Friday, 27 December 2013

Old Jack City

Happy Friday my friends, and welcome to the last WWR post for 2013. Hope you’ve all had a fantastic Christmas.

Today’s brace of badness comes from actor Jack Warner, and both sides of his November 1971 single You Have Got the Gear/Somebody Asked Me. Words fail me although, despite what the title might suggest, this isn’t a song about intergenerational drug dealing. Rather the A-side features the star of Dixon of Dock Green intoning what record company President called ‘a beautiful, melodic number which successfully bridges the generation gap when a son takes problems about his love-life to his father’.

You Have Got the Gear was written, produced and orchestrated by Frank Weir (who scored hits on his own, and with Vera Lynn, in the 1950s), with the B-Side was penned by Warner himself. According to a contemporary press release Warner’s faux-French accent on the flip was inspired by the ‘hundreds of letters from people asking him to sing a (Maurice) Chevalier song’. There’s no accounting for taste: both sides are just awful.

Born Horace Waters in 1895 (his sisters were well-known music hall act Elsie and Doris Waters) Warner made a name for himself on the stage and on radio before appearing in a number of classics from the famed Ealing studios, including Hue and Cry and The Ladykillers. In 1949 he first played the role for which he will forever be remembered – that of policeman George Dixon in the movie The Blue Lamp. Warner reprised the role in 1955 for the TV series Dixon of Dock Green, which ran for 21 years. He released a number of recordings during his long career, the last of which, Your Silly Bird’s a Liar (not quite as sexist as it sounds) was issued in 1975, six years before Jack passed away.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last Christmas

Ho Ho Ho! Only three days to go!

For my final post this side of Christmas 2013 I'm digging into my collection for one of my all-time favourite (and one of the sickest) Christmas records - Lick a Smurp for Christmas by Father Abraphart and the Smurps, a.k.a Jonathan King.

First featured on the blog back in 2009, I realise that I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself for being the proud owner of two versions of this particular atrocity. Released at the height of the Smurfs first brush with fame, Lick a Smurp for Christmas was released on both a hard vinyl 7" (backed with a sing-along instrumental) and one-sided flexi disc, available for a limited time for just 10 new pennies. The song recounts the tale of how certain Smurf-related toys, which had been widely imported into the UK, were causing all sorts of problems - primarily because the lead-based paint that had been used to decorate the dear little things was highly toxic.

That would probably be reason enough for the disc to find a place in any collection of audio horrors, but, as I've already mentioned, the record was created by the man who discovered Genesis (damn him!) and who was sentenced to seven years in prison in November 2001 after being convicted of sexually assaulting a series of teenage boys between 1983 and 1989. Released on parole in March 2005, King has always maintained his innocence. IN recent years he has released new material (which attracted even more controversy with one song about the UK's worst serial killer Dr Harold Shipman), a volume of autobiography and a documentary protesting his innocence. Whatever you choose to believe, Lick a Smurp for Christmas must be one of the worst Christmas records of all time. And I love it.

Today's second post is a request: Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS This Year by Tiny Tim.
Controversy rages about this particular cut. It has been claimed by a number of sources that this song was recorded in 1980, two years before the term AIDS began to be used in conjunction with what was then still known by many as 'the gay plague'. In fact there is no evidence at all, bar a single revisionist quote from the late ukulele-playing troubadour himself, that this song is not about the disease which has wiped millions of people off the face of the earth: the recording did not surface until 1995 (on the album Songs of an Impotent Troubadour). In the sleeve notes to that album, a collection of self-composed songs written over a period of more than 45 years but recorded in one session in 1994, the producer says he became aware of the song in 1984 - well after the acronym AIDS was in common use.

Tiny claimed that his tune was about Santa's over indulgence on Ayds (a chocolate bar popular with slimmers) but that he couldn't use the name Ayds as it would have led to copyright infringement. Personally I think that's bull. The lyrics make it perfectly clear that poor old Santa is lying in bed stricken with a terrible illness, not that he's having to dash off to the lavatory every few minutes with rampant diarrhoea because he's binged on slimming treats. Still, it is what it is - a truly bad-taste piece of work by a titan of outsider music and truly worthy of a place here at The World's Worst Records.

