Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Eyed Peas FERGIE - shell shocks crowd with awful NATIONAL ANTHEM

Fergie? She's still around? 

That's probably the reaction when the Black Eyed Peas singer, glammed up in a black cocktail dress, wiggled forward to sing the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game.

She might as well have offered "Let's Get Retarded In Here." 

To the delight of bad-music fans everywhere, Fergie offered a typically disrespectful version intended to show off her voice and not her patriotism. 

She managed to do it in an extra-shrill way (think Judy Garland with a live rat up her cunt) and with a novel twist on fuckifying the lyrics ("Bah-ah-ner-er yeh-yeh-twave"). It's that moment pictured above, which led one of the players to switch from aghast to a giggle.

The staid Associated Press allowed that her song "wasn't particularly well received...her tempo, musical accompaniment and sexy delivery were not exactly typical for a sporting event or a patriotic song."

Others were a bit more colorful. George H.W. Bush, sitting in his wheelchair, grumped that it was "disgraceful." Roseanne Barr, who screamed a version of the anthem far outside her vocal range, and added insult by mimicking the way ballplayers spit, tweeted, "I think mine was better lowkey." Charles Barkley said, “Damn right it was different! I needed a cigarette after that.” Comedian Bob Saget explained: "Fergie’s rendition of the National Anthem was originally written by Francis Scott Out of Key."

To give you an idea of how bewilderingly bad it was, a Kardashian (Khloe, who is currently taking it up the ass and sucking the cock of a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player named Tristan Thompson) tweeted: “This All Star opening is confusing me. WTF is going on? Anyone?”

You'd think some players would've taken a knee, just out of the pain of listening to Fergie, but they heroically stayed on their feet. 

Hear it for yourself. 

Fergie Fucks up the Star Spangled Banner


    No, the sorrowful, haunted and lispy moan that was Tom Rapp’s singing was not going to make him a star. Titling his group “Pearls Before Swine,” with the implication that they were singing great music for an audience of pigs, probably didn’t help either. Still, he held a niche for listeners who wanted their "transcendental rock" a little dark than George Harrison and sensitive ballads a little grimmer than Paul Simon. 

    On the title track to “These Things Too,” Rapp offered up his version of a phrase George couched with some degree of optimism as “All Things Must Pass.” Here, a Persian king gathers his wise men to find something “he could say on every occasion that always would be so.” Acknowledging “illusions, circles and changes,” the wise men come up with “these things too shall pass away.” 

    If Paul Simon was Mr. Alienation, what was Tom Rapp? On the same album, he sang, “When I was a child I lived all alone,  all my trials I bore them alone. Sometimes I would smile but often I’d grieve; growing up was learning to disbelieve.” Paul couldn't match such collegiate phrases as: “a saint in the evening, a leper at dawn,” or describe the Escher angst pf being “lost on mobius street,” a line on “If You Don’t Want To I Don’t Mind.” 

    My favorite Pearls Before Swine song, which I played on my radio show late at night, was “The Jeweler.” Well suited to Rapp’s damaged vocal powers, this is a sympathetic look at an old man who tries to find a place in this world polishing old coins. (“He knows the use of ashes. He worships God with ashes.”) Unlike Paul Simon’s boxer, the old jeweler has different scars. Working late into the night “both his hands will blister badly. They will often open painfully and the blood flows from his hands…he sometimes cries…” 

    Undergrads and intellectuals probably stowed their Pearls Before Swine albums on that same shelf as W.H. Auden books (Rapp set one Auden poem to music), or art books filled with the agonies of Bosch (yes, Pearls Before Swine used Bosch artwork on “One Nation Underground,” their 1967 debut album on the indie E.S.P. label, which never paid Tom a royalty or advance.

    Thomas Dale Rapp (March 8, 1947-February 11, 2018) was born in North Dakota, but also spent some early years in Minnesota, and then Florida. Just another folkie in New York, he submitted a demo tape to E.S.P. and he got a two-record deal. And just as E.S.P.’s star group The Fugs signed to Warner/Reprise, so did Pearls Before Swine, eventually. 

      What was "acceptable" in music had begun to change in the late 60's and early 70's, especially thanks to the imperfect vocals of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. Still, reviewers could be hostile. A 1971 Stereo Review critic:

    “At first I thought this junk must be somebody’s idea of a sick joke…unfortunately the mournful wailing contained on this disc is really the way Tom Rapp sounds. He is also the composer-lyricist of eight of the easily forgettable songs I suffered through here…Although Rapp swallows most of his words like lumps, I was occasionally able to hear such scintillating lines as “What does a raindrop know?” or “My talking was only words, my smile was only teeth.” Third-grade doodling…Tom Rapp is a horrendously vulgar no-talent whose very presence on records gives me pause about the rock-bottom tastes and motives of the talent scouts at Reprise Records.”

