Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Soldier Boy....Oh My Little Soldier Boy


This week's offering is a few clicks down the page. But first...

Before getting to post update news or this week's offering, I want to catch up on some things that readers have shared, in response to previous posts. I know not everyone looks at comments, and more often than not, I don't answer the comments in the comments, as I never know if the original poster will be looking for a response. But several people have said or shared things recently that I thought worth bringing to everyone's attention, and I'm going to get to some of them now, and more in the future. 

First, thanks to everyone who writes in and comments. If you use your actual e-mail address, and there's a response I want to make, I will write to you. However, I understand why most folks do not choose to post using their actual e-mail addresses. 

More than 11 years ago, I posted a great Suzie and Rodd duet, titled "I'm the Wife". Well, a correspondent named Michael recently pointed out that the composer of the flip side, "Country Boy", got his name in the local Kingston, N.Y. paper, in 1967, by stating that Preview Records had recorded his song, no doubt presenting this as a great accomplishment, rather than something he'd paid them to do. The newspaper article can be found in the lower right quadrant of this page. Michael further found an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, from 1965, on a similar theme, this time regarding a song-poet named Helen Zorkowski, who had several songs recorded by preview over the years. That article is here

Thanks, Michael, and thanks for the nice words about my work here!

Then there was a comment from frequent contributor, and host of his own wonderful blog, Sammy Reed. On the post where I featured a song-poet who claimed to have written "The Lord's Prayer", he linked to a post he'd made in which another song-poet claimed to have created the words to the gospel song "Oh, Happy Day", and that post can be found here. Thanks for all your help and comments over the years, Sammy!

In response to my obituary-with-soundfiles for Pete Seeger (which is one of the few post 2008 posts which I haven't fixed yet), Martin has shared with me that he posted a rare audio of a Pete Seeger concert from East Berlin in 1967. It can be found here - you can download it from near the end of the German part of the post. Thanks very much Martin. I look forward to enjoying this. 

And finally, just this week I heard from the daughter of the singer who went by the name Rod Barton. He is the only person from the song poem world that I've actually spoken to, and he and I had three phone conversations many years ago - unfortunately, he has died at some point in the years since those conversations. Her comment can be found on this post


In addition to all that, I have, as usual, corrected even more of the early posts to this site. I've worked my way back to 2006, the year with the fewest posts in the history of this blog (just nine). At that time, I was sharing things that tickled my fancy, whenever I got around to it. 

Specifically, today, I've repaired five posts made in July of 2006. Four of them were made on the same day, July 1st. These offerings were all over the map, and included a terrifically awful vanity 45 from a folky type singer, an equally wonderful (and also possibly vanity) 45 from a 13 year old girl, a failed hit 45 that I just love by Joan Armatrading, and a B-side to a late '50's hit record which I've always loved, and which features Thurl Ravenscroft. I ended that month with a post featuring two songs from Jimmie Driftwood, one of my favorite performers ever - the second track there remains one of my all time top 50 tracks. Some of this material later got posted to WFMU's blog, but I thought I'd "fix" the postings on this site, anyway. 


And finally, today's offering. 

Today, it's back to the early days of the Preview label, a period which I know to be a particular favorite for many song-poem fans. 

And this is a nice one, sung by Suzie Smith, with "The Raindrops" credited as the backing singers, and a track which sounds very much to my ears as something Rodd Keith probably put together. It's called "Good-Bye My Soldier Good-Bye My Love" (to phrase it exactly as it is on the label). Vietnam is never mentioned here, but this could probably be considered a Vietnam related song-poem, based on the lyrics. 

Suzie sings over a martial beat for the verses, which then swings into double time - and some nice harmony vocals - for the choruses. The lyrics are pretty much boilerplate "my soldier love has left for the war" stuff, but the arrangement and vocal make them fairly effective. 

Download: Suzie and the Raindrops - Good-Bye My Soldier Good-Bye My Love


Suzie Smith appears on the flip side without The Raindrops, on a song called "The Key to My Heart". This lyric is tied to the backing track that Rodd Keith used perhaps more than any other in his Preview days, most notoriously when Preview actually used the exact same track on both sides of the same 45

I don't think Suzie or anyone else behind this particular side do anything special with the material, and this is one of those tracks that seems to me to go on for about five minutes (really barely more than three). Maybe you'll like it more...

Download: Suzie Smith - The Key to My Heart


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Popular Teen Styles on LECTRON

Let me be the first to wish all of my readers of Happy New Year!

I continue to rehab my site. Today, I have finished correcting posts from 2007, fixing five posts from July and August of that year. Again, this was a point at which I was simply sharing items from my collection that I particularly appreciated and seemed to be rare. Youtube has subsequently changed that last aspect, but still, I'd like the site to be playable from the earliest posts on. 

During that summer, I posted a goofy, yet endearing number by Don, Dick and Jimmy, I shared a song in Swedish that I wished to know more about (and subsequently did learn more about), I let everyone hear an odd easy listening version of a Beatles hit, and shared two of my "cut-ups", which were cassette-edited popular songs made into jokes. 

