Friday, 24 February 2012

Mommy, Why?

It’s Friday, which means more terrible music for you.

 Why Doesn’t Daddy Come Home originally appeared on the album Movin’ Thru Dakota Country, one of the many, many releases from the various incarnations of the Lundstrom family.

Preachers Larry and Gloria Lundstrom have been hard at it since they married in 1965. Originally joined in their ministry by Larry’s brother Lowell and his wife, Connie (who sadly passed away in December 2011), the quartet were augmented by a third brother, Leon, his wife, Ronda and their various children. According to Larry’s website: “As the children grew up, we realized we had two sets of keyboardists (sic), drummers, bass players, singers, etc.  In November 1982, Lowell suggested we take our family on the road and (that December) we packed our family and instruments into a coach and off we went!”

Between engagements Larry wrote books, and he and Gloria recorded albums and hosted Christian TV and radio shows. The Lundstroms raised four children in that coach and spent up to 300 days a year on the road. “From 1982 until 1996, we were privileged to have our children LaShawn, LaDawn, and Donovan travel, sing and play in our "Family to Family” rallies.  Only too soon, they all left the nest and in 1997, we were back down to two—just Gloria and I - just like we started back in 1965.” Those 14 years saw the family produce a number of albums – dozens apparently although I’ve yet to find a detailed discography.

The Lundstrom family seem to be genuinely nice people and very well loved by their community, which makes it even more depressing that they should have produced something like this: yet another revolting country ballad with yet another winsome spoken vocal, only this time overshadowed by a pre-pubescent brat balefully whining “Mommy, Why Doesn’t Daddy Come Home?

Infuriatingly, although the little bastard keeps repeating his line over and over again, we never get to find out why Daddy has absconded. Personally I believe it’s so that he doesn’t have to face this kind of hateful, off-key moaning from his brood.  


Saturday, 18 February 2012

I'm Free

This is the sort of record that makes me want to go out and kill someone.

Running for 13 years, Are You Being Served? Was a British sitcom set in the clothing department of Grace Brothers, a fictional London department store. 69 episodes (and a God awful film) were produced over the years, and there were even a couple of series of a sequel in the 1980s, Grace & Favour.

The show was known for is saucy, seaside-postcard style double entendres and for its cast of sitcom stereotypes: the sex crazed young man, the pompous middle-aged ex-army type, the air-headed blonde, the prudish battle-axe and the camp-as-Christmas mincing Mr Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries, just one of the many disgusting and disturbing gay caricatures that populated our television screens in the 1970s.

 During its run, the series attracted criticism for its endless reliance on sexual stereotypes and double entendres, the stupid ‘jokes’ about Mrs Slocombe's "pussy" and John Inman's portrayal of Mr Humphries as the most effeminate man you were ever likely to meet. Inman pointed out that Mr Humphries' true sexual orientation was never stated in the series, and co-creator David Croft said that the character was "just a mother's boy", yet throughout the show’s run he made his attraction to other men obvious and used every stereotypical gay characteristic you could imagine.

I hate Mr Humphries.

Not because the actor who played him refused to discuss his sexuality for decades (he finally came ‘out’ and had a Civil Partnership with his partner of 33 years, Ron Lynch, in 2005, less than 14 months before he died), but because for a boy growing up in the 70s struggling to come to terms with his own sexuality there were no positive gay role models anywhere, just a procession of pansies which minced their way through our living rooms each evening on TV. Everywhere you looked there were people like John Inman, Larry Grayson or Danny La Rue but not one real man who also happened to be homosexual. These people should have been helping people understand and accept gay men, not pushing back the gay liberation movement decades.

I also hate him for this, a spin-off single released in 1975. Written by the show’s other co-creator Jeremy Lloyd along with David Croft’s daughter Penny, I could transcribe the lyrics for you but I’m afraid my computer would explode from the overload of campery. Inman went on to make several other records – including a vile version of the standard the Teddy Bear’s Picnic – but nothing quite plumbs the depths of this piece of crap.


Friday, 10 February 2012

Ready, Eddie, Go!

I’m taking a break this week from the potpourri of tracks sent to me by kindly WWR followers to bring you a recent song-poem purchase, Little Man by Mike Thomas.

