Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Bulging Load of LUCKY LIPS



Take the "Lucky Lips" challenge!
Can you identify the owners of the lucky lips?
Just match A,B,C,D,E to: Ruth Brown, Cliff Richard, Gale Storm, Maria Vincent, and luscious Gina Gershon.
When Gina Gershon opened her "In Search of Cleo" shows with "Lucky Lips," she inspired me to pay some lip service to this catchy (and/or stupid) tune as covered by:
Swinging Ruth Brown, perky Gale Storm, retro mod Maria Vincent (closest to Gina's stage version) and gigolo Cliff Richard who also supplies his German-language version titled "Rote Lippen." I've also included the Peter Kraus German cover-version and....
....a pair of semi-pro lounge performers, the duo of Carlo and Jolanda Hartentwee (of the Netherlands) and Zurich's plucky Joanna Schneiter.
If you're really into this (and there's no reason you should be) you'll note how the lyrics change depending on gender (what would a guy rhyme with "lips" in place of "diamond clips") and the foreigners add some fun by pronunciations of "Locky Lips" and "Lucky Leaps."

The more famous people are represented in the photo quiz.
The QUIZ ANSWERS are in the comment section.
Here's a download of LUCKY LIPS!

Ruth Brown's version has been re-upped individually:

Brown's LUCKY LIPS!

"Johnny" A Pozo-Sicko Folk Song


Martin Mull: "Remember the folk scare of the 60's? That garbage nearly caught on."
One reason it didn't, was that people didn't want to hear rottenly pompous "message" songs by groups like the Pozo-Seco Singers. Even the earnest croon of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" became pretty tiresome, so when every overwrought singer and group began mewling about "I Gave my Love a Cherry" or offering tripe like "Johnny," folk music was doomed. Bob Dylan went electric. Judy Collins, Paul Simon, Janis Ian and others went to folk-rock. Burl Ives went back to acting.
Folk is still around...and mostly avoided. If you see some oh-so-sensitive type in a park or playground, strumming a guitar, sporting a dirndl or a goatee, you RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. Especially if the person has BOTH a dirndl and a goatee. Nobody wants to hear self-important, solemn and pseudo-sensitive suet-suckers oozing pretentious drivel intended as a lesson in life.
Such an example is "Johnny" from the Pozo-Seco Singers, who were so middle of the road they should've been run over by a truck. While they did have some good intentions at times (any group that covered "Changes" by Phil Ochs can't be all bad), this is the kind of song that was intended to make kids cry, especially if the kid hadn't yet gotten over "Puff the Magic Dragon."
Nominations for "Worst Folk Song" are now open, and perhaps one day a blog will feature an entire Rapidshare download of witless sing-alongs, execrable ethnic excretions, cloying calamities and rancidly sappy ballads. For now....heeeeeeeere's "Johnny."

JOHNNY Download or weep on line.

19 Versions of STARDUST


Once upon a starry night, Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" was considered the best song ever written. Everbody covered it. These days, few have "Stardust" memories, and "best song" might go to a more modern ballad, like "Yesterday," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," or "Loving You Has Made me Bananas." Over 1800 cover versions have been made, but most were recorded in the 30's and 40's. Since Spanky and Our Gang gave it a shot in 1968, it's been revived rarely, and mostly by retro-chanteuse types, and greasy guys who want to be the new Sinatra or Connick.
For a "best song," this piece is actually pretty quirky. It's not easy to sing and Hoagy was the Bacharach of his day, prone to odd tempos and a key that was usually full of sharps. Few know the words by heart (as opposed to, say, "As Time Goes By"), and these words aren't particularly great ones, either:
"Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely nights dreaming of a song.
The melody haunts my reverie, and I am once again with you, when our love was new, and each kiss an inspiration.
But that was long ago, and now my consolation is in the stardust of a song.
Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright you are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale of paradise where roses grew.
Though I dream in vain, in my heart you will remain my stardust melody
The memory of loves refrain."
Try remembering that, compared to "Yesterday."
Mitchell Parish added the lyrics in 1929, after Hoagy switched "Star Dust" from a jive syncopated jazz piece into the ballad "Stardust." A year later, the first major hit version arrived via Isham Jones, who chose it over "Ish You Ish, Or Ish You Ain't Mah Baby." Or maybe he didn't.
Your 19 song download features a variety of styles. Pick your own 20th as a personal favorite, since it's probably not here.
But here's Dinahs Shore & Washington, Ben Webster, Cab Calloway, Brubeck, Krupa, Coleman Hawkins, Isham Jones, The Ink Spots, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Kaye and even satire (Jackie Vernon). There's country nasal and country swing (Willie and Leon), and since you probably didn't know she could sing, Elke Sommer. Also, a 1933 solo from the Hoagster himself.
Hoagy's name was once synonymous with "songwriter." Either him, or Irving Berlin. "You could be another Hoagy," would've been quite the compliment in the 40's. Now, few could name more than a few of his jumpy little tunes. Oh, they know the songs, like "Georgia On My Mind" but associate someone else with them. No, Ray Charles didn't write that melody, Hoagy did (Hoagy usually wrote just the melodies). "Up a Lazy River" is typically lilting and shows where Bacharach got his shoulder-hunching quirky beats from. "How Little We Know" is a neat syncopated oddity, which Lauren Bacall gamely sang in "To Have and Have Not," and the late great George Harrison was a fan of both "Baltimore Oriole" and "Hong Kong Blues."
For those who have Stardust Memories, recall the Stardust in Vegas, or remember a star with dandruff, here's
star dust in your ears...the rapidshare download disappeared due to one of their typical purges of any file that didn't get downloaded often enough, but it's BACK via the BOX.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

HOOP DE DAH! Pep Pep Pep Pep Pep Catarina Valente


A little exercise may dislodge some of that impacted turkey meat from Thanksgiving. It could melt the Halloween candy still festering in your colon, and it will help burn off some of that bowl full of jelly caused by oddball Christmas treats like figgy pudding.
The best and cheapest exercise is...dancing! The Twist is one of the few dances that actually targets the vast waist-line. Your instructor? Catarina Valente.
Cat's been an international star for four decades, mostly from covering pop hits in a variety of foreign languages. One of her greatest achievements is her German language hand-clapping take on Joey Dee's "Peppermint Twist."
Not everything is translated into German. Along the perky way you'll hear "One two three kick!" and "Kiss me baby, twist me baby" and that's two English sentences more than the average U.S. immigrant will ever know. Too bad the average immigrant does not arrive wearing a peppermint bikini dance suit...with no place to hide weapons.

Catarina Valente - PEPPERMINT TWIST Instant Download or Listen on Line. No pop ups or unders.

You Could Hear...Bobby Cole & Freddy Cole


DEC 19, 1996 my friend Bobby Cole died. He was a hard drinker and a hard smoker, and he worked nightclubs filled with the same. Back then there were no laws about "taking it outside" if you wanted to light up, so he took in plenty of second hand smoke, too. He had heart problems and one evening, perhaps rendered into a less painless state by alcohol, he was seen steadying himself by holding onto a pole, and slowly sinking to the sidewalk. He died on his way to the hospital.

In his last years he was vibrant, gregarious, and only slightly mellowed from the hell-raiser he had been when Sinatra was his pal and Judy Garland his squeeze. That he dated a much younger woman, and had young friends, was testimony to the fact that he was still thinking young, himself. A set might include "A-Train" and "After You've Gone" but also "Whiter Shade of Pale" or Leonard Cohen's "Closing Time."

There's a new album by Freddy Cole, brother of Nat "King" Cole, not Bobby. Freddy's new CD includes a cover of the smoke-dream ballad, "You Could Hear a Pin Drop." Here it is, 11 years after Bobby died, 40 since Bobby wrote and recorded it. Below, you also get Bobby's original version. Take a few minutes, and maybe raise a glass while you listen...

