Saturday, January 11, 2020

It's All About the Lyrics

Howdy,

I have a pair of Gene Marshall records which feature some truly memorable lyrics, but first, there is quite a bit of other news and such to go through.

First up: It was earlier last year that I discovered that a podcast had used one of my most ridiculous songs - titled "A Sailing Milk Moustache" - as the introductory music for their year-end show. I reached out to the person behind the podcast, and, after quite a bit of conversation, ended up doing a lengthy interview with him for one of his episodes, all about my history, in terms of my collecting and, particularly, my humorous songs. I was then invited to be a part of this year's New Year's Eve/New Year's Day special.

Interestingly, the show's general theme is (this is from their website):  "A podcast and Website dedicated to understanding the world in which we live from a Christian worldview perspective", although nothing remotely in that area came up in the two shows I was part of.

My interview can be found here, and the New Year show - which I am only part of sporadically, can be heard here.

~~~

Secondly, I have in recent days, had two people reach out to me, one directly, and one via a friend of mine, seeking specific song-poem records, neither of which, sadly, are part of my collection, or I'd have helped them myself. One is probably relatively easy to find, being on Preview, and the other is probably a long-shot. If anyone reading this post has either of these records, please let me know, and I will put you in touch with my correspondents.

The first is:

Preview 1453
Rodd Keith 
A: You Only Want To Hurt Me
B: It's Over-It's Done

And the second is:

Film-Tone 200 (EP)
Ken Starr & Orchestra / Vocal Trio
A: I'm A Funny Little Snowman / True Love (Joseph H. Collins) 
B: Wheel Chair Blues 

~~

Third, I want to thank everyone for the continuing comments to this and my other site. I really enjoy reading what people have to say.

And I'd like to link to a site mentioned in one of those comments, the latest installment of Sammy Reed's "Music of the World of the Strange and the Bizarre". It's a reposting of several earlier shows he did, and can be found here. And it's a little late for this, but he also has a complete song-poem Christmas album posted here.

And in answer to another comment, I will endeavor to share an entire Michael Kasberg album some time soon.

~~

And finally, I have updated and fixed the posts from March of 2014. These include an unusually peppy number on Noval, a typically half-assed number by Gary Roberts and the Sterling gang, a fairly awful offering from Tin Pan Alley, and a Preview entry showing everyone making something out of nothing.

And now...

~~


Speaking of Gene Marshall and Preview, that's who and what we're featuring today. And I'll be up front when I say that neither of today's offerings have much to recommend them from the musical end of things - each of them is badly recorded, shows no creativity in arrangement or performance, and generally reek of the malaise that tends to emanate from late-era Preview records (this appears to be from 1976).

But oh, those lyrics! The song I'm cueing up first has the most to offer in this area, and does so repeatedly, while its flip side just has one amazing line, something that I never expected to hear in a song-poem record.

Up first is the fantastically named "So Many 'Minis'", and as you might just expect with that title, this contains a fairly sexist set of lyrics, and in particular, a few lines which would raise many a red flag in today's "me too" era, and rightly so. Gene, as the avatar for the song-writer, is not particular about the human being wearing the "mini", in fact, they seem interchangeable to him, to the point that he concludes, "I wanna take one to bed tonight". There is no mention of getting to know the person behind the mini.

Please be sure to listen to, and enjoy, Gene's (presumably improvised) riffing on the subject of the song during the fade out. It's the highlight of the record, I think.

Download: Gene Marshall - So Many "Minis"
Play:

The flip side might hardly merit much more than a short, one paragraph dismissal, especially in comparison with "So Many 'Minis'". I mean, it is dull, it seems to go on forever, and it's about as cookie-cutter as a mid-'70's Preview can get, and it's musically of a style that leaves me exceptionally cold.

That's the way it would be, were it not for the second line of the song, which made me laugh so hard the first time I heard it that I almost choked. Again, not what I expected to hear Gene Marshall - or any other song-poem warbler - sing.

