY! MAM-BO!"


"La Hora Del Crepusculo" - THE PLATTERS SING IN SPANISH!

Hola, amigos! DON'T speak SPANISH? Lo siento! You can't be AMERICANS, then. In America, the official language is SPANISH. Si? No? hay nada oficial. As Senator Hayakawa found out years ago, there is no official law saying English is the official language of Los Estados Unidos! 

In most big cities you can't pick up the phone and dial a train station, dental office or a department store without getting a recorded message asking if you want to continue in English or Spanish. You can't watch a sports event without being alerted that a Spanish translation is available on the SAP channel, you sap. You can't get voting or tax information without ending up juggling an unwieldy pamphlet with 40 pages in English and the next 40 en ESPANOL. 

Happily for the dead Platters, and the dead Gene Pitney, and the dead Lesley Gore among others, record labels began to get the idea on Latino procreation and immigration early on. They also knew a big market...that was NOT about to learn English. And so they sent their artists back into the studio to sing along to the original backing tracks and offer phonetic translations of hit songs or...entire albums. It meant a few extra pesos back then, but a lot more NOW. Same with the Spanish language version of "Dracula" (1931) included on most DVD sets to get Latino buyers, or even the Spanish language version of Laurel & Hardy shorts, with the boys reading their lines phonetically. Moe, Larry and Curly, "Los Tres Chiflados"are selling well, dubbed in Spanish. 

Surely, "The Platters Sing Latino" will have a whole new life as the 30% Latin population continues to rise...and refuse to speak English. When I was a wee muchacho, I was glad to take Spanish in school. Like George Carlin, who lived in a Puerto Rican neighborhood, I thought Spanish was a beautiful language. At least, it sounded beautiful when Zorro spoke it. It also sounded nice when Abbe Lane (Jewish, actually) sang it. My enthusiasm waned when I noticed that Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Cubans were making no effort to honor their new country and learn the lingo. People in the country for years, of not decades, still weren't speaking English. They claimed learning Ingles was mas dificil? Come on, even Polish people learned English! 

Too late now. And really, listening to The Platters, no es malo. "La Hora Del Crepuscolo" ("Twilight Time" to you...) sounds very pretty en Espanol. Learning a foreign language is broadening. If you know Spanish and "La Hora del Crepuscolo," then you'll know what Richard Attenborough means when he tells you a vampire bat is "crepuscular." It means it comes out in twilight. Es verdad!

So, escuche, Majareta. Mentecato. Zoquete. Cochino bandito. Pazguato cateto. Fea bruja. Ronoso depravado. Soon you will be inspired to learn Spanish, and utter phrases that will help you get along with your neighbors: "Portate como un ser  humano" (act like a human being) and "Apartese gordinflon" (Move, fatso) or "Digales a esos mocosos que pisen sus pies, no los mios" ("Tell your horrible brats to piss on your feet not mine) or  "Cuando te dejaron salir de la jaula?" (when did they let you out of your cage?). Ahhh..."Vamos a robar discos" (let's steal records!") 

TWILIGHT TIME sung in SPANISH - listen or download, no stupid password forcing you to type in some egocentric asshole's name

BE MISERABLE: “Sick Comic" Singer and Environmental Activist Katie Lee Dead at 98.

       In Illville, Katie Lee was first known for her "sick comedy" albums. Come to think of it, outside of Arizona, and some folkie circles, she's STILL best known for them. Her only major label releases, via RCA and Reprise were these "neurotic" songs. Reprise, already owning the catalog of "sick-o" Tom Lehrer,  re-issued "Songs of Couch of Consultation." It's on the right, with a much more front-and-center cover photo than the original on the left. 

       Katie Lee (October 23, 1919 – November 1, 2017) was a nice lady with a pleasant voice. It may have been for "redeeming social value" that record labels chose someone whose voice and demeanor wasn't too bluesy or raunchy. After all, other favorites of the day included the lilting risque song lady Ruth Wallis, and young Joan Barton, who was Warner Bros. choice for comedy sex songs. 

       Today, we don’t think twice about people seeing a therapist or being prescribed opioids. It had to start somewhere, and it was in the late 50's. Dubbed "The Age of Anxiety," people were worried about the bomb, scared by the pace of modern "improvements," worried about pollution and overpopulation, and most especially troubled by "deep, disturbing doubt about religion," thanks to astronauts confirming that there were no angels in clouds. 

