Friday, 12 October 2018

They Call Me Mister Pollard

Now, here’s a peculiar little disc I can guarantee few of you will have heard before: it sold poorly, has not been included on any compilation of exotica (at least not one that I am aware of) and is not available on YouTube. At least I can remedy the latter.

Luckily April In Paris, and its flipside ‘S Wonderful, issued on the Pye subsidiary Piccadilly in 1962 by Mr. Pollard, did get a write up in the Daily Mirror and the Aberdeen Evening Express, so I have been able to piece together some info about both the disc and its performer.

Mr. Pollard was a women’s clothier whose business, S. B. Pollard Couture, was based in Mayfair, one of London’s most upmarket areas. “[It’s a] wholesale business, but I supply only the tip-top,” he confided to the Mirror’s Patrick Doncaster. Although Mr. Pollard was keen not to let too many skeletons out of his rather well-stocked closet (not even his age), he did allow Doncaster a brief peek into his past: “You can say that I am an ex-teenage Charleston champion of the Twenties.”

The Charleston craze hit London in 1925, and the first Charleston Ball took place at the Royal Albert Hall in 1926. If our Mr. Pollard was in his teens around this time, he would have had to have been somewhere between 49 and 55 when he made his first, and only, disc. According to the Aberdeen Evening Express Mr. Pollard had “reached a ‘dignified’ age” by the time his disc was issued.

“I think you’ll agree that the record is positively different,” Mr. Pollard told Doncaster. Apparently, he undertook his own market research before cutting the disc, visiting around 60 record stores in London to gauge reactions. Paid for out of his own pocket, he then took his tapes to Pye, who issued it in June 1962. It merited a brief mention in The Gramophone magazine, where Mr. Pollard was described as being “a gentleman with a sibilant bass voice that sounds like a cross between Whispering Jack Smith, Stanley Unwin and Popeye. He is accompanied by a strangulated trumpet and piping clarinet, with rhythm… I have an idea it might be meant as a macabre sort of joke on the lines of Jonathan and Darlene. Just for that, it’ll probably be a hit.” It wasn’t.

Incidentally, Whispering Jack Smith should not be confused with Whistling Jack Smith. Whispering Jack was an American-born baritone singer active from the 1920s through until the late 1940s, a popular radio and recording artist who occasionally also appeared in films. Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were a musical comedy double act developed by American conductor and arranger Paul Weston, and his wife, singer Jo Stafford.

I’m undecided on the true identity of Mr. Pollard. I can find no reference to his wholesale dress empire, nor any reference to Mr. Pollard himself outside of the three short articles I’ve found on the disc. In fact, if it were not for a small photograph of Mr. Pollard appearing alongside the Daily Mirror article, and the Aberdeen Evening Express confirming his Christian name as Sam, I could easily believe this was a spoof: it could easily be by, say, Lionel Bart and the Temperance Seven.

Still, here are both sides of Mr. Pollard’s “positively different” single.  As always, let me know if you have any other information.

Enjoy!

Download April HERE



Download Wonderful HERE 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

King Solomon's Mind

 Although I have been writing about music from outside the mainstream for more than ten years, making fun of the oddball and the obscure through this very blog, I have often felt uncomfortable about finding humour in what U.S. writer and DJ Irwin Chusid labelled ‘outsider music’. Although some outsider musicians – The Shaggs, for example – have found cult acceptance for their naïve musical meanderings, many of the artists whose work has found itself lumped into this loosest of genres have been battling with drink, drugs, and other demons. I find it hard to laugh at someone (say, Zappa protégé Wild Man Fischer) whose work so often and so clearly reflects their own mental health issues.

 So where does that leave legendary outsider musician Jerry Solomon?

Originally from San Diego, Jerry recorded several singles during the 1960s and issued three albums in the 1970s, all of which are completely insane; Jerry rambles, croons, hoots and shrieks through his material like a psychotic. Andy Kaufman was a fan, and Jerry made a brief cameo in the Jim Carry film about Kaufman, “Man on the Moon”. Very few copies of these albums exist, and so sought after are they that when they do come up for sale it’s usually for silly money.

U.S. company Sundazed Music/Modern Harmonic have just re-issued Jerry’s outsider magnum opus Past The 20th Century, as well as a double album compiling the vast majority of his rocking horse-shit rare 45s in one place for the very first time, Virginity For All. Sadly his first recording, Crying Over You, which he made as a teenager around 1959 or 1960, is the one missing chapter in the bizarre but absolutely essential collection. Keenly sought after by collectors, the complete Jerry Solomon discography – thirteen 7” singles, an EP and three albums issued on his own Sunlite and Fountain labels (the latter of which Jerry himself described as “probably the smallest record company in the world” and sold on the street, often with handcrafted sleeves - would previously have set you back several months’ wages.

According to Mike Ascherman, in the book Acid Archives, Jerry “sounds like a late ’50s vocals group from the Twilight Zone. His self-accompaniment consists of a repetitive one-chord (maybe two) guitar strum that predates Jandek and a toy piano that is ‘strummed’ and sounds like a lysergic zither from the Third Man soundtrack. The songs range from nostalgia for the earlier years of his life to total despair.”

Jerry’s recordings all sound as if they were knocked out in his bedroom, with him trying not to disturb his roommate – or perhaps his mother. In fact, many of Jerry’s early recordings were made at Ted Brinson’s Recording Studio in Los Angeles: from his garage, former bass player Brinson had recorded the doo-wop hit Earth Angel (by the Penguins) and had worked with Little Richard.  Jerry’s other albums, Through the Woods and Live at the Show Biz, were recorded on a portable cassette player, the former in his apartment… quite possibly in that bedroom.

In his 30s, Jerry – who had what he describes as “a phobia” about narcotics - was given a dangerous drug as a joke by a friend, a self-described junkie, and suffered brain and heart dysfunction. The happy-go-lucky man became paranoid and mentally impaired, and what followed was a decade-long battle with misdiagnosis, missing hospital records and mistreatment. He quite literally lost his mind. It would take him more than ten years to regain some of his former functions, nearer twenty to get back to what he feels is normality. Jerry’s book, A Drug Free Life and a Glass of PCP (revised and expanded as A Drug Free Life and a Glass of PCP Book Two), details his experience (as best he can recall it) in harrowing detail.

