Monday, January 07, 2013

A Little Bell Told Me

Today's EP is one that I snapped up recently, extremely happy and excited to have been able to buy a copy of a record containing one of the singularly greatest song-poems I've ever heard, one which will likely be familiar to most people reading this post. And while it's still the best reason to have bought the record, I am also extremely glad to have made the acquaintence of a song heard on the flip side of the same EP, one with a bit of mystery to it, as well. 

The Air label seems to have been a catch-all label. I have very little understanding of how this worked, but records on Air can contain the product of as many different song-poem factories as their are tracks on the record. I have no idea if whoever was behind "Air" made any recordings at all. In this case, we have two songs from the Lee Hudson production facility, one from Globe and one that I'm guessing came from Tin Pan Alley. 

First up, one of the two Lee Hudson numbers, a passable, but less than intriguing number called "You're My Lucky Number", most interesting in that it is performed by Bob Brown, last heard here on a somewhat mysterious little record which had a Lee Hudson instrumental on the flip side. Here's Bob Brown with "You're My Lucky Number": 

And now we come to the song which led to this posting, one that sort of fascinates me. It's called "Little Bell", and it's credited to Lang Crosby. First of all, this recording features the melding of two of my passions, Calypso and song poems, so it's already got that going for it. Secondly, there is the mystery here. "Lang Crosby" does not appear anywhere else in the song-poem database at AS/PMA, and what's more, searching for him online shows that his name is the same as 2/3rds of that of one of Bing Crosby's songs, Philip Lang Crosby. Probably a coincidence, or perhaps a ruse to make the song-poet think that the song was being sung by someone who was sort of famous? Who knows. Finally, which song poem factory produced this number? My guess is late 1950's Tin Pan Alley, based on the sound, but I'm not at all sure.

Regardless of all of that, this has been my favorite new song-poem discovery for the last month or more, with the lilting beat, intoxicating, echoey production, sweet vocal and first-rate lyrics. I hope you like it at least half as much. Here's "Little Bell", by Lang Crosby:

In many ways, the next track, by Sammy Marshall, or in this case, Sonny Marshall, is the typical Sammy release from the people at Globe, but the one fascinating aspect to it is its title, and by extension, its lyrics. It's called "Ben Sira in the Garden", and doing a websearch for "Ben Sira" took me down a rabbit hole of information about an ancient Jewish text, left out of the Bible, but still considered very important to many people of varying religious inclinations. I'll not go into any more detail, to keep readers from seeing how very little I know about this, but there is more in this title and lyric than in your everyday song-poem, that's for sure. Here it is:

And finally, the song which led me to pursue this record in the first place. This one is already ensconsed at the top of the song-poem heap, having been included in one of the great compilations of many years ago. But there's never a bad moment to experience Cara Stewart's classic "Song of the Burmese Land":


Darryl Bullock said...

I wonder if the Lang Crosby track might be a Lee Hudson production too? It's dripping in reverb like most Hudson releases and the guitar work sounds much too good for TPA.

Whatever the truth, I would love to know what that unintelligible word is that Cara sings before 'government' though...the Afro Government?

Snidely Whiplash said...

Hi Bob, Air was HQ'd in Miami, and run by Jack Curry. While Jack might've occasionally rented time in local studios to helm a production first-hand, he never owned his own studio, got his recordings made by sub-contracting other song-poem houses.

--Phil M.