Friday, 6 July 2012

What's It All About?

Mother, what’s this book about, with the dust upon the cover?
It says it’s called The Bible; it’s different from my other…

What a genius couplet to open a song with!

Yes, my friends today we drift back into song-poem country, specifically to that faraway land known as Ted Rosen's Halmark company and a recent acquisition for me, a four track EP stuffed with the usual Halmark trademarks: sloppy, nonsensical lyrics, overwrought performances, the complete lack of performer credits and those same old reused song beds. And today you get not one, not two but all four tracks! You can thank me later.

The first cut on the EP, What’s This Book About, Mother? From the wonderfully-monikered Norma L Champagne, is the pick of the bunch although, as is so often the case with Halmark releases, it’s all pretty damn good. That opening pair of lines aside I love Dodie Frost’s vocal performance on this – at least I assume its Dodie. As she was often inclined to do she cheats her way through the song by speaking rather than singing the majority of the lines, only breaking into song at the end. It’s an unusually long track too. No doubt if you listen carefully you’ll hear the point where the backing track had an extra minute spliced into it.

I can’t listen to the opening strains of the second track on this EP, God Let Us be Thankful by Bea Brooks, without hearing that old favourite My Daddy, He Died in 1969. Singers Jack and Mary Kimmell do their usual stalwart work on this dull slice of religious nonsense, and I particularly like the way Jack manages to shoehorn in that last phrase – ‘Let us get down on our knees and thank you for everything’ – after Mary had given up and moved on to (hopefully) better things.

A nice slice of bad song-poet country next. Teresa My Sweetheart of the Mountains, with words written by Frances Thayer writing about what sounds to me to have been an illicit lesbian affair. Assuming that this came out (if you’ll excuse the pun) in the late 60s or early 70s Frances was clearly a pioneer advocate for gay marriage. Either that or the sloppy staff at Halmark couldn’t spell Francis. I love the idiotic words which lead into the first bridge: ‘And I took her out to the movies, and the movies and the shows’. It must have been a busy (and expensive) courtship for the poor woman.

Last up is West Virginia Mines, by Iola Warth Conner. There’s not a lot to say about this one, although the organ and gospel choir add a nice touch and the lyrics are, as you’d expect, pretty third-rate. One thing worth noting is that these last two tracks are clearly by the same singer who performed I Lost My Girl to an Argentinian Cowboy (also on Halmark) which has long been credited to Bob Storm, Halmark’s most prolific male vocalist. However this is absolutely not Bob Storm: his voice is much richer, almost Sinatra-esque; listen to the song-poem demonstration disc I posted recently and compare for yourself. If it is indeed Bob Storm then something terrible must have happened to his voice. Personally I doubt it; Bob is the only member of the Halmark stable to have regularly received a performer credit on his releases and he’s not mentioned here. There was another male vocalist at Halmark, Georgie Starr, but as none of his recordings were ever credited we’ll probably never know if it is in fact him.



  1. "Daryl is a religiofobe..."
    Daryll is a religiofobe!"

  2. - only probably ?
    I`d insist on that title...

    Timmy, I bet if you`d make a record with these lyrics Darryl would be delighted to share it here at WWR. Well, probably.


    1. The 'phobe' bit would suggest that I'm scared of religion. I'm not, but I am scared of the way certain church leaders misuse their power and position. We're seeing a lot of that in the UK at the moment. It's very depressing


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