The odd thing is that almost all of Jerry’s recordings were made before he partook of that fateful drink.
He’s spent many years on the periphery of showbiz, appearing as an extra in a number of TV shows (including Barney Miller) and performing at stand up and open mic events around L.A. Now in his mid-70s, and pretty much fully recovered from his journey into the unknown, Jerry is still trying to carve a showbiz career for himself. He’s quite a character: a few years ago, he auditioned (unsuccessfully), for America’s Got Talent, singing a self-composed song about Viagra to the tune of O Sole Mio! He had his own cable show – a couple of uncomfortable-to-watch clips are on YouTube – he ran for Governor of California in the early 90's (and received a total of 12 votes), made appearances on The Gong Show and has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
To celebrate the re-release of these incredible records, Sundazed/Modern Harmonic have put out a short film, narrated by Jerry himself, about his wild career. It makes for fascinating viewing, and includes Jerry’s ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameos in Wayne’s World and Barney Miller. 

To buy Past The 20th Century and Virginity For All go to https://sundazed.com/jerry-solomon.aspx
Enjoy!

Friday, 5 October 2018

House!

It’s been a while since we had a song-poem, so here’s a pip from the dying days of the Preview label for you, starring Barbara Foster. Bingo and Just for You are two fairly predictable slices of Country cheese, until you scratch beneath the surface.

The A-side tells the story of a bored husband whose wife is always out with the girls playing housey housey. On the flip, the protagonist talks about painting their face, wearing a mini-dress and giving the family home an interior makeover to make it look like a bar. What makes this fascinating (well, to me at least) is that on the plug side Barbara is singing from a man’s point of view, and on side two from a woman’s. That’s not exactly unheard of, but in this day and age you could look at it another way. Was author Michael R. Guesman an early trans pioneer who was gently outing himself through his song lyrics? Is he going to put on make-up and a mini to please his man, after the bar-hopping jackass has come back from a night with his fag-hag girl pals playing bingo?

Of course not. I’m just pulling your proverbial.

What does make this interesting is that Michael R. Guesman was a musician who gained some small amount of fame on the Country scene, so how did he end up writing for Preview? My best guess is that he simply paid to have these songs cut for use as a demo and that he wrote both words and music, rather than sending his poems in to have Preview’s staff set them to a mediocre melody.

Born on 7 January 1935, in Carmichael, Pennsylvania, Michael Guesman served with an Air Force crash and rescue team during the Korean War. He married his wife, Rachel, in 1955 and moved to Warren, Ohio in 1969. They had seven kids, four boys and three girls. For ten years he worked for the Packard Electric Division of General Motors.

A noted guitar player, in 1965 he wrote the music to a song called Rena by George A. Cole. Other compositions include Lonely Room (1976), Go Home, Virginia and Please Mr. Jukebox in 1977, and 1978’s The Many Loves of Mary, and the brilliantly-titled Your Clown Left Town.

According to his local newspaper, The Vindicator, Michael “was recognized in 1980 by the Country Music Association and the Grand Ole Opry as a country music pioneer for his songwriting, and was invited to participate in the family reunion of country music artists at the 9th International Country Music Fanfare in Nashville.” I’m not quite sure what that means, as I can find no record of this event, but the International Country Music Fanfare is now part of CMA Fest, a four-day Country fan convention, which has been running annually since 1972.

Michael passed away, aged 66, at his home in April 2001.

Download Bingo HERE



Download Just HERE

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Moore is Less

Singing (or, in this case, emoting) actors… the gift that gives on giving.

Today I present for you both sides of Ivanhoe/the Saint/James Bond actor Roger Moore’s 1965 single Where Does Love Go, a slice of sickly schlock that should never have made it to the pressing plant.

The plug side was a cover of a Charles Boyer number which had been issued on an album of the same name earlier that year. The album was, apparently, a favourite with Elvis. God knows why, as Boyer’s version is almost as charmless as old Rogers. Interestingly the flipside - Tomorrow After Tomorrow - has the songwriters credited as Roger and Luisa Moore. Luisa was our boy’s third wife, only she wasn’t his third wife when the disc was released and would not become his third wife for another four years. For at the time that Where Does Love Go was issued, Roger was still married to singer Dorothy Squires.

Moore’s marriage to Squires was tempestuous, and he left her in 1961 to shack up Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. Squires refused to accept their separation and sued Moore for loss of conjugal rights, an archaic system often used in the days before divorce became commonplace, with the court demanding that Moore return to the marital bed within 28 days. Moore refused and continued to live with Mattioli, who gave birth to their daughter, Deborah, in 1963, and later gave Moore two sons, Geoffrey and Christian.

Squires also sued actor Kenneth More for libel, as More had introduced Mattioli at a charity event as Mrs. Roger Moore, and she smashed up a house in France where the couple were staying. What’s the phrase about a woman scorned? Squires finally granted him a divorce in 1969, after they had been separated for more than seven years. Moore married Mattioli, and they stayed together until 1993, when he left her for wife number four, Kiki Tholstrup, one of Luisa’s closest friends.

Where Does Love Go was Moore’s only attempt at pop immortality, although he had earlier narrated the story of Aladdin for British company Lantern who issued Disney-esque storybook-and-disc combos, and in 1959 contributed to a Warner Bros. Christmas album, reciting Once in Royal David’s City. Reviewed (briefly) in The Daily Mirror’s “Discs” column, on 25 November 1965, the paper’s Patrick Doncaster reckoned that “Roger Moore gets into the groove,” and that “he talks the words with enough charm to get the birds off to a record shop.” Lovely… and he was not talking about birds of the feathered variety, in case you wondered. It’s just horrible. I had to have a copy.

Where Does Love Go was not a hit in the UK, but it sold reasonably well in Holland when it was issued there the following February as, according to Cash Box, Moore’s “starring roles m the TV series of ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘The Saint’ have made quite an impact on Dutch viewers.” Please, no Moore! And shut that bloody bouzouki up!

Enjoy!

Download Where HERE


Download Tomorrow HERE


Friday, 28 September 2018

Wilde About Marty

The Dazzling All Night Rock Show… now that’s some name for a band.

Magnet Records was founded by Michael Levy (later Baron Levy) and songwriter Peter Shelley in 1973. A highly successful independent, the company is probably best known for hit singles by Alvin Stardust, Matchbox, Guys ‘n’ Dolls, Darts, Kissing the Pink, Bad Manners, Chris Rea, and Shelley himself, who scored with Gee Baby, Love Me, Love My Dog and who originated the character Alvin Stardust. The company also provided a home for some of the more grotesque audio excesses of one Jonathan King, including Lick A Smurp For Christmas, after the collapse of his own UK Records around 1976.

Shelley wrote, produced and sang Stardust’s hit My Coo Ca Choo, Magnet’s first single release, and he appeared as Stardust on the TV show Lift Off with Ayshea. However Shelly did not want to play Stardust (an amalgam of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Gene Vincent and early Brit rocker Vince Taylor) full time, and for all following TV appearances the character was played by former hitmaker Shane Fenton (born Bernard Jewry). Fenton became Stardust, performing as him from the second single and went on to have seven Top Ten hits.