Finally, I'd just like to mention that the podcast I recorded recently for (and with) The Squire Presents is now online. In this seasonal special The Squire and I discuss our favourite Christmas records - a full 16 of the horrors. Apologies for sounding like I recorded my bit from inside a cardboard box (and for the endless sniffing) but it's still well worth a listen.

Enjoy - and a truly happy Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Cavalcade 2013 (Part Three)


Hello and welcome to the last of this year’s ‘new’ Christmas-themed posts. I’ll be revisiting Christmases past for one last time on Sunday, but until then here are a couple of awful pieces of nonsense to get you in the mood.
First up is Paul Di’Anno with his version of Gary Glitter’s Another Rock and Roll Christmas. Masquerading around the internets as an Iron Maiden track, this cover of everyone’s favourite child molester’s perennial hit was in fact recorded by the band’s original vocalist: he appeared on their first two albums and the import EP Maiden Japan, the original cover of which featured the group’s mascot, Eddie, holding Di’Anno’s severed head. Tasteful.

Di’Anno’s stab at Christmas immortality originally appeared on the album Metal Christmas, issued in 1994. That album also featured former Wings and Moody Blues singer/guitarist Denny Laine – and you can’t get much more metal than that! Absolute garbage from start to end; my unending thanks to Pope Omnipuscle for bringing this piece of crap to my attention.

Today’s second track is from the granddaddy of outsider music, Tiny Tim and his version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Issued in 1994, almost two decades after his brief spell in the showbiz spotlight and just two years before his untimely death, Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album is one of the more palatable of Herbert Kahury’s late-period releases and well worth searching out if you like the sound of falsetto-voiced ukulele players murdering Christmas classics.

That’s you lot for now, see you on Sunday.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Season’s Gripings

Another trip down the yuletide memory lane for you this Sunday.

Although this blog was started in 2007, it wasn’t until 2009 that I began bringing you the annual Christmas Cavalcade, and the second disc I posted all those years ago was the brilliant An Old Fashioned Christmas (Daddy’s Home) by Linda Bennett. Released by Mercury in 1975 (or was it? I’ve only ever seen evidence of promo copies, never of finished stock editions) the song was produced and co-written by Paul Vance, whose credits include Brian Hyland's Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Perry Como's Catch A Falling Star, plus hits for the Cuff-Links and Johnny Mathis amongst a string of others. Born in Utah in 1942, Linda Bennett was no stranger to the recording studio either, with albums, TV appearances (including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Bonanza, Flipper and Doctor Kildare) and film credits to her name: as a child actress she featured in The Creature with the Atom Brain, the Seven Little Foys and in Queen Bee, starring Joan Crawford at her scenery-chewing best.

Now let’s revisit 2012, and the truly horrible Christmas on the Moon, by Troy Hess. Probably better known by bad music aficionados for his classic Please Don’t Go Topless Mother, Troy was just four years old when he recorded this virtually unintelligible piece of nonsense, written for him by his father Bennie. Fellow music blogger Steve Carey once described his performance as ‘Huckleberry Hound talking to you on a broken telephone, with a bad connection, in a big echo-y bathroom, standing ten feet away from the phone. Also he's wearing a mask and eating a banana.’ Quite. Shockingly, this was not Troy’s first 45: the Ballad of Troy Hess appeared, and was credited as having been written by Troy himself, when he was just three years old! Troy is still active today, performing with his band the Texas Heartbreakers.

Again from 2012 comes Mae West and Santa Come Up And See Me. Ms West’s contribution to bad music is well documented, with a clutch of awful albums featuring dreadful cover versions of rock and roll standards such as Twist and Shout and her own feeble attempts at composition, never better exemplified than in the horror that is Mr Criswell Predicts, her ‘tribute’ to TV psychic, Ed Wood alumnus and all round crackpot Jeron Criswell King. Santa Come Up And See Me comes from her 1967 album Wild Christmas, recorded when the old gal was nearing 75.

Finally today we have Christmas is For the Family by the Happy Crickets from their album Christmas With the Happy Crickets. Undated, but probably originally released around 1960, I was reminded of this when I was putting together Friday’s post about the Caroleers (both ‘acts’ recorded for the Synthetic Plastics Company of Newark, New Jersey: my suspicion is that the Happy Crickets are simply some of the male members of the Caroleers). Our old friend Ross Hamilton describes this as ‘probably the worst attempt at cashing in on the singing animal phenomenon. The singing is horrible, even when sped up, and the arrangements sound like they were slapped together by a committee of drunks’. I absolutely agree!