    Worse than a lack of sympathy for his work was a lack of money. Even in what some consider the “golden era” of music, when hundreds of albums were being issued and FM radio was booming, not every act was making millions, or even breaking even on the road. How many records could anyone afford to buy? Around the same time, even Genesis, fronted by Peter Gabriel, came home broke. After a few solo albums, Rapp found a day job, working behind the popcorn counter at a movie theater. “I knew at the end of the week, every single week, I would get $85,” Rapp recalled. “I was insane with joy.”

    The insane world of acid folk and sensitive rock was left behind for twenty years. Tom went back to college and earned a degree, eventually working on discrimination cases for a Philadelphia law firm. He later moved to Florida. He was married three times. Around 1996, he was persuaded to make some appearances in local clubs. At a gig at NYC’s Knitting Factory in 1997, he explained his long absence: “I got into a 12-step program for reclusivity.”

    To the surprise and delight of his small circle of friends, a new Tom Rapp album appeared in 1999, titled “A Journal of the Plague Year,” which in style wasn’t very different from what he’d done for E.S.P. a generation earlier. It was on an obscure label and Rapp kept his day job.

The Jeweler (The Use of Ashes) - Pearls Before Swine

Sweet Home Alabama - doo-too ba doo-doo Princeton Roaring 20 a capella

When you think of Lynyrd Skynyrd, you don't get an image of fresh-faced Princeton students in L.L. Bean clothing making gay carousel noises: boop boop dooba doobee boop. But that's a capella conceit for you. As they say, it's so outrageous and obnoxious, it's almost amusing. 

Followers of the blog know that periodically I post examples of college twits, poofs and whiffens who think their dulcet voices require no drums, brass or strings. The glory of the human voice is enough. They think. 

A cappella is a tradition that goes back to a mother crooning a lullaby to her baby, or monks performing Gregorian chants on each other. One of the few successful hit songs in the genre was "The Tiger Rag" by The Mills Brothers, who mimicked musical instruments while harmonizing. Mostly a cappella is a scary exercise in egotism and pretention.

    Your example below is, yes, “Sweet Home Alabama” dampened by rich Princeton wet noodles wet-nursing the rhythm with “dooba doo” noises, and vocals that exchange Cracker Barrell cheese drawling for Brie breathing. Bandwidth being what it is, you don’t get their lame takes on Seal, Wham, 3 Doors Down, Fountains of Wayne etc. You don’t get their less egregious sins, such as buttering songs by creampuffs such as Dido, Eric Carmen or Sarah MacLachlan.  

    If you want to look for the CD, it’s called “Beginning to see the Light” (a metaphor that doesn’t really apply to hearing a capella), produced by The Princeton Roaring 20 circa 2005. “Special thanks to our families and our friends, our amazing alumni for all their support.” Their audiences probably consisted entirely of their families, friends, and indulgent alumni. Strange things come out of the orifaces of humans. Yabba dabaa do.

SWEET HOME ALABAMA as you have NEVER heard it before - Listen online or download. No ego passwords, no Russian spyware server


Nancy Sinatra, who sings the theme song and appears in "Last of the Secret Agents," says it's "My favorite of my movies because it's zany and silly and goofy. Mary Allen and Steve Rossi were really one of the funniest comedy teams of the time." 

    Marty Allen, who died a few days ago at 95, wasn’t “The Last of the Secret Agents,” (maybe Mike Myers as "Austin Powers" will be), but he was probably the last of the corny, harmless, family-oriented comedians. It was rooted in a childlike sense of fun; he'd say "the darndest things" for a quick laugh. Filling the nightclub gap left by Martin and Lewis, the goofy comic and his Italian singer/partner Steve Rossi had a simple gimmick: interview Marty and let him say just about anything. 

     "Hello Dere" (his happy catch-phrase) was a gold album in 1962, and loaded with "lay it in their laps" gags. "Hello dere, my name is Christopher Columbus." "Where were you born?" "On Columbus Day!" "What are you famous for?" "I'm a great lover!" "What do you mean by that?" "Ever hear of the nights of Columbus?" "Who did you make love to?" "Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria." "Those are ships." "It wasn't easy."

