Friday, 24 January 2020

Hooray for Harry-Wood

It’s a rare event when this blog features a novelty record, but this is such a great one – and the tracks have been going down a storm on The World’s Worst Records Radio Show – that I feel it is more than appropriate to share here. If you like the Frivolous Five, or perhaps the magnificent Mrs Miller or Madame St Onge, you’ll love this. Welcome to Hooray For Hollywood Starring the George Garabedian Players Featuring the Awful Trumpet of Harry Arms.

Issued in 1968 by Mark 56 Records, there’s little doubt that this album was inspired by the success of such oddball characters as the aforementioned Mrs Miller or Tiny Tim. The Frivolous Five is an obvious link, especially as Garabedian, Arms and company cover Whipped Cream, the Herb Alpert track that inspired the Frivolous Five’s 1966 album Sour Cream and Other Delights, among the album’s 10 tracks.

The sleeve notes give away little: "Wonder if the best musicians in Hollywood were called for a record date...and, HARRY ARMS happened to drop by with his AWFUL TRUMPET...?" that’s it, in toto.
Garabedian, a musician, producer and arranger who also owned Mark 56 Records, specialised in cover albums, supermarket specials, advertising music (not too dissimilar to library music I guess) and reissues of out-of-copyright Hollywood films in audio form. The success of Alpert in the pop music industry gave him an idea, and he cut deals with advertisers for a series of Tijuana Brass sound-alikes, some direct covers of Alpert hits, others faithful facsimiles of hits in an Alpert style. Garabedian’s music was used to sell everything from Philips electronics to Kentucky Fried Chicken (there’s even a spin-off KFC/Garabedian album, Colonel Saunders’ Tijuana Picnic that was repackaged at least half a dozen times as Pepsi Cola Presents Tijuana Taxi, Pet Ice Cream Presents Tijuana Taxi and so on) and Taco Bell (the album Taco Bell Presents Tijuana Taxi is a different collection to the KFC one).

By the mid-1970s, he had all but given up on releasing his own music or attempting to out-Herb Herb, and was concentrating instead on reissues of old radio serials via his Golden Days of Radio imprint, and other oddities including a reconstituted telephone interview with legendary recluse Howard Hughes. His work in reissuing historical recordings – including those by Mae West and Laurel and Hardy - paid off: in the late 70s and early 80s he received three Grammy nominations for his reissues.

Harry Arms remains a mystery. The name is almost definitely a pseudonym, but for whom?

Anyway, here are a couple of tracks from this magnificently mad album: the opener Hooray For Hollywood and the brilliant Georgy Girl. If you’d like to hear more, the whole album is kicking around on the net and it's well worth tracking down.


Download Hooray HERE

Download Georgy HERE

Friday, 17 January 2020

The Sheik of Ab-Cheri

It’s been a while – almost exactly 10 years to be precise – since we last featured Frank Perry on this here blog, so let’s make up for that now with a pip of a song-poem 45 from Sandy Stanton’s Film City label.

Having said that, our Frank only appears on one side of this particular release, Jerry Herzon takes the topside, The Legend of the Old Dutch Mill, relegating poor old Frank to the flip, Cheri. Herzon is credited on the A-side as having composed the clip-cloppy tune to The Legend of the Old Dutch Mill, and label head Stanton takes composer credit for the tune to Cheri, which is a bit of a liberty if you ask me as it’s clearly stolen wholesale from the Sheik of Araby.

The lyrics to both songs on this 45 were composed by Peter van Mourick, and it was only when researching that name did I realise that I had actually featured him before: he was the lyricist responsible for another Film City 45, Chattanooga, Nashville, Battlecreek Trek/Antique Hunter's Craze, which I wrote about back in March 2017. You can find that post HERE

As is invariably the case, neither 45 is dated, making it impossible to be 100 percent accurate about when they were recorded and released, but I’d pitch it somewhere around 1967, after – but not too long after - Rod Rogers/Rod Keith left Film City for Preview (around the beginning of 1966) and Frank Perry became Stanton’s go-to guy. Perry sounds very young here, his voice definitely matures and becomes fuller over the years, so I figure that date will not be too far wrong.

Jerome ‘Jerry’ Herzon had been active since the 1940s, even writing songs while serving in the navy on the USS Belmont during the Second World War, and at one point he ran his own publishing company, Chair Music, in California. 

The only Peter van Mourick I can find who was working around this period was pool attendant on the Dutch island of Aruba, but I think it’s safe to assume he’s not our man. If you know anything more about this release - or any of the folk involved - do please get in touch.


Download Mill HERE

Download Cheri HERE

Friday, 3 January 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone… and as it’s a New Year what better for this week’s blog post than a couple of New Year-themed songs?

First up is Mae West and My New Year’s Resolution, from her 1966 album Wild Christmas – an album we featured back at the beginning of December.

Once again Mae is accompanied by Somebody’s Chyldren, and the album was produced by David Mallet, the same team that had served her so well on her Tower album Way Out West. Six years after the release of Wild Christmas Mae would make one last sojourn into pop and rock, issuing the album Great Balls of Fire on MGM in 1972.

