Sunday, March 19, 2017

CREEPY JOE ADAMS: “THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU” Rap

How to give a back ache to Bacharach: make him sit through cover versions of his songs, especially this one.

Submitted for your approval, a track by “Joe Adams,” who never recorded an entire album. This track is filler on a “101 Strings” album. The 101 Strings knocked off dozens of cheapies to cash in on a hot artist, movie or trend. In this case, they were hoping to pluck a buck from the heat wave of erotic “heavy breathing” records.

You might recall there was “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus,” a Latina going ai-ai-ahhhhh on “Jungle Fever” and “Please Love Me” which had a pouting, moaning, then frantic female vocalist emoting behind the chugging instrumentals of a chauvinistic group called Manpower. There were also narration albums, with people reading the "Kama Sutra," "Lady Chatterly's Lover," or instructions on becoming "The Sensuous Woman."

Fans of “outsider music” “nerd audio” and “so bad it’s good Muzak” cherish any 101 String cheese-incident. The early ones are a bit too serious, featuring players in German symphony orchestras gathered together to do Mantovani-type collections of movie themes and light classics

In 1964, entrepeneur Al Sherman bought the rights to the 101 Strings franchise, and put them on his own label, Alshire (ah, I get it, Al Sherman…Al Shire…). Now using cheap moonlighting talent from the London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, Sherman oversaw increasingly more modern output. There were warped Muzak versions of Beatles songs, the best of Simon & Garfunkel, and later, soul and even electronic music. It was supposed to be fun for the whole family. “Well,” said Dad, “I have to admit, those Beatles melodies are nice, as long as there’s no SINGING!”

Today, “collectors” have made some of the dollar-bin albums from the 101 strings worth, well, $1.01. Or more. MORE if the music's particularly queasy, or the cover is kewl. You'll pay more than a buck go get “The Sounds of Love” and its kinky follow-up, “The Exotic Sounds of Love.”

The latter has already been mentioned on the blog (the download being "Whiplash"). On the former (pictured above), you’ll find Bebe Bardon’s solo moaning on a track called “Love at First Sight” (yeah, basically “Je T’aime” without a man in the bed). Bebe Bardon’s name was swiped off Brigitte Bardot, who was also known as “B.B.” and “Bebe.” Bardot actually recorded an early version of “Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus” with Serge Gainsbourg. Bardon couldn’t quite gasp through an entire album by herself, so there was filler, including instrumentals and a few appalling narratives from "Joe Adams."

Below in a download, and below the belt, for the snickers of posterity, one of the carnal chronicles of creepy Adams. Perhaps his influence was Bryce Bond, who recorded a "Bachelor Apartment" album on the budget Strand label, intended to be luridly overheard oozings and urgings of seduction. Over the ordinary instrumentals from the 101 Strings, Joe recites some Hal David lines and adds come-ons of his own. Groan. Groan.

JOE ADAMS THIS GUYS IN LOVE WITH YOU Instant download or listen on line. No royalties paid BUT, the blog is not getting paid either for any “hard work” in uploading the track.

CHUCK BERRY - ROCKIN’ , DUCK WALKIN’, PISSIN’ PEEPIN' AND SUIN’

I’ll never forget first hearing “Maybellene.” It wasn't the Chuck Berry version.

I had the Ralph Marterie single. (Gerry and the Pacemakers did it much later, probably hunting for a Berry song they could lift the way The Beatles took "Roll Over Beethoven.") If you’re thinking Ralph's another Pat Boone white guy doing a dumbed-down cover, just listen. Like another Italian jazz man, Louis Prima, Marterie had a pretty hip voice. In the mid-50’s hip and hep were finding common ground with "cats" like Louis Jordan turning in numbers that could easily be considered early rock and roll.

Before he jumped on “Maybellene” (note the spelling, different from the cosmetic company), Ralph had scored with a cover of Bill Haley’s “Crazy, Man, Crazy.” He managed to get that one into the Top 20. “Maybellene” zoots him well. (In later years, Ralph tended to stay away from the microphone and just play his trumpet, fronting his big band).

