Saturday, February 09, 2019

Sandy Stanton's Gold Record

Certainly one of the dreams of many, and probably most recording acts is to be awarded a gold record, for sales of.... whatever a gold record symbolizes or symbolized at the time of its awarding (the standard is different for singles and albums, and has changed for each multiple times). 

As the owner of a song-poem label (well, a series of them), Sandy Stanton had no hope of achieving this accolade, and probably no interest in it, either. But still, he did occasionally press his records in a few different shades of the rainbow, and for one of his very few vocal performances on his own Film City label) (only two are documented at the song-poem database), he gave himself a gold-colored 45: 


This record is not documented at ASPMA. It comes from very late in the label's existence (the documented label numbers only reach about one hundred digits higher), and it is numbered after the last known Rod Rogers record for the label. That said, it clearly sounds to me like Rodd Keith on the Chamberlin, doing some wonderful work.

And the two songs, both written by the same song-poet, sound extremely similar - they are clearly based on the same Chamberlin settings, playing at the same tempo and nearly the same key. The main difference is that one song bops along breezily in under two minutes, and is bouncily enjoyable throughout, while the other seems cobbled together in places, and goes on for far too long.

The former - my preference of the two, is "What Is the Name of the Game?", and here it is!:

Download: Sandy Stanton with the "Swinging Strings" - What Is the Name of the Game?
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As mentioned, the flip side, "You're Haunting My Dreams" could be mistaken for the same track on its flip side, at first. But this track keeps going and going, far after its worn out its welcome. The words aren't as effective as the flip, either ("I stay here and you stay there - stay there"). Plus, am I the only one who hears a number of fairly poor edits in the Chamberlin track and maybe in the lead vocal track?

Download: Sandy Stanton with the "Swinging Strings" - You're Haunting My Dreams?
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Incidentally, an anonymous poster has recently offered up a few personal memories of Sandy Stanton, with more promised. This post was, in part, inspired by that person, and I thank him or her for the comments. You can find those on this post (which unfortunately, has broken sound file links).

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Two Very Different Sides of Phil Celia


Phil Celia was one of the good ones. Playing back the songs of his which I've posted here (and to WFMU) is one way of compiling a song-poem greatest hits collection. Just a review of those song titles brings a smile to my face: "Moaning and Groaning Twist", "A Fat Man in a Compact Car", "If Butch the Rough Barber Man Shaves Castro", "I'm Sorry I Put On Charlie's Shoes" (admittedly, most of these are in the dead zone of my site, where I still need to go back in and replace the files).

"Couldn't Be True is not, perhaps, at that level, but it's still a fun, night-clubby style record with a lounge-lizard lead vocal, and a fine addition to the Phil Celia collection.

Download: Phil Celia - Couldn't Be True
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Then, on the other hand, there is "She Kissed Me in a Dream", which is certainly the most ponderous, deadly track I remember hearing from dear ol' Phil. Rarely, apart from Halmark and Noval releases, has three minutes seemed to stretch out so long. (In fact, this sort of sounds like a Noval track to me.) And I'm a big fan of over-the-top echo when it's in the service of something raucous or ridiculous, but in this setting, he just sounds like he's singing in a sewer pipe, and the slow setting plays up some of his vocal limitations.

Download: Phil Celia - She Kissed Me in a Dream
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Song Poems For the Cotillion



Today we have a single on the Preview label by Suzie Smith, who was also heard a few times in the duo "Suzie and Rodd", and all in all, on a dozen or so Preview releases from the mid 1960's. And Rodd Keith sounds like he's all over this one, too - both tracks, particularly the first one I'm sharing, have the unmistakable sound of Rodd. And what's more, they both sound - to my ears, at least - like something I'd expect to hear from a cool, laid back, but oh so chic combo at a fancy affair/coming out party/ cotillion, etc., particularly the second song I'll be sharing.

"Why Did We Meet Too Late?", I think, is the stronger of the two. I would bet a few nickels that the very direct and heartfelt (if also amateurish) lyrics came from the song-poet's own life. The smooth, soft pop backing has quite a few little things to recommend it, particularly the tasty little piano fills, and Suzie Smith's singing is engaging enough to make this listener (given that I am one who is not particularly drawn to most of the female song-poem singers - Cara Stewart being the exception) wish she was on a lot more Preview releases.

