Sunday, October 10, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
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:
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"
Monday, September 13, 2021
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.
Sunday, August 29, 2021
THERE'S BIG NEWS!!!!
At least it's big news if you've been at all interested in the slippery and mysterious Halmark label, and it's seemingly double-voiced main man, identified on countless records as Bob Storm.
Following my post of an entire Halmark album, last month, I have heard from a guy named Bruce Baryla, who also owns a copy of that same album. My post inspired him to finish some research he'd been doing, and post it. You can find that post here. His research and proofs offered are quite compelling.
First of all, he offers up the idea - and not all of this is on the site just linked, but rather, in follow-up e-mails - that the song-writer compiled this album himself, from individual 45's purchased the normal way from Halmark, then had the album put together himself, stole the actual "Hallmark" company logo, with an adjustment, and added his own address, and that Ted Rosen never knew any of this happened.
What's more, he's found that this album was genuinely a local success (that is in the article). Read all about it.
But the bigger news: There really were two singers who were identified as Bob Storm. The more midrange, typical baritone singer really is named Bob Storm, or at least has been billed elsewhere under that same name.
The other singer typically labeled as Bob Storm, with the ridiculous, pompous and frequently off-the-charts unctuous vocal delivery, is, in fact, the other singer credited on that album, Marshall Young. Mr. Baryla has even included links to other tracks recorded by Marshall Young which demonstrate that he is the name behind that storied (and ridiculous) voice.
Well, anyway, I'm certainly convinced. The amusingly entertaining Bob Storm, the one I've made fun of here for years, is really Marshall Young.
There is no indication as to why Mr. Young's name disappeared from the Halmark label, or why Bob Storm became the person credited with both his own work and that of Mr. Young, but even without that information, I am impressed by the research, and overwhelmingly thankful to Mr. Baryla for sharing it with me.
I have also updated yet another month's worth of very old and broken down posts. Today, it's June of 2009. During that month, I featured a lovely set of tunes from Norridge Mayhams (updating that post with scans of the label this time), a Norm Burns song with an out of the blue ending, an Air label EP which was one of my first song-poem finds, and a post full of requests from readers/listeners, at what was then nearly six months into this project.
That was also the month that my older child graduated from High School, and I wrote a post about her, featuring some of her photographs and one performance of a song she sang with me and two of my friends.
On the flip side, a more obvious tribute to another fine lady of (actual) history, although one who, many say, was not really much of a looker. Here's "Cleopatra Waltz".
Thursday, August 19, 2021
I have updated yet another month's worth of old, broken-down posts, in this case, July of 2009.
That month, I shared the following: a perfectly dreadful - and highly entertaining - release on the Noval label, a confusingly titled Tin Pan Alley release, which is also missing an artist credit, an early MSR release featuring Dick Kent and Bobbie Boyle (aka Bobbi Blake), and, best of all, a fantastic and ridiculous record called "Goodness Gracious, It's Contagious" (the comments of which contain a response from a member of the songwriter's family!).
I also posted a link to a then-upcoming song-poem event. It was a long time ago, but the link to the site and its information still works!
Today's record, though, comes from much later - late 1960's, at least, features one track from Film City and one apparently from MSR (or perhaps Preview), has a quite separate numbering system from the other releases, and sports an entirely different label (although still with the same address indicated on the AS/PMA page, indicating that it is the same Arco label).
What's more, the sound quality is dreadful, sounding to me as if the records were mastered directly off of another 45. It's a pretty standard Rodd Keith Chamberlin opus, with Rodd showing up here as Rod Rivers (with Orchestra). This record, "Don't Come Crying Back to Me", is a cute little number, and I wish I had a better pressing of it.
On the flip side, we have Bobbi Blake, under the name of Bobbie Boyle (just as indicated above), with the song "I'm Just a Simple Living Girl". Here we have a fairly interesting tale, if I'm making out the words right, of a young woman who identifies as a hippy, but is strongly not interested in some of the free living, free love aspects that people assume someone who looks like her would partake in.
Again, the crappy pressing takes away much of the charm that might have been...
Sunday, August 08, 2021
Up until this month, I'd only ever heard one record by Guy Hewstan, whose name I had either mistakenly read as (or mistakenly was told to be) Gus Hewstan. That record was "My Point of View", and it is among my top 25 song poems of all time. And, as luck would have it, it was provided to me by the aforementioned song-poem pal, many many years ago. You can hear that track here.
Download: Gus Hewstan with "New Sounds from Hollywood" - A Little Confused
The flip side, "Time" is sort of a dirge, a slow waltz with lyrics which are at times ponderous and at others quite prosaic. And it's all tied together with a far less creative Chamberlin backing.
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Today, we have Sterling Records' favorite pair of 1960's and early 1970's singers, Shelley Stuart and Norm Burns, one on each side of the 45, helped out by house band "The Five Stars", giving us two songs from the same song-poet, Faye Bottoms. Ms. Bottoms seems to have had a flair for portraying the soap opera type of relationship, as the protagonists heard on each side of this record are dealing with the sturm und drang of a difficult relationship.
