Saturday, September 24, 2022

Or Wait.... Maybe THIS Burning Is an Eternal Flame!


So, I thought to myself... "I haven't featured Halmark for awhile. I should feature a Halmark record". 

And within the first four or five I selected to sample, in advance of such a feature, I found I owned one with the exact same title and subject matter as the song I featured in my last post - John F. Kennedy and the "Eternal Flame". 

My first comment here is that the "Bob Storm" who is credited on this record is the tinnier, higher pitched vocalist who went by that name. Sorry for everyone who loves the ridiculous, deep voiced Storm. 

And the other comment is one which piggy-backs onto a great comment offered up by "Snoopy" to last week's Sammy Marshall JFK record. He wrote, about that song's lyrics, "what an odd lyric for what is supposed to be a solemn dirge, 'They shot him with a rifle; used a telescopic sight.'"

I will see him that observation, and make an observation of my own about another odd lyric in the midst of a solemn dirge, in Bob Storm's JFK tribute, in which he warbles "the life a man gave for the passage of one civil rights bill". (By the way, was that a theory at the time - that Kennedy was killed to stop a civil rights bill? I've not heard that before.)

Your homework for next week is to compare and contrast the Sammy Marshall and Bob Storm JFK tributes, including historical accuracy, musical merit and lyrical and compositional strengths and weakness. You can e-mail me your papers. 

Beyond that, please.... Enjoy!

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On the flip side, we have another example of a song-poem lyricist who didn't quite understand the difference between prose and song lyrics - or even the difference between poetry that's meant to be read and song lyrics. How is anyone supposed to make a decent song out of lines like "A Paragon of Excellence", or "Rage Ye Cyclones". Not that the folks at Halmark were trying, but even a master composer would probably throw up his or her hands if assigned to do something acceptable with these lyrics. 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Is This Burning An Eternal Flame?

Greetings!

Before I get to this week's song-poem feature - and a most massive cut-up - I wanted to share a comment by stalwart blog reader Sammy Reed, which played up something I really should have caught, too. In response to the song I shared one week ago - "If I Holler, Let Me Go", he pointed out "another song which could be a 'companion piece' to that song, specifically, the peculiarly spelled "Enny Minnie Mighty Moe". Thanks, Sammy!

And now, let's move on to another Sammy: 

The JFK tribute record was a hoary tradition both within and without of the song-poem world within six months of Kennedy's death. I've featured a few of the song-poem variety here, and there are certainly others out there, surely enough to fill a CD. 

And... here's another one. It's got martial drums, a minor key, an ethereal choir, and cloying words. And it's all about "The President's Eternal Light". And speaking of all the features of this 45, don't be fooled by that 2:03 time listing. That's about how long the song is, but the entire record is nearly a full minute longer. Can you guess what fills that final 54 seconds? I bet you can. 

Download: Sammy Marshall - The President's Eternal Light

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On the flip side, the song is about "Eleanor", and it's got quite a bouncy and appealing feeling, which sadly retreats into the background. At first, the lyrics Sammy is singing indicate that he's happier with his new gal, and wants "Eleanor" to go away and stay away. But by a minute in, it's clear that the protagonist is still very worked up over whatever happened between them, and the new gal is never mentioned again. I actually find this lyrical construct to be fairly weird, which is about the 700th time I could say that about a song-poem. 

Download: Sammy Marshall - Eleanor

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And now for a cut-up. 

And I think maybe, after today, I will have run out of really good cut-ups to share. I mean, I made about six 90 minute cassettes of them, when I was in my early to mid '20's, but there was far more dross than gold, plus I often chose to "cut-up" songs that I love, but which are unknown to 99% of the population. 

I may come across a few more that I think are worthy of your time, but I truly always intended to end this particular side feature with, first, my favorite of my cut-ups, and second, the biggest cut-up project I ever tackled. 

Last week, I shared my favorite, and today, it's time for this nearly eight minute spectacular. And the source material was that most gigantic of gigantic-lengthed hit songs, "American Pie", by Don McLean. 