Download: Suzie Smith - Why Did We Meet Too Late?
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On the flip side, we have the extremely Country-Club-sounding "My Dreams". This one starts out strongly, an appealing waltz with a lilting melody introducing the verse, somewhat-more-than-usually effective lyrics, and another really nice vocal. But then it goes on. And on. And on. More of that lilting melody gives way to a lengthy (and boring) piano solo on the baritone keys, and by the time it's done, the solos have stretched for over a minute, and the record drags on for nearly four minutes total. A good edit would have helped this one a lot.

Download: Suzie Smith - My Dreams
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Friday, January 18, 2019

"I'll Be Her Man-Daddy"


For today's post, let's stumble our way back to circa 1962, and the early days in the career of the man known most often as Sammy Marshall, but here identified as his second most often used aka, Sonny Marcell, heard here with the most excellent backing of the crack back up band, The Teenettes.

This record is on the tiny "Dub Records" label of Nashville, and dates to a point before the Globe song-poem factory developed the bland sheen that infects most of their product from at least the late '60's on, making a good percentage of those records indistinguishable from each other.

In this case, the song "Next Thing to a Living Doll", despite it's incredibly clunky song title, bops right along, and is the sort of record that serves Sammy's talents well. I must admit, though, that I'm taken right out of the mood the song has set so nicely when the lyrics quoted above come out of his mouth: "I'll Be Her Man-Daddy". Oh, will you now!?

Download: Sonny Marcell and the Teenettes: Next Thing to a Living Doll
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The flip side of the single, "Idol of My Dreams" is such a smarmy teener that it fairly drips with Clearasil. A few of the lyrics are as weird, in their own way, as the one I quoted from "Living Doll". "Don't be like a graven image"??? Sheesh. I'll stick with Gene Pitney's absolutely wonderful record of "Mecca" if I want to go down the road of this particular metaphor.

Download: Sonny Marcell and the Teenettes: Idol of My Dreams
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Incidentally, for anyone who might be interested, there is a copy of this record that has been put up for auction, repeatedly, on eBay, and it is available right now.


Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Gettin' Cozy with Bobby Barton




 
I've got a really nice pair of songs and performances for the first post of the new year, on a label which is new to me, and by a performer who might be new to me. The label is Cozy Records, and while I have no proof that this is a song-poem label, there is a record of the same song-poet writing another song for a known song-poem label. Plus, I think it's at likely that the singer, "Bobby Barton", is the same singer who usually went by the name "Rod Barton", and who made plenty of song-poem records in his day (and who is the only person from the song-poem world that I've ever been lucky enough to talk to).
 
Both of these sides are bouncy, rockin' fun. My favorite of the two, by a hair, is the slightly oddly titled "I've Got My Baby On the String" (shouldn't that be "on a string"?). For just under two minutes, the band swings, the guitarist provides tasty flavoring, and Bobby gives the lyric the attitude it deserves.
 
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Interestingly, both of these songs seem to very much have a male perspective built into the lyrics, yet both were written by a woman.
 
The flip side, "You Gotta Quit Whistlin' At My Baby", is almost as fun. It's just a touch slower than the other song, still swinging, but with more of a bump-and-grind feel, particularly in the drums. The singer - whatever his real name - again delivers just the right attitude demanded by the lyrics.
 
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Please be sure to note the Ultra-Sonic High Fidelity of both of these tracks.

 
 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Two Heaping Mouthfuls from Rodd Keith

HOWDY!!!

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone. It is my hope, in the new year, to re-connect the songs lost in the divshare meltdown of early 2015, AND to return to posting more than three times a month. There's no telling what the new year will bring in terms of busy times and other complications, but it is my plan to do both of those things. 


It has been a surprising three months since I last featured any Rodd Keith material, surely the longest time between such posts in the history of this blog. And so I found a late-era (for him) Preview release featuring a fairly interesting song on the b-side (not so much the flip, I don't think), and also one which features not one but two ridiculously long titles. In fact, in the "Rodd Keith" folder of my computer - which you might imagine is chock full and several screens long - these are the two longest song titles of the entire collection.

