Friday, 17 May 2019

You Bet Your Bippy


Just over a year ago I introduced you, via Bob at Dead Wax, to the amazing Mrs. Lila F. Daniels, also known as Lila Winton Daniels, but recognised professionally as Lillay Deay.

At that time I only had a couple of poor condition MP3s to share with you but, having recently purchased my own copy of her classic 1969 single I May Look Too Old, I can now bring you both sides of this incredible disc in the best quality you will find anywhere on the net: in fact, it seems that until today I May Look Too Old has never been made available before.

And what a song it is! Beginning with a salutation to her grandson, Slimy Jim, the amazing I May Look Too Old throws in a reference to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, and has our Lila sounding like Edith Massey’s The Egg Lady as she warbles along to the out of tune guitar. It’s a delight.

Born in 1896, Lila Daniels began her writing career in 1959 with a song called The Christmas Star. In 1966 she penned the patriotic Lady of Liberty, and in 1967 she registered copyright in four songs, AppreciationOur Beautiful Lady and Los Angeles, as well as Dancing Prancing Reindeer, the latter of which was recorded and released in 1969 (backed by Christmas Star) by the Daniels Singers, later amended to the Daniel Singers, presumably to avoid confusion with another Daniels Singers, a gospel troupe, or it could simply have been a typo. Christmas was a recurring theme for Lila. In 1969 she penned Twinkle, Twinkle Christmas Star, the Joys of Christmas and Is Santa the Man in the Moon, a waltz which was recorded, along with her later composition Santa Clause Sweetheart, by Dick Kent for song-poem titans MSR.

Other songs I’ve found credited to Lila/Lillay include the 1968 compositions I’ve Hurt All I Can Hurt, Lonely So Lonely and Blue, Sweet Little Flower, Our Beautiful Flag is Crying, Peace Love and Charity and Since You, Sweetheart, Said You’d Be Mine; 1969 also brought the wonderfully-titled The Angels of Mercy (On Flight 303), as well as Little Tommy Doubted. 1970 was an exceptionally busy year, with Lila penning the songs He Is No Angel, Love Means More, Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish, A Lifetime of Heartaches, Stay Buttoned Up, I Had To Have a Transplant (what a title!) and the salacious Sex, Sex, Sex. After a quiet couple of years she resurfaced in 1974, composing the music for the songs Have a Happy Birthday and the Happy Birthday Clown, to words written by Daisy Blackwood.

Lila and her husband William hailed from Houston, Texas and had two sons, Robert and Dan. It appears that, in her 60s, she and her husband retired to California, as it was there that she set up her own record label: the few discs known to exist were issued by her own Timely Records, based in Tujunga, in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. Timely released at least three 45s, Our Beautiful Flag is Crying (backed, I assume, by Peace, Love and Charity as both were copyrighted at the same time), Dancing Prancing Reindeer/Christmas Star and I May Look Too Old, backed with the amazing He’s A Devil (credited on the accompanying picture sleeve as You’re a Devil).


Enjoy!

Download Old HERE

Download Devil HERE

Friday, 10 May 2019

Looking... Talking... Looking again


A very recent purchase this, it only arrived on Wednesday, but it’s one I needed to share with you ASAP.

Released by VEL records of Chicago in 1975, the two sides of Lavon Lambeth’s 7”, Looking At Myself and Talking To Her, are in fact short extracts from longer tracks of the same name. Those two longer versions make up the entire contents of his album Man and His Awareness, issued that same year.

Over the piano tinkling of Vince Willis (aka Vincent Jerome Willis), Lavon Emmett Lambeth – who studied for a BA in History at The University of Michigan in the late 1950s – invites you inside his deeply troubled mind. Lavon is part poet, part self-help guru of seduction. Very much in the style of Barry White, on this disc he bravely discusses how his sexual shenanigans and physical prowess still leave him doubting his desirability, something that he assumes many of his listeners can empathise with.

Very much the New Age man, in the same year that Man and His Awareness was issued, Lavon also published a book (or booklet, more likely) called Man to Woman, Love and the Zodiac.

