Monday, February 23, 2015

Samples from Cara

First, I wanted to point out that I got some more historical information relevant to my post from two weeks ago, regarding "The Congo Song". You can read about it here. And now, on with the countdown: 

Half or more of the US is under the deep freeze, and then there are those who struggling through ice storms. If you're feeling cold this evening, here's the perfect recipe for getting warmed up - Cara Stewart, under the guise of "Sue Saylor", with a couple of songs co-written by Della Anderson and Earl Luton (the latter of whom at some point started his own "Lutone" label). This one's called "Sample Kisses":

And if you need a little more thawing out, here's the flip side, "Wondering Why". The label says that Spin Records are tops. I say that Cara is tops

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Simple Solution That Fixes Everything!

What it is, Bucko?? You say your life's in the dumps, and nothing's gone right in two years? Well, man about town Dick Kent has the solution for you! It doesn't even matter what the problem is: lost job, divorce, terrorism, hemorrhoids, dishpan hands, an oil leak, Fox News, carotid artery issues, running out of name it!!!

The solution is: JUST WALK THROUGH (sorry: THRU) SOME DANG DAISIES!!!!

And it only takes 99 seconds, too!

Sing it, Dick!!!

This record may be the only Dick Kent/Rodd Keith pairing where I actually prefer the Dick Kent side. On the flip side, an unbearably unctuous Rodd sings a fairly turgid weeper about a son who used to be little, isn't any more, and is far, far away. Yes, for those who collect such things, it's a Vietnam song-poem!


Monday, February 09, 2015

The Caveman and the Congolese

I surely wish I had more records on the Caveman label, or indeed, that there were more records released on the label to be had. Every one of the ones I've heard has been memorable, and today's record is no exception.

This record also features a singer who went by the name of Rod Barton, and a previous posting of a Barton record resulted in one of the high points of my song-poem collecting life - a couple of phone conversations with the man who sang under that name. He looked me up, based on information on this site, and cold-called me. It was great to talk with someone who was there, and his infectious enthusiasm for those days was great, too.

He quite strongly insisted that no one was being taken or scammed on the records he sang on, calling them demos - and a glance at the records he was one doesn't discount that as a possibility: today's record and the other Barton discs in my collection may well be more of the vanity variety than true song-poems. At this distance, it's hard to say.

Barton's song here, sung with a group dubbed "The Congolese", is called "The Congo Song". When I was a kid, the bedroom my brother and I shared featured an enormous piece of wallpaper on one wall which featured an equally immense map of the Earth. It had been put in by the previous owners, from whom our parents bought the home in 1961, so it featured the Belgian Congo.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember some of what I learned of the changes that took place in Africa in the 1960's, including the many different places where European colonists were thrown out, including the Congo, but my specific knowledge of the conflicts in this particular nation is sparse, indeed. And a glance at Wikipedia shows that it will take more time than I have now to correct that gap in my knowledge. But it does look like this record probably was written around the time of those conflicts - the late 1950's or just into 1960, most likely (the reference to keeping out commies helps here, too).

All that said, the lyrical conceit taken here is wholly obnoxious and offensive from a 2015 perspective, what with the mock African accent and the references to African sounding names (although perhaps the lyric is referencing actual people - I dunno). If you can get past that, which is a tall order, the track sounds pretty fun, with rockabilly piano, guitar and bass, although oddly, no drums. And Rod Barton was a greatly enjoyable singer, too.

Update, 2/23/15: A correspondent has let me know that the names in the song are real people! Charles Edward Rogers writes:

The names are indeed of real people: Patrice Lumumba, who led the Congo independence movement and was the free country's first president; Mobuto Sese Seko, who took control from Lumumba (accused of being a communist) in a coup; Moise Tshombe, who led the state of Katanga in secession from the independent Congo; and Albert Kalonji, who led another secession in the state of South Kasai.

Here's the song!

The flip side is by Jeff Samson and the Western Band and is titled "Weary River". Like "The Congo Song", it was written by Ned Williams, and both sides slide up into the correct speed for some reason, like they were mastered off of another disc that had to be brought up to speed.

This is a pretty standard issue country number, with some nice, closely miked violin, and sweet piano on the bridge.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Blamin' It All on the Nights on Hallmark

Another round of problems with Divshare has resulted in no posts for nearly two weeks. I'll try to get caught up again with a post by Sunday or Monday, but in the meantime, I'm left on a day when I have no time to spend going on about the wonders of Bob Storm (in a less unctuous mood here) or the Halmark (spelled "Hallmark" here) label. I'll just leave it to you to enjoy two of the more ubiquitous backing tracks in the Halmark stable. First, on the song "Night of Love":

And then on a song titled "Nobody Told Me", one which features eighth grade level lyrics, and one which is not likely to make anyone forget the superior John Lennon single of the same title:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

She's a Bad Mother...

