Monday, December 04, 2017

Crazy Bargain Baby!

 
 
So how did your Black Friday shopping go? And since then, have you found any crazy bargains? At the store where my wife works, today is the big sale for the season. Get there now!
 
Anyway, for your dining and dancing pleasure, here's the great Gene Marshall, accompanied by a loose sounding, first rate band (I especially love the drumming), singing up a swingin' storm, all about a subject just perfect for the shopping season, a "Crazy Bargain Baby". Just one caveat, though - she won't let him pet!
 
Sing it, Gene!
 
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The flip side is a moldy piece of MOR balladry called "Goldie". Perhaps you'll enjoy this more than I do, and can work up some words of which it is worthy. I cannot.
 
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers


As promised, here's a little musical turkey to go along with your leftover turkey sandwiches, two days after Thanksgiving. When you talk about song-poems and musical turkeys together, it's hard not to arrive at the Noval label, sooner rather than later. I have often wondered if Noval's customers were, by and large, happy with the results of their submissions, and also, how much they paid relative to other customers of other labels. There aren't enough Noval releases around to get a sense of whether they had repeat customers, as some of the larger labels did.

Beyond that, I'll let these fairly ridiculous records speak for themselves. As arranged by Fred, here's "Rocking Bronco", performed, as always, by an unnamed singer and band.

Download: No Artist Named (Noval Productions) - Rocking Bronco
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And here's the same team, with the expertly, and creatively titled ditty, "Love":

Download: No Artist Named (Noval Productions) - Love
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I hope that everyone (or at least those who celebrate it) had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you all have an even better Holiday Season!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

He Still Loves That Girl




Here's a nice, solid little pop ditty from Rodd Keith, from the earliest days of the Preview label. It's called "I Still Love That Girl (Can You See?) (although the lyric is, consistently, "can't you see?"), and it's got a keen shuffle beat, which peps up into a modified twist thing on the verses. It all sounds dandy to me. Everybody's having fun but him.

Download: Rodd Keith - I Still Love That Girl (Can You See?)
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The flip side, "Sheridan" comes from a side of Rodd Keith that doesn't really grab me, the ballad singer, with the setting bordering on the ponderous. I do enjoy hearing his triple-tracked harmonies, but even those don't save this particular track.

Oddly, both sides of this record indicate a length of 2:20, but the A-side is actually more than 20 seconds shorter than that, while this side is more than 20 seconds longer than what is listed.

Download: Rodd Keith - Sheridan
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE - I hope to be back over the weekend with a bit of leftover turkey!

Monday, November 13, 2017

MOVIN' WITH PAPA!!!



 
I could have this chronology quite mixed up, but it appears to me that, near the end of his time running the Film City empire, Sandy Stanton began releasing a good number of his factories productions on the newer, Action Records label. Most of the known Action releases seem to have been released after the end of the last few known Film City releases, and essentially feature the same cast of characters, plus and minus a few, frequently accompanied by the ubiquitous Chamberlin.
 
Today's feature, 'Move with Papa", sung by the occasional Film City/Action warbler known as Frank Perry, is notable for some fun, silly lyrics, and, particularly, the atrocious work done with the Chamberlin: whoever made this track provided a second track of chording which is just slightly - and aggravatingly - out of tune with the rest of the track. The final chord over the rest of the track is a particular howler.
 
Oh, and while I'd love to think that the co-writer of these tracks was the great English comic actor Terry-Thomas, that seems unlikely.
 
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I can't actually work up much to say about the flip side, "Like An Angel So Sweet", which is a fairly typical non-entity from the genre and from this label.
 

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By the way, I do have a plan to try and keep up to a once-a-week posting schedule again, starting this week. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Cool Cats Are On Star-X

Before I get to this week's offering, I need to share a link that Darryl Bullock sent me, of an astounding Halmark record featuring Bob Storm, which has been shared for the world on youtube. While this might not raise many eyebrows, were it to be released today, it certainly would have been the conversation piece in the early '70's, when it was actually released. I will say no more - I don't think I have any other words for this anyway. 

Have a listen, here. Thanks, Darryl


The AS/PMA website tells us that Star-X was a song-poem label, and of this there seems no doubt, given that it released discs by Sammy Marshall and the great Roger Smith. I have some question as to the actual story behind today's record, but the A-side is so fun I thought I'd share it anyway. The concern for me is that both sides were written by a team, and the same team. Then again, the performances are so ham-fisted they certainly sound like a group that was churning out demo-level renditions. Those with more knowledge than me can chime in with whether they think this is a song-poem, a vanity record or a legit release.

