Monday, May 25, 2020

Making Due with Just a Few

Greeting!

First up, here is yet another Song-Poem ad, courtesy of Brian. This one is just a little blurry:



Next, I will share the latest month's worth of updates to previous broken links, which in this case are for February of 2013. That month featured a split feature on a vanity label called Patmar, a Real Pros record where I seem to have misidentified the singers on both sides of the disc, a Valentine's post from Halmark, and a Rodd Keith countrified number.



And speaking of Rodd Keith, he is featured again today, in his earlier guise as Rod Rogers and the Swinging Strings. On this Film City release, he does a typically nice job creating a music bed with the Chamberlin, but two things stand out for me in this performance.

The first is that the song-poet has not provided Film City with enough lyrics for a two minute song, perhaps not even enough for a one minute song. After an initial verse, we are treated to elements of the same, remaining lyrics for the last 90 seconds of the song, expanded nicely with multiple instrumental breaks.

The other is that those lyrics that are present seem to have presented Rodd with little chance to format them into a typical song or chord pattern. To my ear, after that opening verse, the lyrics come out of him seemingly at random, with little sense of consistent or memorable melody or, really, much of a coherent chord structure. I'm not sure he could have done much better, given what he was offered, but this really sounds tossed-off.

It's worth noting that this is one of the highest numbered Rod Rogers records on Film City. Publishing information I found in a web search dates the copyright on the song to December of 1968, which is actually after I thought he'd moved to Preview, and his name disappears from the Film City label less than 100 numbers later (although one of my all time favorites from Rodd, "The Watusi Whing-Ding Girl" came even later in his tenure).

Download: Rod Rogers and the Swinging Strings - You Stole My Heart Cupid
Play:

As more indication that Rodd was on the way out the door, the flip side of this record is performed by Rodd's eventual replacement, Frank Perry (indeed, this record number is a full 80 releases prior to anything by Perry documented at AS/PMA). The offering here is a downright torpid number - I doubt that's Rodd on the Chamberlin - in which even the song-poet doesn't seem to have known how to spell his loved one's name, given the confusing title: "Lea, My Leah". There aren't a ton of lyrics to this one, either.

Download: Frank Perry and the Swinging Strings - Lea, My Leah
Play:


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Truth and Universal Truth: The Inspirational Songs of Michael Kasberg

Several weeks ago, I posted a song-poem single written by the singularly unusual and wonderful song-poet, Michael Kasberg. I mentioned that, once he got the song-poem bug, he really went to town, creating his own label, and churning out several albums of his idiosyncratic material. I had a few requests for more Michael Kasberg, and today, I am honoring those requests.

But first, I want to update you yet again as to the fact that I have corrected the broken links on another month's worth of posts, in this case, those from March of 2013. These include a typically odd and disjointed entry from Mike Thomas on Tin Pan Alley, an above average record for the Noval label (which admittedly isn't saying much), a typically stodgy release on Film-Tone, and a Gene Marshall record featuring a really poor choice of words on one side and blatant plagiarism on the flip side. I've actually updated the text on that last one to indicate that the folks at Preview seem to have recognized the thievery and turned the publishing credit over to the holder of the copyright on the song being ripped off.

~~
And now on to Michael Kasberg, with that full album as promised, "Truth and Universal Truth: The Inspirational Songs of Michael Kasberg".


Mr. Kasberg seems to have used the folks at MSR, perhaps exclusively, for his releases on his own Kay-Em label. Here, he credits Richard Kent (much more well known under a similar aka, Dick Kent), Barbara Foster (who I believe is Bobbi Blake - I'm sure Sammy Reed can confirm or rule this out), and Joan Merrill, who I am not familiar with. I don't see a date my copy of the album, but the AS/PMA website lists it as having been released in 1982 (with all of his albums having been produced between 1978 and 1984, the latter date lining up with the end of known production from MSR).



Here's an edited, rearranged version of what I wrote about Michael Kasberg back in December:

Kasberg's songs feature tortured syntax, a sense of jokiness, and a "slightly off" feeling throughout much of his material, and all of this shines through on most of his songs - certainly more often than not. The word "idiosyncratic" could have been invented for Mr. Kasberg.

