Friday, 11 June 2021

Du Bist Die Beat-Oma

No one seems to know the name of the real woman behind the name Die Beat Oma (the Beat Granny), the aged Austrian chanteuse who released just one 45... The very disc that I present for you today.

 

Issued in Germany in 1966, in the same year that both Mrs Miller and Mme St Onge were unleashed on an unsuspecting world, Ich Bin Die Beat Oma (I Am the Beat Grandmother), was a ‘cover’ of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, with new lyrics by Andy Wölfel. Her solitary release, Ich Bin Die Beat Oma was backed by Balla Balla, a song written by bass player Horst Lippok and originally recorded by the German beat group The Rainbows, of which Lippok was a member, in 1965.

 

On the A-side of the single Die Beat Oma is accompanied by a group called Jerry & The G-Men. According to the Discogs listing, she toured with the band in the mid-60s, and a little ferreting around leads me to believe that she did indeed play dates during 1965 and 1966. Andy Wölfel - the man who liberally adapted the words of Messers Lennon and McCartney - acted as her manager (and, presumably, as manager of Jerry and co too), and on at least one occasion Die Beat Oma and Jerry & The G-Men played Wölfel’s hometown, Klosterneuburg in Austria.

 

No band is credited on the flip side, but The Rainbows' version of Balla Balla had also been issued by CBS, and to my ears both recordings seem to utilise the same basic backing track, not unlike how Tony Roman used backing tracks by his band Les Baronets for the Mme. St. Onge project. I understand that Wölfel, who also had a role in the 1967 German film Heubodengeflüster (a.k.a. Whispering In The Hayloft), and who was Austria’s first notable beat group manager, died of an overdose.  


That's all I have: any further information on this incredible disc and its perpetrators would be most welcome.


Enjoy!


Download Beat HERE

 

 Download Balla HERE

Friday, 4 June 2021

You Are the GoZoo Band

1966 was a great year for musical oddities: Mrs. Miller was ruling the roost internationally; in Canada musician and producer Tony Roman unveiled the wonderful Madame St Onge, those silly savages Teddy and Darrell were doing their thing, and around the world, the novelty album was big business. Every country – almost every label – had a left-field act that was doing decent business, charming TV audiences and selling enough copies of their latest opus to keep the men at the top happy.

 

It was into this heady age that the GoZoo Band suddenly appeared. ‘Sounding like a semi-melodic swarm of bees’, according to one contemporary reviewer, their gimmick was playing pop music using kazoos, a dozen years before Rhino founders Richard Foos and Harold Bronson formed the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra.

 

Originally released via their own Go Go Records label (distributed through Epic; reissued in the UK in 1968 on the President Records imprint Joy), the GoZoo Band’s solitary album, Sounds That Are Happening!, is just 25 minutes long. Featuring a mix of kazooed-up versions of recent pop hits (including Mellow Yellow and Winchester Cathedral) as well as old-timey vaudeville songs and a couple of originals, the album was produced by Tony Marer, who would go on to work with Norman Greenbaum, and featured musical arrangements from Jimmie Haskell (born Sheridan Pearlman), a prolific composer and arranger who specialised in movie soundtracks but who had worked with Ricky Nelson, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin, the Lettermen, Pat Boone, Richard Chamberlain and dozens, if not hundreds, more. Haskell composed two of the tunes that appear on the album, including the 45 Sid’s Lid.

 

Unsurprisingly there is zero information on the jacket or on the disc itself about the individual members of the GoZoo Band. It’s safe to assume though that the kazoo-toting hipsters in the back of the Woodie on the front cover of the album were models and not one of them had the skill to blow through a plastic tube. My best guess would be that the album was recorded by a mix of session musicians and members of Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band, the Norman Greenbaum-led psychedelic rock band who had a minor hit with The Eggplant That Ate Chicago... which was also issued by Go Go Records, also produced by Tony Marer and, crucially, also featured kazoos.

 

Anyway, here, for your enjoyment, are a couple of tracks from Sounds That Are Happening!, their covers of the Hollies’ Stop Stop Stop, and of Donovan’s Mellow Yellow.

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Stop HERE

Download Mellow HERE

Friday, 14 May 2021

So Long, Frank Lyle Buck

A little follow-up to last week’s post.