Download: Gene Marshall - My Lady Most Fair
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Monday, December 30, 2019

Looking Back with Rodd Keith

Howdy, everyone, and a very happy (upcoming or otherwise) New Year to you and yours!

First up, another update as to "fixed" posts. We're all the way back to April of 2014 now - only five and a half YEARS of song-poem posts until everything is fixed! Today's repairs went to a particularly ridiculous Norridge Mayhams release, a very early MSR release featuring Bobbi Blake (under another name) and Dick Kent, and a pair of linked songs sung by Norm Burns. The other post from April of 2014 was actually repaired in June of this year, because it had a direct tie in to one of my posts at that time.

~~

I found a Rodd Keith record that I really enjoy, and intended to make it today's feature, before I realized that the flip side (also a great performance) had already been released commercially on one of the song-poem re-issues. And I didn't want to end the year by just sharing one song, nor did I want to simply offer up a performance that some percentage of the readers of this site already have.

So I'm still sharing the song I just mentioned, but I'm also going to add a second Rodd Keith single, in order to get at least two (actually three) songs that most of you have never heard, while also including that more easily available song.


The record in question comes from the earliest days of rhe MSR label, the only period at that label that I enjoy with any consistency. And this is a fairly wonderful ballad by Rodd Keith, a soul-pop marvel, with a tasty arrangement, an emotion-laden vocal and some truly otherworldly drumming. I've said this before about certain song-poems, and it applies here, I can get lost into almost a dream state listening to what this drummer is doing. I wish I knew who it was.

This is a compelling record - everything is right where it ought to be - a really warm, inviting sound. I could listen to this record a bunch of times before I needed to hear anything else.

And what better to share on the next to last day of the year, but a song about "looking back"?

Download: Rodd Keith - As I Look Back
Play:

~~

The flip side is "Ship For Home" as mentioned, has been comped, and it can be heard on the Rodd Keith release "Saucers in the Sky", which I encouarge any song-poem fan to purchase. It ends the album, which is not surprising, because I'm not sure what could follow up this record, particularly the last 30 seconds or so.

Starting with a big, thick Chamberlin sound, and again, some more killer drumming, and another warm, inviting arrangement, this is another great one. The soulful arrangement is among Rodd's best, too. Both sides of this record make me wish - as so many other have - that Rodd Keith would have, at some point, gotten the chance to make real attempts at hits with a real budget.

Download: Rodd Keith - Ship For Home
Play:


~~


As promised, now I have another, much simpler, earlier Rodd Keith offering, from relatively early on in his days at Preview - some time in mid 1966 seems to be about right.  "A Wonderful Life" features supper-club Rodd, offering up a rather unctuous vocal style, wrapped around some lyrics which are less than stellar - perhaps even sappy - but certainly heart-felt, and which tell a love story in about 105 seconds. 

Play:  

~~

Equally heartfelt, but upping the sappy quotient (not helped at all by the awful alto sax solo) quite a bit is the flip side "The Baby Brother of Mine". I find myself wondering, however, why - if the brother was still a child and found himself without shoes - the narrator didn't get him some damn shoes. 

Play:  



Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Inimitable Michael Kasberg

First off, I want to wish everyone reading this the finest and happiest of holiday seasons! Please scroll all the way down, before you leave, to see my family's unique Christmas card. 

Second, I have fixed yet another month of previously "lost" posts, in this case, three posts (featuring seven songs) from May of 2014. This includes a set of four songs on a Halmark EP, including some truly blatant plagiarism, a single by a particularly hard-to-find vocalist (if that's the right word), on an equally obscure label, and a typically lovely set of tunes by Cara Stewart

And now!


I listened to this 45, as I usually do, after only a short glance. I noted the weird title - "Friendly Randy Polka", and the almost equally weird title on the flip side (see below), and knew it was a Gene Marshall record, because it was from a stack of 17 Gene Marshall records that I'd just bought at a low-low price. But I listened to it without bothering to note the name of the song-poet, which is typical.