The immediate success of Stardust took Shelley and Levy by surprise, and the pair were keen to capitalise on this. Teaming up with another former star, Marty Wilde, Shelley tried to recreate the formula… with dire consequences. Written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and one of the earliest releases on the label, 20 Fantastic Bands was, unsurprisingly, The Dazzling All Night Rock Show’s only release. Fronted by Wilde (Kim’s dad; one of Larry Parnes’ stable of British teen stars), the Dazzling All Night Rock Show were a studio-only setup, put together in the hope of a novelty Christmas hit and with the intention of launching Wilde as a glam rock star. Sadly it wasn’t to be, which is hardly a surprise when you listen to the lame ‘jokes’ and ‘impersonations’ (including Boris Karloff, George Harrison and, I’m guessing, Edward Heath) on this disc, and the not-so-subtle appropriation of a couple of Number One hits from 1973, including Gary Glitter’s smash I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am!) and Sweet’s Blockbuster.

This was not Wilde’s first attempt out out-Garying Mr. Glitter. Magnet’s second seven-inch was a thing called Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazy by Zappo. Zappo was Wilde; the song was again written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and it is another obvious (and not very good) rip off of the whole Glitter Band sound. The B-side Right On!, is an early synth/glam mashup that sounds like a rejected BBC-TV theme. Shelley and Wilde had no shame: they also collaborated on The Shang-A-Lang Song by Ruby Pearl and The Dreamboats, with Wilde impersonating a female doo-wop group on the A-side and mumbling over a bizarre, reverb-drenched instrumental on the flip that almost defies description. Shelly and Wilde wrote and produced any number of peculiar pseudo-glam discs for Magnet (Rub My Tummy by Zenda Jacks, for example) and Wilde also released a brace of 45s on Magnet under his own name.

None of these attempts to pitch Wilde into the glam rock field worked, and he and Magnet soon parted company. It would not be long though before he was back, masterminding daughter Kim’s pop career. Magnet was sold to Warners, where the company continued to have hits with the likes of D:Ream.

Marty is currently writing a biography: I wonder how many paragraphs he’ll give to his time on the fringes of glam… or how different the pop music scene would be today if he had taken on the mantle of Alvin Stardust rather than Shane Fenton?

Download 20 Fantastic Bands HERE



Download 20 Fantastic Bands (Continued) HERE



Thursday, 20 September 2018

It's Tivvy Time!

This is one of the longest WWR posts I think I’ve ever written, but stick with it. Huge thanks to TV historian Tim Worthington for helping to fill in many of the gaps.

Today’s record is one of the most disturbing things I have heard in a long time, and it all comes courtesy of a little black duck/troll hybrid originally found in a Scandinavian toy shop. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Tivvy – or rather Tivvy and the Clubmates - with his/their creepy Christmas 1965 offering Tivvy’s Tune/My World Of Colour. If this doesn’t give you nightmares, then you’re probably already dead.

Tivvy was supposed to be a friendly cartoon character and the icon of the TV Times’ kids club but ‘he’ (the TV Times always referred to the hateful little sprite as male) comes across as the embodiment of a predatory paedophile and sounding like a scary, hoarse-throated old man in a dirty raincoat proffering sweets or offering a peek at his puppies. “Want to come along with me and ‘ave a bit of fun, eh?”, the raspy voice enjoins at the beginning of Tivvy’s Tune; he could have been created with Jimmy Savile or Stuart Hall in mind, had they not been plying their trade at the BBC at the time.

“He isn't very big. He gets into some awful scrapes at times. He'll be on your television screens very soon,” claimed the article introducing Tivvy to a less-than-enthusiastic world. The doll had been discovered by ad man Paul Usher while holidaying in Finland. His company, the Erwin Wasey Agency, had been commissioned to come up with a kid-friendly creation but all attempts so far had failed. Then he found Finland’s Fauni company. Fauni started life in 1952, with their own line of troll dolls; three years later they won the rights to create toys based on Tove Jansson’s wonderful Moomins.

Usher was convinced that he had found exactly what he was looking for. This was a time when trolls, gonks and all sorts of weird-looking dolls were filling the shelves of toy shops and finding their way in to British homes: there was even a dreadful sci-fi comedy musical, Gonks Go Beat, featuring Lulu, two-thirds of Cream, Charlie from Casualty and Captain Peacock from Are You Being Served?

The Fauni troll – still available today – was (and still is) called Mr. Sumppi. For British consumption, and with stunning originality, he was rechristened Tivvy Times. Oh, the hilarity! Erwin Wasey would redeem themselves with a string of early 70s TV adverts for Coca-Cola, including the famous Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway-authored Sell A Million, originally performed by The New Seekers and later issued as a solo single by Lyn Paul.  

With his “real cool, Beatles-style haircut,” Usher claimed that the terrible troll was “loveable, yet aggressive in his own way. He’s ham-fisted and gets into a mess sometimes. But he’s always enthusiastic.” The voice of Tivvy was supplied by John Ebdon, an actor and voice-over artist who at the time was the senior lecturer at the London Planetarium. Can you imagine what attending one of his lectures must have been like, especially with the lights off? It must have been akin to being shut in a room with Dwight Frye. Ebdon was found after auditioning more than 200 people for the job: “TV personalities, comics, and film stars. But none could create quite the correct image.” The doll was given life by animator George Moreno, and he soon began popping up on ITV shows and in adverts for the TV Times. American-born animator Moreno had worked for Universal and Walter Lantz before joining the Fleischer Studio, and had also been one of the animators on the feature-length Gulliver's Travels (1939). He moved to London in the 1940s and continued working in the UK, as an illustrator and filmmaker, producing animated adverts for Pearl and Dean and many others. At the height of Tivvy’s fame, Moreno filmed a pilot starring Fauni trolls, but it failed to find a buyer.

Tivvy appeared with Ken Dodd and our old friend David ‘Diddy’ Hamilton, promoting kids’ pop show Doddy’s Music Box, with Dodd claiming that, because of their wild hair, “Everyone thinks Tivvy’s my dad!” A photograph appeared in the TV Times showing Tivvy on stage with The Beatles during a rehearsal for their second appearance on ABC-TV’s Blackpool Night Out in August 1965. You could buy (or collect coupons for free) Tivvy badges, Tivvy Jewellery, Tivvy dolls and you could even pick up a pattern to knit your own Tivvy. Suede’s Brett Anderson owned a Tivvy doll that, he claims, he used to try and stick up his nose. Not to be left out, over on the BBC Valerie Singleton showed Blue Peter’s audience how to make their own troll (pointedly not mentioning the name Tivvy) out of an old washing up liquid bottle. Moreno’s company produced a cartoon strip for the Tivvy Club page in TV Times.