The other day, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen (among others) were quoted with their tributes to the late Chuck Berry. “Boss” Springsteen declared: “Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ’n’ roll writer who ever lived." Not the first time Broooose has been full of shit. He's overrated, too. MASSIVELY. The truth is, Berry was among the pioneers of rock (along with Little Richard, Bill Haley and then Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly) but what they all have in common is most people don't listen to 'em much anymore. Oh, there's still Elvis fetishists, but most people over 40 listen to The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones and others who fleshed out those primitive rockin' bones.

Yes, I like a handful of Chuck’s catchy songs, but I haven't played any of 'em in years. And I rarely play cover versions of 'em either. “Maybellene” (1955) has a fun pun about “motorvatin’” over the hill. “School Days” (1957) was beloved by many and was even covered by Phil Ochs. “Memphis, Tennessee” is really just a long way to go for a joke, but it’s spawned many covers as well, including a moody and sincere one from Eleanor McEvoy. You have to like that line about missing the girl with the "hurry home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye." It beats yellow matter custard. Speaking of which, The Beatles of course, covered “Roll Over Beethoven” which Chuck had recorded in 1956. By 1958 (“Rock and Roll Music and “Johnny B. Goode”) Chuck was done. You really want to include ‘My Ding a Ling” from 1972?

Anything else? If you can stand to listen to an entire CD of this guy, OR Little Richard OR Buddy Holly (no racism here, the white guy is just as annoying), then you’re fond of monotony. Three minutes of an old video clip is plenty, too. Little Richard, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis made faces at the piano. Fine for three minutes. Chuck had the infamous “duck walk.” It's still amusing to see once in a while. More amusing than Michael Jackson moonwalking or crotch-grabbing.

Like Jerry Lee Lewis who was “the killer” who liked ‘em young, Chuck Berry had a grim side. Even cadaverous Keith Richards had to admit “Chuck was probably the hardest person I’ve ever had to work with, including Mick Jagger.” Berry spent years in reform school for robbery and car theft. He matched Jerry Lee for creepiness when he was arrested in 1959 and convicted in 1962 for bringing a teen prostitute across state lines. He did 18 months for that. Ala Cosby, Chuck's fame only gave him a license (he felt) to be exploitive. Chuck videotaped himself pissing on some aging white groupie. The blurry video surfaced courtesy of Screw Magazine; they sold it along with a bonus feature showing somebody from The Go-Go's being drunk. In 1989 Chuck was sued by women for having a sneaky hidden camera in his St. Louis restaurant's ladies room. The number of women who got compensation money from Chuck: 74. That’s Berry 74, Cosby 1.

Ornery Berry sued John Lennon because John paid him a tribute and sang “come on flat top” on “Come Together.” Today, Kanye and friends steal whole riffs, whole lines, and get Grammy-nominated for it. Well, let’s say Hail Hail to Chuck, for being the Black Man fighting against abuse from Whitey. In this case, it was the Whitey who almost single-handedly promoted Chuck’s music to Beatles fans all over the world. PS, Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" cops a bit of melody and attitude off the hillbilly tune "Ida Red." Check out Bob Wills' swingy version and you'll agree, but, as Michael Caine would say, "not a lot of people know that."

Goodness gracious me. Have I digressed? Let’s go back to the two main themes. Number one: Ralph Marterie was a good singer, in the mode of Louis Prima or Ray Ellington (Sapristi!). And second, Chuck Berry did write and perform five or six amusing novelty songs. The Coasters performed more than five or six amusing novelty songs, but they languished in oldies shows if they worked at all. Chuck was still being begged to perform and paid big sums for it. Hail hail.

Maybe the obits and all the praise from Jagger and Springsteen etc. will get a few Millennials to appreciate the bare bones brilliance of Mr. Berry. But maybe not. Millennials are assholes, more prone to smirking, “that was before my time, Duuuuuude.” But who knows, somebody under 30 might listen and then sing, “He never mattered much to me, but now I see. Poor Berr-eeee.” (How Lowe do you go!)