Once I heard the lyrics, featuring some tortured syntax, a couple of deliberately jokey lines and the generally "off" feeling they projected, it was all I could do to not stop the record and look to see who wrote the dang thing. I let it play through, and was delighted - and not at all surprised - to see that it was Michael Kasberg.

I can't find that I've ever featured a Kasberg song before, and I really should rectify that with one of his albums, because everything I've just mentioned - the syntax, the jokiness, the "slightly off" feeling, shines through on most of his songs - certainly more often than not. The word "idiosyncratic" could have been invented for Mr. Kasberg.

After several years of submitting lyrics to various song-poem factories, in the late 1970's, Mr. Kasberg set up his own label, Kay-Em (you might be able to figure out the source of that label name), and proceeded to write entire albums (at least eleven of them) of his various tributes, diatribes, pleas for peace and observations, among many other styles of songs. I truly encourage you to check out the Kay-Em page at the song-poem database and just peruse some of the titles. To just choose three at random, I find:

Life is Full of Bubbles
Drug Addiction Rampant 
When Do We Eat? 

The more interesting of today's two Kasberg songs is "Friendly Randy Polka", written in tribute, one would have to assume, to Mr. Kasberg's son - his only son, as you'll hear. I will say no more, and will let you discover the peculiar charms of this record for yourself.

Download: Gene Marshall - Friendly Randy Polka
Play:

~~

The flip side, "Unusual Waltz", and like many of the songs on those albums I just linked you to, it is a bit of social commentary with a strong mix-in of religious themes. The lyrics seem almost completely disconnected from the title phrase, and they feature words used in ways that seem out of place, or which make no grammatical sense in context, such as "touchingly". That's used here as a key word of the lyric, yet it's seemingly flown into that spot, as if in a game of Mad Libs. That feature is such a hallmark of Michael Kasberg's writing, that if I'd heard this song first, before looking at the writer credit, I'd have guessed it was his song. It's a weird, but endearing trait, from an absolutely unique lyricist.

Download: Gene Marshall - Unusual Waltz
Play:


~~

As promised, here is my family's Christmas Card. Just so you know, for most of the last several years, my family has been using the Christmas Card concept as a jumping off point for a bit of performance art. Each of us has supplied ideas in the past - this one was mine. There's a lot going on here.... I'm in the middle, with my adult kids on either side of me and my wife on the far left. On the right is my daughter's boyfriend.


Saturday, December 14, 2019

Better Than Paul Anka!

Yes, so much better than Paul Anka. Admittedly, I don't believe that's a hard thing to do - I've only heard two records by the man that I'd want to leave on. Oh, and there's "Johnny's Theme", which is damn good. But he has something approaching a record for near-consistent awfulness. Plus, today's title predates his song of the same title by more than three years. More in a moment. 

But first, I have again updated a previous month's set of busted links. And this month, June, 2014, was a DOOZY, with five posts and FOURTEEN songs shared. 

These include a SIX song Real Pros EP (the details of which I have amended today, with a correction), a nice Rodd Keith record, An MSR release with two very closely related songs, a remarkably tedious Sammy Marshall record, AND - drumroll please! - a record on Tin Pan Alley which has to qualify as one of the most entertainingly horrible 95 seconds ever committed to any form of recordable material. I strongly suggest those who haven't heard "The Proon Doon Walk" to immediately link to that page and have a listen. That's why I've linked the same post four times

And now: 


Yes, it's Tin Pan Alley again, this time featuring Alberta Jordan's performance of "Puppy Love", from some time in 1956, more than three years before Paul Anka's sappy, unctuous song and performance.

And there are certain friends of mine who will know, upon listening to it, that I LOVE this record. It's got a bunch of things that make my ears perk up: what Billboard called the "rock-a-ballad" style, complete with piano triplets, a nice overabundance of reverb on the vocal, and speaking of that vocal, a pleading, emotion-laden teen girl (or, in this case, most likely faux-teen girl) vocal, one which absolutely sells the lyric in a "this really happened" way.

