Monday, August 29, 2016

"August 29th - The Beatles Last Ticketed Concert" STFU

Well well well. Oh, well. Well well well...

I'm quoting, of course, a song on John's first solo album. The one that bluntly told fans, "I DON'T BELIEVE IN BEATLES."

And yet, for quite some time, Believers have been using the "50th Anniversary" excuse to drum up their continued love for Ringo, Paul and the late George and John. It's gotten to be a bit much, no? Yes?

It's a triumph that everything The Beatles did 50 years ago is still relevant (to people over 50, at least). But it's also a bit depressing to be reminded of was. Especially when it involves some fairly SO WHAT bits of trivia.


50 Years ago TODAY, The Beatles performed what turned out to be their LAST ticketed show. It was the last time you could buy a ticket and go to a venue and see them. (They would perform a spontaneous live rooftop concert for the "Let it Be" documentary film). The show, ending their USA tour, took place in the Giants' baseball stadium Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. That's 3,000 miles from their first remarkable triumph, the Mets' Shea Stadium (which no longer exists), Queens, New York.

Great. Another excuse for the mainstream media to dust off some old Beatles photos and give older people a chance to read about music that doesn't involve Kanye or Beyonce.

But what do we make of this? Is this 50th anniversary sparking the release of a fabulous live album of that show? A great DVD of it?

At what point in the day will Ringo or Paul give a TWEET about this?

I think we know that if John was around, he'd say, "Be more concerned with what's going on NOW."

He was suggesting this with every solo record he made.

When he began his solo career, he punctuated it with blunt interviews in in two issues of Rolling Stone (later collected in book form as "Lennon Remembers").

Tony Hendra's brutal parody "Magical Misery Tour" (from National Lampoon's "Radio Dinner") used mostly Lennon's own words from that interview against him. If comedy is tragedy + time, then parody might be anger turned inside out. Lennon's rage was turned into a ludicrous tantrum.

Hendra was so close in voice and attitude that the signature line "Genius is Pain" could almost have been lifted directly from a track on John's first solo album. Hendra recalls, "Lennon was the ultimate sacred cow...I have never been so nervous as the night we recorded this cut. It was, to put it mildly, a high-profile assault, and I'd never had the slightest talent for impersonation...I had no idea why I was doing it, only that it was right and new, another of those leaps in the dark. It was frightening even just to attempt it. Lennon might have been sacred, but I was scared."

John was a huge fan of iconoclasts, but there's no report on whether he was a fan of this devastating satire. Fortunately most fans who read John's interview agreed that their hero had a bit too much "self-obsession" (as Hendra called it) and considered the parody pretty valid, and the music very solid (piano by Melissa Manchester, who turns up at the end as an unconvincing Yoko Ono).

Hendra had some electronic help to get the right nasality and pitch (ironically, John would often demand his producer use echo or other tricks to "fuck up me voice" with studio enhancements). A few lines may be beyond the average Beatles fan. Not everyone might know that the "Eastman" mentioned, is Linda McCartney's father, who was suggested by Paul as the right attorney to handle the mess that Apple had become. Some may or may not recall Lennon's tart "Turn Left at Iceland" news conference remark.

Mostly, the lyrics are pretty straightforward, and some taken direct from the interviews:

"I RESENT performing for you fuckers, tell me, what do you know? A lot of faggot middle-class kids wearing long hair and trendy clothes. Look, I'm not your fucking parents and I'm sick of uptight hippies coming knocking at me door with a fucking peace symbol, get this, fuck that, I don't owe you fuckers anything and all I got to say is FUCK YOU. The sky is blue.

"And Mick Jagger, I think that Mick's a joke with all his stupid faggot dancing. I always did. Wiggling his ass you know, it's just a lot of bullshit. And where does he come off saying all those tarty things about The Beatles when every fucking thing we ever did Mick tried to copy and you know we even wrote his second fucking record for him, no, The Stones aren't the same in class as The Beatles either music wise, or power wise, and never ever were. Pardon me, sir!"

"Paul said he hated Yoko, tell me, why should Yoko have to take that kind of shit? Shit from those fucking sons of bitches? George said she gave off evil vibes. I should have beat the fucking shit right out of him. Him with his fucking Hare Krishna.

"Me auntie, she tore up me fucking poems. She just threw the bastards out. I can't forgive her, 'cause she didn't treat me like a fucking genius. Look, you bastards, I'm a genius, like Shakespeare and Beethoven and Van Gogh! Don't you dare criticize my work! "Don't Worry Kyoko" was one of the fucking best rock and roll records ever made! I'm a fucking artist! I'm sensitive as shit! I throw up before I go onstage! I can make a guitar speak! If I could be a fisherman I would, but I can't, because I'm a fucking genius!!

"I was the Walrus! PAUL wasn't the Walrus! I was just saying that to be nice, but I was actually the Walrus! Him and that rubbish he's been singing! Eastman was an animal! A fucking stupid middle-class pig. I won't let fucking animals like that near me! Yoko is a supreme intellectual! I'll tell you why nobody likes her music — because she's a woman and she's Oriental, that's why!

"Where are you Mother! They're trying to crucify me! Genius is Pain...Genius is Pain...(primal screams) Turn left at Iceland...(more screams)"

And speaking of screams...fer cryin' out loud, ENOUGH with the fucking "50th Anniversary of..." Beatles references.

SACRILEGE: John Lennon satire. Instant download or listen on line.

An UN-PC bootleg rarity: Michael Flanders in Jamaica-Face

It's sort of sad that everyone is uptight over ethnic humor. This is especially true of homicidal members of radical Islam. Or, as we might call them, Idiotic Moronic Fanatics.

The IMF forces have done the impossible, succeeding in their mission to intimidate just about everyone everywhere. As in: don't you dare make a drawing of Moe the Hammed. Laughter as a weapon will get a bomb in your office!

Anyone who MIGHT be a Muslim is given a wide berth these days because the person could be a purveyor of a gory death. You just never know who is carrying a sword or a bomb or past-expiration date hummus.

Put it this way, what TV station would be daring enough to run "The Party" or "The Millionaress" with Peter Sellers doing his Indian routine? Even if the Indian is not even Muslim, it's too risky. As for his partner in crime, Spike Milligan, you won't find audio of him sing-songing the old comic poem, "I am a little Hindoo. I do that I kindoo. And where my shirt and pants don't meet, I make my little skindoo."

At one time, "colorful" humor in Great Britain included gleeful impersonations of Pakistani, Indian and Jamaican people. No doubt Spike and Peter simply enjoyed the amusing quality of Indian and Pakistani accents, even as they applied Marmite to their faces. Yes, we get it, it IS, in a way, as awful as Al Jolson blacking up to sing "Mammy" and "Old Black Joe." He meant well, and you can hear the emotion in his voice as he sings as a lonely, sad slave.'s more than a gray area when it involves brown or black skin. It's a lot easier to still laugh at Irish, Italian or Jewish accents, or make fun of the Scots for needing subtitles.

One reason for ethnic comedy is that it is a way of coping with fear. Fear of foreigners. In America, comedians circa 1916 made fun of the immigrants and the assimilating Southern blacks. Blackface even turned up in the British music halls. Immigrants didn't seem to scary if there were jokes involved. To some degree, people were also fascinated by accents, and it made the "odd" immigrants seem harmless. Many jokes in Irish or Jewish dialect were just funny jokes, and inter-changeable. A classic "Irish" joke could be found in a Jewish or Scots jokebook, with just a change in name and dialect.

Done with affection, the comedians using ethnic humor could become superstars. A white team in blackface, "Mack and Moran" sold tons of 78 rpm records, and "Amos and Andy" of course would be the superstars of radio not long after. Chico Marx was just the tip of the ethnic spaghetti pile, and in the 40's and 50's all kinds of accents could be heard on radio and on records: The Mad Russian, Ajax Cassidy, Mrs. Nussbaum, etc.

While part of the humor was, as most humor is, an escape valve and a joyful ridicule, a lot of it was sympathetic, and a lot of it was intended to push for assimilation. The children or grand children of immigrants were proud NOT to sound like Yogi Yorgesson, Stepin Fetchit, Harry Lauder or Mickey Katz. There's a gray line between being proud and ashamed of ethnicity.

One of Flanders & Swann's most beloved little nose-tweaks was called "A Transport of Delight." As most Brits would agree, even at its best, taking a bus (or omnibus) could be a trying experience. Today, it can excruciating.

But even back in Michael and Donald's time, there was another change going on, aside from the increasingly dodgy service. The workers were no longer white. Immigrants were now working the low-wage jobs. And as you'll hear in the rarity below, Flanders took to mimicking this type of worker, in an accent that sort of wavers a bit between Jamaican and Pakistani. It's quite a surprise, because he and his partner rarely touched on ethnic humor. At best, Donald Swann would do some horrid, eccentric song in Greek or Russian, but that was it.

No question, Michael is NOT being racist, he's being a realist. He is also enjoying the comical aspect of the accent he's using.

Note the pun that references then-Prime Minister Hume, and most certainly, the accent Michael uses as the long-dead duo return to life for you, affirming that ethnics are all over and bus service in the 21st Century, like the preceding century, is shite.

Michael and Donald Transport of Delight

Here's Hoping - Paul and Artie One Last Time??

The news over the summer on Paul Simon? That his last album could be his last. The guy's been too great to hint that his last several albums have all sounded alike, with the ethnic rhythms and obscure lyrics. He's also too much of a legend to note that these days, standing in front of a silly menagerie of Afro-Cuban rhythm boys and an egocentric show-off cellist and singing songs in a piping small voice while making peculiar hand gestures in the air has gotten very old. 74 years old, to be exact.