     Suddenly, the books by some geezer named Freud were popular, and harried businessmen were taking something called Miltown. It was mother's little helper for the businessman's better half, home taking care of the kids. In 1955, when sales of tranquilizers and sleeping pills began to rise, Katie Lee began to travel. She'd started her career in Hollywood, getting some bit parts in films, and acting and singing on radio ("The Great Gildersleeve" and Gordon MacRae's "Railroad Hour"). 

          Now she was hoping for a career as a solo artist: “In the beginning, I was working in coffee houses. I was traveling by myself all over the United States in my T-Bird. Just me and my guitar." It was musician Bud Freeman who figured she'd be perfect for his proposed album of "sick comedy," “Songs of Couch and Consultation” (1957). She added “Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses” (1960 for RCA). 

     You won’t find edgy Lehrer-type comedy in the two mild samples below. “Stay As Sick as You Are,” lyrics by Bud Freeman and music by Leon Pober, is a cheery look at living with a lunatic:  “I love your streak of cruelty, your psychopathic lies. Your homicidal tendencies shining in your eyes.” The second album, “Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses” has the cheerful “Be Miserable” (Ebb-Klein): “When black clouds pursue ya, and you feel depressed, why shout hallelujah? Wring your hands, bite your nails, beat your breast!” 

       By 1964, Katie was back to traditional music, issuing “Folk Songs of the Colorado River.” See the post below for 'Song of the Boatman.' It’s quite likely that this is the one Linda Ronstadt had in mind when she told Katie, “"I listened to your records since I was a kid." A decade later, Lee issued "Love's Little Sisters: A Tender Documentary of the Early American Whore." This one, almost always between $30 and $50 in record stores, was produced and engineered by the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart. Yes, "House of the Rising Sun" is on it, along with "Cut Down In her Prime," "Charlot's Epitaph," "Casey's Last Ride," "Piece on the Prairie," "Lavinia's Parlor" and "The Hooker." Also prized from that era, is "Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle," featuring guest Travis Edmonson, once half of the popular Liberty Records duo Bud and Travis. 

     Lee wrote many books including: “Sandstone Seduction,”  “All My Rivers are Gone” and in 2014, “Ghosts of Dandy Crossing.” She wrote a play called “Maude, Billy and Mr. B,” and when it was performed in a local high school last year, she came on stage to take a bow. Yes, she was still spry and active in her late 90's, when she was featured on several DVD nature documentaries, including “Wrenched” (about activists inspired by Edward Abbey’s work) and “DamNation.” She hated dams. Her vanity license plate was "Dam Dams," and her hatred never diminished for the Glen Canyon Dam, which despite protests, was built in 1963: "I’d like to blow it up. I don’t know how. Rivers are not supposed to be dammed up.”

    Born in Tucson, a graduate of the University of Arizona, she lived in the small town of Jerome since 1971, and loved taking trips on the Colorado River and through the beautiful canyons. Like venerable East Coast folk singer Pete Seeger, Katie Lee was a marvel of endurance, and was still singing at age 98, at her birthday celebration. For her, the novelty stuff ended up being a mere footnote in a very long and successful career. But for those curious about those odd albums in the racks, and now re-issued on CD, here are a few of those notes:  

STAY AS SICK AS YOU ARE - listen or download, no passwords, no demands you "ENJOY!" and no, you won't be sent to some Russian site with pop-ups telling you "your Adobe Flash is out of date, download some malware."

BE MISERABLE - listen or download, no dopey Password to humiliate yourself by typing in - no Russian website trying to trick you into infecting yourself with spyware

Katie Lee melds "Song of the Boatman" and "Cry of the Wild Goose"

Katie Lee loved the natural beauty of the Arizona canyons. She was a natural beauty, herself. 

Full frontals were not quite considered "natural" back then. At least, not for publication. Description was for publication: “It was hot as hell, and I was nude as marble.” 

With her "sick" and "novelty" days behind her, Katie was singing for Folkways, and the track below, from 1964, is...well, come to think of it, not completely "innocent." It's called "The Song of the Boatman," and Katie recalled:

"“You’re supposed to fall in love with your boatman, and I did. And sometimes the boatman falls in love with you, and he did. So I wrote this song of the boatman to the tune of “The Cry of the Wild Goose” by Frankie Laine.” 

She meant SUNG by Frankie Laine. The eccentric "Goose" was hatched by Terry Gilkyson in 1950. Terry would strike gold with his group The Easy Riders in 1956, via "Marianne." 

