Tuesday, September 19, 2017

JIMMY WALKER sinks into SWAMP COUNTRY


     Hurricane season in America means that many parts of the hot, humid South, including Florida, Georgia and up through South Carolina, are...SWAMP COUNTRY. More than usual. Floods, which actually floated alligators into neighbrhoods to add some extra danger, left many injured, some dead, and thousands without the air conditioning that almost makes living in the South bearable. Hell, if you didn't have some meth, and you couldn't fuck your sister or spray paint a Swastika, what COULD you do for fun with the electricity off?

    If you still had a charge on your iPod, cell phone or laptop, you could play some SWAMP MUSIC. Your addition below is “Swamp Country,” an obscurity on the SWAMPER record label. Certainly the first and foremost song in the genre remains “Swamp Girl,” the insane ballad that Frankie Laine made his own. It's chronicled elsewhere on the blog. Frankie was an Italian guy, and he didn’t actually spend his life riding a mule train, being a gunfighter, herding cattle, or living in a swamp.

    Jimmy Walker was an authentic swamp guy! Not the “Swamp Fox,” who only hid in the marshes to evade the British during the Revolutionary War, Walker was an actual swamp manager! There are forest rangers, and there are zoo keepers and, yes, there are guys who have the job of taking care of mucky bogs. For many years, the Okefenokee Swamp near Waycross, Georgia was supervised by Jimmy. "Swamp Park" when Jimmy was caring for it, was six hundred square miles of dark waters. He made sure tourists got to see all the wonders of Cow Island, and the sawgrass and Spanish moss and the wildlife. He jump-started the career of Okefenokee Joe, who originally worked as an animal handler in the swamp for $60 a week. When he had some spare time, Walker picked up his guitar and sang in the local dives.

    Most fans of SWAMP MUSIC are also fans of cheap swamp paperbacks (like “Swamp Hoyden” which had two different printings). 



    Swamp fans also like swamp films. “Swamp Country” was the theme song for a movie of the same name, which features a very early appearance by Carol Burnett’s announcer Lyle Waggoner. (A few years later,  1971, "Swamp Girl" was filmed on location with Jimmy helping guide the camera crew along). Jimmy Walker was in "Swamp Country," along with his Swampers, and decided to cover the song on his own label, for what can't really be called a "one hit wonder." It was never really a hit. The full "Swamp Country" album he made is quite a rarity. Hunting for it is complicated by several other singers and musicians named Jimmy Walker who recorded albums (and the comedian Jimmie Walker, and the original cast album for the Frank Gorshin musical about Mayor Jimmy Walker).

    His indie interpretation has some nice effects to it, beyond his reasonable vocal skills. Listen for the gooey addition of "Duane Eddy with Indigestion" guitar. OK, it doesn’t have Loulie Jean Norman offering ghostly vocalise, and there’s nobody shouting ‘Chloe,” but the music cementing this bit of C&W goop does give you a taste of the foul and dismal swamp lands where most anything bad can happen. Ah, swamp tunes...musical muck and mire you can admire.


So, SWAMP MUSIC fans, please enjoy Jimmy Walker, and this nice companion to Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou.” And gee, if you REALLY like it, ask somebody to bayou a copy, at one of the last surviving record stores. Drain the swamp? Trump actually LOVES Florida and has a big luxury home there. He's not gonna drain any swamp or hurt any alligators. Professional courtesy. 



JIMMY WALKER
Swamp Country    Instant download or listen on line. You don’t need to type in somebody’s sad password catch-phrase or stupid name to get this to open. No malware or spyware anywhere.

SHELLEY BERMAN sings REVENGE!


    One of the things that nobody mentioned in the obits on Shelley Berman, is…that he could sing. Here, on the Blog of Less Renown, that’s the basic requirement to get an entry. Let’s put it simply: Shelley Berman’s head belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Pioneering Stand-up. When nightclub comedy first broke through as an art form, and a vehicle for social comment, the four men leading the way were Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman and Jonathan Winters.

    Oh, there were others around. There were cult characters like Lord Buckley and Brother Theodore. There was also soft-spoken Dick Gregory, who (thanks to Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce breaking down the barriers) was able to talk about racial and political issues. He first worked at a Playboy Club in Chicago; Hefner already championing Mort and Lenny. 


When Time Magazine published an alarmist article on the emergence of “sick comedy,” Lenny was the main target, but Berman enraged them, too. In fact, Time was reduced to a "sick" description of Berman as having a face "that looks like a hastily sculpted meatball." Berman brought shivers for his gruesome dissections of modern life. While the Copa and similar clubs had some guy in a tux telling wife jokes, coffee houses were hosting a revolution not yet televised.  

    Berman's one-act plays included shining a light at malice in the suburbs; a man who learns that at a drunken party he threw the host’s cat through a plate glass window, and then the host’s mother. And he's not all that sorry, either. Funny? How about a phone call about a guy slowly bleeding to death? How about the literally dark humor of a man who finds himself in a hotel room with no windows or door? How about a man trying to get help for a lady dangling on the ledge of a department store window? How about a bit titled “Franz Kafka on the Telephone?”

    Of the four faces on comedy’s Mount Rushmore, the first to have a best selling album was…BERMAN. “Inside Shelley Berman” outsold the other guys by a hefty margin. Berman, a trained actor, was quickly hired for an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” and soon found himself starring in a Broadway musical called “A Family Affair.”

    What you’ll hear below, is a fairly horrible Bolero-novelty number called “Revenge.” In deference to Berman’s fame with phone monologues, there’s a messy bit of frantic phone tomfoolery towards the end. Maybe on stage, with some intense face-making, this thing was actually funny. Berman played “Uncle Alfie,” in a story of a wedding getting out of control and a young couple trying to deal with their crazy relatives. 


     Today, “A Family Affair” is a mere footnote, and it wouldn’t even toe that level of obscurity except that the music was supplied by John Kander. After this, Kander found a new lyricist and partner in Fred Ebb, and that team would go on to many hit shows including “Cabaret.” They wrote the inescapable anthem “New York, New York,” which is blasted over loudspeakers, in the Sinatra version, any time a New York sports team wins anything.

     The histrionic "Revenge" proves that Berman could’ve been perfect in a Broadway show with better songs, like “Bye Bye Birdie” (as the neurotic husband) or “Damn Yankees” (as the maliciously cheerful devil). Over the years, Shelley often appeared in “Straw Hat” productions of musicals, and one of his favorites, was the lead in “Fiddler on the Roof.” He played a Jewish peddler in an episode of “Rawhide,” so if you catch up with that one, it may give you an idea of his “Tevye” side.

    While he was indeed a neurotic and intense personality, and sometimes his own worst enemy, Berman managed to navigate through the years, and emerge almost as famous at the end of his career as he was at the beginning. Doffing his hairpiece, he played Larry David’s father on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It was an inspired choice. Despite the fact that he could be a “raw nerve,” Berman was a warm-hearted, gentle soul. His marriage was one of the longest in show business. Those who knew him, worked with him, or were fans of his…had every reason to love him. What a mensch. 



Shelley Berman sings...
REVENGE    Instant download or listen on line. You don’t need to type in somebody’s sad password catch-phrase or stupid name to get this to open. No malware or spyware anywhere.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU - MICK SOFTLEY GONE AT 77


It's no surprise, here at The Blog of Less Renown, that the passing of Mick Softley was a very soft news item. A lot of deserving, historical, and folks with some hits to their name, get more of a write-up here than anywhere else. Some newspapers with a page for obituaries, didn't even mention Mick. It seems to go with the general Millennial attitude of ignorant derision: "Hey, that was before my time, Dude." 

With few exceptions, "protest songs" seem to be viewed as a quaint, useless fad from the past. Did any song from Dylan or Lennon actually stop a war? Did any song about Kent State matter? Wasn't Hurricane Carter actually guilty after all? Hasn't "The Eve of Destruction" turned out to be a long, long eve, that has seen several new generations of mutants be born? 

Looking back, even when Phil Ochs died, which was a heart-wrenching suicide, the obits were kind of small. And this was Phil Ochs, who only a few years earlier was pranking the Democratic Covention in Chicago, appearing on "The David Frost Show," and getting very good royalties off "Changes" and "There But for Fortune," which so many of his contemporaries covered. So what should one expect from an obscure British folk-rocker who lived a long life, and most of it in obscurity? 

Mick Softley was fairly obscure even in his prime. With protest acts including Dylan, Baez and Barry McGuire on the charts, and a wide variety of others singing protest songs now and then, from Judy Collins to Peter Paul & Mary a lot of other performers had modest sales, including Ochs, Pat Sky, Dave Van Ronk, Jack Elliott, Hamilton Camp, and Mr. Softley, who died on September 1, age 77. 