(I certainly did longer efforts where I played with sound, including a massive, 30+ minute montage of sound clips, but American Pie was the longest song I attempted to slice and dice.) 

Two final thoughts - first, I was, at that moment in my life, in the thrall of Gary Owens and his wonderful radio show, "Soundtrack of the '60's", in which Gary was prone to throwing out ridiculous phrases and completely cockamamie fake names. This track is LOADED with Gary Owens drop ins. 

And second, as with many of my other cut-ups, this is not safe for work. Four letter words absolutely abound, and they are joined by a few other unpleasant images.  

Please let me know what you think. 

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Monday, September 05, 2022

If I Holler, Let Me Go


 


I sure would like to know what it was about Tin Pan Alley, and presumably its advertising, which drew in so many aspiring lyricists who had cockamamie or at least out-of-left-field lyrical ideas. While every song poem label has some odd or downright bizarre submissions, Tin Pan Alley seemed to have an outstandingly weird title on about one out of every four releases, for a while there, in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Just click on the Tin Pan Alley link at the bottom of this page and read through the dozens of previous TPA postings, and see if you don't agree. 

Anyway, while today's offering is not among the strangest titles ever to appear on TPA, it's still pretty far outside the mainstream, and I was happy to see that it was sung by Ellen Wayne, who offered up some of the most ridiculous performances ever heard on song-poems. 

The song is "If I Holler, Let Me Go". I was hoping for another off-the-wall performance along the lines of Ellen's previous masterpieces, "Chicken Neck Boogie", "Don't Touch Me There!" or the bewildering "Bellingham Playday Song". However, the actual song is much more sedate, a 6/8 ballad, which, to me, throws the weird lyric into even greater relief. And Ellen's vibrato is a thing everyone should experience.

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On the flip side is "Never Say I Didn't Tell You", which musically is pretty straightforward, too. I think the title conceit is a little weird, and certainly doesn't roll off of Ellen's tongue. But if you did not speak English, and were listening to this record, you probably wouldn't suspect it was an amateur submission, or at least not until you perhaps started wondering why it was only 100 seconds long

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And now, for the cut-up du jour. 

I've been sharing these, off and on, since almost the beginning of the year. And now, we've finally come to the cup-up of mine that I love the best. And in a coincidence, it's a song that could not be more perfect for labor day. I didn't plan it this way (in fact, I had this one ready a month ago), but as I was preparing it today, I thought, hey, this works out fantastically. If you don't mind, a bit of a road trip before the track. 

The source material of this song is the socialist anthem "The Banks of Marble", written in 1949, and which focuses on how the working poor provide all the labor, while the bosses get all the money and stick it in the bank, well protected by guards. True in 1949, true today. 

The song was either the first or the second song released under the name of The Weavers, in 1949. 

The version I used  here is from Pete Seeger's 1974 album, and is the title track of that album. He duets on it with his Weaver compatriot Fred Hellerman. If you want to hear the original track, it is here, in rather poor sound quality. There is also a wonderful rendition featuring Pete on banjo, and sung by a bunch of kids, just about 18 months before Pete's death. (I've been to that same festival in Pete's hometown, by the way, in 1986.)

Anyway, the Seeger/Hellerman version from 1974 is one of my top 25 tracks ever released by anyone, and that, and its storytelling style, made it a natural for me to do a cut-up with. 

A couple of things here - there are a couple of four letter words here, including a spot near the start, where I shortened the fifth word of the song, not with an insert, but with a pause button, to create a very rude word indeed. So this is not safe for  work. And second, my single favorite non-sequitur that I ever created in a cut up occurs half-way through the third chorus, the one that starts at 2:35. That's some stuffing. 

Anyway, of all of my cut-ups and mash-ups, this is my favorite. 

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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Norridge Mayhams - The Story Continues!

I have just a couple of near-absolutes here, in putting this site together. But one of those few is that ANY new and previously unshared records connected to Norridge Mayhams (aka Norris the Troubadour) will be shared immediately upon my obtaining of them. 