That this happens to have been a song-poem is just icing on the cake - it gives me a chance to share it with the world. But this record, unlike the vast majority of song-poems, is almost indistinguishable from dozens of other actual failed attempts of the day at creating a real hit (and also not, as is so often the case, a record that sounds like attempts at hits from five years earlier. This sounds like 1956).

Download: Alberta Jordan - Puppy Love
Play:

The flip side, "Moonlight Among the Willows", has some of the same aspects that make me love "Puppy Love", but no one but Alberta seems to be as invested in this one - the melody is not as indelible, and it's just missing that unidentifiable.... something... which the first side has in spades. I do, however, adore the tone of her voice on the long held notes for the word "willows" near the end of each verse. I could live in those vibrato notes for a week.

Download: Alberta Jordan - Moonlight Among the Willows
Play:



Saturday, November 30, 2019

Big Belly Berelly, Trouble with Girls, and a Bit of Plagiarism

I will resume the correction of old posts next week. With the holiday week that is now coming to an end, I've had little time for online activities. I hope that today's wonderfully odd new items will make up for this lack of old fixes. 


This one literally arrived in the mail yesterday, and I couldn't wait to share it. I think each side is good enough to be featured first, but I've chosen the one with the more unusual title and subject matter to go first.

The singer is Sammy Marshall, under the name of Ben Tate, which he used on all of his releases on the Ronnie label. I've usually found Ronnie releases to be staid and way too glossy/bland, but both sides here prove to be an exception, with approximations of someone's idea of what the rock and roll of the day sounded like.

And so here we have "Big Belly Berelly"! Now there may be a way to make that title phrase fit musically in a way that a singer could make it work, rhythmically, but the folks at Ronnie did not find it, as you'll hear. Then there's a line like "Though he wasn't educated", which would be hard for Irving Berlin to make into something musical.

Everyone involved does the best they can with what they were given, and I suspect that someone who didn't speak English might well believe that this was a legitimate release by a label shooting for a hit record. Then again, this record appears to date from about 1965 or 1966, so perhaps not.

Download: Ben Tate (Sammy Marshall) - Big Belly Berelly
Play:

The first thing I noticed about the flip side, "Girls Are Trouble" was the writer credit, which is to 'Rattlesnake' Davenport. I sort of wish my name was 'Rattlesnake' Davenport.

The second thing I noticed about this record was that it opens with a blatant and completely unnecessary bit of plagiarism. Not only have the folks at Ronnie quoted a key melody from a number one song from earlier in the decade, I can't figure out why, as going forward from that point, they didn't make that melody part of this song's melody, and, in fact, the chord changes for "Girls Are Trouble" never matches that melody, or the earlier song, for the rest of the record.

Aside from that, this is another faux 1963 style rock and roll record, more obviously song-poemy this time in terms of the performance - complete with uninspired sax and guitar solo, followed immediately by a bum note on the bass - although Sammy tries his best to sell it.

And that opening still cracks me up.

Download: Ben Tate (Sammy Marshall) - Girls Are Trouble
Play:


Saturday, November 23, 2019

I Certainly Hope It's Not Ivanka

I'll get to the meaning behind that post title in a moment, but I wanted to offer up links to this week's group of corrected posts from the past, in this case, July 2014's posts. This was a nice cross section of interesting song-poems, ranging from a nice "Rodd Rivers" Chamberlin track, to a Halmark record credited to Bob Storm but only featuring one side which might have been him, to what might be Norm Burns' last release, to a sexually charged Gene Marshall record. Enjoy!

~~

I also want to acknowledge that my great pal Stu has some doubts about my crediting a song in this post (from last month) to Rodd Keith. He's skeptical that it's Rodd (and he's a much bigger Rodd Keith fan than me), so I'm wondering what others think.