And although it's redundant at this point, I have also fixed a post, from that summer, in which I shared, for the first time, my all time favorite disc that has any connection to the song-poem world, although I'm now convinced that the record in question is not a song-poem. I later shared the record again, along with its b-side, when I got my own copy, but here is the first time that I featured "What's She Got (That I Ain't Got)". 

I have also put in addendums to a couple of those posts. 


And now, Let's Go Lectron!

Today, I have a pair of genuinely sweet and effective tracks from the teeny-tiny Lectron label, whose label describes the product contained therein as "Popular Teen Style". And never has a slogan or motto been more accurate, as these two songs are composed in the most popular of teen styles for 1963, when this record was produced. 

Both sides are credited to Mary Kaye, who did some work for the Globe song-poem factory, but the A-side is actually a performance by Mary Kaye AND Sammy Marshall. And the lyrics to "Secret Thoughts" are among the best I've ever heard in a song-poem: they do an exceptional job of describing the silent longing between a teen boy and girl, who each have romantic feelings for the other, but feel unsure of expressing them. 

The words capture this dynamic perfectly - the verisimilitude is on a level I would generally associate with professional songwriting - and the arrangement captures the sort of thing that "Paul and Paula" briefly had massive success with, right around the time of this record's creation. A genuinely sweet and affecting song and performance. 

The only flaw here is that the record appears to have been pressed in asphalt. The sound quality is abysmal. 

Download: Mary Kaye (and Sammy Marshall) - Secret Thoughts



The flip side, "Actions Speak Louder Than Words", does indeed feature a solo turn by Mary Kaye. And again, it's in "Popular Teen Style", in this case, something of a twist beat, and it moves and grooves throughout - all 100 seconds of it. 

Again, the words here are pretty good, and they've been set in a sort of percussive manner that bounces off the drumbeat in places, an effect which I find sort of intoxicating. Mary Kaye's warm vocal really sells it, even if there are a couple of bum notes (perhaps she was sight-reading, which was so often the case in the song-poem world). 

There are some nice backing vocals which in a style that reminds me more of the later Preview label than what Globe usually came up with. I have a hard time saying which of these two tracks I like better - both are several levels better than the average song-poem. 

Download: Mary Kaye - Actions Speak Louder Than Words



And finally, those of you who have been reading my posts for the last few years know that my family uses the Christmas Card tradition to engage in a bit of performance art each year. Previous end-of-the-year posts have other examples, and now, here is the latest in the series: 

From the left, that's me, my wife with the marshmallow in her face, then our two adult kids, and on the right, the fellow who will soon be, variously, husband, son-in-law and brother-in-law to the rest of the individuals in the photo. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Cara and Larry and Johnny, Oh My!

Hello, everyone, and Happy Whatever You're Having!!!!

First, before today's EP, I want to update you as to the mending of the oldest posts on this site. I only updated two posts this time around, but they are chock full of interesting sounds. In both cases, they were sequels to one of my favorite WFMU posts ever - the Merigail Moreland tapes. After I posted 15 songs to WFMU, I promised to fill in the blanks on my site, by posting the rest of the Moreland tapes to my site, and then, by posting some recordings Merigail made in 1979 or 1980, which were sent to me by a relative. 

I have now "fixed" the post containing the further1953 era recordings, and the post featuring the 1979/80 recordings


And now, for my third post in a row, let's have an EP!!!

The Brosh label, like the Air label two weeks ago, was an amalgam of the works of various song-poem label, and the combinations differed from release to release. Some material on Brosh actually appears in the same exact form on other labels, while in other cases, some songs (including one from today) turn up on multiple Brosh releases. 

What's fascinating to me today is that, of the three performers listed on this EP, only one of them is documented anywhere on AS/PMA, and additionally, I don't recognize the two (male) singers previously undocumented there. Perhaps I'm just not that good with voices, or maybe the fake names are throwing me off, but I cannot immediately recall having heard the voice of either "Larry Dee" or "Johnny Dale" on a song poem record before. Perhaps some wise person out there will educate me.

But first, lets hear the always lovely, and very well known voice of Cara Stewart, sounding as wonderful as ever, on "Four Open Doors": 

Download: Cara Stewart - Four Open Doors


Now, while "Four Open Doors" is probably the best song and recording on this EP, the most intriguing has to be the one credited to Larry Dee: "Ballad of Alan Rose". This song's lyrics have a verisimilitude that certainly makes me believe it's based on a true story, but if so, it's one I've been unable to track down, in what was admittedly a cursory search. My guess is that it was a local tragedy, from the late 1950's or early '60's, as this record likely dates from around 1962 or 1963. 

Not only do I not recognize Larry Dee, I also don't really recognize the arrangement as being the hallmark of any particular song-poem factory - my best guess is Globe, but I suspect that's wrong. Also note that the female duo perform nearly a third of the song, without the benefit of a credit. 