    The closest Softley got to fame, was when Donovan covered a few of his songs, including “The War Drags On.” Vietnam certainly did, year after year. Those who aren't ardent folkies would probably argue that the song itself drags on and on, a long accusatory dirge. If some folkie Millennial tried to sing this at an open mic night, or busking in Sheffield somewhere, he or she would hear: “you’re against the war, I get it. Lines about blood and bones are cliche. Can't you do an Ed Sheeran cover?” 


      While there are some who still crave pop-psych, or psych-folk, some might think that Softley's other semi-known song “Timeless” is not timeless at all, but sadly dated. A criticism of his work then or now would involve a complaint about lack of melody and a tendency to be repetitive, but that was the tendency back then. Dylan and Ochs were worse if you didn't want eight minute songs with the same verse and chorus over and over. And circa 1970, just after the "Summer of Love," many were in love with the Vanilla Fudge style of long, bewildered, alienated songs. Even Del Shannon and Roy Orbison experimented with the new freedoms. When Mick Softley arrived, some may have considered him another Jackson C. Frank, while others said, “Well, who is Jackson C. Frank?”

    Born in Enniskillen, and raised near Epping Forest (where members of Genesis once held a battle), Mick managed a folk venue inside the Spinning Wheel, a restaurant in Hemel Hempstead (where members of Genesis often went after losing their battles). A free spirit, he didn’t care for running any kind of business, and wobbled through the years as a busker, a soloist, and sometimes part of a duo. At various points he would quit show business entirely. Somehow he managed to put out several albums, spaced apart, and they simply got lost in (all together now) the GLUT OF FOLKIE AND PROTEST AND FOLK-PSYCH STUFF that was bulging in the record racks between 1965 and 1970. That would be “Songs for Swingin’ Survivors” (Columbia 1965, a deal that Donovan may have helped him get), “Sunrise,” “Street Singer” and “Any Mother Doesn’t Grumble” (CBS UK, 1970-72), “Capital” and “Mensa” (Doll Records 1976, 1978) and “War Memorials” (1985, Doll Records)

    Despite his lack of commercial success Mick Softley seemed to enjoy performing live, and would turn up at various folk fests and outdoor concerts in Ireland in the 80’s and 90’s. His pleasant life in obscurity caught a bump in the road; he had a bicycle accident in August of 2011. Unlike Syd Barrett, who despite his problems, seemed to control his bicycle, Softley hit the ground hard, and had to be hospitalized. As with Barrett, rumors swarmed over the state of Softley’s mental health and a small circle of fans were so concerned that a Facebook page (the ultimate, huh) was created to deny that the singer was no longer functioning or no longer alive at all. But as of September 1st, he’s now officially another folk-rock legend.


  THE WAR ON DRUGS    Instant download or listen on line.  
  TIME MACHINE    Instant download or listen on line.  

Ill-ustrated Songs #39 "COME IN MY MOUTH" Tobie Columbus


    “Hey, my teacher used to sing about wanting a guy to come in her mouth!” 

    Yeah. Listen: “Run your fingers through my hair as you force my mouth to open mind. Don’t you just love it there? As I drink you deep inside…you taste so good, you taste so good, you taste so good, you taste so good…”

    How about the spoken part of the song? “I wanna lick, I wanna suck…I wanna make you scream, I wanna make you the happiest man alive. I want you deep in my throat. I want to smell your sweat. I want to lap up your load…” 

    Happily for Tobie Columbus, embarrassingly ridiculous late 60’s and early 70’s porn songs are considered just that. In fact, if you even made porn films, you could enjoy a “straight” career making movies or retire to run an antique shop or something and not be chased out of town.  We’ve COME a long way. 

    COME to think of it, these days, it’s hardly a surprise if a teacher has had a student come in her mouth. As long as the come is vintage, 18 years or older, that’s fine. College professors doing it with their students is just fine. Ladies teaching high school, and finding an 18 year-old guy to get a mouthful with…that’s just delicious. While dirty MALE teachers will run into serious trouble if they come into jailbait, FEMALE teachers tend to get a slap on their masturbating wrist if they help a student through puberty. 

    But I digress. Back in 1974, a fairly ridiculous Off-Broadway show turned up called “Let My People Come.” Theater goers and comers had seen “Hair” of course, and “Oh Calcutta,” but how about something joyously and unabashedly dirty? Sort of? The musical wasn’t exactly hardcore. The lyrics for “Come in My Mouth” are at about the same level of dribble-drivel as purple prose romance books of the day. Some lines are probably as corny as what pudgy E.L. James used to drain the color of any porn connoisseur’s face to a shade of gray. 

            There was a lot of now-silly “porn” songs back then. Some were artfully pretentious, like “Je ‘Taime,” and others were ludicrous like “The Theme from Deep Throat” by Linda and the Lollipops. In between, there was the frank stuff from Frank Zappa, and the childish stuff like “Shaving Cream,” which came out of obscurity when a disc jockey was dared to play it. This thing? Pure 70’s, with the corny synths and bubbly over-done sound effects. Jeez, most hippie chicks practicing free love either had two or three kids by 1974, or were charging for sex and making movies for Jerry Damiano.


    Above is an information sheet that Tobie filled out way back when. As you see, “Let My People Come” was her first big credit. And, last. I think you’ll agree, once you hear this thing, that singing a convincing erotic song was not her specialty. When your singing is barely at the level of Andrea True, you’d better try something else. She moved on to dancing, and dance instruction.

    Fortunately for Tobie, “Let My People Come” wasn’t such a hit that her unusual name became all that well known. Besides, singing a porn song in a legit off-Broadway show is much different than actually being in porn. So she, and the members of "Oh Calcutta" and similar efforts, just dispersed, like crowds witnessing a car wreck. She moved to California, had a kid, and she taught for years and years at a school in Tujunga, California. The L.A. Times even mentioned her in a 2006 article, with no allusion to her previous come-uppance. They just noted that she and the other teachers did a great job of helping the kiddies learn their moves. Dance moves, that is:

    “At the after-school dance class Thursday, dance instructor Tobie Columbus demonstrated the basic steps for swing. "Step, touch, step, touch," she called out. Boy-girl pairs avoided eye contact as they formed two lines that stretched most of the length of the bare-floored auditorium. The students mimicked Columbus' steps, many with hands in their pockets and arms crossed. Several boys paired off with each other, too embarrassed by the formal dance style to approach girls. Later, they learned the foxtrot to "Bossy," a hip-hop song by Kelis. "You can't ask the kids to do an old dance to old music," Columbus said. "These dances can be as contemporary as when they were first created." Columbus…will make the dance classes a regular school activity. Starting in February, a group of 12 to 15 students will study social dance twice a week at no cost to them or the school.”


           I once talked with Tom Lehrer, who left behind his "sick comedy" song career to be a full-time math professor. "Do your students come up to you with copies of your old albums to sign?" Tom said that most of the kids had no idea he made records, and hardly knew about any of Lehrer's contemporaries, including Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce. Tom said, "Some of them are impressed when they find out I wrote a few songs for Seseme Street. Like: "Wow, you wrote SILENT Y???"

           So it's doubtful that any of Tobie's students ever came up to her and asked her to autograph "Come in My Mouth" on the back of the "Let My People Come" album. If somebody did, do you suppose it would make her scream? It would make her the happiest woman in the world? Mmmm, oooooh, uhhhhhhhh. No.

COME IN MY MOUTH    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

LARRY ELGART goes the way of LES - Dead at 95


    There are not too many Big Band musicians left. Larry Elgart has “swooped the planet,” to use a Lord Buckley phrase. He was 95. He and his brother Les were one of the most famous brothers in popular jazz. They didn’t exactly rival the Dorseys, but they stamped a lot of wax in their day, and continued to do so into the 60’s. Larry actually had his best success on his own in the early 80's when the retro antics of Bette “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” Midler, and the disco singles by Cab Calloway and other vintage stars had the campy crowd revved up for a dance revival of vintage Big Band music. People were actually dressing up and going dancing again, getting "Saturday Night Fever" and buying Larry's “Hooked on Swing” platters. 

    Sax playing Larry Elgart: (March 20, 1922 – August 29, 2017) and his trumpet playing younger brother Les (August 3, 1917-July 29, 1995) first found success as sidemen in the 1940’s, both working with Charlie Spivak. Larry also worked with and learned from Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey among others.  Les seemed to have the upper hand, releasing quite a few singles under “The Les Elgart Orchestra” name, with Larry just part of the band.

    The Elgart brothers did work as an equal team for a while. Their first spate of hit albums came out between 1953 and 1956, and included “Sophisticated Swing,” “The Dancing Sound,” “For Dancers Only,” and “The Elgart Touch.” They had another good streak when they switched to MGM in 1960, putting out six records between 1960 and 1962 including “Sophisticated Sixties,” “The Shape of Sounds to Come,” and “Music in Motion.”  Another bunch of releases came out via Columbia, trading in on the craze for the kind of mellow-hip stuff that Herb Alpert was doing; the kind of jazz you’d hear on quiz shows, as background party music in James Bond and Peter Sellers films, and in chewing gum commercials. The Elgart albums for Columbia, up through 1967, include: “Half Satin, Half Latin,” “The Twist Goes to College,” “The New Elgart Touch,” “Elgart au Go-Go,” “Warm and Sensuous” and “Girl Watchers.”

