Monday, 31 December 2007

CB or not CB, that is the question

Sorry it's been a while - some of us have a life too you know - but I could not let 2007 pass without at least one more post.
Woodrow Wilson 'Red' Sovine (1918-1980) was well known in the States for his narrative-style country and western paeans, but in the UK is only known for this, his posthumous hit Teddy Bear.
A mawkish tale of a crippled, fatherless child whose only contact with the outside world is his late daddy's ham radio, it was a huge hit in the US in 1976: a country number 1 and a Billboard top 40 success selling over 1 million copies. Released in the UK after Sovine's death (he had a heart attack at the wheel of his van) it even reached the top five here, supported by the brief interest in CB radio on these shores.
Teddy Bear has everything a great bad record should have: a ridiculous story full of crippled children and death, spoken rather than sung, bad country noodling and an awful, serious as-all-getup delivery. It's I Want My Baby Back without the sense of humour and the best argument against country and western music ever.
Enjoy, and have a happy New Year. See you in 2008.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

The Impossible Task

I've not been able to find out much about Eli Kaniel, apart from the fact that he's still recording (his most recent album, You, is available from and seems to have had a reasonably successful career in the Hebrew-speaking world over the last 30 or so years.

This little gem was another 'net find, although I have since seen copies of this particular album (apparently pressed in Italy!) on sale for around the $18 mark. A trawl of the interweb has revealed little other information about the great man, other than he's probably better known as a composer, penning the music to a number of Hebraic hits, such as Yesh Eyr (There is a City) and writing the score to the 1980 movie Kohav Hashahar (Morning Star).

He's not a great singer - the title track of his most recent album has been put through a vocoder or auto-tune (a la Cher) - but what does that matter? Perhaps in his native language he's a bit more palatable, but English is clearly a struggle for him. Still, he does his best, and thank the lord for that otherwise we would not have this nugget.

Judge for yourself as we present, in his own inimitable style, Eli's version of that old chestnut The Impossible Dream:

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Madame St Onge

There's a thin line, as anyone with an interest in bad records will know, between the truly awful and the trite; between recordings so bad that they are good and novelty songs purpose-built to be bad.

This could well be one of the latter, but I'm prepared to make an exception, because this is exceptional. I discovered the delights of Madame St Onge whilst on one of my regular visits to WMFU (, an essential resource for lovers of the perverse.

Think a French-Canadian version of the awesome Elva Miller ( Mme St Onge bleats and brays her way through ten belters, many of them cover versions of popular hits. The Rolling Stones' Time is on my Side is rendered with wonderful, tuneless gusto; The Beatles' Help (translated as Il) is simply dreadful, but the real highlights are Prendes Moi (Try Me) - just listen to what happens 30 seconds in and if that doesn't sell you on the talents of Mme St Onge nothing will - and the other track here (yes, you lucky people you get two cuts today, I could not keep this gem to myself) Et Maintenant.

Recorded, one would assume, at some point around 1966/67 (judging by the material and the sound of the beat group backing her on the album), apparently Mme St Onge had a proper singing career in earlier times. Her real name was Francine Laplante, although she also recorded a couple of singles under the name of Maryse Marshall. I've not been able to find any evidence of these recordings yet, but I'm still looking!. Unfortunately Francine passed away earlier this year, but at least she left the world with this treasure, Les 10 Plus Grands Succes de Mme St Onge.


Saturday, 3 November 2007

Somehow I Knew...

Oh the rapture!

I first discovered the audio delight that is Gloria Balsam's Fluffy almost 25 years ago, courtesy of Rhino Record's 1983 release The World's Worst Records. See the theme here? This album and 1985's Volume Two were mostly made up of novelty and comedy tacks from Rhino's own releases, but just occasionally they threw up a real pip.

Such as this. A gem from 1979, with Gloria ably assisted by backing from a band called the Psychotic Pineapple, the B-side is a rather odd new wave version of the Frank Sinatra standard High Hopes. Fluffy tells the story of a poor, abandoned dog who Gloria befriends. Sung in wonderfully off-key tones, you have to wonder if this was a serious recording or was indeed supposed to be a joke. It's hard to be certain, but who cares? It's awesome!

Born Cynthia Frantz in Philadelphia, Gloria gravitated towards San Francisco, becoming friends with many members of the local new wave scene, supporting acts such as the Dead Kennedys and Devo and doing the occasional cabaret spot before cutting this, her only single, for Richmond Records. Initially only 1,000 copies of Fluffy were pressed but, thanks to that Rhino compilation, it lives on.

You can learn more about Gloria Balsam here:

Monday, 15 October 2007

Fred vom Jupiter

Digging through some old vinyl, with the specific intention of transferring a bunch of stuff to MP3 for this here blog, I found one of my favourite early 80s singles, Fred Vom Jupiter, by die Doraus and die Marinas.