But should he go? NO, because when Muslims attack, when the city streets are flooded, and when some new plague from South America or Africa threatens to wipe us out, WHO the FUCK is going to stand on a stage and sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" if not PAUL SIMON?

"Showbiz doesn't hold any interest for me," Simon declared a few months ago. "None. It's an act of courage to let go. I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I'm going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did?"

He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd be content to just hang around the house, getting into humiliating domestic arguments that require the police. Naturally his fans have the answer: go back to your Art. That's with a capital A. Can't we have ONE last re-union of Simon & Garfunkel??

"Here's hoping," they say.

Over here, the response is the amusing parody song "Here's Hoping," done years ago. Inspired by one of the infrequent reunions of the "old friends," it explores the frayed nerves and one-upmanship that the concerts seemed to generate. No matter how wonderful the show might be (such as the legendary Concert in Central Park) there was always the hint that at any moment, a snide remark would lead one or the other to walk off stage.

The threat of violence was always there. You've got a tall, unarmed man slapping his thigh restlessly, and a short guy carrying a chunk of wood.

"Hello darkness, my old friend."

A message left by Art Garfunkel on Paul Simon's answering machine? The prelude to one final "do it for the big money" set of select tours where StubHub tickets magically jump to a thousand bucks? The final "we can't let our hair down" tour where Paul is threadbare above, and Artie confirms that he's permanently tossed the tawny-curly wig and reveals himself to look a bit like Ed Koch?

For those who continue to continue to pretend that friendships never end, and that flowers never bend with the rainfall, I suggest you NOT download this celebration of Simon hating Garfunkel and vice versa.

"Here's Hoping" is by England's "Not the 9 O'Clock News" troupe, recorded over 25 years ago, if not 30. It was apparently performed in concert, not on the show itself. At the time, Paul and Artie were tolerating each other for a tour, which wasn't helped by a British TV interviewer asking Garfunkel about all those great songs he wrote. That's probably why this satire has Paul very prominently declaring HE wrote all the material.

And "Here's Hoping" that nobody steals the Photoshop job above and pretends it's real.

Simon and Garfunkel created some great songs together. Their solo work can be enjoyed at home or while exercising in trendy Paul-Artie's classes. Get the pun, and also understand the joke is on those who still don't get it; people grow, mature, and sometimes start disliking and avoiding each other. Call it a'pauling, or art-istic, but it happens, and here's some fun over the feud...

NOT S&G "Here's Hoping "

Friday, August 19, 2016

You Ain't Worth the Salt in ANNETTE HANSHAW's Tears

“(You ain’t worth) The Salt in My Tears” was a big hit for Martin Briley. (Happy Birthday to Martin...born on August 17th). But did he make up that clever remark? Uh, no. As he’s admitted, one of the tricks in songwriting is to take a phrase listeners are already familiar with, and use it in a song. Musically speaking, the phrase turned up on vinyl when vinyl was black shellac. “There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears” was recorded back in 1928 by Annette Hanshaw.

Catherine Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 – March 13, 1985) recorded over 200 singles in the 20’s and 30’s. Sometimes, so that the glut of material wouldn’t be so obvious, her record abels used pseudonyms. Among the oddest Hanshaw items are the ones credited to “Dot Dare” and “Gay Ellis.” That almost none of them are available today is quite a surprise and a shame. As most fans of old jazz know, at one time Annette was billed as “The Personality Girl.” She was the female rival to Bing Crosby in terms of national popularity. In fact, both of them would record “Ain’t No Sweet Man Is Worth the Salt of My Tears” the same year. Crosby (with the Rhythm Boys) took second billing to the Paul Whiteman orchestra. Bix Beiderbecke was on cornet.

One of the odd quirks of songs back then, was that they didn’t necessarily adhere to today’s accepted patterns of verse and chorus. This song is one long, tuneful and catchy instrumental until Annette turns up towards the end with her jolly slam at the idea of feeling sad about a break-up. And yes, if you’re wondering, the Rhythm Boys version doesn’t alter the song’s lyrics, which makes them seem like a bunch of big homos. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Consult an English professor if you want a definitive answer to why THIS song references "the salt OF my tears," while Briley's more popular version says "the salt IN my tears."

The Hanshaw version is the classic (though a nice one was turned in by Peggy Lee decades later). A catch-phrase Annette used, which isn’t on the single below, was ending a swingin’ tune with a blithe, “That’s all.” (As opposed to “That’s Ill.”)

Annette’s family owned “The Melody Shop” in Mount Kisco, New York, and she was a song plugger there, playing and singing for prospective buyers of sheet music. She performed locally and signed to Pathe in 1926, moving to Columbia in 1928 where they had her grinding out material for all the major and minor labels. A year after she left Pathe, she married Herman Rose, a Pathe exec.

In 1932 she began a two year run on the “Maxwell House Show Boat” radio show. When that ended in 1934, so did her recording career. She simply was sick of it all. As she later said in a less-than-nostalgic interview, she didn’t even like her records: “ I was most unhappy when they were released. I just often cried because I thought they were so poor, mostly because of my work, but a great deal, I suppose, because of the recording. I disliked the business intensely. I loathed it, and I'm ashamed to say I just did it for the money. I loved singing, you know (but) I was terribly nervous when I sang. You just have to be such a ham and love performing, and I happen to be an introvert.”

Annette Hanshaw Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth the Salt Of My Tears

Kid Stuff from Connie Francis

When last we convened, I mentioned the varied career of Connie Francis. Give her credit; she appealed to everyone. If you liked folk music or movie theme songs, if you were Italian or Jewish, if you wanted a pop song sung in a foreign language, if you liked teen pop like “Stupid Cupid” or oldies like “Among My Souvenirs,” a record store owner could direct you to the big Connie Francis rack. Not that she had a big rack. But she was nice looking, wasn’t she?

Probably the most dire examples of Connie's flexibility, are her children's albums. In deference to Connie’s views on piracy, and the blog’s own views on ethical sharing there's only one sample from each lp. Let's allow record dealers and re-issue labels to make a living. Enough with the rationalizations, or acting like Fascistic babies and thinking FREE music is an entitlement and that it does no harm.

“Connie Francis and the Kids Next Door” was an awfully cheap trick. Recorded on MGM’s cheap “Leo the Lion” label, Connie doesn’t even sing on all the tracks. If you were thinking of spending $10 or $20 or whatever JUST to hear Connie Francis try a Jewish accent on “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” fuggedaboutit. That song is sung exclusively by the brats, er, kids. And no, it’s not funny and no threat to the Allan Sherman original.

One must remember (or try to forget) that back in the day, there were horrible singles such as Mitch Miller's "The Children's Marching Song (Nick Nack Paddy Wack) featuring the annoying and brash vocals of pre-pubescent pests.

Connie does guide the little monsters through some other silly pop tunes of the day, including "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" and "Henry VII." Adults and kids singing together is usually a “novelty” at best. Like a pitted olive with an almond stuck in it, an adult-and-kids novelty may be oddly amusing ONCE, but you’d really prefer something else. And you don't want a second helping. Tom Glazer’s “On Top of Spaghetti” comes to mind, or "Consider Yourself" from the Broadway show "Oliver," or anything from “The Sound of Music.” Did you know that Phil Ochs recorded an entire album of kid favorites with “The Campers?” No, he didn’t put his name on that one!

The album notes gamely try to make something more about this brat-worst than it is. It’s not just some contractually obligated experiment Connie Francis was roped into doing; it’s some kind of educational breakthrough. Imagine if YOU were in a record store, pondering whether to buy this thing. The notes might put you over the edge:

“Have you ever heard songs sung in childrenese?

“Childrenese, devised and recently popularized by Dr. Haim Ginott, is a new and understanding way of talking to and with kids.

“Why not the same approach to get through to them musically…that the most understanding and receptive way of singing to children is to sing with them.

“Connie Francis knows this, and a better kid-terpretor of tunes you’ll not find. Having wowed an audience at her own singing debut at the age of four, she is more kid-conscious, musically, than any pop artist around…with six youngsters [4 of them 11 years old, 2 of them 14] adding their sing-along sparkle to Connie’s irresistible talents, the result mirrors the magnetism of the legendary Pied Piper of Hamelin, for you find you’re quickly drawn into the act yourself. A spin or two and you’ll also be do-re-me-ing, hellomuddah-ing and itsybitsyteenieweenieyellowpolkadotbikini-ing!”

Haim Ginott was a highly respected therapist and author at the time, not quite as prone to turning up on TV as often as Dr. Joyce Brothers, but his self-help books were (and probably still are) quite useful....much more than a bunch of kids singing "England Swings" or "Do Re Mi" or "A Spoonful of Sugar" in dodgy stereo.

At one time, it seemed that Top 40 radio’s demographics were geared not only to teenagers, but to the pre-pubescent. How else do you explain The Chipmunks or Herman’s Hermits? Or doo-wop? A budget album back then called “Pops for Tots” collected all the novelty songs that not only amused teenagers, but their kid brothers and sisters, too, things like “The Witch Doctor” and “Western Movies.” One shudders to think that today's 11 year-olds are happily listening to violent rap and chuckling.

Good-hearted Connie went along with all kind of ideas from her record label, including a kiddie concept album about cute animals, like “Pinky the Penguin.” Really, even if the album was officially declared public domain and MGM insisted it would NEVER be released on CD or as an iTunes download, you might not want to hear more than one track. “Pinky the Penguin” is plenty.

Some popular vocalists got some attention late in life (Johnny Cash, for example) and others didn’t (Patti Page). Some 50’s singers are still in high demand (Tony Bennett, for example) and then there’s Connie Francis. It would be nice if the Grammy Awards or Kennedy Center Honors gave Connie a salute. A mention on a blog, plus a download of “Pinky the Penguin” and a Herman’s Hermits cover isn’t quite enough, is it?