 

Last week I wrote a little about Globe, the Nashville-based studio that pumped out hundreds of song-poems and vanity projects by singers including Sonny Marshall and JoAnn Auborn, working under a variety of different names. I mentioned that I owned a copy of a song-poem 45, on Frank Lyle Buck Records, credited to The Mystery Girl, one of JoAnn’s many pseudonyms, and that on  that particular disc she and Marshall appear accompanied by pianist Al Auborn, who I guess could either have been her husband or her brother.

 

Well, here are both sides of that disc, One, Two, Three Play and Tipsy Ippsy.

 

Frank Lyle Buck had been writing songs for a number of years, with little or no return. His first efforts – the inspired Tune Number 1 and Tune Number 2 – were copyrighted in 1949: the following year he wrote Yours To Love,  which Sammy Marshall would record in 1962, the same year as One, Two, Three Play and Tipsy Ippsy appeared.

 

The single was listed in Billboard on 2 June 1962 as possessing ‘limited sales potential’. The lack of interest did not put our amateur auteur off: in 1962 alone he released four singles – all made with the Globe Recording Studio – on his own Frank Lyle Buck label. One, the aforementioned Yours To Love, was reviewed by Cash Box in April 1963 (they called it ‘a soulful, Nashville-oriented reading… with a funky shuffle beat’) and even after these all flopped he continued unabated. Letter From College came along in 1964; along with the rather wonderfully-monikered Peaceable Smith, he penned Just Another Day in 1966.

 

Frank Lyle Buck – or more correctly Frank Lyle Buck Junior, was born on 4 December 1898, in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Frank Lyle Buck senior (or Big Frank, perhaps?), was 23 at the time and his mother, Irene McGunigle, was 20. Frank Junior married Mabel Harriet Lande on 8 June 1918, in Brooklyn and they had five sons. Baby Eugene, born in 1919, died before he was one year old; then came Frank Theodore (1920), another Eugene (1921), Robert (1924) and William Lyle (1926). Sadly all of the Buck children have now passed on too.


Frank died on 10 December 1989, in Middlefield, Otsego, New York, at the age of 91.

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Play HERE

Download Tipsy HERE

Friday, 7 May 2021

A Sound Reputation

I’ve finally begun the arduous task of digitising my entire song-poem collection. It’s a job that will take months – I have hundreds of song-poem 45s and dozens of albums – but I reckon it will be worth it, for it’s already throwing up some great stuff that, as far as I am aware, has not been shared on the internet before now.

 

Today’s offering is the first of the fruit of that labour.

 

Sammy Marshall was the go-to male singer at the Globe recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee, and it is he who performs the two tracks I’ve selected for you today, both sides of a disc issued – one can safely assume – in early 1964: The Ballad of John F Kennedy and Physical Fitness.

 

I love this disc, especially the biro scribbles on the A-side label, warning the disc jockey: ‘Do Not Play’, ‘Don’t’, ‘Never Play’, and, simply, ‘No’! Poor David Fitzgerald, who composed the lyrics for the two songs, would have been heartbroken if he had ever seen that. The flip is simply described as a ‘bomb’. Now usually the phrase ‘it’s a bomb’ means the same as ‘it’s a smash’, but in this case I’m assuming that whoever wrote that word wanted to convey another meaning! It’s not a bad song, but severely dated for 1964.

 

Sammy Marshall performed under a series of different names, including every-so-slightly altered versions of his own moniker - Sonny Marshall, Sonny Marcell, Sonny Maracel, and even the exotic-sounding Le Son Y Marshall – as well as Ben Tate (usually for Ronnie Records), Chuck Jones and Johnny Evans. There are many more. His laid back, slick lounge style was perfectly suited to the average song-poem offering, although there are a few offerings where he achieves a perfect teen sound, aping any of the endless number of toothy blond pop sensations of the late 50s or early 60s.

 

JoAnn Auborn was Globe's first female vocalist. She also appeared under the names Joan Auborn, Kris Arden, and Damita (not Damita Jo). I have a song-poem 45, on Frank Lyle Buck Records, credited to The Mystery Girl, another of JoAnn’s pseudonyms. On that particular disc (the flip side of which features Sammy Marshall) she is accompanied by Al Auborn on piano. Her husband, or her brother? After JoAnn’s tenure, a singer called Mary Kaye (not the same singer who fronted Vegas-based recording act the Mary Kaye Trio) took the mic for the later years of Globe's run.