In this case, that means that today's record is not exactly a song-poem, but it is connected to that world due to the fact that Mayhams used the song-poem companies so often. But not, it would appear, in this case. But still, I like to think of my site as, among many other things, a one-stop-shopping spot for anyone who falls under the sway of the great - if spectacularly weird - Norridge Mayhams. 

In this case, this record, released on his own mouthful of a label, Co-Ed Sorority Fraternity Record Co, and credited to the equally lengthy billing of "Newcomb-Rayner Cannonballers (Eddie-Bill-Mac)", features a song called "Jeanie". Mayhams very likely hoped that inserting the names of then-current country and western hitmakers (along with that of the multi-genre hit machine known as Elvis Presley) might garner some interest, so he loaded up his lyric with references to more than a half dozen of them.

My thought upon hearing this record was "that's got to be from 1956", given the artists mentioned. And whattaya know, Billboard actually reviewed this record, on June 2, 1956. You can see that review here, on page 42. 

Download: Newcomb-Rayner Cannonballers (Eddie-Bill-Mac) - Jeanie

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Interestingly, just about two years later, in June of 1958, Cash Box magazine reported that the song was "clicking on the collegiate group circu't (sic)", as seen below: 

Norris B. Mayhams, Prexy & Gen. Mgr. of Co-Ed 
Records infos that the Newcomb-Rayner Cannonball- 
ers, Buddy Rayner, Jerry Newcomb, Eddie Seabody 
and Charlie & Sonny, are currently clicking on the 
collegiate group circu’t with their latest waxing of 
“Run Away Heart” and “Jeannie”, and that they’re 
starting out on a series of engagements, this month, 
made possible thru the Intercollegiate Broadcasting 
System airing of their disks. 

And two years after that, a web search finds that Cash Box again reported on the group, in a May 21st issue. I've been unable to find the actual text in that issue, but maybe someone out there wants to spend more time on it than I did. The issue can be found here. The Google search provided this partial segment of the story: Newcomb-Rayner Cannonballers, Co-Ed recording group, have changed their name to the Collegiate Cannonballers. According to Co-Ed prexy N. B. May-

And that's it. 

For the flip side, we have "Run Away Heart". Billboard, in the review linked above, was even more dismissive of this performance than of its flip, but Mayhams believed in the song, or at the very least had a soft spot for it, as he released it at least seven times during his lifetime, although some of those - including the 1961 release on the Mayhams label - credited to Georgie's C & W Collegians, and also featuring a flip side of "Jeanie" - were probably duplicate versions. 

Perhaps just reading all of this insanity helps explain why I love the Norridge Mayhams story so much. 

Anyway, this may well be the first version of a song that clearly was close to Norris the Troubadour's heart. Here it is: 

Download: Newcomb-Rayner Cannonballers (Eddie-Bill-Mac) - Run Away Heart

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More cut-ups in the near future!

Sunday, August 21, 2022

They've Got English Beatle-Itis!!!

Well, what a fascinating little disc I've come across in my collection today. It's one of the earliest releases on the Film City label, and is credited to the otherwise undocumented duo of Pat and Patty. Patty is almost certainly Patty Stanton, a relative of Fable and Film City owner Sandy Stanton, and who turns up on about a half-dozen known releases on the two labels. Is Pat just Patty, overdubbing herself, or is she someone else? 

Regardless, and although it's not given away at all by the rather bland titled, "Young Hearts Can Cry", this track is actually all about the way young women of that day felt about The Beatles. Or at least I think it is. I have listened to this thing five times, and I can't quite make out the basic idea? It seems like maybe they're asking the Beatles to go away - that young women are unhappy in ways they didn't used to be, since the unattainable Beatles showed up. If so, it's sort of the female version of one of my two favorite song-poems ever, "The Beatle Boys" (also on Film City), in which a young man complains that all the girls want to do these days is pine over the Beatles. 

