Thursday, August 09, 2018

Charlotte Rae passed away on August 5th. She was 92. A "sick" MERRY MINUET


      First off, in offering a picture of Charlotte in her TV sitcom prime, the full cover of her obscure album was cut off a bit. The title is NOT, "Songs I Taught my Moth." 

    Sad that the lovely, talented and naturally funny Charlotte Rae is no longer with us.  Also sad is that the representative song below is not up to the usual blog-basic standards. The one time I saw it, in one of the used record shops I used to haunt, the jacket was split on most of its seams and the previous owner had played the vinyl a lot. Fortunately with some careful digital work, the sound quality picks up after some unavoidable crunchiness during the first 20 seconds. Another problem is that back then (around 1955) some records were pressed “quietly,” and you had to turn up the volume just to hear it at all, thus magnifying any dust or scratches.

    When the obits arrived on Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, almost all of them concentrated on her mature work as a sitcom star. That would be “Diff’rent Strokes,” which evolved into “The Facts of Life.”  There was some mention that she played Mrs. Schnauzer on “Car 54 Where Are You,” but you’d have to be OLD to remember or care about that show. (Remembering and caring being two different things). 


    Charlotte was atypical of most Jewish entertainers; she was born in Wisconsin and attended Northwestern University. She didn’t come to New York City till 1948. It took a half-dozen years for her to establish herself, as she worked the posh nightclubs (Blue Angel, Village Vanguard) with comedy routines and parody songs (including a Zsa Zsa Gabor imitation, courtesy of songwriter Sheldon Harnick).  


    She managed to snag a role in the obscure musical "Three Wishes for Jamie" in 1952, and got good notices for “The Threepenny Opera” in 1954. The following year she turned up in "The Golden Apple," and parlayed her credits into a record deal. Her first and last album is a rather fey and chi-chi collection of sophisticated songs. Frankly, it's dated now, and the stylings would seem pretentious to anyone who doesn't know and like some of Rae's contemporaries: Cole Porter (she covers two of his songs), Noel Coward, Hildegarde, Anna Russell and Elsa Lanchester. Rae's stand-up style was like Jean Carroll's, without the neurotic quavery voice that she (and Alice Ghostley) would find so lucrative in TV sitcom work. 

    “Merry Minuet,” one of four Sheldon Harnick songs on the album (which is, amazingly, now on CD) was first sung by Orson Bean in John Murray Anderson’s revue “Almanac.” Revues were all the rage back then, with Leonard Sillman creating his annual “New Faces” variety show (Rae was in one of those), Ben Bagley offering his “Shoestring” revues (Rae was in one of those, titled "Littlest Revue") and Julius Monk selecting promising stars for his “Upstairs at the Downstairs” shows. Harnick would go on to write the lyrics for “Fiddler on the Roof,” including one of the most charmingly cynical songs in Broadway history, “When Messiah Comes.” How cynical does it get…the song was funny, cutting, and cut from the show before the curtain rose. (When Herschel Bernardi replaced Zero Mostel as Tevye, and issued his own album of “Fiddler” songs, he made sure to cover “When Messiah Comes.”) 


    If the name “Merry Minuet” sounds familiar, it’s probably because of the Kingston Trio version, which hammered the song into folk, and accentuated the Tom Lehrer-like ghoulishness of cheerfully acknowledging world chaos. 


    Here, Rae performs it very much in cabaret style, with the so-called “Baroque Bearcats” helping out, and John Strauss at the piano. Strauss and Rae were married in 1951. Although she worked TV (since so many variety shows were shot in New York) she preferred Broadway. This included her very atypical turn as “Mammy Yokum” in the original stage production of “Li’l Abner,” her co-star role with Ghostley in "The Beauty Part," and her Tony nomination opposite Harry Secombe in the failed musical "Pickwick." She ended the 60's with her second Tony nomination for "Morning Noon and Night." She was in "Boom Boom Room" with Madeline Kahn in 1973, and won an off-Broadway Obie for "Whiskey," written by Terrence McNally.


     She moved out to California for TV work, including a memorable guest spot as a neurotic, emotional Tupperware saleslady in "All in the Family." From there, producer Norman Lear cast her in “Diff’rent Strokes,” and the spinoff "The Facts of Life" where her character Mrs. Garrett was housemother in a school for girls. The 70’s was a time for explosive new freedoms, from stage nudity to edgy political comedy. People were encouraged to be themselves, and husband John Strauss came out of the closet and told Charlotte that he was really gay. Now was the time for him to realize who he really was, and be a happy gay. It was time for Charlotte to get a divorce.

    "The Facts of Life" helped Charlotte Rae achieve fame and economic security. It might not buy health, but it allowed her to keep on top of emerging problems, and she beat pancreatic cancer and had a pacemaker installed in 1982. She left her sitcom due to the strain of the work (Cloris Leachman, her friend from Northwestern University became the new housemother) but she took roles at her leisure. This included the challenge of a Chicago stage production of “Driving Miss Daisy.” She wrote her autobiography and was still in demand for interviews and other work when was diagnosed with bone cancer last year. The fact is...she had a very full life. Her autobiography will tell you much more. 


 The wry, doom-loving MERRY MINUET by Sheldon Harnick, performed by Charlotte Rae

Lesley Duncan, born August 12th



It's a strange situation, where we can thank the Japanese for preserving the work of British and American singer-songwriters. If you want some of Lesley Duncan's albums, or Bobby Cole on Concentric or Craig Doerge on Columbia or Severin Browne on Motown...you might find cheap used vinyl but if you want state of the art digital...it's Japanese CDs only. No other choice.

It's been said, and it's accurate, that the Japanese not only have a greater respect for some of our music than we do, but they also have better technology. If you check a Japanese import of the average rock album against the re-issue from an outfit like Collectors Choice, there's no comparison. But, unfortunately for the artists and their legacy, the average asshole not only thinks mp3 is good enough, but will happily "share" entire albums and discographies, to the point where re-issue labels can't even break even and only "eccentrics" support the high price of Japanese imports.

I didn't envision a future like this, when I was getting promo copies of albums and reviewing and promoting them. "Maybe Its Lost" was the first Lesley Duncan album that came my way, although she'd been having successes for many years. Oddly enough, though she wrote some great songs ("Love" was her song, the only song on "Tumbleweed Connection" NOT penned by Taupin-John) it was one of her covers that impressed me most on "Maybe It's Lost." It's Walk in the Sea" by Alan Hull.

Hull (February 20, 1945-November 17, 1995) like Ken Kesey, allegedly wrote his best material on LSD, including "Clear White Light," "Fog on the Tyne," and "Lady Eleanor," the latter apparently inspired by his love of Edgar A. Poe the author of "Eleanora." His "We Can Swing Together" was a big hit for his group Lindisfarne, which was a very big-selling group circa 1972. 

Lesley Duncan (August 12, 1943-March 12, 2010) died at 66 after struggling with cerebrovascular disease.

Sometimes called "the British Carole King," she was one of the few female singer/songwriters from England back in the 70's. It was tough for her getting started, because when she began she didn't fit the mold of a Petula Clark or Cilla Black: “You had to be glamorous and pretty and I just couldn't play that role, I found it absolutely impossible. You'd be the token pretty girl and I just couldn't be that. I didn't even try; I'd have just felt a total phony. But I've been at odds with the business all along, starting very early. I always felt uncomfortable with lots of aspects of show business. I think they found people like me a little hard to handle, 'cos I was rebelling already - whereas I think they were very sure of what to do with the more compliant ones, like the Susan Maughans, who were happy to play the game, to play the glamorous dolly-bird, do the TV shows and the cabaret.”

“And also, because there weren't that many girl singer/songwriters around at the time, there was nowhere to put me comfortably. Lots of girl artists, but not many who were writers too and so it was a bit uncomfortable for me because I had no-one helping me out, as it were. It has come a long way, but I think I was one of the forerunners….I was one of the early ones blazing a trail, if you like."

She dropped out of school and took the usual miserable waitress-type jobs while trying to sell her songs. Though she managed to get face time in the movie "What a Crazy World" (1963), she remained mostly behind the scenes, waiting for one of her songs to be a hit for somebody else.

She sang back-up for Dusty Springfield, then got a big break as a performer via her Elton John duet on "Love Song." The following year finally released her first album "Sing Children Sing" in 1971. She also appeared on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and sang "If I Could Change Your Mind" on the Alan Parson album "Eve." She was a backign vocalist for Elton's pal Kiki Dee and many others, but her solo career stalled by 1974's prophetic "Everything Changes," and her last album, in 1977, was "Maybe It's Lost."