Connie and the Kids Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter

Connie Francis Pinky the Penguin

Kahimi Karie - Sex Kitten

Do you get turned on by baby talk? Do you think pouting is arousing? Can a grown woman really get away with acting like a child? Is talking like a six-year-old sexy?

The breathy-sexy stylings of past mistresses French Claudine Longet and Brazilian Astrud Gilberto have been inhaled, and now exhaled by Asian cutie Kahimi Karie.

It's not an easy trick for a singer to sound deliberately flirty and intimate. A come-hither vocal can often be a turn-off.

Kahimi's "I Am a Kitten" may only make you mew-sick. Her purr-view and final "meow" might make you juicier than sushi (or "raw like sashimi"). Or as John McEnroe used to cry, "You have GOT to be kitten!" No kitten? It's up to you.

"I Am a Kitten" was recorded in France and shows the influence of European friends. The full album "Nunki" has varied pleasures and a much more Asian tone. There's a whisper in your ear called "Yubitsugi," the sugary meditation "I'm in the Rain," the guitar pluck and sound-effect plinks of "All is Splashing Now," and "Taiyo To Tsuki" which includes odd click noises that suggests the lady has emerged from the beaded curtain in an exotic geisha house and...she'll be plucking a few more bills from your wallet very soon.

The expert Ms. Karie (born Mari Hiki, March 15, 1968) has been practicing her Shibuya-kei for over a decade, and became a superstar in Japan via "Huming ga kikoeru," the theme song for the anime "Chibimarukochan." Like Astrud Gilberto, Kahimi was an amateur vocalist until coerced by her friends to turn pro. The ex-photographer found that singing softly and whispering lyric lines created an intimacy that better-trained singers couldn't match. While Karie has recorded experimental Asian music and jazz in Japan, she's also performed with many European musicians and as you'd expect from "I am a Kitten," lives in Paris, land of Bardot

Kahimi the Sex Kitten "I Am a Kitten" Instant download, No porn ads or wait time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Dean's son RICCI MARTIN of "Dino" if not DINO, DESI AND BILLY has died

If Dean Martin was alive, he’d be about 99. Would his heart have taken the strain of having a son die?

Dean’s heart was already broken when his son Dean Paul Martin was killed back in 1987 in a plane crash. It was well documented by his friends (including Jerry Lewis) and his family (including Ricci) that Dean simply never recovered from this tragic loss.

Dean's career was on the skids in 1987 (as were Frank and Sammy’s). An attempt to use work as occupational therapy failed; he was simply depressed and unmotivated in doing the same old crooning songs and drunk-joke patter. He was not, unlike Frank and Sammy, driven to stay in the spotlight even with diminished skills.

Dean became reclusive, to the point where he’d be found sitting alone in a local restaurant, sometimes having a spaghetti dinner, sometimes just sitting at the bar having a drink, his teeth in a glass beside him. “Wussup, waddya doin’,” some old time pal might ask with a grin. Dean's reply: “Waiting to die.”

Dean Paul Martin was the first of Dean's kids to enter show biz. Like Gary Lewis, who was making Dean's former partner Jerry Lewis proud, the young Dean chose bubble gum music for his category. Calling himself “Dino,” hw became a third of “Dino, Desi and Billy.” The trio included Desi Arnaz, Jr. and homely Billy Hinsche. Their top 20 hit in 1965 was “I’m a Fool.” I doubt these guys were even competition for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. (You remember them? They recorded “Hair On My Chinny Chin Chin (Huff 'n Puff)” on the 1966 album, “If Music Be the Food of Love Prepare for Indigestion.” And don’t think I’m joking!)

Ricci (who died on August 3rd) emerged about a decade after his older brother's hits began to wane. Ricci offered up a debut album in 1977 called “Beached.” His partner in crime was Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, who ironically would marry one of Dean Martin’s daughters, Gina, a decade later. And then get divorced.

“Stop, Look Around” was the single from it. It’s below. It’s just an ordinary song from an ordinary nasal tenor, with a slight bit of Beach Boys harmony tossed in the mix. And since it’s Carl Wilson not Van Dyke Parks, it’s not too fey. But it’s still not too good.

After kicking around for many years, Ricci replaced his dead brother Dino in a re-hash of Dino, Desi and Billy, now simply called “Dino.” Perhaps they thought aging women who remembered the old trio would get wet for them, without slathering some Vaseline in. Maybe "Dino" hoped to attract dyslexics who thought they were going to see Dion.

Interesting how genetics works, or doesn’t. You might get an odd variation on the original (Gary Lewis to Jerry Lewis) or nothing much at all (Sonny and Cher’s kid, for example.)

Following in the chin straps of Frank Sinatra Jr., Ricci in latter middle age put together a tribute to his famous father, and was doomed to that purgatory until he, like Frank Jr., died. He was 62. Frank Jr. (who died about five months ago) was 72.


Spooky Baby James - A Hypodermic Parody

Still creepy after all these years.

Some people love James Taylor, and flock to a show where he'll speak in that soft-spoken voice, stare with the wacky eyebrows raised, and with a crooked grin, sing a mild song, keepin' it mellow.

His last album scored #1 on the Billboard charts, his first #1 since 1970. Talk show hosts were happy to assure him, and the public, that he was still as great as ever. What a triumph. All that's missing now is a Broadway musical about him, titled "SWEET."

"Sweet Baby James" was such a blockbuster disc in 1970 it led to a cottage industry of Taylors (Livingston, Kate and Alex). None of the siblings could rival the heroic, stoic, sad but sweet James. His solo career gave way eventually, briefly, to duets with his wife Carly. There was the catchy "Mockingbird," and other joyful songs that fans still consider as reasons to be cheerful.

All seriousness aside, the back story with Taylor was part of his success. Everyone knew he wasn't in his right mind, but that he got over it and triumphed with easy-going and gentle tunes. Except he and Carly divorced (he still won't even communicate with her) and he had a terrible time with drugs for longer than he or his publicists would admit.

When you consider that Carly (and Joni and Don McLean and Cat Stevens and just about every singer-songwriter from that era) can't get arrested, Taylor's success with "Before This World" last year is an astonishing triumph. He still tours, and still pretty much looks and sounds like himself. You can't argue with success, even if you might wonder what's with the haunted smile and cock-eyed glazed expression.

These days, Taylor has a family audience. There are guys his age of the hippie-to-Yuppie variety, proud to be off pot and into organic shoes made out of hemp. Back in the day, James primarily appealed to women who wanted to mother him, and wean him off drugs with their big soft milky boobies. He also appealed to a few guys who identified with cracking up, doing drugs, and conning women. That would explain peculiar tribute songs at the time such as "Keep Driving James" from Harriet Schock and "Oh James" by Andy Bown.

Back in the 70's he seemed like he might kill himself, but soon he had that self-confident Anthony Perkins smirk. Today he doesn't look like he'd ever think of doing himself in, but he does look like he could stab somebody in a shower.

Look, even George Harrison once admitted, "I never cared for the Sweet Baby." He said it back in the 70's, perhaps still cringing about Taylor having been originally signed to Apple. George did NOT want to take credit for discovering Taylor. The Beatles were often mentioned in that capacity. It's possible he also found something formulaic about Taylor's "pity me" numbers, his predictable strumming, his rather limited singing range, and his limited subject matter. Aside from sunshine and rain, Taylor actually figures people want to hear an ode to "branch water and tomato wine, creosote and turpentine, sour mash and new moon shine, Down on Copperline.").

Yes, here in Illvllle, we acknowledge a survivor, and James Taylor is that. He also turned in a beautifully sardonic turn as an egocentric and somewhat evil God in Randy Newman's "Faust." While sweet dreams and flying machines crashed along the way, and Carly was quite exasperated with the guy, he became that rarity, a living legend.

What becomes a legend most? Parody. Back when he was super-hot, James was given a "tribute" via the National Lampoon "Lemmings" show.

These guys saw through the sensitive singer-songwriter, and as they also did with Neil Young and the countrified Bob Dylan, found reason to be realists, and laugh at their less-than-perfect heroes.

The show was helmed by John Belushi, but the prime star was Christopher Guest, who co-wrote and performed the skewering takes on both Dylan and Taylor. Just how skewering did it get? Well, even in Illville, and even after all this time, a line alluding to Taylor's hypodermic use is cringeworthy. It goes beyond the jabs at Taylor for being a sell-out and womanizer. Listen to the "soulful, moody" Taylor get stubbed via "Highway Toes"…

SKEWERING James Taylor

Connie Francis - "Don't Be a Stupid Cupid!"

Connie Francis.

Probably the first thing that comes to mind, sadly, is that she's the most famous victim of rape.

It was a particularly vicious assault, as a 19 year-old black who kept up a steady stream of jive and self-important psychobabble about his problems with his mother. His mother was Connie's age. She tried to reason with him, listen to his bragging, and explain that she didn't keep a lot of cash in her hotel room, but could get some. "Take my fur coat," she offered, "it's worth a lot." His response: "I ain't takin' that shit, so I'll get caught. Waddya take me for?" Or something like that.

Ultimately, he took great joy in beating her, tying her up, threatening her with a knife, and ransacking the place. She nearly suffocate when he dumped a mattress on top of her, hoping to find treasures under the bed. A tormenting assault ended with a goading, "You ever been with a black man?" and "How did you like it?"

He was never caught. Apparently the police never bothered to check a pattern of hotel break-ins and/or rapes and see, over the years, if somebody they managed to arrest was a likely match to this one.

It took many years for Connie to have the confidence to step out on a stage and resume her career, and this was made even more difficult after nasal surgery gone wrong. For a while, she had no voice at all.

