I realise that writing about Christmas records as the August bank Holiday approaches is a little unseasonal, but I realised that I had not yet featured this disc on the blog and, as I included the A-side on this week’s World’s Worst Records Radio Show it seemed apposite to share it with you now.
The Ping Pongs’ Pinky Tail/The Things I’d Like For Christmas was unearthed by fellow obscure music blogger Bob Purse, and first shared by him, via WFMU, back in December 2014. It’s a howl: the lyrics are inane but the performance is a riot, wonderfully discordant and almost wilfully awkward, with a stilting, arrhythmic piano, dreadful drums and reedy, weedy vocals. It’s ace.
What attracted me to the disc is that the group credited with the performance, the Ping Pongs, are clearly the same act credited as the Seaboard Coastliners on several tracks on the Norris the Troubadour collection Our Centennial Album, including (appropriately enough) Christmas Time Philosophy, Singing Sied the Showboy, I Am Back From Vietnam, Grits and Gravy and But The Rock Rolls On. Bob thought at the time that the group may have been employed by the Globe song poem studio, and this would certainly make sense, as Norridge Mayhems, aka Norris the Troubadour, did put a load of work their way: several earlier Norris the Troubadour recordings (also collected on Our Centennial Album) feature Globe’s go-to male vocalist Sammy Marshall.
Both songs on this particular 45 were written by Adolph Salvatori. He had at least three more of his compositions recorded: around 1956 (which I would think is the best part of two decades before Pinky Tail was issued) he received a co-composer credit on the 45 When I Found You, issued by the Kansas City label Continental. Recorded by Bobbie Clark with Herb Six and his Orchestra, his co-author that time was Paul Salvatori, his brother. He also penned two songs released in 1960 by song-poem label Star-Light: Promise Me and Somewhere In This World turned up on a four-track EP credited to Mickey Shore with The Versatones.
The Salvatori brothers had big plans in the world of show business: in 1931 Adolph penned the three-act drama Julie le Ferrier, and Paul also saw himself as an author of hit shows. Back in 1936 both men (and their financial backers) invested thousands of dollars in their stage musical From Out Of the Darkness. Sadly the show, due to play in Chicago, never got off the ground, but Adolph and Paul insited that their investors would get back every cent they had spent on the project. Paul found himself a job as a song-plugger, working out of Chicago, and the pair continued in the business, working together as well as individually. The year after their flop, Adolph got bitten by the foxtrot bug and seized by inspiration wrote the songs This Is Heaven, Won’t You Please Get In the Mood, I Was Just Pretending, Why Can’t We Be Friends and My Heart Went Astray In Havana. This appears to have been Adolph’s busiest period, although the pair would continue to write throughout the decade and into the 40s.
In 1947 Tommy Dorsey recorded one of Paul’s songs, My Love For You. Spurred on by this success, the following year the brothers set up their own publishing company, Salvatori Music, publishing several songbooks containing works by both of them. Adolph also saw himself as a bit of a journalist, penning (and copyrighting) articles including 1974’s Welcome to Our Home (In Forest Park, Il.), and What Makes A Person Great (In Forest Park, Il.)? Did I mention that Adolph lived most of his life in Forest Park, Illinois?
It’s odd then that someone who had been involved in the business for so many years would resort to using song-poem outfits to get his songs recorded. However exactly the same thing happened with Norridge B. mayhems, of course: after a little early success he too was forced to employ companies like Globe to have his songs recorded. You have to wonder if Norridge and Adolph (or Paul) ever met. I’d like to think that they would have been friends – or at least friendly rivals.
Download Pinky HERE
Download Christmas HERE
My thanks to Bob Purse for first blogging this wonderful record!