Fortunately, the demise of her career as a viable singer/songwriter was the beginning of her successful marriage to record producer Tony Cox in 1978 (her two sons were from a previous marriage). One of her last recordings was a version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" circa 1982. Her disappearance from the music scene was a combination of family interests and physical problems. She said some years ago, "I've been fairly quiet musically for various reasons. One is that I can't seem to think straight with two teenage sons around me!

"I've built up a little stockpile of tracks again, though. It's a bit like a repeat of the 60s, where I've had a lull, and I'm gradually compiling a little dossier again. I've got about three or four recorded now...I'm beginning to recover energy and thinking maybe I'd like to do that. But it's hard, because as I've told you, I don't really care much for the business and I don't want to go out and sing, so I suppose it's unfair to expect a record company to invest a lot of money letting you make an album if you're not prepared to go out and promote it - which I'm not, that life is just not for me."

Walk in the Sea: Lesley Duncan

Elvis Costello’s Dad Ross McManus “Patsy Girl” - this Guyana’s In Love with You


      For a little while, Ross McManus was "Mr. Patsy Girl," the guy who hit the charts his first time out. "Patsy Girl" was credit to Ross McManus and the Joe Loss Blue Beats. The HMV single (1964) was the solo vinyl debut for a guy already respected as the vocalist for Loss's very popular big band.

       Born Ronald Patrick Ross McManus (October 20, 1927-November 24, 2011), he was both a singer and  trumpet player for Joe Loss. He took his son Declan McManus (Elvis Costello, born in 1954) to some of his gigs and TV tapings. The kid was delighted to meet all kinds of famous musicians thanks to his Dad and the fame of the Joe Loss group. At the height of Beatlemania, his Dad came home one day with...yes...ALL FOUR BEATLES AUTOGRAPHS. Because the large piece of paper couldn’t fit in his autograph book, ELvis cut each signature out individually to preserve.

      Elvis' Dad was an expert musician who could almost instantly memorize any song. He'd slap a tune on the turntable, get it down, and hand off the vinyl to his son. With budget cover version records becoming popular, Ross moonlighted as a mimic, covering a diverse range of artists. For cheap labels such as ROCKET and CANNON, Ross would come into the studio and knock off a bunch of tracks using different voices. He used different names, too. As Hal Prince, he performed Roy Orbison's "It's Over." As Frank Bacon (backed by the Baconeers!) he sang The Beatles "She Loves You." Ross was the lead voice behind mythical groups such as The Layabouts, The Ravers and The Foresters, the latter specializing in folk music. 

       Ross's background in voices was an asset when his first single came out: a novelty A-side done in a Guyanese accent, backed with a jivey variation on Muhammad Ali (see I'm the Greatest" below).

    Pretending to be “of color” is not PC anymore, but there was quite an arc for it, starting with the minstrels and Al Jolson, and wandering through “isn’t he a black guy?” 78 rpm singles by jazz vocalists Frankie Laine and Louis Prima. In 1964, it was ok to goof around with an accent, and "Patsy Girl" did well. Singing ethnic would remain with us through Sting’s ridiculous “Roxanne” and Peter Gabriel’s offensive “Biko,” which can’t pay tribute to an African without mimicking the dialect. 

    In 1964, did people assume Ross McManus was from Guyana? Did they simply think he was a white guy putting on an accent the way Lonnie Donegan fucked around with hillbilly American voices? Most likely people just weren't as fucked up as they are now, and figured that if somebody wanted to cosplay in another dialect, it was a tribute.

     Ross issued one more HMV single, "Stop Your Playing Around" in 1966, and was signed by Decca for a one-off, a cover of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You." His next and last single, on the Spark label, was a Beatles cover, "The Long and Winding Road" issued under a new name...Day Costello. Altogether now...the DAY would come when another Costello would get a chance at the charts...and come up with hit after hit.

PATSY GIRL - a hit for ROSS MCMANUS listen online or download. No ego type-my-name passwords, no "give me a Paypal tip for my HARD WORK" horse shit.




"I'm the Greatest" - Elvis Costello? No, His Dad Ross McManus as MUHAMMAD ALI


    Back when he was Cassius Clay, and not yet the World’s Champ, Muhammad Ali and Columbia records offered both a single and an album, “I am the Greatest.” He wasn't competing with Joe Frazier as a singer yet. (Not yet; he eventually tried singing via a cover version of “Stand By Me”) On the record and the single, Mr. Clay recited his comic poetry. 

    Clay’s “I am the Greatest” is not covered by Ross McManus, Elvis Costello’s father. This is a completely different tune. The novelty B-side to the novelty “Patsy Girl,” it offers a pretty ok impression of the brash new boxing star. There might be a little too much Ray “Harry the Hairy Ape” Stevens in there, but it’s ok. The number is very much a Louis Jordan-type bop boogie. 


     Perhaps trying to steer clear of a lawsuit, the lyrics don't specifically mention boxing. It's just a coincidence that the singer reference's Drew “Bundini” Brown’s catch-phrase for his pal Ali: “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee,” by doing a bee sting gag. Anyone without a knowledge of the boxing scene (in 1964) or the catch-phrase "I am the Greatest" might just think the song is simplyi about some guy coming on to his girlfriend. 

    This single probably turned up in stores after Clay won the championship from Sonny Liston (February 25, 1964) and announced he was now Muhammad Ali, one of the dreaded Black Muslims.


     Back then, Elijah Muhammad (Ali's spiritual leader) and Malcolm X both spoke angrily about whites (Malcolm being the “blue eyed white devil” guy). Ali was outspoken in favor of segregation, and said he didn't have anything against whites but didn't think it was a great idea for the two races to mingle that much. He was the opposite of Jack Johnson when it came to white women. His wives (he eventually had four, and eight children including a few out of wedlock) all had to be Muslim. He would sign autographs on booklets about Islam so that fans might read and convert.

      Many people, especially "youngsters" (as Ed Sullivan used to say) loved Cassius Clay and his comical brashness. The elders weren't so amused, and many were hoping Sonny Liston would shut his mouth. Or Henry Cooper. Or Floyd Patterson. Or Joe Frazier. Clay played off his loudmouth publicity, intentionally being the showman. He'd been inspired by Gorgeous George, a wrestler whose fame and money rested from being prettier and more flamboyant than the others. As Clay, he even did a photo op with the brash Beatles in Florida. He had no idea who they were, just that it was good publicity. After the "moptops" left, he mused, "who are those faggots?" 

      Becoming a Muslim seriously alarmed people, because that cult seemed dangerous, and some of its leaders, particularly Malcolm X, were spouting a lot of violent and reverse-racist views. Some of Malcolm's speeches were loaded with anti-white, anti-Semitic, and totally nuts re-writes of religious history, portraying Islam as older than Christianity and Judaism. Some of the teachings involved even more bizarre fairy tales than Noah's ark or Adam and Eve. It was only after the deaths of both Elijah and Malcolm that a calmer version of Black Islam evolved. 

      Ali's refusal to be drafted for Vietnam, even if given a cushy job entertaining the troops or being a conscientious objector, led more people to dislike him. He remained a favorite of the younger generation, and of those who reasoned that a guy who could goof with white Howard Cosell, and be trained by white Angelo Dundee, and have white Ferdie Pacheco as his ring doctor, was not racist at all. Over the years, many came around to admiring and even loving Muhammad Ali. He overcame his losses (to Frazier and Norton) and found a way of beating George Foreman against all odds and advancing age. 

      He retained his good humor, and his genuine love of all people could be seen in the way he found time to play with children, do magic tricks, comfort the elderly, and be patient and gentle with the mobs that followed him all over the world. Amazingly, he didn't turn away visitors who came to his Michigan home to say hello or get an autograph, and he also made sure his training camp was open so fans could stop by. This frustrated his wife and his managers and trainers, but it was the way he was; he genuinely respected and empathized with everyone, and unlike Joe DiMaggio and so many other big-named stars, he felt an obligation to brighten the day of the average person, and make a wish come true for those who wanted to shake his hand. 

       He had everyone's sympathy when his health began to fade, and the voice that had brought good will to the world, and good humor to so many, was stilled. He retained his dignity, even with the immobile face and trembling hands, and didn't stop making public appearances. When the 9/11 terrorists and subsequent attacks tarnished the name of Islam, Muhammad Ali issued a statement making it clear that his was a religion of peace, and the Muslims involved were dangerously misguided. Ali prayed five times a day and read his Koran. 

