Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gene Gives Thanks


It's a very busy week and day here at our house, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, so I'll forgo my usual verbosity.

To all of you reading this today, and anyone who stops by in the future, my thanks to you for stopping by, and for sharing my love of song-poems (and other rare, wonderful and obscure music). For those celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope yours is everything you hope it will be, and for everyone else, I hope you have things of your own to celebrate and give thanks for!

Here's Gene Marshall, with some words of thanks for the day, if you can make them out through the horrendous surface noise, in his rendition of "A Thanksgiving Prayer":



More prayerful offerings are on tap on the flip side, in the song "Oh Lord, Bless Everyone":



Friday, November 16, 2012

Thank My Lucky Stars

I hope no one will mind if I take a moment out here, before this week's record, to remind everyone to go and seek out the family and friends and tell each of them how much they mean to you, and to say "I love you" as often as possible, to anyone you love.

I spent this week experiencing and watching the effects of the unexpected death of a 20 year old, a young man who my family had gotten to know well over the past two years. One never knows. With this event close up in the rearview mirror, and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought I'd speak up.


And also felt the need to share something upbeat and genuinely fun to listen to, and as I've said before, there are few things in the song-poem world that I like more than the Film City era productions of Rodd Keith. And this one  - "Thank My Lucky Stars" - is especially nice, what with Rodd going all out on something of an Four Aces effect, overdubbing himself four times, by my count, and offering up some really nice, thick harmonies, as well as a first rate, jazzy arrangement, complete with a solo section wherein the vocalists playfully interject parts of the solo melody. This record was "Dedicated to Rachael", and I hope she appreciated how much work went into it.


The flip side, "I'd Rather Dream", is a fairly forgettable lounge-lizard sort of performance, with a lugubrious vocal and a setting which matches that vocal at every turn.




Friday, November 09, 2012

A Special Record


First, let me just take a moment to say:

 YEEEE-HAWWWW!!!

And another moment to breathe a sigh of relief.

It's been a special couple of days here in the old U.S.A. And what better why to celebrate a special event, than with a special record. And what could be more special than a record on the Special Records label? Well, how about a record on the Special Records label featuring a song called.... wait for it... "SPECIAL"! Here's Sammy Marshall, barely hiding himself under the name Sonny Marcell, to tell us all about that special someone:


The Special label seems to have been a custom label for a customer of the Globe song-poem factory, living in the Virgin Islands, perhaps the writer of these songs. U. A. Milligan. On the flip side, Sammy/Sonny will regale us again with Milligan's song "It's Your First Impression of Me".



So.... what was your first impression of Sammy Marshall?

Friday, November 02, 2012

30 Wonderful Seconds


Here's something you may know, or, if you don't collect them yourself, may not know about song-poems: the vast majority of them are just dull as dirt. Not amazing and outstanding in some unexpected way, not accidentally hilarious, or car-crash awful or deer-in-the-headlights weird. Those are the exceptions, and the ones that get 98% of the attention.

No, most of the song poems I've ever heard - and I've lost count of how many I own in one form or another - are just pedestrian poetry, or bland melodies and arrangements, or going-through-the-motions musicians, or uninspired vocalists, or a combination of any of the above.

Today's feature, "Mother's Day", sung by Gene Marshall, largely fits that category, and because of that, I've sat on it for two months, trying to decide whether it's magical moments are enough to overcome the dullness of the remaining two minutes or so, on top of the fact that the record is fairly beat to hell. Today, unable to get that one amazing section out of my mind, I decided to go for it. I hope you agree with my choice.

Because here we have another heartfelt piece of poetry towards one's parent, sung with appropriate feeling my Gene Marshall, and with a nice enough backing, I suppose, but nothing here is special, unusual or outstanding. And then, about half-way through, something truly stunning happens - there is a 30 second solo, featuring either a flute quartet or a Chamberlin (can that instrument do the bending of the notes heard here - I don't know), with a singularly charming, absolutely gorgeous and downright weird little piece of chamber music, which appears as if plucked from another galaxy.

I assume Rodd Keith was behind this - I've not heard anything remotely like this on a song-poem record that he wasn't part of. I simply can't get enough of it, and hope you enjoy it, too.



On the flip side, the heartbreaking story of the loss no parent should endure, the loss of a child. Again, I don't think the music or arrangement are much to write home about here, but there's no arguing with the lyric in "The Lord Has Drafted My Son".