Friday, 19 April 2019

The Odd Couple


C&W, issued in 1977, was the only album from actress, singer, dancer, and comedian Carol Channing (who sadly died earlier this year just a couple of weeks shy of her 98th birthday) and Webb Pierce, honky-tonk vocalist, songwriter and guitarist and one of the biggest country stars of the 1950s, whose band included such stellar musicians as pianist Floyd Cramer and guitarist-vocalist Faron Young.

Referred to on the reverse of the album sleeve (twice, no less) as “this unlikely duo”, the couple on the front of the sleeve look like they’re going to a Hallowe’en party, not a recording studio. Carol brandishes one of her toy guns as she walks arm in arm with Webb, whose badly dyed bouffant makes him look like Johnny Cash impersonating Dracula. But it’s the music inside that really grates.

Carol’s trademarked cracked voice is no match for Webb’s baritone. Thank goodness the whole sorry assemblage only lasts for less than half an hour. Issued by Shelby Singleton’s Plantation records, C&W includes reworkings of some of Pierce’s big hits, but the pairing of country legend and Broadway superstar just doesn’t come off. Bizarrely Channing and Singleton thought otherwise, and Channing followed this album with another for the label, a collection of duets entitled Carol Channing and Her Country Friends.

In his later years, Pierce became known for his excessive lifestyle. He had North Hollywood tailor Nudie Cohen, who had made flamboyant suits for Pierce, line two convertibles with silver dollars. He built a $30,000 guitar-shaped swimming pool at his Nashville home which became a popular paid tourist attraction — nearly 3,000 people visited it each week — causing his neighbours, led by singer Ray Stevens, to file a court action against Pierce to end the tours.

Here are a couple of tracks from this peculiar collection: Take Your So Called Love and Tennessee

Enjoy!

Download Tennessee HERE



Download So Called HERE

Friday, 12 April 2019

Let's Stick Together


A peculiar little song-poem/vanity hybrid for you today, originally unearthed many years ago by fellow blogger Bob Purse.

Scotch Tape/Close to You, credited to Lana Johnidas and the Swinging Strings, was an early release from Sandy Stanton’s Film City label, which means it was issued circa 1964. Being that early the chances are that the Swinging Strings – Sandy’s ever-present Chamberlin – are played by either Sandy himself or the great Rodd Keith. Both songs were written by Ms. Johnidas, and my feeling is that she probably paid for this disc to be cut to demonstrate her songwriting prowess, for shortly after she joined the ranks of Hollywood-based Our Productions/Your Management, whose offices were in the Capitol Tower on Sunset and Vine.

Her career as a performer/composer was managed by Michael Goldberg, who also looked after the careers of such stellar names as Friar Tuck, the Plastic People, Jacobson and Tansley, and Epic recording act The Kaleidoscope. Sadly, it does not look as though that career amounted to much, as outside of this one disc I’ve been unable to find a credit for Lana on any other record. A shame, because this is a fun little record and her voice, with that hint of a giggle in it, is rather infectious.

Los Angeles-based publisher Flex Songs was closely associated with Stanton: recordings featuring Stanton and published by Flex appear on Excel, Fable and Film City. I can find no evidence, but years of experience would lead me to believe that Stanton was at very least a partner in the company, if not the
outright owner.

That’s about it. As usual, any further info would be appreciated. Thanks Bob, for unearthing this gem.

Enjoy

Download Scotch HERE


Download Close HERE

Friday, 29 March 2019

Pass the Bottle

I’m on holiday for a week from tomorrow; no doubt I’ll be scouring the charity shops of the tip of Cornwall in hope of finding some more strange, obscure and downright awful noise for you all.

When I was holidaying in Yorkshire last year I came back with a fistful of terrible vinyl, much of which I’ve yet to blog. Let’s start to put that right now with two tracks from one of those records, Don “Lofty” Estelle’s Lonely Wine.

My copy of Lonely Wine, like I assume the majority of Don’s albums gathering dust somewhere, is autographed. It’s a standing joke among bad music enthusiasts that – like Father Francis – it’s harder to find a non-signed copy of any of the actor/singer’s albums. I love the cover: a sad bottle of that 60’s favourite Mateus Rose sitting on the sand. On the reverse, just to let us all know that The Don knows his stuff, he’s photographed sitting at a desk accompanied by two loose apples and a bottle of Blue Nun. It couldn’t be any chintzier… unless it came with a free bottle of Thunderbird or Bull’s Blood, that is.

Don really gets his groove on in the two tracks I’ve chosen for you today, both of which have multiple links: both were originally recorded and released in 1984; both were originally on Motown and both are connected in some way with blindness.

