Friday, 7 December 2018

Christmas Cavalcade 2018 - Part One

Welcome, my friends, to our annual look at the world of bad Christmas records.

I’m kicking off this year’s Cavalcade of tinselly terror with a suggestion from an old friend. For many years, until its untimely demise a while back, Lord Of the Boot Sale was one of my ‘go to’ blogs for odd and obscure music, so I was incredibly happy to hear from its creator (and curator) recently. He kindly sent me a couple of tunes to share with you, and I’m honoured to do so.

Here’s little Johnny Alvin with both sides of his single, Santa Claus Wrecked My 'Lectric Train (Thanta Cwaus Wecked My Wectwick Twain) and Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Released by Warner Bros. in November 1958, Johnny (on some copies he’s credited as Johnnie) was just nine years old when the single hit the shops, and he has the distinction of having issued Warner’s first ever Christmas-themed 45. He is not, despite what Discogs may have you believe, the same Johnnie Alvin who was an American Doo Wop singer, active in the 1950s and 60s, who was a member of groups including the Fabulous Playboys and The Falcons. By some bizarre twist of fate, Johnny’s cover of Rudolph was the best-selling version of the song in the U.S. in 1960, despite competition from Paul Anka, Gene Autrey, Spike Jones, Guy Lombardo, David Seville and the Chipmunks and many others.

As an extra, he’s another suggestion form The Lord, Little Susie and Who Put The Gum in Santa’s Whiskers… a little further down the ‘novelty’ route than we usually go here, but we’ll make an exception for this Dr. Demento favourite.  

Released in 1956 by MGM in the States (backed by Christmas Season) there was a second Little Susie single issued six years later, this time on Roulette, (Why Does Everybody Imitate) My Daddy on which Susie (I don’t know for sure if it’s the same Little Susie, sadly, but let’s assume that it is), playing the role of Caroline Kennedy, complains about people impersonating JFK. It’s silly, but nowhere near as brutally bad as her debut.


Enjoy!

Download Wrecked HERE


Download Rudolph HERE



Download Whiskers HERE

Friday, 30 November 2018

Susan Zagon... and on, and on

Whistling is, pretty much, a lost art form. In the 50s and 60s we were used to seeing (and hearing) whistlers pop up on TV and on records (Mrs. Miller, Roger Whittaker…) and in my own collection I have whistling 78s from the 30s and 40s, but very few of the whistling stars of the cabaret stage went as far as to make an entire album dedicated to whistling.

One of the few who did was Chicago’s Susan Zagon.

There were a number of professional whistlers plying their trade, of whom the best known was probably Fred Lowery in the States and Jan Lindblad from Sweden, but I doubt either of those stars of the whistling scene sold their albums from a box on the counter of their family’s rattan furniture store.

Susan issued her sole album, Whistler, on her own Zagon Records sometime in the late 1960s. On the twelve tracks, noted as “songs, variety and classic, also Bird Imitations” according to the rear of the sleeve, Susan is accompanied by pianist Marian Johnson.

The album must have sold well enough to have gone through at least two impressions, as there are copies with two distinctly different sleeves out there. The whole thing reminds me of Florence Foster Jenkins, with the earnest Susan warbling away while her own Cosme McMoon (in the shape of Ms. Johnson) fills in the gaps and tries valiantly to keep up. The comparison seems apt, as both Florence and Susan recorded versions of Liadoff’s Musical Snuff Box.

Susan first became interested in whistling as a child, telling a newspaper that “I loved listening to opera records, but I couldn’t sing along because I had no voice. I can’t even talk loud or yell. But I could whistle, so I followed the recordings by whistling along. My mother was very enthusiastic. I think she loved the whistling more than I did.” Mom wanted Susan to find a teacher and, at 19 years-old Miss Zagon began to train as a professional whistler, spending some $10,000 over twelve years to hone her craft.  

“This was easier said than done,” she revealed. “There is no glut of whistling teachers after all.”

Anyway, here are a couple of tracks from Susan Zagon: Whistler for you to marvel over. See you next week for the start of this year’s Christmas Cavalcade.

Enjoy!

Download Birdling HERE


Download Snuff HERE

Friday, 23 November 2018

Pray for Joanne

A shortish post today, primarily because I am still having problems with Facebook: the social media behemoth refuses to engage with me and I cannot find out why they have decided to ban any and all links from the World's Worst Records.