        Meanwhile, back at the download...Whether Ali ever heard “I’m the Greatest” or thought it was funny…nobody seems to know. 


"I'm the Greatest" - Ross McManus instant download, listen online, no passwords or creepy foreign language spyware site to go to

Elvis Costello's Dad does the DC5 - BACON BITS!


You may well ask, "Why is there no mention of DC's actual name here?" 

Because DC is a bit of a git, and he keeps a tight control of his catalog. He always kept tight control over his band, too, and there were complaints about who got the big share of the money. Rightly, he's one of the people rich enough to file complaints when things get beyond "fair use," as they usually do with blogs, forums and torrents. He might figure this is "fair use" but...sometimes people hire BOTS as part of enforcement, and a BOT has no idea and doesn't make value judgments...just automatic bonking. But a name in a photo? Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.

Now then. Elvis Costello's father was very successful performing live with the Joe Loss band, touring all over Europe. He was somewhat successful under his real name, issuing a few singles. Well, very few. Three between 1964-1967. He was also in demand as a "cover version" singer, somebody who could sound like a high-priced star. You might recall the game that Promenade and other labels played, of offering THREE songs on each side of a 45 rpm single, allowing pre-piracy music fans the option of hearing their favorite songs six for the price of one. Just not by the original artist. 

As "Frank Bacon," Ross did his best to replicate the DC5 sound. Listen....

BITS & PIECES of Bacon. Actually, the whole song. Listen or download. NO obnoxious Paypal tip-jar request.

DO YOU LOVE ME Bacon version? Don't shrivel away. Download or listen online. No passwords or bullshit "your flash is out of date, DL some spyware" warning

ROE YOUR BOAT: HEY "EVERYBODY" IT'S REALLY COSTELLO'S DAD!



No, that's not Buddy Hackett opening for Elvis Costello. 

Elvis enjoyed paying tribute to his Dad. When a geezer came up to Elvis and said, "Yer not the singer yer father was," Elvis smiled and agreed. 

Ross McManus was certainly a fine big band singer when he was with Joe Loss, but also, a very versatile one. He could sing in a lot of different styles. He was sought after for a lot of lucrative if anonymous work. 

When he died in 2011, some of the obits headlined: "Elvis Costello's Father: Secret Lemonade Drinker." What?

The last part refers to a very popular ad on British TV. It ran from about 1973 to 1981, which could've meant that while Elvis Costello was having a hit with "Alison," his Dad was actually reaching more listeners! 

The singing voice for the pyjama (we're talking England) clad secret lemonade drinker (Julian Chagrin) was Ross's. The odd thing is that Julian doesn't look that far removed from Elvis Costello, or, of course, a young Ross McManus. Connoisseurs of this idiot commercial have noted all the variations on how the guy walks downstairs at night (hushing his curious dog), gets all excited about having a bottle of R. White's, and then gets caught by his wife. There were several different wives including the old comedy legend Frankie Howerd. 




EVERYBODY seemed to have a reason to know and appreciate Ross McManus. This includes Tommy Roe? Well, maybe not. Back in the days of copycat cover versions, McManus used yet another alias for his version of "Everybody" in 1966. Here's "Hal Prince" singing the Tommy Roe song...

EVERYBODY -- download or listen online. No dopey passwords, no creepy German or Russian server or malware


Sunday, July 29, 2018

"SUGARFOOT" - TV THEME with LYRICS - Good Will Hutchins


Here's a shout-out to Will Hutchins, who is now 88. It's taken a while, but his legendary series "Sugarfoot" is now out via legit box sets. These sets are "print on demand," meaning they're a little more expensive on eBay than some other TV season sets. We're fortunate they exist at all, since piracy has led many companies to simply forget about releasing stuff that's "all over YouTube and blogs and torrents and hidden forums." Since everybody likes "free," it's up to fans to step up and buy, and cut out the "my old man's a Dutchman" snickering excuse for "sharing." While Uncle Putin leads some to think that Capitalism is a bad idea, buying and selling is important, and the only way that the studios will offer us pristine digital quality re-issues, or even bother to go into their vaults at all.

Funny thing, Will had a perfect real first name for a western hero: Marshall. He was born Marshall Lowell Hutchason. He was born as far West as you could get at the time: California. His first movie role was as an extra in the W.C. Fields comedy "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break." 

Born at the right time, he was in his 20's when a talent scout at Warner Bros., hungry for handsome guys to star in their burgeoning collection of westerns, signed him up. The same thing happened to James "Maverick" Garner and many others. In the case of the newly re-named Will Hutchins, the slant was to cast him as a brainy version of a western hero. Why not? Will was a cryptographer during the Korean War.

As Tom Brewster, he was the "Sugarfoot," a greenhorn who wandered the territory getting into problem situations and hoping to get out of them with reason and logic...and a knowledge of the Good Book and law books. Brewster, you see was studying to become a lawyer. In fact, he could defend somebody better than shoot somebody. Of course on "Greenhorn," that show about a sugarfoot...oh...my error...things could reverse. Not THAT often though, because Warner Bros. had plenty of other cowboys who were brawnier and quicker on the draw:


That's Will on the left. This is only SOME of the Warners stable (and there was also competition from other studios during the extreme era where DOZENS of westerns dominated prime time TV). 

Oh. You don't recognize all of the guys? It's Will, Peter Brown, Jack Kelly, Ty Hardin, James Garner, Wayde Preston and John Russell. I know, they missed Clint Walker, among many others. (Parenthetically, John Russell and Peter Brown's "Lawman," also finally on DVD or DVD-R, holds up excellently. Russell is even more intense than Clint Eastwood, and troubled Peggie Castle was an alluring saloon girl on the show.) 

"Sugarfoot" lasted for three long hot seasons (69 episodes in all) and they still hold up very well, thanks to Will's unique all-American personality. You'll also find all kinds of soon-to-be stars turning up in guest roles including Adam West, Charles Bronson and Martin Landau). All kinds of cult favorites turn up as well, including the oh-so-delightful Venetia Stevenson, consistently creepy Ray Danton, and "Plan 9" stalwart Gregory Walcott. This was, and is, a somewhat underrated show, and Hutchins was absolutely perfect as the idealistic young lawyer with a slight Will Rogers touch (not much, since it isn't easy to write Rogers-type one-liners). 

Will's versatility, post-"Sugarfoot," included everything from "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Perry Mason" to the Elvis Presley film "Spinout" and "The Shooting" co-starring Jack Nicholson. He also starred in two short-lived sitcoms, "Hey Landlord" and "Blondie." The good-natured star was less active in the mean-spirited late 70's and 80's, when many nice-looking blond guys (Troy Donahue, Doug McClure, Tab Hunter) likewise had trouble finding suitable roles in middle-age. 

Fans of the classic westerns have been very loyal, and have supported various cowboy-themed memorabilia shows around the country. Will has always been known as one of the really "good guys," just like his "Sugarfoot" image, willing to listen to fanboy babble, and glad to personalize an autographed photo. 

While "Sugarfoot" remains one of the more original Warner Bros. western concoctions, in one way it was just like the rest: a stupid theme song. At best, the theme song simply and ridiculously explained the show's premise ("The Lawman came with the sun. There was a job to be done.") At worst, the lyrics had idiot repetition ("Riverboat ring your bell, fare thee well Annabelle") and things you could easily misunderstand (Maverick didn't live in Jackson Heights, Queens, he lived on Jacks and Queens, because he was a gambler.) As for "Sugarfoot," you get to hear all about the "easy lopin' cattle ropin'" Sugarfoot, thanks to, of all people, Lawrence Welk, his bubbly band, and his sappy vocalists....

SUGARFOOT TV THEME SONG (instant download or listen online...no passwords, Russian spyware or obnoxious demands for a Paypal tip)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

LESLEY GORE - "START THE PARTY AGAIN" (oops, this one stalled...)



    What happens when you mix another Lesley Gore “party” song with a dash of a Herman’s Hermits-type British invasion dance beat? You get a can’t miss item…that missed. In fact, “it did not chart.” 


      Why toss it here? Oh, just as a reminder that there's no such thing as a sure thing. 

       I was enjoying a bunch of Gore (no, not the SAW movies) when up came “Start the Party Again.” I thought, hmm, pretty catchy, but did this obvious sequel go anywhere? No, a quick check of the reference books confirmed.  