See you on Friday, but for now, enjoy!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas Cavalcade 2013 (Part Two)

Here we go again: another bunch of bad Christmas records for you to enjoy.

The Caroleers released a bucket-load of schmaltzy, Christmassy-themed recordings from the mid-50s through until at least the late 1960s. Originally put together to produce material for kiddie label Peter Pan Records (which, charmingly, were ‘manufactured by the Synthetic Plastics Company, Newark, New Jersey’), and also credited as the Caroleer Singers and the Peter Pan Caroleers, I believe that most of their dull, white-bread versions of Christmas classics were recorded around 1956, but the company issued and re-issued them so many times over the next decade or so (first on 78, then 45s and EPs, none of which are dated) that it’s hard to work out exactly when the sessions took place. The ‘group’ (probably just a seasonal name for a collection of Synthetic Plastics vocalists) also released albums on Diplomat (another Synthetic Plastics imprint) – home to the Happy Crickets. Synthetic Plastics was also home to Batman Records. Ho Ho Ho It’s Christmas comes from their album Sleigh Ride/Jingle Bells Children’s Christmas Favourites.

Next up is a World’s Worst records favourite, Little Marcy and C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. Taken from the doll from hell’s seasonal collection Christmas With Marcy, originally issued in 1965, I don’t think I need to add anything else.

Finally today we revisit another WWR favourite, Mike Thomas of the Tin Pan Alley song-poem label, and both sides of the dreadful 45 A Christmas Wish/The Nite My Savior Was Born. Both songs were written by Elvie Rowland, and come from the period after TPA moved to Florida – years after founder Jack Covais had passed away and at a time when production values were rushing headlong to their all-time low. I’m indebted to fellow blogger Bob Purse, who originally posted this gem back in 2010.

See you on Sunday! Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Christmas Clunkers 2

Hello again! Another seven slices of seasonal hokum for you.

The majority of today's collection of Christmas Clunkers comes from December 2011 - a bumper year in which I originally posted more than a dozen dreadful recordings. However I first featured our first track, one of the all-time bad Christmas records, just last year. Billy’s Christmas Wish comes from country trucking supremo Red Sovine. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Red Sovine, would it?  

Billy’s Christmas Wish tells a tale so desperately lurid that I can’t believe his record company had the temerity to release it. It's the story - much loved by Christmas song composers - of a homeless, father-less child who prays to Santa every year but whose sack is perpetually empty and then, when it looks like the little beggar might finally get what he wants he goes and coughs up his last breath. As I've said before, the Red Sovine canon is the best argument I could ever present against country and western music.
It was way back in 2009 when I originally posted our next track. Merry Christmas Elvis, by Michelle Cody, was issued in 1978 on the Safari label, owned by song-poem hustler Ramsey Kearney (aka Will Gentry, co-writer  and performer of Blind Man’s Penis), I implore you not to not to choke on your mince pies at the song's saccharine denouement. Little Michelle had made an earlier stab at recording Jack Toombs’ song, probably in 1977 the year of Elvis’s passing, on the obscure Jimbo label.

The next five songs come from Christmas 2011. The ridiculously flat bass playing on Snow Man, from Bob Gerard, is typical of a great number of the offerings from Tin Pan Alley, one of my favourite song-poem labels. The Christmas Shoes came my way courtesy of Ross Hamilton. Its perpetrators, Christian rock phenomenon NewSong, should have been shot for this horrifically sentimental pap: the story of a small boy who wants to buy his mother some new shoes that she can wear when she meets God later that night. The song, which provided the inspiration for an equally sickening film of the same name, made the coveted number one spot on Billboard for one week in January 2001.

Next is a pair of particularly bad tracks from Christmas in the Stars, the Star Wars Christmas Album: Merry, Merry Christmas and C3PO, aka Anthony Daniels, retelling the classic T’was the Night Before Christmas (retitled here A Christmas Sighting) with a suitably Star Warsian bent.

Finally, for today at least, is the ridiculous Cheeky Girls with Have A Cheeky Christmas – just the sort of tune you should be kicking up your heels over after enjoying too much turkey and before settling down to the Queen’s Speech. The duo, who first came to fame on the TV ‘talent’ show Popstars: The Rivals, achieved chart success with four top ten hits between 2002 and 2004, the biggest being their debut single, Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum), which sold more than 1.2 million copies worldwide but was voted the worst pop record of all time in a Channel 4 poll.