I am not going to highlight anything specific from this album, but rather, just let you enjoy it from start to finish. I've simply digitized it in two files, side one and side two. The titles can be seen in the scans of the record labels and in small print on the photo of the back cover. I also encourage you to read this enlarged scan of the text found in the center of the back cover, as it is just as enjoyable as the music:



I have not checked these files for any skips or electronic glitches - I simply didn't have time to listen to the entire thing twice - if there are any imperfections, please let me know, and I will fix the section as soon as I get the chance.

Download: Richard Kent, Barbara Foster and Joan Merrill - Truth and Universal Truth: The Inspirational Songs of Michael Kasberg, Side One
Play:





Saturday, May 09, 2020

Brother Gone in San Jose

Greetings!

I have just completed refurbishing yet another month's worth of song-poem posts, in this case, April of 2013. That month's posts included a one-hit-non-wonder on Tin Pan Alley, a Chicago Cubs-related 78 on Stylecraft, another 78, this one a Globe acetate, featuring both Sammy Marshall and a really nice entry from Kris Arden, and a patriotic entry from Rod (Keith) Rogers on Film City. 

Plus, here's yet another song-poem ad, about as simple as they come, found and shared by Brian Kramp:



In the waning days of the Tin Pan Alley label, all of the songs were turned over to a band called "New Image", and they appear on the final few (documented) releases on the label, dominating perhaps the last 200 releases (I'm guessing here, as only a few dozen from this period have actually been documented, all of which are by New Image). 

The sound doesn't differ much from what the label had been putting out, for the most part, since the early '70's at least - a tiny combo with a somewhat tinny sound, playing largely blues-related three and four chord numbers, in this case with a female singer who emotion-laden vocals make it clear that she was invested in the process, but whose actual ability is not always up to the task. 

I rather enjoy "Gorgeous Day in San Jose". It's as basic as they come, but the singer's voice appeals to me (as this singer often does), and the melody is simple but effective. I am quite taken with the writer credit - "Brother Gone" - and wish I knew the story there. 

Play:  


For the flip side, "Little Church in the Valley", the composers at Tin Pan Alley (and the members of New Image) made the interesting choice to pair the thankful and religious lyrics offered by the song-poet with a set of bluesy chords and a progression which are typical of pleading, often sexually frank songs of love, whether wanted, fulfilled or gone wrong. It's a weird mashup to my ears.

Download: New Image - Little Church in the Valley
Play:


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Gary in the Country

Howdy, 

Time is short this week, so I won't have a lot to say, but I did make the effort to repair yet another month's worth of posts. So this week, you can again enjoy those posts I originally shared in May of 2013, including: A Caveman Records release featuring both Cara Stewart and Sammy Marshall, a Norm Burns number with some pretty funny lyrics and offbeat performance (for Norm, anyway), a Gene Marshall single, and a fairly awful Frank Perry tribute to Mother, on her Day

And in our continuing series of song-poem ads, provided by Brian Kramp, here is a most basic and simple one, perhaps an ad that was for a single provider of the service, rather than a company: 


And now:


When is it NOT the right time for Gary Roberts? Not today, because today is a perfect time for Gary and his vocal chords. For today's first song, "Right From Their Land", I actually find that he offers up a stronger performance than on many of his "I'm-Seeing-This-For-The First-Time", deer in the headlights performances.

The song is about the people who worked the land and sang about their lives and enjoyed sometimes difficult but always rewarding lives while creating traditional American Country Music. Unfortunately, the backing sounds nothing like either what passed for Country Music in the mid 1970's (when this record was undoubtedly made), or in the early days of the Carter Family, etc., to which it refers.

Gary tries to add a bit of twang to the vocal, but the backing is the generic latter-day Sterling, which is not a terrible sound, but has nothing to do with what he's singing.

Download: Gary Roberts - Right From Their Land
Play: 

On the flip side, we have "My Texas Queen", a story of love found, kept and treasured. The author is clearly expressing deeply held feelings (even if they expressed in a fairly ham-fisted way), and Gary and the backing group do nothing to ruin it, while not really doing anything special with it, either. Just another middling song-poem.

Oddly enough, there is more country styling - at least in the piano part - than anywhere in the song about old-timey country music on the flip side.

Download: Gary Roberts - My Texas Queen
Play: 


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hello, Dolly!

Hello, all you home-bound readers and listeners!