Issued in the UK in 1982, an early release from Daniel Miller's Mute Records (7 Mute 019), it originally appeared in Germany on Ata Tak (through Telefunken) and, thanks to the wonders of You Tube, you can see the awesomely cheap video for the singe here:

Fred was taken from their 1981 album Blumen Und Narzissen and, at that time, the Marinas consisted of five kids aged 11 to 14. Andreas Dorau is still recording, releasing his seventh album in 2005, although the Marinas only appeared on one further album, Geben Offenherzige Antworten Auf Brennende Fragen, released by CBS Germany in 1983. the single was a reasonable hit in Europe, making 21 on the German charts and a respectable number 13 in Austria.

As a little extra, here's the reverse of the original German sleeve.

Having problems transferring the MP3s at the moment, so will add the link to a downloadable version of the track soon. Until then enjoy the video (link above).

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Cream? Get on top!

A real oddity, but one that is quite easy to find if you're remotely au fait with Google. This truly awful recording originally arrived in 1966, apparently recorded by five middle aged American women believing, quite incorrectly, that they could play brass instruments. They couldn't.

One of the many albums released over the years to parody the cover of Herb Alpert's Whipped Cram and Other Delights (for a full rundown try this excellent resource the Frivolous Five's Sour Cream is full of atonal nonsense, with the women struggling through such standards and staples as Spanish Flea, A Taste of Honey and All My Loving.

It was hard to decide on just one track to share with you, the whole thing is so dreadful, but have a listen to the ladies' remarkable, tuneless version of Tijuana Taxi and then, if you dare, have a search around the net for more. Off-key, off-tempo and out of tune, the album cover gives no information on the real identities of the fab Five, so any one out there with more info get in touch.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Are You Satisfied?

Your casual bad music fan would be forgiven for thinking that Dirty Harry's recorded opus begins and ends with I Talk to the Trees, but believe it or not Clint Eastwood committed many more vinyl crimes than that.

In the early 60's it was reasonably common practice for television stars to toss off a few sides in the recording studio (Richard Chamberlain is another of the many guilty parties) and make a pop single or two. Early on in his career Clint recorded a clutch of singles for the US Cameo label, following them up in 1962 with a whole album: Rawhide's Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites.

Featuring such saddle-sore favourites as Tumblin' Tumbleweeds and Santa Fe Trail, it was hardly teen-market material, and sank without a trace. Now, although the original release is highly sought after by collectors of Eastwood memorabilia as well as those of us who just delight in the godawful, it has since reappeared on CD (in Europe one would assume by the spelling of the F word) as Clint Eastwood Sings Country Favourites. It's legitimacy is a tad dubious, but its one way of getting hold of these otherwise hard-to-find cuts.

Here, for your ears only, is Rowdy Yates' strangling Are You Satisfied?

Monday, 8 October 2007

Whole New World

Ok, its a bit of a cheat today, but I simply could not resist sharing this delight with you.

British glamour model, the pneumatic Jordan (aka Katie Price) and her husband, Aussie poplet Peter Andre released their version of the Disney Song A Whole New World last year, partly to aid Andre's flagging pop carreer, but also to raise funds for charity.

Now, it would be churlish of me to post the original recording here and take money away from homeless children in need of plastic surgery, or whatever the single was supposed to raise money for, wouldn't it? So instead I bring you an out-take from the studio sessions for the single, which was doing the rounds of the net a while back..

Brace yourself..

Friday, 5 October 2007

Religion? Pah!

The world is full of religious nutcases: the majority of wars are fought and lost in the name of some God or another. Surely its more important to ensure that the world's people have access to clean water, decent sanitation, food, hospitals and education than to spend billions a year trying to wipe each other out? After all, doesn't your God teach you that love - not hate - is the answer?

Hey ho. We're all going to hell in a handcart anyway...

Still, if it were not for crazy-assed religious zealots we would not have Lil' Markie.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Lil' Markie was a pudgy, apple-cheeked nine year old sweetly singing his way through life about his faith in Jebus, but oh no. The truth is much more sinister. Markie is, in fact, the creation of adult evangelist Mark Fox, who uses his ability to switch between his own voice and a terrifying, childish falsetto to sing cautionary Christian tales with titles such as Diary of an Unborn Child (the story of a fetus, from conception to abortion, based on an article which originally appeared in a Jehovah's Witness publication and which later inspired the rather peculiar and exceptionally sick Lil' Markie's Journal, Story of an Alcoholic Father (Something's Happened to Daddy) and Use Me.

To find out more about Mark Fox/Lil' Markie, and to find links to photos, film clips and more music, check out WMFU's excellent resource here. For fans of the truly bizarre, here's Jesus Put the Stars in the Sky, from Lil' Markie's album Music to Serve the Lord by.


Download Jesus here

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Pizza, anyone?

Remember all those ads in the back of US comics, little black and white semi-display commercials for hypno-coins, x-ray specs, Charles Atlas bodybuilding courses and the 'we'll publish your book' or 'we'll record your song'?

Apparently, and only in America of course, thousands upon thousands of gullible fools sent their $200 and a copy of their handwritten lyrics to these shysters, only to receive back a parcel of badly pressed 7" singles containing their words set to interminably bad music.