I only became aware of the Joanne Duo catalogue a short time ago, when Ronnie Carrott (great name), who was listening in to the debut World's Worst Records Radio Show, pointed me towards their miserable rerecording of My Prayer, the 1939 song with music by violinist Georges Boulanger and lyrics by Carlos Gomez Barrera and Jimmy Kennedy. It's shocking, with distinct overtones of the great Grace Pauline Chew, and - naturally - I went off in search of more. 

Discogs only carries a listing for one EP, a copy of which I immediately bought (autographed, for just £1!), but the Joanne Duo apparently also issued a full-length album and a cassette-only collection too.

Tom and Joanne Clarkson were regulars on the South Coast cabaret scene, and frequently found in the lounge of Mediterranean cruise ships, entertaining the passengers. Originally from Leeds, the multi-instrumentalists (Tom appears to have played keyboards, guitar, bass and xylophone, his wife all manner of percussion) settled in the tiny fishing village of Kingsdown, a few miles along the coast from Dover sometime in the late 70s, and were active from 1978 (or earlier: that's the first mention of them I can find in The Stage) until at least 1989. Appearing with light entertainment heavyweights including Freddie "Parrotface" Davies and Roy Hudd, it seems the Duo made a decent living. One can only assume that their magic was impossible to capture on disc.

Here's The Joanne Duo with My Prayer and their disco stomper Those Fascinating Eyes, which was composed for Joanne by Dover restaurant owner Julian Laffranchi. 

Enjoy!

Download Prayer HERE



Download Eyes HERE

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Episode Two

If you missed the second episode of the World's Worst Records Radio Show fret not, for you can stream the programme any time you want from the pop-up player HERE

Some of you will no doubt be aware that we're having a few problems with Facebook - the network has suddenly decided, with no warning and no reason - to block any and all links to this blog. If you rely on Facebook to alert you when a new post goes live, until I manage to get this fixed (and find out what heinous crime I've committed) there's a good chance you'll miss something. My suggestion is that you either follow me (@dwbullock) on Twitter or that you simply check in here every Friday after 10am (UK time) or so. I'll still post updates on Facebook, but for now, they will not link directly to the blog.

There will be a new post tomorrow, so stay tuned... and thank you all for the support.

Friday, 16 November 2018

The Fable of Faye Bull

Faye Bull, what a name! It has to be a pseudonym, surely? No one can be called Fable! A quick search has found me a Brenda Faye Bull, an Alison Faye Bull, a Ginger Faye Bull. A Donna Faye Bull and a Shirley Faye Bull all living in and around the Carrollton area at some point, so maybe it’s not a pseudonym at all.

Still, here’s an oddity from 1971 penned (and, on the flip Don't Blame The Children, sung/spoken) by Miss or Mrs. Faye Bull of Carrollton Alabama. What makes this doubly interesting is that the a-side, The Legend of Henry Wells is sung by Halmark song-poem regular Jack Kim (a.k.a. Kimmel). Although it does not feature one of the usual Halmark backing tracks and the name of label supremo Ted Rosen does not appear anywhere on the disc, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that our Ted was involved somewhere down the line. Producer credit is given to one Josh Kane, of Sterling, Illinois.

Issued by Escambia Records (ES 112), the A-side tells the story, in Jack’s inimitable, over-the-top style, of the ghostly image that appears in an upstairs window of the Pickens County Courthouse in the county seat of Carrollton, Alabama, which was built in 1877-1878. The image is claimed to be the face of freed slave Henry Wells.

According to a common version of the myth, Wells was alleged to have burned down the previous courthouse that stood in the town in 1876 (the first had been destroyed in 1965 by Union forces during the Civil War). He was arrested but escaped and went on the run. When found two years later, he was again arrested (in January 1878) and, while waiting for his ‘trial’ (Wells was, in fact, lynched by a white mob soon after his arrest) lightning struck the window he was staring out of and left an impression of his face. It’s a great story, but sadly it does not conform to the known historical facts: the windows of the newly-built courthouse were not installed until after Wells was lynched, so could not contain his image.

The story of Wells' face in the courthouse window seems to have been based on two separate historical events, the lynching of African American Nathaniel Pierce, and the arrest of Henry Wells. Pierce was being held on charges of murder when, on September 26, 1877, an armed mob forced their way into the jail where he was being held, took him outside the city, and lynched him. Pierce's lynching was not reported as having anything to do with the burning of the courthouse, but Wells – already suspected of both the arson and of an armed robbery - later confessed to burning it down.