Ralph Marterie MAYBELLINE Instant download or listen on line. No Paypal tip jar, no monetizing on this blog, no money or favors earned from the download.

SHANNON BOLIN - ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

One of the most touching, oddest autographs in my collection, is from Shannon Bolin. If you know the name at all, it’s probably because she played the housewife in “Damn Yankees.” That was my connection to her, although she released two albums, “Rare Wine” (a collection of obscure Broadway songs, many cut from famous musicals) and “Songs for Patricia,” a collection of Alec Wilder songs waxed for Riverside.

I happened to notice, among a seller's hundreds of items for sale, a 3x5 card on Ms. Bolin. It was only a few dollars. Who would know her name? I did, but what made me take a crowbar to my wallet,was the inscription. Usually (check eBay and you can confirm it) she either signed “Best wishes” or personalized it “To…” whoever. Here, she wrote: “Enjoy the rest of your life.”

What prompted such a remark? Who was the person who got this autograph in person or by mail, and why did Shannon respond in such a way? We’ll never know. Almost all the autographs I have came from personal contact with the celebrity. In this case, seeing the inscription had me wishing I'd known Bolin. Now, I could sort of pretend I did. I became a bit wistful about Bolin’s most famous song, the plain and plaintive ballad of loss called “There’s Something About an Empty Chair.” Sure, I'd enjoyed it as I had almost all the songs in "Damn Yankees," but now it was even more poignant.

In the musical Shannon plays a dowdy wife whose husband suddenly disappears. He's made a deal with the devil, and joined the Washington Senators as powerful superstar “Joe Hardy.” Bolin’s voice, distinctive but not beautiful, very much suits this heartfelt and mournful lament.

The co-writer of "Damn Yankees" was Jerry Ross (nee Rosenberg). "Damn Yankees" was the second hit musical for him and his partner Richard Adler. "Pajama Game" premiered in 1954. "Damn Yankees" arrived in 1955...the same year Jerry died. He died November 11, 1955 of some freak bronchial problem. He was just 29. Richard Adler tried but couldn't find another composer to bring him Broadway success.

Also in 1955 Shannon recorded “Rare Wine,” which included her take on Alec Wilder’s "The Winter Of My Discontent.” Wilder’s song probably is better suited to someone with a haggard voice, or perhaps an Annie Ross type, who would act out the lyrics with emotion. Stlll, Shannon does a good job here, even if her very “ordinary-ness” was probably a reason she never became a rival to Clooney, Page, Billie Holiday, or other contemporaries. She wasn't exactly a cover girl ala Julie London, either.

Shannon’s first name was Ione, which was pronounced, quite literally I guess, “I-one.” She was born on 1/1/1917. (She died 3/25/2016 at the age of 99). She said that being named 1one demonstrated her parents’ “South Dakota humor.” If she’d had a brother, what would her joker parents have done with that? Name the kid Jackpot Bolin? Her parents were the non-novelty named Gracie and Harry Bolin. Shannon was her middle name.

Shannon’s career began on radio during World War 2, and in 1944 she was accepted by the New Opera Company in New York. She worked in both modern operas (“Regina” and “Barbara Allen”) and in musicals, including “Take Me Along” and “The Student Gypsy.” She was one of the "Damn Yankees" cast members fortunate enough to appear in the film version. Gwen Verdon was reluctantly allowed to star as “Lola,” even if one of the film’s directors grumbled that she was “ugly.” The pre-"Martian" Ray Walston, absolutely essential as “The Devil,” was second choice to Cary Grant, who declined it.

Despite a hit show and movie, Shannon didn't pursue her show business career. She was a wife and mother. She was married to Milton Kaye, who did very well for himself as a pianist and a composer. Milton accompanied the violinist Jascha Heifetz in concerts, and played in the NBC radio orchestra of Toscanini and other classical greats. It was said that he didn’t like the pressure of a solo career, and preferred supporting others. He’d had a taste of the pressure back in 1935, when he premiered Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1 for American audiences, and in 1945 when he made his Town Hall debut (doing a lot better than, say, Harry Chapin’s mythical “Mr. Tanner”). He would sometimes perform a solo concert at Carnegie Hall or other venues, but wasn't in competition with Rubinstein or Horowitz.