Next up is an oddity from Sandy Stanton’s Film City song-poem label, I Like The Old Year by Beth-Anne Hayes with the Film City Orchestra. Although Film City is best known for its chamberlain-driven song-poems, it often issued vanity recordings, and this falls solidly into that category.

I Like The Old Year was written by Barbara L. Hayes (presumably Beth-Anne’s mother or grandmother), and issued around 1970, the same time that the flip side, Oh Please, Dear Santa Claus, was copyrighted. Sadly I have no further info on this one; both names are reasonably common, and a quick scour of the internet yielded nothing, so if you know anything about Beth-Anne or Barbara, please do get in touch.


Download Resolution HERE

Download Like HERE

Friday, 27 December 2019

Rodd and Friends

Happy almost New Year, my friends.

A couple of tracks from song-poem sensation Rodd Keith for you today, in fact, both sides of a Preview 45 from late 1967, Nobody Knows What Love Will Do (written by Lon Streator), and Friends Are Few, from Eleanora Smalls. Our friend Bob Purse did blog this disc six years ago, but those links are currently inactive so, for now, this is (I believe) the only place you can find them.

Nobody Knows What Love Will Do is easily the better of the two tracks, Rodd and his band have spent some time working on this, and the result is a pretty decent swing number. Sadly the same cannot be said of the flip side, Friends Are Few, a dull little song with ridiculous lyrics that is only just raised from the level of the mundane by Rodd’s delivery. 

The female backing singer on Friends Are Few is unnamed, but I’d guess that it’s Nita Thomas (also known as Neda Carr and Nita Craig), who Rodd worked with a fair bit around the same time as this was recorded: it doesn’t sound like Bonnie Graham, his other regular collaborator, but I could be wrong. Unfortunately Preview chose not to credit her, and it’s always hard distinguishing who is who, as so many of the musicians at Preview worked under a variety of different names while they were at the company. Rodd, for example, worked as Rodd Keith, Rood Keith, Dan Monday, Ken Roberts, Milford Perkins (although the Milford Perkins that sang Duck Egg Walk is clearly a different singer) and so on. 

I can tell you nothing about Lon Streator, as far as I am aware he did not submit any other compositions to song-poem outfits, and I can find no other copyright entry for him. However, Eleanora Smalls was a habitual miscreant, writing the words to the songs Like God We Should Try To Be and Nobody Walks Alone, which she submitted to Lew Tobin’s Sterling company in 1965. I cannot tell you if they were recorded, but both songs were copyrighted (with music by Tobin), in March of that year, and there’s a very good chance they at least made it as far as the demo/acetate stage. Eleanora had another song recorded by Rodd for Preview, Mother’s Room, issued shortly before this particular disc and probably submitted at the same time.

Anyway,  enjoy these and I’ll see you all in the New Year!

Download Nobody HERE

Download Friends HERE

Friday, 20 December 2019

Christmas Cavalcade 2019 Part Three

T’was the night before Christmas… well, the Friday before, anyway. And here, for the final time this year, is another assortment of festive foolishness for you. I’ve raided my own song-poem collection for you today, and as far as I am aware none of these tracks are currently available elsewhere on the net, so enjoy!

First up, both sides of a Chapel Recording Company 45, two songs written by Katherine Dills of East Rutherford, New Jersey. Chapel, if you didn’t already know, was an imprint of Ted Rosen’s Halmark song-poem outfit – something that becomes abundantly clear the second one hears the A-side of this ridiculous record. The music bed is exactly the same one as used for countless other Halmark releases, and the voice is clearly Mary Kimmel, Halmark’s go-to female singer.

Mary’s stentorian delivery and the ridiculously overblown backing beautifully enhance the stupidity of Ms. Dills’ daft lyrics. I’m still trying to work out who the ‘friend’ is that she’s buying My Christmas Poinsettia for. Judging by the coda, that poor plant has a rather long journey ahead. Flip side My Christmas Day Prayer is even better. A rare song bed is used this time, in fact I cannot immediately call it to mind (although I’m positive I have heard it before), but any song-poem that not only starts with a spoken intro but breaks off for a spoken-word bridge too, is a winner in my books.

Next, from the Hollywood Artists Record Co., is Stephanie Allen and Poor Little Christmas Tree. Composed by Edward E. Regina and S. Mravik, like the vast majority of song-poem discs this carries no publication or copyright date, but judging by the quality of the pressing I’d pitch it at mid-80s.

Finally for today, both sides of a 45 issued by Vanity Records in Jo Ann Lear’s (A Child’s Lament) Leave My Toys Alone and Let’s Have A Happy New Year. Vanity is an interesting label, and over the years I’ve managed to procure several of their releases for my collection. It was not a straight song-poem company, although several of their discs definitely fall into that category, and this particular one appears to be a bit of a hybrid.

Vanity Records was more a custom producer that a straight song-poem outfit, used by established songwriters to produce top-quality demos in an effort to find new takers for their material, or by people who wanted a professional-sounding product that they could then distribute in whatever way they wanted. They also had their own distribution arm, and many of their discs were advertised in the pages of Billboard. The A-side of this particular disc was co-written by pianist Jack Betzner, who wrote the tunes for a number of minor hits in the 1940s but whose career was in the doldrums by the time this particular cut was issued, which I believe was around 1958. 