Wells’ accomplice in the robbery was arrested in January 1878. He confessed to the burglary and blamed Wells for the burning of the courthouse. Wells was caught a few days later. When confronted by the police, he tried to flee and was shot twice. He confessed to burning the courthouse, likely under coercion, including beatings. He died from his wounds five days later.

I’ve not been able to find much info about Escambia Records, but the company (and Faye) had a few mentions in Billboard between September 1971 and July 1972. The first mentions that “an upcoming release… will feature a country band living in Czechoslovakia,” the second (January 1972) confirms that “Faye Bull has turned out another story-song for Escambia Records. She first did ‘the Legend of Henry Wells’ and has followed with ‘Fare-Thee Well, Mary Jane Clowers’, recorded by the Cool Tatoo from Sterling, Ill.” The company’s final mention tells us that “President Marve Hoerner [of De Grande Music and Crus de Oro Productions] has recorded a recitation single, both sides of which were written by Faye Bull, and put out on Escambia Records.”

I should not need to tell you that I am now in the process of tracking other Escambia releases down. The Cool Tatoo disc is actually correctly credited “Fare-The-Well (Mary Jane Clowers)”, and the group’s name appears on the disc as Coal Tattoo (Escambia ES 116). There are also a couple of singles by Zyndall Wayne Raney, including Cellblock Number 3 (again composed by our Faye) backed with Tried, Lied and Lost (ES 113) and Field Hand Man/I'm On My Way (ES 114). The Zyndall Raney Band is still gigging today.

Enjoy!

Download Henry Wells HERE


 Download Children HERE

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The World's Worst Records Radio Show

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Mr. Fab, of the oh-so-excellent obscure music blog Music For Maniacs. He wanted to know if I was interested in getting involved in a new project he was launching, via WFMU, called Sheena's Jungle Room, an internet radio station dedicated to obscure, exotic and downright odd music. I, quite naturally, said yes.

So, here's what's happening. At 7pm this evening (that's UK time, 2pm EST) The World's Worst Records Radio Show goes 'live'. 

The hope is to bring you one full hour of nonsense, including a Death Disc of the Week, a spotlight on a Singing Actor and more rubbish than you can shake a stick at. 

It's the same as you've been enjoying here for the last 11 years, but now you'll also get to hear me, in all my West Country glory. This is new, I've not tried anything like this before and I'd appreciate any feedback, good or bad. You can tune in at https://www.wfmu.org/playlists/WR


If everything runs to plan I will be online, via the WFMU message boards, to answer any questions and join in any chat during the show. Come and keep me company, and keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates as we get closer to showtime. Do remember though that this is a brand new project and there are bound to be a few teething issues!

Let me know your thoughts and, if you wish, let me know which of your preferred bad records you'd like me to play in future episodes. There will be a Christmas special full of the worst Xmas discs of all time, so why not nominate your own particular favourite.

Friday, 2 November 2018

This is Allen Scott (or is it?)

Some more song-poem madness for you today, and a handful of songs from the star of the Royal Master song-poem outfit, Allen Scott.

I love Royal Master, and it's odd that I've only previously featured one of their Christmas songs (if I recall correctly), because the company is a classic example of everything that is wrong about the song-poem industry. There's zero quality control here... they would happily take the stupidest words anyone sent them, slather on a piss-poor country backing and have one of their inept 'singers' emote over the top.

And, my friends, of the singers that they employed, Allen Scott has to be the most inept of them all.

Royal Master was owned by songwriter Alex Zanetis. Zanetis had a bone fide hit in 1964, his song As Usual was recorded by Brenda Lee and went to Number 12 on the Billboard chart. RM gave Will Gentry, a.k.a. Ramsay Kearney his first song-poem break (and encouraged Kearney to set up his own Nashco song-poem empire). A former (apparently) friend of the late Jim Reeves, Zanetis put out hundreds of compilation albums through Royal Master, most if not all having a heavily religious bias.Zanetis would later write a whole gospel country opera, The Carpenter's Son: A Musical Dramatization of the Life of Christ, a double album issued by RCA in 1973.

But who is (or was) Allen Scott?

Well, for starters, he's the same singer that appears on Nu-Sound records - yet another song-poem outfit - as Todd Andrews. Like Royal Master (or Kearney for that matter) they would issue any old garbage. Utterly mercenary. Don't forget, Kearney is the shyster who happily took his thirty pieces of silver for Blind Man's Penis.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Allen Scott does not exist, for I believe that Allen Scott/Todd Andrews is (or, again, was) a pseudonym for Alex Zanetis himself. There's no evidence of this on any of the Royal Master releases, but if you compare the voice on the Allen Scott or Todd Andrews recordings with Zanetis' own voice on his 1986 single Are You Ready For The Lord it's clearly the same person.

