Saturday, February 20, 2016

Back to the 1930's with Film-Tone!

From the sublime of last week's Rodd Keith two-fer, to the ridiculous of this week's Film-Tone mania. I've written before about Film-Tone, in posts which are sadly, now without their downloadable tracks, due to last year's Divshare meltdown. You can read what I've written about the company (without the files) here (that link will include this post, and three others under it). It's also worth noting that Film-Tone apparently had some sort of link with the larger Star-Crest song poem company, whose album products I've posted  multiple times, including here and here

Basically, these companies seem to have existed in the '50's and '60's, producing music which sounded like it was from 30 years earlier. The only Film-Tone releases I'm aware are all EP 45's, featuring a "Vocal Trio" of two men and a woman, backed by a small combo. 

First up is a stereotypical song-poem of longing, perhaps unrequited love, I had a dream. If you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself at a ballroom in 1935, listening and perhaps dancing to the cut-rate group that was all the ownership could afford.

Download: Film Tone Productions: I Had a Dream

Next up is "Have Faith in Love", a religiously inspired lyric from a wife to her husband. Unlike the previous track, I can't even imagine a scenario in which I'd be listening to this material, performed live.

Download: Film Tone Productions: Have Faith in Love
Flipping the record over, we hear "My Every Dream Came True". Here, the band has adopted a light Latin beat which one might have heard, again, in the 1930's, and I find myself back in the ballroom from the first track. I remain confounded, as I always do with this label's material being sung by a mixed group, as the lyrics - many of which tend to be written with one gender in mind, singing to the other - are indiscriminately given to a male singer to sing solo, followed immediately by the group, led by the female singer.

Download: Film Tone Productions: My Every Dream Came True

I'm definitely speaking in relative terms, but the best is saved for last. The one redeeming thing I've found on a few Film-Tone EP's is that there have been a few lyricists who submitted attempts at humorous, or at least clever, lyrics. "You're My Only Problem Now" fits that description, with its comparison of school work (many years ago) with today's relationship issues. And I do like "I ask absolution while I work some solution". It doesn't make up for the stodgy music, but it helps a little bit

Download: Film Tone Productions: You're My Only Problem Now

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Four Pack of Rodd on Preview

I took a couple of weeks off, but since this project is called "Song Poem of the Week", I thought I'd make the effort this time to make up for lost time, and provide two very nice early-period Preview singles featuring Rodd Keith.

The better side of the first record, by far, is a song with the generic title "Forever". This proves to be one of those super-soulful Rodd sides, with some particularly outstanding drumming, sweet guitar, and a wonderfully warm vocal from Rodd.

In an oddity which turns up from time to time on Preview singles, the record actually runs more than 50 seconds shorter than the label reports it does.

Download: Rodd Keith: Forever

The flip side, "One Love", is not, of course, the Bob Marley song (and wouldn't that be something to hear), but a rather innocuous pop ballad, with bland lyrics and accompaniment redeemed a bit by another nice lead vocal.

Download: Rodd Keith: One Love

And now, for something completely different: 

For today's second featured single, because this is the first week of Lent, I thought I'd turn to that old time religion, and a reminder that Rodd had a history working in the Gospel field as a young man. While the music on "Let Jesus Lead (He Satisfies)" is again fairly generic, Rodd offers up some truly sweet three part harmonies - I'm a sucker for those - which are quite consistent with traditional Gospel music

Download: Rodd Keith: Let Jesus Lead (He Satisfies)

I can't drum up any enthusiasm for this record's flip side, "Faith and Prayers", whatsoever. Again we have a misleading length on the label, although in this case, the record is an excruciating extra minute longer than reported.

The backing here is almost ridiculously minimalist, little more than just a guitar and a bass, neither one of which makes it through the track without making mistakes. The words are heartfelt, in honor of soldiers overseas, living and dead, but neither the arrangement or Rodd's vocal draws my attention to those words or their meaning.

Download: Rodd Keith: Faith and Prayers

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A Missile Heading Straight to the Top of the Charts!

Here's a previously unknown song-poem label, Missile Records, clearly a branch of Sandy Stanton's Film City family of labels, as evidenced by the presence of late-era Film City mainstay Jimmy James (best experienced on "Free Love for Sale" and "Mini Girl Song", both of which can be heard here), and the identification of the Chamberlin backing as "The Swinging Strings".

And it's that Chamberlin backing that drew me back into the A-side of this record, after the first listening. One of my all time top 25 song poems is a record called "My Point of View", but Gus Hewstan (see below), which I shared on this site ages ago, in a post which contains dead links, due to the divshare collapse.

One of the many things I LOVE about the Gus Hewstan record is the backing setting that whoever played the Chamberlin chose for the track. And I'd never heard that particular setting before or, until this record, since. And then, here it was, on Jimmy James' performance of "What a Fool I Am".

It's not used to as great effect, but it's still an interesting, busy and even convoluted beat, although slowed down here from the other record. Jimmy James offers up a soulful vocal, duetting with himself here and there, and there is the usual film city/Chamberlin weirdness of sound to draw me in.

Download: Jimmy James with the Swinging Strings - What a Fool I Am

On the flip side, double-tracked (and sometimes harmonizing) Jimmy informs us of the song-poet's amazing insight, that "Today Was Tomorrow Yesterday". And I'm a sucker for these mechanical sounding Film City products, so this one appeals to me, as well.

Download: Jimmy James with the Swinging Strings - Today Was Tomorrow Yesterday

Since the original posting no longer works, here is the Gus Hewstan record I referred to above, in all its glory.

Download: Gus Hewstan with the Film City Orchestra - My Point of View