        From the borrowed beat of the Hermits to the familiar voice of Gore and the familiar word “PARTY,” there’s no reason why this thing couldn’t have been at least in the Top 20. But who knows. DJ’s had other things to play. Gore was momentarily played out…despite playing "Pussycat" opposite Julie Newmar's "Catwoman" on a two-part "Batman" show. (That's where the picture above is from).

       You remember Lesley? Just old enough to NOT interest a guy like Jerry Lee Lewis,  she recorded “It’s My Party. “ Producer Quincy Jones, who covered a wide range of musical styles, knew exactly what teen whites would go for, and this was a #1 mammoth hit. She instantly knocked off a sequel: “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” which burrowed into the Top 5. 1963 was her year, and it wasn’t even half over yet. In June, 1963, her two hits were part of an album cleverly titled, “I’ll Cry If I Want To.”



    Back then, kids couldn’t afford an entire album too easily, and there were no Croatian or Russian blogs and forums to throw the music around, so "I'll Cry If I Want To" didn't quite make the top 20. It was loaded with filler that played on the words “Party” and “Cry.” There was “Just Let Me Cry,” “Cry and You Cry Alone,” “The Party’s Over,” and “No More Tears Left to Cry.” 


      Gore explored new territory with “You Don’t Own Me,” which has become a feminist anthem over the years, but quickly returned to being the hapless victim with the Top Ten drama of 1964, “Maybe I Know.” But…by 1965 she was treading water with a “Golden Hits” package, and no single reaching the Top 10. Things were likewise grim in 1966, as Mercury pushed four singles and only one (“Young Love”) made it to #40.  “Treat Me Like a Lady” didn’t even crack the Top 100. The "Mersey Sound" and Liverpool beat continued to dominate the charts. No surprise then, that "Start the Party Again" tried for a bit of the "Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good" Herman's Hermits style. 

           Happily for Lesley, in January of 1967 the Marvin Hamlisch minor-key “California Nights” brought her back to the Top 10. It was her only 1967 success, as the single “Brink of Disaster” got no further than #82. Her career as a pop star was over. Still, her tunes remained "golden oldies" and she eventually mounted a career in cabaret clubs and swanky lounge rooms, combining the old hits with newer, more mature material. The phrase "Let's get this party started" became a cliche used by boxing announcers, and "Start the Party Again" was the title of a CD compilation of her hits. 

    The party can start and end, any time. And sometimes, despite all the calculations and formulas saying “this is a surefire hit,” the party might not happen at all.


START THE PARTY AGAIN - American girl, Brit invasion beat - no passwords, Paypal tip requests or delays and extortion about buying a "premium account" for faster downloads. NO $$ going to the uploader for "hard work"

JEFF CHANDLER - what's a "LOVELY WAY TO SPEND AN EVENING"?


      Above, Jeff Chandler and his lady friend, Esther Williams. It's somewhat of an odd pose, as Esther spent most of her film career in a swim suit, and Jeff liked to crossdress. 

      Like so many Hollywood stars, Jeff was asked to cash in on his screen stardom by putting out a record. It didn't do too well, but it wasn't because he wasn't an adequate singer. There was just so much competition from, oh, guys like Sinatra. It also wasn't because fans were turned off to the rugged 6'4" star because they heard about his "drag" proclivities. That stuff was unknown until Esther published her autobiography in 1999.

      Williams, who once took LSD, said that her book was just another form of "therapy." She said "Cary (Grant) told me LSD was like instant psychiatry, and I was sorry the kids got ahold of it and made it a recreational drug." She was likewise told that writing an autobiography was good therapy, and so she vowed to be honest about her many failed relationships, both with men she married (like Fernando "You look Mahvelous" Lamas) and ones she didn't, like Chandler. Some Chandler fans either didn't believe her anecdotes about him having a huge selection of gowns and accessories, or felt she was destroying his good name just to sell books. As if many people knew who Chandler was in 1999. 

        Chandler is even more forgotten now. HOW forgotten? I was in a boxing forum, and somebody mentioned Jeff Chandler...the obscure (except to fight fans) bantamweight who had a pretty good run (32-2) in the early 80's. I countered with a photo of THE Jeff Chandler, in his iconic role in "Iron Man" (1951) and people were very surprised. They didn't know the film or him. 


    Born Ira Grossell (December 15, 1918 – June 17, 1961) Chandler changed his name to something less Jewish, and won early fame playing Cochise in "Broken Arrow" (1950). He was nominated for an Oscar, and was quickly cast in another quirky film, "Bird of Paradise" as a Polynesian. Then came "Iron Man," and various exotic epics including "Sign of the Pagan." Meanwhile, on radio, where he'd begun his career in both sitcoms and dramas, he turned up as himself, and often sang. In the mid 50's he even played Las Vegas. 

      In the late 50's, he ended his association with Universal by starring in "The Tattered Dress" and "The Man in the Shadow," which Esther Williams may have considered as apt title for a Chandler biography. His cross-dressing didn't seem to have been a factor in his divorce from his first wife, or his brief flings with Gloria De Haven and Ann Sheridan, but back then studios were powerful enough to quash detrimental stories about their stars, and few tabloids would print such things without photographic evidence. After Williams' book appeared, Jane Russell huffed, "I've never heard of such a thing. Cross-dressing is the last thing I would expect of Jeff. He was a sweet guy, definitely all man." Well, that's why there's the phrase "in the closet," even though most cross-dressers are heterosexuals and many look lousy in drag (J. Edgar Hoover anyone??) Williams had grumbled, "You're too big for polka dots," but Jeff countered that he thought he looked quite charming.

       Chandler finished "Merrill's Marauders," another manly exercise, but entered a hospital to take care of a back injury, technically a spinal disc herniation, which was no longer responding to painkillers. As Brother Theodore once said, "the bad hospitals let you die, and the good hospitals kill you." Jeff Chandler went to a good hospital. Complications from the first surgery led to a second operation, which went on for seven hours. A third operation ten days later, and Chandler passed the crisis. He died. His children won a 1.5 million malpractice suit. Jeff was only 42. 

       And what's your lovely way of spending an evening? Take a few minutes to listen to Jeff Chandler sing....

Jeff Chandler - LOVELY WAY TO SPEND AN EVENING - listen online or download from a legit no-spyware server; no Putinville weasel clouds here

Say hello to TOODLE LOO from Berry Gordy's brother BOB KAYLI


     Here's a pretty silly ballad...a guy mewling "Toodle Loo" to his baby. You might even laugh, especially since it's from Bob Kayli, whose only chart action was in the novelty field. 

    The first thing you might want to know, if you have an inquiring mind, is where the idiotic expression “toodle loo” came from. The answer is…nobody’s quite sure. Some say it’s mis-heard from the French “a tout a lheure” (see you later). If you pronounce it “tootle-lure” and shorten it to “tootle loo,” you’ve got it. Maybe. It might be a mutation on the word "toddle." As in, “I’ll be toddling off to that new Indian restaurant…” “And toddles to you, too…” “Toodle loo…” Toora loora loora and a vindaloo, too. 


     Bob Kayli used a pseudonym rather than be identified as Bob Gordy, brother of Berry Gordy. After all, the song was on the Gordy label, and DJ’s of the day were a bit concerned about payola and nepotism. In the photo above, that's Robert on the left, Mable John, and Berry. Bob celebrated a birthday a few days ago (July 15, 1931) so what better way to celebrate a forgettable artist than to publish a forgettable song on an obscure blog? 
  
     Though Kayli gave a toodle-loo to his singing career, after only a few singles, he did have an auspicious beginning. His lone scrape at the Top 100 came in 1958 when “Everyone Was There” (written by both of the Gordy brothers) hit #96. Since the song was far from the Gordy label's soul stuff, it ended up being released on Carlton, which was more novelty oriented; they had a hit with “Little Space Girl.” That one featured a white guy with a black-sounding name (Jesse Lee Turner) while “Everyone Was There” had a singer’s name that seemed white (Bob Kayli) and a vocal style that was a bit similar in hiccups to Buddy Holly. 

     Sort of a name-dropping version of “Splish Splash,” Bob sings about a party…that featured all the hip novelty acts of the day:  


    “The Witch Doctor walla-walla’d in the sand while the Purple People Eater ran a hot dog stand. Everyone was there-eh-eh-errre, everyone but you-ha-hoo….then I met the pretty Pe-he-heggy Sue…”  

    Between 1958 and 1962 Kayli tried and tried again to get further into the Top 100. One novelty attempt was a COVER of an ANSWER song. Following “Big Bad John,” Phil McLean recorded the oh-so-clever “Small Sad Sam,” and Bob Kayli covered it. There's more curious-but-who-really-cares trivia for you. 