Released on one of my favourite song-poem labels, Tin Pan Alley, this track and it’s B-side, Garbage Man Blues, was written by Cecilia Mae Walton – who authored a couple of tracks on Preview (including the magnificently titled Get Your Bibles Out) and who seemingly believed that the only resource a budding songwriter needed was a cheap rhyming dictionary. This is a great bad record, with lyrics of Bolan-esque proportion: who else would have thought of such brilliant rhyming couplets as ‘His customers keep him on the go/And he isn’t very slow’; ‘A lot more lives would get lost/If the fire chief wasn‘t such a good boss’ and, of course, ‘This help the give is fine/They are very-ery fine’.

Poor old Mike Thomas, he really did get the shitty end of the stick. Tin Pan Alley moved to Florida from its original New York base, and it seems as though the company left its quality control department behind as well as all of its singers. Favourites  like Phil Celia, “Lance” (for some strange reason his name invariably appeared in quotation marks) and Cathy Mills disappeared; from now on everything on Tin Pan Alley and its associated TPA and Pageant labels would be recorded by Mike until he finally gave up and was replaced by two equally terrible house bands, first The Melodiers and, finally, New Image. I’m assuming he retired from the industry or managed to get himself a proper job as there’s little chance he would have been fired for his inability to do his job, even though he was one of the most inept of all the song-poem singers. New Image, incidentally, recorded a 45 for Tin Pan Alley entitled Joe and Sue Doing the Hop which has exactly the same tune and arrangement as Little Man.

One question though. Who is Gullord Reisland? His name appears as the artist of these tracks on a juk box label which came with the 45 but he doesn’t appear anywhere else on the interwebs: I almost broke Google trying to track him down. Any ideas? My personal theory is that Gullord Reisland is Mike Thomas’s real name; that this particular release came from his own personal stash and was meant for his own home jukebox. I simply can’t imagine that anyone would have gone in to a bar and paid to listen to this crap.


Friday, 3 February 2012


I am, again, indebted to Mick Dillingham for bringing the following 45 to my attention. For some strange reason this little nugget completely passed me by when it was first released – probably because I was spending just about every penny I had at the time on solo Beatles records…what a waste!

Those of you who are either under 40 or didn’t live in the UK during the 70s and 80s may not know of the TV phenomenon that was That’s Life: a Sunday night magazine programme which mixed humorous stories with crusading campaigns (such as establishing the Childline charity), light entertainment, a witty song and a handful of rude-looking vegetables. For 20 years presenter Esther Rantzen, her jolly band of male sidekicks and an ever-changing musical guest (including Pam Ayres, Jake Thackeray, Victoria Wood, Richard Stilgoe and Doc Cox, aka Ivor Biggun) fronted one of British TV’s highest-rated shows – vilified by the upcoming wave of ‘alternative’ comedians but absolutely adored by the great British public.

Talented pets were That’s Life staple: often, after a hard-hitting exposé of some dodgy bloke and his Page Three girlfriend knocking out fake slimming tea, a cute puppy, cat, ferret or other cuddly critter would be dragged on by its owner to the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of an adoring public. Each of these animals would possess a talent of some description – playing a musical instrument, for example – but when forced to perform in front of a live studio audience could usually to do nothing more than pee over Esther’s ghastly frocks or chase Cyril Fletcher (famously portrayed as “a camp old twat” by Griff Rhys-Jones in a hysterical Not theNine O’clock News sketch) around the set.

Not so Prince or, as he’s credited here, Prince the Wonder Dog. A small, scruffy terrier whose owner insisted he could talk. Only he couldn’t. Basically he’d make a growling noise (like pretty much every other dog on the planet) and his owner Paul Allen would manipulate his throat and lower jaw to make ‘words’.


Quite simply the pair were the world’s worst ventriloquist act, but the public lapped it up; Prince and Paul became, for a very short time, Leeds’ biggest stars (this was a good few years before the birth of the brilliant Wedding Present) and, obviously, the next thing for them to do after finding a huge audience of pensioners with nothing to spend their money on but gin and bingo, was to release a record.

Enter Columbia who, in 1979, decided to get Paul and Prince into the studio to record a version of the Joe Loss 1961 hit Wheels Cha Cha, renamed for the occasion Sausages (naturally) and given a set of Prince-specific lyrics. The result, as you can now hear for yourselves, was – unsurprisingly – awful, but not as bad as the B-side, Paul’s own winsome composition We’ve Got a Dog. Unfortunately, according to Paul’s nephew Antony (writing on “Prince died by accidentally falling down a hole dug during house renovations. The resulting injuries claimed his life. A shame; as a child I loved to play with him.”

A shame indeed - and a loss to the family and Prince’s many fans. Luckily we still have his one solitary single and a well-word YouTube clip to remember him by.


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