     Below are a few samples of their style, as they hep up “As Time Goes By” (some may be appalled by the quacking trombone and the gooney Glenn Miller winds) and do a butt-shaking cha-cha for any bitch saying “Adios” as she swivels off to try and pick up Xavier Cugat. Why these two songs? “As Time Goes By” and “Adios” both have titles that relate to the passing of Larry Elgart. Clever? No, I don’t think so either. But there you have it, if you want it.

    The brothers were known for “The Elgart Sound,” a sophisticated swing which some would say was a bit too smooth, pop-oriented, homogenous (no flashy solos) and commercial. Larry sometimes surprised jazz fans with experimental work (his “Impressions in Outer Space” album) but the big money was in catering to the “easy listening” crowd. As pop and jazz ceded to rock, Les didn’t want any more, and broke up the act and moved to Texas.

    On his own, Larry had surprising good luck in the late 70’s and early 80’s with his “Flight of the Condor” album and those “Hooked on Swing” releases in 1982 and 1983. He and his New Manhattan Swing Band put the disco beat to some of the most irritating Big Band songs of all time, including the horrible Andrews Sisters hit “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” the inane “Sing Sing Sing” (which could also be called “Dance Dance Dance” considering how many corny tap dancers have used it for routines on America’s Got Talent") and the irritating Glenn Miller classic “Little Brown Jug.” Larry of course did not neglect “In the Mood,” which was a song much hated by Peter Sellers, so much so it was inflicted on the mourners at his funeral.

    Big Band has never completely died off, and you can pick out its influences over the years in both groups (Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago etc.) and in some hit songs (including Bill Conti's "Rocky" theme, which had one of the most vivid trumpet riffs in many a year). There was also "The Tonight Show Band," reminding everyone of the glitter and power of brass, topped by Doc Severinsen's trumpet. Doc still issues albums, and once in a while, Elgart returned to the studio. “Live at the Ambassador” came out in 1998, and “Latin Obsession” arrived in 2000. Larry also played whatever venues were available for Big Band music, which was mostly Florida venues and cruise ships. And, fittingly, in an amphisbaenic sense, his last album was “Bandstand Boogie” in 2003. 


  
  Les and Larry Elgart ADIOS    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords where you have to humiliate yourself by typing in some egotist’s name, malware or spyware anywhere.
  Les and Larry Elgart AS TIME GOES BY    Instant download or listen on line. 

The Elgarts, Bob Horn, Dick Clark & BANDSTAND BOOGIE


    In 1954 Larry and Les Elgart recorded “Bandstand Boogie,” a tune by Larry’s pal Charles Albertine. The record label's credit is Les Elgart and his Orchestra. It became famous as the theme for “American Bandstand,” which Dick Clark began to host in 1956.

    Why was it called “Bandstand Boogie” and not “American Bandstand Boogie?” The TV show’s original title was “Bandstand.” It was just a local program in Philadelphia.  The format of watching kids dance seemed to evolve in October of 1952 with the arrival of radio disc jockey Bob Horn as the new host. Back then, the theme song was Artie Shaw’s “High Society.” A few years later, “Bandstand Boogie” was the replacement.

    In July of 1956, Bob Horn was arrested for drunk driving, and that put an end to his hosting duties. Angered at being tossed for one mistake, he filed a breach of contract suit. Things got worse when he was then accused of consorting with an underage prostitute. Jerry Blavat, in his book “You Only Rock Once,” recalled that the scandal may have been perpetrated by Walter Annenberg, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who also owned “Bandstand” and was out to blacken Horn’s name and get Bob’s lawsuit thrown out.

    Jerry Blavat knew a mother-daughter hooker team that worked out of their home. One of their friends was a slutty number named Rickie: “Rickie…blew me. Later, when I found out that he was a transvestite, I was embarrassed. I was street-wise, but at the time I had no idea.” He was much more attracted to the teen daughter, but so were a lot of guys. Among the accused: Bob Horn. The District Attorney’s office arrested the girl’s mother, and, coincidentally, they were willing to go easy on the lady if the daughter testified about having had sex with Horn.

    “The fact that the District Attorney’s office was pressing charges against Bob Horn - I knew the case was bullshit...I also knew that Bob was in for the fight of his life. His reputation was hanging by a thread, but now his freedom was at stake as well….Before it was all over, Bob would be forced to endure two trials on the same charge of statutory rape, with the first trial ending in a hung jury and the second ending in acquittal….the legal system made his life a living hell…with his career in tatters, Bob continued to drink heavily.” One DWI in July of 1956 wasn’t enough. In January of 1957, Horn got plastered and drove the wrong way down a one-way street, nearly killing a carload of people. He ended up spending six months in jail. He changed his name and helmed the successful Bob Adams Advertising agency in Houston, but died of a heart attack while mowing his lawn, July 31, 1966. He was only 50 years old. Meanwhile...replacing Horn on "Bandstand..."

    Dick Clark knew Bob Horn. They both worked at radio station WFIL. The young, photogenic Mr. Clark became the new permanent host of “Bandstand,” and he took it national. From merely a local Philly phenomenon, “American Bandstand” debuted on ABC,  the American Broadcasting Company.  And yes, in 1957 Chuck Berry saluted the successful show when he sang “they'll be rocking on Bandstand in Philadelphia, PA." Dick Clark was the first youthful disc jockey in a business strangely dominated by guys who looked 40 or 50. That included Alan Freed, and Murray Kaufman, who once covered The Treniers' oddball jazz-R&B song "Out of the Bushes" and dared to refer to his late night WINS radio show as the "Swingin' Soiree." Swingin'? Somehow that Sinatra word didn't bother the kids.

    It’s kind of puzzling why a show that featured teenagers dancing, and the top pop-rock acts of the day, would want a Big Band theme song. Yes, early rock owed a debt to jazz stars such as Louis Jordan, and hybrid jazz-R&B acts including Fats Domino and Little Richard, but as “American Bandstand” music became more and more dominated by greasy white kids like Frankie Valli, Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon, and the team of Tom and Jerry (later Simon and Garfunkel), it seemed pretty ludicrous to have a big band song for a theme. 

    Even when “the kids” stopped dancing to the kind of music that required holding onto your partner, the groovy “Bandstand Boogie” remained, even if it conjured up images of sock hops and bobby socks, and not bell bottoms or hippie beads. Ultimately, in 1969, the corniness of “Bandstand Boogie” gave way to “The Bandstand Theme,” written by Mike Curb. In 1974, “Bandstand Boogie” came back, and in 1977, till the show ended its run in 1987, a vocal version recorded by Barry Manilow was heard. Aside from the changes in theme songs, “American Bandstand” wobbled and danced through various changes in air time, from afternoons to evenings, and from live to tape in order for Dick Clark to handle his many other TV hosting chores. Dick also hosted “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.” For many, the enduring New Year’s Eve song is “Auld Lang Syne.” For for many more, the epitome of dance music remains “Bandstand Boogie.”

   
  BANDSTAND BOOGIE    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords where you have to humiliate yourself by typing in some talentless egotist’s name, and no malware or spyware anywhere.

DON WILLIAM DIES - The Pozo-Seco Singer


    The average person might not quite know the name Don Williams (May 27, 1939 – September 8, 2017). “Hmm, country singer, wasn’t he?” Well, yes, and to C&W fans he was “The Gentle Giant,” with 17 hits on the country charts, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    He didn’t quite have a crossover single, like George Jones or Johnny Cash, but fans loved #1 country hits such as “I Believe In You” “It Must Be Love,” “Tulsa Time” and “I Wouldn”t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me.”  “If I Needed You” was a duet with Emmylou Harris.  His most mainstream achievement was appearing as himself in “Smokey and the Bandit II.”
   
    It’s possible that not that many of Don’s country fans knew that he was the leader of the Pozo-Seco Singers, along with Lofton Cline (they were originally a duo called Strangers Two) and the added female voice, Susan Taylor. 


      Naturally, here at the Blog of Less Renown, Don's lesser known but pioneering achievement with the folk group is being highlighted. "Pozo Seco" in Spanish literally means "dry well." The poetic meaning here would be that if you are feeling "pozo seco," you're either stoic, or lovelorn. (Consider how Patty Ramey chose her stage name, Patty Loveless). The mellow MOR folkie group offered gentle, smooth interpretations of folk songs. Their first single “Time” landed at #47 on the Billboard charts, and they  hit the Top 40 twice with “I Can Make It With You” (by Chip “Angel of the Morning” Taylor) and “Look What You’ve Done.”  Being on Columbia, the group gave major label exposure to the likes of Phil Ochs and Raun MacKinnon.

    “Changes” is what life is about, and below, Phil’s song is the sample of the Pozo-Seco Singers style. The Pozo-Seco Singers may have sounded smooth, but they found the music business rough. Lofton Kline, tired of touring, and also tired of record producer Bob Johnson’s direction, quit and was replaced by Ron Shaw. With the blame apparently going to Johnson, the group's next singles failed or only grazed the Top 100. Ron Shaw left. Now just a duo, Don and Susan shaved the group name down to Pozo-Seco, and used back-up musicians and singers for their third Columbia album, and their fourth, an indie for Certron in 1970.  

    When Pozo-Seco went kaput, Don didn’t immediately launch a solo career. The humble guy from Floydada, Texas sold furniture, and dabbled in song writing for Jack Publishing. The owner, Jack Clement, ultimately signed him to a record deal on Jack’s JMI label.  It wasn’t until 1974 that he made a stir with “We Should Be Together,” a Top Ten item. His peak award-winning years were 1976-1982, but he continued to amass hits and always had an audience. Old Pozo-Seco albums were re-released with Don’s name prominent.  In 2006, he announced a “Farewell Tour of the World,” but in 2010 he was back on the road, and in 2012 he recorded “And So It Goes.”

    Like George Jones, Don suffered from emphysema. George tried to make it through one last tour, his voice giving out now and then during songs, and ultimately he had to cancel shows and be hospitalized. Don would not deal with such a disappointment or indignity. Last year, March of 2016, he cancelled his remaining gigs. A tribute album, “The Songs of Don Williams,” turned up a few months later, featuring covers by John Prine, Jason Isbell, Lady Antebellum, Keb Mo, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss and others.  “It’s time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home. I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting support.” Some figured this was going to be just another temporary retirement. It seemed like Don Williams would go on forever, no matter the changes.


CHANGES    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

ZIP A DEE ZIPPY SHARE - Viley Virus and Malware - Are you Pissed?


    “Viley Virus” makes an appearance on the Blog of Less Renown. Why? Just an excuse to run "Zip a Dee Doo Dah" in "tribute" to ZIPPYSHARE and the others who are SO nice and generous in offering illegal files and...too often...illegal spyware, malware, and links that can get YOU very PISSED OFF.

    Briefly, we’ll acknowledge that Viley was once “Hannah Montana” and beloved among the girls who didn’t need to shave in order to have a hairless twat. She sang Disney songs, but after puberty trashed her image and became white trash. This broke the “achy breaky heart” of her daddy, who may have performed the worst song in the history of C&W music.

    The rest, as they say, is misery. But the reason for bring up Viley Virus, which is like bringing up a pound of snot-coated puke, is because of the operative phrase ZIP A DEE DOO DAH. Zippy the Pinhead and his pals (you know their blogs) not only do NOT care about the musicians, music sellers, or keeping our Capitalist economy strong, they do NOT care about YOU. 


    All Zippy and his pals want are "nice" comments. It makes him think he's in show biz.  It makes him think he's as "famous" as the children who scrawl their graffiti tags on walls. Some monkey spray paints AF-709 on a building and is proud of it. And Zippy is delighted to get a "thank you!" and "you're so generous!" from anonymous greedheads who chortle "it's better than paying for music." Zippy wouldn't exactly go up to Clapton and say "Hey, I have your entire discography on my blog via Zippyshare." Would he? No, because Clapton wouldn't say "oh, thank you for sharing." 

    Don't think I'm talking about a particular pinhead in mentioning Zippy, or one particular company when I mention Zippyshare. The Zip a Dee Doo Dah here applies to hundreds upon hundreds of idiot bloggers and a dozen companies that either add some malware to your download or try and trick you into downloading shit via a pop-up ad or a sneaky "click here for your download" link that leads you to some bogus warning. Like:

 








     Look familiar? 

     They're all ads that turned up from one particular popular sharing service. But all of them play games. They're paid by thugs, Communists and criminals to coat a file in spyware, or trick you into clicking a link to update your Flash, or send you off to a gaming site full of crap to download or a site that will put you in touch with "lonely, willing, beautiful" girls in your neighborhood just desperate to meet you. 

     You can make up your own mind as to when "sharing" becomes stealing. You can decide whether that record store should be forced out of business because of cheap, childish assholes who could buy legit mp3 files and CDs but would rather get their kicks being "pirates" and blogfarters. Yeah, there's a question on whether in this era where needles and turntables are scarce, it isn't simply convenient to swap files on out of print vinyl...knowing that doing so will lessen the chance of a quality CD release with bonus tracks. 

     What ISN'T up for debate is that using Zipperdick, Deposit Crap, Kimshare and the others CAN end up pissing you off when you get a virus. The "nice" person who "shared" by upping the file, and for whom English is a second language, won't really care. If you aren't saying, "Love you, you are SO generous with other peoples' property" he isn't interested.  

         The Zipper heads full of greed, avarice and a secret jealousy and hatred of famous people and successful businesses? Call it karma if they get a VILE VIRUS. It's a sticky situation…even stickier than Miley Cyrus’s urine-smelling twat. 

VILEY VIRUS 
ZIP A DEE DOO TWAT    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

VSTUPIT BACH from MARIAN VARGA


Below, some examples of Marian Varga's work, back when he was part of the Czech group Collegium Musucum (note the long hair, on the left, circa 1977) and then when he was a solo artist, guesting with orchestras (at right, circa 2006).

The Internet is supposed to bring us together and expose us to new and interesting cultures. Yet, American and English artists dominate blogs and torrents. Today people are mourning Glen Campbell and Barbara Cook, more than Marian Varga. Not only don't many know who he is, they don't even want to know. English speaking artists are hipper, right? Even, in this case, ones who are pure instrumentalists. Keith Emerson, yes. Marian Varga, who?

An irony is that a lot of torrent owners are in Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, etc., where they make their money giving away American music. Likewise, the bloggers most intent on being "famous" for giving away music are in Sweden, Holland, Germany, Croatia, etc. and wouldn't make money off banner ads if they stuck to their own country's artists. But you'd think that once in a while they'd at least promote a few. After all, these hypocrites CLAIM that they are giving away music for the LOVE of it. They don't LOVE their own country's music?

Anybody really need some cabbage-head giving away every Beach Boys album? You know what they sound like. If you want their stuff, buy it. If it's not worth buying, fuck off. Isn't it a little more valuable to hip people to artists that actually could use some exposure via a free song give-away? 

Sadly, a lot of pinheads only want fame. It's not about "supporting the artist" at all. It's saying, "Hey, I'm cool, I'm giving you every Jethro Tull album," not, "I have pride in my native music" or "Here's something that may stimulate and enrich you, without make me seem like a hipster when I'm some retired turnip living in a converted stable ten miles from a sex partner that doesn't bleat and give milk."

Anyone from the vakias or vinias or atias talking about Marian Varga today?  Nah, they're talking about Glen Campbell and wearing a cowboy hat and posting, "Here is all his music in a RAR file. I am so sad today, RIP to a Great American like ME. I will drink me a beer and say ADIOS, pardner." 

Below, a musical sample of Mr. Varga (January 29, 1947-August 8, 2017). Your chunk of "Racte Vstupit" betrays the influence of the avant garde classical musicians including Stravinsky, as filtered through the sensibilities of a guy who probably also grew up listening to Frank Zappa and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The result is two amusing minutes of keyboard burps and whirps with an added rock beat. 

A rock drummer accompanies Varga to his classical concert where he offered "Hommage a J.S. Bach." As you've come to expect from things like this, the result is the same kind of faux-classical rock that you find here and there on a Curved Air album, a moment from Yes or even Jethro Dull. Classical music goes on too long, and has too many quiet moments and not enough beat? Varga will fix! 

Esoteric vinyl fans may have heard of Prudy,  the band Varga joined after more than enough study of classical music. They put out one well-remembered (in Czechoslovakia, anyway) album. He then formed Collegium Musicum, which may not have been as pretentious a name as Boko Harum, but got enough attention in Czechoslovakia to be widely considered the country's first serious, successful art-rock group.  They put out seven albums in the 70's. He also worked with Pavol Hammel (no relation to Pete Hammel, who spells his last name quite differently, come to think of it) both during the Collegium Musicum years, and in the late 80's and early 90's. His last albums were released in 2003 and 2006.

It's a bit pathetic that foreign music, whether instrumental or with lyrics, gets so little attention. A common excuse is "Why listen to Ultima Spiaggi when you can't understand the words?" Er, for the same reason you listen to Italian opera?? Another is, "But Mylene Farmer sings in French. Who knows what she's saying." This, from people who go to a Bob Dylan concert. PS, you want to explain what "the sun's not yellow, it's chicken" means? Mylene's symbolism doesn't get more obscure than that. 