      “Toodle Loo,” which Kayli wrote by himself (the label credits R. Gordy) was the flip-side to “Hold On Pearl” (1962) which was another Bob and Berry co-write. “Hold on Pearl” is a stupid novelty that somehow mashes together the “Teen Horror” songs of the day (like “Tell Laura I Love her”) and the hapless soul miseries of a guy like Gene McDaniel (“Tower of Strength”). 

    The song didn’t go anywhere with its various stanza anecdotes about Pearl getting into trouble and Bobby having to save her: “She was laggin’ back and caught her size ten foot in a railroad track. The train was coming it was plain to see. She kept laughin’ at the train and screamin’ to me! I cried, “Hold on Pearl! Hold on girl! Hold on Pearl! Your Bobby’s comin’ to you!” Kind of odd that this song about a jerk who can’t get rid of a troublesome twat had the kiss-off “Toodle Loo” for the flip side. 


    Robert Gordy dropped his Kayli and went to work at Jobete Music, which owned the publishing rights to so many Motown hits. He was there from 1961 until his retirement in 1985, when he and the company said TOODLE LOO. But...as your download awaits, TOODLE LOO is not always FOREVER....


Toodle Loo - instant download or listen online - No dopey Passwords or bratty demands for a Paypal tip

Monday, July 09, 2018

TAB HUNTER - the “YOUNG LOVE” that couldn’t be mentioned in 1961


     Tab Hunter missed reaching his birthday by just a few days. That's sad for fans of the actor...admired for his acting career as a likable hetero hero...and for coming "out of the closet" late in life to discuss what it was like in an era when, as in Oscar Wilde's time, there was a type of love "that dare not say its name." There probably aren't many who miss the guy for his singing! And that's why he's on this blog of less renown. 

      Tab Hunter (July 11, 1931-July 8, 2018) began his career as an actor, taking a name almost as ridiculous as Rock Hudson, Rory Calhoun, Guy Madison, Troy Donahue, Rip Torn, Dirk Bogarde and Touch Connors. [Touch Connors managed to switch back to being Michael Connors and ultimately Mike Connors...star of “Mannix,” which at least wasn't the detective's first name.]

      Hunter was born Arthur Kelm, a half-Jewish New Yorker who had a mean father and a doting mother. He was only 21 when he as cast opposite Linda Darnell in “Island of Desire” (1952). He was Robert Mitchum’s younger brother in “Track of the Cat” and had a meaty role in “Battle Cry” (both in 1955).  He and Natalie Wood became a team when Warners cast them together in two 1956 movies. The studio cooked up a fake romance between them, and the following year, Pat Boone’s record label signed him for a  recording (below) of “Young Love.” He’s not quite Fabian. He’s an adequate singer, similar to his somewhat bland boyfriend for a while, Anthony Perkins. Perkins released several albums (but is hardly remembered for his music). Unlike Perkins, Tab scored a #1 hit thanks to “Young Love.” No, Tab doesn’t seem too convincing in his depiction of boy-meets-girl delights, but it’s not an easy song to sing. Morrissey could do it well as a bit of camp, but at the time, sugary songs with awkward vowels stretched over several notes, were quite welcome, including choirboy high notes on songs that didn’t have the angst of  Johnnie (gay) Ray. Dot now had two puppy-love vocalists to dominate the charts: Pat Boone and Tab Hunter. Or, did they?  

        In an amazing bit of music trivia, Warner Bros. decided to start up a record division just to exploit Tab Hunter. Tab had to end his contract with Dot and be exclusive to Warners in both music and movies. He combined music and movies with his next film, the only one that made any impression on me:  “Damn Yankees.” Hunter hadn’t starred in the Broadway version, and probably didn’t have the singing chops for 8 performances a week, but he had the perfect “look” for the movie. He was believable as an All-American baseball hero, ironically looking like one of those “Damn Yankees,” sort of in the ballpark with fair-haired Mickey Mantle and Tony Kubek. The movie didn’t require all that much singing or dancing from him. Like many a female star, all that he had to do was stand around looking pretty.  


      Hunter’s bland good looks were an interesting contrast to older woman Gwen Verdon as Lola. The film’s director didn’t want Gwen in the movie, pronouncing her “ugly,” but she had made the Broadway show a hit. One of Tab’s next leading ladies would be Sophia Loren in the 1959 drama “That Kind of Woman.” Hunter moved on to safer leading ladies, co-starring with Debbie Reynolds in the fluffy 1961 film “The Pleasure of His Company.” He also had a sitcom which lasted a year.  After that, he was another journeyman actor with decent credits, revived in 1981 by John Waters’ “Polyester,” a campy (of course) item that fueled the rumors that Hunter was gay. Gays happily filled blogs with pix of Tab posing with other "hunks" of the day, and sharing "girl dating" advice with Roddy McDowall, who was notoriously well endowed and had no trouble finding playmates on either side of the sexual equator. He officially “came out” via his 2005 autobiography. 

      Many obits on Hunter simply headlined that he was a well-known movie star. Some mentioned he was also a "gay icon." Nobody mentioned his #1 single. And leave it to the London Daily Fail to headline that he had a relationship with "Psycho star" Anthony Perkins. Couldn't put "Psycho" in quotes, or italics, you lot of loonies...


     At this point, the “Damn Yankees” soundtrack is memorable for Gwen Verdon’s “Whatever Lola Wants,” and for eccentric Ray Walston’s cheerfully black ode to Jack the Ripper and the stock market crash, “Those Were the Days.” Likewise, Hunter’s #1 hit and other recordings are as forgotten as so much of Dot’s other pop idol, Pat Boone. And so, for the blog of less renown, Tab Hunter — The Singer — fits right in. The golden boy may not have had a golden throat, but his tunes certainly reflected the times…fairly light-hearted and naive and…gay mostly in the old sense of the word. Tab missed his birthday by only a few days, and many still miss those days when all a movie needed was a nice guy and a nice girl and a happy ending.


Tab Hunter sings of YOUNG LOVE -- come on, Morrissey, cover it, just for fun

JENNY DARREN - BGT, GAYS, JEWS, RINGERS & A HEARTBREAKER


    Astute readers of this blog know JENNY DARREN’s been covered here not once, but TWICE. What an achievement, huh? She was written up in 2009 to call attention to her raw, powerful and sexy 70’s music, and again in 2014, when it looked like she was making a comeback. At her best, she strutted somewhere between Genya Ravan and Pat Benatar, and she had a challenging glare that was sort of challenging and spooky in a Jane Fonda-type way.  Too bad not too many people knew that. And, too bad that when she did get a chance at big-time TV exposure a few months ago (“Britains Got Talent”) she got banished for being anti-Gay and antisemitic.  

     Yeah, antisemitic and anti-Gay, which I guess means she truly hates Harvey Feirstein. It might mean that she was reflecting the small heavy-metal skinhead audience that follow her…the type who like the skinhead look, goose-step in their leather, show off obnoxious tattoos, and love it when Trump validates them as they wave confederate flags and try to intimidate anyone marching for human rights. 


    What a heartbreaker, this Jenny Darren; we all knew Alice Cooper was really a conservative, for example, and many a rock star has said something bizarre (Elvis Costello on Ray Charles) but…in this PC age, you can’t be a douche without getting bagged. Another casualty of “Britains Got Talent” was co-presenter Ant McPartlin. In April, around the same time Jenny was stopped from advancing to the next round, he got into a 3 car collision while driving drunk. He issued a statement: “I am truly sorry for what happened…I’m just thankful nobody was seriously hurt.” Even so, BGT banned him. His partner Dec had to solo through the semi-finals and final broadcast, with almost no reference to the missing Ant. No doubt Ant's traffic accident got just as much attention in the British media as the embarrassing reveal on Jenny Darren: 




      The “Got Talent” shows in England, America and around the world, are like the other “reality” shows on TV — full of lies, distortion and fakery. It’s a bit hypocritical for them to ban Ant for a lapse in sobriety, or even Jenny Darren, when the show (and its owner, Slimy Towel) engage in so much that is crooked and immoral. 


      The show is loaded with faked moments of drama, and pushing dire back-story profiles of some performers while not profiling some who are more talented. Slimy Towel has been known to majestically raise his hand and stop someone’s performance…acting as if he’s pulling the plug. Instead he says, “this isn’t working…sing something else.” Which heightens tension, produces a “wow” moment as the singer nails a far more dramatic number, and is thoroughly unfair, as judges should NOT interfere with what a contestant does. 