Download: Larry Dee - Ballad of Alan Rose



The flip side of the disc features what can only be termed raw demos, and I really wonder whether a song-poem company was involved with them at all, or if the fabulously named "E. Quattrocelli" (who submitted songs to at least two other song-poem labels over the years) simply submitted a recording of a friend playing his or her songs. 

Regardless of the back story, they are credited - I think - to Johnny Dale. I say "I think" because unlike most records, and unlike the flip side of this disc, Johnny Dale's name is added in parenthesis under E. Quattrocelli's name, rather than in bold and/or capital letters. I'm pretty sure that's a typo, rather than a co-writer credit. 

Both songs are ballads of the pain of young love, with an emoting singer accompanied by a simple guitar backing and bathed in echo. They are simple, direct and.... amatueristicFirst up is "Teen Age Tears.  

Download: Johnny Dale - Teen Age Tears


And then there is "I Should Be Crying"

Download: Johnny Dale - I Should Be Crying


Any guesses as to the back story of these last two songs, and the identity/song-poem factory for "Ballad of Alan Rose" would be welcomed.  

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Damita Goes Bang Bang

 Howdy, folks!

First, I'd like to say that I recently wrote the most personal post I've ever done, which is at my other site, and was written in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of my father. I'd be honored to have any of you who are interested read it. It can be found here

And second, I continue to rehabilitate the earliest years of this site, and I have now addressed posts made more than 14 years ago, in November of 2007. It strikes me as likely - perhaps even definite - that most of the things I posted in the first three years at this site have long since been on YouTube, although I haven't checked. But I'm going to fix the posts anyway. 

In November of 2007, I offered up a guessing game in the form of a resolutely awful version of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", a goofy rock and roll novelty record sung by a grade schooler, a very early jazz band performance of Ragtime music, and a teen girl record (a b-side) that I've loved ever since hearing it. In addition, I have added 2021 comments to three of those four posts. 


The exceptionally tiny "Bang Bang" label, out of Washington D.C., seems to have been the vanity project of someone named David Fitzgerald. Only two records on the label are documented at AS/PMA - today's EP makes it three - and of the eight songs on those three discs, David Fitzgerald wrote six of them, and claimed to have produced both songs on one of the singles (despite them being performed by a stalwart of the Globe song-poem factory). Even more odd is that one of the eight songs on those three 45's is a cover of "Ode to Billy Joe". 

Anyway, my Bang Bang release is, as mentioned, an EP, with all four songs written by Mr. Fitzgerald - two songs published by "Fitzgerald's Music" and the others published by "Omniscient Music" All four songs feature the main female singer from the early days of Globe, JoAnn Auburn, here appearing, as she often did, as "Damita". I enjoy all four of these tracks, to varying degrees, with the standout leading off side two. But here on side one, we'll lead off with a song that starts with a surprisingly acceptable take on mid 1960's Blue-Eyed Soul. For me, at least, the feel isn't sustained - the band is way to low in the mix, and the backup singers don't fit the mood at all, but it's more than I would have expected from Globe. Here's "Your Soul Searching Kisses": 


"Baby I'm Your Match" follows, and is my least favorite of the four-pack. The song sort of meanders, melodically,, and the band has reverted to the sort of hackwork that I tend to expect from the Globe band. Also, the phrase is sung far more often as "I Was Your Match" than "I'm Your Match". 


More upbeat Soul-flavored Rock follows, with my favorite of the record, "Hey Boy, Stay in School". Musically, this is pretty much indistinguishable from some of the other material here, but I really enjoy the lyrics, which are so very far away from anything you'd have likely found on an actual hit record - have the lyrics "The P.T.A. was right" ever been featured in another song? Also, I must say, also put me in the mind of one of my favorite figures from the song poem world, Norris Mayhams, would wrote repeatedly on this same subject, particularly this record. Additionally, I enjoy the fact that this song is 88 seconds long. 

Damita closes out the record with "Just Yesterday's Dream". This is a very typical, 6/8 setting for Globe, but her warm, appealing voice adds enough appeal to make it listenable. But then, on the other hand, there is a tape splice at 1:43 which not only results in a glitch in the sound quality, but actually cuts out part of the song! Half of a measure is just gone! How on earth was that allowed to happen? And was Mr. Fitzgerald upset? I think I've run into the sounds of a splice a few times, but usually little or no material is actually missing. Sheesh. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Hi Old Mistletoe

 As the Christian Church begins Advent, in preparation for the Christmas season, and as the secular world dives headlong into what it calls the Christmas season, I thought it would be a perfect time to both share an EP featuring a couple of song-poems - one Christmassy, and one December-y - and finish off correcting my final posts (Christmassy, as well) from 2008. 

As it happens, I only made 13 posts in 2008 (just before I started this song-poem project), and more than a third of those - five of them - were in December, and all were Christmas related. Today, I have corrected all of those posts, and added a few additional thoughts to some of them. 