Of the two, I much prefer "Now I Can See Where I Made My Mistake", a tune with a driving sound, pushed along by pulsating keyboards and steady drumming. To my ears, Rodd sounds like he's shooting for the sound of some of the blue-eyed soul belters who came to prominence in the late '60's and early '70's. I'm actually reminded, a little bit, of the beat and feel of "Suspicious Minds" (a record I really can't stand, by the way - I like this a lot more). While not an out-and-out winner, it's an interesting entry, and I like a lot of what's going on among the many elements of the track.

Download: Rodd Keith - Now I Can See Where I Made My Mistake
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On the flip side is "Take Your Time Before You Fall in Love", by the same song-poet, who clearly liked to make his entire point via his song titles. This one is a slow drag - a bit too upbeat to be a ballad, but not nearly peppy enough to be a mover of any sort. For a too-long three and a quarter minutes, Rodd sings the writers story, which isn't a bad one, but which isn't told very well, musically or lyrically. Like so many other song-poems of this ilk, I lost interest halfway through, and had to go back to listen again to actually hear how we got to the point mentioned in the song title.

Download: Rodd Keith - Take Your Time Before You Fall in Love
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SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

When a Baby is Born

First of all, let me wish all of you a happy Christmas, and/or joyful whatever else you're having. I appreciate every visitor and every visit to this site, and I hope you find it worth your while every time you stop by.



When I found I had a recent acquisition containing the song title "When a Baby is Born", I felt that was a natural for a Christmas Day post. However, the song, named in this week's post title, is by far the lesser of the two songs on this 45, so I'll share it in the runner-up position.

And it's no surprise that the flip side is better, as it is yet another winner from Cara Stewart, in this case titled "Each Passing Day". I suppose nothing really sets this one aside from other Cara efforts, just another wonderfully winning vocal and more arrangement magic from Lee Hudson.

Download: Cara Stewart and Orchestra - Each Passing Day
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Actually the most interesting aspects of this record are probably the ones found on the label. When I shared the only other "Princess" label 45, in a post here (the links in that post no longer work), I speculated that the record in question was one of very few on the Princess label, a label not documented anywhere else at that time. Clearly, there were more, as this record, from three years later (1969), is number 19, a whole six records after the 1966 issue linked above. Clearly these are rarities - it took me eight years to acquire a second Princess release.

I didn't mention it in that previous post, but what is the deal with the copyright of "Dorothy Mann, Queen of the West"? That's got me thinking. And then of course, there is the matter of how and why did this come into the position of a Sergeant in the Women's Army Corps, as seen on the sticker. These are the things that would keep me up at night, if I was the sort to be kept up at night, which I'm not.



Anyway, the flip side, "When a Baby is Born", may make for a good title to use on a post for Christmas Day, but as a song - even a song-poem, it's fairly awful. This slow, dull record doesn't even give me much of a clue as to what song-poem factory it may have come from. Thoughts on that? The record claims the singer is someone named "Frank Cherry", but a quick listen shows that this is very unlikely to be the case. At least, I'm not familiar with "Frank" being a unisex name, but maybe I'm just out of the loop.

Download: (Labeled As) Frank Cherry and Orchestra - When a Baby is Born
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And finally, here is the Christmas card my family and I sent out to family and friends this year. We have a history of offbeat Christmas cards, and my older daughter, who is an artist, had perhaps the best idea we've ever had for a card. My wife and I are in the front row (I'm actually bald - that's a wig), and our daughters are in the back, on either side of the boyfriend of my my younger daughter (who is on the left).




Monday, December 17, 2018

A Double Shot of Tin Pan Alley

I know it's been a nearly unprecedented 17 days since I last posted here, and to make up for it, I'm going to offer up a two-fer, TWO Tin Pan Alley records, from several years apart, each of which contains a remarkable, entertaining and unique song on one side of the record.

First up, a record by Mike Thomas with the minimalist house combo that accompanied so many of the tunes he warbled. As I so often do, I really must allow you to enjoy the bizarre charms of "We're Having a Baby", without giving away too much of what goes on in its 98 seconds of existence. Suffice it to say that the weird lines come nearly back to back to back, throughout the ultra-short song. And the bouncy musical bed is just icing on the cake. The fact that this record was pressed just a tiny bit off center just adds to the wooziness that the words create.

I really wonder if the people in the Tin Pan Alley studio just completely lost it, cracking up, after finishing some of these records.