Presided over by actor Jimmy Hanley (Jenny from Magpie’s dad), we’re led to believe that at the height of his fame, Tivvy had a fan club numbering 130,000 members. In September 1965, to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, the TV Times had a complete revamp. One of the innovations in the new-look, all-colour mag included was a special section for kids, incorporating the Tivvy Club page and adding puzzles, games and an all-new, full colour cartoon strip starring the disgusting doll, again produced by Moreno’s company and drawn by cartoonist Bill Hooper.

Yet despite this, the pages of the TV Times were filled with letters from youngsters refusing to buy in to the lie. Desperate to breathe new life into their dead duck/troll hybrid, Tivvy’s owners ushered Ebdon in to a recording studio in late 1965 in the hope of grabbing the Christmas Number One. With a backing provided by The Clubmates, fifteen or so well-scrubbed but bored-sounding kids swept up from a primary school (in Hurst, near Twyford), and a bored - and very amateur - sounding organ player, Tivvy cut his first and, thankfully, only single. If you thought Tivvy’s Tune was bad, the flipside, My World of Colour, is a funeral dirge... hardly the kind of thing parents would be rushing to buy their kids in time for Christmas. Well, not unless those parents were particularly malevolent. If they really hated you they could also buy a Christmas Special magazine, full to the brim with cartoons of the ugly little gonk, puzzle pages and pictures to colour in. Such fun!

At least the A-side featured a guitar and some rudimentary percussion; the accompaniment on My World of Colour comes straight out of the Grace Pauline Chew playbook. For most of the song he (or she) only plays two notes, and they can’t even get that right! The way these desperate kids - hopped up on a diet of “green eggs (hard boiled), ham sandwiches, jam butties and pink lemonade” - reluctantly sing the single word ‘brown’ will should have alerted their responsible adult to get them the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

“It’s so catchy, I sing it all day long,” Tivvy said of the A-side. “The other one... is all about the rainbow-coloured world I live in. I’m hoping Tivvy’s Tune goes zooming up the record charts. I’d love to get into the Top Twenty and win a golden disc. Then all the girls would scream at me.” Oh, don’t worry Tivvy: the girls (and boys) were already screaming, but in fear, not out of excitement. Incidentally, if you if you thought that Tivvy was banging on about colour to promote the fact that ITV was no longer broadcasting in black and white, think again. Colour transmissions did not begin in the UK until 1967: the BBC began with Wimbledon in July, before launching full colour in December. ITV did not follow suit until 1969, although Lew Grade’s ITC had begun making programmes in colour, to sell to foreign markets, in 1966. Tivvy’s constant cackle over colour, or “cullah” as he pronounced it, was about the fact that the TV Times was now an all-colour magazine, whereas its’ rival, the Radio Times, was still predominantly black and white.

The disc was produced by independent company Cameo Sound, and the tracks written by advertising copywriter George Hanness (who, it has been suggested, may have provided the voice of Tivvy on the record rather than Ebdon) and one K. Harris. It’s doubtful that this was ventriloquist Keith Harris: he would have only been 18 at the time, although he had been performing since he was 14 and made his TV debut (in the BBC show Let’s Laugh) the same year that Tivvy’s Tune was recorded. Publishers Macmelodies was an American firm that had been operating since the dawn of the century; one of their staff writers was a Charles K. Harris. It’s possible that Hanness simply wrote new words to a couple of old tunes, but as Hanness died in 2002 and Keith Harris passed on to the big green duckpond in the sky in 2015, it’s impossible to know for sure.

The doll was a disaster, and the record was a flop, but Tivvy limped on through the first half of 1966, with parents being encouraged to buy Tivvy dolls rather than Easter eggs for their kids. You can imagine how well that went down. The Trustee Savings Bank (and its various affiliates) adopted him, and attempted to part kids from their lucre via a plastic Tivvy piggy bank. Then, there was a colour Christmas annual produced, to usher you in to 1967 in a Tivvy-tastic way. Thankfully none of these last-gasp efforts succeeded in reinvigorating Tivvy, and he was quietly put out of our misery, no more to haunt children’s dreams… until now, that is.

Anyway, see what you think. Here’s both sides of the Tivvy and the Clubmates single. A last aside, the 45 that Tivvy is holding on the picture sleeve of his single is, I believe, You Make It Move, the third Fontana single by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch which was released in November 1965.


Sleep tight!

Download Tune HERE


Download Colour HERE

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Saga Saga

Today’s selection will split opinions. Some of you will think of these tracks as psychedelic or avant-jazz masterpieces, others as a complete waste of vinyl. I know where I stand.

Another bizarre find brought to my attention by the Squire, who discovered the first track, a particularly peculiar take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade on the RPM compilation Swinging London: The Accidental Genius of Saga Records 1968-1970.

The track was originally issued by Saga Records in 1968 on the album Trumpet A’Gogo. Saga, as I’m sure you will all recall, was the UK independent record company who first introduced the concept of budget-price albums to the country, and who provided a home for the mighty Joe Meek’s label Triumph. Saga were a pretty shameless bunch; the Trumpet A’Gogo title was nicked from a series of albums issued from 1966 onwards by James Last. As the sleeve notes (ahem) note, it’s “a must for the listener who’s hip to the music of NOW!”

The group credited, The New World, are in no way connected to the Antipodean band of the early 70s who had a hit with Tom Tom Turnaround and recorded the original version of Living Next Door To Alice. Nor are they connected with Meek's space symphony I Hear A New Wold despite both being Saga products. Sadly, the vocalist on this oddity is not credited, but the six-piece group consisted of Chick Webb (Drums), David Moses (Bass Guitar), Graham Stansfield (organ), Michael Gibbs (trombone), Phil Parker and Stu Hamer (both on trumpet). Shortly after the release, the same six men (as David Moses and Group) issued another album for Saga called Golden Trumpet. That album is almost as insane as Trumpet A’Gogo. One track, Loving to Spare, features vocalist Ricki Martin, although he does not receive credit for any of the other improvised or scat vocalisations on the album. There’s a wonderful, hip psychedelic feel to the albums Moses and his friends recorded for Saga, although it’s clear that in both cases the band were not afforded the luxury of endless studio time. But for me the occasional bum note only adds to the charm. This is cool, Daddio!

