Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Color of Spring

Here's a rather awful record which seems perfect to me for the season we in the Northern Hemisphere find ourselves in. And it presents a bit of a dilemma to me, as I'm not sure what side of the song-poem story it actually fits in.

It's on the tiny Vellez label, and most of the other records I've heard from this label (or those that appear to be related labels), are wonderful, idiosyncratic pieces in various 1950 genres, well made by everyone involved.

The weird thing here is that the week link in this case seems to be the singer. The songs (although only one of them appeals to me as a song) sound professional - perhaps a little bit too much so for them to be song poems, but you decide - and the arrangements, orchestra and backing singers all do quite well. It's the singer, Vicki Farrell doesn't sound like she was ready to be within two miles of a recording studio.

Have a listen - the Spring tie-in comes on the B-side, heard first here, "Green is the Color of Spring":

The flip side, which I much prefer to the above, (and would have shared first, if not for the Spring tie-in), is a bouncy little number, with some stunning bad singing, called "Absolutely, Positi'vly Love", with, yes, an apostrophe in only the second of those two very similar words, and yes, the apostrophe in the wrong spot (lending credence to the likelihood of this being a song-poem, I suppose...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Old Time Religion

Today, as we reach the culmination of Holy Week, a couple of religiously themed song-poem records, the first from Preview Records, the second from Sterling Records. First up, here's the great Gene Marshall, preaching about how his life has changed in "I Wanna Live For Jesus":

On the flip side, we hear about how all of humanity is "Starved For Love", and Gene again offers up his solution (or at least that of the song-poet):

Heading from Los Angeles to Boston, we'll now check with Norman Burns, with Lew Tobin's orchestra, on the following record:

First up, a song which nicely touches on some elements of both the Old and New Testaments, focusing on areas from each, which feature "Waters, Waters, Waters":

Finally, more than a little out of season, but included for completeness sake, here's the Christmas-themed flip side, "Sweeter Than Bells":

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lulu's Boo Boo

Let me just say - I love Phil Celia! Or at least his records. I love the offbeat lyrics received by the song-poem factory at Tin Pan Alley, I love the Latin tinged, piano based tracks that were often used for his releases on the label, and I love the 1950's sincerity of his vocals.

Today's big hit, "You Made a Boo Boo, Lulu" is no exception. And I don't know if this was song-poem Frances Gibson's idea or not, but the responding, coy female voice is a perfect addition. And let's not forget that Lulu's boo-boo, the thing for which callous Phil is dropping her, and taunting her with the fact that he will now marry someone else was.... going out and having various degrees of fun when PHIL WAS LATE. Way to turn your own mistake around and blame the woman, dude!

A more standard 1950's offering, "Honey Bee, Honey Bee, Honey Bee" graces the flip side:

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Halmark Memories

Multiple demands on my time this week are keeping me from giving all but the briefest intro to today's offerings, so I'll just say that I've selected another pair of songs from the Halmark label. These songs again feature some syntax that doesn't exactly flow, musically speaking, and at least one music bed which should be familiar to frequent song-poem listeners. First up, "Memories":

And the flip side, "Remembering You":

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Spin Records - They're Tops!

Here's one of a handful of known releases from Spin Records, out of Arizona. For anyone who had doubts about the quality of a Spin release, the label assures all of that "They're Tops". Someone named Earl Luton appears to have been the driving force behind the label - his name shows up as a co-writer on most of the confirmed Spin singles.

And although this record - "I'm Thru With You" - is credited to Sue Saylor (with the Dream Tones also mentioned on the flip side), the singer is clearly Cara Stewart, who released records under her own name on the Spin label, as well, and the production is almost typical for Stewart's partner-in-song-poem, Lee Hudson.

I say "almost" because of the fascinating and fairly bizarre addition of what sounds like a massively slowed down violin providing counterpoint throughout the record. I guess an equally odd guess would be that it's an example of that rarest of things, jazz cello.

The flip side is a religious number, titled "Mansion in the Sky", featuring more of the standard Lee Hudson factory production.

A couple of comments here - first, the record starts just like it's heard here, seemingly a moment late. And second, the section which sounds like it's played off of a damaged piece of recording tape, starting about 25 seconds in, plays that way off of the record!