Before I share my Tin Pan Alley find for this week, I wanted to pass along a new posting of both sides of a very nice late-period TPA single, recently purchased and posted to youtube by Sammy Reed. You can find both sides of that record here and here.
And now, for a very special episode of "The Wonderful and the Obscure"!:
Okay, I love this record. I do believe that of all of the song-poems I've heard for the first time this year, this is my favorite. I'm intrigued by the stylings of the singer, Johnny Williams, and now wish to find copies of the other half-dozen or so records he made for Tin Pan Alley in the late '50's and early '60's. I love every one of the record's 164 seconds.
And while two minutes and 44 seconds may sound like the length of a typical song-poem, the missing information is that this is the total length of BOTH sides of this record added together. Aside from the albums released by Star-Crest and George Liberace, both of which tended towards raw demo versions of songs, I can't think of another release I've seen containing two songs of 82 seconds each.
None of that would matter if the contents of these sides weren't outstanding - unique - deeply odd - with performances which are captivating in an decidedly off-kilter way. Let's start with the intriguingly titled "Somebody Fiddle! I'm Burning!"
From the opening countrified instrumental, you'll know something special is happening. And then Johnny Williams comes in, and any suspicions that you had that he might be a moonlighting professional singer go right out the window. He sounds more like crazy ol' Ed at the Senior Center on talent night. And you're never going to improve on the opening lines:
I believe in Roman Nero
He has always been my hero
HA HA HA!!!
If anyone asks me why I collect song-poems, I now have another example to share with them. This is gold.
On the flip side, "Darling, I'm So Blue", is a much more conventional song, but it still has that rollicking sound, and another winning, heartfelt and deeply amateurish vocal from Johnny Williams.
Download: Johnny Williams: Darling, I'm So Blue