MARIAN VARGA
RACTE VSTUPIT  AND
Hommage a J. S. Bach 
  Instant download or listen on line. This blogger makes no money off banner ads, and does not stick malware or spyware anywhere.

DAVID RAKSIN plays his theme from "LAURA"


    Let’s call August “DAVID RAKSIN MONTH.”

    He was born August 4, 1912.

    He died August 9, 2004.


    His first brush with movie score fame was helping Charlie Chaplin (who didn’t read music) orchestrate the score for “Modern Times” in 1936. “He did have musical ideas,” Raksin later allowed, but was a bit coy on whether Charlie merely hummed some melodies or actually put together a major amount of the music. 


      Raksin co-wrote music for the Basil Rathbone classic, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” in 1939, and began getting assignments in low-budget horror films, including “The Undying Monster” and “Dr. Renault’s Secret,” both in 1942. In 1944, Raksin hit his peak with “Laura.” The music was vitally important to the film, the undercurrent of lust and longing being felt by the seemingly stoic detective assigned to Laura's murder.

      Raksin admitted that the heartache swirling through the melody of that piece came from personal experience. His wife left him shortly before work on the score began. The song became a huge hit; some say only "Stardust" had more radio play or sheet music sales. Johnny Mercer was assigned the task of writing lyrics, and it turned out to be one of his more poetic and least corny efforts. 
   
    Raksin followed “Laura” with the scores for “Fallen Angel” (another Dana Andrews film), “Forever Amber,” “Force of Evil,” and in 1953, "The Bad and the Beautiful" which featured another favorite, “Love Is For the Very Young.” 

    Among other films Raksin scored through the 50’s and 60’s: “The Magnificent Yankee,” “The Next Voice You Hear,” “Pat and Mike,” “Carrie,” “Suddenly,” “The Big Combo,” “Hilda Crane,” “Hellcats of the Navy,” “20 Million Miles to Earth,” “Man on Fire,” “Separate Tables,” “Al Capone,” “The Patsy,” “Invitation to a Gunfighter,” “Sylvia,” “A Big Hand for the Little Lady,” and “Will Penny.” 


     Through the 60’s he was president of the Composers and Lyricists Guild of America, and no doubt, if he’d been around for the Internet era, would’ve been disgusted by the bonfire of the vanities: mindless assholes rushing into forums and shout-boxes every day to throw music around for a few “nice” comments. Telling people you love music by making sure nobody has to buy any, is almost too low, childish and destructive to be classified as something a human would do. It’s more in keeping with the personality of a parasite, a maggot, or a fat, engorged tic. Raksin was the type who would have encouraged the RIAA, BPI and BREIN to hunt down and arrest the inane drones and bratty spoilers making spare change by sharing banner ad money with Communists and criminals in foreign countries.

    The pirates, most of them retards and mental defectives living in outhouses far away from Hollywood or Tin Pan Alley, wouldn’t understand Raksin’s pride and artistry in creating film music: “''What you can't do with a camera or dialogue, music has a way of taking care of. It gets at the deeper emotions that aren't always expressible on film. People who are skeptical about the value of film music should be condemned to watch films without it.''

    Raksin's last important scores were “What’s The Matter with Helen” (1971),  “Ghost of Flight 401” (1978) and “The Day After” (1983). You can tell that Raksin enjoyed the process. Below, at home, he demonstrates the “Laura” theme, taking pride in the flourishes and unique chord changes. Twice married and divorced, I’d like to think that he was as romantic in the bedroom as he was at the keyboard, but perhaps music was his true mistress. He created more film scores than many great composers have written symphonies or concertos. Some of his themes continue to be used as the prelude to romance, or the soundtrack for the act of love itself. There aren’t many popular piano pieces that evoke sensuality and lust as well as “Laura” does. “….but she’s only a dream.”


David Raksin plays
LAURA   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

GLEN CAMPBELL "I'm Not Gonna Miss You"


He told you he was sick. He didn't disguise the ravages of aging, and as he made his way through his farewell tour, he wanted people to know that he might lose his way during a song, or be a little more "sloppy" than his critics would want. He didn't want pity over Alzheimers, he wanted acceptance of reality.

Do we need a primer on Glen Campbell? You know he was one of the great All-American country-pop stars of the 60’s and 70’s. His hit songs are a road map of the nation: “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I get to Phoenix” and “Galveston.” His feet were planted in the middle of the road, which meant that most everyone liked “Gentle on My Mind” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” whether they actually bought copies or not. To paraphrase a Dylan line, when you heard Glen, or saw him on TV, the country music was soft, and there was "nothing, really nothing to turn off." In fact, that apple-cheeked smile could put you in a "good time" mood, to borrow the title of his TV series.

What some might not know is that Campbell began his career as a versatile studio musician, part of the “Wrecking Crew,” hired guns ready to work behind anyone in any style needed. He backed Bobby Darin, The Monkees, Dean Martin, Nancy Sinatra, Elvis, Merle Haggard and many others. He was even part of The Beach Boys for some mid-60’s touring.

It was “Gentle on My Mind” in 1967 that made Campbell a superstar. He didn’t have the identifiable voice of a George Jones, or the indelible features of Johnny Cash, or the easy charm of the real “middle of the road” bunch like Andy Williams or Dean Martin, but he was a consistent and welcome presence through the late 60's and early 70's, enjoying hit songs and a hit TV variety show.

The middle of the road got muddy in the late 70’s, when the hits weren’t coming as often. He began 1980 with yet another divorce: “Perhaps I’ve found the secret for an unhappy private life. Every three years I go and marry a girl who doesn’t love me, and then she proceeds to take all my money.”  

 Although there would be further problems with drugs and alcohol, and even a few days in jail, Campbell settled into the familiar patterns of the aging country-pop star, including some time in Branson, Missouri helming his own theater.

  When God gives you talent, you use it, and keep on using it. Campbell made records even when Internet "sharing" took most of the profits. You avoid walking in manure, so Glen was among the many who tried to ignore the crap from a few misguided "fans." He knew nobody who paid money to see him would be the type to go from forum to forum dumping entire discographies. His family will ignore the "tributes" from some torrent "shout box" where R.I.P. is below a complete giveaway of his life's work, all for a "nice" comment to the uploader. No, some fat retired retard isn't as important as Campbell, and his sorrow over Glen's passing, as expressed in "here's my linky-winky to the goodies" is as hollow as a donkey's asshole. 

     Creative people, when they are presented with life-changing illnesses, often produce their best work. The final album from Leonard Cohen, “You Want it Darker,” is an example. While we tend to think of Glen Campbell as just a pleasant country-pop star, he took his craft seriously, and like Johnny Cash another star given only a few more creative years, he was determined to make the time matter. Campbell went into the studio to record a new album, and tracks that could be released when he was no longer even capable of reading the reviews.   

       Some people retire to a useless life of gluttony and complaining. The whine about every little ailment like they're dying, and they're not (unfortunately). If they have a music blog, it's too likely to be a steal-fest where they give away tons of music to get some banner-ad-share money. If there's any text to go along with the link, it's stolen words from somebody else, since these maggots have no minds. If they write anything it's just "I love music, this makes me feel good when I'm not scratching my hemorrhoids, checking my saggy lips for signs of palsy, or rubbing my oh-so-sensitive skin with creme I stole from the drugstore. Pray for me. I've said I'm dying at least once every week, but who knows, next week I may face that final sunset, without a last meal at Applebees."

      A real man like Glen Campbell, faced the end with nobility. A short "farewell" tour went on for nearly a year, despite the strain and the possibility of some on-stage disaster. Instead of sentiment, there was "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," a piece that belongs next to Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" or anything on the last Cohen album. There's even a bit of Lennon to it (a downward chord change similar to "Isolation") that tells you this art based on honesty.

“Ghost on the Canvas” in 2010 was the warning sign that Glen’s health was failing. His “Goodbye Tour” ended before Christmas of 2012. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” reflecting on the nature of Alzheimer’s, was released along with a documentary in the fall of 2014.

Glen’s final recordings were held up for several years, so that his fans would get the surprise of some new material, and a reminder that Campbell was still around. “Adios” was in stores in April. Lennon once sang, "You don't know what you've got till you lose it," but one thing about the passing of an artist, is that the finality does make what remains all the more precious. Campbell was a pop artist, but his death has marked a reappraisal of his work. Most of it still seems pretty lightweight, but that was part of his charm and his legacy. Many of his songs were just for "good times." But quite a few reflected the every day struggles of the working man; the "Wichita Lineman," the man facing truths in "Galveston," the man dealing with another dream gone wrong in "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and the truth behind the glitter on "The Rhinestone Cowboy." 

Glen Campbell 
  I’m Not Gonna Miss You   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.


The "BRONCO" TV Theme - TY Hardin (Paul Sammes Singers)


Not too many classic TV Western stars are still around. Headed for the last round-up a few days ago: Ty Hardin. He played the hero Bronco Layne, and was part of the Warner Bros. western family that included the late James "Maverick" Garner and Jack "Maverick" Kelly and Roger "Maverick" Moore, and still with us, Clint "Cheyenne" Walker and Will "Sugarfoot" Hutchins.

Born Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr. on New Year’s Day 1930, Ty could trace his family back to a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was in the Korean War, and then went to Texas A&M University. His good looks got him some acting offers, and as Ty Hungerford, he was signed to Paramount, appearing in Tom Tryon’s immortal “I Married a Monster from Outer Space.” 

    “Discovered” by John Wayne (as James Arness was), Ty had the look of a strong, stoic cowboy. With a nod to the legendary gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, the former Ty Hungerford got a new name and a Warner Bros. contract. He was eased into the world of TV westerns via the "Cheyenne" series, playing “Bronco Layne." He soon had a show of his own. 

    This was a time when American television was under the siege of Western-mania. While radio had done well for "The Lone Ranger" and "Gunsmoke," and the movies had Hopalong Cassidy, pop culture hadn't seen so much beefcake and horse flesh. Every night, you could watch the action in Dodge City, Cimmaron City, Laramie, Tombstone Territory or the Ponderosa. Cowboys rode along the route of Wells Fargo, turned up on a "Wagon Train" through obscure sagebrush, got sun burned on "Death Valley Days," and would go just about anywhere for an adventure: “Have Gun Will Travel.” 


     Many new faces became instant stars, including Steve McQueen on “Wanted Dead or Alive,” Nick Adams on "The Rebel" and Chuck Connors as "The Rifleman." Women tended to do little except work a saloon (Peggie Castle on “Lawman” and Amanda Blake on “Gunsmoke”).  Every gimmick was used to get viewers to tune in The Deputy, The Tall Man, Wyatt Earp, Yancy Derringer, Bat Masterson, Paladin, Tate, Wild Bill Hickok, Kit Carson, The Cisco Kid, The Virginian and Zorro, among others. 

    “Bronco” rotated with the hour-long Sugarfoot for an hour of viewer time. The shows were polar opposites. “Sugarfoot” was about a mild-mannered, blond fellow prone toward solving problems with law books and common sense. “Bronco” was a more traditional muscle man with the angular look of Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood on "Rawhide") or Tom Tryon ("Texas John Slaughter").  

    Most every TV Western had to have a theme song explaining the hero. This could be fairly dopey (“The Lawman came with the sun. There was a job to be done…”) or so ridiculous the lyrics weren’t used (“Bonanza” would be an example). Warner Bros. seemed to corner the market on goofy ones (“Sugarfoot” among the more egregious). There wasn’t much to say about Bronco except to sing his name (“Bronco! Bronco! Bronco Layne!”) The only version I have in my collection has the reliable Johnny Gregory guiding the orchestra, featuring the Michael Sammes Singers.

     Mike Sammes (February 19, 1928-May 19, 2001) ran one of the best known back-up groups in pop music at the time. Not only did they sing TV themes (including “Supercar” and “Stingray” for their native country's popular action shows), they backed all types of vocalists. They sang behind British songbird Helen Shapiro ("Walkin' Back to Happiness"), Welsh superstar Tom Jones ("Green Green Grass of Home" and "Delilah") and Aussie beauty Olivia Newton-John (that's Mike offering the country basso voice on "If you Love Me Let Me Know.) The Sammes bunch even appear on Beatles tracks “I Am the Walrus” and “Good Night.”   

    Mr. Sammes gets special mention here for impersonating “Whispering Carl Schmidt,” and singing what seemed to be an authentic 78 rpm ballad “Mein Liebling Mein Rose” on an episode of “The Avengers,” with guest star Peter Jeffrey as "The Joker" out for revenge against Emma Peel. The fake-vintage tune (music by “The Avengers” theme writer Laurie Johnson) was so catchy, and Sammes' phonetic German vocal so creepy, "Mein Liebling Mein Rose" was actually released as a single. But, I digress. 

    After “Bronco,” Ty Hardin worked in Europe on a variety of film projects, and in 1967 starred in an Australia adventure series “Riptide.” His film career flagged with only two film credits in the 1980’s and one in 1992. Fans never forgot “Bronco,” and he turned up on the memorabilia circuit, especially the rodeos and country fairs that featured vintage cowboy stars. Hardin, married eight times, was a fun, irascible guy with a no-nonsense personality. He self-published his autobiography, which he offered for sale on his website. Ty noted that anyone could get it signed, free. He added two words: “Big Deal.”  

    Ty was aware that he was beginning to have Alzheier’s symptoms. He continued to make the personal appearances as long as he could. He encouraged fans to not simply live in the comfortable past, but be aware of the complex problems in the world around them. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from him, written a few years ago, which remains a prophecy and a legacy:


    “The fact that we have turned our backs on our Godly virtues is the prime reason our nation is headed for a train wreck. How did our Jesus deal with the moneychangers? He threw them out of His church. Who let them back into the church? You did. You’re entitled to believe what you like, but Men of God seeking religious freedom established this nation and we own them our allegiance even if we don’t believe in their God of Creation. Our currency carries their trade mark “In God we Trust” Live with it and respect it, for if we don’t, we will reap a whirl wind of disaster like has never been witnessed before in our History. You may not agree with our founding fathers but the sub-humans that now control our monetary system are destroying our nation’s freedoms with financial bondage and their no-win wars. We cannot sit back and watch our nation being reduced into financial slavery while your kids are being stationed all over the world protecting their globalist assets.  Cowboys get off your butts out of their usury debt. Put a stash away of food and ammo. We will be called on to retake our land for God. I’m referring to the Bible’s prediction of the last days. What if God is right?  Call me an alarmist or a Bible thumper, but I am preparing for the worst and praying for a revival. This present collapse of our economy is just a clear picture of the events to come.  Having a black president may be a giant step in your eyes for equal opportunity but it was not as it does make a gigantic statement? When the economy hits a brick wall, the frustrations of despair and hunger goes too the streets, the armed masses will be the most lethal mass of humanity in the entire world. What do you think their Homeland security is all about? They can’t augment their One World Order without disarming or killing Patriots and they well know it. Folks, freedom is walking on thin ice looking for a miracle. What if our  Black President cannot unite our nation, restore the Constitution. All Hell Will Break Loose.”

BRONCO THEME
  Johnny Gregory Orchestra, Sammes Singers   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

Lori Lieberman "Killing Me Softly" with nostalgia





    “It might have been.” 


     There are dozens and dozens of singers who have an odd type of fame: they recorded a sure-fire hit song, only to be ignored. A "cover version" became a smash instead, and worse, was declared "the definitive version." 


    Probably the most famous example is “Killing Me Softly With His Song” which was a worldwide hit for smokey soul singer Roberta Flack. It was originally recorded by AND written for a blue-eyed folkie blond named Lori Lieberman.   


    Too bad nobody knows who Lori Lieberman is. Or Norman Gimbel. Gimbel (still around at 90) wrote the lyrics. A professional who studied his craft with Frank Loesser, he developed an unusual niche in adapting foreign melodies for female vocalists. It took a pretty sensitive guy to find the female point of view to make a pretty melody a hit for an Astrud Gilberto or Claudine Longet. A Brazilian tune became "How Insensitive" and a French one, "I Will Wait For You." Nana Mouskouri had a hit with "Only Love." Yes, this Jewish guy from Brooklyn scored a lot of International hits.


      Gimbel also worked with composer Charles Fox to craft original tunes for movies, for artists in search of a hit, or for a young performer who showed promise. Lori Lieberman was in the latter category. She was signed to Capitol; sort of their answer to Judy Collins. All sshe needed was a rock-pop ballad to bring her the kind of success Judy was having, as well as guys such as James Taylor and Cat Stevens.

    Norman spent some time with Lori, getting to know her interests and personality, and the kind of things she might want to sing about. She mentioned an emotional experience watching Don McLean perform at L.A.'s The Troubadour. It was a club that featured the best of the solo artists, including Phil Ochs and Joni Mitchell. 


      “It was an awful place, a tough club with tough audiences,” Don recalls. His song “Empty Chairs,” may not have thrilled some of the hipper people in the audience, but it moved Lori Lieberman. There are some very ripe lines in it: “I feel a trembling tingle of a sleepless night…Gypsy moths dance around a candle flame...Moonlight used to bathe the contours of your face while chestnut hair fell all around the pillow case. …I never knew how much I needed you. Never thought you’d leave until you went.”    