These posts featured: two wildly different takes on O Holy Night; another post featuring one song in a stellar arrangement and one song in a deliberately ridiculous setting; a party record about decorating from the 1930's; a children's record which has, in the years since, become my second favorite Christmas record of all; and a slice of life, Randy Newman-esque performance of a song which has, similarly, since become my favorite Christmas record ever


Let me say in advance that I think three of the four tracks on this EP are pretty stodgy and uninteresting, but I do enjoy that fourth track enough to make it worth sharing. Plus, the Air label - which typically had the most mundane of logos - at one point used what I think is one of the best label designs ever, for any label, song poem or not. I've only featured that design once before, and it's worth sharing again: 

There's sure a lot going on there, all of it interesting!

A quick reminder before I get to the tracks, is that the Air label was some sort of Catch-All for other labels, frequently featuring the output of two or more song-poem factories on the same disc. I have no idea how this system came into being or why. 

Anyway, the first song is titled "Hollywood F-L-A", and is credited to Tony Markham. A quick listen indicates that this is a Film City production, complete with Chamberlin, and unless I very much miss my guess, that's the fairly awful singer usually credited as Jimmie James (or Jimmy James) singing. 

I spent multiple vacations in Hollywood Florida in the late 1970's, when a relative lived there, and the ponderous, energy deficient, and overall deadly dull presentation of this song matches what it's like to spend time there, pretty much perfectly. Presumably, the song-poet did not agree with my lack of appreciation of the town, and I have to wonder what he thought of this arrangement and performance. 


Next up, the song that is the reason I chose this particular EP. It's everyone's pal, Sammy Marshall, or, as he's listed here, Sonny Marshall, with a fun, bouncy, yet wistful song called "Hi Old Mistletoe". Sammy, er, Sonny is looking at the mistletoe and being reminded of his lost love. There's not much more to it than that, but the winsome chorus and the mixed group harmonizing with him make these 93 seconds quite enjoyable. 

By the way, the tape stretch (or whatever it is) at the 0:07 point is on the record, and is not a flaw in my digitizing of the track. Such were the high quality standards at the Globe song-poem factory. 



The flip side of the EP features two songs by someone named Jan Snyder, a name that shows up only on a handful of known Air releases and on no other label (at least none documented at AS/PMA. I am admittedly not the best at discerning between certain of the female singers who pop up on song-poem labels, but I don't Jan Snyder's voice is one that I've heard much, if at all. If she sang under another name, I don't know what it is. 

And..... I can find little remotely good or interesting to say about these two bland and uninteresting songs/performances. These remind me of the ultra-vacuous sound of the Ronnie label, but in saying that, I recognize that I'm not actually sure if Ronnie wasn't just an offshoot of Globe. 

At least with the last month of the year starting in mere hours, the first of the two songs is topical. I actually think something decent could have been done with the story told here, although those who produced this disc did not succeed in that way. Here's "December Love"


The final song reminds me a bit of those early 1950's ballads that were done using a single singer overdubbing herself  (starting shortly after Les Paul had perfected this technique, but with none of his talent, imagination or cleverness) . And the song itself, "The Turning Point", is about as interesting as one of those typical early 1950's pop double-trackers. That is to say, not at all interesting. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Rusty Ray is a Dick


First, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who will be celebrating it this week!

Also, I am continuing to slowly rebuild the early days of this site. Having completed all of the "song poem of the week" posts, I am now addressing the first few years of posts. Today, I have "fixed" two posts which each had a half-dozen offerings in them. 

One was a follow-up to a WFMU post, in which I offered up several vintage children's records, and a few others that I have known since I was a child. The other, from February of 2008, was in tribute to my mother, who had died several weeks earlier, and I shared several tracks that she recorded during her long career as a coloratura soprano, tracks ranging from 1944 to 1990. 

Now, here's a singer who was not a coloratura anything: 

Six years ago, I shared the only record I owned at that time, credited to "Rusty Ray" I stated that I did not recognize the singer as anyone who I had previously heard on a song-poem release, and, for that previous offering, that statement still stands. 

I have since obtained another Rusty Ray record, also on the Action label, but in this case, the singer is quite clearly the man much better known as Dick Kent. This is weird, because Action already had a name for Dick Kent, specifically, "Dick Lee", so why did they change his name for this release. And why, having done so, did they offer up an entirely different singer, seven releases later, under the same name of Rusty Ray. 

These are the questions that no one today has answers to. 

Anyway, the winner here has to be "Happy Hippy", which bops along with a Chamberlin approximation of a swingin' Holiday Inn lounge sound. If you want one writer's stereotyped idea of what a hippy might have said, in the early 1970's, this "happy go lucky" portrait will be your cup of tea, complete with a moral/warning at the end

Download: Rusty Ray (Dick Kent) and the "Singing Strings" - Happy Hippy


A heavy, almost thuddish beat greets us at the start of "Jigsaw Heart", on the flip side, and that drum beat, heard throughout, sounds more appropriate for a stripper than what the words portray here, which is a wish for the singer's loved one to come back home. 