Today, I have corrected all four posts from June of 2013. These include a one sided acetate on the Noval label, a really nice offering from Rodd Keith, the only known song-poem release - and it's an absolutely wonderful one, on Tin Pan Alley - by Eddie Eltman, and a Halmark release which may or may not feature Bob Storm on both sides. You be the judge. 

I also have another song-poem ad, courtesy of Brian Kramp, this being another one from the Five Star Music Masters, which was directly connected to the Sterling song-poem company: 

And NOW!!!:

Dolly-O Curran, along with her husband, Jack, seem to have been among those relatively few song-poem customers who truly understood what the various labels and outfits were doing, and took full advantage. Many, perhaps even more or all of Dolly-O's song-poem submissions, which went to multiple companies, initially came out on those labels themselves. These included MSR, Halmark, Preview, the Globe family of labels, and very little doubt others. I've featured her work, as featured on other labels, a few times. 

But Dolly-O would then take at least some of her song-poems and re-issue them on her own, eponymous label, from her home in South Bend, Ind. The good news is that this gives a good picture of a unique lyricist, who sometimes knew her way around a turn of phrase and sometimes got lost in the weeds. The bad news is that these re-releases seem to have been mastered directly from the originally released 45s, and as such, are often of poor quality, are mastered very softly, and may not even quite run at the right speed. 

Today's offering is a Dolly-O EP, hot off the US Mail, direct from eBay to my mailbox this week, and features one old favorite, and three I've never heard before, including one with quite the odd set of lyrics.


And the first song up on side one is that lyrical oddity, a ragtime-esque, bouncy number titled "A Brand New Pair of Scissors". Whoever put together the label for this record forgot to include the singer's name, but someone has written in "Big Al 'Voice Giant'". I do not recognize this vocalist, nor does the style remind me of any particular label.

But oh, that song! I'll mostly let you discover it's lyrical wonders, while only observing that there are not a lot of songs about scissors, and certainly there are far fewer songs that have choruses that start with the single word "Scissors!"

This is by far my favorite of the four songs heard on this EP.

Download: Big Al "Voice Giant": A Brand New Pair of Scissors
Play:

Next up is a performance of the song "Good Night My Love But Never Goodbye". As befits such a mouthful of a title, the story here is fairly convoluted, starting with a statement of falling out of love, but actually being (as the title would suggest) a story of a love story. The singer is identified as "Dick Kean", but I'm pretty sure this is Dick Kent, and I wouldn't be surprised if the original release ran a little faster and higher in pitch.

Download: Dick Kean - Good Night My Love But Never Goodbye
Play:

Next up is the previously featured number, which was shared here a decade ago (and therefore, its files have not yet been repaired). On the original release, it was credited, much more logically, to Suzie and Rodd (since Suzie Smith sings the whole song, accompanied only on the choruses by Rodd Keith). Here, "I'm the Wife" is credited to Rodd and Suzie. Here's what I wrote about it, almost ten years ago:

Here's one which is a favorite of my great friend and fellow song-poem maven, Stu, one which I just obtained my own copy of, this week. It's a Rodd Keith production, although he takes a back seat on the lead vocal, turning that duty over to Suzie Smith, and providing not only the arrangement, but a nice harmony vocal. The record is credited to Suzie and Rodd, and is titled "I'm the Wife". 

This is a really nice set of lyrics, and I was a bit surprised to find that they were from the pen of one of the weirder song-poets, Dolly O. Curran, who, along with her Dolly-O label, I've written about before. Paired with an excellent arrangement, the result is a first class record which, with perhaps a little tightening up of some clunky lyrics, and a few other changes, could have been something, or at least maybe in an alternate universe where song-poems competed with the "real labels" for airplay. 

Please enjoy this delightfully peppy song about having a cheating spouse: 


Download: Rodd and Suzie - I'm the Wife
Play:

(By the way, that rendition is of considerably lower sound quality, and runs about a quarter to a half-tone lower than the Preview release, which is consistent with my opening comments.)

Finally, we have Sam Ronson and the Rompers, with the very oddly titled "By Gum Can't Make the Grade". This song, and the Scissors one earlier, come from the more indescribable side of Dolly-O's lyricism, along with one of my all time favorites, which she also wrote, "Lady Off Pedestal at Notre Dame".

Unfortunately, this part of the record is damaged, and despite multiple tries, I cannot get it to play straight through at three spots where it skips, so I have digitized it as it plays.