    As dopey as it may seem, adults were paying to drink and smoke and listen to that stuff. It seemed like kid-oriented comedy albums to me. I had all the albums by this new generation of comedy teams which included Rowan and Martin,  The Smothers Brothers, and with various straight men, Bill Dana as Jose Jimenez. 

      Comedy mirrors its times, and audiences no longer wanted sharp, bitter “sick” humor ala Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman and Lenny Bruce. Marty and Steve were welcomed (along with Stiller and Meara) on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and right into his 90's Marty never lacked for people asking him what was it like to be on the show that introduced The Beatles to America. It was a big selling point for his self-published book. 

    One thing nightclub comedy teams couldn’t seem to do was transfer to film. It didn’t work for Noonan and Marshall (who made “The Rookie” co-starring Julie Newmar) or Rowan and Martin (who made “The Maltese Bippy” co-starring Julie Newmar.) Allen & Rossi tried to cash in on the secret agent craze (without co-starring Julie Newmar, but with Nancy Sinatra). It was a little too silly and a little too late. (“Get Smart” had been running on TV for several years. Why pay for more?) Still, there are those who remember it with fondness (like Nancy Sinatra). 

    When the team split, Marty found plenty of work as an actor and as a wiseguy on the quiz show “The Hollywood Squares.” When Steve Rossi couldn’t do much with other partners (black Slappy White, aging Joe E. Ross, and even a Marty look-alike, Bernie Allen), the team reunited. They played Vegas-friendly venues, with Marty’s wife doing some singing as well. When Steve slowed down, Marty and his wife Karon kept right on going. Last Christmas, he told his fans on Facebook that his broken hip was nothing serious and that rehab was not going to take too long. But to borrow a line from the cynical comedian Brother Theodore, the bad hospitals let you die and the good hospitals kill you. Marty passed away at 95, from pneumonia. He was the last of the comedians from a golden age of silly. 

Nancy Sinatra - Last of the Secret Agents - listen online or download. No egocentric password, no Bulgarian/Croatian spyware

KICK BACK (and don't kill yourself) CHI COLTRANE

    Below, “Kick Back,” performed by Chi Coltrane live. “Live” is the operative word, since many people struggle with negativity and depression, and it can get the better of them:

    “What I’m saying in the song is kick back when times get rough. There's bound to be some good days and bound to be some bad ones...If things start getting you down sometimes, don’t throw your life away. Throw away the things that get you down, but never, never throw your life away.” 

    This is generally good advice, unless you can't throw away the things that are getting you a terminal illness, for example. Keith Emerson shot himself in the head on March 11, 2016, at the age of 71. He didn’t end it all back in 1993 when he had a spate of bad luck: a strange form of arthritis that was impeding his ability to play, a messy divorce, a fire that burned his home, and financial woes. In 2016, he didn't see the number of good days outweighing the bad.  

    A year earlier, June 7, 2012, Bob Welch killed himself. The singer of “Hot Love, Cold World,” was disturbed in 1998 when his contributions to Fleetwood Mac were snubbed and he didn’t get an invite into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He didn't let it get him down. What he couldn’t deal with was the misery of post-spinal surgery. The physical pain was too much, and it’s possible that the fog of his pain medication, or its failure, led him to go out with a bullet.

    Vic Chesnutt, who left behind many albums, including a good cover of a Phil Ochs song (“The Scorpion Departs But Never Returns”), was paralyzed in a car accident at age 18. He couldn't "throw away" what got him down, but with a wheelchair and optimism, he became a fine entertainer. By age 45, he had enough of the misery of touring, and the limitations he suffered, He overdosed on muscle relaxants, December 25, 2009. The date he chose reflected his utter hopelessness, lack of religion and depression. 

    If these guys were Chi Coltrane fans, and heard her advice, maybe things would've been different. Or perhaps they’d already listened to a “Pearls Before Swine” song with the lines, “These Things Too Shall Pass Away.”

KICK BACK - listen online or download - no dopey Zinfart passwords or Russian spyware server

Friday, February 09, 2018


Are you like me? Have you enjoyed going to record stores and thrift shops and pawed through 45's and 78's just looking for songs with oddball titles? 

Sometimes the result is SO delightful! Sometimes, er, the music doesn't quite live up to the intriguing title of the song. 