YOU COULD HEAR A PIN DROP FREDDY COLE

YOU COULD HEAR A PIN DROP BOBBY COLE

I Heard the Voice of Jesus - Jesus Is Coming


Here are two of my favorite "pro-Jesus" songs.
They're not on the coy and cute Christmas compilations everyone's downloading along the Internet chimney.
"I Heard the Voice of Jesus" features Turley Richards.
The title's poignant; Mr. Richards can only hear Jesus, since he went blind before he signed his first record contract. (But really, he who signs a record contract oft is blind). Fate's hideous practical joke was that young, athletic Turley was playing a goofy game of toy archery and got an arrow in his eye. In a twist right out of "The Light that Failed," his "good" eye became affected and began dimming through his teen years.
Richards recorded some R&B and folk before coming to Warners in 1970 and putting this stunning seven minute track on his debut album. The ambitious opus moves from simple, organ-based hymn to folk-guitar ramble, to rockestra epic, and along the way, miracle man Turley Richards transmogrifies from nasal folkie, to deep-voiced righteous brother, to gruff gospel shouter, to the ultimate epiphany of a heaven-bound falsetto.
Today Richards still performs, gives private lessons, and records new material. You can download his latest album free, and then send him a check, which is the ultimate in "if you like it, buy it," and shows he hasn't lost his faith in the good being rewarded. Visit turleyrichards.com.
"Jesus is Coming" by Andy Pratt.
As you might expect from the creator of "Avenging Annie," there is something both inspirational and insane in this song. The back story to Andy is that there was no way he could repeat his bizarre one-hit wonder, with the falsetto, frantic piano work, swiped Woody Guthrie melody and amusing feminist ranting. His Columbia and Atlantic albums were sort of a painful blend of both Simon and Garfunkel, as the tall, frizzy-haired Pratt laid himself vulnerable via the ballad. Eventually he took off for Europe and released religious albums for indie labels. He's returned to the USA with several strange secular albums, including a disc of covers highlighted by an eerie version of "Town without Pity" and a take on "Give Peace a Chance" in which he blanches at saying "masturbation"
"Jesus is Coming," from "One Body," has the stately beauty you'd expect from a film documentary on Nazareth. It takes a literal minute for the instrumental to give way to a drum kick and Andy's slightly Bee-Gee vocal. That chorus, "Closer and closer, Jesus is Coming, nearer and nearer, hour of his appearing..." is just a tad foreboding. As perhaps it should be. The song is comforting but menacing, which is perfect for any God-fearing religion.
Andy declares that when the Messiah returns "...justice shall cover the Earth." If the rising oceans don't cover it first. In that case, put in a call for Moses; he had a lot of experience parting water.
I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS

JESUS IS COMING

FAIRYTALE of NEW YORK - controversial song


Kirsty MacColl died on December 18, 2000 due to a criminally careless joyrider in a motorboat. So it's a bit ironic that seven years later, her guest-spot with The Pogues on "Fairytale in New York," didn't hit the air as a tribute to her, but instead made U.K. headlines when some radio stations censored the word "faggot."
The song depicts a sparring couple at Christmas, and if this was a scene in a movie, nobody would think twice about it. It would be accepted for what it is; an artistic attempt at duplicating realistic dialogue:
"You're a bum, you're a punk!"
"You're an old slut on junk. Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed."
"You scumbag, you maggot. You cheap lousy faggot
Happy christmas your arse I pray God its our last."
It's a grim, gritty song of hope and hopelessness, a sad and seriocomic slice of life revolving around another line in the song, "I've built my dreams around you." While it's not Edward Albee, the dialogue is valid and the intent is clear. The song is not about offending homosexuals.
In reporting the controversy, several newspapers reproduced the lyrics this way: "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot. Happy christmas your a*** I pray God its our last." So they found "arse" a lot more offensive than "faggot!" Which is queer, because it's tough to be a faggot without some arse involved.
The song could've simply been resurrected for what it is; an accurate vignette on the unrest and anger that often accompanies the "joyous holiday time of year." It also could've been a salute to a lamented singer who died at 41. On Christmas holiday in Mexico, she managed to keep her sons out of the way of a joy-rider in a power boat when she was struck a fatal blow. Just who was driving that boat and what sentence should be imposed are unanswered questions.
For more on that story, please visit http://www.justiceforkirsty.org/
FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK Download or listen on line. No porn ads or pop-ups.

Fred Flintstone & Betty Boop Xmas Single


Alan Reed voiced Fred Flintstone, and Mae Questel was both Olive Oyl and Betty Boop, but one Christmas, they simply used their own voices to narrate the 78 rpm children's song-story "Santa's Kewtee Bear."
This seven minute obscurity has disappeared for good reason. It's simply not that distinguished, not in the script, or the acting. Reed, a busy radio performer (he guested often on Fred Allen's show), hadn't developed his robust Flintstone voice yet. Questel had to smooth her Boops and cool her Oyl in playing the part of a cute teddy bear. It's odd, it's obscure, so it's here...
SANTA'S KEWTEE BEAR

Sunday, December 09, 2007

JESUS LOVES YOU. I DON'T - Danielle Peck


Danielle Peck's two-liner is hotter than her eye-liner. (That's Danielle, top right). It's pretty rare to find a Jesus country song that dares to mention Him in anything but a hymn, but the guy who caused a bushel of trouble for Peck is getting off lightly. Unlike the spitting ptooey of a "Harper Valley P.T.A."-type putdown, Danielle sings this kiss-off with just the right poisonous peck on the cheek.

"I Don't" is on the debut 2006 album from Danielle, which seems to be all she wrote so far. But if you pick up the album, you'll also enjoy the slightly saltier "It Sucks To Be You." Mostly Danielle's down home with usual C&W fare, such as "Honky Tonk Time" (all about how "tonight ain't about tomorrow...I just wanna have a good time").

What will happen on the second album of country-pop crossover, nobody yet knows, but here's a safe bet: don't cross this babe, 'cause you could end up on the cross, for sure.
JESUS LOVES YOU I DON'T

15 Versions of Personal Jesus


The illustration is by Lamar Peterson, an artist represented by Richard Heller (at the richardhellergallery dot com). But why not come up with 14 more visions of what a "Personal Jesus" might be. It's not like trying to depict Mohammed. Most Christians are secure enough to care only about their own relationship to Jesus, not yours.

Your download? Fifteen different versions of "Personal Jesus," a rather dark and menacing little number that seems to be about someone who may run a sincere hotline or is just another huckster preying on the gullible.
Since nobody checks lyrics much now that everything is mp3 downloads and there's no CD booklet, here are the words:
"Your own personal jesus. Someone to hear your prayers. Someone who cares...Someone who's there.

Feeling unknown and youre all alone. Flesh and bone by the telephone. Lift up the receiver. I'll make you a believer
Take second best put me to the test; things on your chest you need to confess. I will deliver you know I'm a forgiver..."

If you call this supposed representive of God, keep your pathetic yammering to yourself and DON'T do it from a cell phone. Don't bother everyone else, fer Chrissake.
You get a varied bunch of songs here, from lounge to cool femme jazz to heavy metal and rumbling rock...which will be YOUR personal favorite??
Followers of Mohammed may or may not get multiple virgins after they die, but on the illfolks blog, you often get multiple versions of a song. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.
15 Personal Jesus Covers

"Jesus I Love You" and she held out her eyes


Sadly, for all the good done by Christian or Islamic fundamentalists, or Orthodox Jews, or anyone else with a profound faith that makes them give of themselves...there's a Bizarro world of twisted fanatics who perform Devilish acts in the name of their God.
In "Voices," by The Nails, God tells various people what to do. Or are they listening to voices in their own minds?
(The ill-ustration, as with all photo collages on the blog, is an illfolks original, this one a mash of four or five different images.)
The Nails were a challenging, obnoxious band best known for a smug, surly, somewhat self-parodying stud song called "88 lines about 44 women." They also betrayed a dark Lou Reed side with grudging grunge ballads like "Hello Janine." They were at their glinting black vinyl blackest for "Dangerous Dreams," a 1986 effort produced by Pete Solley, who produced the Romantics and was aboard Procol Harum.
Pete still has a soft spot for his production of The Nails: "RCA completely dropped the ball, but the album lives on as my favorite flop."
"RCA didn't have a clue how to market us," a band member agrees, and the label "only pressed approximately 16,000 copies of this record before the bloodless coup where GE Corp. swallowed NBC Corp. (RCA's parent) whole, spitting out RCA (to BMG) and leaving us well, forgotten."
Wait, it gets worse. Their next album, an indie effort called "Corpus Christi," was a worse disaster. The producer "appropriated the rights and commenced to distribute the record and keep all the money. The record is in the catalogs of major national chains. Why don't we stop him. I'd like to but haven't been able to muster the necessary resource to do so." The album does have the great "Jesus Calling Jesus" cut, but don't buy it! The band member figures it would be better to get a free download somewhere. Like...their website, where you can also buy a lot of their stuff and sample much more: http://www.the-nails.com/disco.html.
Here's The Nails, a band that got screwed.
VOICES

RON NAGLE - 61 CLAY DEMO

By request, I restored the dormant Ron Nagle-Ry Cooder songs that were on this blog. Then I decided I might as well add something special, the "61 Clay" original demo.
Mr. Nagle continues to be sought after for his ceramic work, while crackpots still simmer over his "Bad Rice." Some seek it because Ry Cooder played on two tracks. Others, because it was produced by Jack Nitzsche. Fact is, the main reason it's a great album is because the songs were written and performed by Ron Nagle.
Check the very third post on the blog, from March '06 for the two "Bad Rice" songs. Here's...
RON NAGLE 61 CLAY DEMO

Thursday, November 29, 2007

PRETTY...PURPLE...PANTIES - Jude Kastle


Britney Spears? Clueless. Lindsay Lohan's been clueless, too. So has Paris Hilton. Because...
They've all been photographed pantyless.
It doesn't take any talent for some cunt to go around bald-faced.
The sensuous woman knows that lingerie is part of seduction. Not only that, it keeps the bugs out of the flytrap. Better musicians than Britney have declared, from albums titled "I Enjoy Being a Girl" to "New Boots and Panties," that fashions can ignite passions.
When Bob Dylan chose to go commercial and promote Victoria's Secret, he meant that before you lay a lady 'cross the big brass bed, she should do a sexy strip, first.
If radio stations weren't run by robots, Ditney's new album would be in the trash bin, and Jude Kastle would be all over the airwaves, singing about how she found her boyfriend's "stash of pornos" and realized that women in slutty undies are super sexy, and only dumb sluts walk around showing their slits. The chick in the pic would be a whole lot worse for not wearing that eye-catching wardrobe. Hey, Jude's got the song and the thong, so sing along...