This song goes on and on, with a vaguely south-of-the-border feel, and finishes up at over four minutes. The story is one of a person who never wins or succeeds at anything, and features an abundance of tortured verbiage, sentences twisted into pretzels in order to end with words that rhyme. From someone who had proven her ability over and over again, this is laughably bad. And ending a song with a triumphant "Yes! By Gum!" is pretty funny, too.

As with the first track, I do not recognize this singer and nothing about the "sound" of the record suggests any particular song-poem company. Any thoughts?

Download: Sam Ronson and the Rompers - By Gum Can't Make the Grade
Play:


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Keep Your Claws To Yourself

I hope everyone is doing well, in Sheltering-In-Place land, and that you're all staying six feet away from your computer screens. 

As always recently, I have updated another month of previously broken links. In this case, that means the fine month of July, 2013. You remember that time, don't you - back when we had a real President? Those were the days. 

That glorious month, I offered a Gene Marshall tribute to Canada, a pair of great Rod Rogers numbers on Film City, a Cara Stewart special on the tiny "Puget Sound" label, and a Tin Pan Alley post featuring a couple of sides that were sent to me by a correspondent. That last post, a celebration of the fact that my previous hosting site had come back to life, also included a bonus, one of my absolute favorite records ever made (a non song-poem). Fixing that page gave me the opportunity to re-listen to that wonderful record about a half-dozen more times. It's gotta be in my all time top 250. 

And here, as has also been the case recently, is yet another ad from Brian


On to this weeks offering: 


I will immediately admit, as I did with a previous offering on "Pacer Records" that I have no proof that this was a song-poem label. If it wasn't, it's fairly clear to me that it's the next thing over, a vanity project. As I said previously, the owner and proprietor of Pacer, songwriter Opal Skaggs), did write at least one song submitted to a song-poem label, and another performer on Pacer also had releases on what were undoubtedly song-poem labels.

That would be good enough for me to decide to share this record, as long as it was worth sharing. And the quality if up to snuff: I think this is an excellent song and record. It's got a fantastic title, too: "You'll Never Get Your Claws In Me". And the sound is one not too far removed from the late '50's sound of Fable Records, another outfit where there is often a lack of clarity about whether we're listening to a song-poem, a vanity release, or an attempt to make a hit record.

That sound, which holds a deep appeal to me, is sort of a modified western swing (here with barely any percussion, which is an interesting difference), with some really nice guitar playing, and an excellent vocalist in one Patty Sigler. The lyrics are really effective, too. The difference between this record and the Fable records is that a variety of online sources (including copyright information) indicate beyond a doubt that this record came out around 1967-68, which is pretty far out of date for this sound (a hallmark of song-poems).

Anyway, whatever it is, I think it's eminently worth hearing, so by all means, please hear it!

Download: Patty Sigler - You'll Never Get Your Claws In Me
Play:

On the flip side, we have a slightly slower number, the backing of which puts me in mind of some Carl Perkins records, as well as the early Beatles BBC renderings of the same. (Again, performances from ages before this release.) It's called "Some Day He Will Pay", and while I don't think it's quite as strong as "Claws", it again has really good lyrics, a fine harmonized vocal and that stellar backing sound. Still really nice.

Download: Patty Sigler - Some Day He Will Pay
Play:



Next time, I'll be back with a no-doubt-about-it song-poem. In the meantime, tell me what you think this one is!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

He'll Amputate Your Head!

First up, as I have been doing every post for some time now, I have gone back and fixed another month's worth of earlier posts. In this case, it's August of 2013. That month featured four posts, including a couple of Vietnam related efforts on Tin Pan Alley which were sent to me, the longest song-poem I've ever heard, on Halmark, a two-artist release on the tiny Spa Records label, and a swinging record on one of the earlier labels, Arco Records.

~~

Next up, here is another in the collection of ads found for us by Brian Kramp, this one from Virginia:


Thanks, Brian!

And now, on with the countdown:


Now if you've ever seen the Song-Poem documentary, "Off the Charts", you've seen an interview with Gene Marshall, and you've also seen him in the studio. One word that wouldn't seem to apply to him is "Mean". And yet here we have a mouthful of a title, "The Meanest Man in the World is Me", with Gene singing his heart out, performing lyrics which certainly indicate that the protagonist of the song would at least compete for such a title. 