Moses had a long career in British jazz and folk, working with everyone from the Mike Sammes Singers to John Martyn, from Sandy Denny to Stéphane Grappelli. The multi-instrumentalist is well-known and respected for the work he has done bringing music to children: he was a regular on BBC TV’s Playschool, has written hundreds of songs for children, and he is the author of the successful Recorder Boppers series of books. He’s still performing today. Graham Stansfield became Graham Field, joined Rare Bird and later wrote and performed the theme tune to the ITV comedy Agony. Mike Gibbs would go on to work with Uriah Heep, and have a long and successful association with the NDR Big Band.

A couple of tracks then from this odd couple of albums, Scheherazade from Trumpet A’Gogo and Ride the Night from Golden Trumpet. The latter also fails to credit the vocalist, but I’d hazard that, in both cases, it’s David Moses himself. I've just bought a copy of Trumpet A’Gogo - once it arrives I'll update you.

Enjoy!

Download Scheherazade HERE


Download Ride the Night HERE

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Impish Behaviour

An act that issued their only single in the twilight of Britain’s short-lived but hugely influential skiffle craze, The Imps were a five-piece band from Lancashire, so named because the boys were aged around 12 - although I understand that an Imp Father played guitar for the blossoming boy band. Discovered by talent spotter Carrol Levis, they came from Miles Platting, a suburb of Manchester, and they disappeared almost swiftly as they arrived, issuing their sole 45, Let Me Lie and Dim Dumb Blonde on Parlophone at the start of 1958.

According to Chas McDevitt’s book, Skiffle: The Definitive Inside Story, the line-up of The Imps was made up of “Danny McGee with his granny’s washboard; Don Ainsworth with his father’s fishing line attached to an old soap box and his mother’s broom handle; Geoff Wood, Jeff Tranter and Howard Tonge each played a miniature thirty-shilling plastic guitar,” although newspapers of the day referred to these instruments as ‘plastic ukes’. The novelty act appeared on Britain’s first rock ‘n’ roll TV show, 6-5 Special, in February 1958, and the A-side of their single, Let Me Lie, was featured in the film The Golden Disc.

Issued in America as The In-Between Age, The Golden Disc starred early British teen idol Terry Dene, alongside avuncular DJ David Jacobs, singer Nancy Whiskey (who sang lead vocals on the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group's Top Five hit Freight Train) and others. Dene had a tempestuous career, falling out with his management, the press, his wife, the British army and often falling down drunk. After disappearing from the UK pop scene he re-emerged in Sweden, having found God and become a preacher.

Although the disc’s label may lead listeners to believe that The Imps appeared in the movie, the film version of Let Me Lie was not performed by our bunch of pre-teen tearaways, but by the defiantly (and definitely) adult Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings: in fact, Stewart is credited as the song’s author. Sonny Stewart’s real name was the slightly more prosaic Arthur Chamberlain, and like a number of skiffle and rock ’n’ roll acts, the band first drew attention playing at the 2I’s coffee bar in Old Compton Street, Soho. Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings had issued their own version of the song, on Philips, at the end of 1957, although bizarrely Arthur’s publishers, Pan Musik Limited, didn’t get around to copyrighting it until February 1958, shortly after The Imps’ version was released. Despite The Imps replacing the original guitar break with a whistling solo, neither recording was a hit.

The flip side of The Imps’ single, Dim Dumb Blonde, is a horribly-dated slice of 50s sexism, and an odd choice for a bunch of boys not even in their teens to sing. Mind you, the plug side is a song about death, an even more peculiar junior choice. Dim Dumb Blonde was written by Eric Spear, who had spent his career writing music for minor British movies and who would go on to greater fame as the composer of the theme tune to the world’s longest-running soap opera, Coronation Street. Go man!

“The Imps make Tommy Steele seem positively senile, with their shrill unbroken voices,” said reviewer Arthur Reeves in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, “Although it is a pity they do not have the colossal and infectious beat that young Tommy generates.” Apparently, the lads found it hard to find work, as many of the clubs around Manchester refused to put them on because they were so young. I have contacted former Imp Don Ainsworth: should I hear back from him I shall update you all.

Enjoy!

Download Lie HERE



Download Blonde HERE

Friday, 31 August 2018

Nigh And Day By Day

A wonderful disc for you today that I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but had held off as I had very little information about it. I can’t even remember who first alerted me to its existence – it may have been Bob at Dead Wax, or Bob at The Wonderful and The Obscure. It may not have been a Bob at all. Never mind: whoever it was, I thank you.

Released in June 1954 (it was listed in Billboard, 19 June), although the writing credits for the plug side, Day-By-Day, are given to Hank-Oliver and Rusty-Newby, the song clearly owes a lot to Cole Porter’s Night And Day. And no, I’m not being heavy handed with the hyphens here, they pepper the titles and credits on the labels of the original release, including the flip side, Cry-Heart-Cry-On.

Choi-Nump-Ni, “a full-blooded Indian” (Billboard, May 1954), or Native American as we would politically correctly say now was signed by Academy Records, of Fresno, California, to “a long-term recording contract,” although this particular 45 seems to have been his only release. Confusingly there was another Academy Records, this one operating out of Chicago, at exactly the same time. Our Californian cousins issued at least one further 45, Word of Honor by Rusty Newby (without a hyphen this time). Newby led his own hillbilly act, Rusty Newby and the Saddle Serenaders.

So who was Choi-Nump-Ni? Well, he was also known as Hank Oliver, which explains the co-author credit on the disc, and he passed away last year at the grand old age of 91. Choi/Hank was the last member of the Choinumni tribe to speak its native language fluently, although his sister, who survived him, could speak the language reasonably well. The retired logger and ranch worker loved music, and he recorded several songs in the 60s and 70s, including In the Snows of Wounded Knee, which he recorded shortly after returning from the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, which had been the site of a Native American massacre in 1890. The occupation, also known as the Wounded Knee Incident, began in February 1973, when around 200 Native Americans seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, following the failure of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, who was accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Protesters also criticised the U.S. government's treatment of Native Americans. Hank also recorded a song about the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands in the 1830s.

An advocate of peaceful protest, Hank Oliver was quite a guy. When he was just 14 he was forced to take on the role of head of the family to his seven sisters and two brothers after their father was run over and killed by a car. He moved to Oregon to work as a logger, and also fought wildfires with the U.S. Forest Service before returning to his tribe’s ancestral land in Fresno County, where worked to protect sacred sites and teach the native language.

Oliver, who was Navajo on his father’s side (his father came from Albuquerque, New Mexico) and Choinumni on his mother’s, was buried at the Choinumni Sacred Burial Grounds on the tribe’s ancestral land in Piedra, not far from Fresno, where he had lived for more than three decades. Since 1991 Hank had lived in a small house, owned by United California Citrus, which was situated on land that had once belonged to his tribe. His former boss, Mo Zuckerman, insisted that the now-retired Hank stayed rent-free. Hank's mother, Emma, was the last princess of her tribe, and lived to the grand old age of 106: the family maintained that she was actually 109. She outlived all but four of her nine children.

