Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Peppy, Short and Sweet

Man, I have genuinely lost track of time. I had no idea I hadn't posted in over two weeks. I need to get back into a rhythm.
Before I get to today's feature, I want to share that the date for the obnoxiously racist Halmark release featured two weeks ago has been identified as 1969. Please see the comments to my previous post for details; I have updated the post.

I have often found the late-era Tin Pan Alley efforts by the band called "New Image" to be half-assed in a usually uninteresting, occasionally entertaining way. But here's one I actually like as a record. It still has that oompah feeling heard on so many TPA records of the '70's and later, but in this case, the loping beat, the stripped down backing and the pleading vocalist fit the lyrics nicely, and.... I dunno, the whole thing "works" for me, even while I recognize that it's got bargain basement lyrics and a garage demo level backing. It's also over in just 106 seconds, so there's barely a welcome to be worn out. It's called "Here I Am Without You", and here it is:

Download: New Image - Here I Am Without You

But, as I find myself saying quite often, the flip side - I Want to Be the One - does not do it for me, despite being in the sort of '50's setting that would often appeal to me. I find myself tuning out, not caring much about the lyrics or the performance.

Download: New Image - I Want to Be the One

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Really? REALLY?????

Today's post is really about one song on a four song EP, one awful song that is aggressively ugly in concept and execution. So I'll briefly mention the first, third and fourth tracks on this Halmark masterpiece, and focus on that one song. And then I'll offer up a palate cleanser, a record so ridiculous that it must be heard.

The entire EP is credited to Bob Storm, and that sounds about right based on the vocals here. The first song is "The Higher You Are", set to one of the typically moldy old-style music beds that Halmark recycled with astounding regularly (as well as contempt for their customers).

Download: Bob Storm - The Higher You Are

Now about that atrocity. It comes up next, and it's called "Old Sambo". I'm mostly going to let you discover the astonishing nature of this lyric for yourself as it plays on your computer, but first, I'm going to wonder - did the folks at Halmark literally have no shame? Was there no lyric that they would reject? When they read the first line of the recitation (yes, it's one of those), didn't anyone suggest that this was beyond the pale? What on earth did the folks who submitted the other three sets of lyrics think, when they played their song, then listened to the rest of the record?

Please remember (or be advised) that the heyday of this label was the early '70's through the late '70's; even though the music here sounds like the record is from the early to mid '50's, it is actually more likely this record came out during Richard Nixon's second administration, or during Gerald Ford's presidency, and it could not have come out before 1967, in any case.

(Addendum: readers far more clever than I am have determined that this record is from 1969. Please see the comments!)

Again, was nothing off limits? Did every single person - even this lyricist, get the come-on responses from Halmark, telling them how wonderful their writing was? Why didn't "Bob Storm" (whoever he really was, not (Bob) storm his way out of the recording studio?

Okay, I've written far too much, again. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... "Old Sambo":

Download: Bob Storm - Old Sambo

Okay, that's over with. The best thing I can say about "I Can't Think" is that it uses, as it's music bed, my favorite Halmark backing track, the one most memorably used behind "My Hamburger Baby". Not that anything interesting is done with it:

Download: Bob Storm - I Can't Think

We finish off with another track that features a spoken introduction. The most interesting thing, to me, about "Lisa Maria", is that the title of the song is not featured in the lyrics, as sung - Bob Storm consistently sings about "Lisa Marie", not "Maria":

Download: Bob Storm - Lisa Maria

Don't miss the bonus track, below the label scan!

As promised, here is a palate cleanser.

I suspect this is actually a vanity recording, but it could be a song-poem, and regardless, there is a lot of overlap here between the two, whichever it is.

It's called "For You". And this is a SPECTACULARLY bad song, with ridiculously simple lyrics, which move quickly into something at least somewhat stalker-esque. I'll assume for the moment that the man credited, Jesse James Hall, is both the writer and the singer here. If not, he's probably the writer, rather than the singer. The label is "Song-makers, Inc. of New York City, and the whole thing smells like a bottom of the barrel production.

Consider these inspired opening lines, the ones that, of course, are meant to catch the listener's ear:

I live for only you, 
Without you I can't live
Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo
I live for only you. 

A short time later, after expressing that he hopes she loves him too, he becomes more insistent:

I'll go on living
As long as you live for me. 

That's a lot to expect from someone, especially if you're currently only hoping she loves you.

As a piece of songwriting, this is a masterpiece of incompetence. And it gets it all done in just 97 seconds.

Download: Jesse James Hall  - For You

Monday, September 24, 2018

You Want Cloying? I'll Give You Cloying!

So the big news here is that we have a brand new, previously un-catalogued song-poem label, which appears to possibly be a vanity pressing used (created?) by one Margaret A. Rosenberger, and featuring the efforts of both the Film City and Globe song-poem factories, in each case represented on this EP by their respective lead artistes, Rodd Keith (as Rod Rogers, of course) and Sammy Marshall (identified here as two different singers, Sonny Marcell and Sammy Marshall - I have to wonder if even a single person was fooled).

And not to take away from the niftiness of all that, but Rod Rogers' features are among the most cloying, infantile songs and performances that I've ever heard on a song-poem, reaching the level of some of Dora Hall's worst kiddie offerings. That the quality of the songs and lyrics take the focus away from some pretty creative Chamberlin arrangements is even more frustrating; there's some nice stuff going on instrumentally here, but in combination with these lyrics, they just strike me as over-the-top cutesy-ness to go with the lyrics.

First up is "Kitty Cat"

Download: Rod Rogers - Kitty Cat

And Ms. Rosenberger couldn't give all of her attention to her dear, beloved kitty, so she also provided us with a song about her two dogs, "Skip and Mitzi".

Download: Rod Rogers - Skip and Mitzi


Turning the record over, we find "Sonny Marcell" with the only non-animal-related track on the EP, and the dullest of the four (to these ears, anyway), to boot, "A Spanish Town". At least the music sort of matches the feel of the lyrics, in a stereotypical way. The sudden double tracking, on the other hand, doesn't work at all:

Download: Sonny Marcell - A Spanish Town

As mentioned above, Sonny changes his last name to "Marshall" in time to present one of his patented early '60's-styled rockers. Despite the presence of Rodd Keith on the flip side, this is easily my favorite of the four songs, but I am a sucker for that twist beat, and Sonny/Sammy's way with this sort of material.

Download: Sonny Marshall - A Little Bird

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Come Back to Norm

It's Norm Time here at Song-Poem central. I wish it was Norm Time almost as often as it was Rodd Time, but I just don't have as many Norm Burns records. Today's feature is not one of Norm's (or Sterling's) outstanding efforts, but I think it's solid in all areas but one. The band plays a nice pop-rock backing, with what I consider some particularly stellar drumming. Norm projects real feeling and sells the song well. The only thing that keeps this from being an all around winner are some truly cookie-cutter, seventh grade romance level lyrics. There is not a single original or interesting thing said in this words, is there?

Ah, well, you can't have it all. At least not always.

Download: Norm Burns: Come Back, My Darling

The dichotomy between that side and its flip side "Out in the World" is pretty stark, to these ears. Maybe it's just me, but here I find a band which sounds like its going through the motions, and a singer who doesn't sound engaged with the lyrics or the song. The stodgy beat, meandering melody and mediocre, often non-musical lyrics don't help, but as the flip demonstrated, at least poor lyrics can be overcome somewhat if the rest of the record is decent. Then again, the flip didn't go on for almost three and a half dull minutes.

Download: Norm Burns: Out in the World

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

His Mammy and His Mammy-In-Law

Today, I have a downright peculiar sets of lyrics from the pen of one Jay Andrews, set to music by the Globe song-poem factory, assigned to Sammy Marshall (identified here as "Sonny Marshall"), and licensed out (or however that worked) to the Air label.

On the better of the two sides we have "In-Law Blues", which contains the phrase I've alluded to above, "My mammy and my mammy-in-law", or parts thereof, several times. Really. Has anyone else ever expressed that relationship in that way...ever? "My mammy-in-law." Plus, it just rolls off the tongue, particularly when set to music.

The story the song tells is prosaic, but the way it's expressed, lyrically and musically (this band should not be in the same state as a record identified as a "blues") make it stand out for me. I think my mouth dropped open while listening to this record for the first time.

And is it just me, or does this 165 second number seem to go on forever.

Download: Sonny Marshall - In-Law Blues

On the flip side is the primarily stultifying "Naughty Lady". Mr. Andrews lyrics suggest that he was going for suave sophistication, and Sammy (er, Sonny) and the band certainly treat it like that was the intent, although they are not remotely successful in doing so.

Lyrics like "can one so blasé feel such a thrill" and "Lady.... please", certainly don't help. I will admit that when he sang "Naughty lady, I'm on to you", I was hoping for the next line to be "Lady.... let's screw". That would have pepped things up. Alas, no.

Download: Sonny Marshall - Naughty Lady

Thursday, August 16, 2018

In Memory of Elvis on 8/16/18

It's been 41 years since the King of Rock and Roll last saw the inside of an earthly bathroom, and in honor of this death anniversary, I want to offer up a full song-poem album, one on the Royal Master label, featuring three singers - Matt Vincent, Jaye Pauley and Jim Ward - not heard on this site before. In all, nearly 45 minutes of song-poems.
(I hoped to have more to say about the album, the anniversary and the individual tracks, and set aside a couple of hours to do so, but car problems last night (now resolved) ate up that time, and a third hour as well, and in order to get this up today, I'm just going to share the tracks. I haven't even had a chance to make sure there are no glitches in the MP3's. Please let me know if there are any issues.)

So herewith, the front cover of this masterpiece:

And the record label for side one, containing all the song titles and lyricists:

And here are the two sides of the album:

Download: Various Artists - A Tribute to the King, Side One

Download: Various Artists - A Tribute to the King, Side Two

Here is the back cover: 

Here is the label for side two:
And a close-up of the back cover, showing the performers of each song:

Monday, August 06, 2018

The King is Gone, and So Are Some Squirrels

It's been ages - oddly enough, exactly a year, actually - since I featured a Halmark single here. There's a good reason for that. While there are some fabulous releases on Halmark - virtually all of those being fabulous because of their entertaining level of awfulness - there are many more releases on Halmark which are simply awful, without the benefit of being funny, endearing or otherworldly.

I seem to have nearly exhausted my pre-arranged stack of worthy Halmark releases, so I am only now sharing them when I newly come across which is worth hearing. And I hadn't had that experience in many a month. Until last week.

And actually, I find the first three tracks here to be also unsuitably stultifying. But that last one makes it all worth while. But there may be some of you, who perhaps are particularly fond of that all-too-common item, the dead Elvis song-poem, who may enjoy the first of our four part saga here. It's called "An August Day", it's set to a track we now know to have been originally created to back up the song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", and is true more often than not on Halmark, the singer is not named.

Download: Halmark Productions - An August Day

The less said about the next two, ponderous, Christian numbers, the better. The first is "In Gratitude", and what appears to be a slightly off center pressing makes me even more woozy than the performance itself. 

Download: Halmark Productions - In Gratitude

A favorite, dramatically awful Halmark backing track is the only thing which holds appeal to me in "He's Coming Back to Stay", and it's been used to much greater effect elsewhere. I wonder if the writer minded that the singer speaks, rather than sings, the majority of her lyrics. Then again, with non-musical phrases like "available time" and "people who haven't accepted the Lord", what other choice did they have?

Download: Halmark Productions - He's Coming Back to Stay

But the reason for sharing this record is the track called "Hunting Country". The lyrics here are all over the map, and gloriously stupid. But I'll let you experience the joys of this ridiculous track without spoiling them.

Download: Halmark Productions - Hunting Country

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Cut-Rate, Dime-Store Zeppelin

I'll write it again: "Cut-Rate, Dime-Store Zeppelin". That's exactly what I thought upon listening to "Hard Times" on the Tin Pan Alley label, as sung by Mike Thomas with a trio of musicians behind him. If there's a third adjective to further modify the crumminess of this performance, it applies, too.
And I honestly do wonder if someone at TPA told the band and the singer, "Hey, go listen to this Led Zeppelin stuff - it's really popular - see if you can work up something like that".
Whether that happened or not, the results fit the description, at least to these ears, particularly after the 1:30 point. The slow, bluesy backing, the guitarist wailing his solo around those chords in a certain way, the drawling high pitched singer, the drum fills near the end. Not that I think any of this is done competently, of course. It's not. But I can't imagine that they stumbled onto this genre by accident. Even if the results are sort of a car crash.
On the flip side, we have an earnest performance - and a very typical one at that - of an equally earnest, religious lyric, in a song titled "Lord of the Sky", also by Mike Thomas. Nothing much stands out here - this could be the quintessential TPA release of this era.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Jaw-Dropping Rodd Keith Record

Relatively early in my days of song-poem collecting, I asked song-poem maven Phil Milstein for his insight into what was the most popular song-poem, among those he'd heard from and interacted with. His answer was that it was Gary Robert's magnificently weird and half-assed "Do You Know the Difference Between Big Wood and Brush". This made sense to me, because not only was it likely the first song-poem most fans heard (at that point, at least, as it was the lead track on both the first vinyl and the first CD song-poem compilations), but it has a lot of the hallmarks (sic) of the best/worst of song-poems - utterly personal lyrics, no sense (by the lyricist) of what will and won't work when set to music - in this case, spectacularly so - minimal effort by the backing band, and a singer who is no great shakes.

Today, I have an example of what happens when a musical genius, his better days behind him, is offered a chance to work with a similarly convoluted, personal set of lyrics, words which have no business being made into a song. And I find the results stunning, sad, astonishing at times. I would not rank the weirdness on a level with "Big Wood and Brush", but this record is deeply odd in its own ways, while sharing that glorious factor of incompetent storytelling in the lyrics.

The genius in question is Rodd Keith, performing on one of the first records released on Sandy Stanton's "Action Records" label, along with the "Big Action Sound", which is simply the Chamberlin. My guess - and it's just that - is that at this point (1972), Rodd was under contract with MSR, and could not appear as either Rod Rogers or Rodd Keith, so he shows up here as "Terry Thomas", perhaps in honor of the great British comic actor.

Anyway, this record is a mess. Rodd's Chamberlin choices, while they do contain some interesting parts, are often shrill and ugly. Vocally I hear a shell of the man who'd offered so many great performances in the 1960's. And the material he was given to work with is... something else - I'll let you discover its charms.

See what you think!

Download: Terry Thomas and the "Big Action Sound" - I'm a Lonely Man

On the flip side is a song for which Rodd - as Terry Thomas - actually took co-writer credit. It's a better song (lyrics by the same person as on "Lonely Man"). Rodd sounds a bit more engaged, and the track is more cohesive, too, but there's nothing there that holds my attention. Your mileage may vary.

Download: Terry Thomas and the "Big Action Sound" - Make Up Your Mind

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Today, we're going to travel back in time, to the era when America was Mambo crazy, and join with one of my favorite early song-poem purveyors, Teacho Wiltshire (who, in a rare exception to the song-poem rule, went on to a significant "legit" career in music), on one of my favorite labels, Tin Pan Alley, for a little bit of MAMBO-ITIS! Take it, Teacho:

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra: Mambo-Itis

Having just expressed my undying appreciation for Teacho, I must now backtrack and say that I find very little like about the song on the flip side, "Time is Precious (Don't Waste It)", or his ingratiating, smarmy vocal performance. Perhaps you'll find more to like.

Download: Teacho Wiltshire, His Piano and Orchestra - Time is Precious (Don't Waste It)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Howden Records

First, thanks to the good folks at Blogger, the problem with pop-up ads has, I'm told, been addressed. Please let me know if that's the case, or, especially, if that's NOT the case. 
I was recently lucky enough to acquire four records on the previously unlisted, undocumented "Howden Records" label. They were advertised as song-poems, and I was skeptical at first, but then I noticed that almost half of the eight tracks were by Betty Bond, who was definitely part of the Bob Quimby's Tropical Records outfit, which dealt in song-poems, and which was specifically in the habit of setting up vanity labels for some of the song-poets who sent them material. Such would appear to be the case for "Howden", as all of the songs are written by one HOWard DENnington.
The sides which don't feature Betty Bond feature two singers not previously known to the song-poem world, and today's record - which contains what I find to be among the best of the eight tracks - features Ella Howard. She's not the greatest singer, and both songs sound fairly similar. But like some other Tropical records I've heard (admittedly, not a lot), they have a bit more quality and variety to the composition and arrangement than most song-poems (at least those not involving Rodd Keith). 
Here's the first of the songs, "It's the Natural Thing"

Download: Ella Howard - It's the Natural Thing

And the flip side, "Without You".

Download: Ella Howard - Without You

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Roger and Ronnie, Margie and Hawaii

First and foremost, Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers out there, and to the fathers of everyone reading this!

Here's my solemn promise to everyone out there - when I obtain a Roger Smith 45, I will always post it here very quickly. Or maybe that doesn't mean much to anyone but me, but I sure do love the barely-in-control vocals on many of his records (at least the upbeat ones). 

Here we have a very early release on the Ronnie label (the first one documented at AS/PMA), dated to early 1961, via a mention in Billboard within a list of records believed to have "limited sales potential". That assessment was no doubt accurate, but I really enjoy one side of the record, "Margie Now", which features some lyrics about the nicknames of a certain young woman. The words seem to assume we will understand what the changes in names indicate about her, but I admit to being clueless about this. But Roger Smith sure sells it, and the pedal steel sounds nice, too. 

There is a some truly awful damage to the record, at the 2:32 point, which is really peculiar, lasting essentially two rotations of the disc, and barely visible at all on the record itself. It plays right through, though. 


I cannot work up much (or any) enthusiasm for the flip side, "Aloha, Miss Hawaii", but it would have been quite topical at the time, given that this record was produced less than 18 months after our 50th state joined the union, and the lyrics are serviceable enough. Like the flip side, this record sounds, to me, very much as if it came from the early days of the Globe song-poem factory. 


Thursday, June 07, 2018

Rod Rogers on Lane Records!

Lane Records - apparently the property o f George E. Clements - appears to have been among the tiniest of tiny labels. The AS/PMA website only confirms two releases, numbers 101 and 102, and it seems unlikely that there were many more releases, if any. 

The other (known) release on the label appears to have featured the work of singers/song-poem factories associated with several labels, but # 102, which I was lucky enough to acquire a few weeks ago, features Rodd Keith, in his guise of Rod Rogers, and his Film City sound, thanks to the Chamberlin. 

On "Such a Love", my choice for the better of the two sides, Rodd chose a frequent favorite of his, a shuffling pop beat, along with some atmospheric flute accompaniments, and the whole concoction bounces along quite nicely - there's a nice, thickly chorded solo, and I'm particularly fond of the flute coda. 


The flip side, "Gone With Your Goodbye", is more in the ponderous MOR style that Rodd often favored for some of the more introspective or longing lyrics that he was given to work with. It's not a favorite style of mine, but it's nearly always impressive to hear what he was able to do with the Chamberlin, and beyond that, perhaps some of you out there find more to enjoy in it than I do. 


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sammy is Such a Sandy Singer

It's been quite a while since I offered up a slice of Sammy Marshall - four months, it seems. That's understandable, I guess - while I love some of his records, the majority of them are quite "samey" and in a style that doesn't make "Samey" work. But here he is, early in his career (1962, per the song-poem database website), on the tiny Arco label. I know that label is very difficult to read, but here he is operating under the name "Sandy Singer".

In this case, he's doing one of his patented, peppy, early '60's, twist style numbers, in this case, one called "A Little Bit Early".

Download: Sandy Singer (Sammy Marshall) - A Little Bit Early

The flip side has pretty much the same beat and feel, with the addition of some stereotypical Native American drumbeats and sounds, as well as equally stereotypical lyrics referring to the same population. These aspects are pretty standard issue for the era, while and not so acceptable today. It's a story of a love affair between the singer and an Indian beauty, called "Oklahoma City, Okla".

Download: Sandy Singer (Sammy Marshall) - Oklahoma City, Okla

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dick is a Real Pro

Howdy, everyone,
First, I wanted to thank everyone for their recent comments. I would like to point you to Darryl Bullock's suggestion that on the "Carof on the Boys" post from last month, the singer might be Rodd Keith (who did record on that label). I'm not sure I'm hearing it, but I'm not sure I'm not, either. Thanks to Stu Shea for more information about Mando Guitars, too - it seems the group chose its name completely separate from the actual instrument of that name, which didn't exist at the time.
I particularly want to acknowledge Sammy Reed, who has identified the release date and some other information regarding my last few posts. But even more so, I want to point to you Sammy's own site, where he has posted nearly three dozen song-poems, primarily ones from this site which were lost in the Divshare meltdown a few years ago.
I do intend to fix those posts - and maybe this will push me to do so (I took several down about a year ago, intending to fix them) - but in the meantime, and that may be a long meantime, you can find a bunch of them here.
And now, back to the countdown:

From 1975 comes a set of two soul-pop entries, featuring the unmistakable voice of Dick Kent. It is a song-poem truism - to use the phrase of another collector - that for those labels that did try to copy trends in pop music, they always seemed to be 2-4 years behind those trends. So it is with this record, both sides of which feature musical sounds which strike me as being very 1971-72 in nature.

"Springtime Blues" is pressed a little bit off center, giving it a minutely wobbly effect, a fun feature for a song which literally mentions singing out of tune. The song-poet did not provide anywhere near enough lyrics for a 150 second single, so we are treated to a lengthy band instrumental (over 50 of those seconds), featuring electric piano and (buried) wailing guitar, and then a repeat of the first verse!

Download: The Real Pros - Springtime Blues

On the flipside is another midtempo shuffle, one which even more strongly sounds like 1971 to me, especially in the drumming and piano playing. This side is generally put together better than "Springtime Blues", and the lyrics certainly have more meat. If it wasn't for the ultra-cheesy synths, I could absolutely believe someone could find this record, and believe it was a failed attempt to make a hit record in the early '70's. Not a very good one, but it does have that sound, which is not really something I find myself saying, all that often.

Download: The Real Pros - Don't You Know I Love You

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

A May Treat - A Full Song-Poem Album, Courtesy of Iris Tipton

As I've alluded to, perhaps a bit too often, actually, I've not exactly been providing a song-poem record "a week", more like a song-poem record every ten days. As a bit of an apology for that, and a reward for sticking with me, today I have an entire song-poem album for you. This was produced by Iris Tipton, a prolific song-poet, using 12 song-poems she commissioned from two song-poem factories, and titled, most catchily, "Let's Go Country with Iris Tipton, et al" (or, "Country Style" if you prefer what's on the record label itself), released on her own Iris label. 
Iris Tipton wrote the all-time classic song-poems "I Spent My Last Three Dollars On an Irish Sweepstake Ticket, and "In God We Trust", both of them high up on my list of favorite records (song-poem or otherwise) and the latter of which was the song with which I kicked off the "song-poem of the week project, way back when. On this album, she co-wrote all the songs on side one with another prolific song-poet, John W. Stephenson (who also had his own label, Cowtown).
Sorry about the crappy sound in advance - it doesn't appear to be my turntable/needle, as I tried a few times on two of them to get it to play better. I think it's just the pressing, but if I can get it to play better, I will replace the files. 

As I have done before with full albums, I have not separated out the tracks, but rather, have side one and side two for you dining and dancing pleasure. The performers on side one are the rarely documented Johnny Gatlin (who I'm guessing, from the sound of him, was working with the Globe song-poem factory) and the quite well known Cara Stewart (with, of course, the Lee Hudson sound). One may discern a sameness about the melodies of some of the Johnny Gatlin songs. I don't know about you, but it is with great relief and great enjoyment that the final song, featuring the incomparable voice of Cara Stewart, breaks the tedium, even if "physique" is hardly a song that belongs in a sultry love song. The credits listed for the six short songs (the whole side is 13 minutes long) can be viewed from the label, below the links.

Download: Various Artists - Iris Tipton's Let's Go Country", Side One

Side two continues with Cara Stewart, happily heard on four of the six, slightly longer tunes (this is a 16 minute side), and joined for the first two, by the previously unknown Gary Williams, who clearly was also from the Lee Hudson song-poem outfit. The subject matter and lyrics to "I Selected Your Picture" make that one a standout. Even with that, I can't help but smile, again, when Cara returns, although her first song on side two, "I Want To Lock You Up Inside My Heart", has some of the most insipid lyrics I've ever heard.

Download: Various Artists - Iris Tipton's Let's Go Country", Side Two

Here's that back cover:

And here's the address on that back cover, 4709 Beethoven Street in Los Angeles

Monday, April 30, 2018

Something a Bit Different from Tin Pan Alley


As I wrote on my other blog, and reiterate today, time is simply getting away from me this month. So just a relative few words about this week's posting (very few about the second side), and then they can speak for themselves.

I bought this record last week, and wanted to get it right up here because it's so unusual. For one thing, neither artist seems to show up on any other song-poem 45. For another thing, one side is an instrumental, something you rarely see on a song-poem. It's certainly possible that "Carment Y Laura Waltz" by The Mandoguitars is a vanity release - a completed recording which someone paid Tin Pan Alley to release. But (and I may be missing something) I'm not aware of TPA doing vanity releases. But there are a handful of other records from this era of the label (1958-59) which also feature otherwise unknown names, so it's possible. But regardless of its parenthood, it's an interesting listen, and something that seems to be virtually unique among TPA releases.

Download: The Mandoguitars - Carmen Y Laura Waltz

Okay, raise your hands, how many of you even knew a Mando-Guitar was a thing. I didn't.

The flip side, featuring the equally otherwise unknown Frank Villani with "My Little Valentine" couldn't more clearly be a song-poem - and a fairly awful one at that, if it came stamped with "I am a song-poem" on the label.

Download: Frank Villani: My Little Valentine

Monday, April 16, 2018

Carof and the Boys with a Folk-Song-Poem Single

I have a rather unusual release for you today, unusual for a few different reasons.

The record was released on the Inner-Glo label, a label which existed primarily for the purpose of housing songs written by Edith Hopkins. Edith Hopkins may be my favorite writer from the song-poem world, having written more than a half-dozen songs that I really love.

At some point, Ms. Hopkins may a go of it as an actual, prospective writer of hit songs, and a few non-song-poem (although not successful) artists recorded her work on the Carellen label, which seems to (maybe) have been a legit/song-poem hybrid. 

At some point, however, she moved on to her own Inner-Glo label. And many, if not most, of the records I've heard and seen on Inner-Glo came from the Globe song-poem factory, with such stalwarts as Sammy Marshall and Kris Arden. And they tend to sound very much like Globe releases, even when they are far above average, as with Sammy's great double-A side "I'll Do It For You" / "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained".

The story behind today's record, though, is not so clear, and I find it kind of fascinating. First, there is the artist credit, to "David, Paul and Carof". I've done some searches just now, and I can't find any reference to "Carof" being a first name. It also appears that this record (from 1964) is the only one ever released bearing this artist credit.

And on top of that, the song's genre is one rarely heard on song-poem records - folk music, very much in the relatively simple vein of Peter, Paul and Mary or the Kingston Trio (although not in the wheelhouse of the more adept and musically excellent groups such as The Weavers, The Limeliters or The Chad Mitchell Trio). I can barely think of another song-poem that sounds quite like this.

The song on this side is by far the better of the two, to my ears, "The Love of a Woman" (although I wish they'd bothered to get all the instruments in tune with each other), and yes, the record really does end like that.

Download: David, Paul and Carof - The Love of a Woman

The flip side is the more musically complex "A Rose Can't Grow", but it's also quite a bit more ponderous, and is the sort of thing that often tries my patience, despite my being a huge fan of the music of the folk revival of this era. It sounds to me like the vocal gymnastics required by the arrangement are a bit beyond these guys.

Download: David, Paul and Carof - A Rose Can't Grow

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Little Jeannie Greer

As I've written before, posting songs from the Fable Label poses an interesting dilemma. Most of the songs on the label were probably not song-poems, but a good percentage of them seem to have been vanity releases. And when a likely vanity release is sung by someone other than the song-writer, that seems like at the very least a hybrid vanity/song-poem release.

Such is the case - and I'm guessing here - with today's feature. Lysle Tomerlin had several songs released on Fable, and wrote at least one South-Pacific-Themed song which was recorded and released by an established artist. Aside from that song, though, everything seems to have been on Fable, making me suspect these as vanity records.

Today's 45 - from 1955 - features two Western Swing flavored numbers, featuring a singer identified as "Little Jeannie Greer". She does sound young, although not necessarily like a child. Perhaps she was a teen, or perhaps she was short in stature. I find her singing a bit on the amateur side, but very engaging and sweet, and the backing is just lovely. Here's one side of the single, "Slyly":

Download: Little Jeannie Greer - Slyly

The flip side has the unwieldy title of "Who, What Where, When, How and Why". That title comes out sounding just as clunky and difficult to sing as you'd imagine, and the song is not as well put together as is "Slyly". But the performance is nearly as fun, cute and memorable as the one on the flip side:

Download: Little Jeannie Greer - Who, What Where, When, How and Why

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Caveman, Christ and the Drifter

Today, we have a 1964 single on the tiny Caveman label, featuring two singers I've never featured before. in fact, I've never owned records by them before, and they barely turn up among the documented song-poem releases. First up, and just in time for Easter, is Drake Morgan with "The Christ Story". The most curious thing about this song, to me, is that lyricist Ned Williams (who wrote the words for both sides of this record) seemingly had no issue with lifting the words directly out of the hit song "The Three Bells", and nonsensically suggesting that they were spoken by The Three Wise Men (that'd be a good trick, since those lyrics reference The Lord's Prayer, which wasn't spoken by Jesus until adulthood, to say nothing of the fact that they also refer to the singers of those words as being a "congregation").

The rest of the song is a sort of "The Gospels' Greatest Hits"; quick summaries of a few high points, captured in fairly clunky verse, at least when set to this particular music. One wonders (well I wonder) if the writer of this lyric was of the fundamentalist persuasion, and if so, if he objected to the song's release on a label named after Cavemen, something that such a person would presumably believe never existed.

Download: Drake Morgan - The Christ Story

More fun by far is the flip side, "The Drifter", subtitled "(Western Opera)" and warbled for us by Monty Mathis (perhaps Johnny's less successful brother?). I actually find this one fairly catchy, perhaps because it is, at certain moments, very reminiscent of a very memorable song, "The Last Round-Up", which was originally a hit in 1933. Anyway, this bounces along with a warm, well played western-type backing track, and Monty does what's needed. The lyrics are engaging and the melody sells itself, too. I dig it.

Download: Monty Mathis - The Drifter (Western Opera)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Rockin' Rod and Big Jo

Today, a very special number from our friends at Air Records. Air seems to have been a community war-horse for the song-poem factories. I don't really understand how this worked, but material from multiple companies - including at least four or five of the large ones - ended up being released on Air, as often as not with two different companies' product showing up on the two sides of the single.
On one side of this record, we have Rodd Keith, not just in his Film City guise as Rod Rogers, but in this case as "Rockin' Rod Rogers", which sounds much more exciting. And a lovely example of his work it is, too. The sad saga about Rod's lost love, "Big Jo", lopes along over a thick Chamberlin arrangement, complete with a sweet, if simple, solo.
On the flip side is a song by Nancy Sherman. She pops up here and there on about a half-dozen song-poem singles, all on the smaller labels, aside from Air. I featured her once before, on a much better track than this one. This track "I Believe You", sounds like it might have come from the Globe song-poem factory, but I'm really not sure. It's fairly non-descript, except for the bridges, where it briefly crosses over into torch song territory.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

"I'm As Good As You Think You Are..."

Howdy, everyone, 

I first want to thank Sammy Reed for calling my attention to the fact that sometimes, if you click on comments, or post a comment or next page, a spam ad is popping up in a new screen. I was unaware of this, and it seems to be a new problem. I tried three browsers, and it only happened to me when using Internet Explorer. 

I apologize for this, but don't know what has changed or how to fix it. If anyone has a suggestion, I'll be happy to hear it and try it. 

And now....

Can it really be four years (almost to the week!) since I've featured Gary Roberts. I guess it's because I just don't have that many of his records, because those I do have are almost uniformly ridiculous (in myriad ways) to be featured here.

Today we have a poem praising the idea of brotherhood, and suggesting the practice of believe in brotherhood far and wide. The song-poet makes a few key errors in writing a song about brotherhood, starting with the use of snark - as in the line quoted at the top of this post "I"m as good as you think you are" - which is not likely to encourage an outpouring of understanding. That pales in comparison, however, with the big payoff to the chorus, where it becomes clear that we should also treat each others as brothers and as equal, as long as everyone involved is.... Christian. That strikes me as a wee bit hypocritical.

Download: Gary Roberts - Brotherhood

For the flip side, the awkwardly titled "It's Because I Love Just You", the folks at Sterling made a perfect choice. Since the lyrics are so derivative and unimaginative, why not pair them with an unoriginal setting. Hence, they took the chords, tempo and nearly the melody from "Gentle On My Mind" for the first half of each verse, and then changed the rest, perhaps hoping not to get sued.

Download: Gary Roberts - It's Because I Love Just You