    Worse, the show pretends that professionals are amateurs. Since it’s rare to find a Susan Boyle or Janey Cutler who can, if only for a moment, compete with seasoned entertainers, the show relies on people who’ve spent 10, 15, even 25 years working cruise ships, nightclubs and bars. Sometimes the act will admit, for the sake of sympathy, “this is the big break I’ve been hoping for. I’d like to raise a family and make real money.” Sometimes, NOT. Jenny Darren did NOT say she had recorded four albums for Dick James’ DJM label, and another contestant, Father Ray Kelly, did NOT say he had issued two albums for Universal just three years ago. No, for Father Kelly, the panel fawned over how amazing his rendition of “Everybody Hurts” was, despite it being on one of his albums. They acted as if he was just a nobody who appeared, miraculously, out of nowhere to offer heavenly entertainment.


    When Jenny Darren came out and blasted an AC/DC tune, nobody said, “Wow, isn’t that nice, that at 68 you performed a song by a group YOU OPENED FOR IN THE 70’s.” She pulled that stale trick of showing up in dowdy clothes and pulling them off to reveal a much hotter and professional COSTUME underneath.  


    When "Jenny Darren" was announced on episode #2, I was surprised and delighted. I instantly thought, “not THE Jenny Darren?” But yes, I recognized her, even in the dowdy outfit. I was happy for her when she stripped and revealed her rock star voice and wowed the crowd. That she didn’t allude to her past career didn’t bother me, as that’s just typical “Got Talent” truth-fudging. I hoped she’d get to the semi-finals and get the kind of gigs Sonja Kristina and Elkie Brooks do. And then…the headlines came in. Somebody had gone to Jenny’s YouTube account and noticed she had a dirty secret…a custom playlist apparently loaded with edgy racist and homophobic shit she wanted her skinhead pals to chuckle about. 


        If “Britains Got Talent” is less than honest, well, so is the media that supports it. The Daily Mail and a few others (and all the copycat steal-the-news sites that re-write and regurgitate stories) all gave the same information: her “YouTube playlist of videos included offensive remarks about the LGBT community, labeled Jews as a “pest to society” and called on Jewish people to be “hunted down.” 


       Also found on her Facebook page was a poem she wrote that criticized LGBT relationships. Darren’s YouTube playlist has since been deleted.” Since it was “deleted,” nobody seems to have documentary evidence on what exactly these items were about…were they songs, screeds recited by some moron in his basement, or maybe propaganda news clips from Al Jazeera or Fox News?”  

     Considering Darren plays very infrequently, and does so with her "Ladykillers," a band of creepy looking young guys, it isn't a surprise if she pandered to their intolerant and ignorant attitudes...or, that she had them herself. Put it this way, AC/DC fans who actually want to see Angus Young, a ridiculous little Chucky, play headbanger shit while wearing a schoolboy uniform for 40 fucking years, are likely to be far more amused by Nazis than the followers of Flash and the Pan, the art rock band run by little Chucky's older brother George Young. 

    Jenny apologized (apparently to the producers, not to the public or any reporter) but she was gone, just like co-presenter Ant. Nobody at BGT apologized for pretending this woman was merely “retired,” and not saying she was a retired ex-rocker. Nobody mentioned that in 2015 Angel Air, the geezer re-issue label, offered up a compilation of Jenny’s late 70’s songs, and pointed out that “Heartbreaker” was actually written by a Manchester songwriting team for her, but somehow was grabbed by Pat Benatar who had the hit with it. BGT also didn’t mention that in 2015 Father Ray Kelly was still signed to Universal. A spokesperson shrugged: “Father Ray Kelly was signed to Universal International for two albums only. His recording deal with Universal ended in 2015. He is currently a working priest.” 


    The question was whether Jenny would try to explain to her fans what exactly, and in what context, she’d posted the anti-Gay and antisemitic material. Apparently most of her fans didn’t care, and she may have figured that it was better to ignore the scandal and let it fade. Through April, May and June, her Facebook page contained nothing but news about a few gigs she was playing in obscure locations, and that she had parlayed her AC/DC performance on BGT into a new single. Her Facebook page was loaded with pix of herself and her band of skinheads and headbangers happy to be going to hell:




    Does she believe Jews are a “pest to society” and should be “hunted down?” Were those lines buried in some dopey heavy metal song, or had she “liked” some neo-Nazi asshole named Darren sitting in his basement behind a swastika flag, spouting his deranged manifestos? On Facebook, June 4th, she posted a meme “I picked my team for the World Cup: GERMANY.” 


     In May, on her website, she posted an apology...for not being on YouTube much. She blamed it on having so much email from adoring fans, so much to do keeping up with her Facebook posting...and didn't address a) what YouTube pulled or b) how sorry she felt about it. No Roseanne Barr, she. Best to ignore the controversy in case a few of her handful of fans didn't know. How often she banned somebody on Facebook who asked her about it is unknown. 

 

     On June 14th, billing herself as the “Rock Gran from BGT,” she played The Swan Inn, in Stone. Or was it The Stone Inn, in Swan? Her last gig apparently was June 18th, at the Dick Whittington Tavern in Gloucester. And now, in July, Jenny Darren is just another faint name, like Wendy James, getting by with a few hundred gerontophile fanboys. (Yes, and you're thinking, and this ONE blogger who actually remembers a few Jenny Darren songs....)

     On June 30th, Darren once again took to Facebook, promoting herself as ballsy, and talking up her minor single and faint bookings, and again, never apologizing or explaining why she disappeared from BGT: 


    The bottom line is that there are classical music fans who still listen to Wagner, and feel that what he did as an artist should be separate from what he was as a person. Whether BGT should’ve skunked Jenny’s chance to reach the semi-finals is sort of a gray area, because it’s hard to tell just how awful the material on her YouTube playlist was and how actively she endorsed the material. 


     She did not, after all, come out in the kind of neo-Nazi outfits Roger Waters has worn on stage, and has not, unlike Roger Waters, openly stated intolerant and hateful views. The guys from KISS used an “SS” logo design and claimed that they didn’t realize it symbolized the “SS” and that since Gene and Paul are both Jewish, leave ‘em alone and don’t make a big deal out of it. 

      Can those who reject intolerance be tolerant enough to still acknowledge that Jenny Darren recorded some vivid stuff 40 years ago? That she's still capable of entertaining the crowd as a raunchy old broad today? Maybe individuals should be able to make that decision and not have hypocrites at a corrupt TV show do it for them. Maybe the only way to get people to understand what morality and decency is about is to banish them when they lack common sense and flaunt their stupidity in public.

Jenny Darren is a HEARTBREAKER listen or download, no passwords, no being directed to some shitty spyware site, no Paypal tip jar hypocrisy 

Want to Annoy Someone? Play: DUM PAPA TOO TAH TAH



      Fight BACK! Are you tired of stupid twats like Cardi B talk-singing their awful rap singles? Tired of jerks passing by in a car and blasting Drake, Pusha T and Childish Gambino? Do you NOT appreciate Ed Sheeran, or "oldies" stations that assail you with Shitney Spears, bay-bee bay-bee? Do you hear Shitney Houston, and think "I-ee-I-ee-Iee I-ee will always HATE you?" 

      Don't get mad. Get even. Get that boom box out of the closet. Convert the mp3 below onto cassette. And go out there and DUM PAPA TOO TAH TAH 'em.

    Among the many irritating tunes of the 50's doo wop era, which segued into stupid nonsense syllable pop in the early 60's, “Dum Papa Too Tah Tah” just MIGHT be the worst. It’s beyond repetitive. It’s beyond repetitive. It’s beyond repetitive. It’s the work of Sonia Von Ever, Sheila Von Ever and Renee Von Ever, who I guess pronounced their last name the French way: “Von Errr.” As ’The Vonnair Sisters,” they briefly recorded for that sadist of sweetness, Walt Disney. 

    Disney’s Buena Vista label was home to Annette Funicello, and she used The Vonnair Sisters a few times for backing vocals. The sisters recorded five singles on their own before spooning into the sugar bowl of obscurity. “Dum Papa Too Tah Tah” was the B-side to their 1961 debut single, “Beach Love.” Another try, in 1962, is the rather prophetic “Watch Out For Don.” That song Trumps some of their other obscurities, such as “Luscious Lucius" and “Blame it On My Mouth.” The sisters are so obscure that “Mouse Tracks,” an entire book about Walt Disney recordings, barely offers ONE PARAGRAPH about them.