Although Hank/Choi’s performance might seem a little harsh to Western ears, the sentiment is pretty special: “When I’m dead, I don’t want you to cry or grieve for me… I only ask for you to be merciful and kind.”

Enjoy!

Download Day HERE



Download Heart HERE

Friday, 24 August 2018

Lilac Time

Hollywood headliner Errol Flynn was down on his luck when he agreed, begrudgingly, to appear in the British musical Lilacs In the Spring opposite Anna Neagle. Released in 1954, It was the first of two movies the stars made together, the other being King's Rhapsody. Released in the USA as Let's Make Up, the movie also heralded the feature film debut of a young Scots actor called Sean Connery. I wonder whatever happened to him?

Made by Everest Pictures, a new production company from producer-director Herbert Wilcox; who was also Neagle’s husband. Wilcox had made three films for Republic Pictures, and had hoped that the company would bankroll film versions of two Ivor Novello musicals he had purchased. When this did not happen, he was forced to obtain finance from another company, British Lion. Flynn only agreed to make the film to pay off the debts he had incurred from his own abandoned project, The Story of William Tell.

Neagle and Wilcox personally guaranteed a loan of ₤75,000 to make Lilacs In the Spring, but the movie was a flop, and the loss contributed to Wilcox's bankruptcy. It wasn’t helped by the 50-year-old Neagle playing the coquettish daughter of the 45-year old Flynn.

Flynn liked Britain, or perhaps Britain liked him; in the twilight of his career, it certainly seemed easier for him to earn a living here than in the States, where the Tasmanian devil had made his name. He enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in 1957 with his role in The Sun Also Rises, but that would be his last major hit. He died in October 19598 from a combination of heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver. 

Even though the hard drinking, womanising Flynn was no singer, he opted to use his own voice in Lilacs In the Spring rather than be dubbed by a professional. Neagle, on the other hand, was a talented and trained singer. Bizarrely, Philips in the UK decided to issue a 78 from the film, featuring Flynn mugging his way through Lily of Laguna on one side and duetting (of sorts) on the film’s title song, We’ll Gather Lilacs (written by Ivor Novello) on the flip – however he doesn’t duet with Dame Anna, but with his then-wife (and singer) Patrice Wymore. It’s not good…

Lily of Laguna was written in 1898 by English composer Leslie Stuart. Advertised as “the world’s greatest coon song”, by the time Flynn got in there the lyrics had been toned down somewhat, and his version lacks the original’s racial insensitivity. This ‘cleaner’ version had previously been recorded by Bing Crosby.

In an odd postscript, Flynn’s only son, Sean, (born 31 May 1941), disappeared in Cambodia in April 1970 during the Vietnam War, while and he and his colleague Dana Stone were working as freelance photojournalists for Time magazine. Neither man's remains have ever been found and, after a decade-long search financed by his mother, he was officially declared dead in 1984. It is generally assumed that the two men were killed by Khmer Rouge guerrillas. In 2010, a British team uncovered the remains of a Western hostage in the Cambodian jungle, but DNA comparisons with samples from the Flynn family were negative.

Just as an aside, in 1974 Errol Brown (of Hot Chocolate fame) attempted to launch a solo career, issuing the single From The Top Of My Head under the name Errol Flynn…

Enjoy!

Download Lily HERE


Download Lilacs HERE



Apologies for the poor quality of We’ll Gather Lilacs. I’ll replace the sound file when I track down a better version.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Heartbreaking

Elvis Presley’s breakthrough, Heartbreak Hotel¸ was issued by HMV in Britain in early 1956. The single became Elvis’s debut UK hit, reaching Number Two and staying on the charts for 22 weeks. Sadly, it was prevented from reaching the top spot by serial WWR miscreant Pat Boone.  Reissued in 1971, the single once again hit the British Top Ten: a 40th anniversary reissue, in 1996, also entered the Top Fifty.

The success of Heartbreak Hotel inspired several artists to issue cover versions, most of which were poor, and a few which were downright awful. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

First up is US outfit the Goofers, a quintet of Italian-American musical comedians who issued several discs in the States between 1954 and 1960. All former members of Louis Prima's band, The Goofers played the London Palladium in 1957 and 1958, the same year that they starred in the movie Bop Girl. The group was known for their crazy antics, including playing their instruments while hanging upside down on a trapeze. In 1956 they gave us Teardrop Motel and made fun of Elvis’s own delivery by making most of the words intentionally unintelligible. Issued by Vogue-Coral in the UK (an imprint of Decca), the B-side of the single was Tennessee Rock and Roll.

The same week (in the UK at least) the Pye-Nixa label had a bash at Presley, with a Mae West-inspired cover of Heartbreak Hotel, performed by Gale Warning and the Weathermen (although, confusingly, the disc credits read Gale Warning and Her Boys). Playing on the name of the Weathermen, the flip - Met Rock - saw Gale reading the shipping forecast over a big band beat. The disc was not well received and, like the Goofers, failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic.

In real life Gale was the formerly famous actress Frances Day, who I featured briefly on this here blog three years ago. Born Frances Victoria Schenk in New Jersey in 1907, the bisexual Day – lover to both Edward VIII and Eleanor Roosevelt - was reputed to be the illegitimate daughter of automobile pioneer Horace Dodge. Spotted in a New York Speakeasy she was taken to London in 1924 by Australian impresario Beaumont Alexander, who dyed her hair platinum blonde and launched her in the West End where she was known for performing in nothing but a G-string and feather boa. Day married Beaumont in 1927, but after living apart for many years, they divorced a decade or so later.

She went on to appear in countless shows and films during the 1930s but had pretty much vanished from the public consciousness when, in the late 1950s, she reappeared as a regular panellist on the TVG show What’s My Line. She died in 1984: her will stated that “there be no notice or information of any kind of my death, except for and if a death certificate is obligatory. Any persons, private or Press, you shall simply say that I am no longer at this address. ‘Gone away. Destination unknown’, and that is the truth.” Class!

Just as an aside, American humourist Stan Freberg also issued a version, backed with a parody of Lonnie Donegan’s Rock Island Line, which was credited to Stan Freberg And His Sniffle Group. Freberg was well known in the States as a voice actor, appearing in many cartoons in a long and varied career – although, despite what you may read elsewhere, he did not voice Rocky or Bullwinkle.

Enjoy!

Download Heartbreak HERE


Download Met Rock HERE



Download Teardrop HERE


Download Tennessee HERE

Friday, 10 August 2018

How Low Can You Go?