Lavon appears to have begun his songwriting career in 1969. That year he and his friend, Chicago-based producer and arranger Nate Vincent, wrote the songs Love is Where You Find It, I’ll Always be Around, Remember Me My Love, Help This Girl and Nothing In This World – but I’m much more intrigued by a brace of songs he wrote with Vince Willis the year before Looking at Myself came out. In 1974 the pair came up with The Guy I’ve Always Wanted to Marry and So Much Love to Give. I’ve no idea if these songs were ever recorded, but I’d be fascinated to find out if they were, and if the singer was Lavon himself. It would put a whole different spin on today’s selection!

I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more about Lavon – he certainly does not appear to have recorded or released anything outside of this one album and its associated 7” – but, as always, if any of you know anything, please do get in touch.

Enjoy!

Download Looking HERE

Download Talking HERE


Friday, 3 May 2019

Mel Torment


I believe that there is a special place in hell for crooners, jazzers and the terminally unhip with the temerity to attempt ‘smooth’ covers of pop and rock songs, especially those from the flower power or psychedelia years. Last week’s post, with the Lettermen butchering the Doors, is a prime example.

As is this.

One track each today from the brace of lounge albums Mel Tormé released on Capitol in 1969 and 1970, A Time For Us and Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head. For some peculiar reason the singer John Lennon used to call Mel Torment would not issue a studio album of new material again for eight years, I wonder why?

In all fairness, most of the covers on the first of the two albums are reasonably palatable. I had intended to include his version of the Turtles Happy Together, but I found myself quite enjoying that. Instead, from A Time For Us I’ve chosen Mel’s version of the Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home, a recording that although poppy enough, drains all of the emotion and longing form the original. From Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head comes the criminally awful Sunshine Superman, Donovan’s summer of ‘66 US Number One.

By the way, here in the UK the two albums were mashed together. Both US releases feature 10 tracks apiece: A Time For Us was not issued here, but both of today's tracks appear on the UK-only 14-track version of Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head.

There’s nothing wrong with The Velvet Fog’s vocals: he’s a consummate performer and there’s a campy, lounge-y charm to these albums. I can’t fault the band either, it’s red hot. It’s just the choice of material. I feel exactly the same about opera singers attempting pop songs: just because you can sing doesn’t mean you should sing… as anyone who has heard Pavarotti duet with Barry White (or Brian May, for that matter) will attest.

Enjoy!

Download Leaving HERE




Download Sunshine HERE


Friday, 26 April 2019

I'll have a P Please Bob


The Lettermen are an American male close-harmony vocal trio that has been performing since 1959, and making records since 1961.

The group’s line-up has changed many times over their 60-year history, but in that time they have enjoyed 20 Billboard Top 100 entries (including two Top 10 singles), 32 consecutive Billboard chart albums, 11 gold records, and five Grammy nominations. The current Lettermen consists of original founding member Tony Butala, Donovan Tea (who joined the group in 1984), and Bobby Poynton (who first joined in 1989, left for a period and recently returned to the group).

The had their first hit in 1961, with The Way You Look Tonight, have appeared on TV around 200 times and have played over 10,000 live shows, a truly remarkable feat.

I realise there is an audience for this kind of thing – you cannot sustain a 60-year career without an audience - but the Lettermen’s trademark white bread covers are a bit too syrupy for me. I’ve nothing against good easy listening music, but I would suggest that, on occasion, the group’s choice of material has been a little misguided, as demonstrated on their 1970 album Reflections, which includes reworkings of songs made popular by Aretha Franklin (Natural Woman becomes Natural Man), the Doors, the Supremes, The Temptations and The Drifters among others.

Appropriately the only track that really works is their cover of Bread’s Make It With You.

So, from that very same album of pop and soul covers, here are the Lettermen with The Doors’ Touch Me and Diana Ross and the Supremes’ Reflections

Enjoy!


Download Touch HERE

Download Reflections HERE
 

Friday, 19 April 2019

The Odd Couple


C&W, issued in 1977, was the only album from actress, singer, dancer, and comedian Carol Channing (who sadly died earlier this year just a couple of weeks shy of her 98th birthday) and Webb Pierce, honky-tonk vocalist, songwriter and guitarist and one of the biggest country stars of the 1950s, whose band included such stellar musicians as pianist Floyd Cramer and guitarist-vocalist Faron Young.

Referred to on the reverse of the album sleeve (twice, no less) as “this unlikely duo”, the couple on the front of the sleeve look like they’re going to a Hallowe’en party, not a recording studio. Carol brandishes one of her toy guns as she walks arm in arm with Webb, whose badly dyed bouffant makes him look like Johnny Cash impersonating Dracula. But it’s the music inside that really grates.

