Friday, 22 January 2021

It's a Hit, By Cracky!

Here’s a fun little disc, not in any way ‘the worst’ of anything, but a real oddity that you might not have the opportunity to hear otherwise.

 

Produced in 1967, the By Cracky Beat and flip side Gikki/Gong were issued in Canada to promote the By Cracky! candy bar, for Canadian chocolate company Lowney’s, and was given away to kids at schools, via radio promotions and - I would assume - in stores.

 

Born in 1855, Walter MacPherson Lowney began manufacturing chocolate bonbons in Boston in 1883. Seven years later he established the Walter M. Lowney Company and, in 1905, he opened the Walter M. Lowney Company of Canada, Ltd., with a factory in Montreal. The company was eventually taken over by the giant Hershey corporation.

 

Both compositions are credited to Mamorsky, Zimmermann and Hamm, the owners of MZH (later to become MZH & F Music Productions), a New York-based company that specialised in advertising jingles. Morris Mamorsky (1910-2003) was an orchestra leader and composer, and once conducted the NBC Orchestra; Tommy Hamm was a member of the vocal group The Mello-larks, who released the 1959 album Just For a Lark. Jack Zimmermann was a guitarist, bass player, orchestra leader and professional whistler who, in 1956, issued the album The Whistler and His Dog on Golden Crest Records.

 

Their company was responsible for many famous jingles, including I Am Stuck On Band-Aid that was composed for MZH by Barry Manilow before he made it big. Manilow worked on many advertising campaigns, including ones for McDonald's, KFC, and Dodge trucks, and in 1976 he won an award for MHZ for composing and performing a jingle for the soft drink Tab. For a short period in the early-to-mid 70s they owned a recording studio in Manhattan, MZH Studio (which later became Celebration Studios, equipped with a 24 track Dolby dbx desk), used by Loudon Wainwright III and Meco (he recorded his disco-fied version of the Star Wars theme there) amongst others.

 

There’s no credit for the vocalists or instrumentalists on either side of this great little disc, however it has been suggested that the vocal act could be the Toronto-based Laurie Bower Singers, formed by trombone player Bowers, who did most of their work for TV and film music specialists the Canadian Talent Library. having listened to a few contemporary recordings by the Laurie Bower Singers, I tend to concur.

 

Anyway, enjoy these fun, funky slices of 60s cheese.. or should that be chocolate?

 

Download Beat HERE

Download Gong HERE

Friday, 15 January 2021

The Legend of Jan Terri

I have featured Chicago-based singer and songwriter Jan Terri on the blog before, briefly mentioning the outsider music legend in the 2018 Christmas cavalcade, but its high time she had a dedicated post all of her own. There can be no question that she deserves it.

 

Born Janice Spagnolia on 17 June 1959, the showbiz bug bit early. Jan’s father was an aspiring singer, who used to perform in local bars in costume as Elvis, and in blackface as Sammy Davis Junior (she denies he was ever known as the Black Elvis, despite what you may have read elsewhere). When she was just five years old Jan, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Franklin Park, would perform Beatles and Elvis numbers for her school friends, complete with cheap guitar and Beatle wig.

 

She graduated in 1983, having earned a B.A. in Broadcast Communications and a Management Certificate for Sound Engineering from Columbia College. While studying, she took an internship at a recording studio run by local country bar band the Windy City Cowboys. Jan became their backup singer, and performed with them at local bars and weddings. At the same time, she began writing her own material.

 

Personal issues within her family meant putting her career on hold: Jan did not resurface until the 1990s when, while working as a limousine driver, she started recording her own material. She spent her hard earned cash and recorded half a dozen of her compositions, and made video clips to accompany them. She assembled press kits and sent them to every record company she could think of, and gave VHS tapes of her videos to various clients at the limousine service. Two self-financed albums followed, Baby Blues (1992) and High Risk (1994).


Then one of Jan’s press kits ended up in the hands of Marilyn Manson.