Now here’s an odd one for you. Roz Croney, the so-called Queen of the Limbo, issued How Low Can You Go in 1963. It’s dreadful, but of massive importance to jazz collectors as it features Sun Ra, the composer, bandleader, keyboard player, and poet known for his experimental music, his prolific output, and his wildly theatrical performances.

Roz was a native of Grenada. She began to limbo after visiting Barbados, with her mother, in 1955. Two years later she was instructing actor Dorothy Dandridge how to limbo for the film Island In The Sun, and she went on to tour America as a featured performer in Larry Steele’s revue Smart Affairs of 1961. Steele was the head of the largest black entertainment touring troupe in the United States at the time. According to reports, the limber Ms. Croney could limbo beneath a bar just seven and a half inches off the floor.

In an article in Ebony magazine, Roz revealed that “she considers herself a more than passable singer, but cannot use this talent because her voice is kept hoarse by the shouts which accompany her limbo routine.” Shame she seemed to forget that when Tom Wilson, the record producer best known for his work with Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Simon & Garfunkel and The Velvet Underground, dragged her in to New York’s Mastertone Studio to record this nonsense. One assumed that Wilson was inspired by seeing Roz perform, or perhaps by the success of Chubby Checker’s 1962 single Limbo Rock, or the earlier, instrumental version of the tune by the Champs.

Sun Ra, or Herman Poole Blount to give him his given name, got the gig because for a number of years he had been working as a session musician for Edward Bland, the arranger of this travesty. For much of his career, Sun Ra led an ensemble he dubbed "The Arkestra", and he brought along several of his long-time collaborators, including Marshall Allen (alto sax), John Gilmore (bass clarinet), Ronnie Boykins (bass), and Pat Patrick (baritone sax and flute) for this album. perhaps unsurprisingly, there was no How Low Can You Go Volume Two.

Here’s a handful of cuts from How Low You Can Go, Doggie In The Window Limbo, The Limbo Queen and the truly awful Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On (apparently the correct title, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin’ On was too vulgar!)

Enjoy!

Download Doggie HERE



Download Queen HERE



Download Shaking HERE

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Teenage Rage


Leonard Davis was working in EMI’s Hayes factory when he as spotted by producer and songwriter Norman Newell, the man who had also given Russ Conway and Shirley Bassey their big breaks at Columbia... and who produced the awful Songs for Swinging Children.

Born in South Wales in 1938, at the tender age of 19 Len was launched on to an unsuspecting public as “Larry Page, the Teenage Rage” but, despite issuing three singles for Columbia in 1957 and 58, he would never score a chart hit for the company. 

It’s not hard to understand why: he can’t sing! The poor boy was pushed in to the EMI studios in Abbey Road and given dreadful, anodyne arrangements of recent US hits to perform, and the results are dreadful. He explained the process in the in the book The Restless Generation: "The label saw no future in rock ‘n’ roll. They had to make all the great American records sound like Worker's Playtime; they Didn't have a clue. Consequently, I made a Mickey Mouse version of That'll Be The Day [issued as his second A-side]. I was treated as a junior employee and for my first record they gave me a copy of Start Movin' by Sal Mineo and told me to go away and learn it - which I did - every vocal inflection, every swish of the rhythm. Then you get to the studio and find they're like a marching band… I had no input, they even picked the key for me." Start Movin' was issued as the flip side to his cover of the Del Vikings' Cool Shake.

After he was dropped by Columbia he went to Saga, the same company that was soon to launch Joe Meek’s Triumph label. Page’s singles (and one EP) for Saga also flopped, and he gave up any pretence of being a singer to concentrate on orchestrations, arrangements and, later, group management. 

Larry Page would hit the big time a few years later as the manager of the Kinks and the Troggs, and as the leader of the Larry Page Orchestra, probably best known for their albums of Kinks and Beatles covers: Page’s Kinky Music album was arranged by Ray Davies and featured future Led Zep member Jimmy Page. Larry was also the founder of both Page One and Penny Farthing records, which hit the big time with Venus by Shocking Blue, Daniel Boone’s Beautiful Sunday, and Chelsea F.C.’s Blue is the Colour.

Page now lives in happy retirement in Australia.

Here are both sides of his debut 45, and - courtesy of YouTube - the appalling That'll Be The Day.

Enjoy!

Download Start Movin' HERE



Download Cool Shake HERE



Friday, 27 July 2018

ChangesTwoBowie


Well, last week’s blog post seems to have gone down well. It’s already one of this year’s most popular posts, and the feedback I’ve received so far leads me to believe that you like that sort of nonsense.

So, here’s some more.

Yes: today I present, for your enjoyment, even more ludicrous David Bowie covers. But instead of the obvious, we’re going to look at foreign-language covers of a couple of David’s early hits, namely Space Oddity and The Laughing Gnome.

First up is Spanish duo Hermanos Calatrava with their dreadful version of Bowie’s breakthrough hit, which I believe would translate as Curiosidad Del Espacio, but they kept the original title anyway. Hermanos Calatrava consist of brother brothers Manuel García Lozano (Manolo) and Francisco García Lozano (Paco), and are a pair of ‘comedians, parodists and singers’, according to their Wikipedia page. With their take on Space Oddity they’ve attempted to turn the song into some sort of satirical sketch, but it backfires spectacularly. Issued as the B-side to their 1974 single Gigi L’Amoroso, It’s just horrendous. The pair have been hamming it up since 1955: it’s about time they stopped.

Next is Italian band I Giganti with Corri Uomo Corri, a reasonable ‘straight’ version of Space Oddity that was issued in 1970, just a year after the original. It’s nothing like as bad as the Hermanos Calatrava version, although the member of the quartet who handles the introductory vocal (who, I believe, is drummer Enrico Papes) sounds to me like he needs surgery: no one should sound that much like a bullfrog naturally. The psychedelic keyboard solo is a nice touch. Popular in their native land between from the mid-60s until the early 70s, they split around 1972 but a new version of the band, featuring some original members, resurfaced in 2008, releasing an album of re-recordings of their early hits. 

Incidentally, another Italian group, Computers, issued their own, vastly superior, version of the song, as Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola, a year earlier. That translates as Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl, and is the same title Bowie used for his own Italian-language version, which he recorded in London shortly before Christmas 1969: I have found a press cutting where his then-manager, ken Pitt, states that he recorded the vocals at the beginning of January 1970, but I believe he actually did the deed on December 20. Wikipedia claims that our old friends Equipe 84 recorded a version that same year, but that does not appear to be listed at Discogs, so this may be a mistake.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the utterly charming French yéyé singer Caroline, and her single Mister A Gogo, a fun but nutso version of The Laughing Gnome, issued in 1967 and now super-rare, commanding silly prices for the original single. I love this: I hope you will too!