 

As well as operating their own demo recording facility and small label, Globe recorded hundreds of sides for vanity releases on custom labels, as well as operating a lucrative song-poem business. Operated by Jim and Glenna Maxwell, Globe tended to work for what Phil Milstein, at the American Song-Poem Music Archives, calls ‘individual customers who wanted to pretend to be a record company for a little while, handled occasional overflow work for some of the larger song-poem companies, such as Air and Preview, and contracted out record pressing for Halmark. Because their work pops up under so many different names and so rarely under their own, they have become something like the Zelig of song-poem concerns.’

 

So, here are The Ballad of John F Kennedy and Physical Fitness, performed by Sonny Marshall. Oh, and why did I choose to title today’s post ‘A Sound Reputation‘? That was Globe’s motto, which appeared as part of the company logo.

 

Enjoy!

 

Download JFK HERE

 

Download Physical HERE

 

Friday, 30 April 2021

Great Scott!

A pair of tracks today from an album I would desperately love to own a copy of. If anyone out there has access to the full album – or indeed owns a physical copy they would be willing to part with, do let me know.

 

The cuts come from Great Scott! the 1985 album by Scott Dean, ‘The sensational new recording star’, according to the reverse of the sleeve, who ‘was recognised as an up and coming singer even while attending high school in Wisconsin,’ winning ‘every award he sought after as well as awards he did not pursue’, whatever that gobbledegook means.

 

Scott Dean was born Scott Daehnert, in Kohler, Wisconsin, in 1961. Joining the Air Force at 18, Scott was stationed at the Nellis base in Las Vegas, and within six weeks of his arrival he had been taken ‘under the tutelage of the former international singing star Ben Lowey’ (it says here). Lowey was a vocal coach with a studio in New Jersey in the mid-1970s, advertising himself as ‘formerly with Columbia Records’. His official biography (dated 1979, and accompanying a home cassette course designed to help beat stuttering) states that ‘As a leading tenor Ben Loewy toured with a Schubert company in many famous operettas including New Moon, Student Prince, Showboat, Merry Widow and others. Before television he was under contract to Columbia Broadcasting System and also performed on Coast to Coast radio on NBC out of New York. He played a record 20 week run in Dallas for the Columbia Broadcasting System. He also performed in Grand Opera at the Manhattan Opera House, the New York Hippodrome and the New York Civic Opera Company singing La Traviata, Cavalleria Rusticana, Rigoletto and Lucia. He also performed in the lead roles in South Pacific, and the Most Happy Fella.’ Interestingly that brief bio mentions working for Columbia on radio, but not having recorded for them.

 

Was Mr L stretching the truth somewhat in his advertising? He certainly would not have been the first! He performed, as one of the Three B’s, with singers Bob Oglesby and Bill Lambert in the later 1930s; it appears that, after the war, Lowey went into the production side, working for Columbia and, later Audiograph Studios Inc. Later in his career he wrote the one-man musical Let My People Go, about the life of Paul Robeson, which was performed in Las Vegas and California by gospel singer Joe Carter, and he penned and produced a number of musicals and plays.

 

It seems that Scott met Ben around 1980, while he was still in the USAF (in 1981 he was back home in Kohler, heading a local recruitment drive): Lowey was in Las Vegas that year producing a stage show about Judy Garland. According to the sleeve notes, the maestro began schooling young Scott in opera and classical music and in 1982 Scott got his big break, winning the ‘Metropolitan Opera Auditions Saunderson Award, which is given only to young singers of outstanding merit and potential’. I cannot find an award with this name; however I have discovered that Alexander and Louise Saunderson were Met benefactors, and did indeed provide funding for audition awards.

 

Shortly after this it seems that Scott and Ben decided that opera was not the way forward, and that ‘it became apparent to Mr Loewy that his primary interest was in contemporary popular and rock music’. Lowey set up his own label, BLS (Ben Loewy Studios) and set Scott to work, recording a long players-worth of pop standards and recent chart hits. About this time Scott’s parents, Don and Pat, moved out to Las Vegas as well, presumably to support their son in his musical endeavours.

