Friday, 25 September 2020

Puppets for Praise

I'm off on a well-deserved and much-needed holiday from today, but before I go here's a real treat for you, the whole of one of the more obscure Little Marcy albums, The Jesus Story. The information below originally appeared in my first book, The World's Worst Records Volume One.

The product of a devoutly religious family, young Marcellaise ‘Marcy’ Hartwick was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. She studied piano and trombone as a child. Moving to Portland, Oregon, the committed Christian married the equally religious Malcolm Everett Tigner in 1942, and the pair determined to exploit her art to praise God.


She released a brace of trombone LPs under her married name - Some Golden Daybreak with organist Lorin Whitney (who a few years previously had released a Christian praise album which consisted of himself playing organ accompanied by song birds) and the inspiringly-titled Trombone for the Christian Faith label, but it seems that there's not a huge market for God-bothering trombonists. So she decided to sing instead.


Sadly, whenever the young Mrs Tigner opened up her larynx an odd, child-like sound came out (a female Lil’ Markie, if you will) and so, after issuing just one three-track EP for the obscure Angelus Records label, she learned to button it. That was until her husband had the brilliant idea of having his missus sing kiddie songs whilst pretending to be a small girl: Little Marcy was born.


Credited simply as Marcy, Mrs Tigner released a couple of albums on small Christian imprints, kicking off in 1964 with Happy Day Express which, along with her next few releases, deliberately did not feature a photo of the artist on the cover but instead included a rather crude drawing of a pig-tailed, smiley-faced moppet. The company that signed her (Cornerstone) seemed perfectly happy to share in this duplicity until a chance meeting with model, ventriloquist and former Miss America Vonda Van Dyke on the set of the Christian film Teenage Diary convinced her that having a wooden Mini-Me on her lap as she sang her stuff would be the way to go. So after careful study of the popular Paul Winchell book Ventriloquism For Fun and Profit (maybe he should consider retitling that For Fun and Prophet), she hooked up with a small doll – manufactured to her own design, and based on herself as a little girl, by the same company that made the original Charlie McCarthy doll – which she christened Little Marcy and, with the gift of her unusual, child-like singing voice, released around three dozen dopey, odd or downright disturbing albums over three decades.


They really have to be heard to be believed. Marcy’s voice is a dead ringer for that of a six year-old, and the songs – including such peaches as When Mr. Satan Knocks At My Heart's Door, I'm Glad I'm A Christian, I Love Little Pussy (a song guaranteed to give a psychiatrist nightmares), It’s Bubbling and the utterly brilliant Devil, Devil Go Away - are a mixture of kid-friendly, happy-clappy praise, nursery rhymes and less-friendly fire and brimstone scare tactics.


This unusual act fascinated and inspired audiences for decades. The pair appeared on radio programmes such as Marcy Tigner's Hymntime and Sing with Marcy; there's a TV special with Smokey the Bear (and, naturellement, an accompanying album and storybook), and at least two Little Marcy films.


Marcy also appeared in book form: between 1968 and 1980 Mrs Tigner penned a series of short children’s books including Little Marcy Loves Jesus, Little Marcy At The Zoo and Little Marcy’s Favourite Bible Stories. Our favourite block of wood even had its own line in prayer and hymn books. Marcy T teamed up with her daughter Lauri Khodabandehloo Tigner to write and perform, although these days Lauri Khodabandehloo has dropped the Tigner, become an author in her own right and has expunged all mentions of her past life as a doll’s assistant from her biography.


Marcy’s last album of new recordings, Little Marcy and Mother Goose Go to Church, came out in 1982; she appeared in a couple of short films made specifically for Christian cable channels by Tyndale Christian Video (Learning To Do God’s Work and Learning God’s Love) in 1988/89 and then gracefully retired.


Everett Tigner shuffled off this mortal coil in 2007, after 65 years of marriage. Little Marcy’s handler – Marcy Tigner – passed away at the grand old age of 90, in April 2012, which, barring a buy-out from the Disney Corporation, means that the world has probably heard the last of the little wooden doll.

Here are both sides of (to give it its full title) Ralph Carmichael Presents Little Marcy With the Jesus Story (a Children's Musical). Enjoy!