He worked with lyricist Tommy Schifanella on a number of songs, including You’ll Never Hurt Me That Way in 1951, (A Child’s Lament) Leave My Toys Alone, and the pair were still collaborating as late as 1970 with I’m Wealthy (This Is Like Money In The Bank). The flip side, Let’s Have A Happy New Year, was penned by the otherwise unknown Sal Maldonato. Singer Jo Ann Lear performed for a number of small record companies, including Nicholas Gilio’s Gira (What Would I Do/Tell the World I Love You, 1953), and the rather wonderfully-monikered Startime Sound Of Beauty in 1965.

And that’s your lot. Have a fantastic Christmas, and I’ll see you soon!

Download Poinsettia HERE

Download Prayer HERE

Download Tree HERE

Download Toys HERE

Download New Year HERE

Friday, 13 December 2019

Christmas Cavalcade 2019 Part Two

 Happy Friday my friends, and welcome to the second of three Christmas collections for 2019: another four tracks of festive foolishness just for you.

First up is a brace of tracks from the brilliant William Shatner, his eccentric re-reading of the classics The Little Drummer Boy and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from his Christmas collection Shatner Claus. 

Issued just before Christmas 2018, Shatner Claus features Bill alongside a bunch of heavy friends, including Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Todd Rundgren, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins and Rick Wakeman. The Little Drummer Boy features blues guitarist Joe Louis walker, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer includes a guest appearance from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, It’s insane and quite, quite marvellous.

What can you follow Shatner with? How about Elvis’s backing singers the Jordanaires, here with Linn and Linda (and Millie, don’t forget Millie) and the truly miserable The Christmas Orphan. My goodness, a record that makes Red Sovine sound cheerful. 

Incidentally, the Millie in question is Millie Kirkham, who also appeared with the Jordanaires on Elvis’s Blue Christmas. Composed by polka king Del Sinchak, who recorded the tune himself in 1953, this recording hails from – I believe – 1958: Sinchack only registered copyright in the lyric in December 1957.

We’ll finish today with US TV host Regis Philbin and his version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, from his 2005 collection The Regis Philbin Christmas Album. On this track Regis is joined by a friend, host of the US version of the Apprentice and soon-to be leader of the free world, Donald Trump. Needless to say, it ain’t pretty.


Download Drummer HERE

Download Shatner’s Rudolph HERE

Download Orphan HERE

Download Regis’s Rudolph HERE

Friday, 6 December 2019

Christmas Cavalcade 2019 Part One

Every year this gets a little bit harder. Every December since 2009 I’ve tried to bring you a cornucopia of Christmas-themed crapness, in an annual Christmas Cavalcade of terrible records. After a decade of dodgy discs, you would think I would have run out of new material to bring you.

But oh no… or oh ho!Ho!ho! no, if you prefer.

It just means that each year I have to trawl though my previous posts to ensure I’m not repeating myself: that’s what takes the time. For example, I had intended to post Red Sovine’s Here It Is, Christmas, but I blogged that back in 2017. Never mind: over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring a handful of Christmas clunkers I know I have not blogged before.

First up we have four tracks from Mae West, Hollywood royalty and naughty ne’er-do-well of yore, and her only Christmas album, Wild Christmas. Issued in 1966 on the tiny Dagonet label, just a few short months after Mae had released her major-label rock ‘n’ roll album Way Out West. Way Out West had been a minor hit, peaking at 116 on the Billboard album chart, so you might assume that Tower (an imprint of Capitol) only had her under contract for the one record: it makes no sense to let her go, especially in light of the success their parent company was having with Mrs Miller. Until you do a little digging that is.

Dagonet was a TV production company: their spin-off record label issued very few discs, but an act signed to the company, variously known as The Chyldren and Somebody’s Chyldren, provide the uncredited backing for Ms West on Wild Christmas. Most Dagonet releases were produced by David Mallet. Mallet also produced Way Out West, and Mae’s backing band on that album was Somebody’s Chyldren. You see, it all adds up now. My assumption is that the tracks for both albums were recorded during the same sessions, but Tower declined to issue a Christmas album because it was too soon after Way Out West (which had been issued in July) or, more likely, that there was not enough material to produce a viable album.

Wild Christmas is a weird little album, just eight tracks and clocking in at 20 minutes, although it did spawn a single, Quint Benedetti's Put The Loot In the Boot Santa, which was backed by a cover of the Beatles’ From Me To You, listed on both the album and 45 as With Love From Me To You. The album was reissued, with a rejigged track listing, as Mae In December for the anthology The Fabulous Mae West.

From Wild Christmas here’s Put The Loot In the Boot Santa, Santa Baby, Merry Christmas Baby and, as a bonus, Santa, Come Up And See Me, which I did feature on the blog back in 2012 but that link is now dead. As Ms West once said, ‘My left leg is Christmas and my right leg is New Year’s. Why don't you visit me between the holidays?’


Download Loot HERE

Download Santa HERE

Download Merry HERE

Download Come UP HERE

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