Eventually she made her comeback, less as a nostalgia item and more as a heroic diva.

I mentioned to her that for me, the greatest thing about Connie Francis was that she was everybody's Connie Francis. She recorded albums for most every ethnicity. She sang in foreign languages, too. Connie could revive middle-of-the-road (the now notorious "Who's Sorry Now," which was the title of her book, referencing her tough time) and also sing to "the kids" with trifles like "Stupid Cupid."

Her rather bewildering blitz of vinyl back in the day, included North-polar opposites: "Christmas In My Heart" and "Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites." She recorded albums for her own ethnic group ("Italian Favorites") as well as Spanish favorites, German favorites, an album of waltzes, "Hit Songs from the 30's," a collection of movie themes, and even "Country and Western Golden Hits" and "Folk Favorites." How about Connie and a bunch of kids running through Herman's Hermits' "Henry VIII" and "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter?"

Sadly, Connie's tumultuous life would include over a dozen trips to the sanitarium, many involuntary, and a mis-diagnosis of what was causing her mood swings and depression. Inevitably, though there would be many a triumphant concert tour, her audience had aged, and touring became more difficult. She could've used more royalty checks from her hits to compensate for the money she was losing from not being on the road.

As this blog as stated many times, there's a difference between "sharing" and "stealing," and between a responsible use of copyrighted material and the idiocy of insisting everything is "fair use." Which is like a rapist shrugging that what he does is also "fair use," and doesn't do much damage because "all she has to do is take a shower."

Which leads me back to Connie's book, where she mentioned wearing just a robe and being brutally questioned by male cops after the rape, while the perp's semen was still inside her. No, contrary to what some people think, a rape, even a less violent one, produces emotions of rage and shame, frustration and helplessness.

In her book, talks about the rape.

On her website, she talks about the piracy that has robbed her of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

No, the link below is not to every Connie Francis album. Or even one of them. Not even one that's "out of print" and therefore, supposedly, "public domain." After all, there are still a few re-issue companies out there. If they see that an album is long gone, and not available free on the Internet, they just MIGHT offer it on CD with bonus tracks and a great booklet.

So here's Connie, with an amusingly restless musical backing, offering a "public service" spot urging people to drive safely.

CONNIE FRANCIS National Safety Council Spot "

Friday, July 29, 2016

Brigitte Bardot - LA MADRAGUE (the late Gerard Bourgeois)

Oui! Lucky Frenchies not only got to hear the sweet voice of Brigitte Bardot on the pop trifle "La Madrague," they also got to see her.

In the "music video" for the tune she languidly explores her home and environs in Saint-Tropez. As you see, she doesn't have a wardrobe malfunction like Lindsay Lotion, stick out her tongue like Viley Virus, have a coconut for a head and sport hanging fat-bags of silicone like Amber Nose, or display the elephantine butt of Kim Kuntrashian. She was truly beautiful. She appealed to normal males, and not retards, gorillas or drug-addled freaks.

Some insist that it was Bardot who turned Saint-Tropez into a desirable tourist attraction, thanks to her films and photo shoots there.

The song is by the recently deceased Gerard Bourgeois (June 17, 1936-July 8, 2016). Yes, this particular "obit with music" is just an excuse to run a few pix of Brigitte, and to state once again, that she is one of our greatest women; beautiful in her youth, and perhaps moreso now, having spent so many decades promoting her foundation for the care and welfare of animals. She also stood up to the moronic Muslim menace by declaring that France should retain its identity, customs and language. In other words, if you want to migrate to a new country, show some respect and assimilate, asshole. (For stating her view, she was fined. Talk about "freedom of speech," man!)

OK, back to Monsieur Bourgeois. Unless you're French, you probably have no idea that he wrote over 400 songs, and that many were covered by his country's best singers, as well as a variety of International superstars.

The stars and the tunes include, if you want some English tranlations: Dalida (It Takes All Kinds to Make a World), Jocelyne Jocya (Forget Everything Else), Eric Charden (Save me ), Nicole Croisille (Song of Love), Frida Boccara (The Gates of Love), Jean-Claude Pascal (Between the Sea and You) Michèle Arnaud (When love is Written), Sylvie Vartan (The Kid), Jacqueline Danno (This wonderful Silence), France Gall (Snowing) and Rika Zaraï (You Invite Me to the Party).

His songs were also covered by Sylvie Laurent, Françoise Hardy, Serge Reggiani, Tino Rossi, and the unusual Juliette Greco who probably had the biggest hit for Gerard, other than Bardot, with "Un Petit Poisson, Un Petit Oiseau," which you probably can figure out if you took French in high school. No? OK: "petit" is little, "poisson" is fish, and "oiseau" is bird. There.

BARDOT La Madrague Au revoir, Gerard. Love you forever, Brigitte.


Jack Davis (John Burton Davis, Jr. December 2, 1924 – July 27, 2016) was an original, an icon in the world of cartoon art. You may remember him best for his early, demented “Tales From the Crypt” and “Vault of Horror” illustrations. When Harvey Kurtzman's E.C. Comics evolved into William Gaines' Mad Magazine, he switched from ghoulish grotesques to hideously hilarious caricature.

His style was so infectious, Jack found himself in huge demand from Madison Avenue, the very people that Mad Magazine loved to parody. His frantic artwork was often on the cover of TV Guide, and many of the 60’s and 70’s wackiest movies were promoted by frenetic Davis posters, including “Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” “Viva Max” and “Bananas.”

Jack was from Atlanta, Georgia and had a special affinity for crazy country music. While he contributed cover art to many types of “musical mayhem” (including “Monster Rally” by Hans Conried, and discs by Spike Jones, Johnny Cash and Ben Colder,) he was most prolific for Homer and Jethro.

I remember buying “Old Crusty Minstrels,” when it came out, since I knew I’d be getting a funny album, and I’d have the extra fun of staring at the jacket a whole lot. Yessir, Jack’s album covers made most any record worth the money.

When he died, I recalled those Homer and Jethro records, as well as my copy of “The Art of Jack Davis,” which included a signed lithograph. I was rather disappointed to see that a similar copy was sitting, unsold, on eBay for just $95. This, after news of Jack’s death was all over the media! What a fucking insult.

Why does a music blog have an entry for a non-musician? I made an exception for three reasons. First, it’s my blog. Second, Jack contributed mightily to the sale of many recording artists. And third, Homer & Jethro’s definitive take on “The One on the Right Is On the Left” is more timely this week than ever.

The tune's on “Old Crusty Minstrels,” which has a very good balance of corny gross-out tunes (Homer bites a dog and it gets rabies), timely political jabs (about “The Great Society”), bunion-tender satire (“She Broke My Heart at Walgreen’s and I Cried All the Way to Sears”) and even a failed TV theme (“Camp Runamuck”). The song is a cautionary tale for those who were bored, annoyed or enraged by the fucked up Democratic and Republican conventions...and the jerks who kept yapping about 'em.

The crowning of two disliked people for President brought out the worst in just about everybody, including the candidates. The coverage was tedious. The people attending the conventions were obnoxious and often intolerant. That includes the "Black Lives Matter" bunch who heckled a moment of silence for dead police officers, and the naive nitwits screaming "Bernie or Bust," intent on forcing their choice or else. Or else what, littering the floor with granola? Both sides called on pitbulls to heave insults at the opposition while the crowds roared and waved banners.

People basically showed up to hoot, holler, get drunk, jeer, scream, bellow, and be far more bellicose and corny than any audience at a Homer & Jethro show. This took place during a blistering heatwave throughout the USA, and the news that aside from unendurable weeks of oppressive humidity, there would be three SOLID MONTHS of oppressive stupidity, with the candidates riding every poll and trying to push ahead via inane hyperbole.

Unfortunately, you can’t turn off your friends. Even if you avoided newspaper and TV coverage of the primaries and convention, your friends would NOT SHUT UP. Right? Talk to them in person or read e-mails and Trump, Hillary and Bernie were a main topic. On Facebook, you had to be astonished at which of your non-friends turned out to be irrationally for one clown or another, and insisting you had to read their slanted and biased and witless MEMES.

I think quite a few people on Facebook began to defriend idiots who just wouldn’t stop with the idiotic, sappy insults hurled at any "Libtards" or "Rednecks" or anyone who didn't agree that "Donald Rump" or "Crooked Hillary" was the devil returned to Earth. What happened to the good old fashioned apathy of "they all suck?" Why did anyone have to become so fucking shrill in rooting for their particular delusional choice? DEFRIEND! FUCK OFF! PLEASE, SHUT UP!

It comes down to this song, which not only has one of my favorite chord changes of all time (wait for it, “and the folk songs of our land”) but a vital message: “If you have political convictions, just KEEP ‘EM TO YOURSELF.”

And let’s agree that Jack Davis was one of the greatest cartoonists of all time.

HOMER AND JETHRO The One on the Right is On The Left

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gary Paxton Dead: Monster Mash, Alley Oop - THE TWO DAB MAN

Gary Paxton was a two dab man.

Actually, more than that. While he may be best known for two novelty hits, "Alley Oop" and "Monster Mash," he dabbled in music for over 40 years as a producer, writer and singer, amassing dozens and dozens of credits.

Gary (Larry Wayne Stevens, May 18, 1939 – July 16, 2016) was one of those somewhat obscure guys in the music business. Some seemed to love him, and others were wary. I guess it depended on whether you knew him as a jovial writer-singer or as a producer-business man.