Download Side One HERE


Download Side Two HERE

Friday, 18 September 2020

The Eyes of Suzy Moppet


It’s been more than seven years since I last wrote about the career of the late Tammy Faye Bakker (born Tamara Faye LaValley in 1942), and when I did I concentrated on her career as a solo singer. But before she set out to be a solo sensation, she and her husband – the disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker – began their recording career with the 1969 release Jim and Tammy and their Friends: Songs and Stories


The ‘friends’ included glove puppets Allie the Aligator, Muffin the Talking Dog, Mr Clown, Zippy the Talking Mailbox and the shrill-voiced Susie Moppet, who sounds for all the world like Little Marcy with a head cold. This couple had absolutely no shame: Susie Moppet is clearly a Porky Pig doll in a cheap dress and a wig made of yellow wool, but the money-grubbing Bakkers had the audacity to market Susie Moppet dolls as their own creation.


At the time they recorded Jim and Tammy and their Friends: Songs and Stories the couple were broadcasting six days a week on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. The show was wildly popular (so they claim) and a Jim and Tammy Friendship Club was set up, giving the huckster couple their first real sense of how easy t was to fleece the gullible. Jim and Tammy (and their friends) became the breakout stars of Robertson’s channel and were soon following the trail of all of that filthy lucre: in 1973 the couple joined with disgraced televangelists Paul and Jan Crouch to help co-found the Trinity Broadcasting Network, before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina to set up their own money-making megalith. During that time Tammy issued her own solo debut, 1970’s Tammy Tammy Tammy, but building an empire had to come first, and she would not revisit her solo career until 1977.


In 1975, following the Bakker’s defection from the Trinity Broadcasting Network  to establish their own multi-million dollar generating Praise the Lord Network (PTL) Jim and Tammy and their Friends resurfaced, with their sophomore release, the idiotically-titled Oops! There Comes a Smile, the ‘friends’ first album for six years.

The same year as Oops! There Comes a Smile was issued the ‘difficult’ third album, Building on The Rock, also saw the light of day. Two years later saw the release of the band’s fourth and final album Clap Your Hands, before Tammy put the dolls back into the toy chest and resumed squawking for God without her hand up a puppet pig’s arse.


The Bakkers' control of PTL collapsed in 1987 when it was revealed that Jim had been a bit naughty with the company secretary, Jessica Hahn, and reportedly used $287,000 of the church’s funds to buy her silence (that was a waste of money!). Further investigations into the Bakker’s extravagant lifestyle questioned their dodgy, and vastly oversubscribed, Christian hotel time-share scheme and the funds they had poured into their Christian theme park, Heritage USA.


With the couple in disgrace and Jim facing a stretch in jail, renowned Christian fraudster, fellow televangelist and friend (not of the puppet kind, you understand) Jerry Falwell offered a lifeline, but under his stewardship PTL soon went bankrupt. In 1989 Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison on 24 fraud and conspiracy counts. Falwell and the Bakker’s fell out, primarily it seems because Falwell was only interested in using PTL to boost his own television career, but also no doubt because the equally self-absorbed Falwell had the temerity to call our Jim a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and ‘the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history’.


Jim and Tammy Taye divorced in 1992; a year later she married former PTL bigwig Roe Messner – the man who provided Jim with the cash to pay of Jessica Hahn and who claimed, during the bankruptcy hearing for PTL, to be owed $14 million by the church. Messner filed for bankruptcy himself in 1990 and, just like his former friend Jim, wound up being convicted of fraud. Tammy and Jerry both died in 2007. Sadly Jim is still with us (just: he had a stroke in May but was back at work fronting The Jim Bakker Show with second wife Lori in July), knocking out fake Covid cures and, as news site Christian Today put it, preying on ‘the most vulnerable kinds of people’.


Here is the entire Jim and Tammy and their Friends album, Oops! There Comes a Smile. The whole thing is only 25 minutes long, so I’ve simply broken it down to Side One (10 short songs: The Joy Of The Lord, What A Wonderful Day That Will Be, Oops! There Comes A Smile, Happiness Is The Lord, God Is Watching You, Do Lord, I Wonder, Heaven Is A Wonderful Place, Praise The Lord and God's Not Dead) and Side Two (two stories, The Pearl Of Great Price and Noah's Ark).




Download Oops 1 HERE 

Download Oops 2 HERE 


Friday, 4 September 2020

Sonny, Buddy, Elmer and Dick

 If you were listening to the World’s Worst Records Radio Show this week, (and if you haven’t, you can do so now by clicking HERE) you would have heard me play a couple of tracks from one of my latest acquisitions, a Columbine Records song-poem compilation that was issued, it’s fairly safe to assume, in 1981.