Much feted these days by connoisseurs of bad music, these song poems (as they are now loftily known) are everywhere. There are literally thousands of these vanity recordings out there if you search for them. It's a racket that never really took off over here in the UK, perhaps we're a little too savvy, but a seemingly endless stream of talentless Americans saw fit to have their dire poetry preserved. And thank God for that.

For more info on the artform, visit the excellent resource

Here is one of my personal favourites, Larry London's recording of the song Marinella written, as it it's B-side I Love New York, by Pope Brann, and any further info on either of these audio criminals gratefully received.. It's a shocker, and I can't listen to it without thinking about food: Marinella is a gret name for a pizza, but for the object of the singer's desire?

Download Marinella here

Download I Love New York here

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Pre-pubescent popsters

In 1982 Mike Mansfield, a successful TV pop programme producer with a string of hits behind him, embarked on a new project for the fledgling Channel 4: Mini Pops.

Mini Pops, for those who do not remember this televisual abortion, consisted of specially created video clips featuring children - all of who had yet to reach puberty - singing saccharine versions of current chart hits, disco classics and rock and roll standards. As if that were not nauseating enough, the kids were made to look like adults, complete with makeup and suggestive clothing.

Hated by the press, but loved by a certain audience - mostly grannies and paedophiles I'm guessing - The Observer summed up the programme's content by writing about 'primary school minxes with rouged cheeks, eye make-up and full-gloss lipstick belting out songs like torch singers and waggling those places where they will eventually have places.'

Labelled kiddieporn, junior jailbait and often worse, the Mini Pops lasted but one series on TV, but were an international hit, with a clutch of single and album releases.

In 2005 a television special Whatever Happened to the Mini Pops? was screened on Channel 4, featuring a history of the show and a reunion of some of the original members. This month the Mini Pops were once again featured on TV, as part of Channel 4's 25th anniversary celebrations.

There's a fan site at if you want to know more, and for a snatch of the poppet's Disco Medley, click on the link below.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Nothing like a Dame

During her long career, Dame Barbara Cartland wrote an astonishing 723 books, making her the most prolific author of the 20th Century, and on her passing (in 2000 at the age of 99) left behind a staggering 160 unpublished manuscripts, many of which are now available at her own official web site. Google it. I dare you.

But we're not interested in her tales of love and loss, flighty young girls and dashing heroes. Oh no....

For the woman also left behind a recorded legacy for lovers of bad music, Barbara Cartland's Album of Love Songs.

Recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and released in 1978 (the same year that she issued her 200th romantic novel), it contains twelve mouthwateringly dreadful cuts, with Princess Diana's step-Grandmother warbling her way through such classics as The Desert Song and How Deep Is The Ocean. It's truly horrible, and a must for any aficionado of the awful.

Nigh on impossible to find these days, but keep scouring those charity shops and a copy may well surface here, for your delectation, is her take of the music hall favourite If You Were The Only Girl In The World

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Don't do it!

The world of bad music is littered with TV and film actors and actresses exercising their vocal cords. Alright, I know in this PC world they all prefer to be known as actors, as if the profession were entirely sexless which, after listening to the following, you might hope is true. After all - would you want these two fathering anyone?

Yes, it's true. Jack Klugman (star of many a Twilight Zone episode and, of course, Quince ME) and Tony Randall (who we'll come to again at a later date for his crimes against the Beatles), stars of the TV version of the Odd Couple, released an album.

And it's shocking.

Don't get me wrong; I don't mean it's a mediocre mangling of a few popular songs, this stunning album features some of the worst performances I've ever come across, masquerading as 'comedy' no doubt. The mis-matched pair must have been under the influence of something when they agreed to record this embarrassment - either money or their own egos.

Released in 1973 on London Records in the US, thirteen years later Klugman went on record to say: "Now Tony can sing, but I have a voice like a loud snore." Sorry Jack, but your friend was little better. For your delectation, here is their interpretation of the Carly Simon classic You're so Vain.


Friday, 28 September 2007


The title kind of says it all. I've been fascinated with bad music for decades, those cringe-inducing sounds so beloved of the old Kenny Everett and Dr Demento radio shows: Jimmy Cross's I Want My Baby Back; Jess Conrad; Mrs Miller; terrible novelty songs and pretty much anything ever recorded by Brigitte Bardot. That sort of thing.

They call it 'outsider music' in the US: most people just call it crap. Think of it as the aural equivalent of watching a car crash.

Over the years I've collected hundreds of 7", EPs LPs, CDs and, more recently, MP3s of these crimes against music. The internet has been an incredible boon, littered with obscurities, oddities and downright awful sounds, and it's my intention over the coming weeks, months or years (or however long it takes me to get bored of this) to post some of those tunes, or links to other sites hosting them, here along with - when available - artwork and background information.

First up is the aformentioned I Want My Baby Back, a minor hit in the US in 1965 for Jimmy Cross, based in no small part of the Shangri-Las 'Leader of the Pack', reissued in the late 70s on 7" and on the compilation album The World's Worst Record Show in the UK .
Hope you enjoy the ride.

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