Download: Rusty Ray (Dick Kent) and the "Singing Strings" - Jigsaw Heart


Thursday, November 11, 2021

God Is My Co-Writer


And a hearty Happy Veterans Day and Thank You to all of my readers who have served this - or any - country. 

Although I have now updated ALL of the "Song Poem of the Week" posts, there are still about 50 posts from prior to that project's genesis, which I will be updating, rather haphazardly. I also suspect I will be deleting a few non-musical posts, those which served a minor purpose at the time, but are fairly pointless today. 

It also strikes me that, with the subsequent growth of YouTube, many of my early posts may feature records which were then truly obscure, but which now are readily available. I'm going to keep the posts up, anyway, and repopulate the tracks. 

So today, I have uploaded a handful of posts from 2008. These include a feature on one of my all time favorite singles, the criminally obscure "Jingle Down a Hill", by Gaitley and Fitzgerald. I also rewrote a post about the first track I heard from the indescribably lovely group known as The Sacred Heart Singers (I later posted an entire album by this group to WFMU). 

There's a post featuring both sides of a Calypso 45 (about Elvis) that I was enjoying at the time, and a track from the radio show "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" featuring the unlikely sound of John Cleese singing. Finally, at one point that year, I shared a song which made the lower reaches of the Billboard Top 100 in 1957, one which has haunted, amused and fascinated me ever since, The Silva-Tones rendition of "That's All I Want From You". 

Except for the calypso and Cleese recordings, it's a collection of some of my all time favorite records. 

And now, back to the countdown: 


Last time, I posted a couple of tracks by Teacho Wiltshire, and a few days later, I got a great comment from frequent correspondent Sammy Reed, who commented that "Our Teacho, He Died in 1969". 

This was, in case you're unaware, a play on a very well known song-poem, "My Daddy He Died in 1969", which was available in trading circles for years before making its debut on one of the online song-poem albums. 

This in turn reminded me that I'd promised another frequent correspondent, Tyler, that I'd find my copy of that same 45, because it features perhaps that most outrageous act of plagiarism I've ever seen on a song-poem release. It wasn't in with all of the 45's I'd alphabatized some time ago, so I had to go looking. And I found it! We'll get to the lyrical rip-off after the first two songs. 

The first track is the aforementioned "My Daddy He Died in 1969". I have always found this to be a deeply ridiculous lyric, over-the-top by several steps, but many others have found it touching and even profound (the latter for at least one person I've spoken to about it).  For those who haven't heard it, I'll share it here, as it sounds on my copy: 

Download: Halmark Productions - My Daddy He Died in 1969


Incidentally, my pal Stu, some years ago, took it upon himself to see if he could find  out when the man whose daddy died in 1969, had, himself, died. And he found out. That page led him to find "his daddy", which he shared with me, too

Next up is "Tears of Yesterday", which is tedium defined, nearly four minutes of yammering on over a track that is wholly without beat or feeling. And it's just keeping us from getting to the good stuff, anyway,

Download: Halmark Productions - Tears of Yesterday



Okay, here goes. 

My comments are not about whether you, the reader are - or I am - a believer in any subset of Christianity. But I think we could all agree that someone who wanted to hear The Lord's Prayer set to music would almost beyond a shadow of a doubt be a Christian. 

And, being a Christian, that person would presumably know that The Lord's Prayer is perhaps among the two or three most famous utterances ascribed directly to the voice of Jesus, and that it has been credited to Him, in writing, for roughly 2000 years. And being a Christian, that person would almost undoubtedly consider Jesus to be God. 

So, in sending in Jesus' words to Halmark, and taking credit for them himself, what in the Lord's name was the good Dr. Patton thinking? What would many, if not most Christian faiths consider the act of claiming to have written The Lord's Prayer? I'm sure there are several answers to that question, but none of them are good. 

And yes, I know that there have been musical settings of "The Lord's Prayer" before. And I looked some of them up. They always say "Adapted by", or "Setting By" - in other words, the listed writer took credit for the music. And that could have been the case here, if this production was by any other label than Halmark. 

Because while some other labels did release vanity performances, and also had their performers record entire songs with music and lyrics by the unknown writer, Halmark always attached their vocal performances to one of about 14-18 backing tracks. And the possibility that Dr. Patton wrote music and melody for The Lord's Prayer and that it matched Halmark's pre-existing backing track is approximately 0%. 

As I said, I've encountered plagiarism on song-poem 45s several times, and featured it here when I've found it, but this is at another level altogether - submitting as your own work something you believe to be the word of God. 

As a side comment, please note that they used the exact same backing track for two songs on this EP. That strikes me as contempt for the customer. But then again, contempt for the customer would have been a good slogan for the Halmark people. 

Download: Halmark Productions - Our Father Which Art in Heaven


The record ends with a rather esoteric lyric, titled "Mary Ann". The coy, indirect nature of the lyric here leads me to believe it was meant as a song about a shy courtship, although I may be reading too much into it. If it's not that, I have no idea what the lyricist was on about. 