But maybe I have that wrong. I'd love to hear what others thing this sort of contrived lyric is going for. And while I'm not saying that this is the equal to "The Beatle Boys" (precious few records are), but it's a pretty fascinating little song and performance in its own right, with a weirdly meandering melody and those dang lyrics. Have a listen! 

Download: Pat and Patty - Young Hearts Can Cry

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The other side of this disc has actually been on YouTube for a few years now, but it's only been viewed twenty-some times, and bizarrely, with "Young Heart Can Cry" available, the poster only chose to feature the flip side, "Blue Heart". 

This is a deep dive into the song-poem world, but the melody that the folks at Film City chose for this song reminds me of nothing so much as the repetitive and sing-songy tunes favored by William Howard Arpaia. I haven't posted enough of his stuff here to indicate what I'm talking about (and there's a reason for that - it's bottom of the barrel stuff without being entertainingly bad), but if you listen to the piano playing the melody while Arpaia himself talks himself into a lather on this track, you might hear what I'm talking about. 

Download: Pat and Patty - Blue Heart

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And now, back to cut-ups. Not long ago at all, my best pal Stu suggested that I really needed to do something with the record "Popcorn and a Coke Please", by Acoustifone, which I posted to WFMU's blog ages ago. It is a record meant to go along with a filmstrip, the purpose of which was to assist some population of young people with spelling. You can hear the whole thing, here, and I encourage you to listen to at least part of it to get a sense of what I was working with, when I chopped it up. 

For my re-imagining, which I did while I had some unexpected time off this past spring, I ended up doing two fairly distinct segments. In the first part, I simply created silliness, and at times gibberish, out of the various things the narrator said. Then, at the 1:25 point, I took it in a more, um, carnal direction, where it stays for the last 70 seconds. 

Download: "Coke-Corn" (cut-up)

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Monday, August 15, 2022

Rodd Sings Again

Ah, yes, Beatlefest weekend! First time in three years. I will, as a result, be brief. 

But first, I want to thank friend-of-the-site and massive Rodd Keith-head Roaratorio for stopping by and catching up on several posts, leaving interesting comments on about nine of them, chiming in on a few questions, casting doubt on a few tracks I identified as being by Rodd Keith, and even passing along the lucky find, a few years ago, of that Halmark album I posted, for a buck. I'm not going to copy/paste nine comments here, but I appreciate the comments, thoughts and input!

And reviewing those commented-upon posts, I did find that I made a statement, a few months ago, to make a concerted effort to post the remaining Rodd Keith records from my collection, and that, after doing so a few times, I sort of... stopped again. So here is another one which does not previously appear to have been shared anywhere: 

"Evening Shadows" is no great shakes, I suppose. You might even call it Rodd on autopilot, but it's certainly a pleasant enough mid-tempo number. Rodd offers a just-this-side-of-unctuous vocal which is probably what the material called for. 

Oh, and at the one minute mark, I'm I the only one who hears "we've been farted" instead of "we've been parted"? 

Download: Rodd Keith - Evening Shadows

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Oddly enough, the flip side of this record contains a backing track that was also featured on the last Rodd Keith record that I shared, albeit without the sax part which is prominent on that version of the track. One thing I really like here - and enjoy any time I hear it on any record - is the sharp intake of breath before the music starts. Here's "We Kissed Goodbye":

Download: Rodd Keith - We Kissed Goodbye

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Cut-ups will return soon!
 

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Phil Is a Beat Off

I have a lovely treat for all of you today. Well, at least, it's a treat for me. It looks like this: 

As frequent readers of this site know, I love Calypso - whether the authentic model from the 1930's in Trinidad or the Americanized version from the mid-1950's - more than just about any genre of music that's ever existed. And Tin Pan Alley was active right in the middle of the Calypso boom of 1956-58. And as one of the few labels who actively sought to make their releases sound like the current trends, TPA released several calypso flavored singles during that time period. 