It’s another one of the endless stream of the company’s catch-all Music of America series. There are well over 100 in all; no one has yet been able to fully catalogue them, although Phil Milstein’s long-dormant American Song-Poem Music Archives made a valiant effort some years ago:

The cover – and I have several featuring an identical front sleeve – would lead you to believe that this dis was issued around 1976, in time to mark America’s bicentennial. In fact one of the songs on the album, U.S.A. (Garden of Roses) is bicentennial-themed, so how can I be so sure that the album was issued in 1981 when I’ve already admitted that no reliable catalogue exists? For the simple reason that one of the songs, To Yoko, was written about the assassination of John Lennon, which took place on 8 December 1980.

For sure, it could have come out in 1982 or 83, but there is no way that this album could possibly predate 1981. Unless the lyric for To Yoko had been composed by Criswell, that is. As a Beatle, Yoko and song-poem fan, finding and purchasing this album was essential. And it did not disappoint… as you are about to discover.

The tracks below feature Columbine regular Sonny Cash, who also appeared on the label as Ralph Lowe, as well as recording for MSR under the names of Dick Castle and Dick Kent. The singer’s real name was Elmer Plinger: no wonder he used a pseudonym. Plinger had been recording since at least 1940: in February of that year, as vocalist of the Modern Mountaineers, he recorded a couple of sides for RCA’s Bluebird imprint, which were also available via mail order retail pioneer Montgomery Ward. As Buddy Ray, he recorded a couple of vocals for the magnificently odd "Night-Club Music" Las Vegas & Country Western, by Ken ‘Nevada’ Maines, in the early 70s, and by the time these cuts were laid down in the studio he had been working as a professional vocalist for over 40 years.

Here’s Sonny/Elmer/Buddy/Dick with To Yoko and the rather wonderful Psychic Cigarette.


Download Yoko HERE


 Download Cigarette HERE

Friday, 28 August 2020

(Just Like The) Son of Sam

If you’re a fan of Sam Sacks’ Sing It Again, Sam then Sam Chalpin’s My Father, the Pop Singer is the album for you: 10 songs mangled in the best Sam Sacks fashion, only with an au courant pop beat. With a title half-inched from comedian Allan Sherman (whose debut album was entitled My Son, the Folk Singer), My Father, the Pop Singer is a little treasure.

However, I must admit that I was confused when I first saw the sleeve (which, you’ll understand was before I had listened to the contents). I assumed that the girl on the right was Sam, and that the Bono-alike was her father Ed Chalpin, Jimi Hendrix’s former manager. Chalpin was the man responsible for those awful Hendrix and Curtis Knight jams, and for the so-called Hendrix and Knight studio tracks (Flashing, Hush Now etcetera) that have been endlessly recycled since their first appearance in 1967. It did not take long to discover that the young lady on the sleeve was an agency model with no connection to the recording at all, and that the uncomfortable looking man in the bell-bottom trousers was, in fact, Ed Chalpin’s own father, Sam, who provides the vocals on the album.

So how did this unusual record come about? The story on the reverse of the sleeve, which tells how 65-year-old Sam strolled into a recording studio and announced that he wanted to make a record is pure hokum. The simple truth is that Ed, always on the make, saw the success that Mrs Miller was enjoying and felt that he could come up with something that would sell just as well. And do it quickly.

He had form: Ed ran his own New York recording studio, Studio 76, and production company (PPX Productions), located on the 7th floor at 1650 Broadway, just around the corner from the famous Brill Building. Studio 76 was an unusual setup, specialising in quick soundalike copies of chart hits which Ed would license to countries outside of the States, meaning that they could often get carbon copies of the big US hits weeks before British or other European labels had gone through the lengthy process of licensing, mastering and pressing the originals.

Assembling a crew of musicians well-versed in Ed’s methods, he dragged his dad in and, over the course of two days, made him bark and bray his way through a selection of pop hits, including the Singing Nun’s Dominique, a couple of Beatles tracks and – in line with the image on the front cover – a version of the Sonny Bono-composed Cher hit Bang Bang. It’s a riot! Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder and president of Atlantic Records, clearly thought so too, snapping the recordings up for his Atco imprint which, with beautiful Irony, was also home to Sonny and Cher. The album was issued in July 1966, just four months after Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits had hit the stores.