And now:


Today, we have two genuinely peculiar lyrics from the pen of one Mina Ziegler, who teamed up with someone named "Miss Miller" for the better of the two entries. That entry would be the charmingly off-kilter "I'm Out with the President's Daughter". I get the distinct feeling that one of the lyricist here simply felt that was a lyrical concept too good to pass up, and then worked to settle on a lyric with which it might (barely) fit, as the title line seems to me to come out of nowhere, does not rhyme with anything, and strikes me as barely related to the rest of the song's story.

The Chamberlin backing track is appropriately whimsical, and Frank Perry's voice is perfect for the little story. But my two favorite things may be the use of the phrase "Scot Loose", which as far as I knew (and as far as I can find online) is not actually a phrase, and the fact that the song both fades out and has a hard ending (which can barely heard because the song has been faded). This is only the second record that I can recall where that happens.

Download: Frank Perry and the Swinging Strings - I'm Out with the President's Daughter
Play:

(By the way, the other one that fades out on a hard ending, an all time favorite (pre?) teen girl song from Alaska (!) can be heard here.)

The flip side is called "Painting Done in Oil", another left-field sort of lyric, in this case one which seems designed to fit as many references to different styles, methods and genres of creating artwork as possible, each in reference to the quality and stability of a relationship. The results are not particularly musical lyrics, and the song stumbles several times over words and phrases such as "surrealist" and "depth and scope". If nothing else, it's an interesting choice....

Download: Frank Perry and the Swinging Strings - Painting Done in Oil
Play:




Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Return of Gary Roberts

First, I have - as promised - gone back and updated yet another month's worth of previously damaged posts, in this case, the month of August, 2014, which featured three posts: an odd late-era Film City release sung by Jim Wheeler, three quarters of an Air EP (the missing song explained in the notes), and a sort of wonderful 1950's Tin Pan Alley number

With that out of the way, here's what this week's record looks like: 


One of my intentions at this site is to document virtually every Gary Roberts record that I come across. Not because he was a great singer - based on the evidence, he wasn't even a good singer. Not because his records stand out as song-poems - but rather, just the opposite. They are, with a couple of exceptions, utterly prosaic. Gary Roberts and the majority of his releases are exactly what I would describe as the average song-poems: badly written lyrics, corny, unimaginative music and barely competent (if that) singing.

Plus, it's worth noting that, for song-poem fans who discovered the genre during a certain era, Gary Roberts' voice was the first one they ever heard singing a song-poem. His rendition of the utterly amazing "Do You Know the Difference Between Big Wood and Brush" led off the first vinyl reissue of song-poems, and the subsequent first CD re-issue of song-poems, back in the '90's, and I have it on good authority that "Big Wood and Brush" was the single most popular song-poem among those who discovered the genre via those re-issues, back in the 1990's and early 2000's.

For both of those reasons - the fame of his biggest "hit" and the utterly stereotypical-ness of his oeuvre, I want to spread the joy of a Gary Roberts record whenever I find one. And it's been over a year and a half.

Today's song is "Gold and Silver", a record that fits everything I just said about this artist and his work at the Sterling label. An added minus is the truly awful sound of the pressing. "Gold and Silver" shows precious (heh) little creativity in any area, and features just enough poorly phrased lines and badly structured music to keep things mildly interesting.

Download: Gary Roberts - Gold and Silver
Play:

An appropriately loping beat introduces the flip side, "Cowboy's Song of Oregon". The lyricist has had enough of those New York rodeos (?), and will resume the Cowboy life as practiced in Oregon. Is it my imagination or does this side seem to be slowing down, to the point where one expects it to stop any time, on a couple of different occasions?

Download: Gary Roberts - Cowboy's Song of Oregon
Play:



Thursday, October 31, 2019

An Odd, Grand Record

The ongoing updates to the broken postings will resume next time around.

