Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sewers of the Strand - Spike Milligan


Check today's headlines and the world's a sewer, isn't it?

Sewer enough! It is!

Does this mean we can't be cheerful? Needle noddle nu!

Here's Milligna, the well known typing error, the Godfather of British comedy, singing about the wonderful "Sewers of the Strand."

So, naturally, the sewer in the picture is actually located in Paris. SAPRISTI again!

Both manic and depressive, Spike was one of the most complex and contradictory of comedians. He was the eye of a creative hurricane, capable of surreal jokes, aching poetry, whimsical nonsense and passionate letters-to-the-editor on a variety of issues. He'd be typing furiously about Mr. I. Duncan Smith, Syrian immigrants, ISIS, climate change, overpopulation, and the plague of Viley Virus, Kim Kuntrashian and selfies in general. So, maybe, to paraphrase another grand old British song, he's better off bein' bloody well dead.

John Lennon loved Spike. He sent a copy of "Primal Scream" to him and reviewed "The Goon Show Scripts" in the New York Times. So get Gooned and Spiked with...

An INSTANT listen or download


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Grim Reaper SOCKS IT to JUDY CARNE

The death of Judy Carne (April 27, 1939-September 3, 2015) brought a true pang of sadness for many of us. Part of that involves acknowledging that time has passed. Was it that long ago that "Laugh-In" presented funny hippie protests and a healthy new attitude toward sex? What happened to that joy? And Judy Carne was HOW old?

There were plenty of enticing ladies in that "Age of Aquarius," the late 60s. TV had fantasy figures from Barbara Eden and Barbara Feldon to Diana Rigg and Stephanie Powers. But how many truly reflected the spirit of the SIXTIES, and especially that whole "England Swings" vibe? You might say Jean Shrimpton? Twiggy? Petula Clark? None were on TV in a regular series. I'd say Judy Carne was tops.

After two bland, almost-forgotten sitcoms (she co-starred on "The Baileys of Balboa" and then joined the suicidal Peter Deuel for the mild-mannered "Love on a Rooftop") she and her British accent emerged, with splashy panache and style, on "Laugh-In."

On that pioneering show she was sexy and sassy, impish and fun-loving. That's what the "British Invasion" and the "swinging" 60's was all about. No guns. No overt big-boobed sexuality (not that we didn't appreciate Honor Blackman's Pussy Galore). Judy Carne was cheerful; almost a Julie Andrews type. Julie starred in "The Boyfriend" in 1955, and Judy in the revival in 1980. But unlike Andrews, Carne was, CARNAL, although in a Carnaby way. She boasted about having fucked her way through her late teens, in bed with everyone from Stirling Moss to Anthony Newley. And once in America, she added Warren Beatty and Burt Reynolds, who would become her first husband.

"Sock It To Me," as chirped by Judy Carne, sounded frisky, not dirty. Most in the "Laugh-In" audience, especially kids, didn't really think too overtly about the idea of Judy being spread on her back and "socked." But that element was there. And she proved to be a sad, sad reminder of how the "flower power" era ebbed and then crashed, when her "sex and drugs" cheerfulness degenerated into abusive relationships and addiction. In 1977-78 she was arrested three times. In 1978 she literally crashed in a car accident, and for a brief time, she was memorably seen on talk shows wearing a kind of cage over her head, with bolts keeping her broken neck in place.

A few years later, and she was forgotten. In 1983 she turned up on a "Laugh-In" reunion show. Judy's embarrassing autobiography about laughing on the outside and crying on the inside arrived in 1985, and that was it. A few years later and she was just a has-been, taking a one-way ticket back home.

Judy disappeared back to the safety of Pitsford, which was near her original hometown in England. There, she was once again "Joyce," not Judy, and I guess that using her real last name (Botterill) helped keep her privacy. She was one of those rare celebs to evade the fanboys and the collectors who wanted to get an autographed index card by mail. Nobody seemed to know where to reach Judy Carne.

She didn't want to be reached. When she died, few people had anything to say. She didn't seem to have kept in touch with any of her "Laugh-In" co-stars. After all, she walked out on "Laugh-In" before its third year had ended. She was complaining that she was tired of "Sock it to Me" jokes and dancing around in a slim bikini covered in stenciled flowers. Some snickered that it was because she was jealous that Goldie Hawn had eclipsed her as the show's leading lady.

Over thirty years later, and her neighbors all seemed to say the same thing: "Oh, Joyce was a lovely lady. I'd see her walking her dogs." But talk to her? No, not really. Appear at a memorabilia show? NO, not really. What her income might've been, after all her legal problems, I have no idea. But selling photos of herself, or posing with big fat grinning Hoobastanks was not her deal.

Sadly, time has not been kind to "Laugh-In" either. The show seems dated and there aren't many DVDs available o it. Revisionist historians are quick to sneer that the show was "abusive to women," and "politically incorrect." How? Oh, "Laugh-In" promoted the stereotype of the bubble-headed idiot (Goldie Hawn), the loudmouth (Joanne Worley) and the ugly duckling nobody would want to fuck (Ruth Buzzi). And Judy was, of course, the abused sex object victimized by slapstick.

Just how often Judy appeared in public in England is hard to determine. Supposedly she made sporadic appearances in dinner theater productions. "She was a bit of a recluse," one Pitsford fellow admitted, and in her 70's was "frail."

"A Most Peculiar Lady," to paraphrase a certain song, she kept to herself to such a degree that people at first thought her death was a hoax. Who was going to confirm this? She had no agent? No friends? Her death on September 3rd was finallly confirmed on September 8th by a woman named Eva Duffy. Friend? No, a spokeswoman at Northampton General Hospital. Pneumonia was the cause of Judy's death.

"Reality," as the self-destroyed Mr. Williams used to say, "what a concept." So let's leave reality behind and enjoy the brief delusion that Judy is alive and well, and it's the happy late 60's again. Download "Sock it to Me," by Judy Carne.


CANDIDA the song, the disease, the porn star CANDIDA ROYALLE

A few days ago, Candida Royalle (October 15, 1950 – September 7, 2015) passed on. She was a bright, intelligent lady. She was also one of the more attractive pioneers of full-length porn. As 8mm loops became more easy to find in the early 70's, so were hippie chicks willing to do what only fairly homely prostitutes had done: actually fuck on film.

8mm porn was sold by mail at about $20 a ten-minute reel, or watched in "peep show" booths at a quarter per minute. When the swinging 60's had made sure ordinary porn flicks were not likely to cause arrests, companies began to flourish and they hired attractive talent. There was Swedish Erotica, Lasse Braun, The Collection, Diamond Collection, and the appropriately named Prettygirl series, which had a star in men's mag model Linda McDowell (who also worked as Linda Powell). She was followed by the black-haired beauty Tina Russell, and eventually porn left the dirty bookstores and turned up in movie theaters. At first, the "talent" was still fairly homely (Spelvin) or mildly attractive (Lovelace), but soon there was Annette Haven and, yes, an exotic New Yorker named Candice Vadala.

In a remarkable display of sophistication and restraint, Candice didn't call herself "Candy." Yes, 8mm stripper Candy Barr was long gone, and Candy Samples was a big-boobed broad with the face of a diner waitress, but why go for a cliche? She became CANDIDA.

Vadala became ROYALLE, which probably was a relief to her father, Louis Vadala, who was a jazz drummer. Louis played in a variety of house bands, including ones that toiled at the Tavern on the Green restaurant in the middle of Central Park, and at the classy Waldorf Astoria, in the East 50's. I can't find actual credits for him on recordings (mostly because I didn't look), but he may have been in on sessions for Raymond Scott, Lester Lanin and Louie Prima, among others. Band members or session men were seldom given liner notes credits on pop albums of the day.

The musical tribute to her, is therefore, sad to say, not anything by her Dad, but instead, the pretty obvious choice of "CANDIDA." The song was the first hit for Tony Orlando, who had quit his not-too-successul singing career to work in the publishing division of Columbia. When producers couldn't quite find a voice that suited a song knocked out by Irwin Levine and Toni Wine, they persuaded Tony to cut a Latin-tinged demo. The rest, as they say, is misery. MOR star Andy Williams was one of many to also cut "Candida" after it became a sizzling hit, and it's his mild-mannered version you'll find below. It's not better than Tony's, but this blog can NOT get so cheesy as to have Orlando on it. Besides, Williams is dead and it's nice to remind people that he was once alive.

No longer alive is Candida Royalle, who made several dozen porn films. As she aged, she took an interesting direction. She became a porn producer herself, and in 1984 created a line of "Femme Fatale" movies aimed at couples. She figured, rightly, that most porn out was intended solely to arouse men (and slightly masochistic women working out their slut fantasies). Her notion was to ad some romance and subtlety. If she succeeded, I have no idea, since I never saw any of them. Candida also had a line of "contour" sex toys, and was literate enough to be invited to speak on porn and sexuality to audiences at the New School for Social Research, the Conference o the American Psychiatric Association, and even the New York Rotary Club.

In producing porn, Candida hoped to treat her actresses with respect and dignity. She made sure they came to the set healthy, and left in the same condition. In other words, she didn't want them suffering from Candida Albicans, a yeast infection. Candida is in the body naturally, but it can mutate into a fungus. It can cause gas and diarrhea, it can contribute to eczema, and if we want to use the medical term, it can also cause "cunt trouble." Most people seem to think that Candida is strictly a "female" problem but that's only one type of infection.