Almost a cliche of the guy smiling on the outside, but hurting on the inside, Paxton dived into the world of "novelty" music, escaping the confusion and misery of real life:

"My mother was 14 and my dad was 15. I was nine pounds when I was born, and when I was one, I was seven pounds, because they didn't have anything apart from ketchup and water to feed me with...Then this old couple who had lost two children heard I was available, so they adopted me. We lived on a farm in Coffeyville, Kansas. We had no electricity, no water, no heating..."

Adopted and name-changed, he grew up in a bleak environment, molested at seven by a neighbor, and suffering from spinal meningitis at eleven. Things improved when, at fourteen, the family moved to Arizona and he began to lose himself in garage bands, mostly playing country music. His past caught up to him when a woman in Arizona looked at him and declared "I am your mother! I've been looking for you for a long time and if you don't believe me, go call your parents." He then learned the truth, that he was adopted by Christians, and his real parents were a mix of Native American, Jewish and Irish blood.

Another surprise was when a demo he recorded with his pal Clyde Battin was released on the tiny Brent label. The label called them "Skip & Flip." Paxton had no idea until he happened to hear the tune on the radio. The song, "It Was I," became a surprise million-seller novelty. They followed it with "Cherry Pie." He ambitiously moved to California and started to produce records, even releasing songs on his own obscure labels. He acquired a "mad genius" reputation, thanks to more novelty classics. "Alley Oop," written by Dallas Frazier, became a hit from "The Hollywood Argyles," with Paxton offering up the narrative opening. Paxton produced his own "answer" to it, "Alley Oop is a Two Dab Man."

In 1962, Paxton had his graveyard smash, "Monster Mash," which was initially released on his own Garpax label. Once again, his skills as a producer made the industry take notice. His production on that single was admirable, from the sound effects to the back-up singers. He also played piano on the session. The tune made an instant star out of Bobby "Boris" Pickett, and Paxton instantly began cranking out sequels, including "Monster Motion" and "Monster Holiday." He also recorded "The Scavenger" as a solo project for his Garpax label, as well as "Two Hump, Dual Bump Camel Named Robert E. Lee," which he co-wrote.

His eccentricity at the time included parading an elephant through the streets, protesting radio stations that had refused to play "Elephant Game," by Renfro & Jackson.

As a producer and engineer, he eventually sought new types of sound, and he left pure comedy behind, guiding "Sweet Pea" (Tommy Roe) and both "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish" (The Association) up the charts. Simultaneously, Gary was hoping for solo success, releasing a variety of singles including "Sweet Senorita Sante Fe" (1964 on Felsted) and "It's My Way of Loving You" and "Goin' Thru the Motions" (Capitol, 1965 and 1966).

He returned to his country roots, writing the hit "Woman, Sensuous Woman" for Don Gibson, "L.O.V.E." for the Blackwood Brothers and "No Shortage" for The Imperials.

By the time I was part of the music business, and hoping to perhaps meet him, or to crack open a fresh novelty single he'd produced, he was in the arms of the Lord. Meaning, he was a Born Again Christian, producing and writing for the new wave of Christian records now on the market. I wrote an article on this phenomenon, which included in addition to the former "Alley Oop" and "Monster Mash" man, a newly optimistic Barry McGuire, a Jesus-freaked B.J. Thomas, and the emphatically NOEL Paul Stookey, putting out overtly Christian music as a sidelight to his work with Peter and Mary.

I didn't get to interview the elusive Paxton, but I did marvel at the album cover that showed a Quaker-esque guy with a big beard and oversized hat. He issued several such records for his "NEWPAX" label, and seemed to have achieved a balance between reverent songs ("He Was There All The Time") and slightly lighter material ("Jesus Is My Lawyer In Heaven"). His songs confronted abortion (against it), cigarettes (against it) and death (unavoidable: "When The Meat Wagon Comes For You"). His label also released material by the infamous Tammy Faye Bakker, and some gossips insisted Gary had an affair with her, which he denied.

He seemed to be headed toward, as Lord Buckley might phrase it "the groovy sands of serenity." seems that Producer Paxton had run afoul of Vern Gosdin who was lethally pissed off at him and wanted out of his contract. Paxton had worked with Gosdin in 1967, and it was Gary who coaxed the irascible thrice-married curmudeon out of retirement for the 1976 album "Till The End." A few years later, and Gosdin wished the end on Paxton.

A few days after his Lord's Birthday, December 29th 1980, Gary was lured outside his home by Darrell Bailey and Darryl Langley. The two Darrels claimed to have car trouble. They attacked him, beat him, and in the scuffle shot him twice in the back. Hitmen couldn't kill the hit man. In a show of Christian charity, he even "forgave" the hired men. Apparently nobody could pin anything on Gosdin himself. Gosdin refused any interviewer when it came to questions about Paxton.

Some insist that the two hitmen were hired by a jealous Jim Bakker. Just why the two Darrels would dare implicate Gosdin, when it would've been easy to simply claim they were hired by an anonymous man they never met face to face, is unclear. What's beyond dispute is that the prosecutor in the case did not pursue a case against either Gosdin or Bakker.

Some armchair detectives wonder if the end of Gary and Tammy's association times well with the attack, and if Paxton, Mr. Christian, would never, ever want to admit to stepping in on another man's wife. Others figure cranky Vern Gosdin wouldn't be beyond asking a few guys to put a beating on somebody, perhaps a fatal one.

Adding insult to injury, Paxton's partner embezzled a half million from him while he recuperated from his near-death experience.

Over the past 30 years, Paxton's "look" changed from Jolly Quaker to mover-and-shaker, to God's Little Acher, to orange-haired faker. Let's say it reflected his varied musical interests and directions, which kept shifting.

Paxton started the 21st Century in Branson, Missouri, the haven for older country and gospel performers. He became friendly with Bill Medley, Andy Williams and others who were able to bring in the tourists. Despite Hepatitis C, he performed sometimes as "Grandpa Rock," wearing a mask, and continued to write and produce songs. For his newest record label, LUPAX (with Jim Lusk) he offered "Vote 'Em Out Boogie" in 2011 and the "AARP Blues" in 2014. Yeah, he still had some kind of sense of humor, despite the death threats, childhood molestation, ups and downs of novelty songs, the Jesus albums, and four marriages. Not totally forgotten, the U.K. re-issue label ACE has discovered a lot of early Paxton productions for their CD compilation "Hollywood Maverick: The Gary S. Paxton Story."


A Cheap Trick: Tammy Faye Starlite and a sexual "SURRENDER!"

Anyone remember Nico? Still care about Marianne Faithfull? OK. And you still care. More on them later.

Anyone remember Tammy Faye Bakker Messner? Not so much. And you care even less!

Harry Shearer once said "her only claim to fame/notoriety was to have been the marital partner of a convicted crooked televangelist," which denies her fame and notoriety as a campy TV personality who rode the tabloid roller-coaster like a pro.

In her prime, she was a frightening parody of Christian wholesomeness, with her drag queen make-up, creepy singing, and her championing of hubby Jim, an Evangelist who seemed to be bisexual, crooked, and about as charismatic as Rick Moranis with vertigo.

In a country that still values inane personality over talent (the Kardashians and Jenners), it really is no surprise that a nutjob like Tammy got a foothold into the public's eye (and wallet) and went to her grave kicking and screaming for just a little more of the spotlight. She went to her grave telling the world that she was really going to heaven. America bought her act. Why not? Just before she died she insisted on going on Larry King's show. She weighed just 65 pounds (and 55 of them was probably make-up). She had endured the collapse of a marriage, a second lousy marriage, infamy and scorn, and 10 years struggling with cancer, but was STILL raving about God existing and being merciful.

So in the end, Tammy Faye Bakker was the Lucille Ball of televangelists; charismatic, unique, and possessed of a deep instinct for survival. Both married assholes first, and parasites second. In Tammy's case, a goofy-faced sex fiend who over-sold timeshares, followed by a fame-clutching ex-con who did time for bankruptcy fraud.

At this point, the details of the scandals have faded, replaced by the latest idiocies from Kim and Kanye and Caitlyn and the rest of the clowns. Did Jim Bakker and a friend drug and rape Jessica Hahn? Did Tammy know how he amassed the money for their three luxury homes? Did she think owning gold faucets was Christian humility? Was a Christian theme park garish and un-Godly? Was she closer to the schemes of Falwell and Swaggart than the sincerity of Billy Graham? At this point we have other things to worry about. Like the gruesome leaders of a religion OTHER than Christianity that is causing trouble.

Yes, mercifully perhaps, some eyesores have faded from view, and Tammy Faye is one.

Other ladies, underappreciated in their time, endure, like Nico.

And so it is, that Tammy Faye Starlite, who first came to semi-fame by mocking Tammy Faye Bakker via a Cheap Trick parody, is still with us, and now impersonating Nico and Marianne Faithfull.

A Jew from New Jersey, the re-named Tammy Faye Starlite has come a long way from 2003 when she was doing country song porn parodies. She's been touring for several years with a Nico tribute. She offers up about a dozen songs doing her 90 minute set, ranging from "I'll Be Your Mirror" to Nico-tributes to ex-lovers. Yes, Tammy-as-Nico sings Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" and Jackson Browne's "These Days." "Nico" insists Bob Dylan "was in love with me..." and she hooked up with Jackson when "he was only 16." "Nico" also has some winking remarks about other famous men, like Lou Reed: "He was a usurper of souls, like a cat. He never really liked me because of what my people did to his people. I can't make love to Jews anymore!"

A versatile performer, if you want to book her for both a Friday and Saturday Night, she can do a completely different show each time. "Broken English In Its Entirety," has her performing as Marianne Faithfull. And yes, that does include the entire album.

That is now. Below is then...a twisted Tammy Faye parody of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." You can't go wrong with a song that begins...