Download: Mike Thomas - We're Having a Baby
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The flip side, written by the same song-poet, is pressed even more off center. In this case, the song is of little interest to me, and the off-center effect is nothing but further annoyance. The song, "Planets of Love", is a stultifying slow 6/8 thing, of a type that Tin Pan Alley specialized in. It's genuinely difficult for me to remain focused on the lyrics long enough to care what he's singing about. Something about a marriage proposal underneath the moonlight, I think, but what's with the lyrics about all the evil things we do?

Download: Mike Thomas - Planets of Love
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And now, let's jump ahead several years, and enjoy a few minutes with everyone's favorite genre, the TV-Character-Tribute-Song-Poem:


"Dallas" was certainly a smash hit, and a TV phenomenon. Lead character J. R. Ewing inspired a few novelty records, including one that made Billboard's Hot 100. So it's little surprise that at least one song-poet decided to pen a tribute to the dastardly man. And again, it ended up with our friends at Tin Pan Alley. At this point, the house band was called "The Melodiers", although they sound to me like the same band, with Mike Thomas still on lead vocal.

They put together a peppy, power pop like track, with a melody sung rapidly enough that I can't make out everything that's being sung, but it's catchy and fun (and would be even more so if not for the truly crappy condition of this record...).

Download: The Melodiers - J. R.
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The flip side is "Gold Plate", and one could be forgiven for thinking it's a remake of "Planets of Love" (above) at first. It has that same, thuddish 6/8 beat, and in this case, I really have no idea what the writer is on about. The singer (Mike Thomas or whoever), seems to have some insight, as he puts far more feeling into the last few lines than I could imagine someone directing at this song, after three minutes of boredom.

Download: The Melodiers - Gold Plate
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Friday, November 30, 2018

Gospel Norm


Time seems to be fleeting again, and I really want to get another set of song-poems out there before the month ends in three hours or so. I had one post ready to go, then found out that the song in question was readily available on youtube. So I've grabbed a record by one of my favorite singers, Norm Burns, and am offering it up instead. It's Sterling Records' attempt at a Gospel feel, not terribly successful, I'd say, but I almost always find Norm worth hearing. Here's "I Am Going Home With Him".

Download: Norm Burns and the Five Stars - I Am Going Home With Him
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I won't be surprised if the flip side is the preferred one for many listeners. "My Broken Heart Will Heal Someday", is a fairly bland, midtempo thing, but there's some stellar drumming going on, and the little fill in melodies (and the song melody itself) are not too shabby, at least in places. In other places, particularly at the section starting at 1:48, the construction is laughably bad. But honestly, mostly I just really dig the drumming.

Download: Norm Burns and the Five Stars - My Broken Heart Will Heal Someday. 
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Friday, November 23, 2018

Rollin' Down & Setting the Pace

Greeting and salutations, and for those who celebrated it, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. I have a double play for you today, one song-poem offering and one which might be a song-poem, might be a vanity record and might be something else. 

Before getting to any music, I want to thank a couple of folks who let me know that one of the files was corrupted in last week's post. It has been corrected, thanks to "reservatory" and anonymous. 

I also had poster "KL" send a few links, including a youtube posting of a vanity pressing on Preview, a record which went for a whole lot of money last year ($1625!). You can see and hear it here. And for those on Facebook, you can see and hear a Rod Rogers/Frank Perry release here

And speaking of Film City: 


This is the only documented song-poem record to be released under the name "Jad Dees". Mr. Dees - or at least someone with the same odd name - had a career, at least for a time, as a country and western singer, belonged to a group called, of all things "The Beverly Hill Billies", which you can read about here. He also appeared in at least one movie, and had a few records out on legit labels in the 1930's. I imagine there's at least an interesting, if not fascinating story about how he ended up cutting two songs by song-poet Fred Wolf for the Film City outfit.

This very early Film City effort is notable for the herding-related shouting and whistling heard three times during the record. The lyrics themselves are one cowboy cliche after another, and the Chamberlin - despite the appropriate shuffle beat - could hardly fit the genre more poorly. But all in all, it's a fun little record.

Download: Jad Dees with the Swinging Strings - Rollin' Down the Mountain
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The flip side "This Old World Just Keeps on Turning", plods along its way. It's barely 20 seconds longer than "Rollin' Down", yet it seems ages longer, due to the ponderous nature of the song, arrangement and vocal performance.