Today, I have one of the more peculiar records from my collection. Its contents in and of themselves are not unusual, for those familiar with song-poems and with the labels involved, but their appearance on the Grand Recording Co label was, fro me, at the very least.... unexpected.

The AS/PMA shows Grand Recording Co to be a concern related to the much more well known Halmark outfit, and the small Chapel label that seems to have predated Halmark. This seems to be based on two things - one, the address for Grand was in the same metropolis - Quincy, MA, as Halmark, and two, the existence of the single record (an album) which AS/PMA was privy to when the website was a going concern. Presumably, the sound of that Grand Recording Co album was consistent with that of Halmark.

And that's what I thought I was getting. And when I listened to the most song with the most promising title on the EP, "We'll Never Ration Liberty", that's what I got. And that ridiculous Halmark sound continued into the second song of the EP. But then I flipped the record over.... And I heard two songs that were clearly from the great Preview label, including one featuring Rodd Keith that had a smoking backing track.

This provides more of a link than I knew of in the past between Ted Rosen's slimy business in Massachusetts (for I see no way that he wasn't involved, given the address of the "co" and the contents of the record), and the more talented - and somewhat more slick about their shadiness - folks at Preview. But beyond that, I have no insight into exactly what business dealings led to there being two West Coast song-poems on a New England label.

Regardless, it's absolutely an EP worth hearing, or at least (to these ears), three fourths of it is worth hearing. Let's begin, shall we?:

~~


Leading off is the aforementioned "We'll Never Ration Liberty", featuring the voice of the man most often identified as Bob Storm - although there have been enough contradictions about that name and the Halmark voices to leave me scratching my head. And it's a great, ridiculously patriotic lyric paired with my all time favorite Halmark backing track, the one most memorably used for "Lady Off Pedestal at Notre Dame" (although here, it is stripped of the backing chorus, so Halmark clearly had multi-track reels of their recycled classic tracks.

The vocalist seems a bit bored at times - I've never heard him sound more like he's phoning it in. But the cranky lyrics - and the singer's choice to pronounce "Ration" with a long "A" - as well as that bouncy track, and a nice final note, all keep me coming back for more, again and again.

Download: No Artist Named (Bob Storm) - We'll Never Ration Liberty
Play:

Next up is the same singer, happily enough singing over my second favorite Halmark track, the one best used on "My Hamburger Baby" (a song I love so much that I recorded a cover version!) In this, case, after a spoken introduction, we get "If I Had One Wish", one of those "we should all love each other" songs, long on platitudes, and completely absent of actual ideas for making things happen, featuring a much more Bob Storm-ish over-the-top performance.

Download: No Artist Named (Bob Storm) - If I Had One Wish
Play:

~~

Let's flip the record over, shall we?

As mentioned, the flip side really caught me off guard. Within three seconds, I was thinking "This is a Preview production". And so it is. And I must say, it's not one I'd share if it wasn't part of an overall more interesting EP. Gene Marshall is professional as ever, but the song, lyrics and arrangement of "You're the One" are all deadly dull.

Download: No Artist Named (Gene Marshall) - You're the One
Play:

The biggest surprise was yet to come. The last track, "Love Me, Baby, Love Me", clearly features Rodd Keith. The lyrics leave a lot to be desired - and thereby leave the song to be only so-so, despite an effective vocal. But the backing track is great! It's a solid soul mover, featuring some great horns, sounding like something that would have been produced in Memphis in 1966. I'm certain I've never heard this track on a Preview 45, and I wish it had been used with material that lived up to its quality.

Download: No Artist Named (Rodd Keith) - Love Me, Baby, Love Me
Play:


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Dick and Bobbi

As has been the case for several weeks now, before getting to today's offering, I want to update you as to updates. I have moved back another month, and have now made new connections for all posts from October, 2014. They include: A Hal(l)mark Bob Storm special, a minimalist Mike Thomas number on Tin Pan Alley, a jawdroppingly ridiculous Gene Marshall record about Nixon, and an very late, and depressing, MSR effort by Rodd Keith, or, rather, Rodd Rogers

And speaking of MSR....: 


I'm just not much of a fan of this label, particularly its output after the death of Rodd Keith. But I know there are plenty of MSR fans out there, so much so that the compilations that were released a few decades ago were subtitled after the label.