PRETTY PURPLE PANTIES, ON THEIR WAY DOWN No porn ads! No pop-ups!

R.I.P. Half of LES RITA MITSUOKO


Guitarist Fred Chichin died the other day. He was 53. Along with singer Catherine Ringer, they were the French-language band Les Rita Mitsuoko. Under that odd French Italian Japanese name, they baffled listeners with synth-disco, avant garde oddness, Latin-tinged dance singles and even some straight rock.
With enthusiasts ranging from the equally eccentric American duo Sparks, to producer Tony Visconti, Iggy Pop and director Jean-Luc Godard, Fred and Catherine collaborated, careened and collapsed all over Europe in the 80's, and their challenging music videos even managed to escape the confines of France and intrigue the English-speaking market.
Though their big hits are old (first album 1984) they were still coming up with fresh material and recorded a new album this year, in both French and English versions. Fred was diagnosed with cancer only two months ago, and he died November 28th.
The band's too quirky to be represented by only one or two tracks, so you have three to choose from. You can take 'em all, too, and that barely scratches the surface of this eccentric band, since they had many International hits beyond these things: Le Petit Train (skittery synths that veer into Eurythmics territory, jumpy dance beat, precocious high-pitched diva vocals), Les Histoires 'd Amour (some actual rockin' out on the vocals, which switches mid-tune from punk stomp to retro Grapelli coyness and syncopation and stomps back again) and the highly commercial Blondie-esque disco romp Ding Dang Dong (done!)
Listen to some ill de France...
LE PETIT TRAIN
LES HISTOIRES 'D AMOUR
DING DANG DONG

JANE MORGAN and the worst lounge pianist of all time



Jane Morgan sings "These Boots Are Made For Walking," and it's on the Illfolks blog. You know what to expect.
Did anyone want this aging Mom singing a slutty S&M pop song??
OK, Jane's looking over her shoulder and sees that she'd better "get hep," but did she really think she could do it with a pianist who apparently had only three fingers on his right hand?
What turns this into an object of derision is not really Jane's earnest if clueless attempt at a song that doesn't match her personality, but the irritating arrangement that goes with it.
In other words, any smile of incredulity will be wiped into a downward frown before the song's over. You might never want to hear this again, but you'll want to experience it at least once.

Jane Morgan BOOTS it Instant download or listen on line. Mom, if you don't know how to click a link, ask your kids.

KEELY SMITH & HER HAWD DAZE NITE


Around the same time Jane Morgan was struggling through lightweight arrangements of heavy songs like "These Boots are Made for Walking" and "Sounds of Silence," veteran lounge babe and Louis Prima-holster Keely Smith was likewise keeling over at the thought of giving up being a Top 40 songsmith due to some scruffy mop tops. In a similar "If you can't beat 'em, put a beat to 'em" mood, she made a mod album of swingin' Beatles covers.
Thing is, some of them actually do swing, and there's something appealing as well as appalling about her very valid New Yawk take on "Hard Day's Night." (Actually her "hawd" pronunciation may reflect her Cher-like Southern-styled roots more than her New Yawk and Vegas lifestyle). Generally, loungemeisters made clowns of themselves when trying to be cool with "today's sound." Old school talents like Sinatra and Dino were smart enough to leave that stuff alone and find their way into the charts with more age-friendly fare ("Strangers in the Night" and "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime").
Today there's a bit more tolerance for big band concepts. People are rediscovering rock covers by Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald, and yeah, having a laugh with Richard Cheese (or Paul Anka's one cheesy album of swingouts).
Keely is still gettin' it done, by the way. Now that lounge is so finger-snappin' cool to 20-somethings, she even made it to Jimmy Kimmel's show last month to premiere a track from her latest CD. No, it wasn't a Beatles cover. But hey, it coulda been.
KEELING OVER Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups or Rapidshare wait time.

LIZZIE WEST "I'M YOUR MAN" leonard cohen


A lesbian version of "I'm Your Man" by a woman named Lizzie. Make up your own pun.
Lizzie is a 30-something who hasn't made much of a name for herself because she refuses to be pegged to any particular genre. The Brooklyn-born singer has a varied resume of achievements...songs used in movies (like "Secretary") and as background for various TV shows (including "Alias" and "Everwood").
At 30, she signed with Warners and seemed on the road to huge success. Now she's just on the road a lot, with her band Baba Buffalo. She'd rather do it her way...coming up with original songs that can be edgy or country, and lyrics that can be very original or a bit like those of her idol Leonard Cohen.
And here she is, either ready for gender-bending fun with some metrosexual male, or getting butch with some bitch, covering Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man." Which brings us back to the title of this entry. How amphisbaenic.

LIZZIE WEST Instant download or listen on line. No pop-ups pop-unders or porn ad blunders.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #10: PUSSY X


Submitted for your approval, a song by Kas Product, an early 80's French new wave duo. It's Mona Soyoc on vocals and synths by Spatsz.
One picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll let you discover this little oddity for yourself, with, oh, a few lyric lines from "Pussy X" for a tease:
"Hi puss! Pussycat! Where are you?"
"Oh Fish! Why can't she leave me!"
"I just want to pick you up, dear, have you in my arms..."
"...I wasn't always a cat. Used to be like YOU in fact...and it's your bad luck if I'm black! Wait and see till I scratch...see what you get now?"
"OH! Ohhhh cat! You're such a....oh pussy....you're too..."

Ah yes, and don't forget to visit the Black Pussy Cafe...has Michael Finn been in today? Instant download, no code words or wait time.

CITY BOY lost album "IT'S PERSONAL"


How City Boy failed to get the fame it deserved...is still a question fans of the band can't answer. Maybe the very name was a handicap, since it was rather bland (and not even in tough plural). The group arrived in 1976 with a first album brimming the wicked harmony and challenging lyrics ("Deadly Delicious" on both counts, with Lol Mason unafraid to admit that he wasn't sure what the hell a woman being "sharper than a telephone" really meant).

After three promising albums all loaded with eccentricity ("Oddball Dance," "Man Who Ate his Car," "Bordello Night," "Dinner at the Ritz') the boys from Birmingham got serious with a one-hit-wonder single "5.7.0.5" (commercial lyrics replacing the original "Turn on to Jesus" lines). Their new album "Book Early" was titled as if they were finally firmly on their way to international success. Their two follow-up albums had titles that seriously distanced themselves from their whimsical power-pop image: "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" and "Heads are Rolling." How whimsical had they been previously? Lol and Steve used to do a Rockette set of high leg kicks during "Dinner at the Ritz."

Despite polished production by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, and the fierce guitar of Mike Slamer balancing the Michael J. Fox-like prettiness of lead singer Steve Broughton (whose cuteness was offset by the band's other lead vocalist, bulky and bearded Lol Mason), City Boy just kept "Moving in Circles" (to quote a song title). It was quite a mixed up irony that their lone hit single was voiced by neither lead vocalist, but drummer Roy Ward (though on some TV appearances it was Broughton lip-synching!)
Broughton departed the band not long after. Their "lucky seventh" album was gut-checked with the title "It's Personal," to further counter their rep as a band more along the harmonic and theatrical sensibilities of Queen. It didn't get a UK or USA release, trickling out briefly via an obscure label in Scandanavia.One might expect a debacle, but your download proves (if you own the others) that this was (with the exception of the annoying "Guerra de Mondo") quality work. Mason wrote the lyrics, and the music was from either Slamer, or keyboard player Max Thomas. It's power pop with intelligence, sophistication and some punch. In fact a little extra punch was supplied by Ian Dury's sax man, wild Davey Payne on several tracks.

Lol Mason went on to form Maisonettes, and had the distinction of having a one-hit-wonder with that group, too, "Heartbreak Avenue." The heart of City Boy, Broughton and Mason, have been sorely missed ever since. Certainly here, where both Steve and Lol are fondly remembered as really nice guys to spend some time with.


