Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Faces I Would Like to Know

When I first discovered song-poems, among the initial things I did was check out the American Song-Poem Music Archives, which was then (1996) a vibrant, growing database, with new items added virtually every week or more, and not the mothballed site it is now. That allowed me to know what I would like to search for, and after making the rounds of my favorite stores, and buying a few handfuls of the song-poems those stores unwittingly had in their holdings, I contacted Phil Milstein, head honcho of the AS/PMA.

Thus began an ongoing e-mail exchange, and quickly, to a cassette exchange - all of my latest findings, as I continued to collect 45's, for cassettes of the finest as-yet un-comped song-poems from Phil's growing collection, sent to him from all parts of the collecting universe.

The very first tape I received from him was a cornucopia of fantastic material, starting with a double shot of Halmark ("My Hamburger Baby" and "My Daddy, He Died in 1969") and continuing through the labels and styles. I tell you all this because just last week, some 15 years after that cassette exchange, I managed to snag a vinyl copy of one of my favorite songs from that initial tape exchange, a marvelous little piece of Film City weirdness with the unwieldy title of "You Have a Face (I Would Like to Know)".

On this otherworldly sounding record, the Chamberlin (played almost undoubtedly by Rodd Keith) sets a smoky, night-club-esque mood, with one of the greatest sounds known to man, the marimba, front and center at times, as Patty Stanton sings in a "come-hither" style and lets the listener know how well she'd like to know the face to which she is singing. If the words chosen are a little less than masterful, well, that's one of the charms of the song-poem world in general, and this record specifically.

The oddest thing about this record may be that both sides contain versions of the same song, with the flip side (actually identified as the a-side, despite being by far the weaker of the two renditions) being offered without its parenthetical title, and performed in a rather bland, blase manner by label head Sandy Stanton. This really plays up how important arrangement and vocal performance are to a song, as this is essentially the same material, but it holds almost no interest, lacking that wonderful smoky arrangement and that sexy performance from the flip side. Here's Sandy Stanton with "You Have a Face":


Anonymous said...

Thanks! Never heard the instrumental version! I guess this is why he had to hire Rodd Keith! Didn't Rod Rogers make an appearance soon after?

Stu Shea said...

One of my favorite song-poems. I'm so glad you got it!!