A caveat here is that Zanetis issued an album under his own name in 1964, Writes and Sings the Stories of the Oil Fields, and the voice there is entirely different. Perhaps something happened to Zanetis between 1964 and the mid to late 70s, when Royal Master began operating, to affect his voice? I'm sure someone out there has the answer.

To add to the confusion, in 1971 Moodisc Records issued the reggae single Guilty credited to Alex Zanetis, but that is definitely not our man. This disc was actually performed by the Jolly Brothers, and I've no idea how the release came to be miscredited.

Anyway, a few examples of the artistry of Allen Scott.

Enjoy!

Download Love Letters HERE



Download Boppin' In Flip Flops HERE



Download A Corner Of Your Heart HERE

Friday, 26 October 2018

Lest We Forget

1941 was an awful year. But, at the height of the Second World War, at least we could enjoy Vera Lynn singing about bluebirds over Dover and hoping that we’ll all meet again.

And, in America, there was this horror. The act on this maudlin mess is credited as Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye, with vocals by The Glee Club (on Remember Pearl Harbor) and Allan Foster (Dear Mom). Issued by Victor just days before Christmas, it was an ill-conceived effort to pull on the heartstrings.

Sammy Kaye (born Samuel Zarnocay Jr., in March 1910) was an American bandleader and songwriter, whose tagline, “Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye”, became one of the most famous of the Big Band Era.

Born in Lakewood, Ohio, Kaye and his orchestra made a large number of records for Vocalion, RCA Victor, Columbia, Bell, and Decca and was also a hit on the radio. Kaye was known for an audience participation gimmick called “So You Want to Lead A Band?” where audience members would be called onto the stage in an attempt to conduct the orchestra, with the possibility of winning batons. Popular on television in the 50s, the bandleader passed away in 1987. A year after passing on his own baton to his friend Roger Thorpe, who still leads the Sammy Kaye Orchestra to this day.

Shortly after the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, Sammy Kaye wrote the music (well, ‘adapted’ it from Ohio University's Alma Mater) and Don Reid wrote the words to Remember Pearl Harbor. The disc was recorded on December 17, and it was in the shops before Christmas. I understand the patriotic gesture, but to me the haste, and the saccharine sentiment, make this all a bit indecent. Couple it with the mawkish flipside and you have all the ingredients of a truly miserable record.

Enjoy!

Download Harbor HERE


Download Mom HERE

Friday, 19 October 2018

mmm... Butter!

“i-so-metric push up!”

American fitness instructor Milton Teagle “Richard” Simmons (born July 12, 1948) is a cultural icon who has appeared on countless TV shows since the late 1970s. He promotes weight-loss programs, prominently through his Sweatin' to the Oldies line of aerobics videos, and is known for his eccentric, flamboyant, and energetic personality.

An obese and unhappy child, Simmons began his weight-loss career by opening a gym called Slimmons in Beverly Hills, California, catering to the overweight, and he became widely known through exposure on television and through the popularity of his own range of consumer products. He is often parodied (remember the Robotic Richard Simmons in The Simpsons? “C’mon, big boy! Shift some butter off those buns!”) and was a frequent guest of late night television and radio talk shows, such as the Late Show with David Letterman and The Howard Stern Show.

However, and oddly for one so prominently in the public eye, he has not appeared in public since February 2014; his gym quietly closed in late 2016 without him making any public statement, and his disappearance led to speculation that he was being held hostage by his housekeeper. In March 2017, LAPD detectives visited his home, and later issued a statement saying that Simmons is “perfectly fine”, and “very happy”. Detective Kevin Becker later told People magazine that “we went out and talked to him he is fine, nobody is holding him hostage. He is doing exactly what he wants to do. If he wants to go out in public or see anybody he will do that. I don’t know what he is going to do, but right now he is doing what he wants to do and it is his business.”