Shelley Stuart goes first, with a song whose title tells you exactly how difficult the relationship is going, "I Am Locked Up in a Prison of Love"
Over on the flip side, we have everyone's favorite singer, Norm Burns, who, in this case, is portraying a man who has entered into a relationship with a married woman, and now finds himself in love. Here's "Now It's Too Late Darlin'"
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Before I get to the site updates and today's amazing offering, I want to let everyone know that I've again been offered the chance to take part in a podcast, about yet another item from my large collection of recordings.
In this case, it's about the history of, and my history with, an album called "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon", a record made in tiny quantities in 1965, one copy of which I've owned since 1985. It is a deeply obscure choice for this honor, but it is my second favorite album ever.
The podcast is part of the series "Ephemeral", and is the fourth to feature aspects of my collection. This episode can be found here:
I have, as usual, updated yet another month of posts, in this case, October of 2009, a month in which I shared a fantastic and ridiculous Tin Pan Alley bopper, a different Tin Pan Alley record featuring two revealing sets of lyrics, a nice set of tunes from Rodd Keith and a rather insane dance tune from the pen of Norridge Mayhams.
Finally, that month I also created a fun little mash-up, of two recording acts unlikely to have actually worked together, and I shared that in a post to be found here.
The big news this week is that, after a long delay, I am honoring a request from a reader, and posting something that I would guess is exceptionally rare: An album on the Halmark label.
Released in what I believe was the early years of the label - 1969 - it's called "Mercy Drops", and is made up entirely of songs with Christian lyrics, with all twelve songs written by someone named Joe Carmen.
And the Halmark people were already up to their standard tricks, not bothering to hide the fact that they used the same tracks over and over again. One track is featured on a song on each side, and most ridiculously, another track is featured on two songs on the same side (side two). Perhaps they thought the song-poet.
More likely, they didn't care.
Whatever the explanation, I think it speaks a high level of contempt on the part of Halmark towards their customers, one that I've thought was clear for a long, long time.
A few other oddities here. First, the logo on the record is entirely different from the style they used, and frequently modified, on their 45's, and what's more, it looks enough (to me) like the logo of the real (and enormous) Hallmark Cards company that there could have been a lawsuit, had more than perhaps 20 people ever seen this record.
And second, two singers are credited: Bob Storm and Marshall Young. The songs credited to Bob Storm do not sound like the Bob Storm who is credited on some of the Halmark singles. But Marshall Young - on some tracks he does sound like, and quite clearly IS, the same singer so often identified as Bob Storm on those later records. But I perceive at least three singers here, labeled as these two men. It makes me wonder if "Bob Storm" doesn't exist the way that another label stalwart, "Jack Kim" clearly does or did exist, as we know his real name, Jack Kimmel. Maybe "Bob Storm" was a catchall for more than one singer, and not even clearly delineated as the unctuous over-emoter we all know and love until later.
Halmark is just one mystery after another.
Here's what the front cover looks like:
Sunday, July 11, 2021
My hope, when obtaining a previously unknown Sammy Marshall (or, in this case, Sonny Marshall) record, is that at least one of the songs will be one of of Sammy's patented rock and roll numbers. Happily, in today's case, we have an EP on Air featuring three upbeat numbers of such a distinction, two of them very likely unheard until today, at least by anyone reading these words.
All four of these tracks were written by the same gentleman (wonder how much that cost him), who seems to have been prone to a certain repetitiveness in his lyrics. The record starts with the only ballad contained therein, "Bridge of Make Believe". The narrator of the song is quite unhappy, it would seem, as he is not crossing the bridge into "Make Believe", but rather, has left it, via the bridge, into the harsh world of reality.
Download: Sonny Marshall - Bridge of Make Believe
Now we cross the bridge of early '60's rock and roll, and encounter "My Little Dove". This is, to my ears, quite a bit less convincing than most of Sammy's efforts in the genre. Everyone seems stiff, like they are holding back a bit, and the drumming is poor enough that I could imagine it being the drummer's first day behind the kit.
Download: Sonny Marshall - My Little Dove
Side two features to sound-alike tracks, pressed in far lower quality, but performed in much more authentic style. A Duane Eddy style guitarist leads us into a chugging rhythm for "My Second Home", and if one didn't know better, one could easily mistake this for a 1962 attempt at pop radio airplay.
Download: Sonny Marshall - My Second Home
Finally, we have a song that readers of this site have heard before (which explains a comment I made, above). This exact same rendition of "A Little Bird" - sounding exactly like "My Second Home" - appeared on an EP from the Cardinal label, which I featured in a post nearly three years ago. On that disc, "A Little Bird" was the clear winner; here, I'd award that prize to both the songs on this second side.
But the real question is: why is the song credited to a different song-poet on the Cardinal release and on this Air release? Weird.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
I am always - ALWAYS - in the mood to share some Phil Celia. And what a ridiculous record he made for us to hear today. The song-poet in question had one simple concern on his or her mind - an approaching blizzard. The writer of "There's a Blizzard in Kansas", despite clearly being worked up about this weather situation, didn't actually have a lot to say about it, submitting a set of only eight lines, and the last two of them were simply a repeat of the first two.
