Friday, 26 September 2014

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

I’m sure that the vast majority of you can recall that jaw-dropping moment when you first heard Telly ‘Kojak’ Savalas open up his maw to destroy the David Gates song If; his flat, emotionless ‘sing-speak’ performance inexplicably catapulting the TV cop to Number One in the UK charts in 1975.

What you may not know is that Telly released a string of awful albums and singles during a decade-long personal vendetta against decency and good taste. And here are a couple of prime examples from his 1974 album Telly  - You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling (issued in several countries as the follow-up single to If) and his cover of the Peter Skellern hit You’re a Lady, plus the A-side of his obscure 1975 UK single Who Loves Ya Baby.

Greek-American actor Aristotelis "Telly" Savalas (January 21, 1922 – January 22, 1994) enjoyed a career which spanned four decades. The second of five children, he was best known for playing the title role in the 1970s crime drama Kojak, which ran for five years and built on Telly’s success in the TV movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders (1972). Savalas’s other credits include parts in the movies The Young Savages (1961), Pilate in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), the Battle of the Bulge (1965) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). He played supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962). A fine actor he may have been: a world-class poker player he may have been as well – but a singer he certainly wasn’ these three tracks amply prove.

Telly's recording career kicked off in 1972, pre-Kojak, with the album This Is Telly Savalas (featuring covers of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash songs) for DJM. However it was only after he gained worldwide fame as the lollipop-sucking detective that he struck pop gold. Over the next 10 years he released a further half-dozen albums in the US and Europe. He was surprisingly popular in Switzerland, where he somehow managed to record and release two different songs – Some Broken Hearts Never Mend (which unbelievably topped the Swiss charts in 1981) and Lovin’ Understanding Man (recorded the same year) - utilising almost exactly the same backing track!

As an aside his brother George - who appeared in Kojak as the inept sidekick Sergeant Stavros -  also recorded, although his album of traditional Greek melodies - Hellas, You're Beautiful, I Love You - is actually quite good.



  1. 9/26/14 Wrote:
    It's too bad nobody thought of a "Telly vs. Leonard Nemoy set.. That would be quite a bargain. I'm also on the lookout for records by celebrities who really couldn't sing by the following:
    1)Barbara Eden's Dot album from 1967.
    2)Goldie Hawn's country/reggae album on Reprise from 1972.
    3)Jerry Mather's lone hard to find single on Atlantic from 1961 ("Don'cha Cry")
    4) Dwayne Hickman's album on Capitol as Dobie Gillis as a pathetic attempt by Capitol Records to make him another Fabian/Elvis singer. Dobie was definitely no Elvis. One song was even titled "Who Needs Elvis?" Yeah, Right.
    5)Hugh Down's crooning album on Epic from 1959, "An Evening With Hugh Downs". No Kidding. Barbara Walters must have snoozed to this one.
    6)Those fake Elvis 45's by one supposed Kenny Everett on ABC_Paramount. Elvis was a fictional character in one of his movies named Kenny Everett, and then ABC Paramount got this brilliant idea to sell records by a fake Kenny Everett to get people duped into thinking it was really Elvis moonlighting on his RCA contract by performing under a clever misleading psuedonym. The ploy failed big time, and today these singles seek big bucks among Elvis collectors today.
    7) Joe E. Ross' ridiculous "singing" album on Roulette from 1963, "Love Songs From A Cop" , complete with Oooh-Oohing! Jim Nabors was absolutely professional compared to this!
    8)Steve McQueen's weird little country song from 1974 on Capitol titled "Outlaw Blues" under a phony psuedonym, the non-existent Bobby Ogden.
    9)George "Goober" Lindsey's 1968 album on Capitol, "Goober Sings!" Following in buddy Jim Nabors' footsteps to cut an album, but coming up short.
    10)Clara Peller's "Where's The Beef?" single from 1984. Here's one for your WWR files. This one's a howler!
    Wish me luck I'm on the hunt for these awful entries.
    As for Telly's "singing", he's no Sinatra, but he tries hard. Switzerland must have been masochistic to love these recordings.

  2. Hi Rob. I assume you mean Vince Everett...not the late DJ cuddly Kenny?

  3. 9/27/14 Wrote:
    Thanks for the correction of my one (of too many) typos. I did mean Vince Everett. I have heard of Kenny Everett, and got the two names confused. My bad.

  4. I think Utah's Brigham Young University might've copied the same idea:



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