This one is full of fun, unexpected lines, funny and weird enough that I'd really rather not give away the pleasure of experiencing them for the first time, aside from that wonderful quote in the title. So, without further ado, here's some epic meanness: 

Play:  

On the flip side, we have a record with as timely a title for today's crisis as I can imagine, "When You Call Your Doctor". However, this is 150 complaint about sitting for far too long in the waiting room, with a bit of a punchline built in. I wonder how many other songs have ever been written about having to wait for the doctor? 

Play:  


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Simple and Effective

Good day, y'all, 

I hope everyone out there is well. And stays well. 

Today, I have updated another month worth of moldy old broken posts, and made them shiny and new, none shinier than an absolutely wonderful early record from Norm Burns. The other corrected posts are those featuring a 1980 release on MSR featuring two of their stalwarts, a record on the Jersey label, a label not seen before or since, also featuring two singers, one of them not known to have made any other song poem records, and a nice supper club style record from Rodd Keith

Also, in our ongoing series of vintage song-poem ads, courtesy of Brian, here's an outstanding one, all about the "Composagraph" - no need for that fussy middleman at Sterling, Preview or Noval for you - the Composagraph will write your music for you!!!!


And speaking of Rodd Keith, which I was, briefly, before the Composagraph interrupted me... Today's feature is the first Rodd record I've featured here in nearly three months, which is quite an oversight. It looks like this:


Both sides of this record credit "The Raindrops" as the backing band, and both of which have a distinct country feel. And I must say, I am very much taken with the first on I'm sharing, "I Know". This could hardly be a simpler record. Don't let that "2:10" timing on the label fool you - this record is barely 105 seconds long. And Rodd, by my count, only sings for about sixty seconds of that time. And what's more, the song title, "I Know", is only uttered once, in the middle of a much longer string of words.

And yet... these words genuinely get to me. These are effective, concise lyrics, painting a full picture of the singers experience and state of mind. The first verse is literally only three lines longs, ending with:

"There in the debris is a part of me, I know it so well, today"

That's almost Roger Miller worthy - and there is hardly higher praise from me. The second verse is just as short, and just as good.

Download: Rodd Keith and the Raindrops - I Know
Play:

The flip side, "I'll Never Hold You Again", lasts just about twice as long as its flip. What seems to be a simple after-the-breakup song turns out to be something quite a bit more by the end. This doesn't grab me to any degree close to "I Know", but , it's another solid song-poem country turn by Rodd and the band.

Download: Rodd Keith and the Raindrops - I'll Never Hold You Again
Play:


Sunday, March 08, 2020

Four Song-Poem Stalwarts on One EP

Happy March! 

First, here are the links to the posts I have fixed, in this case, from October of 2013: There is a fairly awful performance on Tin Pan Alley (that post also contains a link to a truly horrendous vanity release, also on Tin Pan Alley), an acetate from 1972 which sounds like it's from 1952, a very late period MSR release, which, against all odds, is actually interesting, and a Gene Marshall/Vietnam record


Today, we have another EP on the "Air" label, a label which seems to have existed largely, if not entirely, to release the works of other song-poem factories. Even after all these years, I have no real insight into why such an arrangement was made. Every one of the three song-poem outfits represented here had their own typical way of releasing their product, even if two of them didn't have their own specific "house" label. I'm pretty sure I'll never understand this particular side of the business.

As mentioned in the title, this particular EP contains performances from four different singers, one each from the Halmark and Lee Hudson production companies, and two from the Globe song-poem factory.

Side one starts with Sammy Marshall (Globe), here cunningly disguised as Sonny Marshall, with a song titled "God's Bouquet" one which certainly has it's lyrical heart in the right place, yet manages to stay well within a world I would call "aggressively trite". God made flowers in all sorts of colors, you see, and made people in all sorts of colors, too. We love all the flowers. Why can't we love all the people, too? Sing it, Sammy-Sonny!

Download: Sonny Marshall - God's Bouquet
Play:

Next up is Halmark's entry, "How Much Do I Love You?", identified as being sung by one "Bob Parker", who sounds a lot more (to me) like the singer most often identified (when he's identified at all on Halmark's inconsistent releases) as Bob Storm. This is typical Halmark bombastic, over-emoted garbage, not good at all, of course, but also not ridiculous enough for me to recommend it.