 

The results are here for all to hear. Well, two tracks are anyway (snaffled from YouTube), but I would kill for a copy of the whole album. Recorded in 1985, the same year that Scott appeared as the opening act for Bobby Vinton in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, two other tracks from Great Scott!, Nobody Loves Me Like You Do and The Sands of Time were also issued, in a rather fetching picture sleeve, as a 45, again on BLS.

 

Sadly, fame did not beckon for Scott. By 1990 he had given up on any hope of making it in the recording industry, instead taking a position as inventory control manager at Arizona Charlie's Hotel and Casino (now Arizona Charlie’s Decatur). In June 1990 he married his high school sweetheart, Lisa Ann Wagg, in Las Vegas. The pair later moved back to Wisconsin: by the end of the decade Scott, having reverted to the family name, was an employee of the Sheboygan Paper Box Company.

 

Here, as promised, is a brace of tracks from Scott Dean’s Great Scott!: What a Feelin’ (the theme from Flashdance) and I’m So Excited. Scott, if you’re out there and happen upon this post, I salute you!

 

Download Feelin’ HERE

Download Excited HERE

Friday, 9 April 2021

Venus Calling

Once again, your help is required.

 

Back in 2019 fellow obscure music blogger Bob, of Dead Wax and That’s All Rite Mama, sent me audio clips from both sides of a 45 that had been sold back in 2017 via a popular auction site. Since that day I’ve been trying to track down a copy, but one has yet to turn up on the sales sites I frequent.

 

A message went out to listeners of the World’s Worst RecordsRadio Show, but no one there had a copy either. Then a couple of days ago I was contacted by someone else in search of the disc. Needless to say the best I could do was offer to share my two short clips. However, that message, from Bethany at the Papa Jazz Record Shoppe in Columbia, South Carolina sent me off in search of more information about the man who created this wonderfully insane record, Lawrence Milton Boren.

 

Luckily, Bethany’s partner, Joe Buck, had already done a fair bit of digging around. Joe had discovered plenty about Boren – who also used the names Victor Luminera and Dr. Discovery – and had pieced together much of his career from the late fifties onwards, but after some further investigation of my own I can bring you a pretty comprehensive rundown of his life and crimes.

 

Larry Boren was born on 17 August 1924, in Portland, Oregon. When he was still a toddler his family moved to New Jersey, but by the age of 11 they had moved again, this time to California, where he would remain for the rest of his life.   

 

In 1948, then living in Santa Monica, Boren was arrested after his 22-year-old wife, Norma, reported him to the authorities for beating their seven-month-old son, Francis. ‘He can’t stand to hear it cry’, a distraught Norma told the officers who questioned her as to why the infant needed hospital treatment for black eyes, a bloody nose and bruises. Boren, then working as a church organist and music teacher (the cheek!) was jailed, and rightly so. The brutality was doubly shocking as Boren had been a conscientious objector during the war and, after being sentenced in August 1944, had ‘spent two years in a Washington work camp because he doesn’t believe in fighting.’ 

 

It appears that Norma divorced him while he was inside, for in 1952 Lawrence Boren married for a second time, to a woman called Eleanor Bean.

 

In 1958 he founded the non-profit World of Tomorrow Foundation, having become fascinated by the idea of life on other planets. In July that year he attended the first national convention of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America. From what I have been able to gather, Boren was an early convert to New Age therapies, writing about, and giving talks on, the use of colour and sound therapy. Joe has done a great deal of research already on Boren’s obsession with UFOs. Rather than regurgitate that here, why not have a read of his own blog on Boren’s career?

  

Now, this – for me at least - is where it gets interesting: in 1958 our Larry decided to try and make it as a songwriter, registering the copyright in three songs, Love is a Mystery, The Kingdom of Enchantment and Venus Calling. The following year he added two more compositions to this burgeoning portfolio, Kyra from Venus, and Venus, Land of Love. This last song, along with the previous year’s Venus Calling was recorded and issued on a red wax 7” single. Venus, Land of Love  (which, according to the disc’s label, is ‘An Outer Space Rhumba Mambo’) was credited to ‘George Dains (The Earthling) and Gloria Anne, as Kyra of Venus’, with the flip side (‘An Outer Space Ballad’, apparently) solely to ‘Gloria Anne, as Kyra of Venus’.