Perhaps the title of the album should have been Blind Drunk.

Anyway, let’s all enjoy Don’s whiter-than-white bread covers of Lionel Richie’s Hello and Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You, and I’ll see you all in a fortnight. Don’t forget you can always get your fix of madness by tuning in to the World’s Worst Records Radio Show each week, or by streaming episodes at your leisure.

Enjoy!

Download Hello HERE



Download Called HERE

Friday, 22 March 2019

Can Ken Cope? Ken Can!


Kenneth Cope is the much-loved actor who people of a certain age will remember fondly for playing the role of dead detective Marty Hopkirk in the cult TV show Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), which aired in the US under the title My Partner, the Ghost.

Cope trained at Bristol’s Old Vic, making extra money by working part-time as a hospital porter. Still with us at the grand old age of 87, during his distinguished career he has appeared in more than 30 movies, and in such iconic TV shows as The Avengers, Coronation Street, Brookside, Casualty. Minder, a Touch of Frost and Doctor Who.


But there’s one thing that I’m pretty sure the Liverpool-born actor would rather forget, his one stab at pop success. In May 1963 he issued a Mike Sarne-inspired one-off single for Pye records, Hands Off, Stop Mucking About backed with Why Am I So Shy. Credited to Ken Cope and the Breakaways, the disc came out while he was still a regular cast member of Coronation Street and, at the time, Cope boasted that “It’ll get me a golden disc if one in every 24 folk who watch ‘Coronation Street’ go out and buy the record,” but sadly, despite the promotion the disc received, the TV watching public did not all rush out at once, and it sank without a trace.

The Breakaways, incidentally, were a Liverpudlian vocal trio who recorded a handful of discs for Pye between 1962 and 1965: Breakaways member Margo Quantrell penned the flip side of the disc, with the A-side co-written by Tony Hatch under the pseudonym Mark Anthony. With so much local talent on offer you would have thought the scousers would have gotten behind the disc, but as Disker (a.k.a. Tony Barrow) wrote in the Liverpool Echo “Mike Sarne has pumped every ounce of value from the Cockney comedy approach to love-making and love-resisting and The Vernons Girls have already done the same for the Liverpool parallel. ‘Hands Off’ is moderately amusing and it has a jolly, catchy tune, but it lacks that extra something which might have made it a best-seller.”

Anyway, here are both sides of this fun little 45.

Enjoy!

Download Mucking HERE



Download Shy HERE

Friday, 15 March 2019

Well and Truly Plastered


You’ll recall in my last blog post I mentioned Dustin Gee, the former comedy partner of Les Dennis, and his 1976 album Plastered With the Pink Elephant. To be honest, I thought I had posted tracks from that some time back, but it was brought to my attention, by my good friend The Squire, that this was not, in fact the case. Let’s remedy that right now.

Plastered With the Pink Elephant was Dustin’s one and only album, issued by the small Manchester-based label Indigo, and sold out of the boot of his car at gigs on the Northern working men’s club circuit. It’s an odd mix of comic songs, cabaret favourites and one or two seriously peculiar – one would assume personal – choices, evinced by the three cuts I offer here for you today.

Born Gerald Harrison in York, after leaving school at 15 Dustin studied at art college. He worked mainly with stained glass and did some repair work on the windows of York Minster. In the evenings he played in a band called the Dare Devils, who eventually became Gerry B and the Rockafellas. After the group disbanded, Gee became first a compere, then a comedian.

He got his big break on the ITV impressions show Who Do You Do?. His future comedy partner Les Dennis also appeared on the show. In 1980 Gee joined the cast of BBC-TV’s Russ Abbot's Madhouse: two years later Les Dennis joined the crew, and Gee and Dennis formed a comedy double act. In the summer of 1982 Gee had a minor heart attack when doing a summer season with Jim Davidson in Torquay, but soon recovered enough to be able to continue with his television work.

In April 1984, Gee and Dennis began their own TV comedy show, The Laughter Show (retitled Les & Dustin's Laughter Show for the third and final series).  In May 1985 Gee fell ill while on stage at the North Pier in Blackpool. He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where a minor heart attack was diagnosed. Gee was also told that he had dilated cardiomyopathy and that he should take it easy. Despite doctors’ orders, after a month he was back on stage, and continued until the show closed at the end of September.

Gee and Dennis were appearing in pantomime at the Southport Theatre, Merseyside when, on 1 January 1986, Gee suffered a massive heart attack. He was rushed to Southport General Hospital, where he died two days later. Believing in the old showbiz adage that “the show must go on”, Dustin was replaced in the pantomime by Jim “Bullseye” Bowen.