    It takes one solid minute before these twats sing anything but “Dum Papa Too Tah Tah.” Later they explain that they have a language all their own, and this phrase somehow translates as “I am his and he is mine.” The choice is YOURS: endure Millennials, ethnic dance music, pop tarts, countrypolitan saps in cowboy hats and rappers...or say VENGEANCE IS MINE! DUM PAPA TOO TAH TAH!!!


DUM PAPA TOO TAH TAH - instant listen online or safe download - no creepy server asking you to "update your flash" or take you to a spyware site

SAMMY WALKER - THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD OF OCHS AND DYLAN


      Happy birthday to Sammy Walker July 7th.  Regulars know the blog is only updated on the 9's (9th, 19th, 29th) but a few days late isn't such a much. 

      Since his last mention here, there's been the re-issue of a set of demos he recorded for Warners. It brings up memories of when he was caught between the two swords of "Dylan soundalike" and "Ochs protege." Both stirred some resentment and expectations. If you want an offbeat comparison, how about Tippi Hedren, pronounced the new Grace Kelly and Hitchcock's protege? She made two major films ("The Birds" and "Marnie") and that was about it. Walker had a two-record deal with Warners, and that was also about it. 

     Sammy's first album was for Folkways. Ochs got him the deal, and then pushed to get him on a major label: "“Phil called up Warner, and he was singing some of my lyrics over the phone to (Warner Bros exec) Mo Ostin. But after Phil died, Warner didn't do much to promote my records." Walker's debut on Warners featured album notes that mentioned Phil Ochs, and also Dylan:

      “Influenced by Woody Guthrie, Dylan and Pete Seeger, Sammy made a noncommercial “kitchen” tape for the progressive FM station WBAI, and soon came to the attention of Phil Ochs. Sammy was brought to Folkways Records by Phil, who produced his debut album and considered Sammy his protege. The album was recorded nearly eighteen months ago…it was on the back of Sammy’s first record that Ochs himself wrote: “Sammy walker is the finest songwriter and singer I have co,e across in the last dozen years. I am certain he has a great future ahead of him…” What has emerged is an album both uncalculated and unpretentious. Sammy’s reflective personality and his preponderance as a commentator of life and the environment are greatly realized as is the promise Phil Ochs saw two years ago. In that spirit, this album is dedicated in the memory of Phil Ochs.” 

    Walker’s second and last Warners album was “Blue Ridge Mountain Skyline.” This was 1977, but the 1969 “Nashville Skyline” from Dylan may have still caused some backlash among fans resenting any Dylan “imitator.” As much as fans sought a "new Dylan" after Bob "went electric," they also kept to the idolization of "nobody can be another Dylan." Oddly enough, Walker’s country-tinged sound was a lot more authentic than Bob’s. Bob was from Minnesota, and affected a Guthrie-Okie delivery. Sammy was from Georgia and his twang came naturally. 


    Warners seemed to have counted on Phil Ochs banging some kind of a drum, and having Sammy for an opening act. Without Phil, the Warners publicists pushed others. Sammy’s manager lost interest after failing to get him the role of Woody Guthrie in an upcoming film. The role went to David Carradine instead. There was no Walker tour to support the album: “I didn’t have anybody to help put a tour together for me. Warner Brothers didn't do anything. My manager didn't do anything. I was still a na├»ve kid, and I didn't know how it worked. I was counting on those people to put things together for me, and nobody did."


    Sammy couldn’t even get on stage for the Phil Ochs tribute concert at the Felt Forum. The evening included famous names such as Tim Hardin, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Gibson, Melanie, Eric Andersen, Tom Rush, Pete Seeger and Odetta. Sammy was going to join Ramblin’ Jack Elliott for “Bound for Glory,” a song Sammy had sung in duet with its author, Mr. Ochs. Jack Elliott, more obnoxious than usual, ignored young Sammy, and made it pretty clear that the spotlight wasn’t big enough for the both of them. The stunned young folksinger wandered out of the venue in tears. 


    After Warners cut him loose, Sammy managed an indie CD once in a very great while. The last album of original material came out in 2008. The latest is a collection of the solo demos he sent Warners. These “Brown Eyed Georgia Darling” demos repeat nine songs that are on Sammy’s first Warners album (fleshed out by producer Nik Venet with a full band). The one demo Warners passed on his “Talkin’ Women’s Lib.” The label apparently replaced that one with two newer songs: “Little New Jersey Town” and “Catcher in the Rye.” Below is a sample demo, the upbeat "I Ain't Got Time." Ramseur's even got a vinyl version for old folkies who still know how to use a needle the right way.


     These are tough times for any indie record label, and the amount of piracy on the Internet, along with free streaming, means that fans have the power to choose when, and if, they "support" anyone by actually buying anything. Indie labels surrender their songs to Spotify, Pandora and YouTube where they are lucky to get a penny a play. In fact, YouTube doesn't even bother to "monetize" an upload until it get 500 or 1000 plays. Sammy's album on YouTube, as you see from the screen capture above, is nowhere near that modest number. What do the artists do? They "keep on keeping on" if they can. The songwriter says "I ain't got time to kill," and keeps writing songs while hoping for a few gigs or some kind of break...while keeping the day job or waiting for the social security check. The royalty check...not so much.  

Sammy Walker solo guitar demo of "I AIN'T GOT TIME TO KILL" to passwords, creepy foreign server, or Paypal donation whining.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Herman Hupfeld - Not a One Shot Wonder AS TIME GOES BY - “Sing Something Simple”


     Here's a multi-part salute to HERMAN HUPFELD, who died before we were born (February 1, 1894-June 8, 1951). 

    You must remember this: Herman Hupfeld was NOT a one shot wonder. 

    Yes, he's best known for the enduring ballad "As Time Goes By." Still, if you have an interest in older music, you'll find plenty of amusing and surprisingly upbeat numbers in his catalog. Back in 1931-1933, most radio stations were playing a lot of his stuff and Broadway producers welcomed his contributions. These tunes were recorded by the most popular big bands of the day, from  Paul Whiteman in America to Ambrose in England.


    Hupfeld's most famous song  “As Time Goes By,” first appeared, as did most of his work, in a Broadway show. “Everybody’s Welcome” was the 1931 stage production that needed some extra material. There was comedy from the Ritz Brothers, a cute leading lady named Harriette Lake (who would eventually change her name to Ann Sothern), and room for a good romantic ballad for the show's star, the now-forgotten Frances Williams. The song wasn't that popular at the time. No record company raced to sign Ms. Williams to sing it. One of the few who did record it back then was Rudy Vallee, but it took the Bogart movie to turn that song into an enduring standard.


      In the meantime, Herman Hupfeld, born in Montclair, New Jersey and living there (and he'd die there), came across the Hudson River to come across with fodder for more shows. Some of the material was topical (about The Depression) or addressed other timely issues. In “Sing Something Simple,” Herman offered a Hup 2, 3,4 on the problem of modern jazz tunes:

    “Songs they write today, must be solved, they’re too involved!
    Oh what a mental strain: it takes a week or more to master one refrain.
    The subjects and complicated words with minor thirds: oh what an awful jam.
    Who cares about the love life of a clam?” 


    Just where Herman got that LAST line from, I have no idea. Somebody wrote about the love life of a clam? Maybe it was the risque Dwight Fiske? No, he wrote "Ida the Wayward Sturgeon." “Three Little Fishies” was a novelty hit about fish who “swam and swam all over the dam,” but they didn’t encounter a clam. That song was a hit about seven years after Herman's tune. “Do the Clam” from Elvis Presley was even later. And so was Cher with “Gypsies Clams and Thieves.” But I could be wrong about that. 


      Below are a few versions released back in the days of 78's. Whether this long play album has Herman's song, or a different song using the same title really doesn't matter does it? It sure brightens up this entry. 



      Some folks out there appreciate the kind of bouncy ditties that turned up in Betty Boop cartoons, and are featured in Busby Berkeley musicals. Herman Hupfeld's songbook is full of them, and for fans of fun 78's, you'll find several more in the  posts below that also pay tribute to the man from Montclair. Herman brought a lot of amusement to a lot of people, even if he may not have had such a happy time of it himself.

      Author Aljean Harmetz, who wrote a book on the making of Casablanca, speculated, “He may never have been in love. In fact he may never have had any adventures at all except the ones he composed. Even his World War I service consisted of playing in a Navy band a few hundred miles from home. Herman Hupfeld was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1894 and died there, on the same street, in 1951.”  A simple life. 