Download: Bob Parker - How Much Do I Love You?
Play:

~~

With side two, we return to the Globe company, and a somewhat more rarely heard vocalist, albeit one who recorded extensively for the label, Joan Auburn (sometimes credited as Joanne Auburn). She's heard here with a slow countrified ballad titled "Meaning of Love". She has a warm, inviting voice, and makes this material far better than it deserves.

Download: Joan Auburn - Meaning of Love
Play:

The folks at Air saved the best (by far the best) for last, with Lee Hudson's favorite vocalist (and maybe mine, too), Cara Stewart, singing "I Love You So". I've said it before, and surely I'll say it again: this sounds much like many of her other records, but God, what a sound that is, and what a wonderful singer.

Download: Cara Stewart - I Love You So
Play:



Saturday, February 29, 2020

He's Starvin' To Death!

Happy Leap Year Day!

First, I want to mention to those who went to my previous post within a day of it being posted, that I didn't have the links to the repaired posts up until this error was pointed out to me by reader "reservatory", and I am very thankful for having had that pointed out. The post has been working since then. 

Next, I am happy to announce that I have corrected yet another month of previously broken links, in this case, November of 2013. That month included a most excellent Tin Pan Alley record about dancing dishes, a befuddling release from Halmark, a typically incompetent entry from the folks at Noval Records, and an equally typically wonderful release from Rodd Keith during his Film City days. Enjoy!

And just before getting to today's most wonderful feature, here's another song-poem ad courtesy of Brian:


And I chose that one on purpose, because today, I am again featuring what I think of as the golden age of Tin Pan Alley song-poems, and a ridiculous singer that I just wish I had more records by, Johnny Williams.


How could anyone resist a record called "I'm Starvin' to Death? And seeing as how the usually over-the-top Johnny Williams is the artist, I was expecting something very special, and I wasn't disappointed.

The folks at the song-poem website has this release pegged to 1962, presumably because of an ad somewhere in a trade paper from that year, and that certainly sounds about right, or as close as one could come to judging when this absolutely off-kilter release might be from.

I know we're in for a fun time with that rollicking piano intro, and the Johnny comes in, offering his emotion-laden, about to go off-the-rails interpretation of the lyrics and tun. And what lyrics! There are a lot of highlights here, but the peak has to be the bridge ("if only someone loved me, I'm quite sure I wouldn't mind"), and particularly the last line of that bridge, heard for the first time at 1:09. This is a masterwork of ridiculousness.

Download: Johnny Williams - I'm Starvin' to Death
Play:

Now, for all the ways I love Johnny Williams' upbeat releases - and I've written this before - he was not suited to slow numbers, because he really wasn't a singer, as much as what used to be called a "Personality".

"Cross the Raging River" is not an interesting song, lyrically or musically, regardless of the singer, but this again plays up his absolute lack of ability to appropriate deliver this sort of material.

Download: Johnny Williams - Cross the Raging River
Play:




Friday, February 21, 2020

Wish Upon a Kiss

Howdy, 


First, I want to confirm that I have fixed up another month's worth of posts from the past, in this case, December of 2013. That was a month filled primarily with Christmas and New Years-related song-poems, including ones by Sammy Marshall (an acetate!), Halmark, Norm Burns, and a thoroughly wonderful one by a child named Beth Anne Hayes. There was also a non-holiday post featuring Rodd Keith - ten re-connected song-poems for you to enjoy!

And, as promised, here is another song-poem ad located by Brian Kramp, who had me on his podcast earlier this month. This one advertises a business in Tarzana, CA: 


~~
Something very odd happened this week. I had previously - in the middle of January - made a sound file of a Film City record featuring Frank Perry on one side and another singer on the other side, intending to use it for my next post. And as I always do, I did a web search to make sure I wasn't sharing something readily available elsewhere. No significant hits popped up. When I went to write this post, I rechecked, just in case I hadn't before, and wonder of wonders, my friend Darryl Bullock had, in the meantime, shared the exact record I was going to put up here in mid-February, on his "World's Worst Records" blog. What are the chances that we'd both grab the same record in the same month? Anyway, you can hear that record here

~~
So I went back to the Film City stack and found another Frank Perry record, and I'm glad I did, because I get a real kick out of the lyrics to both sides of the record, in different ways. 


The first side I'm including there, "Wish Upon a Kiss", has what strikes me a very clever set of lyrics for its chorus, with the quick phrasing of several similar words into a catchy tongue twister which works both on that level and as an observation about a moment in one's life. The verses are only so-so, but Frank Perry does a good job with the material and the whole thing "works" for me. 

