Saturday, 19 November 2011

Broken Face

A wonderfully pugnacious, mean spirited and misogynistic piece of pop from Norm Buns (this time accompanied by the Five Stars), the chief vocalist on the Sterling song-poem label during its golden years and the performer of such song-poem classics as The Human Breakdown of Absurdity, Black and I’m Proud, Darling You Make Me Angry and Set Your Date on Time.

There are a number of song-poem records about spousal abuse (My Husband, Lover, Friend by Bobbi Blake, for example, written by a stupid woman who forgave the asshole who beat her) but this particular track, Hard Head, is exceptionally vicious: “When I’m through with you the doctor’s will scream, your face will look like it’s been in the mixing machine….”, “I’ll strangle you”, “I’ll break up your nose” and so on. It reads like a check list for the Women’s Aid helpline; the fact that it comes all dressed up in a happy, country-lite sauce only serves to underline how little respect is shown (or at least used to be shown) to the victims of domestic violence.

The song is credited to Charles Storr (the man who obviously had issues with his Missus) and Lew Tobin, the Boston-based song-poem veteran who set up Sterling records and also ran the Five Star Music Masters demo facility. Lew’s song-poem empire was one of the longest-running of them all, having kept itself busy from the 1940s up until the 1990s soliciting lyrics from would-be songwriters with ads in magazines such as Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Billboard, Railroad Magazine and, later, Ebony. Tobin himself was active from the 1920s: he co-wrote a song called Lonesome Willie Blues, which was copyrighted in 1925, and he scored the music for an unknown number of songs for the song-poem sheet music company Nordyke in the 30s and 40s before establishing Five Star, Sterling and their various spinoffs. His wife, Shelley Stuart, was also a singer who appeared on a number of Lew’s releases, notably Yummy, Yummy Dum-Dum (recorded by Five Star for Delicks Records and the brilliantly-named album The 12 Most Unpopular Songs) and Vampire Husband.

It's just a shame it's so short: at a touch over 100 seconds long Hard Head  must beone of the shortest songs I've posted for you so far; but it;'s also one of the best. 



  1. Er, I can't seem to play or dl this likely horror...

  2. Going through some of my late mother's belongings, I found a few such songs. One was done by Lew Tobin in 1951 called "Make Believe". My mom wrote the lyrics and apparently sent it in. It was a short tune expressing how a soldier left his pillow at home, on which his sweetheart could dream of him. In return he would hold his rifle and pretend it was her. And that soon he would return to unpack their hope chest dreams.


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