But if I am right, then Halmark made a tactical error in assigning it to a female singer, in that a same-sex relationship was not likely what the lyricist was after, given that it was the mid 1970's, and that that song-poet had engaged with Halmark, perhaps the most conservative leaning of all song-poem outfits. 

If you have a different or better suggestion as to what's going on here, I'd love to hear about it. 

Download: Halmark Productions - Mary Ann


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Hot For Teacho

 Happy Halloween!

And I have about the unscariest news possible: Today is the day I have completed the correction of the last of the as-of-today still broken "Song Poem of the Week" posts. 

There are a handful of posts between January of 2009 and today which have not been updated, but they are none-song-poem related, and of course there are the 40-odd posts I made between 2005 and 2008, before I focused heavily on song-poems (and those posts feature a few song-poems as well), but every post labeled "Song Poem of the Week", including those from the first month of that project, are now fully corrected, with all tracks playable and downloadable. 

Today, I corrected those earliest posts, from January of 2009. A reminder: at that point in the project, I was not sharing both sides of individual singles, nor was I always posting scans of the labels. I do intend to update at least the scan issue at some point in the future, but for now, I just focused on the tracks. 

First, I will mention that, in January of 2009, I wrote two posts that are not updated. One was simply a snarky celebration of the end of George W. Bush's tenure in the White House, and the other was a lengthy tribute to Toby Deane, a singer I was just discovering at that time. Mysteriously, all but two of my Toby Deane tracks (and their folder) have disappeared from my computer (nothing else is gone!), and I will have to find those records and make new files of them. 

On the song-poem beat that month, I offered up three posts with no central theme, one featuring Gene Marshall and Rodd Keith, one featuring Phil Celia and Little Donnie Lane, and one featuring Rodd Keith, The Real Pros and Mike Thomas. I also featured an astonishing case of Preview Records putting out two different songs with the same backing track on the same single. And I kicked off the entire project that month, with one of my all time favorite song-poems, an 88 second oddball patriotic number titled "In God We Trust". 


A favorite of mine, from the earlier days of the song-poem business, and probably the coolest name in the game, ever, is Teacho Wiltshire. Mr. Wiltshire had a legit involvement with the music business, both before and after his brief tenure at Tin Pan Alley (I've found references to him in Billboard magazine as early as 1948, and he was actively involved in record production and arrangement at legit labels for many years thereafter. 

Teacho's work for Tin Pan Alley was largely behind the scenes, but he made a handful of records under his own name for the label in their earliest years. On the slower numbers, which tended to be what Billboard called (in those days) "rock-a-ballads", he sings with an overenunciated style, sounding like he's about to cry from time to time, and drawing the words out in a manner I find rather unctuous, yet still appealing in a ridiculous sort of way. 

Today's record is from 1955, and the two sides are fairly interchangeable - I wasn't sure which to lead off with, as they both draw me in for the same reasons - the cut-rate Platters-esque stylings of the band, the reverb, and those insanely over-the-top vocals. Here's the one I chose to lead with, "Are You Willing?"

Please note that this is "the one and only, original Rock and Roll Waltz". Based on the dates on other Tin Pan Alley releases in sequence, it really does appear that this record was released before Kay Starr's # 1 hit, "Rock and Roll Waltz"!

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra - Are You Willing?


The flip side carries the tautologistic title of "Love Your Loved Ones", and it contains most of the same features I've ascribed to "Are You Willing?". 

Download: Teacho Wilshire, His Piano and Orchestra - Love Your Loved Ones


You can see lists of some of the records Teacho was involved with, and find a picture of him, here

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Once in a Blue Hill

I'm back after yet another too-long-of-a-break, but again this week, I have a bonus posting, with four song-poems instead of the usual two. 

 But first, it's time for more updates! I've traveled all the way back to February of 2009, just one month into the song-poem project that is continuing to this day. Keep in mind that, in those days, I was not always sharing label scans, and I was also regularly sharing things which were not song-poem related. 

In that month, I posted a Halmark release that someone actually took the time to label as "Horrible", a set of two full singles and a fifth track from Rodd Keith, one pair of oddly named tracks from two different labels, and another pair of favorite - and ridiculous - song poems about a.) squabbling spouses and b.) Nancy Reagan

Also that month, I shared both sides of a truly awful vanity single by one Cal Andrews - a magnificently terrible pair of sides, and a cover version of The Box Tops' classic, "The Letter", which I found on a three inch reel of tape

Today's double feature is not two separate singles, as it was a few weeks ago, but four tracks from an EP. And today's EP is from the teeny tiny Blue Hill Records label of Union City, New Jersey, which was likely under the ownership of people named Irving Decker and Mina Zeigler, perhaps among others, including someone with the last name Ambrose. Mr. Decker's name shows up as the song-poet for five of the six known songs on the label, and Ms. Zeigler and the person named Ambrose each co-wrote two of the same six songs.