 

Manson was so impressed with Terri's winningly inept, yet heartfelt, enthusiasm that he brought her out to open for him at the Aragon Theatre in 1998, and she appeared as his opening act at concerts in Chicago in 1998 and 1999. She also appears in his 1999 live video God Is In The TV. Television appearances followed and her early videos started to attract attention. Losing You, from Baby Blues (which makes excellent use of Jan’s limousine), went viral - well, what amounted to viral back in the last century - and it looked like fame, of sorts, was to follow.

 

Sadly Jan was forced to put her career on hold again: she spent eight years looking after her mother (who suffered from dementia) until she passed in 2008, and in 2002 she was involved in a bad traffic accident. But in those years, while she was in a kind of forced retirement, things changed. In 2005 YouTube debuted and very soon after Jan became an international sensation. Suddenly she was an international star.

 

New recordings surfaced, including her first new album in 20 years, Wild One (2012, although much of the album was recorded back in 1997), and Holiday Songs (2014) along with the infamous 2011 comeback single Excuse My Christmas.

 

Today Jan considers herself to be retired, however recordings continue to surface, mostly digital and available from her Bandcamp page, including the planned 2013 album, I'm A Horsie (now titled High Risk), and the 2014 collection No Rules, No Boundaries. If you like what you hear please go to her page and support her: you can even order yourself a signed photograph or even a personal phone call! She is currently trying to crowdfund a new album, and you can help HERE

 

Here are a couple of my personal favourites from Jan’s catalogue: Journey to Mars and her wonderful version of Ave Maria.

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Journey HERE

Download Ave HERE

Friday, 8 January 2021

Democracy Inaction

Welcome, fellow mad music enthusiasts, to the first WWR blog post of 2021. You would think, after blogging about bad music for 14 years now, that I would have run out of terrible records to bring you, but no! There’s loads more to come, new acts to discover and a whole world of madness coming your way over the next 12 months.

 

Today’s post comes as the world recovers from the insane goings on witnessed in Washington this week. The open call to arms (‘we’ll be there with you’, the Cheeto-coloured manchild raged. No you were not, you cowardly orangutan) from the 45th President is something none of us have witnessed before. Sadly, as well as resulting in the deaths of four people and injuries to many others, this massively overshadowed what happened in Georgia, where Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, handing control of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House to the Democrats for the first time since 2009. Warnock, a Baptist pastor, becomes the first black senator for Georgia and only the eleventh black member of the Senate in US history.

 

Eleven. Eleven out of something like 2,000. Incredible.

 

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here are both sides of Pete Quinto’s 1968 45, Mr Democrat. The single originally appeared with a short spoken introduction by Sam Shapiro, 34th Governor of Illinois, who was in office for eight short months between May 1968 and January 1969, but after his defeat by republican Richard B. Ogilvie this was dropped, and in late 1969 the song was re-written as Mr Citizen. 
 

Peter Gabriel Gianquinto was born in August 1921, in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and was known primarily as a Louis Armstrong impressionist; in fact he was the only imitator to play on the same stage with Armstrong, which he did on several occasions. He died in March 2003 after a short illness, just three years after issuing his only album, A Tribute to Louis Armstrong.


The lyrics were written by Quinto, Shirley Spilmon and Mike Vallo and the tune for both versions was composed by Vincent Chiarelli, owner of Vincent Records, which was established in Illinois in the late 1960s and still in operation today, with grandson Vince Chiarelli at the helm. The team of Chiarelli, Quino and Spilmon composed at least two other songs, Find Yourself a Girl (and Fall in Love), and The Greatest Treasurewhich was copyrighted at the same time as Mr Democrat.

 

Here’s the original version, complete with spoken introduction, and the mostly-instrumental flip side.

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Democrat HERE

Download Instrumental HERE

Friday, 18 December 2020

Christmas Cavalcade 2020, Part Three

With just one week to go, it’s time for another couple of festive-themed tracks for you, all part of this year’s Christmas Cavalcade.