SAY SOMETHING SIMPLE - Frank Luther  

SING SOMETHING SIMPLE - Fred Rich (instant download or listen online) No annoying egocentric Passwords

Herman Hupfeld - Moonlight and Love Songs OR "Moonlight and Pretzels"



      The graves of Herman Hupfeld and his mother. 

     The man who wrote about “moonlight and love songs never out of date,” wrote some songs for the forgotten “Moonlight and Pretzels.” Neither song (download links below) is particularly "out of date," especially if you enjoy nostalgic razzmatazz and fetchingly catchy pop-jazz.

    Written at the height of The Depression, 1933, the cheerful “I’ve Gotta Get Up and Go To Work” is sung by Dick Robertson, who is obviously grateful to have a job:


     “A lucky guy just getting by…oh such is life, my darling wife I’m doing it all for you. I’ll phone at noon, I’ll see you soon….the time’s not far away when every man will say: I have a job, so help me Bob, I gotta get up and go to work!”
 


    Compare that to glum Paul Simon nearly 40 years later: “Tomorrow’s gonna be another working day and I’m trying to get some rest.” Yeah, Mr. “we lived so well so long” was in a different space than Hupfeld, who was cheerleading people to be positive and thankful for what they had. 


     The Depression was an excuse for people to want music FREEEEE, but many were glad to pay for a boost in their spirits. Back then you could walk into a record store and come out with hopes and dreams. There was also a lively business in sheet music, and pianist-singers were employed in department stores to entice people with the latest tunes.

    Your second download from "Moonlight and Pretzels" features Ramona Davies. She asks “Are You Making Any Money?”  Being a practical female, that’s ALL she wants to know. Davies, featured with the Paul Whiteman orchestra, was usually listed simply as RAMONA. If Ray Davies ever wants to re-issue “Out of the Wardrobe” or really sell a “hey are you gay can you come out and play” lyric, he could use the “Ramona Davies” name. 

      As usual for these 78 rpm tunes, there’s a lot of music (we go 1:30 minutes) before there’s any lyrics. And the lyrics? Do they make a lot of sense? Not a lot: “You make love dandy, you make swell molasses candy, but honey are you makin’ any money, that’s all I want to know!”  

    The best things in life are free, as another Depression-era song goes. If not free (moonlight), pretty cheap (pretzels). While many were out of work, Hupfeld was knocking out songs. That doesn't mean he was out all night enjoying himself, and hobbing his nob with stage stars.  


     Hupfeld seemed to lead a rather dull and cloistered life at home in Montclair, New Jersey. His mother’s house was within a pretzel’s throw. One distant relative recalled that he had a drinking problem, which may have had to do with his problems being either asexual or gay. Michael Feinstein says the latter: 


    “There was a big divide back then between performers and songwriters that were gay. Most of the songwriters were in the closet. People knew that Cole Porter was gay but he never spoke of it and was married. There were many songwriters who were gay such as Herman Hupfeld who wrote "As Time Goes By." Many people did not want it to impact their careers. But then there were people at MGM like Conrad Salinger, who was film composer that was so outrageously flamboyant but he didn't care what people thought because his job was secure and he was extraordinarily talented. For performers it was very much hidden.”

    Hupfeld’s mother out-lived him by several years but as you see from the photo above, they remain side by side for eternity, as they did back in Montclair, New Jersey.


  I’VE GOTTA GET UP AND GO TO WORK: DICK ROBERTSON 

ARE YOU MAKING ANY MONEY (gosh, buy it IF you like it) - Ramona (not Ray) DAVIES

Gay Wack-Off Herman Hupfeld sings about GOOPY GEER


    Our salute continues. In the early 1930’s, Herman Hupfield was in his late 30’s. It was the peek of his creativity. 

        Most of the songs he wrote were for Broadway revues. An exception seems to be the 1932 novelty “Goopy Geer,” which turns up in a “Merrie Melodies” cartoon by that name. As seen above, and festooned through the entry, the novelty short featured the best piano playing you’ll see from a four-fingered dog. 




    Title character Goopy is cheered by other animals as he enters what had to be a very progressive nightclub. They probably only had a few restrooms despite all the different varieties of wildlife the place attracted. Maybe there weren't any elephants, as they might object to Goopy pounding the ivories of a relative. 

    Animator Rudolf Ising’s creation was in theaters in April of 1932. In June and July, two more cartoons featured Goopy: “Moonlight For Two” and “The Queen Was in the Parlor.” At that point, he was sent to the pound and euthanized. Or maybe put out to stud. Take your choice. 




    You get TWO versions of the song. One of them is by Mr. Hupfeld, a rare waxing for the introverted songwriter. He wasn’t a stage performer, and didn't appear in nightclubs where he could promote his work, so record companies weren’t too interested. His singing is quite professional.

    The other version is from British big band leader Ambrose. The opening here, which may have inspired the Paul Daniels “not a lot” catch-phrase, has a fellow enthusing about the great new pianist Goopy Geer: 


    “Oh Mr. Ambrose, do you like this boy’s playing?” “Not much.” 


    In comes Goopy to dazzle. As the vocalist enthuses: “Some day he’ll pack the Albert Hall!” (In Hupfeld's American version it's "Carnegie Hall"). Mr. Ambrose, adapting a line from an old Moran and Mack punchline, mutters, “I wouldn’t like that if it was good.” This version tosses in a few references to everything from “Il Trovatore” to “Three Blind Mice.”


    Hupfeld’s “Goopy Geer” was the A-side of his lone single. The B-side is b-side the point…because it’s not here. It’s “Down the Old Back Road” and Herman, being a gay bachelor, may have had a double meaning to that one. 


GOOPY GEAR, sung by the lad himself, HERMAN HUPFELD

The British GOOPY GEER via AMBROSE - As always, NO passwords, dodgy Putinville servers, or bratty requests for Paypal donations

Un-depressed HERMAN HUPFELD: “Let’s Put Out The Lights And Go To Sleep”



     The salute to the lesser known works of Herman "As Time Goes By" Hupfeld continues with more of his attempts to lighten up the Depression era. They say that misery helps produce creativity, and it may be so in Herman's case. Almost all of his most interesting songs seem to be written in the four years after the stock market crash. He seemed to have less luck in the 1940's.

    It’s important to remember that artists usually reflect their times. A knowledge of sociology works hand in hand with musicology.  Many believe The Beatles’ bright, new innocent tunes like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were embraced by America because it was still reeling from the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It’s possible there would not have been a British invasion if bullets hadn’t invaded JFK.   

    Likewise, the bouncy tunes Hupfeld wrote for a variety of Broadway shows, were a musical tonic for people trying to escape their gloom and have hope for better days. While sad songs say so much, and several dire songs reflected the times, such as “Brother Can You Spare a Dime,” most people purged their melancholy with light hearted ditties.  


    The lyrics for this song are scant, but suggest that it’s best not to swell on worry:


     “No more company to keep. No more papers left to read. What to do about it? Let’s put out the lights and go to sleep. No more anything to drink. Leave those dishes in the sink. What to do about it? Let’s put out the lights and go to sleep….No more money in the bank. No cute baby we can spank. What do do about it? Let’s put out the lights and go to sleep.” 

    Today the economy for singers and songwriters is pretty depressing. The same fuckwits who probably deny climate change, deny that giving away thousands of albums a day in forums and blogs is hurtful to the economy of artists, record labels,  record stores, etc.) The same king pests who’d rather pollute a lake with a speedboat’s noise and gasoline, are the ones who gratify their ego by smirking, “Anything you want, I gots me 200 GB of music on the computer so ask nice and I will reward you." With so much given away free, few need to buy anything. This appeals to turd-heads in third rate countries who simply want to get back at high-living people in the USA and UK.  The other "sharers" are often sociopaths who give away music, films, books, games, etc. because it's illegal and it gives them a thrill. And they haven't the guts to shoplift a pack of chewing gum in the real world. 


    "Let's Put Out the Lights..." was recorded with a female vocal in America (Ramona Davies in front of Paul Whiteman’s orchestra) and a male vocal in England (Sam Browne fronting Syd Lipton’s orchestra.) Sam Browne is no relation to British female vocalist Sam Brown, who blew the roof off the dumb when she sang “Horse to the Water” at the George Harrison tribute concert in 2002. 


     Yes, as John Marley could've told you, most anything gruesome can be forgotten if you just turn out the lights and go to sleep.

GO TO SLEEP with Syd Lipton's Orchestra and Sam Browne's vocals
GO TO SLEEP with Paul Whiteman's Orchestra and Ramona Davies' vocals