Despite my general disinterest, I do find this one, "Bye Bye" to be a minor pleasure, a nice, bouncy, almost polka-esque number, sung with more gusto than it deserves by Dick Kent. The sing-songy melody here reminds me more than a little of the repetitive melodies created by William Howard Arpaia, for those who know about him. That is not meant as a compliment.

Download: Dick Kent - Bye Bye
Play:

On the flip side, as she so often was with Dick Kent (or, if you prefer, he on her backside), is Bobbi Blake, singing a curious lyric titled "My Souvenir". Again, this is a nice vocal, but this one suffers, as to many latter-day MSR records, from the sound of a certain deeply chintzy, early synthesizer, a model which renders many of those records unlistenable, at least to my ears.

Download: Bobbi Blake - My Souvenir
Play:



Thursday, October 10, 2019

Hilly-Dilly Billie (With a Rainbow Twist)

Good evening!

As my ongoing repairs to the earlier posts at this site continue, today, I can announce that I have fixed all four posts from October of 2014, which together feature a whopping eleven song poems. These include a Norm Burns number, Three songs from a Star-Crest album, a Brosh EP and a Rod Rogers special. 

And now...


One of the few things I've found I can truly count on in this song-poem collecting game is this: If i find a Phil Celia record which features a ridiculous title, it's going to be a winner. A quick listen through my previous Phil Celia postings will prove this to be the case. (Note - several of the links within those posts are not yet repaired.)

Today's feature is no exception. I have no idea what "Hilly Dilly Billie (with a Rainbow Twist)" meant to the song-poet, but the combination of that song's lyrics and Tin Pan Alley's minimalist version of Rock and Roll (which to my ears owes more than a bit to supper club combo music), results in something eminently listenable and very enjoyable. Phil never gives any indication that he knows what he's singing is ridiculous, as he (as always) gives the song and the lyric his all.

Download: Phil Celia - Hilly-Dilly Billie (with a Rainbow Twist)
Play:

That is not to say that everything Phil Celia (let alone Tin Pan Alley) touched was turned to gold. "The Night is Beautiful", on the flip side, is almost the quintessential dull, uninspired song-poem lyric and equally creativity-free setting.

Download: Phil Celia - The Night is Beautiful
Play:



Monday, September 30, 2019

Where They Use Their Bodies, Not Just For a Hobby!

Okay, so first up, in my ongoing goal of re-upping all of the old posts, I have now cleaned up the four posts I made in November of 2014. That month featured a ridiculous Mike Thomas record on Tin Pan Alley, a back-to-back series of two posts featuring Halmark-styled releases from the same company, prior to it being called "Halmark", and a sleazy record from Gene Marshall. You can find them, in that order, right here


Continuing something I said in the last post, I'm still not finding much time to do anything that I don't have to do (although that should change soon), so I'm not going to blather on about today's record. I'm sure there are at least some readers who don't go in for my lengthier posts anyway.

So I just bought this ridiculous and very poorly pressed record, a late-era offshoot of Film City on the Big Sound Records label (the only one I've ever seen on that label), and I enjoyed the lyrics on both sides of the record, despite the terrible sound and uninspired performances. The songs are credited to Frank Lane, who I suspect is Frank Perry, but I'm not sure.