No, Tony Orlando wasn't singing about a stinking twat back in 1970. And the porn actress wasn't winking about having a royal pain in the cunt, when she began cranking out porn as "Candida" in 1976. After turning up in a variety of cheap flicks under a variety of names (Cyntnia Pleschette, Kathy Silverman, Candice Chambers, Bettina Mia) she became Candida Royal in 1979. The poster above, which was one of the few items from the "old days" on Candida's website, also misspells Susan Nero's name. The first correctly spelled film appearance as Candida Royalle was in "Pro-Ball Cheerleaders," where she was noticeably the slim and seductive brunette opposite the more full-figured redhead Lisa DeLeeuw. Through the late 70's and early 80's, Candida was certainly one of the favorite dark-haired vixens of porn, and then she moved on to her "Femme Fatale" years, her lectures and other enterprises, and she was even working on a "straight" documentary about her life at the time of her fatal illness.

Below, the cover version of "Candida" by Andy Williams. ANDY WILLIAMS CANDIDA

It's STUPID not to love ANNE McCUE

Anne McCue certainly deserves to be mentioned along with Cash, Williams and Harris. More people should know that.

Actually, when it comes to "supporting" the artist, I'm right there whenever McCue (or Cash, come to think of it) tours or has product to buy.

Anne is touring in support of her new one, which is quite a bit more jazzy than past efforts (as you might tell by the affectation o the porkpie hat). My introduction to her was when, with a Byrds-type jangle, she came up with a smart piece of writing called "Stupid."

The more you listen to Anne's song, the more clever it becomes. She can easily reference John Lennon and Bob Dylan, but this comes out of knowledge and respect for their work, not desperate name-dropping. "Lennon said there are no institutions. There's nothing to believe in anymore. The time of the flood is almost here. The end of the world is drawing near..."

But that's no reason to do something stupid. The song is about not giving up on life...which is remarkable coming from a woman who filled up early albums with some pretty grim and dark songs. Yes, singing about drunks ("Jesus' Blood") disaster ("Any Minute Now") and feeling like a "$50 Whore" all suggest that fans of Dylan (or Lucinda Williams, whom critics say she sounds like) might do well to add McCue to their eMusic queue.

"I suffered your shit and shoveled your debris," she sings to the guy who nearly drove her to suicide. But really, why kill yourself over some guy? Or some guy at 11pm giving you bad news? He's not a prophet, and "no man-made God" should lead anyone to a premature and fatal decision. If Anne can manage the trick of being depressing and uplifting at the same time, then there are indeed wonders to ponder every day.

On this track she warns, "I'm gonna write a Bob Dylan song..." Well, why not, she upped the ante on her pal Lucinda already, and some of her stuff is more than good enough to be covered by Dylan on a lonely afternoon.

STUPID Instant download or listen on line.

SWAMP GIRL! (Frankie Laine and Loulie Jean Norman)

Are you like me, do you pick a book off your shelf and just browse now and then?

It's ok to admit it. I didn't ask, "Do you like me," just "ARE you like me."

When it comes to non-fiction and especially biography, I might thumb through to the parts of a person's life that particularly interest me, and leave the rest. It's rare that the whole book is so compelling, and so full of anecdotes, that I read it straight through.

In the case of Frankie Laine's "That Lucky Old Sun," I did both. At first I just thumbed through for references to favorite songs. Then later on I found myself interested in going back to get the full story from beginning to end. And now, now and then, his is one of those books that I'll pick up in order to re-read an amusing story.

A few weeks ago, I re-read his recollection on "Swamp Girl," one of the greatest, and most bizarre songs in his catalog.

Mitch Miller had changed Frankie's career. Laine had been known as a jazz singer, a big-band guy. Some of his songs, like "Shine," even had listeners thinking he might be black. But when the peculiar Mr. Miller began producing Frankie, he had new ideas. He gave Frankie a western song to try. Laine thought the guy was nuts. "Mule Train" became a huge hit. Miller brought in another million-seller when he had Laine record "The Cry of the Wild Goose," with a typically overboard, bombastic arrangement.

Next, "we found another big hit in "Swamp Girl," a very offbeat song by a writer of specialty material named Michael Brown. It was all about a Lorelei of the marshes who lured men there to meet their doom, and it was out of line with anything I'd been doing up to that time. It still sounds avant garde today."

Indeed, of all the Laine songs, "Swamp Girl" might be a first choice to get a person involved in the amazing world of Frankie Laine. It might be a stretch, but it can be argued that Frankie Laine was THE GREATEST AMERICAN MALE VOCALIST OF ALL TIME.

Yes, you read that right. How do I place him above Sinatra?

Easy. Sinatra had two gears: ring-a-ding and morose. Yes, he had great phrasing, and some of his versions are definitive. He also had a tremendously fascinating private life. But if he wasn't doing some stupid fucking finger-snapping "Fly Me to the Moon," then he was moping about "It Was a Very Good Year" or "There Will Never Be Another You."

Laine? Laine could sing jazz damn well, from noir pieces like "Satan Wears a Satin Gown" to standards such as "Sunny Side of the Street." Unlike Sinatra, he could also sing a huge full-throated ballad like "Lord, You Gave me a Mountain." Could Sinatra put over a sappy religious ballad like "I Believe" or an over-baked bit of nutsery like "Annabel Lee" or "Blazing Saddles?" Hell no.

Oh yes...Frankie was a bit chubbier than Frank and had a more worse toupee.

But Francesco LoVecchio should be considered a damn strong contender to Francis Sinatra.

PS, as much as Sinatra needed a good arranger behind him (Gordon Jenkins or Nelson Riddle), Frankie Laine also was helped by strong production. If you listen to some of Laine's best work, you'll note that he had some of the finest producers in the business, and in his book he mentions how often he worked very hard with a full orchestra and take after take to get things right. The legendary "whip crack" noise on "Rawhide" took some ingenuity. And on "Swamp Girl," one of the key factors in making it brilliant is the ethereal vocalise work of Loulie Jean Norman. Loulie would later add strange counterpoint to "Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens, and was the soaring voice behind the original "Star Trek" theme.

"Swamp Girl" straddles the fragrant bog between Laine's romantic and jazz side, and his often blinding flare for the dramatic. He was a great man.


They Can't Take GRETA KELLER Away From Me

A sweet sorrow will comfort you hearing the voice of Greta Keller (1905-1977). Rather than wax melancholic over the wax, discover for yourself the nostalgic niche occupied, perhaps to waning interest, by the interestingly wan Greta Keller. Perhaps it's Keller's lingering German accent that makes her interpretations bittersweet, the tremulous attention she gives toward interpreting the lyrics, or just the aura she presents as a world-weary and aging chanteuse on a dreary tour through smoke-filled nightclubs.

Madame Keller's private life, as her voice suggests, included a variety of traumas. The worst was the murder of her husband David Bacon, apparently while he was patronizing a gay brothel. He was vaguely known at the time for portraying The Masked Marvel in a movie serial. Pregnant at the time of the tragedy, Greta's child arrived stillborn.

In 1940 she opened "Chez Greta" at New York's Algonquin Hotel. Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Tallulah Bankhead, Greta Garbo, Cole Porter and Maurice Chevalier all toasted her as one of the best. In 1947 she opened a new "Chez Greta" in St. Moritz Switzerland and in 1960 returned to New York for two years at the Waldorf Astoria. She continued to tour the world through the 60's and early 70's, evoking nostalgia and stoking libidos. Her rendition of "Married" can be heard in the 1972 film "Cabaret."

Dietrich was more theatrical, Hildegarde evinced more humor, but the tender Greta Keller has a way with a sad song.

Instant access, no Rapidshare, codes, or confusion in getting to a page where the link is hidden amid a dozen garish ads:

They Can't Take That Away From Me (or you)

Not Joan Baez - PULL THE TRIGGERS...Black Lives Smatter








It's really time for a white folkie to take up where Joan Baez left off, and warble an earnest ballad about misunderstood criminals. That would include gangsta wannabe's who goad police into pulling the trigger. At the moment instead of music, we get MEMES. After Doc Palmer killed a lion for no reason except joyful vanity, the "Black Lives Matter" people began firing up MEMES all over Facebook and Instagram. Like:

Nevermind that many victims of police brutality had been tormenting the cops, pretending to have weapons or resisting arrest. Also a bit galling is that a MEME such as the above is blindly insisting that anyone protesting the death of a lion can't possibly find time to protest one of the many incidents where excessive force was NOT needed and the cops were wrong.

One thing is certain; Baez doesn't matter much these days, and the folk-rock movement is deader than Trayvon. Nobody's a singin' protests anymore. And is that a good thing? Whether Bob Dylan was right about Hurricane Carter or not, it sure was a good song. When was the last time you heard a topical hit song that touched your heart? (Do NOT mention the word "BONO" if you leave a comment. It will be removed as SPAM).

Here's Joan protesting in 1965 (James Baldwin with the barefoot Baez) and in 2005 (re. the execution of "reformed" ex-crip Tookie Williams). But in 1972 the National Lampoon protested her, via parody.

Oh, the sacrilege!

How could they fug with such a well-meaning folkie?