Saving you a fiverrrr, or more likely a nickel, your download below offers a very ordinary big band fox trot called "Celery Stalks at Midnight," with a soporific vocal from Doris Day. No, there's no vivid lyrics about being stalked by a celery, or having a bad dream that started out in a barnyard at sundown (and everybody scared me, and you scared me the most).

Will Bradley’s 1940 original, co-written with George Harris, at least had some kind of weird punchline. After the familiar "Jeepers Creepers" melody wore out its welcome, a band member (probably wiseass drummer Ray McKinley) shouts "Celery stalks along the highway!!" Which almost saves the song. Almost.

My semi-educated guess on this novelty-dance item, is that Will was influenced by the spate of comedy-horror movies popular in theaters, as well as "Inner Sanctum," "Murder at Midnight" and "Lights Out" radio stuff. The latter show scared people one night with the story of a chicken heart that began to grow in a lab and take over an entire city. So why couldn't celery start stalking?

With films, radio shows and mystery books about mad criminals stalking about "Celery Stalks at Midnight?" How about if people back then felt like buying a new single, and simply browsed the new releases looking for an interesting title?

 Ah say, Celery! Stalks! Get it? That's a thigh-slapper, son! I keep tossin' em and you just side-step 'em! (Senator Claghorn anyone?) 

Fast forward 27 years, and we had "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago," which was just as un-amusing when I found it in some bargain bin or other. There's a sucker born every minute when it comes to glancing at a song title and needing to hear it.

It was only ONE year after the Bradley original that Carl Sigman added some insipid (but how tasty is celery) lyrics so that Doris Day could cover the tune. Then as now, how many people really listened to the words anyway? 

No, Doris was NOT singing hilarious lines about a nightmare she had after eating too much celery, or sitting on a stalk. She does offer a very swingin' Ella-type vocal here, as she glosses over the possibility of some kind of nightmare or witchcraft.

The post is really just an excuse to post a photo and, finally, after all these years, offer a backing track from Les Brown. After all, this is the self-proclaimed "blog of less renown." Here you can hear...Les Brown and The Band of Renown backing Doris...and her celery...

 Celery Celery Celery! Sapristi! Download or listen online. No "your adobe is out of date" conjobs, no spyway, no Zinfart password nonsense

Faron Young - "He Stopped Loving Her Today" Start Tasting C&W

I recall some nice times with the guys from Dr. Hook, and one thing about their hit Columbia albums, was that they mixed rock, blues, novelty, oldies and country. The record label wasn't too happy, because a group was supposed to fit into a neat category to be sold. But, as Dennis said, "Look at your record collection. It has all types of music doesn't it? Why can't we play all types of music?" 

Well, yes, MY record collection has all types of music. I hope yours does, too. If not, do indeed download the greatest country song of all time, "He Stopped Loving Her Today," and try and get into some artists who have crossover appeal (the late Glen Campbell, the lively Gary Allan) as well as those who stayed pure (Hank Williams and George Jones come to mind, and I'll toss in Homer and Jethro, just fer fun). 

Funny thing; many of the rockers WE like grew up listening to hardcore C&W or hardcore R&B. It's just that they assimilated it into their rock music. Or, "stole" the black man's music and "stole" the redneck's music, as the hardcore C&W and R&B fans like to gripe. Fact is, the "pure" stuff is sometimes harder to swallow. That goes for classical, too. More often people listen to ersatz classical (movie theme music) than the real thing, or classical melodies softened into pop standards (like "Full Moon and Empty Arms" or "A Lover's Concerto" which you might recall via the opening lines, "How gentle is the rain...")

The Beatles of course loved Carl Perkins and Buck Owens, and Woody Guthrie influenced many rockers, and "rockabilly" from Elvis and Jerry Lee became its own crossover category. Elvis Costello, Keith Richards and others worked with George Jones. Johnny Cash didn't just cover "Hurt," he owned it. 

Phil Ochs, who grew up in Texas, and later was a "boy in Ohio," really was into  the music of Faron Young. A guy I know, who still tours in a well known rock band, was a friend of Phil's: "One time I told Phil that I thought he sounded like Faron Young…his phrasing. And Phil's eyes lit up. He was very happy to hear it." Phil would later perform the C&W protest song "Okie from Muskogee" by Merle Haggard at Carnegie Hall.