That’s it in a nutshell: if you would like to read the whole story from someone who was there, engineer Mike Rashkow (who sadly passed away in 2013) wrote a feature for the Spectropop website that is well worth perusing. Mike goes into great detail about Chalpin’s studio set up and explains exactly how the album was recorded, edited, and produced.

As I’m feeling generous today, and because the whole thing only lasts for a little over 20 minutes, here’s the entire album. I defy you to keep a straight face while you listen to Sam Chalpin massacre the classics!


Download Side One HERE

Download Side Two HERE

Friday, 21 August 2020

Jet Lady

Angela Masson is a true Renaissance woman: an artist, inventor, a decorated pilot, television host and – naturally – musician whose life we can but marvel at.

Born in California, Angela began flying lessons at age 15 and, shortly after obtaining her pilot’s license, she started air racing. At 21 years-old, while flying in the Powder Puff Derby, an annual transcontinental air race for women pilots which ran for 30 years from 1947, she set a record as the youngest person to fly coast to coast in a high-performance aircraft.

In 1971 she trained armed forces pilot cadets at fellow aviatrix Claire Walters Flight School to build her flight experience, getting over 1,000 flight hours in less than a year. “The place where I was teaching had two bathrooms,” she told reporter Benjamin Gleisser in 2019, “and both were for men. So I wrote ‘WO’ in lipstick in front of the word on one of the doors. There was a law on the books that said, essentially, ‘Women shall not fly for the military.’ I thought, Wait a minute, why can’t we be pilots? The military’s excuse was they didn’t have helmets that would fit us.” She then went on to fly as a charter pilot for Express Airways out of Naval Air Station Lemoore on a civilian contract for the Navy and became a full-time commercial pilot the following year.

Frustrated to see her former male students flying jets while females were barred (bizarrely they were allowed to fly helicopters, the US military not considering whirlybirds proper aeroplanes!), she went back to school, writing her Ph.D. dissertation “Elements of Organizational Discrimination: The Air Force Response to Women as Military Pilots”. That paper was read by Robert Crandall, president of American Airlines, who hired her, initially as a flight engineer on a Boeing 727, in 1976. Shortly after she became a pilot and was the first woman to fly as First Officer on the Boeing 707, 767 and Douglas DC-10. The Ph.D. that had so impressed Crandall was presented before Congress during the Hearings about opening military the Academies to women. In 1978, as airlines began investigating the idea of commercial flights into space, Angela’s name was being put forward, the first and only woman considered to pilot such a enterprise.

By the late 1990s she was living in Florida, still mixing and making and applying for patents for her various inventions. As their most senior female pilot, she finally retired from American Airlines in December 2007 after 31 years’ service. But of course, she had many more strings to her bow. In 1980 Angela decided to run for Mayor of Los Angeles. She didn’t win, and we should probably be grateful for that, because if she had become a politician we may never have heard her 1982 opus, Jet Lady.  

Jet Lady, released under the name Tangela Tricoli, is Angela’s her one and only album… but what a marvel that is. Released independently (and now worth a fortune) the disc features Angela/Tangela singing her own compositions, accompanied by her own solo acoustic guitar. Sounding like a cross between Frances Baskerville the Singing Psychic and Lucia Pamela, Jet Lady contains such stone-cold classics as Stinky Poodle (surely the inspiration for Phoebe Buffay’s Smelly Cat), Life of a Housewife and Space Woman. Occasionally, as on the original Stinky Poodle she double tracks her voice; many of the tracks are slathered with echo and reverb, producing a unique, ethereal sound unlike anything else. It’s just wonderful. As she herself said (in a 2010 interview), “I sing about everything I do. I can’t sing on-key, but that doesn’t stop me.” It’s a sentiment very close to my own heart.

She followed up the release with her own cable TV show, which ran for four years in the Hollywood area. By the late 1990s she had retired and was living in Florida, although still mixing and making and applying for patents for her various inventions. Sadly she would not record a whole album again, however in 2003 Arf! Arf! Records reissued the album on CD, complete with extra material, campaign ads, unreleased demos and a brand new re-recording of Stinky Poodle.

Angela may have retired from commercial work, but as recently as last year she was still passing on her love of flight, teaching at the St. Augustine High School Aerospace Academy and at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. “Every day, I try to share with my students the love of flying,” she explained to Benjamin Gleisser. “Aviation is a lifestyle. There’s something sparkly in it for everybody. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning and play with the reality of being alive.”