The following month, following a spell in hospital, Simmons made his first public comment in over a year, posting a Facebook message to say that “I’m not ‘missing’, just a little under the weather”. Yet speculation grew, and a media witch-hunt ensued - quite literally when a ‘friend’ claimed that he was under the spell of witchcraft. A tracking device was attached to his car and paparazzi camped outside his home in the hope of grabbing an elusive, exclusive, snap. Although he made it clear that he did not want to be seen, in a telephone interview Simmons gave a few clues as to why he had gone to ground. “Sometimes we get lost in our sadness,” he revealed. In an interview in 2013 Simmons was close to tears when he stated that “when the king gest depressed, he doesn’t call for his wife, or the cook, he calls for the little man with the pointy hat. And he says to the Court Jester ‘Make me laugh’… and I am that Court Jester.” He underwent a double knee replacement that, for someone so used to being so fit and agile, must have been hell for him.

In May 2017, Simmons sued the National Enquirer, Radar Online and American Media, Inc. for libel after claims were made that he was undergoing gender reassignment. He lost the lawsuit, and was ordered to pay the defendants’ fees, with the judge ruling that “misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation.”  If you want to know more about his whereabouts you can tune in to the six-part Missing Richard Simmons podcast, hosted by former The Daily Show producer Dan Taberski.

Now 70 years old, Richard, we hope that whatever personal demons you’re battling with you come out the other side happy and healthy. But until then, here are a couple of cuts from his 1983 exercise album Reach.


Enjoy!

Download This Time HERE


Download Don't Tell Me HERE

Friday, 12 October 2018

They Call Me Mister Pollard

Now, here’s a peculiar little disc I can guarantee few of you will have heard before: it sold poorly, has not been included on any compilation of exotica (at least not one that I am aware of) and is not available on YouTube. At least I can remedy the latter.

Luckily April In Paris, and its flipside ‘S Wonderful, issued on the Pye subsidiary Piccadilly in 1962 by Mr. Pollard, did get a write up in the Daily Mirror and the Aberdeen Evening Express, so I have been able to piece together some info about both the disc and its performer.

Mr. Pollard was a women’s clothier whose business, S. B. Pollard Couture, was based in Mayfair, one of London’s most upmarket areas. “[It’s a] wholesale business, but I supply only the tip-top,” he confided to the Mirror’s Patrick Doncaster. Although Mr. Pollard was keen not to let too many skeletons out of his rather well-stocked closet (not even his age), he did allow Doncaster a brief peek into his past: “You can say that I am an ex-teenage Charleston champion of the Twenties.”

The Charleston craze hit London in 1925, and the first Charleston Ball took place at the Royal Albert Hall in 1926. If our Mr. Pollard was in his teens around this time, he would have had to have been somewhere between 49 and 55 when he made his first, and only, disc. According to the Aberdeen Evening Express Mr. Pollard had “reached a ‘dignified’ age” by the time his disc was issued.

“I think you’ll agree that the record is positively different,” Mr. Pollard told Doncaster. Apparently, he undertook his own market research before cutting the disc, visiting around 60 record stores in London to gauge reactions. Paid for out of his own pocket, he then took his tapes to Pye, who issued it in June 1962. It merited a brief mention in The Gramophone magazine, where Mr. Pollard was described as being “a gentleman with a sibilant bass voice that sounds like a cross between Whispering Jack Smith, Stanley Unwin and Popeye. He is accompanied by a strangulated trumpet and piping clarinet, with rhythm… I have an idea it might be meant as a macabre sort of joke on the lines of Jonathan and Darlene. Just for that, it’ll probably be a hit.” It wasn’t.

Incidentally, Whispering Jack Smith should not be confused with Whistling Jack Smith. Whispering Jack was an American-born baritone singer active from the 1920s through until the late 1940s, a popular radio and recording artist who occasionally also appeared in films. Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were a musical comedy double act developed by American conductor and arranger Paul Weston, and his wife, singer Jo Stafford.

I’m undecided on the true identity of Mr. Pollard. I can find no reference to his wholesale dress empire, nor any reference to Mr. Pollard himself outside of the three short articles I’ve found on the disc. In fact, if it were not for a small photograph of Mr. Pollard appearing alongside the Daily Mirror article, and the Aberdeen Evening Express confirming his Christian name as Sam, I could easily believe this was a spoof: it could easily be by, say, Lionel Bart and the Temperance Seven.

Still, here are both sides of Mr. Pollard’s “positively different” single.  As always, let me know if you have any other information.

Enjoy!

Download April HERE



Download Wonderful HERE 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

King Solomon's Mind

 Although I have been writing about music from outside the mainstream for more than ten years, making fun of the oddball and the obscure through this very blog, I have often felt uncomfortable about finding humour in what U.S. writer and DJ Irwin Chusid labelled ‘outsider music’. Although some outsider musicians – The Shaggs, for example – have found cult acceptance for their naïve musical meanderings, many of the artists whose work has found itself lumped into this loosest of genres have been battling with drink, drugs, and other demons. I find it hard to laugh at someone (say, Zappa protégé Wild Man Fischer) whose work so often and so clearly reflects their own mental health issues.