A rather humble Jewish guy from Brooklyn, Kaye also composed TV music for everything from the daytime quiz series “Concentration” to the early “Rootie Kazootie Show" which featured a freckle-faced baseball playing puppet. He even found work as a radio announcer, especially at New York’s classical station, WQXR. Once her daughter Jeanne was grown, Shannon did take acting roles now and then. Circa 1980, she was in the forgotten “If Ever I See You Again” and the even more forgotten horror film “The Children." Milton was active in music till the end. In 2006, at the age of 97, he was playing some Beethoven and Bach in the apartment he shared with Shannon, when he found himself feeling ill. He died a short time later, of pneumonia. Their only child was already gone, not out-living either of her parents. Shannon Bolin did make a few films circa 1980 She may have been faintly known to passersby for a commercial she did for the awful restaurant chain Denny’s. She was one of the “Corlick Sisters,” the fictional bickering duo that would quarrel about the joint, and call it “Lenny’s.” No doubt Ms. Bolin had a few people stop her on the street and ask, “Are you Ms. Corlick??”

Four years before Milton died, the duo of Mr. and Mrs. Kaye appeared in commercials extolling the eternal value of De Beers diamonds. In the 30 second spot, a young couple are walking in Central Park, thinking about diamonds, no doubt, or running off into the bushes near Strawberry Fields for a quick fuck. They walk past an elderly couple, and look back with amused respect. How nice to grow old together, like Shannon and Milton, and have that bond affirmed by wearing diamond rings.

From the baseball diamond of “Damn Yankees” to the diamond of a De Beers TV commercial…here’s to Shannon Bolin (and her husband). Below, one track each from “Damn Yankees” and “Rare Wine.” Download them, Sport, and you can become a Bolin ally.

SHANNON BOLIN Winter of my Discontent Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

SHANNON BOLIN There's Something About an Empty Chair Instant download or listen on line.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

KELLY GORDON - TEARS, TEARS because…THAT’S LIFE

“That’s life,” Frank Sinatra swung. Who wrote that song? Kelly Gordon and Dean Kay. Never heard of them, did you? Gordon was not exactly your Tin Pan Alley denizen. Born in Frankfurt, Kentucky (November 19, 1932-August 1, 1981), he had some “teen idol” years in the early 60’s and then tried for some blue-eyed soul. His most famous song was first recorded by Marion Montgomery and O.C. Smith before Frank made it his own in 1966.

Back in 1962, he issued his first Mercury single, “I Can’t Face The Day” b/w his own composition, “I’m Goin' Home.” The following year, he wrote and recorded “A Phonograph Record,” which was arranged by Dave Gates. He was the title character in a “Burke’s Law” TV episode called “Who Killed Billy Jo?” He sang a song called “Tears, Tears” which you’ll find below.

The photo above is from that "Burke's Law" episode. It does look like he could be swingin' a version of "That's Life," but on the episode he played a teen idol. "Tears Tears" was the B-side to his “Let Me Tell Ya Jack.” Mercury thought enough of Kelly Gordon to have Shorty Rogers work as the arranger on both cuts. "Tears Tears" had a credit on the label: “as sung by KELLY GORDON in Four Star TV “Burke’s Law.” His last single for Mercury was “You’re a Star Now.”

In 1969, half a decade away from his Mercury teen-idol days, Kelly managed to get a deal with Capitol for an album called “Defunked.” It messed with country and blue-eyed soul. The single handed to disc jockeys was a cover version of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” b/w, yes, “That’s Life.” In the summer of 1969, Capitol released another single from the album, “Some Old Funky Blues Thang.”

And what Kelly Lee Gordon did in the 70’s…is not on record. Tears, tears. And for a guy to have written such a famous Sinatra song and be so unknown… “That’s Life.”

Kelly Gordon TEARS TEARS Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

DAVID CASSIDY March 4th - the GOODBYE SHOW at BB King's

Don’t trust the media.