Here are three cuts from Plastered With the Pink Elephant Covers of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ Please Don’t Touch (later covered by Motorhead and Girlschool, as Headgirl), The Beatles’ Piggies and David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Enjoy!

Download Touch HERE

Download Piggies HERE

Download Space HERE

Friday, 1 March 2019

Ohh Betty!

It’s not often that I post novelty records, but once in a while something comes along that just has to be shared – as is the case with Les Dennis and The Imagination Game.

I have to admit, I knew not of the existence of this horror until last weekend, when fellow collectors, bloggers, Tweeters and friends of WWR Stephen ‘Beany’ Green and Dame Agnes Guano brought it to my attention.

Recorded shortly after young Les won talent show New Faces, The Imagination Game gives the young comedian and impressionist opportunity to preserve his act for posterity. Over two sides the Liverpool-born charmer channels Michael Crawford (as Frank Spencer), Deputy Dog, Andy Devine, John Wayne, Mr. Magoo, Bruce Forsythe, Tommy Cooper, James Stewart, James Bolam (at least that’s who I think it is), Telly Savalas and countless others. But sadly, he also proves that he’s no singer.

Winning New Faces catapulted the youngster, then still only 20, to fame. He landed a recurring role on the ITV impressions show Who Do You Do and, in 1982, he joined the team on primetime BBC show Russ Abbot's Madhouse, forming a comedy partnership with fellow impressionist Dustin Gee. That lead to a hit series of their own, The Laughter Show which sadly folded after three series following Gee's sudden and unexpected death in 1986. In 1987 Dennis became the host of ITV’s long-running quiz show Family Fortunes remaining with the popular show until 2002. Since then he has moved into acting, appearing in such TV shows as Brookside, Casualty, Extras, Midsomer Murders and Coronation Street, and – presumably after a few vocal coaching sessions - on stage in Hairspray, Chicago and me and My Girl.

My hugest of huge thanks to Dame Agnes Guano for admitting to owning a copy of this!

Enjoy!

Download Part One HERE


Download Part Two HERE

Friday, 22 February 2019

I'm Your Puppet

Today’s horror is the 1961 offering from disgraced talent show host and right-wing megalomaniac Hughie Green, The Puppet Song and The Valley Of Peppermint Springs

Green will always be remembered for hosting TV talent show Opportunity Knocks. The show began on radio, initially on the BBC Light Programme where it ran from February to September 1949, before moving to Radio Luxembourg It was first shown on ITV from 20 June 1956 to 29 August 1956, but a second run, that commenced in July 1964 and lasted until 20 March 1978, saw it become one of the highest rated shows on British television.

Opportunity Knocks was huge, and the list of people that went on to carve out a career in entertainment is endless: the show helped make stars out of Mary Hopkin, Les Dawson, Paul Daniels, Lena Zavaroni, Pam Ayres, Peters and Lee, Bobby Crush and countless others. As hit rates go, it did better than either the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. But Green didn’t always get it right. In 1975, after an audition in Surbiton Town Hall, he passed on a young three-piece band from London who went on to find fame as The Jam.

The show was axed in 1978, shortly after Hughie went on a crazed political rant on-air. Inspired by the rise of Maggie Thatcher and a resurgent Tory Party, In December 1976, at the end of an episode of Opportunity Knocks, Green performed a bizarre piece about the state of the United Kingdom, Stand Up and Be Counted, which was released as a single by Philips in 1977 (backed with a grotesque rewrite of Land of Hope and Glory) with the distinctly patriotic catalogue number GB1. You can read more about that particular debacle HERE 

Opportunity Knocks was revived by the BBC and ran from March 1987 to June 1990, hosted initially by Bob Monkhouse (under the title Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!) and subsequently by former winner Les Dawson. Green never got over the humiliation of being axed and sank into a mire of alcohol-fuelled self-loathing. He was not the nicest of men: one of his mistresses killed herself when he left her by pouring petrol over herself and setting herself on fire, but he left the best until last. At his funeral in 1997, it was revealed that he was the real father of TV presenter (and wife of Bob Geldof) Paula Yates, a fact the poor woman was unaware of until she herself read it in the News of the World. There’s little doubt that this contributed to poor Paula’s personal problems and death, from an accidental overdose, in 2000. 14 years later her second-oldest daughter (and Hughie’s granddaughter) Peaches also died of a heroin overdose, aged just 25.

Anyway, here are both sides of the 45.

Enjoy!

Download Puppet HERE


Download Peppermint HERE


(if the links aren't working, give them a couple of hours and try again!)


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