Faron had a 1954 #1 hit with "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," a song title that seemed to have been adopted as words to live (and die by) by dozens of rockers.
Willie Nelson penned Faron's most famous #1, the 1961 smash "Hello Walls." After a lot of success at Capitol,  Young switched over to Mercury in 1963 and averaged two albums a year through 1976, when the hits began to evaporate. In 1979 he moved to MCA for a pair of albums "Chapter Two" and "Free and Easy," which the label hoped would appeal to a wider audience than Faron's hardcore rockabillies. There was a new thing called "countrypolitan," and even George Jones' producer Billy Sherrill was into this, trying to reduce the squeamy violins and add more of a beat and a lot of crossover production values.

It was Sherrill who insisted that Braddock and Putman re-work their morbid tune "He Stopped Loving Her Today" into more of a Top 40 ballad, and make the story dramatic but not country-corny. Then he worked on the arrangement and production, which was so different on Epic than what George had done at Musicor and the other earlier labels. George wasn't that fond of spending a lot of time in the studio, was seriously into booze, and the song had to be pieced together over quite a while. The result is a classic. 

Curly Putman remains my favorite country songwriter, and I am very proud to say that my appreciation for his writing was matched by his appreciation for mine. I mentioned to him the time I was in a very hipster-punk record store, and who was blasting from the loudspeakers? George Jones, the guy who covered so many Putman tunes. So tattoo and metal-nose ear-stud boyo walked in and sneered, "WHAT are ya playin'?" And the dude behind the counter just glanced down and said, "Gotta love George."

While George Jones or Johnny Cash are probably the most popular of the 60's and 70's C&W artists, there are quite a few others who have stood the test of time, including Faron Young.

In 1996, grieving over the death of his daughter, and despondent over his failing health, Faron Young killed himself. While Phil had used the hangman's noose back in 1976, rough 'n' ready Faron did himself in with a revolver.

You never stop lovin' great music until you're planted six feet deep, or blowin' in the wind. 

Faron Young - listen on line or download; no moronic passwords, no links to spyware or malware-loaded porn sites

Denise LaSalle Dies, the Advice Stays: LICK IT BEFORE YOU STICK IT

You shouldn't smile when somebody dies. But...

...that hokey hooker-name Denise LaSalle instantly brought back a memory of that odd 70's time when you just might open up a demo package from a record label and find...a bawdy black lady bawlin' inside. 

I don't know quite what prompted the return to rudeness (which of course goes back to those old R&B "copulatin' blues" 78's black women made). But there was Denise (real name Denise Allen (July 16, 1939-January 8, 2018). There was, of course Donna Summer with "Bad Girls" (beep beep!) and my favorite (on the album cover alone) Millie Jackson (still with us at 73. OK, Millie, let's see that album cover: 

Huh, what? Well, politically incorrect or not, the theme seemed to be: you were not likely to get a blowjob from Olivia Newton-John or Marie Osmond, you'd have a long line ahead of you to get to Carly or Joni, but what you REALLY should be doin' is finding a BLACK MAMA who knows ALL the tricks...and is downright NASTY...

...but not so NASTY that you wouldn't want to lick it before you stick it. 

LaSalle's four decade career obviously was more about talent than the occasional risque song. Signed to Chess in the late 60'ss her single "A Love Reputation" hinted that she could build on her charisma and be a star. Her breakthrough was "Trapped By a Thing Called Love" (1971) and it sold a million copies. 

She wrote a lot of her own stuff, and though she still tended to show up on the R&B charts more than the mainstream charts, she was in the Top 10 with "Man Sized Job" and "Love Me Right," and her "Married, But Not To Each Other" was covered by Barbara Mandrell. She was sizzling between Millie Jackson and the future queen Donna Summer when "The Bitch is Bad!" came out in 1977. 

You could grab a handful of Denise in any decade. Her many albums include 70's releases  Trapped By A Thing Called Love, Doin' it Right, On The Loose, Here I Am Again, Second Breath and The Bitch Is Bad!, 80's items My Toot Toot, Rain And Fire, It's Lying Time Again and Hittin´ Where It Hurts. Funny (no, not really) it was long after Donna's "Bad Girls...BEEP BEEP" that the dopey single "My Toot Toot" became La Salle's only Top 10 UK hit.

In the 90's LaSalle released, among others, I'm Here Again ... Plus, Still Bad, and Smokin’ In Bed and more recently, Still The Queen (2002), Wanted (2004), Pay Before You Pump (2007) and 24 Hour Woman (2010). 

"Gee our old LaSalle ran great..." Those were the days. Still can be the days if you feel like it. And..."Lick it before you stick it" is still good advice. 

Lick It (not "dig it" "get it" "cheers!" "enjoy!" or other dopey blogger link words) Download or listen on line