Ask any fan of City Boy why they love this band so much, and they'll start to give you a lot of reasons but...some of the chords they struck were deep enough to make two words all that matter: "It's personal."
IT'S PERSONAL rip from the LP
Updates: Nov, 2011, the Rapidshare link lapsed, so it's been re-upped via Box instead. Since the album was first posted, the album finally had a CD pressing. So if you'd like a higher bit-rate than the average 198-200 here, and want to support indie re-issue labels in their divine futility, grab the CD. On most of the usual suspect websites, like Amazon, it's selling pretty cheap.

SACRILEGE #8: JOHNNY CASH Folsom Parody


This obscure parody of "Folsom Prison Blues" was done in 1972 by the Conception Corporation.
They, along with Credibility Gap and Congress of Wonders, tried to be broader, bolder versions of the hallucinogenic Firesign Theater.
35 years ago, city slickers figured Johnny Cash was nothing but some cowpoke with an off-key Mr. Ed voice glorifying violence. "Folsom Prison Blues" was, after all, recorded in front of a live prison audience, as if killers deserved to be entertained.

The Corporation open with a nudge-nudge in-joke reference to Lenny Bruce, inventor of "Yaddi-yadda" via his prison bit "Father Flotski's Triumph." Maybe the funniest thing about the parody is the crowd sound effects...how easily an audience can be manipulated into cheers or boos.
For 30 years, Johnny Cash was more country than crossover, same as George Jones or Merle Haggard. Finally, at just about the end of the line, he became a living legend to all, thanks to a string of albums produced by Rick Rubin. These discs included Gospel, country, and most interestingly, some haggardly haunting versions of recent rock songs (check out the rock video for "Hurt"). Johnny Cash's last years were both painful and prideful.
It would be insane to try and parody what Johnny did in his last years, but a dig at the guy who claimed to have shot a man in Reno just to watch him die? That's worth a chuckle. I myself was in Nevada once, and I shot some craps in Reno just to watch those die.
THE CONCEPTION CORPORATION CLOBBER CASH Instant download. No code words, time wait or porn ads.

THANKSGIVING: No Right To Be Sad


One of the traditions around Thanksgiving is, well, giving thanks. But that's a little too positive for some of you shoe-gazers out there. So here's a more emphatic admonition from the little-known and short-lived PhD. It's called "No Right to Be Sad."
For the record, Glasgow's Jim Diamond was the lead singer, formerly of Gully Foyle and Bandit. He and Jeff Beck band members Tony Hymas and Simon Phillips called themselves PhD, and their first album had the hit single "I Won't Let You Down."
THIS track is from their sophomore-jinxed second (1983) album. When Jim Diamond came down with hepatitis, PhD faded away. Album title: "Is It Safe?"
With angst and anger, Jim torches this dirge with the fiery message that, unlike you, there are people really suffering out there. And not just because Rapidshare makes you wait two hours between downloads.
After the demise of PhD, Diamond had solo UK hits with "I Should Have Known Better" and "Hi Ho Silver." He issued a solo album in 1993 on which he re-recorded some of his best known songs, and in 2000 issued a "Best Of," neither including this song. How sad. The newest album by the bald Diamond is "Souled and Healed" on Hypertension Records.
NO RIGHT TO BE SAD Instant download, or mope on line.

Friday, November 09, 2007

15 SONGS ABOUT BANANAS


Since so many postings here lack a peel, I thought I'd slip in a bunch of banana songs. Watta fun fruit; you can eat it, you can make somebody have a pratfall, you can use it as a sex toy. The National Lampoon used a banana for a label logo...since you could get high smoking one (and that's good for a giggle).
One of the earliest songs mentioning this exotic fruit was from British Music Hall star Billy Merson. In "Out on the Prairie" he comes to America, finds a Mexican girl (in Indiana!) and propositions: "Have a banana, my dusky queen!" In "The Night I Appeared as Macbeth," he recalls the audience throwing sultanas and bananas at him ("Gadzooks...what a hit.")
But...our download begins with the first popular banana tune, "Yes, We Have No Bananas," here rendered with campy glee by the oft-irritating Anthony Newley. Less popular, but a dolefully fun novelty, is the Hoosier Hot Shots non-hit "I Like Bananas, Because They Have No Bones."
The next time a banana slipped into the charts was probably via the annoying Harry Belafonte classic "Day-O" (aka "The Banana Boat Song,") a number so obnoxious that Stan Freberg had a hit parody of it. (A similar request to cool it can be found on Shel Silverstein's "Inside Folk Music," which didn't make the download's 15 track max). The troublemaking team of Buchanan and Goodman offered a break-in piece called "Banana Boat Story" which makes almost no sense at all. Peter Sellers obscurely melded his Belafonte parody to the old Harry Champion British Music Hall hit "Boiled Beef and Carrots."
Probably the most popular banana song of the last few decades was simply the Chiquita Banana commercial jingle, but you'll find bananas on the minds of Gwen Stefani, M.I.A., Meie Mees, Jack Johnson and Garibaldi. They need no special mention here, but Guy Marks does. The deadpan comedian not only did strange miming (the cadence of a stork) and peculiar impressions (a western parody single in which Humphrey Bogart speaks and translates for an Indian chief)) he also issued an album featuring the campy but tongue-in-cheek novelty "Loving You Has Made me Bananas."
Your potassium-rich download also includes the sick-joke story-song "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" (we miss you Harry), "Bananas and Blow," "Juanita Banana" and "Banana Pancakes." Most of these banana tunes should put a big yellow grin on your face.

15 BANANA SONGS VIA R.S.

(UPDATE February 19, 2011...This file's gone due to Rapidshare's policy of punting a file that hasn't been downloaded in 30 or 60 days. UPDATE; November 2011 -- re-upped via Box, along with a dozen other files Rapidshare lost)

Aimee Mann - a Dear in the Headlights


Still considered something of a cult item at 47, Aimee Mann's skeletal arms still strum some dark tunes, her hollow-eyes so haunting you'd think Edvard Munch painted her face for her. Both sultry and desultory, she isn't so depressed that she can't work up a certain amount of cranky energy when she plays, but the 5'11" crow-scarer can turn any venue into Alienation Row.
In case you somehow missed the Mann act, and are wondering if you should cross over state lines to see her, just download this live version of "Going Through the Motions." It's lovingly brought to you in perfect stereo. The song begins, "Something isn't right..." so how wrong can it be? Hear here, the mildly annoyed adenoids of Mon Aimee.

Goin' Through the Motions, LIVE Instant download or listen on line; no pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time.

JANE AIRE - "Call Me Every Night"


Jane Aire seemed part of the British Stiff invasion, and her Bronte-esque name pushed that image along, but she was really Jane Ashley from Akron, Ohio.
She bumped around with Kirsty MacColl and Rachel Sweet as a woman with Punk-Babe star potential, but after a few singles, one album, and a last 45 rpm in 1982, she was then, and remains now, an obscure but lovely collectors item.
If you remember her 1979 Virgin picture disk of "Call Me Every Night" fondly, then you're old enough to take this news: on December 2nd, she'll turn 51. While "Call Me Every Night" didn't vault her to the heights of another New Wave power pop star, Deborah "Call Me" Harry, you'll still catch a sweet air buzz from Jane's addictive single. Picture disk sound quality was never that great, but you'll still get the message; calling this chick every night was probably blissful phone sex. In the picture, that's not herpes, that's the spindle hole.

Gimme Aire Instant download or listen on line; no pop-ups, porn-ads or wait time.

KATHY DALTON & BRENDA PATTERSON 1974


Journey back to 1974, when Frank Zappa's Discreet label discretely ended the careers of Southern roots rockers Kathy Dalton and Brenda Patterson. The label's male roster included Ted Nugent and Tim Buckley, but the gals never had a chance. Managing a handful of releases (1973-75) the company dried up, releasing only a bit of Zappa stuff before getting zapped.
Kathy Dalton's solo album was actually released twice, the second time (the one you get here) with a song called "Long Gone Charlie" booted in favor of the new title track, "Boogie Bands and One Night Stands." The strategy paid off...22 years later when "Boogie Bands and One Night Stands" was picked for the soundtrack for the film "Sleepers" (nestled in between tracks by Frankie Valli, Dean Martin, Doris Day and The Beach Boys). Before going solo, Dalton, as Kathy Yesse, fronted the Daughters of Albion, a group that made one album produced by Leon Russell.
Hardly anyone mentions Kathy Dalton except when confusing her with Karen Dalton, the folkie with the damaged Billie Holiday voice who was around when Bob Dylan hit the Village, and disappeared into a haze of drug and alcohol problems, suffering an obscure and lonely death in 1993. At least her two albums are re-issued on CD.
The only KATHY Dalton singing you'll find on CD is her work on "Jump," the 1984 Van Dyke Parks album which featured her among various supporting singers.
In addition to Dalton's album, you get 3 bonus tracks...some of the best cuts from Discreet label-mate Brenda Patterson. The tracks are: "I'll Be There," "Crazy" and "I've Never Been a Fool Like This."
Brenda started the 70's on Epic with "Keep On Keepin' On," which included her cover version of "This Wheel's On Fire." Nothing ignited. In 1973, she joined the ill-fated Playboy Records label for an album that included "Bury Me Down By the River" by Maurice and Barry Gibb, the old Pitney classic "I'm Gonna Be Strong," and Paul Simon's "Congratulations." The 1974 Discreet album "Like Good Wine" was the end of the solo road.
A few years later she fronted The Coon Elder Band, which had a one-off deal with Mercury. The last track, and the last I've heard of Brenda, is a tune called "Grinnin' My Blues Away," and Brenda, wherever you are, in show biz or out of it, I hope you're still grinnin'.
Back at ya...Kathy Dalton and Brenda Patterson.
KATHY AND BRENDA