 

First up is a find from our old friend Stephen ‘Beany’ Green, who was kind enough to send me a whole CD of funky festiveness recently. It’s British actor Arthur Treacher (I still have no idea if he was related to Bill ‘EastEnders’ Treacher…) and his rather unique take on the classic Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town. Treacher began his movie career in the 1930s, appearing in four Shirley Temple vehicles, and as butler Jeeves in a brace of early P. G. Wodehouse adaptations.

 

In the 1960s he became a regular face on TV in America, eventually becoming announcer and on-screen sparring partner to Merv Griffin. He made two albums with Griffin, Merv Griffin and Arthur Treacher in London: ‘Alf and ‘Alf a collection of musichall favourites, and the clumsily-titled Big Christmas Album For Merv Griffin and TV Family, which also featured an early musical outing from TV actor David Soul and, naturally, Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town.

 

Next up is Derrik Roberts and There Won't Be Any Snow (Christmas In The Jungle) an early (1965) Vietnam War-themed disc that’s guaranteed to warm the cockles at this time of year. It follows the same plot used by so many other pro- and anti-Vietnam discs, but I won’t spoil the denouement for you!

 

There’s not much info out there about this one and, confusingly, on promo copies the singer(s) are credited as a duo, Derrik and Roberts, rather than just Derrik Roberts. The disc was penned and produced by Vance and Pockriss who, between them, were responsible for dozens of hits and even more misses, from the great (Catch a Falling Star and Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini) to the reprehensible (Playground in My Mind and Without Your Love [Mr Jordan] Parts One and Two).

 

As an extra I’m also including the video to Jon Bon Jovi’s horrific remake of Fairytale of New York… a recording so bad that the record company have forbidden people to add their comments on YouTube after it was Universally panned.

 

I’ve never been a fan of their music – although part of that may be my jealousy at being too fat to fit into all of that spandex or too bald to be able to join a hair metal outfit – but Jon himself (who, 40 years ago brought us the Christmas Classic R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas) is a pretty stand up fella, doing immense good work in his local community, and I do feel a bit mean, but this truly is Godawful, and the new lyrics suck balls. It really should not exist, but I’m kind of glad it does. 


And if that’s not enough awful audio, why not join me on Wednesday, 2pm GMT/7pm Eastern for a whole hour of Christmassy crap – including all three of these turkeys - on The World’s Worst Records Radio Show: https://wfmu.org/playlists/WR

 

Enjoy! 

Download Santa HERE 

Download Jungle HERE

Friday, 11 December 2020

Christmas Cavalcade 2020, Part Two

 

It’s another Friday in December, and time for another couple of Christmas-themed oddities. And, to follow last week’s brace of Beatle novelties, here are two more for you to endure.

 

First up is another Beatle-related festive novelty, Ringo-Deer, from Toronto DJ Garry Farrier. Ferrier’s 45 was issued in Canada just in time for Christmas 1964 by Capitol, although the company decided not t opt for a US issue, leaving Ferrier free to license the tracks to New York-based Academy Records. Ferrier had been involved in a number of novelty records, usually with a political bent,

 

Next up is Christmas With the Beatles by Judy and the Duets. This particular disc made the opposite journey, originally issued in New York on the tiny Ware Records Inc label and then licensed to Apex in Canada – the same label that had issued one of Garry Ferrier’s earliest releases, the 1959 novelty The Battle of Queenston Heights/The Tea Taster.

 

Christmas With the Beatles was written by Henry Glover who, together with Fred Norman, was also responsible for the arrangement. Glover and Norman were jazz veterans, Glover having played trumpet with Lucky Millinder, while Norman was a trombonist in the Claude Hopkins Orchestra. Both men also worked as songwriters, arrangers and producers during their long careers. Glover had his own label, Glover Records, which began issuing 45s in the late 50s and ran until 1964, shortly before this 45 was issued. Many of the tracks issued by Glover were published by Jon Ware Music, which would help explain why Glover wrote and arranged this one-off for Ware.


I've not been able to discover who Judy or the Duets were, although I have my suspicions. Glover worked with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson throughout 1964, and in fact recorded and released the hit duo's first three 45s, so I would not be massively surprised if that's Valerie Simpson on lead vocals. 