Here are two tracks to get you started – the original recording of Stinky Poodle and the wonderful Space Woman, but I urge you to go buy the CD of Jet Lady and wallow in the brilliance of Angela Masson, aka Tangela Tricoli.


Download Poodle HERE

Download Space HERE

Saturday, 15 August 2020


Just a quick post today… I’ve been a bit distracted working on the new book and have not had a lot of time to search out new material to share with you, so today I’m delving into my song-poem archive once again.

These two tracks come from one of the many, many, many Columbine compilations that appeared in the 1970s and 80s: this particular release being one of the earlier Now Sounds of Today collections, of which there were around 300 iterations. There’s no date on the record label or cover, as is usual with the vast majority of song-poem releases, but this would have been issued around 1977 or so.

Douglas Mac Arthur Tsosie’s Curse of an Evil Woman and Grace Dorsey’s wonderfully bizarre Miraculous for Miracle were recorded by Columbine’s in-house band of seemingly hopeless amateurs, the Rave-Ons, the most inept bunch of musicians you’re ever likely to come across, and a band who recorded the vast majority of tracks on the first 13 Columbine albums – well over 200 songs – before vanishing completely from the Columbine roster.

These two tracks are the first two cuts on side one of this particular Now Sounds of Today: back in April 2010 (yes, over a decade ago) I featured tracks three and four from the same album but at that time posted the wrong cover… oops! At some point I’ll get around to ripping the whole thing and sharing it with you, but for now here are a couple of horrors to blight your day.


Download Evil HERE

Download Miracle HERE

Friday, 31 July 2020

Father? Oh Brother!

When I was a wee lad, Patrick Cargill was ubiquitous. From playing a psychopathic Number Two in the classic Prisoner episode Hammer Into Anvil, to appearing in both Help! and the Magic Christian... which was a pretty big deal for a young Beatles fan. It was only later that I discovered he had also played opposite Tony Hancock in the brilliant Blood Donor and appeared in a brace of Carry On… films too. But, more than anything, he was the rakish Patrick Glover in the ITV sitcom Father, Dear Father.

Glover was an author, divorced and bringing up two teenage daughters along with his housekeeper (always referred to as Nanny), and a large St Bernard dog, HG (for H G Wells). The premise of the show was paper-thin, but it ran for 45 episodes over five years. Father, Dear Father was a huge success, a defining and somewhat stereotyping role for Cargill, and the inevitable spin-off movie followed. A couple of years after the series ended he was back in a new sitcom, originally to be titled Take My Wives, but eventually screened under the name the Many Wives of Patrick.

The success of Father, Dear Father led to Cargill being offered the opportunity to record an album and several singles based around the character of Patrick Glover. First came the 1969 album Patrick Cargill Sings Father, Dear Father followed two years later by a 45, a vocal version of the show’s theme tune, credited to Patrick Cargill And The Petticoat Twins and, another two years after that, the festive Father Dear Father Christmas.

He did not find being in the limelight easy, but like many British comic actors, he was ‘big in Australia’, and gladly accepted an offer to uproot and relocate ‘down under’ temporarily to make an Aussie version of Father, Dear Father in 1978. he continued to make trips to the country and, on his final visit there in 1994, he was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver, leading to erroneous reports that he had died. Back in Britain. although no longer in demand on television, he continued to work on the stage throughout the 1980s.

He passed away in a hospice, where he had been receiving care after suffering a brain tumour, in May 1996 at the age of 77. he had continued to act until he became too ill to do so, appearing in a touring production of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off the previous spring. I had no idea that he was gay: no one would have. Unlike many homosexual actors of the time the press left him alone, never hinting (at least as far as I am aware) that he was anything other than the slightly foppish heterosexual he often portrayed on screen. Even when he died, obituaries made vague mention of the fact that he had never married, but left it at that. Of course, being a trifle more sophisticated I can now look back and see the signs… chief of which was his long-term relationships with landscape gardener Vernon Page and, later, James Markowski.

By the way, in case those who recall the TV series had ever wondered, Nanny (the Glover’s long-suffering, slightly scatty housekeeper, played by Noel Dyson) had a ‘real’ name: Mrs. Harris.

Here are a couple of Patrick’s vocal performances for you. First up is Father Dear, the opener from the 1969 album Patrick Cargill Sings Father, Dear Father. Following that is the 1971 vocal version of the theme from Father, Dear Father from Patrick Cargill And The Petticoat Twins.


Download Father Dear HERE

Download Father Dear Father HERE

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