Years later (actually, she was 95 at the time of the interview) uninhibited Katie told an interviewer, “The first thing I say when I get up in the morning is my favorite word: FUCK! It feels good. It’s a great word. I am probably best known for my bad mouth and my activism. I wish I were recognized more for my writing, because I don’t think my writing is bad at all.” As mentioned above, she wrote many books,  mostly about the rivers and canyons of Arizona, and the preservation of them.

She was a nature girl: “I was outdoors all the time. My dad, when I was 12 years old, bought me a Remington shotgun, and taught me how to use it, how NOT to use it and how never to use it…” If she shot animals, this Annie Oakley sharpshooter did it for food: “I used to shoot the heads off quails.” No suffering with Katie behind the rifle.

The "folk tradition" as Bob Dylan, The Weavers, the Kingston Trio and others would happily insist, meant that nobody owned "traditional" songs. They could be freely adapted. This was fine back when there was no such thing as radio, and there were no unions and rights organizations tallying up the sales of sheet music. This was also acceptable when immigrants from Scotland, Ireland and England came to America and Canada, and adapted their melodies to circumstances of their new land. Hence: "Farewell to Nova Scotia," "Sweet Betsy from Pike" or "Flora, The Lily of the West." 

Chances are, had "The Song of the Boatman" actually been a hit, Mr. Gilkyson would've come calling, with a lawyer, requesting a share of the profits. And rightly so. But, like daughter like father. Terry's daughter Eliza wrote a song called "Paradise Hotel," and during an instrumental break added (oh, Matthew...) the infamous organ part that begins "Whiter Shade of Pale." 

Song of the Boatman, melody based on Cry of the Wild Goose - listen online, download, no passwords, no spyware crap, no bastardly Russian companies involved


Katie Lee's first album, 1957, was given the provocative title "Spicy Songs for Cool Knights." It was very likely inspired by the success of folk singers Oscar Brand (his "Bawdy Ballads" series) and especially Ed MCurdy's "Dalliance" series: 

There was also a popular skin mag (aka "stroke book") called Sir Knight. At the time, a good way to sell risque records OVER the counter, was to rely on the "redeeming social value" excuse. This worked pretty well when one could also point out, "This stuff was written hundreds of years ago! Chaucer, and those guys! 

It was a pretty good idea to hire a FEMALE folk singer for such an album. But somehow, it seemed like the owner of Katie's label decided a sexy cover and title was enough. Let's not get TOO raunchy. In fact, why not just opt for some "sick joke" comedy here and there, and some standards? And let's not tell the prospective buyer TOO much! 

The mild songs on the album include "The Frozen Logger," "Blow the Candles Out," "Poor Miss Bailey, ""My Mother Chose My Husband,"  and, yes, "The House of the Rising Sun," described here as: "A famous New Orleans blues about a famous New Orleans house." What, the House of Pancakes? 

A big fad at the time, along with the burgeoning, and ever more rude "risque song" craze, was sick jokes. "Sick comedians" were on the way too, with Lenny Bruce and Shelley Berman soon to be making records for major labels. "Best of Sick Jokes" by Max Rezwin, one of my favorites, was actually published in paperback by mainstream Pocket Books in 1958. It was a lot more fun than "knock-knock" jokes, or the fad that followed, books of elephant jokes. 

Your Katie Lee sample below? It's the "Willie" sick jokes set to music. One of the favorite gambits of the day was to take old old limericks and put them to familiar songs that fit, like the Mexican Hat Dance. Here, some strumming is added to various sick jokes that were probably considered wheezes at the time. This one, to a Banana Boat melody (Katie actually worked with Harry Belafonte for a while): 

Willie put the kitten in the wet cement. And when they asked our Willie what he meant,
Very solemnly, the lad intoned: "I like to see a cat who's really stoned."

OK, there's a reason this thing's not been re-issued on CD.

Little Willie songs - Listen on line or download, no stupid Passwords, no "update your Adobe Flash" malware shit or zinfarts

Thursday, November 09, 2017


Say what? 

What's black and white, but not necessarily the over-all truth? It's what you read in print. The sad fact is that even before there was movable type, people were writing shit down and expecting it to be believed. You know. The Bible. The Koran. And now, the London Daily Fail, the National Enquirer, etc. 

People love to spread gossip, too. As in, "I met a man whose brother said he knew a man who knew the Oxford Girl..." Something like that. Or as Brother Theodore used to say, "Half the lies they print about me are untrue." Having seen the publishing world CLOSE UP, believe me, there are publishers and editors who get perverse pleasure (as well as payment) out of spreading lies or tricking the gullible. 