In reporting on what turned out to be David Cassidy's chosen farewell show, last Saturday night, the media has run a sob story about how he was so dissipated by dementia that he was falling on stage, forgetting the words and unable to do more than pathetically croak. While it’s true that he struggled during moments of this past tour, he didn't sound much different from last year's tour. His predominantly older and female crowd seemed to enjoy the shows. So did he, flexing his chops on all kinds of songs from his hits to old standards to R&B. Unlike Peter Noone, for example, he sang and played guitar at the same time, a little reminder that he considers himself a musician more than a pop idol.

No, I was never a fan of the guy, but you can’t dismiss him as just a bubble-gum boy who got lucky with a stupid TV series. It was fitting that his last show took place at BB King’s, because…David was an early fan of the blues master. Before David was a teen idol, he was just another wide-eyed white kid, so impressed that he waited at the stage door and begged King to let him carry his guitar to the car.

David told the crowd about it: “There were no security people, there were no minders…he was alone as he walked off…he came out and I said, “Excuse me, Mr. King, I thought your show was fantastic…could I carry your guitar up to your car?” And he said, “Yes, thank you very much…” David was thrilled to be able to talk to B.B. King, and when King asked the kid whether he planned to go into music, David modestly said, “I’m not a professional…someday I’m gonna be an actor.” (David didn’t mention in his famous father, actor Jack Cassidy). “I wish you the best of luck,” said King, “you seem like a very fine young man.”

By many accounts, despite the three marriages, the inevitable alcohol problem, the legend of his giant cock, and the equally swelled head a teen idol can get, Cassidy was, and is, a good guy. Too bad he didn’t get enough respect from the nostalgia bbunch in the audience. They seemed indifferent to some of the blues songs he covered, only tolerant of his attempts at rock star emoting (on the cover version of “Hush” for example). They wanted the Partridge Family hits, and the cheap spotlights in the often crappy venues he was playing disappopinted them in showing some wear on his face, and a receding hairline.

Wherever Cassidy went, he was grateful people still cared but hoped they'd behave: “No flashes…no videos…it’s hard enough for me right now…just stop yelling and screaming for a while…” What, a “teen idol” trying to be taken seriously, when idiots want to snap souvenir photos and point their cell phones? Even worse, whether to rest of his voice, or out of a sincere desire to simply SAY things besides sing them, Cassidy had to practically beg for some quiet:

“Please…I can’t talk when you’re yelling…no light, no screaming at me when I’m talking…I want this to be such an enjoyable night…I got 49 years in this business, you’re the reason….I want you to know how much I love and appreciate the way you’ve given me this gift. It’s never been a job. It’s always been, for me, love and fun…just don’t yell at me…you may be bored with me…because I’m gonna talk a lot, but please, don’t do anything else, just listen to me…I’m yelling already…”

And perhaps alluding to the onset of dementia that was forcing him into retirement, he said, “I love the fact that you are here and supporting me on this special night….I hope you will remember…love each other for the rest of your God-given life and try with everything you’ve got to do what I’m about to tell you: GET HAPPY…”

Yes, he did try to give the crowd the hit songs they remembered. He brought a band with him to the small towns, and he cared enough to constantly ask for adjustments from the sound booth and to switch guitars when he heard one going out of tune. He seemed to actually find joy on stage, and not think of himself in the purgatory of several years playing rather obscure clubs just to put money in the bank after all the bad business decisions and other financial problems.

But to say he was out of it, or that his performance was any worse than an off-night for Paul Simon or Bob Dylan? No, not exactly. But that’s the media.

While Cassidy was playing BB King’s I was watching the Thurman vs Garcia boxing match. It ended in a split decision. What that tells you is that people can see things differently.

When there’s money involved, they can see things very differently. When you’re running a news website and you want clicks and traffic, you’ll claim David Cassidy was suffering and struggling and make a tearjerker story out of an evening that most people felt went pretty well. The media made much of one drunken fan taking too many flash pictures. David said to her, “I don’t care that you’re drunk. I’ve been drunk enough, as you all know.”