First thing they had to do was avoid using the inflammatory title "Pull the Triggers, Niggers." On the National Lampoon album, the song was punningly if not cunningly titled "Pull the Tregroes." But the N-word was sung on that black vinyl of black humor.

Written by Tony "Going too Far" Hendra, and performed by a Baez soundalike named Diana Reed, the song references George Jackson. In 1970 Jackson and two other inmates killed a prison guard. As one of the "Soledad Brothers" he wrote a few books and joined rivals Eldridge Cleaver and Black Panther Huey Newton as a pet of white liberals, the kind who condoned violence as long as it was "just across the bay."

Liberals with the same perceived Baez bias against law enforcement probably admired Jackson's brother, who later in 1970 stormed into a Marin County courtroom and seized Judge Harold Haley as a hostage. Haley's face was blown off during the getaway, and Jackson was killed as well.

In 1971, after receiving a gun smuggled to him by a well-meaning white guy, George Jackson shot prison guard Jere Graham in the head, execution-style, exclaiming, "Let's see if this works." Two more guards as well as two white prisoners bled to death before Jackson was gunned down and the prison riot brought under control.

While it was actually Joan's ex-boyfriend Bob Dylan who came out of protest-song retirement to release a single called "George Jackson," the Lampoon gang mocked Baez instead.

The mock Joan sings: "Just because I can't be there doesn't mean I don't care. So next time, Brother, off a pig for me." The chorus: "Pull the triggers, Niggers, we're with you all the way, just across the bay."

Later in the song Joan is crucified for being sanctimonious ("I'm the world's Madonna...I'm needed from Belfast to Bangladesh"). She confesses to trying to right "grievous wrongs" by writing "tedious songs." All these years later, Joan Baez is still singing her heart out, and sometimes wearing it on her sleeve.

Pull the trigger on this download.

The Free-Wafflin' Bob Dylan - and his pickle grenades

"The waffle farmers got a chance to lob their pickle grenades..."
Gee! How waffle!
How does it feel, to no longer be a complete unknown...and the target of some jerks makin' fun of your hallucinogenic lyrics?
Watch out for the Yogurt People. Ketchup in your hair. Because..."17 Miles from Waukegan My Cantelope Died." That's the title of this very early Dylan parody.

It's on the Harvard Lampoon's "Sheep" album (many years before the National Lampoon and their "Lemmings").

What's it to ya, Moby Dick?

Genya Ravan and all artists..TIED TO THE WHIPPING POST

Artists used to complain, mildly, that there were problems with their record label, producer or agent. Even so, their product was in the stores. Making copies of vinyl, or even CDs was a nuisance, required some skill and equipment, and most people only made one or two copies for friends.

Now? Now artists are TIED TO THE WHIPPING POST, helpless against the massive "sharing" of their work. The rationale behind the Dementeds out there who couldn't keep their Hans off other peoples' copyrighted music, was "oh, it's not available on mp3." Remember that? Then the stuff was available on mp3. The reply was, "It's not cheap enough." So don't ruin the fun and just shut up. Some adorable Mephistophelian know-it-alls declared, "Ach, giving away music makes artists popular. Go sell t-shirts, and Zieg Heil to ME for putting your shit on my blog where I get banner ad money and Paypal tip money!"

It all worked out. NOT.

Aside from Taylor Swift or Sam Smith, most artists are discovering they've been cheated by Spotify to the point where it's embarrassing how many "hits" somehow only equal pennies. Artists have caved in and posted to YouTube to counter all the "fans" who have set up "juke box" accounts to take nickels for themselves. Yep, YouTube is a cheap nickelodeon where the parent company GOOGLE takes most of the money and tosses some chump change to the artists.

Think you can get somebody to untie the ropes to the WHIPPING POST for a tour? Well, how many venues are there? Most people stay home with their Netflix and their downloading. Without record label support and hiring a tour manager, it's difficult to tour. You have to truly be some "road warrior" who travels with just a guitar, and is young enough not to be worn out by the driving, the flying, the crappy hotels and the disorienting world of sound checks, talking to whatever local radio station might still be on the air, and of course shouting at your Twitter and Facebook followers about where you are. So you can hear: "Oh, damn, sorry to be missing it. Hope you come back my way again soon!"

Genya Ravan is among the many older stars who should be seeing royalties coming in. After all, her career stretches from "Goldie and the Gingerbreads" to "Ten Wheel Drive" to impressive solo albums that suffered from poor promotion (her debut on Columbia), bastardly production (like the well-titled "They Love Me, They Love Me Not") or drugged-up non-logic (an album titled "Goldie Zelkowitz" with no reference that this was actually Genya Ravan).

I did see Genya perform some years ago. It wasn't at a big venue. The place probably doesn't even exist anymore. A lot of the favorite places people like her used to perform at, simply got swallowed up by greedy landlords. Her autobiography, "Lollipop Lounge" tells the hard luck stories of her career (which also included being a men's mag model). I once complimented Genya; "you're a survivor," and that pissed her off, because she's been more than that...she's been a mover, a shaker, and she's beaten all the odds from addiction to cancer. She's also released new music on small indie labels. Some of her older material was re-issued on mp3 but that probably hasn't brought in much money. The quality isn't that great, either. This track, ripped from vinyl sounds better than the one I bought at eMusic.

A "little" material "free" isn't necessarily horrible. One or two items on YouTube to give an idea of how excited the audience is to see the artist live. One or two songs on a star's website or on a blog. In that spirit, here's a sample of Genya, for those who may know the name but not much else. "Whipping Post" is pure Ravan. Each stanza of this song brings Genya closer to the raw meat and the bare bones. Or to borrow, out of context, a Phil Ochs line: "The whipping was rotten with ecstasy." Good Lord...Good Lord...Lord...I feel like I'm DYIN'!!!
WHIPPING POST Instant download or listen on line. No code words, porn ads or pop-up ads.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Frank Milano is Yogi Bear (not Daws Butler) on this old kiddie 45rpm.

Smarter than the Average Bear, Yogi realized plundering pic-a-nic baskets wasn't all the fun he could have. As this song proves, he's now into Cindy and visiting her cave.

Why did Yogi wear a tie...but no pants?

CINDYBEAR! Instand upload or listen on line.

Alfred E. Neuman - POTRZEBIE

Yes, Mad Magazine is still around. Sort of. Quarterly.

Face it, with everyone roaring with laughter over MEMES tossed around on FARCEBOOK, and people constantly e-mailing zany YouTube videos, and various Twitter idiots stealing each others jokes to post, who needs to buy a magazine? Why encourage a new generation of cartoonists and comedy writers?

POTRZEBIE was a beloved nonsense word back when Mad was loaded with them. There were various Yiddish expressions thrown in (this song mentions the FURSHLUGGINER Five). Don Martin and Will Elder were especially fond of creating words to denote violence (a face slapping SMEKKITY-SMEK for example) but this one was pure idiocy.

The only name stranger than Potzrzebie was found over at DC Comics, via Mister Mxyzptlk. He was an imp that sometimes annoyed Superman. He lived in the "Fifth Dimension" (a zone, not a sappy group of overweight and over-age singers) and the only way to get him to go back was to trick him into saying his name backwards.

Like the imp, who underwent various changes in shape and features depending on who drew him, there were several variations on Alfred E. Neuman. The definitive Alfred (as seen here) was created by Norman Mingo.

Unfortunately Mad magazine's music, on flexi-discs in the mag, singles and occasional albums, rarely reached the level of Spike Jones or Raymond Scott. Sorry, but this instrumental doesn't live up to having a Mad Magazine catch-word for a title.


A Mad instru-mental.

Instant download or listen on line. No tricky links, stupid passwords named Zinhof, or other distractions.

A HERRING and a DOMINO (Anne Herring and Anna Domino)

It's Anna Domino and Annie Herring.

And rather than do a Lawrence Welk impression by introducing "Anna one, Annie two," let's get the facts out of the way, fast. YOU may not have heard of either, but they have been in the music biz for 20 (Domino) and 30 (Herring) years now.

Herring is a Christian singer-songwriter, so chances are you'd know her if you feel more positive about Oral Roberts than oral sex. All her recordings are on Christian record labels, but don't label her a Jesus freak. Take the perky, pretty "Wild Child," from her very first album. It's faster than a pirouetting rodent and filled with the kind of free-wheeling glee that most will only get after an uplifting morning in church or an upshot of Summers' Eve.

Is it a sin to download this out of print bit of Herring? What would Jesus do?

Like many contemporary Christian singers Annie's lyrics are not always overt in referencing that Son of you-know-who. (Parenthetical note: the grand Rebecca St. James scored a massive contemporary Christian hit via "Me Without You," which SHE thought was about God. The songwriter, Martin Briley, was just writing a love song to a very real You. But the Lord moves in mysterious ways).

As sung very fast by A. Herring:

I always wanted my life to look like the right side of a tapestry, a tapestry, But darkness was weaved in when I was conceived in iniquity. And now I wanna be cut free... You took me out of hell when you tore through my veil And now all I can do is just look at you And be me for the first time. I feel like a child that's never gone wild. And I feel pretty in my soul The darkness is gone And what keeps me hangin' on is you. And that's all I want..."