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Ringo HERE

Download Christmas HERE

Friday, 4 December 2020

Christmas Cavalcade 2020, Part One

Ho Ho Ho my friends! Yes, it’s that time of year again, and as we wind our way towards Christmas Day what better to keep you warm these cold winter nights than this year’s Christmas Cavalcade?

 

Now, I know I’ve been a bit remiss these last couple of months, only posting once a fortnight (if that) rather than every week, and I intend to make that up to you before the end of the year with tonnes of festive goodies and other delights.

 

Let’s kick off today with a couple of Beatle-themed Christmas crackers. Back in December 2017 I gave you I Want a Beatle For Christmas by Becky Lee Beck and Bring Me A Beatle For Christmas by Cindy Rella (what a ridiculous name!), and those are still available HERE, but today I bring you two more (by my reckoning there are at least a dozen Beatles/Christmas novelties, excluding their own Fan Club flexis).

 

First up is (or are) the Fans and I Want a Beatle For Christmas, issued by Dot in the US in 1964. Despite the title it’s an entirely different song to the one performed by Becky Lee Beck that same year. The Fans were a London-based duo, friends Gita Renik and Jeanette Ross, although the disc does not appear to have had a British release.

 

Next up is a British disc, Santa Bring Me Ringo credited to Tich with The Ted Taylor Four With The Corona Kids. Older British Blog followers will no doubt recall Tich as one half of Tich and Quackers, the schoolboy and duck puppets of ventriloquist Ray Alan, popular in the 1960s. Alan would achieve greater fame when he ditched Tich in favour of the much more grown-up Lord Charles. Santa Bring Me Ringo was co-written by Angelo Badalamenti (yes, THAT Angelo Badalamenti), and the song was also recorded ‘straight’ by young Christine Hunter and issued in the US on Roulette.

 

If you’re after something extra to fill you stocking, tune in to the World’s Worst Records Radio Show this coming Wednesday (9 December), when I shall be playing tracks from the BRAND NEW MRS MILLER ALBUM’ A Christmas Gift From Mrs Miller¸ and talking to her great-nephew Jeff: https://wfmu.org/playlists/WR

 

That’s it for now, but there will be loads more over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

 

Download Beatle HERE

Download Santa HERE

Friday, 20 November 2020

Sing It Again, Vince!

This fabulous little find comes courtesy of regular blog (and radio show) follower/contributor Stephen ‘Beany’ Green, who discovered this, on cassette, on one of his regular charity shop forays and was kind enough to send me a copy.

 

I can’t tell you much about Vincent Sings By Request, as I’m told that no information about Vince or his fellow musicians accompanied the tape. I’m on the fence as to whether Vince has employed a local pub band or he’s singing to backing tracks, but maybe it’s a mixture of both. The band seems pretty accomplished, although most of the material is of karaoke quality, complete with obligatory washy synths. Some of the arrangements, although simple, are markedly different to those you would hear on a karaoke CD, although the horn section employed on a couple of the cuts sound like they have come straight off an ‘instrumental hits’ collection. If cornered, I would guess that most of the album was recorded in a single session with a keyboard and drum duo, with at least two of the tracks, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Too Young using pre-recorded backing tracks or sampled brass.

 

I would also assume, from the choice of tracks, that there is a Blackpool or Bolton connection: one of the songs, The Blackpool Belle, was composed in 1975 by Bolton songwriters Howard Broadbent and Jimmy Smith and recorded shortly after by local folk group the Houghton Weavers. Howard Broadbent recorded his own version of the song in 1986, issuing it as a single backed with another of his compositions, The Tram. Both songs appear on Vincent’s cassette, which to me suggests that our Vince recorded his magnum opus sometime after.

 

I have nothing else: I’ve spent literally minutes scouring local online newspaper archives but cannot find a single mention of Vincent or his album. Can anyone out there help?

 

Here are a couple of tracks to whet your whistle while we wait for more information: I Just Called to Say I Love You and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

 

Once again, thanks Beany! I love it!

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Called HERE

Download Love HERE

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