He ultimately said, “Get her out, you’re ruining it for everybody else.” He also said, to security, “Please tell them (all) to stop (taking flash pictures). God!” And that was just one minute of an evening most fans there will remember because a professional entertainer did his best, and most of it wasn’t bad at all.

Below, David’s take on a wistful classic by John Lennon. Yes, he reached the hoarse level McCartney now sometimes has, a little earlier than Paul. And yes, he re-interpreted the melody line to skip some of the higher notes, but he was still communicating, still making music.

IN MY LIFE David Cassidy IN MY LIFE Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

Valerie Carter - Da Doo Rendezvous with Death

Reality what a concept. When I heard Valerie Carter died, I thought…what? She’s young…er, no. Not if you talk to a Millennial she wasn’t. She was in her 60’s. And people in their 60’s, who were popular in the late 70’s or early 80’s, are on their way to the boneyard.

I’d forgotten HOW LONG AGO I was listening to the “Wild Child” album, with baby-pout Valerie doing the “i’m so hot, I can look wasted” look. Or was it that she looked hot BECAUSE she looked so wasted? You tell me.

In a world loaded up with Linda Ronstadt, Chi Coltrane, Maria Muldaur and Carly Simon album covers, maybe Valerie got lost in the 12x12 shuffle. She had a semi hit with “Ooh Child,” which fit comfortably into that hammock of swingy James Taylor and white-funk Steely Dan stuff.

I had a fondness, at the time, for “Da Doo Rendezvous,” which had a light jazz tilt, and that oh so hip notion that “doing” a chick was “da doo”-ing her, and back then a classy term for a “booty call” would be “da doo rendezvous.” Ooh. OOH, CHILD. So, what did she da-doo if she wasn’t making solo albums?

If you check your record collection you’ll find that Valerie was a back-up singer on TONS of great discs. If you’ve replaced your vinyl with mp3 files, well, too bad, mp3 files don’t have much information do they? And CD booklets need a magnifying glass to read.

Let me help. Valerie was on albums by black artists (Aaron Neville’s “Warm Your Heart” 1991, Diana Ross’s “Force Behind the Power” 1991) and by crossover babes with roots rock or C&W/folk influences (Nicolette Larson’s solo album from 1981, and Shawn Colvin’s 1992 “Fat City”). She sang with the smooth guys including Don Henley (“End of the Innocence” 1989), James Taylor (“Gorilla” 1975 through “Hourglass” 1997), and Jackson Browne “I’m Alive,” 1993). LOTS more. Christopher Cross, Eric Carmen, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Webb…Carter thrived as a back-up singer while other Carters took their solo shots (from Linda Carter doing Billy Joel to Carlene Carter connecting with Nick Lowe.)

Valerie’s songs sometimes got covered, and not by assholes on YouTube. “Cook with Honey” was on Judy Colllins’ “True Stories” album, and “Turn It Into Something Good” cooked for Earth Wind and Fire’s “Faces” album.

Once in a while, Valerie got a shot at making a new CD. She didn't look like the "Wild Child" anymore.

In 2009 she was playing in front of the cops, busted for drugs. Fortunately James Taylor was one of the people who hadn’t forgotten about her, and he helped her deal with that situation. Here’s Valerie looking over to James, who apparently testified that she was now clean and sober. And she embraces him and thanks him.

According to her older sister, Valerie would sometimes take the stage at some information outdoor show down in Florida, or maybe some bar, and wow the crowd with her expertise as a back-up singer, or doing a solo on a familiar number.

Below are a few tracks from THAT album with THAT pouty photo that I liked so much. Yes, it’s slightly dated in the way most all “mellow” late 70’s early 80’s jazz-tinged singer-songwriter stuff is dated, but it’s still good, y’all.

Valerie Carter CRAZY Instant download or listen on line, no ads, no pop-ups, no Zinfart password.

Valerie Carter DA DOO RENDEZVOUS Instant download or listen on line, no ads. No "I don't own the copyright, I'm just using it because I like it" YouTube caveat shit. The pricks who say that are monetizing and get paid. This blog doesn't monetize or have a Paypal "tip jar" and doesn't profit financially in any way.