The good people at Tin Pan Alley had a fix for this, though. They set it to a march beat. They realized that it was approximately 1964, and therefore hired someone to play a trombone solo, which were all the rage in 1964. They didn't worry about it when said trombone player flubbed a note, and filled in the break with both the trombone and bit of piano. Then they had Phil sing the exact same two brief verses before and after the instrumental break.
Voilà. Song-Poem Masterpiece.
The flip side, "Dollar to a Dime", finds Phil in supper-club mode, with a song about how sure he is that he will kiss the person he's singing to. Heard with 2021 ears, I picture the object of his affection having quite a "Me Too" moment in reaction to the ham-fisted tone - specifically, his assuredness about the rightness of his intentions and about how much the lucky lady will appreciate it, and him.
Download: Phil Celia - Dollar to a Dime
Thursday, June 24, 2021
One of the things that consistently amazes and fascinates me, while collecting and listening to song-poems, falls under the broad category of "people who submitted, as their own work, something someone else already wrote".
In the past, I have shared records "written by" someone who submitted the lyrics to the hit song "Watching Scotty Grow", changing a few things here and there, including than the name of the child, and two someones who, in one case, submitted amended lyrics to the 1949 song "Nobody's Child" (a post not yet "fixed") and in the other, submitted the lyrics to "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)" with barely a word changed. I even have a Halmark release - which I haven't shared - in which some jamoke submitted the words to The Lord's Prayer, verbatim, and claimed a writer's credit.
Today's example seems of a piece with those, even if its construction is a little different. The song involved may have faded from public memory in the last 50 years, but I'm guessing that in 1965 or so - the era when this record was made - the vast majority of Americans knew the 1897 song "Asleep in the Deep", and at the very least could hum along to parts of it.
The author of today's masterwork - "Beware Take Care" - simply rewrote the seafaring ballad along a religious line, making fear and caution in the face of God the subject, instead of fear and caution in the face of the roiling sea. Some lines from the original are quoted verbatim, others are changed slightly to fit the new topic, and a few are re-written completely.
But then the "lyricist" made the theft obvious, by - I'm assuming - asking Film City to set the lyrics to the tune of "Asleep in the Deep", leaving out only the two (title) lines at the end of the chorus. The result - made all the more disconcerting by Rodd Keiths ultra-lugubrious performance - is utterly weird, off kilter and, to my ears, irresistible.
You can read the original lyrics here, and follow along with the new ones as you listen.
I am utterly unable to comprehend the motivation here - if the song-poet proudly put on this record and said to friends and family "I wrote that", the response would almost certainly have been embarrassed silence, or maybe a blunt, "um, no... you didn't" from someone with less tact.
The flip side, "Chehalis Valley", is a pleasant midtempo shuffle, written in tribute to an area in Washington State, including glowing words about the physical beauty of the area, the niceness of the people therein, and the wonderful activities one can partake in. Rodd created a very nice music bed for this one.
Friday, June 11, 2021
So today, I have something of a mystery, or at the very least, more evidence that low budgets and expediency usually came first in the song-poem game. There is so much to explore here - where to start?
For someone named Rush Isaacs submitted her song-poem lyrics, all about a returning (presumably Vietnam) soldier, in what was almost certainly a first-person style from the point of view of his wife. Certainly, that would seem to be the case from the title, "My Man, I Love Him So".
For one thing, that's not really a title that gets at the heart of her story - that title phrase never appears in the lyrics - but never mind. More importantly, I'd put money on it, that the writer was telling her own, heartfelt story, and something decent probably could have been done with the very simple, but heartfelt, direct and affecting lyrics.
But Tin Pan Alley, at the time, only seems to have had one singer, the mighty Mike Thomas, who, as you might gather, was not, technically speaking, a woman. So okay, they made it a third person lyric instead, about a woman reacting to the changes in her returning military man.
But they kept the original title. The title that's not even in the lyrics, and would have been changed to "Her Man, She Loves Him So", if it had been.
The questions that occur to me:
Why didn't they change the title to something more in line with the lyrics, or at least change it to what I just wrote.
Why didn't they hire a woman to sing this one, or (HORRORS) tell the writer they weren't equipped at the moment to provide a female vocalist.
Why didn't they label the record with the name of a female singer? Mike Thomas often SOUNDED like a woman anyway, and it's not like the song-poet bought so many Tin Pan Alley records that she would have said, "Wait a minute, I know that voice.... THAT'S MIKE THOMAS!!!"
See if you don't share my questions, as you enjoy the 105 seconds of "My Man, I Love Him So".
Download: Mike Thomas - My Man, I Love Him So
The flip side, "Ohio's the One", presents a completely different paradox. For here we have some trite lyrics about going home, paired with a sort of oompah beat behind Mike Thomas, who sings it in a gee-shucks country bumpkin style. Then we get to the solo, and while it's far from great, it does seem like the guitarist suddenly thinks he's fronting a blues band, and he at least tries some interesting stuff. I wouldn't call it good, but it is disorienting in a sort of intoxicating way, then we oompah and bumpkin our way back out the last verse door.
Download: Mike Thomas - Ohio's the One