""Mother told me, yes she told me, pray to Jesus Christ! I didn't listen, was not a Christian, I led a sinful life...suddenly I heard a voice from somewhere up on high...oh just swallow it..."

Download or listen on line (and may God have mercy on your hole). SURRENDER

George Melly goes cheerfully to THE ELECTRIC CHAIR

What about Liverpool's George Melly?

Well, based on the odd "Send Me to the Electric Chair" below, American listeners might get the idea he was some kind of cross between Lord Buckley and Judy Henske. He obviously was eccentric, and didn't let being white prevent him from enjoying raucous jazz. In fact, the traditional blues in this song might have you tracing it against Henske's "Oh You Engineer" (written by Shel Silverstein) and the barrel house melody from "Low Down Alligator."

Melly, as you might guess from the photo, kept working almost till the end. Van Morrison was a fan (appearing on "The Ultimate Melly," released a year before George died. With encouragement like that, George kept getting up on stage, resisting cancer treatment, continuing to tour, and vowing to have a damn good time to the end. Only a month or so before he died, he was performing with the Digby Fairweather Band.

George Melly died July 5th, 2007 at 80 (He was born August 17, 1926). An eccentric with varied tastes, he was nearly tossed out of the Navy during World War II for distributing "anarchist literature." He haunted art galleries, championed surrealism, and played in jazz bands that favored New Orleans-styled rhythms. Noting that it wasn't a good idea to quit a day job, or to avoid steady payment, Melly temporarily retired from music in the 60's and 70's to become a film and television critic for The Observer. He also wrote for Punch, for the Daily Mail's satirical newspaper strip Flook, and scripted the 1967 film "Smashing Time."

Ultimately realizing that he could show most performers a thing or two, George returned to the stage, performing original material as well as classics from the days of Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. He put out a bunch of albums, helmed the British Humanist Association, worked to bring recognition to his comedy idol Max Miller, and when new wave became popular in the late 70's, why, there was George, recording "Old Codger," especially written for him by The Stranglers.

He was legend enough to write three autobiographies, which accentuated his musical interests as well as his bisexuality. He was married, but was considered, at least by one friend, "a mighty camp heterosexual." He was a cheerful exhibitionist. At parties he might strip naked and twist his bulky body from man to imitation woman, and then on all fours, a bulldog!

One of the last of the bohemians, in later years his coy garb and eye patch making him look like a butt pirate, Melly could discuss art with an intellectual, or sing dirty songs to a bar maid. Typical of his flamboyance was his appearance at a 1985 exhibit, "Salute to British Surrealism." The paintings weren't the show: "The entire art world had come from London for the opening and there was George wandering around naked."

The track below is delivered with a hip howl:

"Judge yo' honor, hear my plea...I don't want no sympathy, I slit my woman's throat! I found her with another man, I warned her 'bout it before. I took a knife and...the rest you oughta know! Oh judge, judge, good Mister Judge...wanna pay a visit to the devil down below..."

Melly was way too lively to really want to off himself before his fact, it took a sly Ill Folks photo-collage to actually stick him into an electric chair.

Here's an electrifying performance from the Unchained Melly Instant download or listen on line. No waiting, code numbers or porn ads.

Vampish vixen LYS GAUTY - "CREPUSCULE"

Remember the fun of going into a record store and just flipping through a few boxes of assorted bargain records?

Yeah, you'd have to have a LONG memory for THAT.

Sometimes, an unknown artist would suddenly loom into view and stop you in your tracks, thanks to either a great photo, or the genius of the record label's art direction.

When I saw the cover portrait of Lys Gauty on a 2lp set, I had to wonder...did the woman actually look like that??

Turns out, not really. Alas, Madame Gauty in real photos, is not quite so vampish or tarsier-like. Her music, likewise, is fine, but not spooky or sexy. Only a few songs were anything close to suggesting the supernatural, like the pale-eyed visage on the cover.

Below is your sample, "Crepuscule," which, students, translates as "twilight." It's the time of day when crepuscular creatures with huge eyes, such as lemurs and tarsiers, become active.

Music and lyrics by Django Reinhardt and Francis Blanche.

Lys Gauty shares something in common with today's spookiest French import, the great Mylene Farmer. Both were born with the last name Gauthier. Lys (Alice) Gauty (Gauthier) was born in Franc, February 2, 1900, and died there on January 2, 1994. While unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old, Lys was dubbed un "monstre sacre" by no less a celebrity than Colette. Colette is also unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old.

The bi-lingual Jean Cocteau (also unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old) helpfully dubbed Lys "a vulture of virtuosity." Critic James Kirkup noted she "set the stage afire with her strange personality, her unusual, spellbinding vibrato growl and her heart-breaking songs."

She became famous in the late 20's and 30's, a heroine of the Parisian Music Hall scene. Kurt Weill wrote songs for her, including 'La Complainte de la Seine'. Her song 'Israel va-t-en' expressed support for the French Jews, who were discovering the shock waves of antisemitism coming from Hitler's Germany. Soon enough, the Nazis took over, and Lys ultimately fled to Monaco. She was nearly killed for her views (and for having a Jewish husband), and kept a souvenir of a bullet that barely missed her.

She had fans all over the world. Some were lucky enough to get a post card...

The song below was recorded during the war, 1943. The song is about shadow and substance, of things and ideas; it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge...a dimension of imagination. Your next stop: The Crepuscule Zone.

Instant Listen or Download: LYS GAUTY

DOODLES WEAVER - Give a Horse a Man He Can Ride!

Unlike his brother Pat (president of NBC and father to Sigourney Weaver), Winstead Weaver looked like a "doodlebug" (his own mother's opinion!). He acted like one, being a cornball comic/singer all his life.

The dude gained fame with a manic "William Tell Overture" horse race routine on a Spike Jones novelty single. A sequel, music based on "Dance of the Hours" offered a car race. Doodles also loved spoonerisms, mispronouncing song lyrics in frantic gibberish till he'd clear his mind with a bellowing "OOOOH!" That, along with deliberately awful jokes, made a hit out of "Man on the Flying Trapeze," also while a member of the Spike Jones band. On that single you can hear Spike ask "Are you in voice, Winstead?" at the beginning.

After many years with Spike Jones, Doodles was fired for a lethal combo of alcoholism and natural nutsiness. He had bit parts in movies, notably the 1940 version of "Li'l Abner," and in 1951 prevailed upon brother Pat to help him land a summer TV show on NBC. He turned up on an episode of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" (photo above, right). After Doodles admitted his profession was a comedian, and that he was looking for work, Groucho sympathetically wished him luck. In 1965 Weaver briefly starred in the goofy "Day with Doodles" each episode just six minutes long, ready to be slotted anywhere in a daytime line-up, or used to give a bathroom break to some local kiddie show host.

Throughout the 60's The Dood took minor roles in sitcoms, from "Dick Van Dyke Show" to "The Monkees" to "Batman" (as "Crier Tuck). His curly hair, tubular head and large eyes helped the comic ambience of any scene, even if his lines were few.

The older he got, the more bitter and disillusioned he became. Friends and fans knew that he was unhappy with his health, and despite of or because of alcohol and pills, be simply couldn't stand to live more than a few weeks into 1983.

Not too many years before his suicide, Doodles went into the studio one last time to make a solo disc. He offered some updated Spooner routines (Dr. Demento enjoyed the somewhat appalling version of "Eleanor Rigby") and he even tried to work his dentures through his classic Feetlebaum routine...which was now more of a trotter than a horse race.

Here's a double dose of Doodles, rare radio transcriptions, including, of course, his Spoonerized "Man on the Flying Trapeze."

All Weaver wanted was to get some laughs, and even if you're not a corn-comedy buff, you'll listen to these things and admit, he Dood it.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Single from Baseball Legend Tony Conigliaro

Young and good looking, Boston Red Sox home run slugger Tony Conigliaro (January 7, 1945 – February 24, 1990) had a bright future back in 1965. He led the American league with 32 home runs. It was not a big number compared to what Mantle and Maris hit a few years earlier, but it was good enough for the home run king to get a deal for some pop singles.

“Little Red Scooter” was no competition to “Little Deuce Coupe,” especially not with the anemic chorus of “no more Put-Put!”

His better known single was “Why Don’t They Understand,” which sounds a bit like Fabian coming back to the echo chamber after a funeral. It probably would've suited his image to cover "The Wanderer" or some other urban sass from Dion, than a sad sack track that had gotten minor play back in 1958 for George Hamilton.

The flip, “Playing the Field” was a not-so-clever play on words. The bland vocalizing from Tony didn’t hint at the charisma that was getting him attention from not only Boston babes, but even celebrity party girls like Mamie Van Doren.

Tony’s biggest hit was, unfortunately, a baseball to the eye on August 18, 1967.

Batting against California Angels’ Jack Hamilton, Tony couldn’t get out of the way of a hard pitch tailing in on him. He was smacked on his left cheek, with the powerful shot blurring his vision and dislocating his jaw.

It was one of the most severe injuries any hitter sustained at home plate. It rivaled the notorious smack in the face in 1957 when a line drive from New York Yankees’ Gil McDougald connected to Cleveland Indians pitcher Herb Score’s face.

Herb Score's career ended, mostly because he tore tendon when he made his comeback after so much time off. In trying to make adjustments in his pitching motion to ease the pain and strain, he injured it yet again.

Tony Coniglaro's fate was different To the surprise of some, he returned to even greater success, and belted a career high 36 home runs in 1970. The Red Sox helped his problem eyesight by putting a black tarp over a section of seats in centerfield, so he could more easily pick up the ball as it was leaving the pitcher’s hand. The major leagues, eager to prevent any more injuries like Tony's, encouraged batters to wear a helmet with a protective flap over the ear, leaning partially toward the cheek.