Rarely does the injured party win a libel case because it involves proving damages AND dealing with tricky weasel-words. You've seen it thousands of times. Like, the article on your favorite star and her marital woes. The line in the paper: "She is broken-hearted and ready to divorce him," said a close friend. 

Go to court? The writer isn't saying he got this information from a "close friend" of the star. "A close friend of MINE said that," the writer chuckles. Case dismissed. Besides, can you prove "damages?" Hurt feelings aren't "damages." You have to prove that the article defamed you in such a way you lost income; then you get money. Maybe. 

In the meantime, and for such a long time, gossip columnists have routinely and knowingly made shit up. Reporters routinely and knowingly stretch and "interpret" what they've seen, in order to get more readers and make a story juicier. Paul Simon sang it decades ago: "I don't believe what I read in the papers. They're just out to capture my dime."

Or as Bob Dylan sang it, more recently: "all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie." 

In the article above, the weasel word is "alleges." Somebody or other "alleges" that Dr. King had a "love child" by somebody or other, and that he participated in orgies, and that one of his conquests was Joan Baez. 

This is merely gossip that found its way into a file, but since it was a "secret file" kept locked up along with thousands of other documents, it's gotta be true. Where there's smoke there's desire. And lookie, there's a photo of Joanie and Marty together, so it must be so!

Need I go on? People believe what they want to believe and disregard the rest. Lie la lie, lie la lie. 

The media websites rushed to print the lurid headlines, and put "allegations" in very small print. It's all hype and hypocrisy. That this comes from an FBI file and not some third rate "investigative reporter" and his publicist is a bonus. 

The London Daily Fail always runs a huge insane story about Princess Di or Jackie Kennedy or whoever, and almost never is literally called on it for a retraction. There are pricks in the world like Darwin Porter; he makes up crap, self-publishes it, and know the Daily Fail will pay to serialize that garbage. PS, if a person is dead, the person can't sue, and neither can living relatives. That's why Porter's specialized in obnoxious shit-flings like "Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Life Beyond her Wildest Dreams," "J. Edgar Hoover...Sexual Secrets," and "James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes." He stole (that's legal) the phrase "Hollywood Babylon" off gossip writer Kenneth Anger (who wasn't above telling lies as long as he admitted it was GOSSIP). Porter came up with "Hollywood Babylon Strikes Again!" (Kenneth, you should've trademarked "Hollywood Babylon" to prevent its misuse).

People want to believe conspiracy theories. In this Baez lie, people want to believe that just because some FBI files were unlocked, there's truth in them and not ALLEGATIONS. When it's convenient, people embrace "fake news." When they can make a profit, they circulate it. The Internet is loaded with cynical pricks who are making a living by making up crap and, sometimes, in very small print, putting on the bottom of the website a caveat saying "this is a parody website." Oh. That's what it is. I thought it was a pun. Or a palindrome. It's parody. Ha ha.

As we've all experienced since school days, people make up lies, and don't care who they hurt. Including you. And so, "THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE" goes you and your reputation. And honoring Joan, who is taking a victory lap with a final tour in 2018 and one last album, here's her live version of that famous Phil Ochs song. 

THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE (Live) - No egotistic moronic PASSWORD

Esther Galil - Morocco-born Jewish Singer of “Conquistador” in FRENCH

You silly English Kaaaaaa-nigggits! THIS is how "Conquistador" should be sung! By a Jewish woman in French! Brooker, your mother was a hamster! 

    Sapristi! You’ve heard of the Sea of Galilee, but not heard a high C from Esther Galil? Down below you get the note, and a whole lot more.

    Circa 1972,  Boko Harum or whatever they were called, had a surprise hit with a movie-soundtrack version of a sparse 1967 track called “Conquistador.” It was on their "Live with an Orchestra You Never heard Of" album, the only one to feature the late great Dave Ball on lead guitar. Thanks to "awesome" minor-league arrangement (ooh, how clever, a trumpet that can mimic a battle cry, and a bunch of thrumming violins) the band would have its second...and last...hit. Since the lead singer once fucked up an Italian version of a single ("Shine on Brightly") he was not asked to sing an Italian version. The French language version was given to a hot new singer with a tough, soulful voice: Esther Galil. Sort of the Israeli Elkie Brooks.