Download: Jad Dees with the Swinging Strings - This Old World Just Keeps on Turning
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~~~~~



Now to the more confounding of the two records. We have here a record by Jim Wayne on the Pacer label, written by Opal Scaggs. Opal Scaggs seems to have been the owner of the label, as every record released on Pacer seems to list her as the songwriter. 

On the side of considering this to be a song-poem is the fact that Opal Scaggs wrote lyrics for at least one song-poem on another label, along with Pacer appearing to have been a vanity label. On the other side are multiple sites indicating that Jim Wayne worked, under that name, for multiple labels, some not likely song-poem related all around the same time as this record's release (reportedly, 1968), and one person who stated, without evidence, that the sax player on this record is Boots Randolph. 

It's certainly possible that this was a vanity release, perhaps one even target at actual hit status by Ms. Scaggs, and perhaps she wrote the words and music to the songs. I'm interested to hear what any of you think. 

But I wouldn't be sharing it at all if it wasn't for the fact that one of the sides - with the ultra catchy title "You'll Find Another Sucker If You Try" - makes me smile, due to the peppy arrangement, in combination with (and this is the key factor) Jim Wayne's endearingly ridiculous vocal delivery. 

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Flipping the record over, we find another case where a record of the same length - in this case, barely a second of difference - seems to stretch out for way too long. Your mileage, of course, may vary. But on "I Pretended She Was You", aside from Jim Wayne's continued over-the-top, over-enunciating vocal stylings, very little hear stays with me.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Pretension Overload!



It comes as no surprise that the basic scam of the song-poem company would draw into it's net some people whose writing was a bit, say, prone towards pretentiousness. And there are more than enough examples to fill three months of posts here - "The Human Breakdown of Absurdity", "Life and Myself" and "Virgin Child of the Universe" come to mind. 

I have no doubt my mouth dropped open in wonder upon hearing each of those three - particularly "Life and Myself", which cracks me up to this day. And like that song, today I have another Gene Marshall masterpiece, which also caused me to nearly burst into laughter, all by myself. It's called "Loneliness", and while the opening lines are more than a bit ponderous, the real sign of trouble is when, barely a third of the way through the record, Gene has to speak the writer's words, for nearly a minute. 

That's no surprise, given the presence of several words which would terrifically difficult to set to music, such as "presently", "correlation" and "wherein". And is it just me, or, in this section does Gene Marshall sound like Rod Serling introducing a Twilight Zone episode? 

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The song on the flip side is called "When Young Eyes Meet". The same song-poet as on "Loneliness" provided this lyric, and he does considerably better with a more direct, at times genuinely affecting set of words. The music is too bland, and the quality of those words too uneven to make this anything special, but the lyrics do give more than a bit of insight into a part of the writer's life, things that may have inspired not only this song, but also "Loneliness". 

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

SCARY BAD!!!



What better day than a day dedicated to all things scary to offer up a new find on one of the most consistently, frighteningly awful labels out there, the tiny and mysterious Noval Records label. 

First up is a song with an absolutely quintessential song-poem title, "Thoughts", sung by Noval's resident female - as always, not credited on the label (that's the songwriters' names you see in the scans). There are at least a few other obvious titles that could have been given to this lyric, but no, the song-poet with "Thoughts". 

A lugubrious pace and somnambulistic setting by the combo drag this one down, as they do on about 80% of Noval's releases. The singer - as this singer always does - sounds like a hometown girl performing in an amateur hour at the local church, although I am head over heels for the spectacularly incompetent swooping in her voice at 1:26 - It borders on self-parody, and it's worth the price of admission. 

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The flip side, "Following Around With You", features the same vocalist, but the band, as heard here, is about the peppiest that I've ever heard on a Noval release, and it's sort of led by a plucked guitar, another rarity on this label. The whole thing (except the typically awful vocal) sounds more like a Globe production than the typical Noval output. 

That doesn't make any of it very good at all. Lyrically, it's actually a close relative to "Thoughts" - a woman pining for someone who has likely been untrue - although the specifics are different (the reference to the Army seems to fly in from another song entirely). Musically, despite the peppier beat (it's not actually peppy, but it's a rock and roll stomper compared to most Noval records), nothing of interest happens, aside from a few badly played moments. And is it just me, or does this seem to go on forever.

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