In 1975 Tony C. retired to a broadcasting career. In 1982 he was felled by a heart attack and soon after, a stroke. It left the hard luck baseball hero almost helpless. His family and his brother took care of him until his death, only 45 years old.

TONY CONIGLIARO Playing the Field

TONY CONIGLIARO Why Don’t They Understand?

Dead Dandy Dan Daniels - IS THAT ALL THERE IS

At one time, London and New York City had the most influential disc jockeys in the world, from Murray the K to John Peel. With very few exceptions (Dick Clark on national television and syndicated shows from Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem) AM and then FM music was changed by New Yorkers like Cousin Bruce Morrow and Scott Muni, and “the night bird” Alison Steele

In the prime years of the 60’s when AM radio ruled, New York City had three stations blasting rock into teen ears. There was WINS, WABC, and way down on the dial, WMCA. WMCA had the least powerful signal, and no superstar DJ. The best known, who died a few days ago, was probably Dan Daniels (December 18, 1934 – June 21, 2016).

Born Vergil Daniel in Texas, “Dandy Dan” worked his way up from a year or so at Houston’s KXYZ to four years at WDGY in Minneapolis, and then in 1961, the big time, WMCA, ending up with the prestigious afternoon “drive time” gig, 4 to 7pm. Some time during his NYC run, “Dan Daniel” turned plural, and became “Dan Daniels.”

The humble Texan said at the time, “A lot of guys west of the Hudson River are good enough to be here in New York. Just the same, many guys have bombed out in major markets, mostly because they thought too highly of themselves. You have to be constantly good, with the insecurity on your back, otherwise you’d get lazy. If deejays had security, as a class, radio would be so dull it would go out of existence. As it is, you have to make your own security by being good…insecurity forces a deejay to diversify, to…become more than a deejay.”

His best known rivals were gravel-voiced hipster Murray The K at WINS, and hyper “Cousin Brucie” at WABC. The Dandy One chose a more natural identity: “A deejay can be excited, use sound effects, voices, whatever. But when you talk to people, you’ve got to relate to them. When you give the time or the weather, anybody can do that, so you do it in your own style…”

Like a number of disc jockeys, Daniels harbored a bit of a dream about becoming another “Big Bopper,” and having a hit record. A problem with that was the suspicions regarding Payola. Another: it’s just very difficult to have a hit record, even if you have personality and even a pretty decent singing voice. In 1968 he discovered an unrecorded oddity from Leiber & Stoller called “Is That All There Is?”

“Dandy Dan” opted to style himself after Sinatra; ring-a-ding with a tongue-in-cheek dash of AM disc jockey cool. The result? Almost a parody of what would become known as a depressing cabaret piece. Obviously a male is not going to be that broken up over not enjoying the circus, or having some twat walk out on him; “Dandy Don” treats these traumas with amused cynicism. And the ultimate fate in life? Death? He may not have snickered quite as horribly as the “Big Bopper,” but he gave it some hearty ha-ha’s!

No wonder Lieber and Stoller didn't want Dan's version to hit the air. Instead, with an arrangement by Randy Newman, and the sophisticated deadpan of Peggy Lee, the song became a sensation.

Two years later, the 70's arrived and AM radio was on the decline. It was longer the time of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, “Monster Mash” or “Purple People Eater” novelties…or “Dandy Dan” and the WMCA “Good Guys.” He moved on to other things.Further up the dial, WINS, where Murray the K had ruled as “The Fifth Beatle,” switched to all-news. FM stereo created a demand for a “serious” style of rock disc jockey, someone who spoke softly and intimately, and played entire sides of albums.

And now there’s Spotify and Pandora and everybody’s their own disc jockey. Almost all the great disc jockeys are either retired or dead. IS THAT ALL THERE IS? It’s your download below.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

HARVEY KORMAN - 25 MINUTES TO GO (temporarily live)

Your typical “miserable” comedian, Harvey Korman tended to fret and complain. While he was brilliantly funny to audiences on “The Carol Burnett Show,” he wasn’t exactly hilarious to her. At one point, she confronted him about it. She said something like, “If you’re not having a good time, maybe you should leave.”

That snapped Harvey out of it. At least, he knew to keep his misgivings and insecurities to himself. Perhaps the closest character to the true Harvey Korman that he played, was Bud Abbott in the ill-fated made-for-tv movie that co-starred Buddy Hackett. He portrayed Abbott as the worrier, the one who carried grim realities with him, which included his own physical failings (epilepsy). While Costello was freewheeling on stage, getting the laughs, Abbott had the responsibility of keeping his partner from ad-libbing too much and milking the laughs.

In TV sketches and also in films, Korman kept an edge of reality to his work, and let Mel Brooks, Tim Conway or other top bananas make the faces and get the big laughs. He got chuckles from his chagrin and his frowns and his inability to make sense of the idiotic world around him. One of the biggest laughs on the Burnett show was when Carol descended a staircase wearing a curtain for a gown, complete with rod. Korman, as Rhett Butler got some laughs by remaining dead serious, and failing to see how ludicrous this outfit was.

I mentioned to him once that I thought he was a fine dramatic actor. At the time, the movie “Shine” was in theaters, and as I watched Armin Mueller-Stahl I kept thinking, “This would’ve been perfect for Korman.”

Harvey often teamed up with Tim Conway for live performance tours, and did find some reasons to be cheerful, sometimes. But he remained a realist. When Viagra became available, Harvey was not that thrilled. As he put it, "It's like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building."

One thing Harvey didn’t do much of, was sing. For some reason, one night the Burnett show cast performed a kind of tribute/parody to C&W and "The Grand Ol' Opry." Each cast member got a solo. Just why they chose the grim Shel Silverstein song “25 Minutes To Go” for Harvey to sing, I have no idea. It was a hit for Johnny Cash, but it doesn't really suit Harvey's style. He doesn't have the outrageous personality that makes such a chilling song wild and over the top. Silverstein's original version of it is hoarse and manic. Cash drawls many a colorful line. But Harvey is a bit more like Hedley in "Blazing Saddles," viewing the proceedings with a certain understandable distaste. Note that the song is chopped from 25 minutes to 15 (and leaves out the anti-social stuff about hating the warden, the sheriff and the governor). It’s quite a curio, though, and was never released as a single.

25 minutes to Go

DAVID GATES produces Jack Bedient - IT’S OVER!! + BOB DYLAN

Yeah, David Gates. The guy produced material for varied tastes, although he’s best known for Bread.

As an arranger, in 1968 he had the chops and nerve to try and top Roy Orbison’s original version of “It’s Over.” While the original had the crescendo ending, Gates decided to START with histrionics, and he sure had the guy to do it, in Jack Bedient.

Jack Bedient (September 12, 1937-June 4, 1998) starts right in, blowing his stopped-up Pitney nostrils with a wail of “IT’S OVER.” Where do you go from there? Isn't it over?? No. With Gates’ arrangement swirling flutes at him, like moths in his face, Jack explains, “your baby doesn’t want you anymore.” Oh. And over the next few minutes, Bedient jacks up the pressure in describing that disobedient bitch who said “there’s someone new, we’re through-ooo-oooo.”

Jack Bedient, from the state of Washington, was a journeyman who first tasted the Top 100 with “The Mystic One,” on the Era label in 1961. He and his trio, The Chessman, played wherever they could, most often in the tourist trap towns of Nevada where the crowds wanted to drink and listen to cover versions of pop and rock hits. One member of the group was Billy Britt, who passed on just a few months ago, February 15, 2016 at the age of 74. While The Chessmen didn’t quite make it to the Las Vegas lounges on a regular basis, the group found steady work in Reno, Carson City and in Lake Tahoe, and sometimes played tourist hotels in Hawaii as well. “Two Sides of Jack Bedient” was his first album, on the Trophy label in 1964.

Jack and his Chessmen managed to sign with Fantasy in 1965, which specialized mostly in jazz and Lenny Bruce. “Double Whammy” scored some minor radio action, and led to their ‘Live at Harvey’s” album, which led back to the minors. Struggling with indie releases on Palomar and Rev, and going through some changes within the group, it seemed doubtful The Chessmen would get another major label chance, but Columbia signed them in 1967. The first 45 was “Love Workshop.”

Three singles were sent out to DJ apathy in 1968: “Pretty One,” “The Pleasure of You” (written by labelmate Gary Puckett, with “It’s Over” on the flip side), and “My Prayer.” In the clubs, patrons could buy souvenir albums on the Chessmen label, including ‘Songs You Requested” and “In Concert,” which was a re-issue of the Fantasy disc.

There’s a minor cult for Jack Bedient and the Chessmen, who managed to turn out some garage band rockers that hold up to stuff by any of their rivals, including The Kingsmen. Jack’s version of Dylan’s “Subterranian Homesick Blues” is a fairly bizarre Paul Rich-as-a-Hillbilly take that somehow works. And through the 70’s, Jack continued to update his song material and work minor clubs in Nevada and California, ultimately retiring from show biz to run a tanning booth business.

But…as Dylan might say, “death is not the end.” It’s not over. Not until you at least hear his take of “It’s Over,” aided and abetted by Mr. Gates. Gates throws out climax after climax, as the tidal wave of emotions ebbs and then lashes back again. All wet? You bet! Roy’s version had the finality of despair. His version has that last primal cry of “It’s OVER.” Bedient? He hits the high note, but there’s a swirl of harp around it. Does that mean he dropped dead and went to heaven?




In 1970, Eydie Gorme recorded a big ballad penned by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. “My World Keeps Getting Smaller Every Day” proves that it’s hard to sing BIG when the topic is small. The melody is bombastic and may have done better if the lyrics were more dire. Think, “Anyone Who Had a Heart” or “Delilah.”