When I saw the credited artist, Dick Mason, I had guessed it would be Dick Kent in disguise. However, this record is from 1958, a bit early for him to have been the singer, I think, and besides that, it sounds nothing at all like him. I have no idea who this singer is.

The stronger of the tracks, by far, as I've indicated, is the A-side, "Cool Cats". These folks don't really understand rock and roll, aside from perhaps the guitarist, but they have a good time approximating it, and the result is infectious, rather ridiculous fun. Plus, the lyrics are certainly song-poem level, if that helps anyone in determining whether this is animal, vegetable or mineral. ,

Download: Dick Mason and Chorus, Music by the High Fives - Cool Cats
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The flip side, "Heavy Heart", has very little to recommend it, to my ears. The ponderous vocal and cookie-cutter, morose lyrics sound a lot like 100 other forgettable song-poem records.

Download: Dick Mason and Chorus, Music by the High Fives - Heavy Heart
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Teacho's Working Overtime!


It's been too long since I've featured the great Teacho Wiltshire. An early stalwart at Tin Pan Alley, Teacho is one of the relatively few people named on Song-Poem release labels who went on to have a significant career in the legitimate music business. His name can be found in the production and arrangement credits of dozens, or more likely, hundreds of hits and near hits from the 1960's.

This, however, is from long before all that, late 1955, to be precise. It's a charming ditty titled "Working Overtime". This one was actually released twice by TPA, with two different flip sides. Sadly, I do not own the release with "Are You Willing" on the flip side, since it was indicated to be " The One and Only Rock 'n' Roll Waltz!", right on the label. But still, I doubt it would have lived up to the entertainment value of "Working Overtime".

Darryl Bullock, in a post featuring several TPA releases (although not this one), has a nice quote from an interview with a relative of label honcho Jack Covais, which includes some comments about this record. You can read that here. And glory be, Billboard even reviewed the thing! They got the copy with "Are You Willing" on the flip, but they still offered up thoughts on this one, opining dryly that "The singer's R & B efforts seem misplaced", and giving it the equivalent of a "D".

Well, I like it just fine. Judge for yourself! Without further ado, here is Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra, with "Working Overtime"

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra - Working Overtime
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On the flip side, the same combo performs a truly overwrought rendition of something called "Waters of Telufa". A quick web search does not immediately indicate exactly where this concentrated dampness can be encountered, but Teacho's mannered performance doesn't lead me to want to go there, anyway.

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra - Waters of Telufa
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Peculiar and Unique Cluelessness of the Song-Poet


That the average song-poet is not in the least bit up to the task of constructing an effective lyric for a pop record is so clear as to not be worth arguing. The list of ways song-poets have missed the boat on songwriting is long and often comical. It includes, but is hardly limited to, choosing an unwieldy title, constructing lyrics which cannot possibly scan well when sung, tortured rhyme schemes, dumb concepts and mangled English.

Which brings us to today's feature, and a few words about Answer Records. As you no doubt know, way back when, any time there was a particularly unusual big hit record, or a novelty record, or a hit which was much bigger than the typical hit of the day, there would usually be multiple answer records. A few of them even became big hits, and at least one - Hot Rod Lincoln - became a bigger hit than the song which inspired it. One thing I've never seen on an answer record was the phrase "answer record" in the song title. Another thing I've not seen is an answer record which got the name of the original hit song wrong.

Then, up to the plate stepped song-poet Neil Gibson, who, in around 1976 or so, submitted his masterwork to the Preview company. What he wrote was a response to the then-fairly-recent hit "Help Me Make It Through the Night", what he titled it was "Answer To: 'Take the Ribbons From My Hair'". The thing is, there isn't a song titled "Take the Ribbons From My Hair", at least not that I can find. My thinking is that if you are inspired enough by a song on the radio, that you want to produce and promote an answer song, you ought to know the name of the song in question. And then you might want to create your own title.

After all, Jody Miller's "Queen of the House" was not titled "Answer to: 'Trailers for Sale or Rent".

Download: Gene Marshall: Answer To - "Take the Ribbons From My Hair"
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The flip side of this record is a song called "Handful of Teardrops". Question - who the hell holds teardrops? This is so clunky a phrase that in all of the internet, a Google search shows it to have ever been used only eight times.

The song lives down to its title, and while there are a couple of really nice, complex piano fills near the end, that's the only saving grace. The most notable thing about it is the absolutely horrendous quality of the recording, the production and the pressing. This record sounds awful.

Download: Gene Marshall - Handful of Teardrops
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Great Roger Smith


Here's a record I've owned for all of about five hours, and I couldn't wait to share it with all of you.