The other documented Blue Hill release features songs from both the Globe song-poem factory and Lee Hudson's company, but for this EP, all four tracks come from Globe. I'm only really enamored of one of the foursome, but I liked it enough to share the EP, under the theory that I often share singles where there is only one good song, so why not do the same with an EP which has a single good track. 

The single kicks off with Globe's most frequent artist, Sammy Marshall. "New Baby", has some things going for it, mostly the goofy take on the old cliché of a father preventing a girl from dating because she's too young, what with the references to "her pappy", and, in the first line, "an apple green suit". On the other hand, the Globe band is on autopilot, and there's nothing remotely interesting about the melody or vocal performance. The dip in the speed and key in the last seconds of this track are on the record - perhaps a moment of tape stretch? 

Download: Sammy Marshall - New Baby 


The aforementioned really good track - to my ears, at least - comes next, and it's from the rarely heard from Globe singer who's work was released under the name "The Mystery Girl", or, as in this case, "Mystery Girl". "How I Wish You Knew" grabs me immediately, with a timeless chord progression, straight out of a vaudeville number, bouncy and ingratiating in the best ways possible. The singer offers an appealingly pleading vocal, in a manner I'd enjoy regardless of what she was singing. Then there's a ragtimey piano solo and that suitably vaudevillian ending... ah, what's not to love!

Download: Mystery Girl - How I Wish You Knew



The flip side of this record is beat to hell, as you'll hear. And I'd prefer to think that maybe it was stored somewhere where that side got damaged, because the concept that the flip side got more play than the Mystery Girl song - indeed, that the flip side got much play at all, given it's fairly wretched contents - is hard to fathom. 

Both tunes on this side are sung by Kris Arden, a fine singer on many Globe releases, who can't help but sputter, given the material she was given to work with. The worst of the two is surely the first one, "It's My Turn". It would seem to me a challenge to create a song with that title worse than the Diana Ross track that carries the same title, but the folks at Globe succeeded. I defy anyone to follow these chords or this melody from start to finish - different members of the band appear to be on different chords at the same moment at least a couple of times. 

I'll guess that Kris Arden was sight reading, and hats off to her for staying on pitch, as there are moments when the notes seem to be thrown her way at random, and with little relation to the chords being played. 

Download: Kris Arden - It's My Turn


In comparison, the final track, "I'm Always Yearning For You" is just deadly dull, in a stultifying arrangement, and the surface noise here really becomes distracting, too. 

Download: Kris Arden - I'm Always Yearning For You


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Introducing Jerry Martin!!!

Guten Tag!!

I know I've gone ages between postings, and as I said in my other blog, work has been overloading my life in recent weeks. I hope to get at least three postings done this month, and look forward to the day when four is the standard again. 

I am inching ever closer, though, to completing the project of correcting every single post of this blog, going back to the point where I re-dedicated it to song-poems, in January of 2009. And we're almost there, as this month, I have fixed those posts from March of that same year, 2009. 

At that point, in my third month of the project, I wasn't always sharing both sides of the same 45, and also did not always provide scans of the labels of the records I shared. I will go back and fix the lack of labels at some later point, and maybe share some of the flip sides that I skipped in a later post, but for the time being, I just going to fix the file links themselves. 

That month, I shared two unrelated records, tying them together with the vaguest of links possible, featured three Real Pros songs from three different 45s, an absolutely wonderful record by "The Enchantments" which may or may not be a song-poem, and a really good record by Bob Newkirk, which, as it turned out, is NOT a song-poem (see the comments to that post). 

Now let's hear something I didn't share twelve and a half years ago: 

Today's featured song is by everyone's favorite, Jerry Martin. "Um, Who?" I hear you cry!

Actually, as far as is documented as AS/PMA, only one song-poem 45 was ever credited to Jerry Martin, although of course there may have been others that were never captured in the discography. And a quick perusal of the contents of that 45, which is happily in my possession, reveals Jerry Martin to have been none other than..... Rodd Keith. 

And Rodd's performance as Jerry Martin, on a song titled "Love At First Sight", turns out to be a countrified offering, a minor pleasure to these ears, aided by some steel guitar, subtle but effective piano, and a vocal which is absent of the condescension one sometimes hears in Rodd's country offerings. 


The flip side is "The Dream", and it is credited to Dick Mason. I had little doubt that "Dick Mason" would turn out to be the singer best known as Dick Kent, and I was not mistaken. However, I should point out that an unrelated song-poem label, working in 1958, also released a single by Dick Kent, which I shared here, and that 1958 singer was clearly not Dick Kent. 

What are the chances of two different labels independently choosing the same pseudonym for two different singers? I don't know, but maybe someone could ask Bobby Boyle or Bobbi Boyle

Anyway, the song is barely worth writing about - a far below average Preview release with vapid lyrics and cookie cutter arrangement. 



Saturday, September 25, 2021

Sammy Marshall Fans Rejoice! It's a Full Sammy Album!