As for Anna Domino, she's had a cult following for twenty years, which means she can pretty much walk around unnoticed. Her real name is the less ecclesiastical Anna Taylor. Her style of indie-pop, at least on the cut you're about to hear, puts her somewhere into the Joni Mitchell category of someone cool, literate and aloof.

Born in Tokyo, raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she gravitated to Manhattan and worked with various indie rock bands, releasing her first full length album in 1986. "Own Kind" is from that vinyl.

She has since gone on to record some interesting stuff with her husband Michel Delory (check out Favourite Songs from the Twilight Years 1984-90). In 1999 the duo re-named themselves Snakefarm and released "Songs from My Funeral," filled with traditional folk songs and murder ballads. Own Kind:

Here we are polite well informed and mannerly All our boys and girls have money and enough to eat And weave a thread through the whole community Showing how we value heredity And what it means to belong to a fatherland Know the aborigine, colourfull but out of hand And now and then others come and threaten us And we fall back on forces we can trust And we shake our fists at the posters on the barroom wall We display our public grievance In the editorial page or else we paint it on a subway hall. We look upon the world but we're not quite part of it All the trouble there surely isn't our fault All the pain and hate and the needless punishment We've grown out of that and we're quite proud of it And something else that should well bear mentioning Once we were on top fashionable and interesting And we held sway over half this ship of fools Subject to our values myths and rules We know we can't afford to lose the past So full of moral lessons we thought would always last But now so many years without a war We have a generation A generation rotten to the core.



YES MY DARLING DAUGHTER - Eydie Gorme and Dinah Shore versions

A seminal song about consensual sex, "Yes My Darling Daughter" was a pretty pioneering effort back in 1940: a horny girl describes the advice she got from her very hip mama!

When Eddie Cantor heard a demo of it, he flipped for the song, and the unknown Jewish girl who sang it. That girl was Dinah Shore. She and "Yes My Darling Daughter" became a hit when she sang it on Cantor's radio show.

Dinah's radio debut was so hot, she reprised the song just a month later, October 23, 1940. (That version is available below). Dinah ended up a regular on Cantor's radio show, and a big recording star.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to Eydie Gorme's version. Gorme's another Jewish girl talking to Mama, but her version's got a rocking up-tempo big-band arrangement. She removes the line suggesting papa might protest her antics, and...check the ending! Gorme is getting pretty orgasmic with her "Yes, Yes" delights, and goes so far overboard...the police have to be called in.

Listen for how Gorme's voice melds with a police siren! Out of respect to the late Ms. Eydie and her husband Steve Lawrence, no further speculation will be made as to why the cops were called. Back when she was still around, I did e-mail her website and ask if there was any story as to why a police siren was melded into her vocal. The webmaster's reply was that there wasn't a siren. Duh. By the time I tracked down songwriter Jack Lawrence, he was in no condition to recall that session.

The illfolks blog takes great pleasure in offering an obscure and unlikely bit of smut, and hopefully you'll take great pleasure too, although for a song that's under 3 minutes, you'll have to be quick.

PS, songwriter Jack Lawrence wrote the lyrics for several very clean hit songs, including "Beyond the Sea," "Tenderly," "All Or Nothing at All" and "If I Didn't Care."

GORME goes Nuts
DINAH on Radio

Emile, Don't Forget ZOLA - of The Platters

Halle Berry played her in a movie. But you didn't see it, did you? You also don't remember her singing any hits for The Platters. And admit it, up till this moment you had no idea who Zola Taylor was.
On most of the greatest hits The Platters recorded, it was a male vocalist on lead: "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "Magic Touch" and "Twilight Time."

"He's Mine," offered below, is one of the very few rockin' numbers with Zola singing lead, a Miss, the Platters didn't have a hit.

The song's a good example of Zola's capabilities. If you think she sounds a bit like an energetic Frankie Lymon, then you might as well see the 1998 movie "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" in which three women (including Halle as Zola) claim to have married him and deserve his estate. Obviously Zola was one of the women who failed to impress a judge with her claim.

ZOLA He's MINE No porn ads. No code games. No egocentric passwords. Instant download or listen on line.

Nostalgia for a Time That No Longer Exists: "TENEMENT SYMPHONY"

Photographer Shirley Baker is the subject of a new museum exhibit. It collects her photos of "An England That No Longer Exists."

Most of the photos could easily have been taken in parts of America as well, from the streets of old Boston to the Lower East Side tenements of Manhattan.

One thing about the old tenements; no matter who you were or where you came from, your neighbors were your friends. You all spoke the same language. You all lived by the same customs. You all had the same morality.

It didn't matter if your ancestors came from Italy, Greece, Russia or anywhere else. You had the same goals. You wanted to make your country great. You wanted to make a better world for your children. And if your children married outside your own faith or ethnic ancestry, so what?

Now? Not so much. Immigrants come in and refuse to speak the language. They refuse to learn the customs. They are self-entitled, arrogant and often violent. As much as they might be privileged, or given every break in the book, they turn like rats and use all they learned against the people who sheltered them. Right, "Jihada John" of the UK? That so, you murderous "brothers" who blew up the Boston marathon and sauntered away smirking?

What nostalgia to hear Tony Martin, that handsome Italian singer who was actually a Jew, enthusiastically sing about the Scots and Italian and the others who lived in literal harmony. "It's all a part of my TENEMENT SYMPHONY."

Yes, the song is still heard thanks to Tony's rousing performance of it in the lesser Marx Brothers movie "At the Store."

Hear it once more. It's strictly a nostalgia piece now, Senor.

Tenement Symphony Tony Martin

Donald Trump wouldn't like "My Yiddishe Mama" in SPANISH from Sedaka

The current star of the tedious 2016 Presidential campaign is Donald Trump. His numbers seemed to skyrocket when he declared there should be a wall between America and Mexico.

"The Donald" hit a nerve. Xenophobia is like the common cold. It's catching. It's hard to get rid of it.

Like the common cold, immigrants are at best, a nuisance. It gets chronic when they refuse to learn the language and worse, become violent. This is why Trump's comments have been appreciated by so many.

He said that Mexico has not been giving us (the U.S.) their best. Why deny the obvious, child? To millions of people, es verdad. It's true. It applies to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, too. There are a lot of Latino criminals around. The U.S. is becoming increasingly more bilingual because Latinos don't want to learn English.

While every other ethnic group assimilates, even if they are Greek, Russian, Israeli, Japanese or Chinese and have to learn not only a new language but completely different symbols for every letter of the alphabet, the Latinos say, "No. No me gusto." And so in most parts of America, you can't use an ATM machine, call a Federal agency, or even get junk mail without either seeing it in both English or Spanish or being asked in which language you'd like to continue.

It's absurd. And that's part of why Trump is popular.

The irony is that everywhere in the world, you'll find people speaking English. They don't HAVE to, but if you travel anywhere from France to Japan, you won't have any trouble finding someone who speaks English. And today's Latinos don't give a shit. It wasn't that way when Carmen Miranda and Cesar Romero and Ricardo Montalban came over.

In the 60's, it was not uncommon for a star who had a hit single to re-record it in Spanish, German, French or Italian to get extra sales and spread the good will. Soon it will become mandatory. We might even see the day when American singers are handed a phonetic sheet and told, "Sing it in Spanish first. If it's a hit, MAYBE you can record it in your native language."

The statistics show that America has more Spanish speakers than any other country except Mexico. That number is rising, mi amigo.

And since Iran has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, and is being allowed to create the weapons to do so, here's what will soon be a very rare relic; a Jewish song sung in Spanish.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Billy Bennett asks, from the grave, Can't the U.N. Kill ISIS??

Today's news included a report on an 82 year-old scholar and curator who was beheaded by ISIS. Why? He wouldn't tell them where to find some priceless art treasures they wanted to destroy.

ISIS not only hates "infidels," rapes white women, murders Christians, and likes to watch people being burned alive or shot by young kiddies just learning how to use weapons. They also are infuriated by inanimate objects.

They love to rampage through museums and archives, bashing artifacts to bits. Somehow, they think Allah is looking down from his pink cloud, saying, "Gee, thanks, I wish I could do that, but I'm not as all-powerful as a bunch of Camel-faced morons with hummus in their beards."

The question is why the U.N. doesn't round up a potent martini of fifth Muslim, one fifth African, one fifth European, and two fifths American, to simply "surprise attack" various villages and root out every ISIS thug they find?

Just go to each notorious dungheap town and have the local citizens, police, and other fine, fine peaceful Muslims identify who the ISIS jerks are. And BANG. Round 'em up and then, oh, set fire to the fucking lot of them.


The trouble is that the U.N. is full of shit, just like the previous group that was supposed to preserve the peace, "The League of Nations."

British Music Hall wiseguy Billy Bennett knew all about how ridiculous and incompetent they were.

About 100 years ago, Bennett lampooned the good intentions of the original "League of Nations." It's no surprise that today's "United Nations" is even more hapless and corrupt. All they do is let Putin and Palestinians and other maniacs run wild. Any time there's even a flood or other natural disaster, they just sit on their asses and expect America to pay for everything. When was the last time you heard any world leader say, "Jeez, too bad about those midget Asians getting pelted by a typhoon. They'll get plenty of money, guns and lawyers from us!" NEVER.