Because today's featured singer is Roger Smith. He primarily recorded on the Air label, but his name turns up on a dozen other, smaller labels; in this case, the tiny "Top Rock" label. The blandest of names masks one of the most unusual singers of song-poems in the field. I have only heard a handful of records he recorded, but have loved every one of them. He had a borderline ridiculous, yet endearing way of selling a song.

The reason I have never featured Roger Smith here is that most of the tracks I own which were released under his name, I own only as MP3's, those graciously gifted to me by fellow collectors. and I have generally not featured records that I don't personally own. And the only Roger Smith record I did own, prior to today, has already been shared on another blog. I see that the post I refer to, now has dead links, so maybe I should share that record, soon, but in the meantime, here's the better of the two sides, posted to Soundcloud. It's one of my favorite records ever.

Today's offering, which doesn't quite match that track for sheer wonderfulness and insanity, is still 100% wonderful. It's called "Same Old Stuff" - a mention in Billboard dates this release to late 1961, but it seems to exist pretty much out of time, a rather peculiar and unique mix of elements of Western Swing, Dixieland and Roller Rink Organ. And if I haven't already made it clear, it's magnificent from start to finish. As if that musical backing wasn't enough to draw me in for multiple listens, Roger Smith again provides a weirdly compelling and inimitable vocal. I love this singer, and I love this record.

Download: Roger Smith, Western String Band - Same Old Stuff
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As much as I've just praised the Roger Smith side of this record, I don't want to neglect the flip side, which is just as wonderful in its own way. It helps that the singer is Cara Stewart (that always helps), but in addition, this is a funny song with some inspired lyrics about the implications of having a lot of kids on one's love life. If I'm taking the lyrics literally, I believe the writer intends us to think the protagonist of the song has 15 children. Cara Stewart does her usual great job of selling the material, and Lee Hudson's group, with that indelible guitar sound, support her nicely.

Download: Cara Stewart, Lee Hudson Orch - Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
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Not that you asked, but an even better song, on a similar subject (at least in the early verses) - and one of my very favorite records ever, is by Jimmie Driftwood, and can be found here.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Is That You, Popeye? Nah, It's Just Billy Grey


It's always a good day when I get to share the sounds of the perpetually ridiculous Billy Grey. I don't have nearly enough of his records, or else I'd feature him more often. His borderline incompetence, paired with the material his bosses at Tin Pan Alley gave him to sing, topped by the genuine incompetence of the band TPA used at that moment all result in records that are stunning in their entertaining awfulness.

First up, let's hear Billy sing the plaintive cry of a normal, idiot American (and proud of it), in the song "I Am Just What I Am". Here's a fun game - count the number of times that the bass player doesn't follow the chord structure, and then add in the time (near the end, in the last bridge) that the rest of the band seems unable to agree on what the chords are supposed to be:

Download: Billy Grey - I Am Just What I Am
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The flip side, "Tongue Tied" may well circulate among song-poem collectors. It was part of the original set of downloadable songs on the AS/PMA site, but somehow never migrated over to the otherwise "complete" set of those downloads that cropped up years later at the WFMU blog.

This one is also worth hearing, for it's general half-assed-ness, but also for a fairly weird turn taken by the lyrics. 

Download: Billy Grey - Tongue Tied
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Saturday, September 09, 2017

Dick Kent's Home Is His Castle

Before I get to this week's feature, I have quite a bit of housekeeping - a variety of comments which I want to acknowledge, share with the readers and/or respond to. 

First, regarding what I thought was a mysterious performance labeled as being by "Rod Rogers" on Halmark, of all places, a great blogger and frequent commenter here, Darryl Bullock, has indicated that there indeed was another song-poem performer who went by that name, aside from Rodd Keith. He writes: 

Surely the vocalist on Trailways Bus Driver is Nu Sound's dreadful Todd Andrews? Incidentally, there is also at least one Rod Rogers 45 on Nu Sound, 1008: Don't Be A Dope/Birds And Bees And The Stork (both L. Smith). I don't have a copy of the latter but I'd put money on that Rod Rogers being Todd Andrews rather than Rodd Keith 

Regarding a post from February, featuring a singer identified as "Dan Monday", who I indicated was Rodd Keith, I heard the following from our friends at the excellent record label Roaratorio

Just as an FYI.... Rodd Keith was *not* the singer known as Dan Monday, on any of the records, as far as I know. I think this misconception was fueled in part by the misattribution of the Dan Monday track "General Custer's Story Remains Legend" on 'I Died Today' to Rodd... but they were most definitely two different vocalists. Milford Perkins also gets lumped in with the Rodd pseudonyms on occasion, but he too was a different vocalist.