See you all on Friday. Enjoy!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Cavalcade 2013 (Part One)

It's Christmaaaaaaassss!

Well, not quite, but as we rush headlong towards the turkey and tinsel fest it is time to launch this year's Christmas Cavalcade. Once again you're going to get an album's worth of bad Christmassy-themed music over the nest few week and - along with the Sunday reposts of some of the horrors from previous years - by December 22 you'll have enough material to cobble together your own very special bad Christmas compilation.

Today I'm kicking off with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer from Don 'Lofty' Estelle's festive album Don Estelle Sings Songs for Christmas. In all honesty it's not that bad: Estelle had a pleasant enough baritone voice and released several albums in a singing career that ran parallel to his acting jobs. It's fine - until the horrid kiddie choir comes in, that is. Then it's time to strangle someone.

The album, first issued in 1979, has been repackaged several times - most recently by Castle as A Don Estelle Christmas - but I picked my original Pickwick Records copy up in a charity shop recently for 25p. Money well spent.

Next up is The Christmas Dolly by Little Betty Ashley and J. W. Thompson. Now I know next to nothing about this particular monstrosity, apart from the fact that it was released as the B-Side to a song called It's Your Turn on Fine Records, catalogue number 1007, but have a good listen to that male singer and tell me that J. W. doesn't sound exactly like Rodd Keith. There is (or perhaps was) a country singer called J. W Thompson, who scored a few hits in the States between 1979 and 1984, but this track sounds to me to have been recorded much earlier than that and he usually sounds quite different from the singer present here. It isn't Rodd, of course, but it's eerily like him.

Next up is a wonderful track from the equally wonderful Ellen Marty. X-Mas Gift comes from her rockinghorse-shit rare album Mixing and Making with Marty, and I'm indebted to the wonderful Dead Wax blog, which originally posted this in January and first alerted me to the amazing Miss Marty. I am so in love with this woman!

Finally a track from the utterly bonkers Major Bill Smith. I'm going to be writing a whole lot more about The Maj in the New Year, but briefly he was a bone fide US Air Force Major who scored a few hits as a producer at the turn of the 60s - Bruce Channel's Hey Baby, Paul and Paula's Hey Paula and the teen death sicko Last Kiss by J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers - had a hand in the career of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and in the early 80s was insisting that Elvis was still alive and that he, The Maj, was his de facto manager. This shocker - Happy Birthday Jesus - is credited to Major Bill Smith and Nancy Nolte, although poor old Nancy doesn't get much of a look in. The actor Nick Nolte has a sister called Nancy, who I assume this ain't. There was a Nancy Nolte who recorded for Todd Records in 1959 and then went on to release the 45 Christmas Night/Christmas Tree in Heaven for Major Bill's Le Cam label the following year. I've not heard that but my suspicion is that this disc uses one of those Nancy Nolte tracks as its backing (it appears to be a version of Silent Night, perhaps that's the same track as Christmas Night?) - which is why she gets a credit here.

See you on Sunday. Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Christmas Clunkers

Hey everybody! Happy December.

As you already know, this coming Friday I'll be launching this year's Christmas Cavalcade. I've a slew of great bad Christmas records for you to endure this year, enough to curdle the cream on your mince pies.

But as well as that, as an extra special festive treat, over the next few weekends I'm going to repost the worst Christmas-themed tracks I've featured here over the last few years - starting today with a selection of cuts from Christmas 2009 and 2010. So, you're going to get new stuff every Friday and old stuff every Sunday from now until December 22: by Christmas you should have enough crap to pick from to produce the best bad Christmas album ever.

During December 2009 The World's Worst Records featured some of my all-time favourite bad Christmas music - and here are a brace of them again: I'm Gonna Spend Christmas With a Dalek from the Go-Gos and Michelle Cody's Merry Christmas Elvis. From 2010 comes Red Sovine's Is There Really a Santa Clause, Billy Idol's miserable White Christmas and the ridiculous R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas from John Bongiovi who, of course, would later make little girls all over the world wet themselves by growing a poodle perm and changing the spelling of his surname to Bon Jovi.

Grab 'em while you can!

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