Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Today's feature poses a question I'd never considered before: Did the Lee Hudson Song-Poem Experience Factory (basically Lee himself, with Cara Stewart and from time to time, Jeff Reynolds) work not only on the classic song-poem model, but also engage in some vanity work - recording completely developed songs by either amateur or established songwriters?

I ask because today's record, which I consider a hell of a find, seems too "finished", too self-aware and too professional a set of compositions for all but the highest end of the song-poem field, if that. It's a production, particularly the b-side, which rivals or exceeds all but the best thought out efforts of Rodd Keith, and certainly beyond anything I would have expected from Lee Hudson. Then there's the fact that it's on the Melodia label, which I've been previously unfamiliar with.

Not only that, but both songs are written by a team (the same team on both sides), with one of the two claiming publishing rights (this same team shows up on one other song listed in the AS/PMA archives. On the other hand, it has all the hallmarks of a Lee Hudson production, not to mention his two singers, so at least on that score it belongs here.

Let's start with the A-side, "Bee-Boppa-Roo". I listened to this one first, and although I thought it more polished and thought out than most song-poems, I still thought it probably fit into that world. It does, however, have unusually clever lyrics, along with the typically bopping Hudson backing, with wonderful guitar fills and peppy bassline:

Give a listen, though, to what's on the B-side. "Doc Nut" is a different animal altogether - a genuinely funny, clever and extremely well constructed novelty record. The Hudson sound is still there, this time with accordion, and multiple Cara's on backing vocal. But those lyrics! The comic voice done by Jeff Reynolds! And that's on top of the downright lovely and winking Cara Stewart lead vocal!

Whatever its provenance, this one - were there still song-poem compilations being released - would certainly be a prime candidate for release on a CD compilation.

1 comment:

Darryl Bullock said...

Wonderful disc, really lovely.

Byron Gwinn had been writing songs since at least 1939 and a Viola Tascott (a pianist) is mentioned in a 1911 edition of Variety but I'd assume that's a different (although possibly related) woman. The best-known Melodia label was established in Russia in 1913 but I doubt the one you have here is in any way related.

There is another Byron Gwinn active in music currently - the son, perhaps?