That includes today's 1957 model, which not only lifts the Calypso feel, but also makes reference to one of the biggest hits of the previous year, "Blue Suede Shoes". The track is "Off Beat Blues", and it features frequent label warbler Phil Celia doing his best (or perhaps worst) Caribbean accent. Please note that the lyricist for this number - I think it's Francis M. Kadolph - inscribed this copy with a signature and gave it to someone named Jack. I hope Jack enjoyed it as much as I do, as I think it's is wholly wonderful. 

Download: Phil Celia - Off Beat Blues. 

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The flip side is no slouch, either. In this case, Phil is joined by The Silver Tones, who only turn up on one other documented TPA release (and who are not to be confused with The Silva-Tones). The Silver Tones, presumably, are the chirpy singers who back Phil up here, and who clearly only knew how to sing one wordless phrase. The other TPA release featuring the Silver Tones - titled "Keep On Smiling! Pay Your Taxes!" can be heard here, and as you'll hear, they sing nearly the exact same part on that record! In this case, the guitarist and the pianist play the same chirpy pattern, when the girls aren't singing. Anyway, this is a fun side, as well, even though Phil sometimes seems to be imitating Paul Anka here, something that no one, should ever, ever do. . 

Download: Phil Celia and the Silver Tones - Too Late! 

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 Okay, today, I also have what I think is the last of the mash-ups I made in 2005 - at least the last one which will make sense to those of you out there (I also made a few using parts of Star Ads on top of each other, and using other private recordings that I own). 

Anyway, this one was pretty easy. I just took the entirity of The Beatles' "Wild Honey Pie" (well, it's actually Paul McCartney by himself), and added a looping of the drum intro from Adam Ant's "Goody Good Shoes", and labeled it "Two Shoe Pie". 

I'm not claiming any greatness or even anything special for this one, but as long as I was digging into the mash-ups, I thought I'd share what I had left. 

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Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Mixed Up Life of a Real Pro

Greetings!

First, I would like to make sure everyone gets to see and download an album which was linked in the comments of a previous post. It is a full Hollywood Artists album, and it is available here. Thank you, anonymous poster!

And now, for today's main feature: 


For those who haven't read any of the 18 or so places I've written it before, I really get a kick out of the early Cinema releases, all billed as being by "The Real Pros", but largely featuring one guy with one of those early '70's console all-in-one keyboards. 

While today's two offerings will never make my "all time favorite Cinema releases" file, I think they do, in a way, offer up the quintessential song-poem experience, or at least we have the scam (or, if you prefer, the design of the business plan) boiled down to its most basic essence: A person writes a lyric and sends it in. It gets set to a superbly generic, sort of loungey arrangement and is sung by a soloist who accompanies himself on an all in one cheesy organ. The performance is one that any decent composer and musician could throw together in a quarter hour. 

No big arrangement, no band, nothing particularly professional sounding about it at all. The lyric gets written - "Mixed Up Life", in this case, happily with the sort of utterly cookie cutter lyrics found so often in the genre - and a short while later, it is a demo-level-sounding generic song. And you have a perfect record with which to explain and demonstrate the song-poem to the uninitiated. 

Oh, and the last vocal note is worth the price of admission.

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I chose to write all that about "Mixed Up Life", but I could pretty much say the same things about the flip side, "Nobody's Baby Am I", which has the added feature of a mess up in the bass notes during the first seven seconds. Would have been that hard to start over, after just getting seven seconds into your performance? Undoubtedly no, but clearly that option was considered unnecessary. 

Also note the producer note at the bottom of each side of the label, which in each case falsely co-credits the song-poet herself for production work. This is one of the earliest Cinema releases (1971 - as evident by the "71" in the label number), and this bit of fiction is a feature that Cinema would eliminate by its 1972 releases. 


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And now, let's return to our Cut-Up / Mash-Up feature, after a one week break. 

I'm sticking with the Mash-Up theme of the last few posts, and returning to circa 2005, when I was doing a bunch of these sorts of things. I focused on one of my favorite Beatles' tracks, "Julia". As you may know, this is the only song to ever come out under the Beatles name to feature a solo John Lennon performance. It's also one of the fairly few Beatles songs not to feature any percussion. 

I thought maybe I'd like to hear how it sounded with some rhythm behind it. And I'd like to break down what I did. In order to understand where, exactly, I took some of those rhythms from, you have to hear two of my beloved Star Ads. In case you aren't familiar with Star Ads, I wrote about them here and here, and quite recently, I was featured on a podcast talking all about them and sharing a bunch of them. 

Anyway, I thought of two of them which featured significant and interesting percussion in spots, and in which that percussion was heard, by itself, at times. 

First, I thought about this bizarre little ad, specifically the two bars of percussion at about the 0:03 point, which I would loop and slow down for the first verse of "Julia", then return to it more and more as the song continues: 

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Then I thought of this high powered car ad, specifically, the drums heard between the sales pitches and at the end, which I would slow down to an extreme degree, and use on the bridge and, again, more and more, near and at the end of "Julia".

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Finally, I swiped the opening drum intro from "Why Don't We Do It In the Road", which I'm guessing nearly all of you are familiar with, and which occurs a few moments before "Julia" on The White Album. I used that bit of drumming extensively, too. 

I called the resulting creation, "Rhythm of the Ocean Child", and it sounds like this: 

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

Scotty or Sandy?

Today, I'm going to take a bit of a deep dive into one corner of the song-poem world, the world of Sandy Stanton's Fable & Film City career. This might be a bit "in the weeds" for the casual listener, but I'm going to try and be brief and hopefully you'll find this interesting. The record in question looks like this: 

As many of you probably know, Sandy Stanton owned both the Fable and Film City labels, largely having wound down Fable around the time that Film City started up, although he released at least a handful of Fable records many years after the last year of bulk releases. And if you know that, you'll know that Sandy Stanton recorded under his own name from time to time, primarily during the Fable years, but also at a handful of times on Film City. 

Which brings me to this record, "As Long As I Have You" by Scotty (Sandy) Scott and the Rockin' Country Band. My first thought here was that Sandy Stanton decided, for whatever reason, to appear on his label under an assumed name. You can listen to Sandy sing here, here and here or simply click on the link for posts labeled "Sandy Stanton", and then listen to this song. 

Download: Scotty (Sandy) Scott and the Rockin' Country Band - As Long As I Have You

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It's also worth noting that, while Stanton used full bands on his Fable releases, and relied on the limited, but fascinatingly sounded Chamberlin on his Film City tracks, for this one, he seems to have dumbed things down quite a bit, and I believe he's using one of those early basic home synthesizers, of the sort that Leonard Cohen sometimes used (to his detriment, in my opinion) and the use of which always remind me of this song by Robin Gibb.  

Okay, so maybe you're with me now, and agree that Scotty (Sandy) Scott is Sandy Stanton. Or maybe you don't agree. But the thing is, I suddenly remembered that I have another record by Scotty Scott, a completely ridiculous and terrifically entertainingly awful vanity record on Film City. I posted it to WFMU seven years ago

As you'll see, there's no "Sandy" mentioned, and Scotty Scott is listed as the co-writer on both sides. And if you listen, I think you'll agree it could be the same singer, yet again, or this record and the one on WFMU could be one and the same, and the voice on Sandy Stanton's records could be a different one. Or Scotty Scott could be one singer, and Scotty (Sandy) Scott another. The writing credit under the name Scott really throws me off - did Sandy Stanton co-write those two awful songs under an assumed name and then sing them under that name?  

In brief - were Scotty Scott and Sandy Stanton the same person? If so, why use the other name, and why give a hint to who he was on one release and not the other. 

While you're thinking about that, here's the flip side of the record, 'You Shot Me Down". 