        After Lori described the moment, Gimbel "had a notion this might make a good song, so...we talked it over several times, just as we did the rest of the numbers we wrote for the album, and we all felt it had possibilities.” It was Norman who came up with a phrase that seemed to poetically capture Lori's emotion: “Killing me softly with his blues.” Lori wasn’t sold on “blues.” After all, McLean wasn't a blues artist. The phrase was changed, and"Killing Me Softly With His Song" became the single Capitol chose as Lori's big break. 
  
         It won a “Song of the Year” Grammy in 1973 for Gimbel and Fox, but not for the Lieberman version. The hit was on Atlantic, from Roberta Flack. “She was very creative with it,” Lori says now. Back then, the disappointment was too much. It seemed that record execs quickly cooled to her, and when one of them kept her waiting for hours, she walked out of the building and never returned. 

         Lieberman returned to show business years later as a cabaret act, doing the kind of songs best suited to her. She used her notoriety as the original "Killing Me Softly" singer to open some doors. Enough time had passed, so that some simply remembered the song and not necessarily who it was that made it a hit. In 2011 she recorded an album called “Courage.” A YouTube interview supporting the album was headlined, "Lori Lieberman Comes to Terms with Killing Me Softly." Some 10,000 people have viewed it.   

     There's another video on YouTube that some might be amused to see. It's Don McLean performing "Empty Chairs" with Lori Lieberman in the audience. The camera has a few shots of Lori as she smiles, acknowledging Don's story of how his performance inspired a hit song, first recorded by her. 


      When asked about the song, Don doesn't take sides. He claims to appreciate both the Lori Lieberman and the Roberta Flack versions:  “I’m absolutely amazed…humbled about the whole thing. You can’t help but feel that way about a song written and performed as well as this one is.” 

Lori Lieberman
Killing Me Softly with His Song   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

BARBARA COOK “LOSING MY MIND”



There’s something about the death of a singer; for a moment, the song seems gone forever.

Then you remember that you rarely saw them perform in person, but lived with them via records and TV appearances, which endure. While it’s no consolation to them, for those who hear the sad news, it’s, “well…I can still see them and hear them. The way I knew them, they are still around.”

Barbara Cook was mostly known to fans of Broadway. The 89 year-old actress won a Tony Award for “The Music Man,” but didn’t play in the movie version. Vinyl-flippers also have seen her name on the Original Cast albums for “Plain and Fancy,” “Candide” and “She Loves Me.” She also toured in various productions of musical standards such as “The King and I,” “Funny Girl” and “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” 


 Cook was a bit of a hard luck story when it come to movies. It seemed that if she was lucky enough to score a hit that was picked up for a film version, a more traditional star such as Shirley Jones or Debbie Reynolds would get the prize assignment. When her luck ran out in the 70’s, and it seemed she’d never get that chance to be the Cinema Sweetheart in a big budget film, she became lost in alcohol and in weight problems. She managed to emerge from her struggle, and along with a few other veterans (such as Elaine Stritch), she created a new form of entertainment via the solo show. 


In the 80’s and 90's she was known for her cabaret work, and a “one woman show” that was a hit both in America and England. She was one of the veterans who could show a new generation why the “standards” are the gold standard. People who missed the great era of Broadway, got a glimpse of it through Barbara Cook. One of her highlight moments was performing one of the last truly great Broadway ballads, Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind,” which was the hit in "Follies." You don’t have to be a fan (spelled with an “n” at the end, not a “g”) to be touched by this one. Not only is this a beautiful, aching love song, it’s almost a textbook example on writing, from the spare symbolism to the perfectly timed and placed chord changes.
      

      Cook was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2011, and only retired last year. Most would agree that, like Patti Page, her most endearing quality was also a bit of a liability. She had a true “ringing” soprano, a bell-like tone and vibrato that was almost too pretty to be true. There may be others who give “Losing My Mind” a more tragic edge simply because they don’t have such a perfect voice. Here's an example of the perfect brilliance of Barbara Cook. 



Barbara Cook
  Losing My Mind  (Live Performance)   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.


BOBBY TAYLOR (of the Vancouvers and Tommy Chong)



Bobby Taylor?

It's a bit odd, but when Bobby Taylor died, the news was more about his connection to Tommy Chong and to Michael Jackson. 

Before he became half of the famous drug-comedy team, Chong was part of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, and co-wrote the only song most people even vaguely heard of from the group.

"Does Your Mama Know About Me" (a co-write from Tommy Chong and Tom Baird) grazed the Top 40 with its tantalizing suggestion that the singer was a bad dude, a lousy influence, a stoned hippie, or black or Chinese or of some other forbidden race. The band began as four Blacks and Chong, which led him to suggest that they call themselves "Four Niggers and a Chink." This was the era of Lenny Bruce bluntness, but there doesn't seem to be any documentation of that amusing monicker appearing on any poster for an early club date. They did work as the Calgary Shades, alluding to their Canadian location and the darkness of most band members. The band became more racially mixed as they moved along.

The 1968 single and album was the beginning and end for the group. "Taylor Made Soul" was Bobby's solo album the following year, but over the decades, he made a living from producing music and appearing in various oldies bands. He found a lot of work in the Far East, and died in Hong Kong.

When Bobby died, Jermaine Jackson offered a Tweet about Bobby being the Jackson 5's "mentor." Indeed, Bobby worked on the first two albums before Berry Gordy, the 5's father and others stepped in. Bobby was 78.

Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers
  DOES YOUR MAMA KNOW ABOUT ME?    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords,  malware or spyware anywhere.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

JUNE DIES IN JULY - the Queen of Voices, June Foray


Sometimes, June Foray would autograph this image for fans...a collage featuring SOME of her many voices. She nearly reached her 100th birthday in September, but fell a few months short. 

She could be called on for just ONE word. As "Midnight the Cat," for "Smilin' Ed's Gang" and later the TV version, "Andy's Gang," all she had to say was..."Nice!" Some fans of that show might remember the old "Buster Brown Comic Books" that were hawked on the show and given away by the sponsor with each pair of shoes. The artist for the comic books was Hobart Donovan, who also wrote many of the radio scripts for the adventures on the show. She and June were married. He died in 1976.

Foray's most rigorous assignment was probably on the iconic "Bullwinkle Show," where she would routinely switch between chipper heroic Rocky the Flying Squirrel, and the lower, hoarser voice of villainess Natasha Fatale. 

Little girls who grew up playing with one of the first "talking dolls," the Chatty Cathy, were hearing June's voice. In a sinister twist of fate, a "Twilight Zone" episode about an evil talking doll had...yes...June Foray voicing it. 

By the time people began to realize the genius satire behind "Rocky and Bullwinkle," my hero Paul Frees was long gone. June Foray, and for a long time Bill "Bullwinkle" Scott did the interviews, attended the memorabilia show events and delighted fans with a wave, a smile or an autograph. June was well aware of the adulation, which may have been a bore at times. It led to the somewhat tart title of her autobiography, "“Did You Grow Up With Me, Too?” She also penned a pretty amusing book of satiric poems, that some would say recalls the style of Dorothy Parker.

The book traced her life from her beginnings as June Lucille Forer in Springfield, Mass., to her very busy radio career which included "The Jimmy Durante Show," Steve Allen's early "Smile Time" series, and "The Stan Freberg Show" during the waning days of radio. Yes, June supplied the female voices for Stan's Capitol singles including "St. George and the Dragonet." 

Meanwhile, in films, she worked with Disney (Lucifer the Cat in "Cinderella" among others) and for Looney Tunes ("Witch Hazel" and "Granny"). She had fans for her role as Cindy Lou Who in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Mrs. Caudron" on "The Garfield Show."

She was still active in 2013, voicing "Rocky" for an animated short. "My body is old," she said, "but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old.”

June's range was just about limitless. She often did a "Marjorie Main" type of coarse harridan, but was more often asked to voice sweet little old ladies or stereotypical witches. No question, the two most unique voices were Rocky and Natasha, and you'll hear them below on "The No-Goodnik Song," which is mostly a duet involving Natasha and Boris Badenov (Frees). She was a legend in her own time.

June Foray
  The No-Goodnik Song with Paul Frees   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart passwords, malware or spyware anywhere.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Broadway Babe Who Died Young: JUDY TYLER


Judy Tyler is gone, but not forgotten. She has a deep cult following.


Baby Boomers remember the lady born Judith Mae Hess (October 9, 1932) as the Princess on the "Howdy Doody" television show.

Hardly content with Doody, Judy moved on to bigger things, like Broadway.

She was memorable in "Pipe Dreams." While the musical based on Steinbeck's "Cannery Row" didn't last, critics were clamoring to see her again soon. A song from the show, which gives you an idea of how derivative and uninteresting the production was, is below. You can't fault Judy, who sings it well.

Broadway fans hoping Judy would star in another traditional Broadway musical were denied; Judy starred in the peculiar film "Bop Girl Goes Calypso,"  and the same year, 1957, co-starred with Elvis Presley in "Jailhouse Rock."