The lyrics are actually rather pensive, working better with some sad little “Charade” melody and without trumpets are thudding drums. Poor Eydie, she’s got windmills in her mind, she’s got green icing flowing in her brain, and those were the days my friend:

“In the lonely of the morning when I’m waking up. I find you standing at the bottom of my coffee cup. I see you on the freeway when I’m driving in the car. Downtown when I’m shopping I just turn and there you are…”

And there you are, a song that did sort of follow established big ballad patterns, and literally strike familiar chords that worked well in other songs. Listen to it, and you’ll be thinking, “some of these notes are awfully familiar…some of the effects, like the boom-boom drums that stop the song with fatal punctuation…where have I hear this shit before?”

Which doesn't mean you won't enjoy this thing. Oh, what a gormless Gorme-less world we live in. Unlike your average Viley Virus, Arreola Grande or Taylor Twat piece, THIS song DOES have a melody.

It’s possible that five years earlier, and via Dusty Springfield, this thing could’ve had a chance. By 1970 Eydie was rather long in the tooth for 45 rpm glory, and “the kids” were the ones buying most of the singles, leaving Dusty, Tom Jones, and even Streisand to hope for album sales without the kickstart of an AM radio hit.

Indeed, for Eydie, and her husband Steve Lawrence, and a lot of Vegas acts of the day, the world was getting smaller. No “Ed Sullivan Show” or “Hollywood Palace,” no write-ups about being a fresh new face, and not much interest in a formula that had been flogged practically to death by Mancini and Bacharach all through the 60’s. And saddest of all, no matter how small your world gets, you still might not be able to find a cake left out in the rain.

EYDIE GORME MY WORLD GETS SMALLER EVERY DAY (ps, is Pluto still a planet?)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

"That's The Way It's Gonna Be!" La Lupe Wolfs Down Phil Ochs

"ALLEZ LUPE!" as we say in French.

Let's have some International women today. First up, the loopy Lupe, followed by a Swedish girl named Siw, and a South Korean Joo.

Ill Folks gives you Phil Ochs...via the Latina legend, La Lupe.

"That's The Way It's Gonna Be" is an unusual choice for her, and it's a kind of schizoid song; gloomy minor key clouds keep breaking for a resolute melody line that forces optimism. Phil co-wrote it with Bob Gibson. One wonders who was the McCartney optimist and who was the Lennon pessimist ("got to admit it's getting better...can't get no worse!")

The song darkly acknowledges pessimism, but breaks into a chorus of hope. As for La Lupe, in her bizarre Latin twist, it seems like she relishes the evil aspects, and adds some witchy laughter. You get the idea that she's happy to be dancing on the road to hell and simply enjoying the ride. If she's walking with her "heh hell hi" (head held high) it's just because you can see every gruesome detail that way.

La Lupe usually sang in Spanish, and as the photo shows, she was such a legend that a Spanish Harlem street was eventually named for her. Sizzling to the point of becoming a charred Charo, she somehow creates an interpretation that is both amusing and riveting, kind of funny but also fierce.

That's The Way it's Gonna Be Wait and See.

"Mr Sandman" in Swedish! (Looking for ABBA? Siw Me!)

"The World is Saved," to quote a Stina Nordenstam song. Why? The ABBA bunch re-united at a PRIVATE party. Somehow, this news was greeted with great glee, and a blurry photo posted on their Farcebook page (or was it Twatter or Instagrab) was re-posted all over the Net. No, it's doubtful they will tour (Agnetha being especially phobic), it's doubtful they could write anything as moronic as they did in their youth, and why bother when Swedish meatballs in their own country would make sure it was given away as free downloads?

However, to celebrate this exciting moment, which had me feeling especially tired and sleepy, here's a perky version of "Mr. Sandman" in Swedish. It was probably much appreciated at the time, as Sweden is often dark and gloomy for long stretches of the day, and they breed platinum blonds so that any ray of sun will reflect off their heads and help light the streets.

Siw Malmkvist, now 79, first achieved fame representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960. Adept at German, she later represented West Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.

Over the years Siw expanded from pop singer to stage star, appearing in a variety of roles, including "Sugar" (the musical version of "Some Like it Hot") and "Nine" (the musical inspired by "8 1/2"). Just a few years ago, she and Thorsten Flinck (who surely needs no introduction here) had a hit with her Swedish version of "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (originally from Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue).

Siw has recorded hundreds of tunes in Swedish and in German (and a few other languages as well). Once in a while a slab of her vinyl has turned up in America and if the price is right, I'll buy it. So far, I have one of her albums.

Yes, this is an original rip from that vinyl. Enjoy this quickie! Wham, bam, Thank You, Malmkvist!

SIW sings! MR. SANDMAN IN SWEDISH Download or listen on line. No pop-ups or porn ads.

Eun-Ju Lee and the Corrs - Only When I Sweep

It's June...and a remembrance of Eun-Ju Lee.

Like a falling star, Eun-Ju Lee was a bright and beautiful presence for a short time.

She rose to fame via perky roles in comedies, and showed great depth in dramas. The pretty South Korean actress seemed able to deal with each new challenge in her career. From teen romance roles to the more difficult parts of a blind woman, a woman dying of cancer, and a reporter carrying a deadly fetus, she worked at an increasingly hectic pace.

The young actress also found herself with such an adoring fan base that she was wanted for TV commercials, endorsing a variety of beauty products.

In many films her screen character suffered and died, and it seemed tough for this increasingly depressed and weary young woman to go home at night and shake off the day's shoot. She had to keep working, apparently taking on the pressures of family debt.

She appeared in "Tae Guk Gi," which was to South Korea what "Gone With the Wind" is to the U.S.A., and starred in "Phoenix" (aka "Firebird") a huge TV soap opera (a 9 DVD disc set). In "The Scarlet Letter" she played a bisexual nightclub singer in a script rife with nudity, violence and gore. Aside from grotesque scenes in which she was blood-spattered and screaming, and a passionate naked love scene in which she seemed to be writhing in agony more than ecstasy, she also had to be convincing as a singer. The film's highlight had her covering theeerie Corrs song "Only When I Sleep."

She chose to sing it in English, which adds a slight touch of humor, as she has the traditional Asian problem with pronouncing an "L" sound. Not long after the film was made, and only weeks after graduating college, Eun-Ju Lee slit her wrists and hanged herself, leaving an apologetic note to her mother.

Not many of her films have had a DVD release in the UK or USA, but you can find some clips of her on bootleg central, YouTube. You may have to type in alternate spellings, as her first name is sometimes written as Eun-Joo or Oon-Joo, and be aware that in South Korea, last names come first. South Korean uploaders will refer to her as Lee Eun-Ju.

She was talented, beautiful, and for as long as it was possible for her, determined and brave.

Eun-Ju Lee covers ONLY WHEN I SLEEP

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Oh, you thought GARY LEWIS was the first guy to cover "Sealed with a Kiss."

Introducing...Barry Gordon.

Actually he needs no introduction, does he? Not to fans of odd novelties.

Barry’s first fame came with the dopey novelty tune “Nuttin’ for Christmas.” This bit of coy bleating sold a million copies in 1955, when Barry was just six. It was quite an irony that the kid was (and still is) Jewish. He didn’t quite duplicate his Yuletide success with his next MGM novelty item, “Rock Around Mother Goose.” And nobody was too thrilled with yet another: “Zoomah, The Santa Claus from Mars.” Or yet another: “How Do We Look to the Monkeys.”

Barry became one of the more ubiquitous of the precocious kid actors in sitcoms, and ten years after his “Nuttin’” success, won the admiration of critics via the Broadway/Film hit “A Thousand Clowns.” In that one, he seemed like a diminutive Woody Allen, with his overly verbal and intelligent comical attitude toward adults (including Jason Robards Jr.)

With his new film success, somebody thought he had the makings of a tween singing star. Brian Hyland's “Sealed with a Kiss” had hit the Top Ten three years earlier in 1962. Now? Maybe it could re-ignite the career of kid-novelty rocker Barry Gordon.

Obviously we know the answer. Still, it's not too dated, and the kid sort of tries for a Pitney approach, which leads to sincere high-pitched howls of puppy love. It's much more fun listening than his other single, "Yes Sir, That’s My Baby.”

Fans of “A Thousand Clowns” will recall that “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” was strummed and sung by Gordon and Jason Robards Jr. way too often in the movie. A few years later, Gary Lewis got the cover version hit. And Barry Gordons days as a kid star were over.

My only contact with Gordon was when he was an adult and the President of the Screen Actors Guild. I asked him to look into the abuses on eBay, where photos of his members were being stolen and not only duped by 8x10 pirates, but used on t-shirts, mousepads, and in the adult section, Photoshopped onto porn bodies. His apathetic but perhaps legal-logical response was that the union was only in place to hassle the studios for more money and better working conditions, and everything else was up to individual actors and actresses. I countered that if he sent around a form for his members to sign, allowing SAG to remove these auctions and be authorized to sell approved photos or signed items, thousands upon thousands of dollars could be raised for the Motion Picture County Hospital (where retired, down-on-their-luck performers spend their final days). To be fair, I later wrote to another Screen Actors Guild president, Melissa "Little House" Gilbert, who shared Barry's lack of vision and utter stupidity.

Gordon ran for Congress as a Democrat, hosted leftist political talk shows on radio and on the Internet, and taught at California State University. "Sealed with a Kiss" is barely a blip on his impressive resume. But this IS the blog for blips!

The song also, on this Memorial Day Weekend, acknowledges the start of the humid season of hellish heat. It's a shitty time of year, and if there was a package to be sent to idiots who don't believe in climate change, I'd send them a pound of hot steaming shit. Sealed with a piss.