    Galil (May 28, 1945) was born in Morocco, where her ancestors migrated when the Jews were kicked out of Spain during the Inquisition.  (Nobody expects...) The Galil family (eleven children) heard about the Jews finally getting their own country. And so they journeyed to the land of Milk and Honey, and settled in what is now still known, despite antisemite Roger Waters and his melon-headed shower buddy Peter Gabriel, as ISRAEL. 

       Like so many hard-working Jews trying to make their dream nation come alive, Esther worked on a kibbutz where she picked fruits and vegetables. Her singing lightened the load for her co-workers, and she began performing Israeli folk tunes. She found success in France, and had a hit with "The Day Rises." She discovered her voice was suited to R&B and rock. With Janis Joplin and other white women on the charts, labels wanted a tougher, grittier sound. Esther recorded “Delta Queen.” The flip side: the French language “Conquistador” you find below. I'm not sure of the French translation. I think it has something to do with a French knight who died in battle when he forgot his sword and began fighting with a baguette instead. Whatever, Galil now had several hit singles and was a star. She opened for Michel Sardou at the famous Olympia, shared the bill with Johnny Hallyday, and toured with Gilbert Montagne.

    Over the years, her songs were hits in Europe and in areas of the Middle East and Africa including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Iran. Various songs written by Galil have been hits for other artists including Giovanna (“Shalom Shula Shalom”). Her songs have been covered by French singers such as Julie Pietri and Patricia Kass. She is the only Israeli artist to appear in the Divas Billboard Top 50 of “greatest female artists.” 

    As one might expect, Galil’s output lessened as she entered middle age, but part of that was because she found other things to challenge her, including art. Moving to Los Angeles about 20 years ago, she began to exhibit her paintings in local galleries. 

    Still keeping up with music, in 2003 she returned to France for a show at the Olymbia with Gilles Dreu, Jacqueline Dulac, and Nicole Croisille. If you’d like better known names, Esther participated in many international antiwar concerts, films and protests, alongside Bruce Springsteen, Pink, System of a Down and Neil Young. Locally, she’s appeared at the Los Angeles Mint and Harvelle’s Theater in Santa Monica. In 2013 she turned up for an audition at the second season of The Voice, performing her classic, “The Day Rises.” Said one of the judges: “It’s an honor to have you here.”

    In May 19, 2017, Esther joined an all-star (as far as European fans are concerned) concert at Chalon sur Saone, which also featured Didier Barbelivien, Jean-Luc Lahaye and  Linda De Suza. And so below, “Conquistador,” for a woman who has conquered a variety of media, and for the moment, still has conquered Father Time.

Esther Galil - CONQUISTADOR - Listen online or download. NEVER A DOPEY PASSWORD!


    Funny, despite its suggestive name, Hard Meat didn't get much attention in the early 70's, and the situation hasn't improved much since. The two brothers who were the nucleus of the Birmingham-based  British rock trio are both dead. They were Steve Dolan, who died back in May 22, 2000 and Mike Dolan who was 67 when he passed on, August 2, 2014. He died of cancer at his summer home in Hisaronu, Turkey, and was buried there.

    Hard Meat could've at least been a "one hit wonder" with “Smile as You Go Under,” which I played on radio shows all the time, thanks to its promotion on one of those Warner Bros. "loss leader" samplers. Back in this stone/stoned age, one way new bands got popular was to AIRPLAY from trusted disc jockeys, especially the intimate type that were on during the midnight hours, when people were actually listening, with nothing else to do. Unless they had hard meat. 

    As I recall it (dimly), I liked to do a segue for this song, and play it right after the last notes of "Casey Jones" by the Grateful Dead. Which was, incidentally, the only Dead song I ever played. No. Not "Truckin'." Be a DJ. Play "Casey Jones" and segue it into your download of "Smile As You Go Under."

    One of the big helps for adventurous disc jockeys, especially on low budget stations, was the pioneering “Loss Leader” album compilations from Warners. They weren't about to mail every whole album to every small town or college station. For a buck or two, if you really cared about using your "power" to expose people to new talent, they’d mail you a single or double album set featuring the best cuts from their newest artists. That's how I discovered Fanny, Curved Air, Ron Nagle and these guys. 

        Hard Meat's first album was notable for their competent, bar band version of Bob Dylan's 'Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine." The second album was more adventurous and diverse, including flute, keyboard, and now-dated hippie-dippie indulgences such as "Ballad of Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes.” That one sounded like an outtake off one of Rod Stewart’s early Mercury solo albums (that dopey “Mandolin Wind” period). Its opposite was the surly, glum and sarcastic "(If you can't stop) Smile as You Go Under." 