Download: Scotty (Sandy) Scott and the Rockin' Country Band - You Shot Me Down

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 You may have noticed that I was way overdue for a post - other responsibilities got in the way. That's the same reason that the cut-up / mash-up feature is taking the week off. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Gold Stars and Changing Hearts

 

Today, I have a Rodd Keith record that may resonate more with me than it does for others. And that's because the backing track is nostalgic for me - the track heard here is the exact same track heard on the very first Rodd Keith record I ever found, when I started looking for song-poem records way back in 1996. That was a song titled "Where Is the One?", which, oddly, I've never actually featured here, and I'll have to rectify that. 

Anyway, this is Rodd in country-pop mode, with a bit of a twang, over that loping backing track, with "Gold Star", a bit of a story song that perhaps contains one verse too many - it's that rare song poem that lasts nearly three minutes and twenty seconds. 

Download: Rodd Keith - Gold Star

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The flip side is "The Changing Heart", and I find this record positively weird. The song itself is straightforward enough, with a backing track this is mostly notable for some really nice drum fills, as I find to be the case on Preview records of this era. 

But then, at the one minute point, and throughout the rest of the record, Rodd made a production choice what is one of his very rare misfires, as his production and arrangement was usually stellar. But in this case, he added some very ineffectual backing vocals, and more to the point, mixed them at the same volume as the lead vocal. The first time I heard the record, they seemed so ham-fisted, I thought maybe someone had turned the TV on - that's how out of place I found them. See what you think! 

Download: Rodd Keith - The Changing Heart

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And now, rather than another one of my cut-ups, I have another one of the Mash-Ups I did, while briefly feeling inspired to work in that area, back around 2005. 

In this case, I noticed a very similar rhythm that "Getting Better" from the Sgt. Pepper album, had to a big hit from the summer of 1966, and decided to put them together. I think it turned out quite nicely, and I also managed to get this one onto our local Breakfast With the Beatles program a few years later. 

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Monday, July 04, 2022

Storytime! With Teacho Wiltshire

Hey there, 

Before I get to today's rockin' offering, I wanted to share something that Sammy Reed, who has offered so much to this site over the years, wrote about this Halmark posting from two weeks ago. 

I will say right off the bat (a little pun there) that I don't know anything about the various sites and discussions that go on about Rite pressings. That's not my area at all, and if you explained to me what they are and why they mattered, I'd probably be looking at you blankly within 27 seconds. 

But what Sammy found is that the numbers on that Halmark disc line up with a gap in a Rite discography quite nicely, and that the Halmark release is probably the missing disc in that discography. Here's where it gets interesting for me: assuming he's right (or Rite) about where those numbers come from, then the Halmark disc in question is from 1966. The song poem archives website has Halmark ramping up to a start in 1967, and most of what I've read and learned has them doing most of their work in or after 1970. I just thought that was interesting enough to mention. 

And now, let's visit with my sixth favorite Marx Brother, Teacho:  

Have I mentioned that I tend to really enjoy records by Teacho Wiltshire? His tenure with Tin Pan Alley was brief, at the very start of the label's history, and I think I now own a copy of all but one of the records that came out under his name on the Tin Pan Alley label. (He also went on to a successful and distinguished career in the more legit music business.)

I really like both sides of this record, which is from 1956, but my vote for the better of the two goes to "I've Got a Story Tonight!". It's a rockin' slab of vintage R & B, in which the first person narrator tells his sad-sack tale to a bartender. Sometimes, I think I write to much in describing a record, so I'm gonna stop there, and let this one speak for itself. 

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra - I've Got a Story Tonight!

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On the flip side, there's another pretty good mover and groover, titled "Check Your Heart". I enjoy Teacho's vocal mannerisms, and I think in this case, they - as well as a pretty hot band - make the song better than it would otherwise be. I could even easily imagine someone liking this one more than its flip. Good stuff!