 

The disc was issued by Futura Records of Los Angeles and, although the songs were copyrighted under his full name, on the disc Boren credits himself as Laryon. The label states that these songs are ‘from the forthcoming musical: “From Venus with Love”.’ In December 1959 the World of Tomorrow Foundation announced that it was holding a casting call for ‘its long-planned production, “From Venus With Love”, [the] first outer space musical comedy.’ The show was due to be staged the following February at Los Angeles’ Horseshoe Stage Theatre, with Boren writing the music, lyrics, acting as producer and director, and co-writing the script alongside David Reed III. The script to the show, naturally, was ‘based on a story by Lawrence Milton Boren’. From Venus with Love was not in any way connected with the episode of the same name of cult 60s TV show The Avengers. From what I can ascertain, the only actress cast for the musical was 16-year-old Angel McCall, who accompanied Boren to UFO conventions ‘as an emissary from Venus… Wearing a futuristic costume and a four-hour make-up job that included rhinestone eyebrows, jewel-tipped eyelashes and blue face powder.’

 

While trying to drum up interest in From Venus with Love, Larry Boren introduced the world to his New Age Symphony, consisting of animated light set to music, a process, he claimed, that had been gifted to him by a group of visitors from Venus, with the chief purpose of ‘healing through color therapy.’

 

Now calling himself Doctor Boren, in 1964 he took his first foray into the film world, directing and producing the science fiction film The Incredible She which, apparently, won the ‘Los Angeles Southland Film Festival’ that same year. All traces of the film and this festival have long since disappeared, but Larry Boren did win a cash pot of $1,000 for a film entitled Opus 2. That film, described by ‘writer, producer, director, designer, cameraman and narrator’ Boren (who submitted the film to the festival ‘under the pen name of Victor Luminera’) as ‘an adventure in surrealism’, definitely was screened, at the Los Angeles Film Makers’ Festival on 13 October 1964, where it beat Andy Warhol’s ‘Banana Sequence’ to take first place. 1964 must have been a busy time, for that same year he also authored (this time as Victor Luminera) a seven-part Course in Electro-magnetic Sex.

 

In 1965, using his given name and calling himself an ‘independent research scientist’, Boren wrote and published his 125-page feminist tract Woman, a Glorious Destiny Awaits You: The Coming Reign of the Feminine Power: A New Scientific Breakthrough Revelation. The book was officially launched in Hollywood, in January 1966 at a press conference to announce the arrival of ‘a new woman’s crusade for balanced government’. Boren co-hosted the conference with veteran dancer Ruth St Denis. The following month, under the auspices of the World of Tomorrow Foundation, he copyrighted the song End of This World, which appears to have been his final attempt at anything remotely commercial within the music field.

 

Throughout the early 1970s, and now listing himself as a ‘specialist in electromagnetic lighting effects’, Boren continued to peddle his space-spirituality schtick: in 1971 he was giving talks to staff and customers of the Santa Fe savings and Loan on Space Exploration, on behalf of the Universal Life Church – the same church that ordained me (yes, I am officially the Reverend Darryl W. Bullock, the Laid of Doonans) more than a decade ago.

 

Does his film The Incredible She exist? Is it a different film to Opus 2, and could either of these works have been subsumed into his next project? The latter seems unlikely as his 1973 opus, Psyched by the 4D Witch, (that, as Luminera, he conceived, wrote and directed and, as Milton Lawrence, acted as Executive Producer) is a zero-budget, badly out of focus softcore sexploitation film similar to the worst of Ed Wood Junior’s later efforts. Again, Joe has done some research for you on that HERE, and you can find the whole thing on YouTube if you’re interested. In the opening minutes of the film we see a pair of eyes surrounded by glitter: could this be footage Boren had committed to film years earlier, of young Angel McCall, as an emissary from Venus? Incidentally, the film has a rather avant-garde score, composed by Boren, again using the pseudonym Victor Luminera, although the title song, Beware of the 4D Witch, was written by Joe Bisko and performed by Johnny By the Way (vocals) and Attila Galamb (music).