         Warners did what they could, choosing a good cut to promose, and showcasing them on a tour of America. This earned them an unlikely long live show review in Billboard, literally on the same page as better known and middle-of-the-road acts including Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme’s debuting at the Copa, and Shirley Bassey blasting away at the Waldorf-Astoria.  

     Mike stayed in the music business via Bell Sound Hire, a company that supplied mobile sound systems for touring bands, including U2 and Show of Hands. He also worked as a sound engineer on a variety of projects involving Mike D’Abo and Ashley Hutchings, and sometimes got a call to take up his guitar for a session. He played bass on Mick Jagger’s "Goddess in the Doorway” solo album. Into his 60’s Mike could still be seen and heard at local gigs. How often he was introduced as the vocalist and leader of Hard Meat, I have no idea. Probably as often as he was introduced as one of the guys fronting earlier groups with his brother, The Ebony Combo or the The Five Dimensions (backing up R&B singer Jimmy Powell). 

    An obit in a local Birmingham paper didn’t even MENTION that he was in Hard Meat. The paper mentioned he was in the Cock-a-Hoops, and that he toured on the same bill “with the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Procol Harem [sic] John Mayall, Wilson Pickett and Chuck Berry.”

    Just why this entry turned up reason at all. "Smile As You Go Under" is actually still on my iPod, along with some other odd “Loss Leader” stuff previously posted on this blog of less renown (including Hamilton Camp's "Star Spangled Bus.") I happened to hear it the other day and realize, "it's STILL a good one, with a message and a hook."  So, congrats, brothers, for making it to an obscure blog after you went under. Hope you're smiling.

SMILE AS YOU GO UNDER - Download or Listen online - NO PASSWORDS EVER

BEETHOVEN - “FUNERAL “MARCH” performed by Sviatoslav Richter

We go Waist Deep in the Big Luddy. More like knee deep, actually, as this blog doesn’t cover classical music much. The item has to be rare or unusual, and most classical music that fits those categories is also irritating. Another way to make it here is to be offbeat or weird, so a “Funeral March” qualifies. And another sure way to arrive here is to be an “obscure” artist, which is a relative term, cousin. Alas, Mr. Richter is obscure to the average music fan who has a ‘Beethoven’s Greatest Hits” on a shelf somewhere. He’s not really well known outside of the avid collectors of piano music. He performed at a time when his competition included Horowitz and Rubinstein, who were not only brilliant, but in America where they had access to radio, TV, and of course, major record label promotion and concert halls. 

     Below is the third movement from Beethoven’s 12th Sonata. He hadn't had a "hit" yet (the “Moonlight” sonata is #14) but he startled some critics by offering a funeral march, which was something new. Meaning, Luddy got there first. Beethoven’s Sonata #12 arrived circa 1801. Chopin’s infamous Sonata #2 was completed in 1839. There’s no question (put your hands down, students) that Chopin’s is much more famous. Almost to the point of comic cliche, a funeral procession on film or TV will have the stately and somber Chopin piece on the soundtrack. The only other grim march that anyone can hum, is probably Gounod’s “Funeral March for a Marionette,” better known as the TV theme for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

    I’m very particular about my Beethoven #12, and the third movement, “Marcia funebre sulla morte d’un Eroe” must be taken at a slow tempo, not a brisk walk. But some pianists speed this up, as well as the infamous first movement of the “Moonlight” sonata, for fear of seeming too romantic. While the "clipped salon style" might actually be closer to how Beethoven performed his works (check out Wilhelm Kempff's 12th and 14th), some piano music benefits from a stately pace. Richter tops Glenn Gould (whose mumbling you can always hear being picked up by the microphone) in my opinion. This live recording is from May 12, 1959 in Prague. A deficit which you’ll encounter about 39 seconds into this short (under 3 minutes) movement, is somebody's loud cough. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, "The cure for a sore throat is to cut it." 

    I was at a piano concert recently by the acclaimed young artist Vassily Primakov (well represented on YouTube these days). The mc of the evening offered the usual preamble about turning off cellphones and behaving properly, and then demonstrated that “the best way to muffle a couch is like THIS” (face buried into the meaty crook of the inner elbow) “and not like THIS” (thin hand lazily up to the mouth). As you'll presumably be alone or among friends when you listen to this, do as you damn well please as loudly as you want. That includes you, Taco Bell fans.

Richter - FUNERAL MARCH from Beethoven's Sonata #12