I'm still having trouble finding time to post, and it's likely September will be one of the dreaded "only two posts" months. But I gave you four tracks last time around, and to make up for the scarcity of posts again this time, I'm giving you TEN BIG TRACKS - and they're all on one album!

More about that in a moment. But first, the usual business about updating broken posts from what is now getting to be the distant past. 

We're all the way back to April of 2009! That month, I wrote a whopping seven posts, five of them song-poem related. These included a particularly ridiculous Mike Thomas entry, a Preview single featuring two different singers under the same name, the fabulously named Teacho Wiltshire on an early Tin Pan Alley release, an excellent early Rodd Keith record from Film City, and the story of - and contents of - the very first song-poem record I owned, which I acquired in 1976, with no idea what it was. 

At that time, I was also regularly sharing recent finds that were of the non-song-poem variety, and for that month, I shared a wonderful Louie Prima record (now readily available on Youtube, but I thought I'd be a completist), and a record I'd discovered by an obscure singer I love (and who I'd been featuring for some time at that point), Toby Deane - song record which is not yet on Youtube (that post's track is of extremely low sound quality, and I'm looking for the record in order to update the link with a better sounding file). 

Okay, that's outta the way....


The AS/PMA site documents one album on the fairly horrible "Ronnie" label, and while this is not that album, it does carry the same title, "Ronnie Presents New Songs of Today", which seems rather redundant to me. I mean, "New Songs of 1913" wouldn't make much sense, would it? 

Anyway, this is a 10 inch LP, with five songs on each side, ALL sung by "Ben Tate", which is a pseudonym for Sammy Marshall (and yes, I know, "Sammy Marshall" was also a pseudonym - his real name is Marc Simpson). The album label looks like this for side one: 

I have to admit, were it not for the oddity and rarity of this being a song-poem album, and all by someone not known for albums, I wouldn't necessarily have chosen any of these for individual feature. They are, for the most part (some may say entirely) lifeless, dull, soulless, musically vapid and generally have lyrics which are about as uninspired as can be. In other words, typical Ronnie song-poem tracks. 

But sharing it is what I'm doing today, and here is side one of the album: 


And here is the other side, featuring the two songs which I think at least have some oddness to the lyrics, track two, "Farewell, My Beloved", and the closing tune, "Do It Right"


By the way, if anyone is interested, the same eBay seller from whom I bought this album has another copy listed on eBay right now. 

And here's the side two label: 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Tin Pan Alley Quadruple Play

Wow - it's been over two weeks since I posted. Things have been busy. Because of this absence, I'm going to share two 45's today, both on Tin Pan Alley. I think I'm actually going to try to post two TPA singles at least sometimes, when I feature TPA, because I have so many more singles on that label than any other, and because so many of them are good, weird, awful or interesting in some way. In an unusual side note, today's two singles contain performance from four different artists, including one of the rarest of things on a song-poem record, an instrumental. 

I'll get to the Tin Pan Alley festival in a moment, but as usual, I want to update you as to the old posts that I corrected today. The latest upgrades went to four posts from May of 2009, and included a song of Black pride, inexplicably given to Norm Burns to sing, some happy words from Rodd Keith, Cara Stewart and Sammy Marshall on a custom label out of Minnesota, and a typically awful offering from the mysterious folks at Noval


And now....

I am still at quite a loss for time as I type this, so I will be quite a bit less verbose and pithy as usual. You will need to get your fill of pith elsewhere. 

Today's first offering is from Lance, or rather "Lance" as he was always billed. He was not much of a singer, and this is not much of a song. It does tell a story, however, the charms of which (or lack thereof) I will let you discover, in this tale of a bad man in "Tucson". 


While there was a lot I could have said about "Lance"'s record, if I had more time to type, I don't think, given the opportunity, I would have much to offer about the flip side, which is a rare offering by Nick Fontaine, titled "I Don't Care". 

I do enjoy the utterly incompetent edit at 1:23. 

Oh, and I once wrote a song called "I Don't Care". It was quite a bit better than this song, and even with that, it was still a fairly lousy. This song wishes it was as good as lousy. 



Hey, Ernie, LET'S PLAY TWO!!!!

So who do you say is the worse singer, "Lance" or Billy Grey? That's a toughie. But Billy makes a good argument for winning that contest with his performance of "She's My Honolulu Baby". My favorite thing about this record is that someone, mostly likely at a radio station, wrote "NO" and underlined it, right on the record label. 


It's harder to fathom quite what was meant by the zero with an off center plus sign through it, which is written on this side of the label. 

As mentioned above, this is that rare bird, an instrumental song-poem, titled "I Cry Over You". There's not much of a melody here, 8 bars long, run through quickly and then taken through variations, with a virtually tuneless bridge thrown in the middle. 

As I always do with song-poem instrumentals, I wonder what the performers - in this case "The Candlesticks" - received in terms of sheet music or other instructions, in order to make this into a record.