Monday, October 29, 2007

TOP BLOKES AFTER DEATH : Offensive EULOGY song


Shock-comedy. It's been a while since a novelty number got anyone upset: Tom Lehrer and "The Vatican Rag." Napoleon XIV and "They're Coming to Take Me Away." Some tunes from Monty Python, who are now old enough to be grandpas.
Here's "Top Blokes After Death," a eulogy to recently deceased (mostly Australian) celebrities. It was broadcast on the TV series "The Chaser's War on Everything." Not on "Saturday Night Live" or Howard Stern's not too Sirius radio show.
From lampooning the way people eulogize a bastard at his funeral, the song takes a giant leap into bad taste, noting all the celebs who became saints because they died:
"Princess DI was just a slut for sex, when they looked in the car wreck, her dress was wet with Arab semen stains..."
Have we forgotten all Diana did for charity? For a laugh, yes.
This blunt tune certainly hits targets that don't deserve it. Croc hunter Steve Irwin may have been a "cartoon" but he wasn't tormenting crocs for fun. He was a conservationist, and eulogies after his sudden and tragic death let people know just how good and caring this guy really was.
Then there's Moms Mabley who said: "You should say something good about the dead. He's dead. GOOD!"
That's the thrust behind most of the celeb names mentioned...Aussies who committed such sins as not scoring an important goal in a key match, or speaking their mind (as much as the singer here does).
Of course a eulogy is usually the first and last time a jerk gets any praise, and we all go back to talking trash before long. As Shakespeare said, "The good is oft interred with their bones," so our goofy-faced rake is really just having a nose-tweak over the fact that, even for a moment, somebody got attention that should've gone to, oh, him instead.
The lines about John Lennon? His assassination was a hurt that will never heal for many of us. He became a saint after death? I don't think so. He honestly debunked his celebrity in his lifetime, and today there's no shortage of bloggers who gripe that "Imagine" isn't a very good song, or that Yoko is keeping them from some imagined vault of Beatles treasures.
But...a quickly written snarky song intended to offend should be taken for what it is.
The author and singer rightly declared (as the controversy began) that they weren't concerned with how the dead celeb's friends and family would react. Comedians can't worry that they won't offend a small percentage of their audience. The singer even acknowledges this problem of self-censorship when, as he's about to include Belinda Emmett (who died of bone cancer at 32), a groan of protest from fellow cast-members arises. The singer reluctantly reigns in his evil fun.
Privately, comics will tell you of Steve Allen's formula: comedy=tragedy + time. When they don't get a laugh with some tasteless joke about Sonny Bono, Steve Irwin or Princess Diana, they mutter "Not enough time..."
Fans are still shaken over Belinda Emmett's tragic last months, so a "curb your enthusiasm" recital of her faults isn't that appropriate. Not for a woman who did seem to be good, courageous and selfless. On her deathbed, Belinda's last words were to her weeping sister: "Are you all right?" And, if you want to bother thinking about it, a "curb your enthusiasm" smack about most anyone's eulogy is misplaced, since after the eulogy people generally go back to remembering the evil the person did.
I have no idea about Peter Brock, Don Bradman, Anna Coren, some guy named Zemanek, etc. One fault of songs like this is not everybody gets the references, but I doubt the author ever thought his tune would gain notoriety around the world (just on the Diana, Irwin and Lennon lines!)
Here's the song written by Chris Taylor. It's performed with vaudevillian Lehrer-type piano work and a slightly Palin or Idle-ized delivery by Andrew Hansen.
Eulogy - Top Blokes After Death Instant download or listen on line. No wait time, porn ads or pop-ups.

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #9 : DOPPELGANGER Dory Previn



Once upon a time, the "art song" attempted to infiltrate the rock world. But despite the critical praise given Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, Dory Previn and Phil Ochs in his "Pleasures of the Harbor" phase, artistic lyrics rarely bring in the big bucks. Check out what contestants gleefully remember on "The Singing Bee."

There will always be a stark tune here and there that might actually lead someone to hit replay, and then surf the Net for the lyrics. There will be a few odd crossover performers like Ute Lemper or Diamanda Galas around, and even a glaring spotlight for a guy like Don Henley to offer up "New York Minute" and mean it. Leonard Cohen's still puts out the black light, too.
But rock songs that could be considered art? Not many now. Not all that many successful ones way back when.
A long time ago, Dory Previn was the mad ex-housewife who kept a diary of dangerous lyrics that became songs. On a few, the lyric was so arresting and the symbolism so interesting that after encircling the ears, it could tighten around the brain. Here is one of them.

DOPPELGANGER No waiting time, porn ads or other tricks. Instant download or listen on line.

SEASIDE SUICIDE + Mark Sheridan


I knew an elderly actor, best known for grand guignol on film and on stage. He told me that the ooky-spooky Halloween brand of horror didn't amuse or interest him. Fans who might approach him calling themselves i-Gor or Karl Off or Lou Gosi, were just clueless idiots to him, and their stupid dress-up at a memorabilia convention only confirmed their Munster mentality, grown men clinging to a denial of death not child-like as much as childish.
"What the real horror is," he told me, "is not a spook face. It is beyond the face and, instead, is in the mind. I am not concerned with somebody posing in a graveyard and making grimaces with crayon on his face. What concerns me is what really awaits us after death and the terror of what our existence means."
As pessimistic and miserable as he often was, he didn't hasten things with suicide, although the last time I saw him — withering, unable to drink liquids, unable to speak, eyes wide on a sunken face half-obscured behind an oxygen mask, he was the living dead.
And so, as Halloween approaches, this particular blog offers no ooky-spooky novelty tunes that you've heard a million times, and no "bwa-ha-ha" pictures of trick or treat outfits. Instead, a typical Illfolks photo-collage (all pics on the site get larger when selected) and two songs about suicide. No aliens here, just the alienated. The real horror in the world of Poe, is found in a poem he wrote called "Alone."
Included here is a third song; a cheerful novelty. It just happens to come from a man who no longer heard audience laughter, which led to his ultimate despair.
For some, the lure of the waves leads to a watery grave. Walking into the sea is the topic for both Lesley Duncan and the appropriately named Bitter End Singers.
Duncan's dry-eyed and morose "Walk in the Sea" (written by Alan Hull) starts with loner complaints and drifts into pessimism: "think I'll go walk in the sea. Nothing much better to do. No, nothing for me. Not even you."
The Bitter End Singers received liner note praise from Tony Bennett: "The Bitter End Singers absolutely gassed me." And I didn't even know he was Jewish.
The album, tempting fate, was called "Discover the Bitter End Singers." The song, "A Song By the Seaside," is complex, and you'll need to acclimate. Frankly, it didn't get to me the first time around. Once the tangled, sea-weed murky melody line became familiar and I got used to the group's MOR-Mitch Miller approach, I began to get into the repulsive minor key discord that was intending to evoke turbulent seas, and I caught the dank spray of the lyric lines.
The seasick song is about a wife who misses her husband in the worst way: "One day when she cried all the tears she could cry, she ran from the house where the wild swallows fly. She walked to the ocean, she smiled at the foam. She walked in the ocean. She smiled at the foam..." And...you guessed it.
Will Holt wrote it. He's best known for "Lemon Tree," which seems like an old folk song but isn't. He also wrote that 60's variety show perennial called "One Of Those Songs." I remember he always had a kind of delighted quirk about telling people he'd written that song. In listing a few credits (for anyone who asked, "Oh, you write songs, any I would know") most everyone knew "Lemon Tree." When he'd follow it with, "And I also wrote 'One Of Those Songs'" it would naturally draw a blank. Then he'd sing the opening line: "It's just one of those songs that you hear now and then..." Ohhhhhh! THAT song...as images of Jimmy Durante flashed through their heads.
Holt wrote off-Broadway musicals. He was also half of the Holt & Jonah comedy team, and the highlight of their act was a Kurt Weill-inspired 8 minute mini-musical parody of Hollywood called "Movieville." In other words, Holt had some cabaret sensibilities, so instead of a folk song, here's something far more dramatic. It's sort of what you might expect of Sondheim if he was writing folk songs in his precocious early years, instead of episodes of "Topper."
And yes, the "Bitter End" refers to the Greenwich Village club. The group (three men, three women) included two guys who were in The Ivy League Trio, and the always provocative Nancy Priddy (mother to Christina Applegate, and already mentioned on this blog in regard to her solo album).
Now, that odd looking guy on the right...Mark Sheridan.
Here's a bit of irony for you. You might vaguely know of a sprightly British Music Hall song called "I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside." Mark Sheridan recorded it in 1909, one of several hits he had during his most productive period (1909-1911). The tongue-twister was resuscitated by Basil Rathbone when he impersonated a vaudeville singer during a light moment in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."
The eccentric Mark Sheridan, in top hat, with wacky bell-bottoms strapped to his knees, twirling an umbrella, had years of success. He, his wife and family toured the U.K. again and again. But at the age of 50 he became increasingly depressed and considered retiring from the stage. He recorded one single in 1912, nothing in 1913, one side in 1914, and just one more in 1915. With no more song successes, he counted on stage roles to sustain him.
He played a comical Napoleon in a show called "Gay Paree." The morning reviews from the Glasgow papers were negative, and Sheridan was positive there was no hope. You'd think that he would've gone to be beside the seaside, either to gather up his courage, or walk into the ocean. Instead he took a tram over to Kevin Grove Park and shot himself. Your download is far less lethal, and still quite a lot of fun.
Leaving his Mark: Beside the Seaside
Bitter End Singers: Song by the Seaside
Walk in the Sea: Lesley Duncan

Ill-USTRATED SONGS # 8 : CHEAP LOVE Juice Newton


What if they mated? Listen, not everyone's a raving beauty. It didn't stop Ben Stiller from making movies or Sarah Jessica Parker from becoming a sex symbol.
Two of my favorite singers could be considered a bit strange in both looks and vocals. Critics have considered Del Shannon's voice to be a little harsh.His octave range was something else again, since he was capable of a literally haunting falsetto. Physically, a charitable pronouncement would be that he had brooding good looks.

As for Juice Newton, I don't think critics have considered her at all, but she possesses such a beautiful nasality, you'd want to kiss her right on the beak. Unlike Willie Nelson, the girl can also belt, and on her show-stoppers in live performance, she can grab and sustain a note with exquisite pleasure and pain. Physically, some might consider her to have the flinty charm of a pretty, and pretty work-weary waffle house waitress.
Over here at the illfolks blog, we'll just say that Del Shannon, the Poe of Falsetto, is the dark horse Dark Knight of pre-Beatles pop, who was also the first to cover a Beatles tune Stateside, and produced great work in the 70's and 80's, even if this later work was unjustly neglected in his lifetime. And still is. He was also the writer for most of his hits, and also wrote songs that became famous for others, like "I Go to Pieces" for Peter & Gordon.
As for Juice Newton, she's as quirky as a breakfast of orange juice and Fig Newtons, but even sweeter. Known primarily for her cover of "Angel of the Morning," she can rock out with the best. She's also perked the world up with a brand of country-pop so comfortable you might forget it's on, or what it took to craft it.
From a live Juice Newton concert, she covers the Del Shannon-written "Cheap Love" and then sinks her teeth into one of her fruit chews, her niftily crafted minor hit, "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard On Me."

Cheap Love/Love's Been a Little Bit Hard On Me

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joey Bishop sings Hank Williams


I'd like to say that Joey Bishop, who died the other day, will be missed. But to be honest, I doubt it. Most barely know him for a) being a member of the "Rat Pack" and b) having the talk show that used Regis Philbin for an announcer.

I think Joey was more than a little bitter about this in his reclusive final decades, but there wasn't much he could about it. His sitcom was released on DVD but what was funny 40 years ago, with fans visiting an old friend out of habit each week, can seem less than amusing out of context, watching characters you need to live with a while in order to like. Well, nobody's watching Danny Thomas today, either.
I suppose the apt phrase for Joey is: "you should've been there." That's the phrase he used in autographing a vintage photo of himself with the Rat Pack. Only in my case, I couldn'ta been there, since they didn't allow toddlers into casinos. I do remember him as a good stand-up comic. He was a pioneer of the Steven Wright school of glum deadpan. One of his gags was about how he was a poor kid. He had to use his brother as a sled. He slid down the hill on his brother so often, his brother became his sister.
Joey not only wrote much of his own material, he was the guy responsible for much of the "ad-libs" Frank, Dean and Sammy used during their stage act, and wrote most of their special material.

Joey's two years competing with Johnny Carson is probably forgotten by most. One thing that got me conversing with Joey, was to thank him for all his support for Jimmie Rodgers, the singer who had hits with "Honeycomb," "Sweeter than Wine," and later "Child of Clay." Rodgers might've had had more hits except for a mysterious highway beating where the hits just kept on coming.
Somebody...mob goon, irate hubby, whatever, followed his car, impersonated an officer, pulled him over, and nearly knocked his brains out. Joey, fairly somber even on a good night, told his viewers about it, and kept up regular reports on the singer's health, something unheard of for a late night talk show. Jimmie recovered, and picked up the fragments of his career as slowly as doctors picked out fragments of his skull. I wanted Joey to know that along with his stand-up and some of his films, his kindness and concern for Jimmie wasn't forgotten.
Joey never issued a stand-up disc, but for some reason, decided to make a country and western singing album. It seemed like a joke, and to many, it's one of those "haw haw, nudge-nudge" bad celebrity vocal albums. I think Joey's love of C&W was sincere. There were a lot of people back then that liked Joey Bishop as a friend, and bought his record for the same reason they'd buy any friend's vanity project: just to hear a non-singer live out his fantasy. I'm sure that his fans listened with a grain of salt, and maybe some cotton in their ears. But it's no worse than anybody quietly singing along to instrumental tracks they like.
Anyone buying it had to expect he wasn't about to rival Jimmie Rodgers, or Frank or Dean or Sammy. (He probably sang better than Peter Lawford).
Joey was 89.
Ripped from the vinyl, here's Joey's soft-serve echo chamber tribute to Hank Williams, a double dip of "Cold Cold Heart" and Cheatin' Heart" and listen for his little lounge-cool put-down to the chick at the end.

COLD CHEATIN' HEART

GINA GERSHON - Here Pussy Pussy Pussy


Gina Gershon's "In Search of Cleo" turns out to be...the original cast album for her "off Broadway" show. Maybe. Sort of. I saw her perform it recently, and I'm still not sure.
As mentioned a few weeks ago on this blog, Gina's album is an odd mix of honky-tonk, ballads, one catchy rock number ("House of Woe") and some designated drivers intended to bring in her campier fans, including the opener, "Lucky Lips." That Gina-appropriate tune is not on her CD, by the way since it's a cover of a Ruth Brown classic. Elizma Theron's version on her CD "Lapaside" is closest to how Gina does it.

"In Search of Cleo" is an 80 minute show...a dramatic (sound effects, off-stage voices) monologue about her search for her lost black cat, a male named Cleo who has an effeminate purr. Her story periodically segues into songs that don't mention the cat, don't push along the plot, and seem to be there because she's not quite a monologist and doesn't have a full concert of original songs.
The great "House of Woe" arrives after a tense four-minute prison phone call as a male con-artist (nicely voiced by Gina) seems to have a clue to where to find the missing feline. Anyone paying attention to the lyrics (I think that might only be me) would see that the song has nothing to do with the story, but the tone of her singing hits and holds a nice note of rueful, cynical depreciation for human nature.
The audience didn't seem to care if the songs matched the spoken passages or vice versa. At times they totally missed a lot of Gina's jokes (like the one about staying up late at night creating an "ambient environment" by taking Ambien). What they did like, was Gina. Did it really matter what else was going on? No, not really. That was Gina Gershon, live, 3D, just a few feet away from us.
Through the 80 minutes, Gina held center stage with a defiant cool, not breaking a sweat, and not taking herself too seriously as she played the ukulele for a few numbers, twanged a jew's harp, and donned electric guitar without pretending it was difficult or erotic to play one. Her back-up band served her well, as did the obligatory racially mixed and muddled backing trio of bosomy babes dancing and sometimes singing along. They were most evident on "Pretty Girls on Prozac," the intended showstopper.
Gina did a good amount of cursing during the show but, despite all the talk about her cat, resisted even a single "pussy" joke. After her encore, as the lights softly came up, the venue did play "Pussy Pussy Pussy," the ribald lost cat 78 rpm novelty by the old C&W swing band the Lightcrust Doughboys. "Here pussy pussy pussy" isn't how Gina tried calling Cleo (how she did it was a vocal surprise all its own...as one might expect from the woman who voiced the cartoon version of Catwoman).

Since you already got "House of Woe" some weeks ago, and posting a second track from her CD would be rude, you get...yes...the ruder "PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY' by the Lightcrust Doughboys. "Is this your cat?" "No, my pussy has no stripes, besides, it ain't never smelled like that!"
PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY

HEY MRS. PEEL - and CATHY and TARA


"She stood in my living room holding a gun on me, saying 'How could we let you go free?' Hey Mrs. Peel!"
Is the subject of The Cretones' early 80's tune "Mrs. Peel" really the spy from The Avengers? "We set up a surveillance...supported quite discreetly by the CIA..."
Yes and no. The song might be going for a contrast between TV spy glamour and the real thing, or taking a daydream about Diana Rigg into the day's cold war headlines.
Whatever, the tug-job chorus is clear enough: "Hey Mrs. PEEL! Hey Mrs. PEEL!"
The Cretones, led by Mark Goldenberg, were a perverse band during their short career, capable of turning peculiar thoughts into acceptable new wave pop. More acceptable as sung by someone else. Their version of "Mad Love" didn't make it, but Linda Ronstadt's cover did. Linda also recorded Mark's song "Justine." I have a Japanese CD Mark did a while back, "The Spiders Web," and he's just recorded a new solo effort (details at his dot.com). He's been Jackson Browne's lead guitarist since 1994.
Since the average Rapidshare or Megauload links tend to die after four or six months, especially if folks don't go back into the archives here, I'm adding a few old favorites that had previously been posted: "Could I Leave You," a Sondheim number sung by Diana Rigg, "Kinky Boots" as done by the original Avengers duo of Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale) and Patrick MacNee (John Steed) and "Here I Am," performed by Linda Thorson (Mrs. Peel's replacement, Tara King).
MRS. PEEL
KINKY BOOTS
DIANA RIGG SINGS
HERE I AM: LINDA THORSON

OL' TURKEY BUZZARD - David Letterman Fave


For some "wild and crazy" reason, non-sequiter audio clips of "Ol' Turkey Buzzard" began turning up on Late Night with David Letterman. And you thought only illfolks championed obscure tunes.
The song was part of the steady rotation of goofing around, including an inept blindfolded psychic trying to figure out a brand of sandwich, shouted slogans about pants, and a fat guy turning up to give Dave the (blurred) finger while shouting (expletive deleted) "...YOU."
A few nights ago, Feliciano himself guested to sing his non-hit (as pictured above). He's just put out a new album. Too bad Ol' (aka OLD) Turkey Buzzard isn't on it.
Jose flipped his bird during the opening of the fairly tedious movie "MacKenna's Gold," a plotless "let's find the treasure" hunt. Aside from the few scenes involving Hesh-ke the homicidal Indian girl, the film meandered like an old mule lost in the Mojave. As the movie began, an ominous vulture circled around, while Jose's symbolic lyric hinted that death awaits, hovering, ever-present. And sure enough, about two hours were subsequently killed.
And "network time killers" is a Dave fave. Months ago he kept running an audio clip of Renee Zellwegger saying "If you need help, here I am," and before "Ol' Turkey Buzzard" he was playing that dumb horse-ghost tune "Wildfire." He still has a sound effect of a window shattering every time he spins a blue card toward the back wall, but who knows, this may be a secret homage to Nick Lowe and "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass."
Here's your download...not just the original "Ol' Turkey Buzzard" as it appears in the movie, but Feliciano's Spanish language version.
And why the usage on Letterman's show? Just another way of saying life is a joke...one that you often don't get.

OLD TURKEY BUZZARD

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

ELSA LANCHESTER - BABY GOT BACK!


In honor of Pixelmutt's return here's "I'm Glad To See Your Back," as performed by Elsa Lanchester, better known as (all together now) The Bride of Frankenstein.
Students, long before Mrs. Laughton was temptingly stitched then attemptedly hitched to Mr. Karloff, she was a nude model, the star of "Peter Pan" on the British stage, the flame-haired darling of bohemians and intellectuals, and well known for singing risque novelty tunes.
26 years after her dual role in "Bride of Frankenstein," Elsa debuted on Broadway in a one-woman show, singing, among others, "I'm Glad to See Your Back." The arched "Back" along with tunes such as "Somebody Broke Lola's Saucepan" and "If You Peek in My Gazebo" had audiences tittering immoderately.
Elsa recorded "Songs for a Shuttered parlor" and "Songs for a Smoke Filled Room" (on the Hi-Fi label) with narration by Charles Laughton. In a decision that probably had him rolling awkwardly in his grave, these two albums were re-issued as "Bawdy Cockney Songs" and "More Bawdy Cockney Songs" (via Tradition) without him. Elsa's other two original albums were on Verve, now a division of the Universal-MCA cartel.
Return to those double-entendre days, as lovely Elsa Lanchester describes being glimpsed in her dressing room by a suitor who likes what he sees:
"Your face may be your fortune, but I like a different view. I'm glad to see your back..."

ELSA LANCHESTER SINGS Instant download or listen on line. No porn ads, pop-ups, waiting or code numbers.

OCT 9 - John Lennon and ELEANOR MCEVOY


It was the night of October 9th, three years ago. Mid-way into her set, Eleanor McEvoy did what I was hoping she'd do...sing "Last Seen October 9th."
By way of preface, expecting her song title for an answer, she asked the audience, "Anyone know what day this is?"
From my ringside seat, I answered, "Yes...John Lennon's birthday."
"Is it?"
"Yes...October 9th."
"Really. I didn't know that..."
Eleanor then explained that she rarely performed this particular song, but being October 9th, it was a fitting night for it. And while it's about a person gone missing, not someone assassinated, for me and for perhaps others in the crowd, the song evoked John's image, in its quiet lines about life's fragility and the emptiness that goes with loss.
This simple, stark song is about a missing person and one of those sad, "last seen..." signs that families nail to trees and tape to lamp posts...an act of futility dressed as hope.
After the show, I mentioned to Eleanor that home-made "last seen" signs, xeroxed with a snapshot of the missing loved one, were vivid on bus shelters and lamp posts and in store windows after 9/11, and stayed up until the rains and wind mottled and bent them, and the faces and names on them were faded and streaked. One of the nice things about having a CD, is you have the artist's complete vision, including the CD booklet and lyrics. You also have something that can be autographed. It's reproduced here, amended a bit.
"Last Seen October 9th" appears on "Yola," Eleanor's first album after going indie. Her first CD (Geffen) had the hit, later covered by Mary Black, "Only A Woman's Heart"). She then recorded two CDs for Columbia. Her latest album, appropriately titled, is "Out There." She performs mostly in her native Ireland.
Classically trained, McEvoy's music can paint images without words ("The Rain Falls" and "Days Go By" live up to the titles, even before she starts singing). Her lyrics, deceptively simple, etch deep, such as "Sophie" (about an anorexic). Unlike country-woman Sinead O'Connor, Eleanor's palette is somberly hued, but doesn't flare into the histrionic. Perhaps it's that lack of flash that has won her critical acclaim rather than fame. Each McEvoy CD in its jewel box, is like any woman's jewel case...it holds treasures, some obvious, some fragile, some sentimental, some faceted so skillfully they can shine in new ways every time they are given the chance.
Remembering John Lennon, 9/11, and all the lost ones "last seen" on a home-made poster, here is

OCTOBER 9th Listen on line, no pop-ups, "you have won 2 ipods" scams, or porn ads

IVA ZANICCHI - FILLED UP WITH BEATLES


Who doesn't like the music of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison...
chicks who look like hookers...
outrageous Italian accents.....

In other words, geddya tootsie-frootsie Beatles, here, thanks to Iva Zanichhi's great medley of their hits!

"Yesterday" is way too emotional to be sung in anything but Italian, so after the opening word, Iva does just that. From there, her olive-oiled voice slides into a fervent "Let It Be" sung in English with perhaps some vocal coaching from the ghost of Chico Marx. The violins sag and segue into "Michelle," just to add a little lesbian interest to the mix. If you're thinking "Omigod" by now, then enjoy "My Sweet Lord," which is steel-belted from a lady who can really pour out molten-hot high notes.

Born January 18, 1940, Iva began recording at 25, and won the San Remo song contest in 1969. She averaged an album a year from 1970 to 1988. She's slowed in the past two decades ("Come Mi Vorrei" in 1991 and "Fossi un Tango" in 2003).

Illfolks has lovingly pulled the Beatles medley from the original vinyl (there was also one for Burt Bacharach) and stuck Ringo Starr's head on the body of some colpito al cervello testa dei pesci posing with Iva circa 1965. (Don't bother to look it up; loosely translated, I called him a brain-damaged fish head).