Back in the day, Bennett saw this and offered a cheeky tweak that lyrically might recall the legacy of nonsense specialists Edward Lear and W.S. Gilbert, while the heroically vaudevillian delivery may have inspired Max Miller and Spike Milligan. You'll probably get past a few dated references, and the Cockney rhyming slang, and agree that Billy should occupy some space on your iTunes between Ian "What a Waste" Dury and Groucho "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It" Marx.

The nations will never agree on real sanctions against terrorism, over-population, ecological abuse or Pink Floyd continuing to tour.

Newspapers don't call for peace because they make more money reporting on atrocities. Which is why Billy Bennett declared, "What I like to see in a newspaper," says Billy here, "is a good feed of fish and chips!"

Billy Bennett mocks The League Of Nations

YVONNE CRAIG - "BATGIRL" Dies at 78 - "Batman" musical montage

It was a pretty odd headline, echoed in obits all over the Internet. "BATGIRL" is dead.

Like she ever lived. Like Yvonne Craig wasn't actually an elderly actress with many other credits, whose breast cancer had metastasized into her liver.


Well, if you do want to get the facts on Yvonne, the obits have them, and it makes for better reading than what you'll find in the idiot forums or on Facebook. Let's face it, the average person is not very articulate OR sensitive.

What you'll find on Facebook is generally this kind of shit...fanboy dimwits posting photos of themselves with Craig (which anybody could do if they put down a twenty) and the "Batman" cultists muttering "Sad" or "RIP."

There's plenty more of that pathetic shit. Some anonymous asshole offers "my sincerest condolences." Yeah, that means a lot. Various bozos wrote, "I had such a crush on her!" That's the type that will be anxiously waiting for her burial so they can take a selfie rubbing up against her tombstone.

Ms. Craig was fairly pragmatic about it all. She was glad that she lived a pretty unique and varied life, traveled the world, had a good marriage, and was remembered for several minor things: movies with Elvis Presley, being a green ghoul-goddess on a "Star Trek" episode, and being just as snotty as Burt Ward's "Robin" on the third season of "Batman." She also was a businesswoman (she and her sister designed and sold phone cards, sold real estate, etc.) and worked with disadvantaged kids among other things.

Her website has the details, and if you want to know more, you can buy her self-published book. Up till a few months ago you could've gotten it personally autographed. For a good fee. All power to Yvonne, she lucked out on being associated with shows that attracted affluent memorabilia collectors. She wasn't sitting around trying to sell her photo for ten bucks a pop, that's for sure. She wouldn't have been invited if she had simply been an actress who turned up on a variety of 60's and 70's shows, trying to get people to pay for a signature on a still from her "Perry Mason" or "Gidget" episode. On eBay her autographed photos, like the other "Batman" people or "Star Trek" villains, rarely sell for under $50.

I met Yvonne socially a few times, and she was a very nice lady, easy to talk to and unpretentious. No, we didn't talk about ANY of the above subjects. I kind of think it's a "given," that you don't have to acknowledge a famous person for what they're famous for. A simple, "so very nice to meet you" is good enough, and you go from there, to small-talk, politics, whatever anyone normally talks about.

Her friends and family suggested "that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead celebrate the awesome life she had been fortunate enough to live."

Since "Batman" fans are the hardest hit, below is the ILL FOLKS BAT-MEDLEY. Bearing in mind that a novelty tune can lose it's novelty even halfway through, this six minute montage samples: Adam West's overly bouncy "Miranda," a bit of Burgess "The Penguin" Meredith in a musical narration about his nemesis, and then Jan and Dean who washed up onto shore for "The Joker is Wild." It segues into the real Joker and then Cesar Romero seriously giving a "Thought for Today." Just a few oddities since most everyone has the "Batman" theme and you can easily see highlights from Yvonne's career on various uploads on YouTube...ones that are totally illegal but did not set off "That Bat Signal" and any copyright-enforcing caped crusaders

Adam West, Cesar Romero BATMAN MEDLEY

Sunday, August 09, 2015

CILLA BLACKS OUT - Phil Ochs "Changes"

Cilla Black was fairly unknown in America. Beatles fans who knew that Paul McCartney had given her "Love of the Loved," "Step Inside Love" and a few others couldn't even find 'em. Back in the 60's it was very hard to find import records in the average store (even the original Beatle discs on Parlophone) and AM-radio disc jockeys stuck to American pressings. A quick check of the Billboard Charts confirms that in the USA, Cilla had only one Top 40 hit, "You're My World," which peaked at #26 in July of 1964. The others, as senile morons like to say, "did not chart."

This may indicate that Cilla Black's style as a singer just wasn't to American tastes. Another British lady, Petula Clark, reached the Top 40 about 15 times in the 60's.

In her native country, the Liverpool star (born Priscilla White) had tremendous appeal. Perhaps her mildly cute looks and her huge overbite made her seem like the girl next door. Her cover of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was #1 in 1964, and after a very good run of other pop tunes on the charts, Cilla cleverly moved on to television, with her own BBC series in 1968 and several more for ITV over the years, including "Blind Date" and "Surprise Surprise." As a "presenter" and hostess, she remained in the public eye for decades.

She was at her vacation home in Spain when she stood up too suddenly, became dizzy, and fell. The coroner's report indicated that a stroke did her in, but there was some question over whether it was the cause of her fall, or the result of what happened once she hit the floor. The tabloids were more concerned with pointing out that at 72, the beloved singer was not in good health, and had supposedly declared that she didn't want to hang on year after year, and figured passing on at 75 would be just fine.

Several friends noted she was suffering from arthritis among other maladies, and that she never quite recovered from the passing of her husband. Countering that, John Madejski, who claimed to have been her "soulmate" for the past dozen years, grabbed the attention of reporters by declaring, "Ceilla was not dying to die. Anyway it's nobody's damn business. Cilla was a private person. She had a hell of a lot of dignity."

She also had a pretty impressive list of cover songs on her resume. Among the songwriters she favored in her 60's heyday was Phil Ochs. "Changes" seems pretty apt for this sad time. Phil's song "Changes" had done well in England via Crispian St. Peters, and below is the distaff version; her humble rendition.

Cilla Black CHANGES

Roy Bennett joins Sid Tepper RED ROSES FOR AN OLD SONGWRITER

How many bouquets of red roses did the funeral home get for Roy Bennett?

In one of those interesting coincidences, the songwriting team of Tepper & Bennett died within months of each other. The lyrical half, Sid Tepper, passed on in April, and now it's Roy Bennett (August 12, 1918 – July 2, 2015) who didn't quite make it to his birthday this month.

They were hacks in the nicest sense of the word.

If hacks sit in an office and hack out songs on demand, and don't wait for inspiration, then they were hacks. Need a novelty Christmas song? These two Jews could toss you, "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas."

Need 30 or so songs for those bad Elvis Presley movies? You weren't expecting Leiber & Stoller to do it, were you? Not when the recipe involved soft ballads. You might recall that Presley had a fondness for gooping up old folk songs ("Love Me Tender" for example). So it's no surprise, as Bennett recalled, that sometimes he just borrowed melodies to turn into "Puppet on a String," "I Love Only One Girl," and "Five Sleepyheads. "

The hit-makers were also hacky enough to try and create a fairly sound-alike sequel to their 1948 sentimental smasheroo, "Red Roses for A Blue Lady." In that one, the singer urges, "Mr. Florist take my order please," hoping that a dozen roses will cheer up his sweetie. In 1950 the guys were peddling "Thanks, Mister Florist" (and both Vaughn Monroe and the not-so-swingin' Four Lads took a crack at it). The happy ending:

"You told me the roses would win my blue lady.
I thought you'd like to know it turned out fine.
So Thanks Mister Florist for the red red roses
That made the blue lady mine. All mine. That made the lady mine all mine.

Not exactly the best lyric in the world, or the best music. But back in the late 40's and through the 50's and 60's, you'd see the credit Tepper-Bennett on tons of vinyl, including a forgotten-but-big hit at the time, "Suzy Snowflake" (1951, Rosemary Clooney). If they wrote the sentimental "silly love songs" of their day, they were not ashamed. They turned out "(It was just a) Simple Melody" for Patti Page, and it was indeed, poignant, simple, and melodic, and suited her lilting voice just fine.

The fine Mr. Bennett was born Israel Brodsky, and that was a strong give-away as to his ethnicity. While there were plenty of Jewish songwriters around, they either had a last name that could save them (Irving Berlin) or the last name was too odd for the average dull-witted anti-Semite to sniff over (George Gershwin, Sid Tepper). It was very common for Jews to blend in with a different name, one that would appeal to fans of a Wayne Newton, Dean Martin, Guy Lombardo or Elvis Presley.

In fact, if there was any "Jewing down" to be done, it would be done by the Gentiles. A common practice in the music biz, was for "the talent" to get screwed by clever businessmen, and with songwriters, there was the "publishing" rights. The "deal" with the Presley songs was that his management took a third. Bennett: "We thought it was unfair, of course. All the writers felt that the Colonel and Elvis were making money hand over fist on our songs and that it was smalltime of them to take advantage of us. The prevailing attitude, however, was that it was better to earn 2/3 of something than 100% of nothing. I always felt that this was the Colonel's idea, not Elvis's."

The team custom-wrote songs for specific scenes in the Presley films, from ballads ("All That I Am," "Island of Love" to novelty numbers ("Song of the Shrimp," "Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.") They also penned the only Presley song nominated for an Oscar, "It's a Wonderful World" (which was in "Roustabout").