 

Sadly, there would be no more recordings from Boren. But the old roué kept himself busy. He had taken a third wife, marrying her in Las Vegas in February 1970, although that did not last long, for in December 1973 he married Cleo Williams, making her the Fourth Mrs. Lawrence Milton Boren. Early the following year he published the 95-page The Earth Set Free -- Through Reverence for Life Part 1 through Aquarian Enterprises a company, I assume like Futura Records, owned and operated by Boren himself.

 

He divorced Cleo in January 1979, after a little over five years of marriage, and then the trail goes cold. All I can tell you is that Lawrence Milton Boren died, in California, on 1 July 2013, leaving behind a fascinating and eclectic, if somewhat small, body of published work.

 

Anyway, here are short clips of both sides of that elusive 1959 release, Venus, Land of Love from George Dains and Gloria Anne, with Venus Calling by Gloria Anne solo. If anyone out there has the disc, or full MP3s of both sides, please do let me know!

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Land HERE

Download Calling HERE

Monday, 22 March 2021

Exotic Adrian, The Not-so-Sweet Transvestite

Adrian Street (born 5 December 1940) is a retired Welsh professional wrestler, known for his flamboyant, androgynous wrestling persona, Exotic Adrian Street. He’s also the man behind a bunch of rather wonderfully-bad recordings, including the 1986 album Shake, Wrestle and Roll, and as such is the subject of today’s bloggage.

 

From a Welsh coal-mining family, Street won his first fight in 1957. Initially working under the name Kid Tarzan Jonathan, by 1961 Street was touring the UK under his own name, working as a professional heavyweight wrestler. Wrestling was a popular pastime, and televised bouts were big business: in the mid-1960s Street began to make regular appearances on ITV’s Saturday afternoon World of Sport programme. Although claims in the press around that time that he was a former Mr. Universe title holder appear to have been a little, shall we say, over-generous, he became something of a star, and a popular live draw.

 

By the end of the 1960s, he was being billed as ‘Adrian Street: the Blond Headed Glamour Boy’, and was being advertised as ‘Mr Magnificent! Fabulous Gowns! Long Blond Hair! Lovely Body!’, but the increasingly outrageous look hid a man with a conscience: in 1973 he became involved in a political campaign to demand the release of Jewish civil rights activist Sylva Zalmanson from a Russian gulag. The following year he starred on TV in a drama penned by former wrestler turned actor and scriptwriter Bryan Glover, A Drink Out of the Bottle.

 

By the beginning of the 1980s, he was working in the USA, and it was here that he became Exotic Adrian, an outrageously-attired, effeminate ‘heel’ character. This gimmick was the result of his playing up to taunting from an audience one evening, with Street saying that ‘I was getting far more reaction than I’d ever got just playing this poof. My costumes started getting wilder’. In January 1983 he caused outrage when he kissed Black wrestler Ira Reese during a match. The Memphis TV station broadcasting the bout received a number of complaints about this flagrant exhibition of interracial homosexuality.

 

Egged on by second wife Miss Linda, his signature move in the ring was to kiss opponents to escape being pinned down and to put make-up on then while they were disabled. Working primarily as a heel - a wrestler who portrays a villain or bad guy and who acts as an antagonist to the ‘faces’, who are the heroic, good guy characters - and occasionally with his wife and manager (had wrestled in Britain as Blackfoot Sue) as a tag-team duo, the pair travelled all over the world.

 

Now retired and back home in Wales, he’s certainly led a colourful life, and thankfully during his career he took the time to lay down some tracks for you lucky people, beginning in 1977 with the 45 Breakin’ Bones. Three years later he issued a second single, Imagine What I Could Do To You before collecting those four sides, along with several new recordings, on the 1986 album Shake, Wrestle and Roll. He would follow this up with the cassette-only release Naughty But It’s Nice. Many of Adrian’s songs were written by Cheshire-based musician (and former member of the Four Dees) Don Woods, who has collected all of the recordings onto one CD, The Full Hit: the Complete Collection, which is available now, from Don’s website, for only £6:50.

 

Here are a couple of tracks from Shake, Wrestle and Roll to whet your wrestling whistles: A Sweet Transvestite With a Broken Nose and Breakin’ Bones. Enjoy!

 

Download Transvestite HERE

 

Download Bones HERE

  

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