Carol’s trademarked cracked voice is no match for Webb’s baritone. Thank goodness the whole sorry assemblage only lasts for less than half an hour. Issued by Shelby Singleton’s Plantation records, C&W includes reworkings of some of Pierce’s big hits, but the pairing of country legend and Broadway superstar just doesn’t come off. Bizarrely Channing and Singleton thought otherwise, and Channing followed this album with another for the label, a collection of duets entitled Carol Channing and Her Country Friends.

In his later years, Pierce became known for his excessive lifestyle. He had North Hollywood tailor Nudie Cohen, who had made flamboyant suits for Pierce, line two convertibles with silver dollars. He built a $30,000 guitar-shaped swimming pool at his Nashville home which became a popular paid tourist attraction — nearly 3,000 people visited it each week — causing his neighbours, led by singer Ray Stevens, to file a court action against Pierce to end the tours.

Here are a couple of tracks from this peculiar collection: Take Your So Called Love and Tennessee

Enjoy!

Download Tennessee HERE



Download So Called HERE

Friday, 12 April 2019

Let's Stick Together


A peculiar little song-poem/vanity hybrid for you today, originally unearthed many years ago by fellow blogger Bob Purse.

Scotch Tape/Close to You, credited to Lana Johnidas and the Swinging Strings, was an early release from Sandy Stanton’s Film City label, which means it was issued circa 1964. Being that early the chances are that the Swinging Strings – Sandy’s ever-present Chamberlin – are played by either Sandy himself or the great Rodd Keith. Both songs were written by Ms. Johnidas, and my feeling is that she probably paid for this disc to be cut to demonstrate her songwriting prowess, for shortly after she joined the ranks of Hollywood-based Our Productions/Your Management, whose offices were in the Capitol Tower on Sunset and Vine.

Her career as a performer/composer was managed by Michael Goldberg, who also looked after the careers of such stellar names as Friar Tuck, the Plastic People, Jacobson and Tansley, and Epic recording act The Kaleidoscope. Sadly, it does not look as though that career amounted to much, as outside of this one disc I’ve been unable to find a credit for Lana on any other record. A shame, because this is a fun little record and her voice, with that hint of a giggle in it, is rather infectious.

Los Angeles-based publisher Flex Songs was closely associated with Stanton: recordings featuring Stanton and published by Flex appear on Excel, Fable and Film City. I can find no evidence, but years of experience would lead me to believe that Stanton was at very least a partner in the company, if not the
outright owner.

That’s about it. As usual, any further info would be appreciated. Thanks Bob, for unearthing this gem.

Enjoy

Download Scotch HERE


Download Close HERE

Friday, 29 March 2019

Pass the Bottle

I’m on holiday for a week from tomorrow; no doubt I’ll be scouring the charity shops of the tip of Cornwall in hope of finding some more strange, obscure and downright awful noise for you all.

When I was holidaying in Yorkshire last year I came back with a fistful of terrible vinyl, much of which I’ve yet to blog. Let’s start to put that right now with two tracks from one of those records, Don “Lofty” Estelle’s Lonely Wine.

My copy of Lonely Wine, like I assume the majority of Don’s albums gathering dust somewhere, is autographed. It’s a standing joke among bad music enthusiasts that – like Father Francis – it’s harder to find a non-signed copy of any of the actor/singer’s albums. I love the cover: a sad bottle of that 60’s favourite Mateus Rose sitting on the sand. On the reverse, just to let us all know that The Don knows his stuff, he’s photographed sitting at a desk accompanied by two loose apples and a bottle of Blue Nun. It couldn’t be any chintzier… unless it came with a free bottle of Thunderbird or Bull’s Blood, that is.

Don really gets his groove on in the two tracks I’ve chosen for you today, both of which have multiple links: both were originally recorded and released in 1984; both were originally on Motown and both are connected in some way with blindness.

Perhaps the title of the album should have been Blind Drunk.

Anyway, let’s all enjoy Don’s whiter-than-white bread covers of Lionel Richie’s Hello and Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You, and I’ll see you all in a fortnight. Don’t forget you can always get your fix of madness by tuning in to the World’s Worst Records Radio Show each week, or by streaming episodes at your leisure.

Enjoy!

Download Hello HERE



Download Called HERE

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