Enjoy!  

Download Hermanos HERE




Download I Giganti HERE


Download Caroline HERE

Thursday, 19 July 2018

I Ought To Report You To The Gnome Office


A balladeer from the 50s, Ronnie Hilton earned a place in the hearts of every Brit of a certain age for his 1965 hit A Windmill In Old Amsterdam. Hilton had a long career, first charting (with his debut release) in 1954 but issuing his last single in 1982.

Born Adrian Hill in Hull, Ronnie started singing professionally under his adopted name in 1954. Signed to HMV, he amassed 18 Top 40 hits on the UK Singles Chart, hitting the coveted Number One spot in 1956 with his cover of the Rogers and Hammerstein song No Other Love, a US hit three years earlier for Perry Como. The following year he took part in the inaugural A Song For Europe contest, although he was beaten by another singer from Hull, Patricia Bredin. In 1959 he scored a hit with The Wonder of You, the same song that Elvis Presley topped the UK chart with in 1970.

In 1967, two years after his last chart entry (with the aforementioned A Windmill In Old Amsterdam) he released the single that I wish to bring your attention to today, a cover of If I Were a Rich Man from the hit musical Fiddler of the Roof. It’s not a great version, and the utterly ridiculous inclusion of an impression of Quacker, the little yellow duckling from the Tom and Jerry cartoons in the middle takes it in to the realm of ridiculous. In fact, it’s good enough (or bad enough) to merit an inclusion here for that reason alone, but it’s the single’s flip side that’s the peach – a stupendously awful (and incredibly early) cover of David Bowie’s The Laughing Gnome.

Yes: The Laughing Gnome. It, like Bowie’s original, did not chart, although Bowie would eventually have a hit with the song when his single was reissued in 1973. At this point in his career Bowie’s manager, Kenneth Pitt, was trying to market him as a songwriter; despite beginning his recording career in 1964 he would not have a hit under his own name until 1969, and it would take another three years after that until he enjoyed his second. Ronnie Hilton was not the first artists to cover Bowie though: in January 1967 Over the Wall We Go had been covered by stage star Paul Nicholas under the name Oscar. The following year Billy Fury would issue his cover of Bowie’s Silly Boy Blue. But the honour of having the first ever cover of a Bowie song goes to actor Kenny Miller (I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Touch of Evil, Attack of the Puppet People etc.) and his 1965 recording of Bowie’s Take My Tip (credited to Davie Jones), produced by Shel Talmy of Kinks/ Who fame.

Hilton suffered a stroke in 1976. Following his recovery, he turned to radio presenting, fronting Sounds of the Fifties, a nostalgic radio series for BBC Radio 2. He died in Hailsham, East Sussex from another stroke, aged 75.

Here’s Ronnie’s preposterous version of The Laughing Gnome and, for good measure, If I Were a Rich Man. Enjoy!

Download Rich Man HERE



Download Gnome HERE

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Outer Space Elvis


Recommended by our dear friend The Squire, this is one of the weirdest, wildest Elvis covers I’ve ever heard. It puts Eilert Pilarm, Elvis Pummel and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy to shame.

Dean Carter’s brilliantly insane version of Jailhouse Rock was issued in 1967. An insane mix of garage and psychobilly, Dean’s unhinged performance is a thing of wonder. The flip side, Rebel Woman, is pretty crazy stuff too.

Dean Carter was born Arlie Neaville. He began playing rockabilly in the late '50s in Champaign, Illinois, and recorded for the Ping label in 1961 under his real name, before moving on to the more established Fraternity label in 1962 as Arlie Nevil (issuing the self-composed Alone On A Star/The Skip). After that he went to Limelight, where he first recorded under the name of Dean Carter. Neaville and guitarist Arlie Miller invested in their own recording studio, Milky Way, and the pair (as Arlie and Arlie) launched their own label of the same name to issue Carter’s Jailhouse Rock single, now a highly collectable and very expensive 45. Luckily both sides, and many of the other tracks he’s recorded over his varied career, were collected on the 2002 CD release Call of the Wild.

In the early 70s he reappeared under his real name, Arlie Neaville, issuing a crazed cover of Breathless on Shout ‘n’ Shine Records. Since then he’s kept his original name, and has moved in to the gospel music field. You can find clips of his more recent work on YouTube, as well as plenty of examples of his wilder material.

Enjoy!

Download Jailhouse HERE



Download Rebel HERE

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Swingeing Swindle


One of my more peculiar recent finds was this album, Songs for Swinging Children by the Groovy Gang.

I know…

A dozen covers of popular hits, all with a kid-friendly bent. Don’t let the Sinatra-esque title or cover image fool you though, the only swinging these kids get up to is in the play park. No nelson Riddle arrangements or orchestrations, the twelve tracks included here are po-faced and perfunctory, knocked out in a spare hour in the studio (the notes on the back of the cover tell us that this recording session took place on June 10) by a bunch of tired moonlighting musos who would have probably been paid around £50 each for their trouble. It’s fairly safe to assume this was recorded in 1971: the album was issued that year and the most recent track, the Kinks song Apeman, was not issued until November 1970.

What interests me is that the album was produced by Norman Newell, whose career was closely associated with Columbia records, and artists including Russ Conway, Shirley Bassey, and Cliff and the Shadows. Newell, a songwriter as well as a producer, also acted as an A&R man for other EMI labels, and was responsible for taking acts to Parlophone (Vince Eager) and recording soundtrack albums for HMV.

Musical Rendezvous/Contour was a British company that specialised in cheap reissues of old Polydor stable recordings: the Beatles Hamburg sessions with Tony Sheridan were put out (in two different covers, both featuring the iconic Mersey Beat newspaper) around the same time, and in turn would become one of (if not the) first albums I ever purchased with my own money.

A side note: the album includes a cover of the Pipkins hit Gimme Dat Ding. When researching this I was surprised to discover that the song had originally been recorded Freddie and the Dreamers. Gimme Dat Ding was composed for a musical, Oliver in the Overworld, that formed part of the kid’s TV show Little Big Time, hosted by Freddie Garrity. Freddie and the Dreamers released a soundtrack album of Oliver in the Overworld in 1970, but it was novelty act Pipkins who scored the international hit. Songwriter Roger Greenaway performed, as a member of the Dreamers, on the first recording, and Greenaway was one half of Pipkins. Small world, eh?

Anyway, here’s a taster. The aforementioned Gimme Dat Ding and the Groovy Gang’s dull version of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

Enjoy!

Download Ding HERE




Download Submarine HERE 

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