Here’s a wonderful little oddity I found on eBay recently and felt compelled to share with you.
There’s something wonderfully engaging about Ellen Marty’s recordings: she doesn’t have a great voice (well, not by classical standards), and often sounds as if she’s about to slit her wrists. Her lyrics are, at times, distinctly peculiar, but I actually find her rather charming. I’m almost loath to include her here at the World’s Worst Records, but if I didn’t how would you get to discover her charms for yourselves?
Ellen recorded intermittently, both under her own name and as Buttons, the nom de plume she affects here. There are at least three Buttons 45s on the Rain Coat label and several others under Ellen’s own name on Raincoat; Rain Coat and Raincoat are the same company, owned by Joe Leahy. Leahy, a bandleader, arranger, writer and producer, had previously headed Unique Records (later known as RKO/Unique, the same outfit that put out Leona Anderson’s mighty Music to Suffer By) where he had produced 14 year-old Priscilla Wright’s first hit The Man in the Raincoat…hence the name he chose for his company. Ellen also recorded an album, Mixing and Making, for her own Marty Records. That album included a cover of the Man in the Raincoat (retitled Man in a Raincoat), which was later issued as a 45 (catalogue 601) on both Raincoat and Marty records under its correct title. Confused? Ellen issued the 45 Bobby Died Today which, unsurprisingly, has nothing to do with the death of Bobby Kennedy. There are no dates on any of these releases, but most appear to have been issued in the early 60s.
The 45 I’ve chosen here – A Petal a Day/Baby Blue Eyes – is a fine example of her slightly off-kilter world. I love the B-side, with its wailing police sirens and jaunty tack piano accompaniment, and the little giggle in Ellen’s voice towards the end is a real winner. The more subdued plug side, A Petal a Day, is a miserable little ditty about unrequited love whose lyrics clash ridiculously with the jolly backing track. It’s downright odd, and much more worthy of inclusion here: it’s just not as much fun as side two.