First up, here's a song decrying all the bad things about "Divorce", featuring the line I quoted for the name of this post:

Download: Frank Lane and the "Swinging Strings" - Divorce
Play:

And on the other side, an equally busy Chamberlin track backs up Frank Lane, again, on the saga of "Rodeo Joe", about as half-assed as a lyric and performance as I can imagine:

Download: Frank Lane and the "Swinging Strings" - Rodeo Joe
Play:


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Norridge, Rodd and Tom Dooley

Ya know, I love my hobbies, especially those that let me share parts of my collection here and on my other blog. And I love my work. If anything, it's gotten richer with a promotion a few years ago, and a more recent redefinition. But it became clear this month that, under that redefinition, Septembers are going to ridiculously busy for me. I'm going to try to prepare in advance for my blogging sites in the future, but this year, I really haven't had the time to dedicate to much posting. 

So I tried to catch up today, the first time I digitized anything in weeks. First, as I have been doing recently, I re-upped a set of old broken posts, in this case, five from December of 2014. You can find those here - the first four feature Christmas and religious song-poems of varying quality, while the last one... well, that's the one featuring "The Beatle Boys", which is one of my two favorite song-poems ever. 

And I will also acknowledge that today's offering may not be a new one to some percentage of the readership. Two decades ago, when the song-poem audience was reaching whatever zenith it reached, a CD reissue of a remarkable album was issued. That was Norridge Mayhams' "Our Centennial Album", credited to "Norris the Troubadour, Seaboard Coastliners". This album collected 29 songs that Mayhams had written, all of which he had paid various song-poem factories (and the like) to record for him. Most, if not all of these tracks had previously been released on 45's on Mayhams' label(s), and as they came from various companies, they actually featured a number of different vocalists and bands, all appearing under the name of one or more of his nom-de-plumes. 

Anyway, I say all this to offer a bit of history, but also to acknowledge that a certain, unknowable size number of those of you reading this may well have already heard these two songs, or even own them on a copy of that CD. But for those who don't, I really can't pass up sharing this 45, as the first song I'm putting up is among my top 20 favorite song-poems ever - it's my favorite from the album (there is one song on the album that I love much more - a version of "Mary Ann McCarthy" - but the version of that record that I love is not the one on the album. I find the one on the album to be fairly terrible). 

Anyway, here it is: 


On the Centennial Album, this is identified as "Tom Dooley Last Will and Testament", which is in keeping with the lyrics, but this title, "Tom Dooley Testament", works just as well. Norridge Mayhams clearly paid for the folks at Film City to produce this track, and Rodd Keith - no doubt thinking it would be released under the name Rod Rogers - provides one of his finest creations ever. And he didn't even get his preferred name on it - just "Seaboard Coastliner"

This is just damn cool. I don't have another, better word for it. The lyrics are interesting, Rod almost never did anything more slinky and sexy with the usually very clunky chamberlain - every voicing and musical choice is fantastic - and his vocal performance is loose, sly, soulful and understated all at the same time.

Many, maybe even most, of Mayhams' releases have fairly poor sound. My speculation is that he received the acetate or actual 45 from the company involved - in this case, Film City - and then mastered his 45 directly from the vinyl he received. I have no proof of this, but that's sure what it sounds like. In most cases, it is the detriment of the material, but in this case, it gives the proceedings a suitably spooky, even otherworldly feel. I'm not any other record I've ever heard sounds quite like this.

If you've not heard this before, I'd love to hear what you think.

Download: Seaboard Coastliner - Tom Dooley Testament
Play:

On the flip side, there is a positively schizophrenic Christian Revival-style song, :"Jesus Will Be Coming Soon", a song which starts with a bouncy, Spiritual setting, then into a 1950's organ driven inspirational number, and back into the Spiritual, all in less than 105 seconds, complete with a truly terrible edits near the start. For this one, Mayhams' company of choice was the Globe song-poem factory, with Sammy Marshall taking the lead, again billed as "Seaboard Coastliner".

I really have to wonder what the average record hound thinks, when coming across this record, with the billing the same on both sides, two totally unrelated subjects (a murderer's reflections / the second coming), sung and played but are what are clearly two different singers and bands.

Download: Seaboard Coastliner - Jesus Will Be Coming Soon
Play:


I should be able to get to more frequent postings now.