It's not clear to me how the writer knows for certain that Dan Monday is not Rodd - it certainly sounds like him to me - and I admit that I've not written to ask, due to the general busyness that I've alluded to, but I will defer to the folks at Roaratorio, whose knowledge and insight about Rodd far surpass mine. 

Finally, Jake writes to ask: 

Are you aware of any song-poem companies that are still active or is this pretty much a dead medium in the 2010s?

It's not I can't answer this for certain - but I strongly suspect that the scam is still out there. It certainly was a decade ago, when a friend of mine was an avid collector of recent CD releases of song-poems on the then-current song-poem labels. Also, in the late '90's, a few of us got together and purchased a song-poem based on a poem by a late acquaintance of one of our group - I believe the price was $200 - and I think we did business with the folks who now run whatever the current name of Halmark Records has become. To be certain about its continued existence, one might buy a copy of The National Enquirer, or some other similar rag, and look in the classified ads, but that's not something I'm going to do. I know for a fact that the poetry version of this scam (in which people are self published, or have their poems narrated on CD) still exists. 

Thanks, everyone, for writing - I really appreciate all comments!

And now, on with the countdown!


Today, we have the singer best known as "Dick Kent", sounding very young, singing in what I'm guessing was early in his career, trying to "advance" himself up the ladder of success, on the Advance label, under the name "Dick Castle". The song is "A New Love", and the entire, fairly pleasant, non-taxing enterprise sounds like something Paul Anka might have released in the early '60's (which is when I'm guessing this dates from), including Dick himself sounding more than a little bit like Anka. Although I hasten to say, Dick Castle/Kent, like 98% of the vocalists who have ever been recorded, is a better singer than Mr. Anka.

Download: Dick Castle, Vocal, with Page Cavanaugh - A New Love
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The flip-side, "Dream One Dream At a Time", is a far duller trip, to my ears, a lyric as clunky as the title, and a music bed which has nothing to recommend it.

Download: Dick Castle, Vocal, with Page Cavanaugh - Dream One Dream At a Time
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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hand Me Down Girl


I thought I heard a little bird whisper in my ear "you haven't featured an MSR 45 in almost 15 months". So I went to the box, found one from that label's early days (being that I am strongly non-partial to their latter day releases), and found a nice little song from Bobbi Blake, written by that famous song-poem "Dee", a lyric with a sad story to tell, titled "Hand Me Down Girl". The lousy sound quality is rests entirely on the shoulders of those who pressed this record.

Download: Bobbi Blake - Hand Me Down Girl
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On the flip side, we have an unusually uninspired offering from Rodd Keith (listed here as Rodd Rogers), on "Me and My Guitar".  Not that the songwriter gave him much to work with. At least in this case they gave the guitar a prominent role - I've heard several song-poems about certain instruments which hardly feature the instrument in question, if at all.

Download: Rodd Rogers - Me and My Guitar
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Monday, August 21, 2017

A Travelogue with Sammy Marshall

I really do intend to get back to posting once a week... I can hardly believe how busy my home and work life is getting - I truly intended to get back to once-a-week posting - it's Summer, for God's sake, how much can there possibly be to do. I had no idea....


The question for today is: Did Alice Lindhout write today's pair of songs in some sort of official capacity, with a mandate to publicize Palm Springs and the then-brand new Aerial Tramway into the San Jacinto mountains (this would have presumably been in 1963 or, more likely, 1964). Or did she simply take it upon herself to send it two sets of lovely lyrics about her environs and their most recently added feature?

Which is the true story, she (or the city) paid the good (?) folks at the Globe Song-Poem Factory to produce her two songs, with Sammy Marshall offering stellar vocals, and press them up on the "Souvenir Records of Palm Springs and Aerial Tramway" records label. I'm guessing there weren't a lot of releases in the label's catalog.

But these two are lovely, particularly the bouncy "Come On Down". It's a minimalist arrangement, driven by chugging piano and what sounds like a quartet of Sammys, although it could just as well be a real vocal group, supporting Sammy's enthusiastic lead vocal. Whoever is singing (and playing) is a winner from start to finish.

Download: Sammy Marshall: Come On Down
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The flip is a more sedate story of The San Jacinto Mountains, here mislabeled as "The Sanjacinto Mountains". Oddly, Ms. Lindhout's lyrics portray the very first reason for going to area being that it grants wishes, with the specific wish one should make being a wish that Sammy Marshall would "be your fella". That would not be my wish.

Download: Sammy Marshall: The Sanjacinto Moutains
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