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra - Check Your Heart

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And now, it's cut-up time. Or rather, one cut-up and one mash-up. The appetizer is the cut-up, and it is about as brief as a joke can be. Every now and then, while playing around with records, I would get an impulse to take a record that I found particularly wretched and/or annoying and dispense with it with a quick one-off joke. Too many of those, and it'd become repetitive, so I just did it now and then. Here's what I did with a # 1 song from 1963 that I've always thought was aggressively stupid: 

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And that mash-up: In 2005, when mash-ups were still (I think) a fairly popular thing, I got the impulse to do a bunch of them, from my own weird perspective. I posted two of them, many years ago, here, and here

But before I did either of those, I put together the following little item, which I think is quite inspired. I was listening to "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35" by Bob Dylan, and got to thinking about the the rhythm played in the opening drum beat. What song, I wondered, had that distinct rhythm, and might make for a good mash-up. 

What I thought of was a song from 1956, which is about as innocent a record as you can get, the polar opposite of the Dylan track. But they both had that rhythm, and in that way, they fit together perfectly. Over the bridge section, which occurs twice, I layered altered elements of another song, one from 1967. I suspect many of you will recognize where that sample comes from, as well. Quite simple work, actually, but very effective. 

I hope you'll enjoy this. It's one of my favorites. 

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Sunday, June 26, 2022

My Song & My Tears

Today, we have a song-poem singer that I've only featured once before, and in that case, only one side of a 45. Her name is Nancy Sherman. The Air label didn't have its own studio, and relied on several of the other song-poem companies for the recordings released under its label. I believe this one comes from the Globe song-poem factory, very early in the existence of both Air and Globe (this record is from 1960). 

As he did on most of the earliest Air releases (but rarely after 1960), label head Jack Curry attached his name as a songwriter on both sides of this single. 

The better of the two songs and performances, by a wide margin, is "My Song". I find this track slinky and fairly sexy, veering almost into Lee Hudson territory at a few points. I particularly enjoy an excellent, Les Paul influenced solo. Nancy Sherman is no great shakes, missing a few notes here and there and hanging onto a few others fairly shakily. But the overall effect is pretty nice. 

Download: Nancy Sherman with Orchestra - My Song

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"Tears of Fate" on the flip side, is a ballad, with lyrics which seem to be quite heartfelt and personal to the writer. However, I have listened to it four times today, and I can't make head or tail out of them. Would someone out there like to decipher the story here?  

Nothing much happens here, musically, and Nancy Sherman's performance indicates that, whatever her abilities on the mid-tempo "My Song", she was not suited for this sort of slow material at all. The pitch problems hinted at on the flip side are all over the place here, and she shows a significant lack of ability when holding longer notes. 

Download: Nancy Sherman with Orchestra - Tears of Fate

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And now, a few more cut-ups. First up, a very short one-off joke, but a very good one, I think. My friend Stu thinks this may be the funniest thing I ever did in a cut-up. 

The song is "Teenage Brain Surgeon" by Spike Jones, featuring a vocal by the incomparable Thurl Ravenscroft. It's not necessary to know the song - although I'd encourage it, as it's great - but just know that I took the first four words, and then cut out everything except the last word of the song, making a complete sentence (and statement), and, in effect, a very, very short, but complete song. 

Download: Spike Jones Featuring Thurl Ravenscroft - Teenage Brain Surgeon (cut-up)
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And here's the main dish. If you've read certain of my posts, here or on WFMU, you'll know that I revere Pete Seeger, considering him to be both the most important American musician of the 20th century (musically and politically), and the greatest singer ever recorded. 

On his 1955 album of Union songs, he sang the anthem "We Shall Not Be Moved", along with a chorus of friends, including a not-yet-famous Mary Travers. It's one of my favorites of his recordings. 

While doing cut-ups, I realized that I had a tape I could excerpt featuring a friend of mine saying the word "bowel", and that this was too great an opportunity to pass up. I also stuck in a bit from a tape where another friend read of the name of an album that was sitting on my piano, the classic comedy album, "Inside Shelley Berman", and used some other creative drops-in throughout the rest of the track. Here's the result. 

Download: Pete Seeger - We Shall Not Be Moved (cut-up)

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Hey, and both of these are G-rated!