Play:  

On the flip side is a song that creates a completely different mood, written by the same song-poet. It's called "Empty Pockets", and its words sure paint a picture. The Chamberlin does not do this tender, sad ballad style any favors, but I have to say, I find the lyrics to this song truly affecting. They are clunky here and there, but mostly, they are a significant step above what is usually heard on a song-poem, but with real backing and better production, I'd probably have been convinced that this was a legitimate attempt at a hit. It's even the rare 3 1/2 minute song-poem that doesn't seem to go on too long.

I really enjoy both sides of this record.

Download: Frank Perry with the "Swinging Strings - Empty Pockets
Play: 




Saturday, February 08, 2020

Words and Music by "Jim" Stross

I know posting around here has been a little sparse in recent months, and particularly in January, but BOY OH BOY do I have a lot to share today, including eight previously unheard song-poems, all from the same disc.

First up, I am happy to announce that I have been invited to be part of yet another podcast, this one focusing on my own personal 25 favorite song-poem and song-poem related records. This has been in the works for over six months, and the podcaster, Brian Kramp, and I finally did the interview late in January. The podcast can be heard here and here, and if you want to see the list of songs, it can be found here (the list is in reverse order, from 25 up, with a section near the top of a handful of song-poem related discs (which are not actually song poems). It's all explained in the show.

Brian was nice enough to include one of the songs from my recently released album of comic songs, and also to include a cover I performed, live, of one of my favorite song-poem related records, at the end of the show.

Looking over the list, there are some others I might have included - and I've been invited to do a second episode. I think there might be a few replacements in the bottom half of the list, so this is not my absolute top 25, but it's close, and the top 10-12 are unshakable. And as I've mentioned here before, my tastes in song-poems does not necessarily match that of the larger (however large it is) song-poem fandom world - there are, for example, no MSR, Sammy Marshall or Gene Marshall tracks in this top 25, it does reflect that my basic taste in music prefers things from before 1965 in a lot of cases, and a LOT of the fringe of this fringe world is represented.

I hope you'll enjoy it.

Brian has also offered up a multitude of song-poem ads that he's found, since our interview, and I'm going to share those with you, much as I shared a similar collection that was sent to me a few years ago. I don't have a lot of details about them. Here's one from Calgary:


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Second, as has been the case for the last several months now, I have fixed yet another month worth of postings, in this case, January of 2014. This was a month I tried out a short lived feature in which I shared song-poems about places, a sort of song-poem travelogue. This includes the earliest known "Real Pros" record, featuring a trip to Napoli, a peppy Rodd Keith trip to Wisconsin, an absolutely wonderful pair of polkas from Cara Stewart, and a soulful vocal from Gene Marshall. I remember deciding to go on that little song-poem road trip, and can hardly believe it was over six years ago!

This completes my postings from 2014, with the exception of a massive post I did upon the occasion of the death of Pete Seeger, which I will have to put back together when I have considerably more time. 

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To make up for the slow down in postings lately, I thought this would be a good time to share a song poem album. In this case, "album" is a bit of an overstatement, as this is a ten-inch special, containing eight songs and about 24 minutes of music. But it's a unique entry, in that it represents an otherwise unknown label and song-poet. 



The songwriter - who in this case wrote both the words and music, making this a song-poem/vanity hybrid, is identified as "Jim" Stross, just like that, with quotation marks. He employed the Globe song-poem factory and its stable of singers, providing that key link between vanity project and song-poem release. The label is JKS, presumably Mr. Stross' initials, and the label informs us that the record is "Not For Sale". Don't tell anyone that I bought it on eBay. 

The first side contains the following four songs: Just Before Sunset, One Night in Tucson, Sudden Love & Stop Playing With My Heart. The first three are sung by Sammy Marshall, the final one by Kris Arden. They generally have the typical Globe studios sound. I have not separated them out - here is side one: 

Play:  

Side two starts with my favorite of the eight songs, a Sammy Marshall dance special - which are almost always fun - titled "Dip, Flip, Twist, Stomp". This is followed by My One Ambition (which has a co-writer and is sung by Kris Arden), Autumn Rain (sung by Mary Kaye), and Santa Claus Means Christmas (sung by Kris Arden). Enjoy!

Play: