Sunday, November 19, 2017


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

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