Things could not have been going better for Judy. When filming wrapped in Hollywood, she and her husband decided to take a scenic drive back home to New York. Their sight-seeing took them into Wyoming. From the tire marks, and the testimony of witnesses, Judy's husband swerved on Route 287 to avoid a car that was towing a big trailer. He crashed into another vehicle, and both he and Judy were killed. Judy was just 24.

Newspapers reported that Elvis was, well, all shook up. To this day, Elvis and Judy fans remain tearful about that sad day, July 3rd, 1957, 60 years ago. An irony was that Judy also guest-starred in an episode of "Perry Mason," which finally aired a few days after Christmas, 1957. Many viewers probably had no idea that the guest star of that episode had died.

Like Luba Lisa (below), fans wishing to pay their respects need to come to New York to do it. But they won't get too close. Judy Tyler's cremated remains are in a private mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery. That's where, until a recent move by her estate, Judy Garland's ashes were resting in peace.

Judy Tyler
  EVERYBODY’S GOT A HOME BUT ME   Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart password games

Broadway Babe Who Died Young: LUBA LISA


Most agree that the lone musical highlight in Buddy Hackett's Broadway musical "I Had a Ball" was a vamping number by rising starlet Luba Lisa. In the tradition of Gwen "Whatever Lola Wants" Verdon, Luba wiggled, strutted and sang "Addie's At It Again" with a cheerful brand of heat. She got a Tony award nomination for her role. Seven years later, she was dead, age 31.

Born in Brooklyn (March 10, 1941), Luba Lisa Gootnick's Dad was a mathematician. Her brother became a doctor. Her pert good looks had people figuring she could make it on stage. 20 years later, she was in "Carnival," and followed it with "I Can Get It For You Wholesale." She could take the subway to work, as she was living at 33-44 91st Street, in Jackson Heights, Queens. She appeared in the film "Pepe," dancing with Maurice Chevalier. The movie was supposed to springboard Mexican comedy star Cantinflas to greatness, but it was a box-office bomb. Lisa went back to Broadway. When she played Addie, the "girl of easy virtue," her dynamic personality inspired the producers to craft that special production number which wasn't in the original script.

From there, Luba Lisa had so many opportunities, and so many people thinking of ways her beauty and comedy could be used on stage, screen or TV. What next?

"I'm a fatalist," she told a reporter, "and just wouldn't know what is going to happen. This doesn't mean I think you should just sit back and wait. I have a very important objective, but I can't share what it is with anyone right now. It's not that I'm superstitious, I just won't talk about it."

The secret died with her. It was a cold, snowy night, December 15th, 1972. Just a few weeks before Christmas, she was flying into Vermont via a small plane. There were two other passengers with her, and the pilot. They were all killed. Her body was returned to New York, and buried out at Mount Ararat Jewish Cemetery.



The most easily accessible item on Luba Lisa is the one you'll find below; the tantalizing audio of what had to be a memorably bombastic performance of joyful sexuality. You can play it over a few times, and each time..."Addie's At It Again."


LUBA LISA
  ADDIE’S AT IT AGAIN   Instant download or listen on line. No malware or spyware anywhere.


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Larry Vincent - What Rhymes with SHIT? "Sweet Violets"


    A cousin to the famous Benny Bell song “Shaving Cream,” here’s Larry Vincent singing “Sweet Violets.” A gag that never seems to get old, you still smile when, instead of the expected dirty-word rhyme...you get a chiding chorus oh-so-innocently offering a sweet, incongruous refrain.

 Among people who care about novelty songs…almost nobody really gives a pile of SWEET VIOLETS or SHAVING CREAM over whether Larry stole from Benny Bell, or the reverse. Most likely Benny Bell was the original, but the idea of an innocent word substituting for a nasty one goes back a lot earlier. Benny's "Shaving Cream" arrived in 1946, Larry's "Sweet Violets" in 1949.  
 

Born in San Jose, California (January 13, 1901) Vincent began touring in the 1920's. During a stay in Chicago he recorded his lone early single, “She’s a Great, Great Girl.” Singing straight material, he tried his hand at songwriting, coming up with “If I Had My Life to Live Over,” a co-write with the more established Jewish songwriters Moe Jaffe and Henry Tobias. Larry recorded it himself on the “20th Century Records” label, credit to “Larry Vincent and [the] Feilden Foursome.” The flip, a co-write with Haven Gillespie, is “Stay as Long as You Like.”

 If you don't want to know more about Moe Jaffe and Henry Tobias, skip this paragraph. Tobias, a cousin of Eddie Cantor’s, wrote the melody for “And Away We Go” recorded by Jackie Gleason. Henry wrote a book, “Music In My Heart and Borscht in my Blood.” He worked with several different people, including his brothers. Among his hits were “Miss You,” recorded by Jaye P. Morgan, Bing Crosby and others, “Cooking Breakfast For the One I Love” (Fanny Brice), “Easter Sunday With You’ (Perry Como) and “May I Have the Next Dream with You” (Jerry Vale). Moe Jaffe co-wrote “I Don’t Know from Nuthin’” with Henry Tobias, but worked with many others as well. Moe’s co-writes include “The Gypsy in My Soul” (with Clay Boland) “Oh You Sweet One” (with Paul Kapp), and “Bell Bottom Trousers,” which was a bawdy ballad he cleaned up (sort of the way Cy Coben cleaned up "Sweet Violets") “Collegiate” (a co-write with the oddly-named Nat Bonx) was recorded by quite a few people including Fred Waring, and turns up via Chico Marx in The Marx Brothers’ college comedy “Horse Feathers.” The versatile Moe could even knock off gospel titles, such as “Get Together with the Lord,” a co-write with Bickley Reichner that was recorded by Andy Kirk’s Orchestra.
 

Larry Vincent kicked around various peculiarly named nightclubs, from Benny the Bum’s in Philadelphia to The Lookout House in Covington, Kentucky, where he stayed for many years. Not quite as obscure as it might seem, Covington wasn’t too far from Cincinnati, Ohio. Go check a map. It was in the unlikely town of Covington that Larry and Moe Jaffe formed the Pearl Records label. Like Benny Bell recording for Bell Records, Vincent hired himself to record everything on his label.  He tried “legit” novelty songs (“I Grow Gooey Over Chop Suey”)  but ended up pandering to the “party song” crowd.
 

Larry’s popular numbers, including “Sweet Violets,” “Yas Yas Yas,” “The Smell Song (Fish Fish Fish),” “Sarah Sittin’ in a Shoe Shine Shop” and “I Used to Work in Chicago” were usually credited to  “Larry Vincent and the Pearl Boys,” or “The Pearl Boys,” “The Pearl Trio” or “The Pearl Five” etc. etc. With a nod to his hangout at The Lookout House, a number of his 78’s were also credited to “Larry Vincent and his Lookout Boys.” He had a certain wiseguy-charm that made his risque tunes more amusing than annoying, more light-hearted than smarmy. Most of his 78’s were released between 1946 and 1949, the date for "Sweet Violets."
 

As the long-play era started in the 50's Larry compiled some of his old tunes, including  “She Had to Lose It as the Astor,” “The Kanaka Song,” “Buster Astor,” “Get Off the Table Mabel” and various “butt” pun songs like “I Kissed Her But I Never Will Again” and “She Has Freckles On her But She is Nice,” (aka The Freckle Song). The albums include “Listen and Laugh” and “Laugh Provoking Ditties for the Party.”   

Still hoping for a legit hit, in the mid-50’s Larry recorded “The Whole Town’s Batty About Cincinnati” and lastly, the 1954 single “Let’s Bowl (The Bowling Song”) b/w “I Cried For You.”
 

Larry's risque rival Benny Bell didn't stay in the risque novelty genre in the late 50's or 60's. By then, silly double entendre stuff was passe, and instead of discs by those guys, or contemporaries Dwight Fiske and Ruth Wallis,  Lenny Bruce records were hot. Benny's "hot" tunes had also turned up the heat on him, as many Jews in his Brooklyn neighborhood frowned on such frivolity. Benny sang many straight novelty numbers in Yiddish and authored "freilachs" (dance instrumentals) that were played at weddings. The Jewish stores that sold this kind of thing (along with menorahs, prayer shawls and Molly Picon 78's) threatened not to carry Benny's material if he didn't clean up his act.

Benny did clean up his act, and when he composed novelty songs, they were aimed (not too successfully) in the direction of past (Mickey Katz) and current (Allan Sherman) Jewish novelty singers. For example, he hoped for a knock-off on Chubby Checker via "The Kosher Twist." Benny was pleasantly surprised when people old enough to be his grandson discovered and delighted in his old risque tunes. ‘Shaving Cream” was re-issued and became a surprise hit, landing in the Billboard Top 40 in 1975. Larry? He passed on, January 5, 1977.

Larry Vincent  
Sweet Violets   Instant download or listen on line.