Viva Iva! Beatles Italian style, download or listen right now. No pop-ups, porn or code-words to type.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

BOB NOLAN - That Old Outlaw...TIME


"Now as I go along, he steals from me.
My way of life. My woman's love. My peace of mind.
If I could see him I'd hit him. If I could reach him I'd kill him.
That old outlaw...Time."
This is just illfolks reminding you that one day your download will be six feet deep.
In 1979, Bob Nolan, one of the original "Sons of the Pioneers," emerged from long retirement to cut "The Sound of a Pioneer."
A year later, June 16, 1980, he was dead. Like most C&W vocalists who didn't get into a car or plane accident, his passing was little noticed by the mainstream press.
Your download song "That Old Outlaw Time" is from that album.
Unlike Johnny Cash, who held legendary status late in life, knew he had a death sentence just months away, and made the most of songs such as "The Man Comes Around" and "Hurt," Bob Nolan probably thought this was a comeback album, not a farewell. Although, you never know, the old cowboy reads these lines as if there's a cold hand on his shoulder:
"This shadow I can't seem to shake is not flesh and blood. This is a stranger each man faces in his own mind; filling him with fear and doubt. And behind it all, is that old outlaw: Time." Karloff couldn't have narrated it better.
"No way to win...no way to win...against that old outlaw...TIME."

BOB NOLAN Instant Download or Listen on line. No pop-ups or porn ads.

MR. SANDMAN in SWEDISH by a girl named SIW


Here's "Mr. Sandman" in Swedish. Considering it can be dark and gloomy in Sweden for a long stretch of the day, Siw offers a pretty short and happy nighty-night here.
Siw Malmkvist, now 70, first achieved fame representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960. Adept at German, she represented West Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.
Over the years Siw's 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 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 with her perky visage on it, and it's hard to resist (thus, this rip from the original vinyl.) And yes, that lips-parted photo (is she singing or miming for something) could give a sand man wet dreams.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ANNA NALICK : BREATHE (live version)


Unlike Lindsay Lohan, Anna Nalick can sing "Breathe" and doesn't need to have a tattoo of the word on her hand. Some find her hotter than Lindsay, too.
While the illfolks blog is more concerned with obscure performers, stars down on their luck, the deceased, and other unfortunates, it's important to boost new talent that is either unknown or not getting much attention.
After the release of her first album, everyone wondered what Anna would do next. People are still wondering. In this strange age, people have big hits with a first album, but fans develop ADD and don't care about the next. Fiona Apple had a slump with her sophomore effort, Dido's second was considered formulaic, Keane's second album tanked...So, while waiting,here's something to either introduce you to Anna Nalick or reacquaint you with her. It's a sterling live version of "Breathe" I lovingly filched and digitized from a TV appearance. That's devotion.
"An hourglass glued to the table..." yeah, Anna, time passes slowly while waiting for the next album...
BREATHE (Live Version) Instant Download or Listen On Line. No porn ads, pop ups or code words

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #7: SEPTEMBER SONG


It's September...the perfect time to revisit "September Song," a wistful vignette that describes the time of year when women give up short skirts and dirndl down due to the autumn chill.
That's in the lyric...isn't it? Well, when Maurice Chevalier sings, you can't be sure about half the words, and it doesn't really matter. He was quite the chevalier (that's French for horseman). He had such charm. He could probably stow away on a boat and get past customs just by singing a song...
"Oh...Chevalier, huh..."
Note the few little scratches in the vinyl at the song's poignant end, which also recalls a fragile era...where if you handled the friggin' vinyl the wrong way it was marred for life.

SEPTEMBER SONG by Chevalier Instant download, or put on an outrageous French accent and sing along on line.

THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT - WIMOWEH - MBUBE


Give props to Jews and Italians! They made a hit out of "Mbube" an obscure ethnic chant and "Wimoweh" an irritating musical windshield-wiper of a folk song. They turned those tunes into the enduring hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
Below you get a crapload of versions...four MBUBE, four WIMOWEH and enough LION SLEEPS TONIGHT to keep a zoo awake till morning.

Where...Excedrin users ask, did this musical plague come from?

Answer: Africa. 1939
Solomon Linda wrote and recorded "Mbube" with his group the Evening Birds. Guess what. Like so many artists of any color, his record label only paid him for recording the song. No royalties. Of course in South Africa, where blacks could not own property (or copyright) Solomon was doubly cursed.
An alleged 100,000 copies of "Mbube" sold in Africa, but the song was too ethnic to make it off the continent.
1952. A breed of white people, called "Folkies," began discovering "world music." Over at Vanguard and Decca, there was The Weavers and the duo of Marais & Miranda, both interested in hipping the world to African music. Marais & Miranda popularized "Marching to Pretoria," while The Weavers chose "Wimoweh."

Wimo-what??
Pete Seeger and his friends mis-heard "Mbube" as "Wimoweh." Seeger explains what the word means: "Legend says, Shaka The Lion [a Zulu warrior] didn't die when Europeans took over...he simply went to sleep, and he'll wake up some day."
"The lion sleeps" is not musical accompaniment to a Rousseau painting. That line, pretty much the translation of "Mbube," meant that one day, the French, Dutch and anyone else inhabiting Africa would go away and stop messing things up. Thus , leaving things to guys like Idi Amin, or the current maniac tribesmen who allow AIDS, murder, poaching of animals, the stealing of diamonds mass starvation, and spam e-mails from Nigeria.
Happily, most everyone who heard "Wimoweh" merely had a jolly excuse to shout "Wimoweh."
50's era kindergarten kids could hop up and down and think they were dancing. In those pre-karaoke days, it gave morons something to sing, along with "Jimmy Crack Corn," the first three words of "Tzena Tzena Tzena," and a solemnly clueless warble of "Kumbaya." Also in 1952, Yma Sumac jumped in with an exotic cover version, drawn by the "ululations" that linguists figure originated from the Arab-dominated top half of the continent.
Neither "Mbube" nor "Wimoweh" would be remembered much if it was not for a peculiar bit of musical and ethnic cross-breeding.

In 1961 Italian producers Hugo (Peretti) and Luigi (Creatore), a lyricist named George Weiss, and The Tokens lead singer Jay Siegal put together a little miracle called "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The quirky tune was multi-racial, using African rhythms, doo-wop, falsetto, and a female's soaring variation on classical "vocalise." Welcome in any stack of 45's that included "The Witch Doctor" or "Quiet Village" fresh lyrics pushed the literal lion imagery while the music and vocals erected a Brill Building in the South African veld. For an added twist, Frenchman Henri Salvador recorded "Le lion est mort ce soir," and there have been plenty of other nutty versions since (many in your zip file).
In 1962, Solomon Linda died. He had almost no money. His wife and children lived in Soweto in a dirt-floor shack where a mash of corn was the usual meal, and a great treat would be...an egg. Meanwhile, back in the States...

Catchy, obnoxious and fascinating, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" has endured for over 40 years, dragging in its wake, the legends of "Wimoweh" and "Mbube," two songs that almost nobody would want to hear more than once. Thanks to its use in Disney's mammoth hit "The Lion King," Solomon Linda's family was able to be the lion and take a bite out of a big, fat cash-cow.
Racism? Nah, it's the music business, that's all.
As with "Tom Dooley," if there was no name on it, it was assumed to be public domain. If you didn't file a lawsuit (as the "Tom Dooley" guy did) you didn't get paid. Seeger: "The big mistake I made was not making sure that my publisher signed a regular songwriters’ contract with Linda. My publisher simply sent Linda some money and copyrighted The Weavers’ arrangement here..." Which isn't so unusual. Matthew Fisher had to wait 40 years before he got a co-write credit on "Whiter Shade of Pale. " To use the vernacular, "shit happens." Before Linda's family sued Disney, the twisty path of royalties tended to go to the Weavers, to George Weiss (if the song was sung and his "in the jungle, the mighty jungle" line used), and to the original South African record label (a division of Decca).

The fact remains that Solomon Linda's song would be nothing but a footnote if not for the way it was re-written and re-produced by a very commercial bunch of professionals as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." But hear the evidence yourself.
Are we so much more open to "world music" today? No. Whatever the music might be...a Swiss yodel, a polka, a Gamalan monkey chant or "Mbube," it ain't gonna chart if it ain't commercial. To put it another way, Paul Simon sells a lot more records than the people he used on "Graceland" or "Rhythm of the Saints."
Most of you will continue to spin "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" a lot more than "Mbube." If you want to call yourselves racists, go ahead. That's the easy word thrown at Pete Seeger and The Tokens. 


Your reward for reading all of the above, or reading none of the above:
A whole lotta Mbube, Wimoweh and Lion Sleeps Tonight, and guess what, on this download, nobody gets paid. Fair is fair. 

UPDATE: the link is long out of date. I was going to to upload some of the tracks individually for you...after all, this IS an educational blog...but all of it is streaming on YouTube. (And there are ways of pulling the mp3 off a YouTube video so you can keep it for your very own, including convert YouTube to Mp3 websites).  

The TOKENS - The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Glen Campbell guitar version - WIMOWEH

Desmond Dekker ("The Israelites" guy) Reggae-Rocks "WIMOWEH" 

Bizarre Afro-Big Band version: YMA SUMAC and MARTIN DENNY

TV Insanity: Dusty Springfield ("The Springfields") Pretend to be Afrikaaaaaaans

The Weavers - WIMOWEH

YouTube: Solomon Linda's 1939 version, MBUBE