Sunday, June 26, 2011

Something a Bit Different from Sammy Marshall



If you've been listening to song-poems for any length of time, you've probably noticed that almost every Sammy Marshall record fits into one of a limited number of categories - rockin' 1960's party anthem, happy love song, sad love ballad, etc. - provided by the Globe Records factory which provided Sammy records to a seemingly endless number of ssmall labels.

But today's offering, "Picture in the Fire", doesn't fit into any of those categories, being a sort of spooky meditation of a song, with appropriate accompaniment and production. Perhaps it comes from early in Globe's song-poem work, or perhaps the song-poet submitted the song complete, words and music, leading to this interesting performance. Whatever the story, it's definitely worth a listen:



(By the way, one online discography indicates that this label - Crescendo - is the same label as the GNP Crescendo label which was a significant force for a time in the 1960's singles market. This does not appear to be the case - for one thing, it would mean this record came out in about 1956, which is unlikely, and for another, it would mean that the label both changed its name and went legit at some point in the early 1960's, which is even more unlikely.)

The flip side is fairly unfocused, in both construction and performance (have a listen to that backing!), in addition to a clunky name. Here's Kris Arden with "Ever (Modern Fantasy)":



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dear Old Dad!



This is just perfect for tomorrow's celebration of Father's Day....

When I first heard today's featured song, I could hardly believe my ears! It's so obnoxious in its plagarism, yet a few moments later, so laugh out loud funny in its originality. And all that is wrapped up in what is clearly a Rodd Keith production, and a wonderful one at that.

First, my mouth dropped open at the brazen theft apparent in the opening lines of the song (if you're not familiar with it, there's another song with the exact same lyric, except that the genders are reversed). Then, I laughed out loud at a line that Rodd himself sings - I wonder if he added it himself, or if it was part of the original song-poet's submission. (This line comes just after a weird dip in the volume level, which is part of the record.)

But my next thought was that this song would be perfect for Father's Day, given that it is a plea for a guy who could live up to the singer's father's standard. (I'll overlook the fact that the singer is obliged to make a sort of ucky reference to her father's lovemaking prowess, which just seems wrong to me.)

I'll have to assume that "I Want a Guy" by the Marionettes was never discovered during the period when CD compilations were being pulled together, because it seems like a natural fit for any of them.



The flip side, "Tell Me, Baby", is a Rodd Keith mover and groover, with a backing track which should be well familiar to any dedicated Rodd fan. In fact, this may prove the more popular of the two songs, but the weirdness of its flip side led me to lead off with that one:



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Flag Day



There's never a bad time to share a little Gary Roberts. His toneless, amateur sounding vocal style is in a way a microcosm of the entire song-poem experience - indeed, I imagine many song-poets were considerably better singers than Mr. Roberts, and yet he's the one who got to sing their songs. I only wish there were more Gary Roberts records floating around.

But if another reason was needed, one is handy: Tuesday is Flag Day. And here's Gary offering up a rather flaccid tribute, "Our Flag":



While you're enjoying this flip side, please know that next week's Father's Day feature will include a new find from my collection that I consider quite special. And now, here's the exciting flip side, "It's Nice to Be in Love":



Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Molly

It's time for one of my rare trips into the personal side of things....

My younger daughter Molly graduated from High School over the weekend, and I wanted to write a few things about her.

Molly is an amazing and wonderful person. She is thoughtful, loving and deeply caring about others. She loves to learn, with wide interests that span history, cooking, working with children and music, among many other things and has worked hard to succeed - she was recently recognized for her consistently high grades over the course of her entire high school career. She is self assured and knows how to express herself well. And she's a beautiful girl, too.

But while all that is true, and certainly worth mentioning, much of it makes her sound like a serious, studious person - which she is, when she needs to be. But that hardly works as a description of her, and I've saved the best for last. Molly is joyful - she loves life, and particularly loves to find the silliness and humor in things. She is uncommonly fun to be with, in part because her enjoyment of the goofy and funny nature of every day occurrences is absolutely infectious.

My sister captured Molly's joy in life when she was perhaps three years old, and on the swings. This is one of my favorite childhood pictures, because it seems to me that it captures pure happiness.



Throughout the intervening years, Molly has retained the ability to find the joy in life that is reflected in that picture.

Not only that, she is among the funniest people I've ever known. Now, my view of this may come from the fact that she has internalized part of my own sense of humor, which is heavily based on playing with words. But the appeal of her ability to be naturally and quickly funny is hardly limited to me. Even when she was in grade school, she was able to frequently make everyone in a surrounding group of adults crack up with a quick one line response to something, and she's only improved on that ability as she's approached adulthood herself.

Unfortunately, so much of this ability results in "you had to be there" situations - ones which are over as soon as everyone has finished laughing - that it would do me very little good to try and write out examples.

The following is not exactly a match for what I've been trying to explain, but it does capture her sense of humor, and the response from an audience. This is a spoken word piece that she and one of our closest family friends wrote together. This performance took place two years ago, at one of the music, comedy and improv parties my friends and I have been taking part in for over 25 years. While her partner in this creation introduced the piece, played a small harp-like instrument and offered a few comments, Molly did the reading of what they'd written:



Just as an aside, I'd also like to say that Molly's taste in music is quite a bit better than the vast majority of her peers. She tends towards the more melodic and well made of today's music, and when she does turn on a radio or buy music, it's more often an oldies station or a classic rock station than anything from today. She has a genuine interest in learning the history behind the big hits and the big acts, and shares my love of following music charts. I got a big kick out a recent facebook update from her, which read that she "... liked Shrek and Marvin Gaye". How many other 17 year olds chose those two this month or this year.

Plus, she shares my taste for the out-there, including the fact that she "gets" the song-poem thing ("Stay Where You Are" by Norm Burns is a favorite), and often can't get enough of some of the same way-beyond-left field stuff that I adore, such as "O Sing to Me".

I really haven't done justice to what I wanted to say here, but hopefully, I've captured her well enough for anyone reading this. Congratulations, Molly.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ultra Creepy



Today's record is another winner by The Real Pros, that catchall name that was used to capture whoever happened to be recording for Cinema records that day.

And okay, it's true that I have an idea of what the songwriter here was going for - probably some sort of young-adult sexy joke on the concept of "baby sitting", directed at a similarly aged comely young woman.

On my hearing, though, that's not how it comes off. Not at all, particularly when the lyric makes sure to mention getting the mother of the object of his affection out of the house so that he can baby sit. Add Dick Kent, singing at his absolutely most unctuous (which is saying something - he's second only to Ralph Lowe in that dubious quality), and the result is truly icky.

Perhaps you'll disagree. Have a listen!:



The flip side, "Great Riches", has very little to distinguish itself, at least to me. I admit (as I have in the past) to being much less of an expert on the female singers of the LA song-poem world than I am on many other aspects of the song-poem field, but I think this is Bobbi Blake - I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong.