Thursday, 3 July 2008

Sing it again, Sam


It's not often that I'm stuck for words, but honestly, this time the bon mot has well and truly escaped me.
This is an absolute pip; 12 tracks which Sam Sacks, the self-styled 'singer's singer' rattles through in just over 20 minutes, arguing with the sound engineer along the way and stopping occasionally to start over (without bothering to rewind the tape or begin a new 'take'). Posting just one track from this goldmine hardly seems appropriate. Go on, have the whole bloody album!
My favourite track, without doubt, is Sam's take on the old standard Yodel Blues - only Sam can't yodel. His 'diddly do, diddly do, diddly diddly diddly do' refrain has me rolling around on the floor in fits ever time I hear it. I also love the way he insists on introducing every song (Yodel Blues by Sam Sacks'; 'Old Man River by Sam Sacks' and so on); at the beginning of the second track, You Too, You Too, he has a little altercation with the sound engineer over this weird tick. Hysterical!
Unfortunately there's little or no info around on Sam; the sleeve notes are reverential (and idiotic) but tell us nothing about the man and his music. I'd guess it would be safe to assume this US-only release (on Arliss Records) would have come out around the same time (66-68) as the Mrs Miller/Tiny Tim phenomenon, but that's about as much as I can divulge - there's no date on the sleeve and no information available on the Arliss Record Corporation either.
Never mind; get clicky with that mouse and save (and savour) the genius that is Sam Sacks.

12 comments:

  1. Sam Sacks sucks!

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  2. Sam Sacks stinks stupendously!

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  3. your the best. I used to listen to this in the mid seventies and I've been trying ever since to find it, Pure Gold. Thanks so much for this wonderful treasure William Hund has nothing on this guy.

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  4. I've yet to listen to this album. I shall listen to it tomorrow in the car on my way into town. Hopefully, I will not have an accident.

    If I do, please bury me along with the cause of my misfortune...

    Mark L

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  5. Reviewed in Billboard the first of May 1961 (classified as comedy). I think this record was intended to be deliberately bad, no?

    Owner of Arliss Records was Robert Lissauer, later author of an Encyclopedia of Popular Music in America. Originally published in one volume by Paragon House in 1991, it was issued by Facts on File in an expanded three-volume edition in 1996.

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  6. Hi Bob,

    you are - of course - absolutely right. I go in to much more detail about the album - and about both Sam and Bob Lissauer - in my book. When I originally posted this (blimey, was it really six years ago?) I was not aware of the whole story behind the album, or that Sam actually performed live on at least one occasion!

    I still love it though!

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  7. I am holding an actual copy of this album which I bought on eBay. The record has burn marks on both sides so I have to return it. Bummed!

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    1. What a shame! Hopefully it wasn't too expensive. And hopefully you'll find another copy soon ;-)

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  8. Did anyone ever track down any biographical details on Mr Sacks?

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    1. Hi Michael. Yes: I devoted a whole chapter to Sam in my first book - still surprisingly available from Amazon! he was born in 1903, spent most of his life running a coin-op machine business (juke boxes, vending machines, that kind of thing), was married and had two sons. This was his only record; he gave one 'live' performance (as part of a charity dinner) in May 1961.

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    2. Thanks for the info Darryl - I actually found this chapter available on Google Books - and thumbing through it (as much as that can be done in a browser) has prompted me to put your book on my wish list. Great job tracking down those details. Old issues of 'Billboard' are also available at archive.org so I was able to see some small news items about him related to his business. Just why is this stuff so fascinating?!?! :-)

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  9. And PLEEEEASE let their be a bootleg tape of his one and only performance.. PLEASEEEEEE - I would sell my son to work in the coal mines...

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