Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Cavalcade 2014 (Part Three)

There’s less than a week to go to the big day and, as we’re speeding towards Christmas, I thought I’d better give you a few more nativity nasties to listen to.

The first track today continues the World’s Worst Records’ proud history of bringing you Christmassy novelties by convicted sex criminals to whit the second, highly obscure, single by Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks, aka Radio One DJ Paul Burnett and the sexual predator who once rejoiced in the nickname of the Hairy Monster, Dave Lee Travis.

In September Travis was given a suspended sentence of three months for indecently assaulting a woman in 1995. The 69-year-old had been found guilty of attacking a researcher who was working on BBC TV's Mrs Merton Show. He had already been cleared of 14 other charges. The former Top of the Pops presenter cornered the woman in the corridor of a television studio where she was smoking, commenting on her “poor little lungs” before squeezing her breasts. Delightful.

Live at the Blue Boar, the follow-up to Laurie Lingo’s huge hit Convoy GB, was originally backed by an instrumental disco version of Good King Wenceslas (which is not included here – it’s fairly pointless). It failed to chart.

Next up is the horrid Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas) by the late John Denver. Please Daddy… is the tale of a seven-year-old boy who pleads with his father to try his best not to pass out under the Christmas Tree. Denver, better known for Annie's Song, recorded Please Daddy… in 1975 for his album Rocky Mountain Christmas. There can’t be many festive songs that feature the lyrics

You came home at a quarter past eleven
Fell down underneath our Christmas tree
Please Daddy, don't get drunk this Christmas
I don't wanna see my Momma cry

In a deliciously ironic twist, Denver himself was charged with driving under the influence in 1994. He slammed his Porsche into a tree after “tossing back Scotch like lemonade,” as one witness put it. As it was his second alcohol-related smash in the Porsche in 12 months he could have gone to jail, but the judge let him off with a suspended sentence and community service. Denver died three years later when the plane he was piloting crashed into Monterey Bay, California. He should not have been flying: although he had only recently purchased the plane Denver's medical certificate had been revoked in 1996 as he had failed to abstain from alcohol after his drink-drive arrests, effectively banning him from the cockpit.

Today’s third and fourth tracks - the appalling Christmas Conga and the risqué Minnie and Santa - come from Cyndi Lauper. Yes: honestly. These pieces of garbage are taken from her album Merry Christmas, Have a Nice Life! – an unmitigated flop which reportedly only sold 26,000 copies. With lyrics like this:

Come on and hold my hips a little longer
As we do the Christmas conga
Bonga, bonga, bonga! Do the Christmas conga!

…is that any surprise? Story has it that much of the album was recorded in a closet in Cyndi’s home. If the quality of the music track on Minnie and Santa is anything to judge by it may as well have been recorded in a dustbin.

Today’s final song is the wonderfully curmudgeonly The Man That Slits the Turkeys’ Throats at Christmas by Scottish folk-singer and songwriter Robin Laing. It is taken from the ‘alternative’ Christmas collection Bah Humbug, issued in 2002 by Greentrax, Scotland’s leading traditional music label. Laing began his recording career in 1989 with the album Edinburgh Skyline: he has also authored several books on whisky.

Ho, ho, ho...who'd be a turkey at Christmas? Enjoy!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Metal Knight

For the last three years Christopher Lee – yes, that Christopher Lee – has been issuing an annual, heavy metal Christmas single. His latest – Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing (a death metal take on Hark, the Herald Angels Sing) was released earlier this week and is available now from all of the usual download sites. He’s also issued a brace of metal albums Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, which was arranged by Richie Faulkner, the lead guitarist of Judas Priest, Charlemagne: The Omens of Death – and mini-album Metal Knight.   

Actor Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CStJ, (May 27, 1922) became best known for his role as Count Dracula in a string of Hammer Horror films; other notable roles include Lord Summerisle in the British horror film The Wicker Man (1973), Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies, and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He was knighted for services to drama and charity in 2009, received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2011 and the BFI Fellowship in 2013. He was honoured with the Spirit of Metal award in the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden God awards ceremony.

To be honest the most recent single, and last year’s Heavy Metal Christmas Too aren’t that bad. However the first release (Heavy Metal Christmas) is diabolically awful, and I feel fully justified in bringing you this huge Christmas turkey today.

The two songs – Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night ­– are staggeringly bad: Lee, 90 at the time of recording, sings the carols in a fairly straight, if bombastic, manner but the musical accompaniment slathered over the top is ridiculous and more often than not completely out of time. It makes for painful listening.

More to come; but for now, enjoy!



Tuesday, 9 December 2014

(Non) Christmas Greetings from Canada

It’s never happened before but I guess it was inevitable that, one day, someone would approach me and ask for their record to be included on The World’s Worst Records blog.

Such an occurrence took place last week and I was, quite naturally, intrigued. I had intended to post nothing but Christmas-themed records during December but I think that The Last Few Days, the debut album by a young Canadian artist by the name of Cody Robertson, deserves your attention – hence this extra post. Oh, and he’s crowdfunding his next project and you’ve only got until December 23 if you want to get involved.

I’ll let Cody tell you his story himself: “I finished The Last Few Days in 2008, when I was just starting high school. Some of the songs are about experiences, dreams or jokes that I found interesting at the time. Some of the songs are not about any real events at all because, as a young person without a wide selection of life experiences to sing about, sometimes I would just sing silly songs or sing more ‘serious’ songs about experiences that I hadn't really had.”

Cody is a prime example of what Irwin Chusid would call an ‘outsider’ musician: he’s a young man with limited musical experience but who has something he wants to express. There’s lots to enjoy in the world of outsider music – and I’d certainly include acts like The Shaggs in that list – but there’s also a lot that troubles me. Many so-called outsider musicians are people who have serious mental health issues (Wildman Fischer and Jerry Solomon, for example), and there is a dichotomy at the heart of what many accept as outsider music. Clearly it’s perfectly alright to enjoy music by people whose creativity stems from their own experience (however uncomfortable those experiences are for the average listener), but it’s not acceptable to laugh at a ‘funny’ record that has been produced by someone who has health issues. Unless they intended that record to be humorous, of course.

Anyway, back to Cody: “I enjoy some of the work I did on the album, but a lot of the production, timing and singing makes me cringe. Almost every song I made got a place on the album, whereas many talented artists will make a lot of music and then choose only the best for their albums. Any album I complete represents quite an accomplishment for me because I am prone to procrastination and have a love of dreaming up and planning projects, but not finishing them.” I really like Cody’s honesty: as a teenager I would often dream up ideas for songs and I write a whole bunch of awful tunes which embarrass me to this day. Luckily very few people have heard them. 

“In the six years since I released The Last Few Days I feel that I've grown as a person and as a musician,” Cody tells me, admitting candidly that being a musician “is certainly not my full time job. I think my next album shows a marked improvement over it. The songs are more genuine and I took more care when producing them. If I get around to it, I hope my next album after that will be better yet.”

I like Cody, and I genuinely like The Last Few Days. True, in places it is pretty cheesy, but he was just a teenager when he put this out, and I’d rather the naïve honesty and joy of a song like Brittany than any of the detestable output of a million other little teenage snots. Seriously: wouldn’t you rather listen to Cody’s Happy Song – which contains the brilliant line ‘I would tell the truth but it’s not really true’ and could easily be a They Might Be Giants outtake than the hateful Video Games by the Black Out Band? The album’s failings are also its charms: his voice is off key and the instrumentation on a couple of tracks is out of sync, but some of the songs are really creative – this is far from awful. Yes, the keyboard part to Untitled is almost a direct steal from Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, but if you’re going to plagiarise something you could do a lot worse - and I suspect it’s purely co-incidental (incidentally, I originally misread this as Untitled: pleasingly the song is called Untilted because Cody himself once misread the same word!) Yes, it sounds exactly like it was recorded in a bedroom – but so was Your Woman by White Town, and that was a massive hit. I laughed out loud at several points when listening to Hookfoot: I think you will too. ‘Your foot is a hook and you always fall down/And it’s funny’. It is.

If you go to http://codyrobertson.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-few-days you can download the whole album. Chuck him a couple of dollars while you’re there: he deserves it. He tells me that he’s only sold a bout 20 physical copies of the CD, and most of those were to family and friends. I hope those 20 people appreciate it.

Cody’s next album, Midsized Eras, is out in early 2015. He’s releasing it under the name Optional because he wants to distance himself from his older music, which I understand but I think it’s a shame. “I am trying to get it into the hands of people who are interested in it by doing a crowdfunding campaign,” he explains. “The main focus is selling 100 CDs for $1 each with free shipping.” You can find out more about Midsized Eras – and hear three songs from the project – at http://optionalsongs.bandcamp.com and preorder your CD there (you can, if you choose, pay more than a dollar).

“Making music is a hobby for me,” Cody tells me. “It's something that I love doing, but I would be more encouraged to keep making it if I knew that a few other people actually enjoyed it. I can always make it available for free download and hope someone finds it, but getting some CDs in to people's hands means more to me. I hope the campaign will generate enough interest to connect my music with those who find it interesting. We shall see!”

Good luck Cody: I’ve already ordered my copy. Why not have a listen to a couple of tracks, then go to http://codyrobertson.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-few-days and grab the whole album?

Enjoy!



Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas Cavalcade 2014 (Part One)

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s December which, of course, means it’s time for things to get a little Christmassy here at the World’s Worst Records. Today I bring you a trio of terrible tracks: as In previous years I’ll be providing you with a grab-bag of seasonal clunkers in the run up to Christmas Day, hopefully enough to allow you to compile your very own Christmas Hate List.

Released by a studio act under the name Santa’s Pixie Helpers – but sounding an awful lot like David Seville’s Chipmunks – The Animal’s Christmas Song backed with The Christmas Song was issued by PRI records, a division of Precision Radiation Instruments Inc. PRI were better known as a Geiger counter and radio equipment manufacturer and would enter the record business by merging with Tops Records – the company that produced soundalike covers of hits of the day (rather like an American version of the old Woolworth’s Embassy label) in 1958. The company went bankrupt in the mid 60s and their assets were sold to Pickwick International. This brace of tracks also appeared on the 1959 TOPS label album Sing Along With Santa's Helpers. My own copy of this 45 is a white label promo: some (not mine: I swiped this one from the 'net) appeared in a very rare picture sleeve, featuring the lyrics to the songs.

The third track today is by our old friend Lorene Mann – the woman who issued the dreadful pro-life horror Hide My Sin (A-b-o-r-t-i-o-n N-e-w Y-o-r-k). Today Lorene entertains us with the wonderfully non-PC Indian Santa Claus, written and released just in time for Christmas 1970, a tale of how native Americans were planning to scalp the evil white invaders as they lay in their beds awaiting the arrival of Father Christmas, but how they decide instead to give up their birthright for a few strips of leather presented by a Navajo Pere Noel. Tennessee-born tunesmith Mann, who died in May 2013 ages 76, moved to Nashville at the age of 19 to pursue a songwriting career, going on to pen songs for stars such including Kitty Wells and Skeeter Davis. She signed to RCA Records in 1964 and worked with Justin Tubb before carving out a solo career for herself. The singer, who co-founded the Nashville Songwriters Association International, was also an actress – appearing in the dreadful 1975 Burt Reynolds film W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings - and in 2011 she won the Maggie Cavender Award, in recognition of her ‘extraordinary service to the songwriting community’.

Enjoy!



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Friday, 28 November 2014

Wacko Jacko


Welcome to the final ‘proper’ WWR post of 2014: next week we will commence our annual Christmas Cavalcade (and I’ve got some real horrors lined up for you) but for now we’re going to visit the career of one of the biggest stars of all time. Well, sort of.

To ‘celebrate’ the release of even more scrapings from the bottom of the Queen barrel (or the official issue of the Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury/Queen duet There Must be More to Life Than This if you prefer) we’re going to have a quick butcher’s at a few of the low spots in the King of Pop's oeuvre.


Jackson was one of the most creative people in pop music; he was also a total nutjob. He recorded some truly remarkable records but, like most artists who allow their egos to run rampant, he was not always on the ball, quality control-wise. Have a listen to The Girl is Mine, the first of the three – seriously, three – duets he recorded with Paul McCartney. The horrendous spoken tag (including the infamous I’m a lover, not a fighter line) is enough to make anyone puke. Written by Jackson and produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones, The Girl is Mine was released as the first single from Jackson's mega hit Thriller album. Jackson and McCartney would go on to record the duets Say Say Say and The Man for McCartney’s 1983 album Pipes of Peace. Although it was released as a single, Jackson never performed the song live - I wonder why? 


This dull duet peaked at Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100 and Number Eight in the UK. In 2008 one –man ego factory Will.i.am remixed The Girl Is Mine, thankfully wiping McCartney’s dire vocals, adding his own and slathering the whole thing with a new drum track. Unfortunately it was no better than the original.


Jackson had real form when it came to performing with others. Admittedly he got it right occasionally, but more often than not his duets are simply dreadful.  A full decade after his recordings with McCartney he decided to add his vocal chops to a track from Eddie Murphy’s third album Love’s Alright: Watzupwitu. Voted by MTV viewers in 1999 as the third worst music video of all time, not even Jackson’s performance could compensate for Murphy’s shortcomings as a singer. Michael would, of course, revisit the thin eco message of the song’s pathetic lyrics in Earth Song. Murphy's album also included covers of songs by U2 and the Beatles and featured Paul McCartney amongst a number of stellar guest artists. I'm sensing a pattern here.


To round off today’s post a couple of Michael-related tracks. First up is When the Rain Begins to Fall, a rubbish slice of hi-NRG Europop by Michael’s brother Jermaine and failed actress turned singer Pia Zadora. This piece of drivel was – perhaps unsurprisingly – a huge hit in Europe, reaching Number One in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and Number Two in Switzerland and Austria.

Taken from the dismal 1984 movie Voyage of the Rock Aliens, When the Rain Begins to Fall was written by Peggy March (who, as Little Peggy March, had enjoyed a Number One hit of her own in the US in 1963 with I Will Follow Him), Michael Bradley and Steve Wittmack. Zadora remains best known for her first two film roles, in the 1964 kiddie flopperoo Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and the 1982 sexploitation mess Butterfly - that's the film that focusses on an incestuous relationship between Zadora and Stacy Keach and includes a cameo from Orson Welles as a scenery-chewing judge.

Finally for this month and for this year (bar next month’s Christmassy countdown) here’s the cheesy novelty I'm in Love with Michael Jackson's Answerphone by Julie (sometimes credited as Julie B). Co-written and produced by Biddu – the man behind a bunch of UK hit singles in the 70s including Action Speaks Louder Than Words, Kung Fu Fighting, Now Is the Time and I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance) – this October 1984 single rips off several MJ themes (most notably Billie Jean, Beat It and Don't Stop Til You Get Enough) but even so was a miserable flop. With its whiny teenage vocals, cheap and dated keybord and drum machine sounds and a pathetic Michael impersonator to boot what's not to love?


Enjoy!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Oh Mother!

I've featured several Spanish acts here previously - including Los Punk Rockers, the pseudo-punk group who covered the entire Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks note for note, and the flamboyant, cross-dressing disco dunce Josmar Gerona - but until now I've not featured today's act, Jose Angel.

And I've ignored Joe principally because I've been unable to track down any information about him. Although the song I feature here today is all over the internets the dozens of posts, YouTube videos and references all seem to stem from the same single copy of his solitary single - the heart-warming ballad Mother I am a Gay Christian (Madre Soy Christiano Homosexual). 

Sounding like an outtake from an early Almodovar soundtrack – or the music to an 80s chocolate commercial – this 1979 single appears to be Jose’s one and only release. I've found his name attached to three other songs on MySpace, but of those there's only one that could possibly have any link - a song entitled No Te Modernices, performed by Juan Manuel but (possibly) written by our Jose.

Looking for all the world like legendary porn star Ron Jeremy (sans his famous moustache), in Hawaiian shirt, white slacks and brown loafers, Jose's song is a cry for acceptance, one that - I guess - will resonate with many men who struggle to balance their personal lives with their sexuality and their religious beliefs:

Mother, do not be sad, face of the Virgin,
I'm here for you
Mother, go ahead, You do not have fear

I am not a thief stealing hearts,
I have a heart, and it’s a good heart.
Who marginalises us is committing an error.

Mother, in my soul I feel a great pain,
For those who are marginalised without reason.
Mother, those who marginalise us, I think, sin against God

We think of the body and the soul
But I have a fragile heart,
Who marginalises us makes a error

Mother, I'm gay Christian,
It doesn’t matter that they’re whispering that I am a gay Christian.
Mother, I'm a gay Christian,
It matters more that I communicate,
Because I am a Christian homosexual

I mean, everyone, especially those who marginalise us,
We homosexuals are people like them, they will see.
We are not animals come from hell, we already carry a very large cross in life
So get over it; put that accusation behind us.
Think for a moment about the possibility of having a gay son.
My intention is not insulting, but I want you to accept me as a person.
So my song says: Mother, I am a Christian homosexual.

If it were not for the earnestness of his words I would have assumed that this was a spoof - perhaps something put together for a comedy show. the song has also turned up on the CD-only compilation La SANA Presenta Spanish Bizarro Volume 6. If anyone has any further info on Jose of his obscure disc please do let me know.

Enjoy!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Dolly Wow!


Here’s a fine example of how the world – even the part of the world we cherish for our children – has been ‘dumbed down’ over the years.

Pedigree Dolls & Toys created Sindy in 1963. A rival to Barbie, Sindy's wholesome look and range of fashions and accessories made the little plastic doll one of the best selling toys in the UK - in fact she was the best selling toy in both 1968 and 1970. After an unsuccessful attempt to introduce Sindy in the United States in the late 1970s, Sindy was remodelled to look more American – a move which resulted in a decline in popularity and a lawsuit from Barbie’s manufacturer Mattel for copyright infringement, which was only settled after the doll’s then-owner Hasbro agreed to remodel Sindy's face. During the 1990s, Barbie's share of the doll market continued to grow while Sindy's diminished, but she was relaunched in 1999 and again in 2003, in celebration of her 40th anniversary.

Issued in 1966 Sindy Meets the Dollybeats is a fun little pop record issued by the manufacturers of Britain’s answer to Barbie. Side one contains the story of how she got to meet her favourite band of all time – faux Liverpudlian accents, Mary, Mungo and Midge sound effects and all. Side two features a song written by Cliff Warwick, the leader of the fictitious Dollybeats, especially for the little vinyl girl. Dolly wow!

The sleeve is a gas too. The flip of the cover bears short biographies of each member of the Dollybeats, and here we discover that it is Terry Coombes and not Cliff Warwick who is the lead guitarist of the Dollybeats, as the narrator of the A-side would have us believe. We also find out that Cliff was a former student at a Liverpool art school (remind you of anyone?) and how ‘thrilled’ Sindy is with her song. It’s a wonderful time capsule of an innocent era.

A few years later it was a whole different story. Gone is the childlike excitement, replaced by the anodyne disco drivel of Everybody Boogie!/We’re Havin' a Party! By the videO Kids (note the capital O and K, as if it’s OK to like this crap) who, as far as I can ascertain, are in no way related to the ‘other’ Video Kids featured on this blog previously  Apparently this coupling comes from the ‘forthcoming album Let’s have a party – an all-star spectacular’. I’m not aware of the album ever being released, but the videO Kids did issue an album – You’re Never Too Young to Dance.

Apparently the videO Kids producers, Steve Gilston and Paul Lynton felt that the music industry was ignoring the pre-teens and aimed to give them something to dance to. Recording commenced in 1979; the 45 was given away free with certain Sindy dolls – it certainly was available inside the box of the Party Time Doll (circa 1981), and the success of the Sindy with a single lead to the release of the album You're Never Too Young to Dance in the same year. Peter Doyle – the former member of the New Seekers who sadly passed away in 2001 - sang lead on two of the tracks, and the album also features the talents of Sky/Blue Mink alumnus Herbie Flowers.

Enjoy!


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