The team never met Presley. They were busy knockin' out the songs in an office in the famous Brill Building. For Presley, they sent in about 60 demos, and had a sensational batting average in having over 30 appear in his films. The guys didn't try to "sell" The Colonel and Presley by hiring demo singers who could sound like Elvis. The singers simply performed the songs as written, allowing Elvis to intuit which ones he could improve via his distinctive style.

From "Kiss of Fire" (which Bennett adapted from an old tango tune) to "Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" (yet another novelty hit), Tepper-Bennett turned out over 300 songs in their career, which ended with Tepper's sudden heart attack and retirement in 1970. It's sort of romantic, or just plain odd, that the partners would die within four months of each other, but it's doubtful Bennett wanted it that way. He was still married to his wife Ruth (they wed in 1948) and they had twin sons, Neil and Keith. The team could write a song about anything, even twins. The Stargazers recorded the song "Twenty Tiny Fingers" about them.

And below, "novelty" and sentiment combine, as we hear Homer & Jethro's fractured version of a Tepper-Bennett classic.

Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett's RED ROSES FOR A BLUE LADY via Homer and Jethro


The last I heard from Theo Bikel (May 02, 1924 - Jul 21, 2015) he wanted me to join him on an Alaskan cruise.

Why would a venerable old Jewish actor/folksinger want to be in Alaska, the land of Sarah Palin? For fun, adventure and the unusual and spectacular views, of course. And what else are you going to do, if the folk scene is diminished, the coffee clubs and intimate concert halls are mostly gone, and almost all your contemporaries are either retired or dead? Bikel had enough star power from his length career as a singer, stage star and film actor, to attract plenty of rich elderly people for a sea cruise. Since I'm neither rich or elderly, I just wasn't among them.

Bikel always had plenty to do, even when he hit 90. Just this year, he was on the West Coast doing a show with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, then taking part in an Israel fundraiser in New York at $150 a plate. In between, as you can still see if you visit his dotcom, he was working on all kinds of musical and acting projets.

Most people who know his name probably can recall some role he did as a character actor, but he's best remembered for stage musicals and his slew of ethnic folk albums. On Broadway, he was the original Baron Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music." In a nod to his coffee house success as a folk singer Rodgers and Hammerstein gave him a highlight: "Edelweiss," to be performed on his guitar in a solo spotlight moment.

He holds some kind of record for having performed as Tevye in over 2,000 performances of "Fiddle on the Roof," for a variety of touring companies. He probably holds some record for the number of folk records issued during the late 50's and early 60's. Even now, most any surviving record store is bound to have "A Harvest of Israeli Folk Songs," "Jewish Folk Songs," "More Jewish Folk Songs," "Bikel Sings Yiddish Theatre and Folk Songs," "Treasury of Yiddish Folk Songs," "Songs if Israel," and "Songs of the Russian Gypsy" and "Songs of Russia Old and New" among others.

Along with Burl Ives, he was an "actor/singer," and because he was older, and more traditional, it wasn't likely that the same people who bought Elektra label mates Judy Henske, Shel Silverstein and Phil Ochs were buying his stuff. He was a "think ethnic" type, recording in over a dozen languages, and in 1961 he was one of the founders of the Newport Folk Festival.

Actor/singer Bikel was not particularly hurt by the waning folk era's switch to electric guitar. In 1964 he played Zoltan Karpathy, the pushy Hungarian expert in phonetics (and rival to Henry Higgins) in "My Fair Lady." He followed his with the role of the Russian captain in the 1966 comedy "The Russians are Coming." And so it went, through the 60's and 70's and beyond, Bikel performing concerts at times, but also working in films and (wining an Emmy in 1988 for "Star Trek: The Next Generation") plenty of television. He also returned to Broadway many times, including productions of "Zorba," "The Lark," and (earning yet another Tony award nomination) "The Rope Dancers."

Bikel was a typical Liberal, ready to defend Israel (even against fellow performers like Vanessa Redgrave), appearing as a delegate (to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he joined Phil Ochs and others in protests) and becoming a leader in his profession (he was once president of the Actors' Equity union). If there wasn't a cruise or a film or a TV appearance on the horizon, he looked for bookings for his one man show, "Sholem Aleichem" Laughter Through Tears."

A very live wire, Theo married his fourth wife, Amy in 2013, only a year after divorcing his third wife Tamara (they were married rom 2008 to 2012).

Ironically, Bikel's work as an actor seems to have completely overshadowed his recognition as an important folk singer. One of those smirky "Celebrities Sing" collections added him for having the audacity to cover George Harrison's "Piggies." Hardly as questionable as Leonard Nimoy's "Proud Mary" or William Shatner's "Rocket Man," Bikel did a nice adaptation of the song, which Reprise released at a time when it was fighting "ageism" and allowing older performers to update the repertoire. Theo (not Theodore) released his "A New Day" album, which covered "For No One," and songs by Joni Mitchell and Donovan. It was produced by Richard Perry, who was working with Fanny and a lot of other very cool artists. At the same time, Ella Fitzgerald was doing Randy Newman's "Yellow Man," and the veteran Hamilton Camp got a chance to record "Star Spangled Bus." Bikel knew there is something not at all kosher about "Piggies."

Theo Bikel PIGGIES

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Dr. Walter J. Palmer is now "the most hated man on the Internet." It turns out he not only thrill-killed "Cecil the Lion" for $50,000, but probably lied about not knowing this was a protected animal. This prick lied back in 2008 about not knowing he'd killed a black bear out of legal hunting range. This prick also paid $125,000 for having sexually harassed one of his employees. The maniac boasts of being one of the few "Super Slam" hunters, having killed 29 different big-game animals including everything from a buffalo to a polar bear.

AND...most disgusting of all...he's a DENTIST.

This guy has a huge stand-alone private building for an office, with two female assistants and has made a fortune by gouging insurance companies, over-charging (right?) for cosmetic work, and literally bleeding his patients.

PS, the guy, in some pictures, looks remarkably like waxy, cold-blooded Vlad Putin.

$50,000 for a little vacation to Zimbabwe to bag another lion (he already had one) was chump change to this fucking DENTIST.

A insignificant creepy DENTIST in Minnesota has to be a big shot (literally). If he was a high school baseball coach or something, the outcry may not have been so loud. But a DENTIST? Everybody hates DENTISTS.

And being a rich dentist with a dozen years of law-flaunting, animal killing and even sexual abuse? This guy's sadism knows no limits. Which instantly reminded me of the lines in "DENTIST!" from the "Little Shop of Horrors" musical:

When I was young and just a bad little kid
, my momma noticed funny things I did.

Like shootin' puppies with a B B gun. I'd poison guppies, and when I was done

I'd find a pussy cat and bash in its head
 That's when my momma said:

Be a dentist! 
You have a talent for causing things pain! Son, be a dentist. 
People will pay you to be inhumane

Palmer's shrugging excuse is that he had no idea the lion his guys lured off the preservation estate was protected. He had nothing to say about why his vaunted crossbow skills failed him and he only wounded the lion and left it to suffer for over a day before he was able to track it down and kill it with a rifle. He only underlined that others should be blamed and he shouldn't be extradited to face jail in Zimbabwe. PS, for killing that black bear in 2008 40 miles out of legal range he got a one year probation instead of jail time.

Among Palmer's many kills...THIS leopard. Note again how much this coward resembles Putin, how he desperately needs to be macho, and how his crossbow weapon is not something Native Americans used, but almost as easy to use as a fucking machine gun.

Do you suppose a psychopath like Dr. Walter Palmer just didn't get the stuffed animal Santa promised him? That might account for needing to hug a dead animal so badly.

It might also account for the absolute child-like look of glee on his face when he's KILLED a big animal and he'll be able to STUFF it and have it in his home. Wheee!

Palmer's egregious excess led Jimmy Kimmel to drop the jokes from his late-night monologue and take aim:

"Walt Palmer…stop saying you "took" the animal, you "take" aspirin. You KILLED the lion…the big question is why are you shooting a lion in the first place…how is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you have to kill things? Here's some a'hole dentist who wants a lion's head over the fireplace in his man cave so his douchebag buddies can gather around him and tell him how awesome he is, that's just vomitous…"

Indeed, using "can't miss" rifles or outrageously expensive and advanced crossbows is not sporting. Grinning while posing with dead animals is sick. And the bad news is that Dr. Palmer is not the only thrill-killer out there. There are plenty of grubby white scumbags who journey to Africa to slaughter the remaining wildlife and boast about it. The Africans welcome them because the money is so good. As you see, the natives in Namibia have a thriving business in letting white people shoot animals that they can then skin and preserve for them.

Donald Trump's sons have gone on thrill-kills, acting like they took risks in bagging the animals when in truth, it's "like shooting fish in a barrel," and most of the animals herded for easy shooting are old and slow-moving.

There are plenty of articles on the Net now about how "hunters" are destroying what's left of the wildlife, bu this is being spun as a GOOD thing. See, the animals are taking up valuable space to be used by over-populating humans, and the African economy needs the blood money. So good for white Americans and Europeans coming over with their money and their ego and their need to pretend they are risk-taking skillful hunters!

There are "Clubs" for businessman-assholes to arrange their safari trips and brag among themselves and pose with their dead lions. In every case, the lions were put out for an easy shoot and the "hunters" were in absolutely no danger from an attack.

Africans don't really care that much about their "heritage" or their wildlife. They want to have what Americans and Brits have, which is nice looking clothes, jewelry (not beads) and hip hop music on their boom boxes, not crap like "Mbube," the Solomon Linda bit of Zulu babble that was souped up into "Wimoweh" by Pete Seeger and then "Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens.

PS, isn't it rather cute that the lion was named "Cecil?" In America or the U.K. the lion would've been given some "African" name. But in Africa, they thought an English-sounding name was better!

Irony: this Dr. Palmer asshole who is so BRAVE when it comes to killing old animals paraded in front of him, is now in hiding. Somehow, even with his crossbow skills, he doesn't have the guts to walk around in public and return fire should anyone be hunting him.

His website is down, his Facebook page is gone, his YELP page is loaded with insults, and hopefully the public will have a long memory on this, and not lose interest in torturing the bastard and making sure he doesn't have the money to ever go on a "safari" again.

And so this blog offers a little third-finger salute to Dr. Walter Palmer the Bastard of Bloomington, who has a history of lies and sadism. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse," but he'll probably get off and in a week, go back to bleeding his patients. He'll laugh off Sharon Osbourne's warning: "Walter Palmer is Satan. I don't know how anyone could go to this man for dental services after this. He is a killer. Beware!"

Below, "DENTIST!" as performed in ICELANDIC. That's because this blog likes to offer its "music hunters" rare items that can't be found elsewhere. And no animal was killed in the creation of the download.


SEEING LESS OF MORAVEC - Ivan Moravec Dead at 84

It will come as a surprise for most of you to read that Ivan Moravec is dead. You didn't know he was alive, did you?

Along with a variety of pianists (oh, Alfred Brendel, Earl Wild, Guiomar Novaes, Ruth Laredo etc.) Moravec (November 9 1930-July 27 2015) was a minor name compared to keyboard superstars Horowitz and Rubinstein. Vinyl fans helped these other pianists find an audience. Some recorded for budget or sonic specialty labels. If you couldn't afford a brilliant Chopin set from Rubinstein, you could find Madame Novaes cheaper on Vox and Moravec's more stereophile pressings on the aptly named Connoisseur Society label. Other pianists specialized in composers that the big guys didn't bother with (Aldo Ciccolini recorded Satie and Ronald Smith recorded Alkan).

Classical fans often discovered that the "minor" performers were often as good or better than the bigger names. Writing for The New York Times, Steve Smith declared that for the Chopin nocturnes, nothing could beat the "astonishing" Moravec for both sound and performance. An irony here is that I prefer Alexander Brailowsky on the nocturnes, but what the fuck do I know? Frankly, I'm not that much of an expert that I was asked to review classical music that often. Early on, I relied on Herbert Russcol's book to shape my tastes (he was the Rolling Stone guide for long-hair music).

Mr. Smith praised Moravec's "extraordinary dynamic shading and gracious shaping of each gemlike work," and despite "a crowded field," voted Moravec's album as "…an essential document" for any Chopin fan.

The obit from the UK Telegraph checked the Czech as "one of the 20th-century’s greatest interpreters of Chopin; his sensitive and poetic pianism created a pure and honest sound that could transport his audience to another world, leaving behind all sense of time and place."

It's of course, a perversity of this blog that your download is a work of Debussy, not Chopin. The main reason is Debussy is on CD and the rest of my Moravec on vinyl, so it was the easiest to digitize for you. Moravec's catalog includes great performances on many masters, including Mozart; his recording of the Piano Concerto in E Flat was considered definitive enough to be on the soundtrack to the movie "Amadeus."

The UK Telegraph must be quoted for an insight into the man and his work: "Balding, stocky and with a large round face, Moravec looked every bit like a pre-war bank manager. Yet his warmth and charm were ever-present, and he was known to join members of the audience for a beer after concerts. Seemingly immune to criticism, fashion or fads, he appeared uninterested in pursuing a high-profile career. Even when the opportunity to live in the West presented itself, Moravec – no supporter of Communism – returned to his home in Prague." Moravec's ordinary temperament of genius included his eccentric need to tinker with whatever piano he was going to play.

The reason the UK Telegraph and other British papers have run large obits on Moravec is that he was often on tour in England. He had a strong relationship with Libor Pesek (another Czech) who ran the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and with Sir Neville Marriner and his prolific Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He also had a happy relationship with Zuzana Moravec, his wife and travel-partner through the years.

Below, part of Debussy's musical interpretations of glistening water images, is "Poissons d'Or" which technically translates as gold fish. No password on the download. If there was, it would've been swordfish.

DEBUSSY Poissons d'Or from IMAGES suite, performed by Moravec

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ray Jessel "Life Sucks and Then You Die"

Well, yes. And Ray Jessel died on July 17th, age 85.

But in some kind of bizarre Benjamin Button way, Ray Jessel managed to find life very rewarding in the years when most of his contemporaries were either retired, obliviously stuck in a nursing home, or dead.

I mean, how many 84 year-olds suddenly get raves from all the judges on "America's Got Talent" AND end up tossed off the show for being politically incorrect?

It happened not long ago, 2014 in fact. Ray, a veteran songwriter who also wrote sketches for The Carol Burnett Show and The Smothers Brothers Show in the 60's and 70's, appeared as a virtual unknown. Which he pretty much was, when it came to performing.

The judges all ADORED the song. But elements of the GAY/LESBIAN/TRANSGENDER crowd detested it. They felt the old guy was making fun of trannies...the now-sacred group that has Caitlyn Jenner for a godmother. In truth, Ray's song was harmless. If anything, it was just a very easy one-joke novelty item, and not nearly the best song in his catalog.

Jokes about "he being a she" go back to silent films. And nobody got in a huff over that famous "Some Like It Hot" moment when Jack Lemmon sourly pulled off his wig. He shouted at smitten Joe E. Brown, "I'm a MAN!" And Brown's classic comeback: "Nobody's perfect!"

Somehow things went from a crying game to a denying game...and poor ol' Ray was denied a chance to move on and get to the next round of "America's Got Talent."

The good news for Ray was that the show gave him the fame that was not his for the past decade. Back around 2005, Ray had scored good reviews for his cabaret show titled "Life Sucks and Then You Die." The show, ironically enough, got raves from gay and lesbian critics and probably had a very varied audience that included old queens as much as old Jewish couples. He also put out a CD (no, an album, not a codeword for a certain type of person). It was after "America's Got Talent" that he began to get significant bookings.

In fact, just last month, Ray was in Australia, appearing at a festival with a bunch of comics and variety acts, and even that old CD herself, Dame Edna/Barry Humphries.

Jessel's odd musical journey began in Wales in 1929. He attended the University of Wales, but started his career in Canada, working for the "Spring Thaw" comedy revue. That led him to New York, where he wrote for Julius Monk's revues, including the 1960 "Dressed to the Nines" show. By 1965 he was on Broadway, via the semi-hit musical "Baker Street," starring Fritz Weaver. A song from the show, "A Married Man," was even recorded by Richard Burton. Comedy sketches and music for TV shows followed, including the epic "LOVE BOAT - THE MUSICAL" starring Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Ann Miller, and Cab Calloway. Jessel was worked on the "Head of the Class" series. Meanwhile, Jessel and his partner Cynthia Thompson began to place songs with the few prosperous cabaret-type acts, including "Whatever Happened To Melody?" recorded by Michael Feinstein and "I'm All Right Now" from John Pizzarelli. In 2002 Ray first tried a one-man show in California, at the Gardenia Room in Hollywood, and then brought it across the country to "Don't Tell Mama," the notorious cabaret club in New York. And...he kept on going.

How many people in their mid-80's are capable of taking to the stage...and are welcomed to do so? I don't know what the circumstances are, regarding his demise, but this guy had a pretty fortunate life, to be able to get laughs and travel literally halfway around the world, at a time when so many his age were just muttering "life sucks."

WHAT SHE'S GOT (The Penis Song) Ray Jessel


Below, two versions of "The Bill Dana Show" theme. The music's a bit more fun than the show, which does not hold up all that well, despite three great stars: grimacing Jonathan Harris as Jose's boss, squinty Don Adams as the hotel detective, and Dana himself as "lovable" bellhop Jose.

For those who don't remember (probably 90% of anyone reading this), at one time Bill Dana's record albums were best-sellers. A comedy writer (born William Szathmary), Dana (his mother's name) was working for Steve Allen when he came up with a mild gag for a quick sketch: a Latino Santa Claus. It was keyed to Santa's "ho ho ho" and the confusing "J as H" of Latino names, such as Jose Jimenez.

Dana ended up playing Jose on Steve's show, and the rest is jistory. Er, history. Dana was amused that a "Jungarian Hew" was now a superstar. If you listen to those classic albums, it was good jokes, not just the funny voice that made them successful. Bill's routine as a hapless astronaut was even released as a single. He got a lot of attention when it was played by astronauts at Cape Canaveral.