First, I want to say something off topic for a moment: 

What a sad day.

It's hard to remember for sure this many years later, but I think Ernie Banks was my first celebrity hero. And while that would have been because he was a great ballplayer at first, other things continued to make him someone I found amazing, and worthy of the word hero: specifically, his positivity - about everything, apparently - was a real inspiration.
Over the years, I've heard multiple people who knew him say that his public persona of always being upbeat and having a positive outlook wasn't an act - it was really who he was. I've always found that something to aspire to. Seeing him in an appearance at Wrigley or at some other event covered on TV always brightened my day. I'll really miss him.

Now that I've brought the mood down, let's raise it with something ridiculous. I don't know that there's a lot to blather on about regarding this record, titled "Save Your Tears Mom". First, it's Norm, and I love Norm. He's not always good (see the flip side), but there's a far better than average chance of hearing something I'll want to hear again if his name is on the label

And when the first words out of his mouth are:

Save your tears, mom
It was you who taught me to steal
You said it would be alright, 
Didn't you? can be certain that you're in for a fun two minutes and 48 seconds. And it does not disappoint.

Of the flip side, "Dawn", I can think of nothing worthwhile to say whatsoever. Even Lew Tobin didn't want to claim a co-writer credit on this one.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tony Rogers Does His Homework

By now, almost everyone who planned on being in school for the winter semester has returned to school. So what better time for a light-hearted complaint about Homework?

As I wrote a few months ago, the Star-Crest label fascinates me. Although their products seem to have started appearing in the early 1960's (the only confirmed date for the label found in the AS/PMA website is 1961), virtually everything I've heard from the good folks at Star-Crest sounds like it was intended for release in the 1930's.

That causes even more of a disconnect than usual with label stalwart Tony Rogers' rendition of "Homework". The lyrics present a typical young man, perhaps in his late teens, complaining of how he won't be showing up on time for his date (where they'll "neck and talk"), because of all the work he's been assigned. When it turns out that he's too late to even go to her door at all (although he also stopped to "take a bath"), he decides to read a good book, only to realize he can't even do that, because, you guessed it, there's more homework to be done.

That actually would not a be a bad bit of storytelling for an early '60's novelty pop or teen idol rock and roll record, come to think of it. Gary "U.S." Bonds could have made that work.

Unfortunately, lyricist William E. Cobb sent his lyrics to Star-Crest, and not Sterling or Lee Hudson, and we end up with a backing, and vocal delivery, that sound straight out of 1933. I wish I could have been there when Mr. Cobb heard the results of the work he'd paid for. Still, for all it's ridiculousness, I pretty much love this record.

On the flip side, we hear Mary Marcuso's lament of having been tricked by an untrue lover, one who has now gone on to break yet another lover's heart. The setting again sounds like it was created in the mid-'30's (well, minus the guitar line, anyway) but at least this time, the lyrics and feel are appropriate to that time.

It's worth noting that this side of the record is a mere 84 seconds long: last week, I speculated that the total time of that week's 45 (3 minutes, 10 seconds) might be a record. Well, today's two-sider contains music that totals exactly... 3 minutes, 9 seconds!!!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Starting the Year Right!

Happy New Year!!!
And what better way to kick off the new year than with some of the typical weirdness I've come to expect when I see the artist credit of "Phil Celia" on the old time Tin Pan Alley label.
The song title is enough to draw one in "A Fat Man in a Compact Car", and the song doesn't disappoint. Set to what at first sounds like a march beat, it's actually (to my ears) styled as a Lou Monte styled Italian novelty, although largely minus the ethnic accent. The words do the title justice, too, with the following couplet being perhaps the high point:
"If You're Obese
You Need Some Grease..."
The ending is a spectacular failure - clearly, Phil and the band have two different ideas of how the repetition of the final lines was supposed to work.

On the flip side, we find one of the shortest song-poems I've ever heard or seen on a 45 RPM single (I think the magnificent Joe Stantan performance of "A Has-Been" may be shorter, but that was on an EP).
This song, on the other hand, is the only thing on this side of the record, and it runs 75 seconds (the entire 45, including both songs, runs three minutes, ten seconds - I bet that's a record!).
We've got the same 6/8 rhythm here, only in a higher key, and definitely a march beat in this case. The lyricist actually squeezed in quite a bit of information (and a moment of casual racism) into his brief creation. And the last three seconds are worth the price of admission!