Dialect comedy has gone in and out of fashion over the years. A hundred years ago, every ethnic accent was a big laugh in vaudeville and on 78 rpm discs. Dutch, Italian, Jewish, "Negro," rural Southerner, Scotsman…nobody was left out. Moving on to radio, and there was "The Mad Russian" and "Parkyakarkus" and the entire "Allen's Alley" roster of rube Titus Moody, Irishman Ajax Cassidy, Jewish Mrs. Nussbaum and noisy Southerner Senator Claghorn. And yes, Amos and Andy. And lots more.

In the late 50's and early 60's, ethnic comedy was still a howl, and "Amos and Andy" re-runs (with an all black cast) were not yet banned. Desi Arnaz was famous thanks to his comical Cuban accent, Mel Blanc portrayed a Mexican named Cy who said "Si" and, yes, Bill Dana made a living as Jose Jimenez. He kept trying to make that character less and less a part of his act. One of his albums had Jose on one side, Bill on the other.

By the early 70's, Dana officially declared Jose "dead," to the cheers of Chicanos, Latinos and Hispanics. He put out "Hoo Hah," a Jewish-comedy parody of "Hee Haw." Funny, "Hee Haw" was fine with Southerners despite the heavy reliance on stereotypes. Why? Because Southerners were comfortable with it, while Latinos somehow thought "Jose" was an insult. If Dana wasn't a Jew, maybe the character would've been considered ok. What is comedy? Comedy can be recognition laughter (which would be corny Southerners laughing at their own redneck traits on "Hee Haw," and later in Jeff Foxxworthy's "You might be a redneck" routines.) Comedy, more often, is simply not pretty. There's the shock comedy of sadism, rudeness, slapstick and insults. "The little guy" from Chaplin's tramp to Harry Langdon, Lou Costello, George Gobel even to Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean and beyond, is often socially inept, foolish and caught in embarrassing situations. The problem with Little Jose Jimenez was that there weren't many other Latino characters on TV, and at least Desi Arnaz had a hot wife. And was actually Latino.

While Bill Dana explored other ways of making a living (he wrote the famous "All in the Family" episode guest-starring Sammy Davis Jr.) ethnic comedy in the 70's was alternately praised and panned. Think about the confusion when Bill Cosby's non-racial humor was sneered at in favor of Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. Replacing Dana, the Hungarian Jew, was Freddie Prinze, hal Hungarian-Jew and half Puerto Rican. When he played a Chicano on "Chico and the Man," he drew howls of protest because he wasn't Mexican. Why didn't that guy just put a gun to his head?

Today, ethnic humor is only tolerated if the perp is of the same ethnic group and is making so much money nobody dares to say a word (hello, Tyler Perry). However if the ethnic group isn't too loud, then it might be ok (recall "Miss Swann" on "MAD TV," as played by Alex Borstein). But be careful: Sarah Silverman did some Asian jokes and was hounded by publicity seeking Japanese avenger Guy Aoki until she nearly lost her mind. Good thing he wasn't around when Judy Tenuta was doing that Yoko Ono imitation.

Bill Dana, now over 90, is on Facebook but rarely posts anything. Nostalgic fans still find laughs in the well-constructed jokes that made those early Jose Jimenez albums big hits, but "PC" considerations have destroyed his legacy. Ironically, haters of Jose seem to love Guillermo Rodriguez.

Guillermo, the porcine sidekick on Jimmy Kimmel's show, exhibits every Latin stereotype there is: nasal voice, pudgy face, obese body, happy ignorance of anything cultural, and the habit of being drunk. His best known bit is to show up at red carpet events and interview stars with bribes of Tequila shots. Guillermo is not all that far removed from the banned "Frito Bandito" character of TV commercials, but there are now enough Latinos on TV that nobody can say "oh, they're ALL fat, nasal and homely." Not Jennifer Lopez. Not Sofia Vergara.

The PC police do stay vigilant, and sometimes they need to be. Paula Dean, the doyenne of fatty cooking and Southern racism, was way out of line in taking a photo as "Lucy" with her son as "Ricky," when it involved actually using "brownface." Neither Dana, Prinze, or any other Latino comedy character from the past ever did that, and Desi Arnaz's complexion was hardly even tan.

Did Desi care too much if his Ricky Ricardo character sometimes lapsed into excited Spanish? Probably not. It was something Gregory Sierra's character of Chano did on "Barney Miller" a generation later. Desi probably had a good sense of humor about his trademark accent, and such sure-fire gags as arguing with Lucy ("I dun't!" "You DUN'T?" "No, I dun't!") As for Dana, he's a lovely guy. He once mentioned to me how fiercely devoted he was to his alter ego. He turned down a car ad that would've brought him in tons of money, because the ad agency thought it would be funny to have Jose pulled over by a cop. The cop would realize Jose wasn't speeding, it was just a smooth-riding car. Bill: "I wasn't gonna let a cop lay a hand on Jose."

Musically speaking, Dana's theme song was intended to echo the spirit of Don Quixote, the valiant tilter of windmills. It had the stereotypical trumpet which, only a few years later, another fucking Jew (Herb Alpert) would use while fronting his Tijuana Brass. I assume that Latinos who hate Bill Dana and loathed Freddie Prinze will try to ban Herb's music, next. That Jew made money by exploiting Mexicans! As head of A&M records, he surely didn't do enough to promote real Latino Sergio Mendez. And let's not even discuss Julius Wechter and his Baja Marimba Band.

All seriousness aside, enjoy the two versions of the theme song. One is from Carl Brandt, who was a veteran arranger at Warner Bros., and also worked with Spike Jones. The other is by Raymond Antonini, better known as Ray Anthony. The big band trumpet star is 93 now, and you can find out more about him by visiting





Somehow the link for "All the Nuns with Guns" lapsed.

Folks (ill, or not), if you come across some link that ain't working, leave a comment. I'll most likely find it and re-up.

"Nuns" is a G.E. Smith song with Paul Simon on backing vocals. Even most Paul Simon fans don't know about this rarity. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hardly hear him in the mix. But he's there, and that's part of the quirk on this obscure but catchy tune.

Most people don't know about the album, and come to think of it, I wouldn't have, if Jim Delehant (who was an exec at Atantic Records back then) hadn't handed it to me, figuring it would be something I'd enjoy. Which I did.

Some will remember G.E. Smith for being the somewhat crazed-looking guitarist leading the "Saturday Night Live" band (1985-95). He also married Gilda Radner, worked with Dan Hartman and toured with Hall and Oates. Among his compositions; a co-write credit on the "Wayne's World" theme song.

There's a DVD documentary on the guy, and on YouTube some live performances with his band Moonalice (including a twangy version of "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Smith's stinging guitar is very evident on this track, but you also get to hear him sing.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

"IF YOU SEE KAY" A fuckin' tasty treat from SWEETPIE

I don't know how much money he made off me, but in my disc jockey days, I did play SWEETPIE's "If You See Kay" quite a bit.

One of the rules at the radio station was "you can't curse. It's ok if an ARTIST says it on VINYL, but not YOU."

Naturally I took every opportunity to play snippets of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, and regularly offered Zappa's "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" with the happy shout at the end, "You hot little bitch!" Ah, "Prince of Blends" that I was, I segued that line into "Bitch" by the Rolling Stones.

When I had a spare minute to shake the listeners up, I played an oddity called "If You See Kay." I discovered it surreptitiously tucked into the grooves of a Warner Bros."loss leader" album. No, Sweetpie, who sang the thing, wasn't officially on their label, but they mixed it in just the same. There were some very cool people at Warners in those days, and for a disc jockey wanting to play a wide variety of music, the Warners "loss leader" sampler albums made it seem like I had a much more monumental record collection than I did back then.

Since Warners was not promoting him, I had no idea who Sweetpie was. I figured he was some old black blues man, but it turned out that he was a white hippie weirdo. His 1972 album on The Fugs' ESP label is "Pleasure Pudding LIVE AT FAT CITY." Among the hippie-dippie tracks: "Let's Boogie," "This Bitter Earth" "Too Drunk to Ball," "Vermont - A Lazy Man's Colorado" and "Kay." Through the 70's, Sweetpie shocked and annoyed East Coast audiences (especially in Massachusetts)

Sweetpie (Paul Winer) is still alive and well, and lives in Quartzite, Arizona where he runs a funky-lookin' bookstore and, as always, sports wild hair, a wild beard, and is more prone to wear more on his head than anywhere else. The nudist-pianist certainly has good reason not to wear much in Arizona, so a single whats-it around his genitalia suffices. One tooth in his lower jaw apparently suffices, too, and might warn people against too much sweet pie.

Happily, you can find plenty of Sweetpie on YouTube, thanks to Todd Anderson who got him to both sing and recall his greatest hits. Aside from "If You See Kay," Sweetpie is known for the sing-along "Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke," which was popularized by Bette Midler. Just what is original, what is legend, what is owed to Memphis Slim, or what was just part of the R.Crumb Boogie subculture of the day…most people are way too baked and/or old to recall with any certainty.

Below, a live rendition of "If You See Kay" from Our Hippie in Arizona. The 1972 album? You can download it at the website (yes, they expect payment). F.U.C.K. to the greedheads, Zinfarts and Hans Diverticulitis slobs who never drop some money in a singer's cup. And if you're in Quartzite, Arizona, and female, go pay homage to Sweetpie's cup. It's all he wears. Everyone else, buy something, there's a lot of odd stuff in the store that might be considered priceless.

SweetPie If You See Kay