 So where does that leave legendary outsider musician Jerry Solomon?

Originally from San Diego, Jerry recorded several singles during the 1960s and issued three albums in the 1970s, all of which are completely insane; Jerry rambles, croons, hoots and shrieks through his material like a psychotic. Andy Kaufman was a fan, and Jerry made a brief cameo in the Jim Carry film about Kaufman, “Man on the Moon”. Very few copies of these albums exist, and so sought after are they that when they do come up for sale it’s usually for silly money.

U.S. company Sundazed Music/Modern Harmonic have just re-issued Jerry’s outsider magnum opus Past The 20th Century, as well as a double album compiling the vast majority of his rocking horse-shit rare 45s in one place for the very first time, Virginity For All. Sadly his first recording, Crying Over You, which he made as a teenager around 1959 or 1960, is the one missing chapter in the bizarre but absolutely essential collection. Keenly sought after by collectors, the complete Jerry Solomon discography – thirteen 7” singles, an EP and three albums issued on his own Sunlite and Fountain labels (the latter of which Jerry himself described as “probably the smallest record company in the world” and sold on the street, often with handcrafted sleeves - would previously have set you back several months’ wages.

According to Mike Ascherman, in the book Acid Archives, Jerry “sounds like a late ’50s vocals group from the Twilight Zone. His self-accompaniment consists of a repetitive one-chord (maybe two) guitar strum that predates Jandek and a toy piano that is ‘strummed’ and sounds like a lysergic zither from the Third Man soundtrack. The songs range from nostalgia for the earlier years of his life to total despair.”

Jerry’s recordings all sound as if they were knocked out in his bedroom, with him trying not to disturb his roommate – or perhaps his mother. In fact, many of Jerry’s early recordings were made at Ted Brinson’s Recording Studio in Los Angeles: from his garage, former bass player Brinson had recorded the doo-wop hit Earth Angel (by the Penguins) and had worked with Little Richard.  Jerry’s other albums, Through the Woods and Live at the Show Biz, were recorded on a portable cassette player, the former in his apartment… quite possibly in that bedroom.

In his 30s, Jerry – who had what he describes as “a phobia” about narcotics - was given a dangerous drug as a joke by a friend, a self-described junkie, and suffered brain and heart dysfunction. The happy-go-lucky man became paranoid and mentally impaired, and what followed was a decade-long battle with misdiagnosis, missing hospital records and mistreatment. He quite literally lost his mind. It would take him more than ten years to regain some of his former functions, nearer twenty to get back to what he feels is normality. Jerry’s book, A Drug Free Life and a Glass of PCP (revised and expanded as A Drug Free Life and a Glass of PCP Book Two), details his experience (as best he can recall it) in harrowing detail.

The odd thing is that almost all of Jerry’s recordings were made before he partook of that fateful drink.
He’s spent many years on the periphery of showbiz, appearing as an extra in a number of TV shows (including Barney Miller) and performing at stand up and open mic events around L.A. Now in his mid-70s, and pretty much fully recovered from his journey into the unknown, Jerry is still trying to carve a showbiz career for himself. He’s quite a character: a few years ago, he auditioned (unsuccessfully), for America’s Got Talent, singing a self-composed song about Viagra to the tune of O Sole Mio! He had his own cable show – a couple of uncomfortable-to-watch clips are on YouTube – he ran for Governor of California in the early 90's (and received a total of 12 votes), made appearances on The Gong Show and has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
To celebrate the re-release of these incredible records, Sundazed/Modern Harmonic have put out a short film, narrated by Jerry himself, about his wild career. It makes for fascinating viewing, and includes Jerry’s ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameos in Wayne’s World and Barney Miller. 

To buy Past The 20th Century and Virginity For All go to https://sundazed.com/jerry-solomon.aspx
Enjoy!

Friday, 5 October 2018

House!

It’s been a while since we had a song-poem, so here’s a pip from the dying days of the Preview label for you, starring Barbara Foster. Bingo and Just for You are two fairly predictable slices of Country cheese, until you scratch beneath the surface.

The A-side tells the story of a bored husband whose wife is always out with the girls playing housey housey. On the flip, the protagonist talks about painting their face, wearing a mini-dress and giving the family home an interior makeover to make it look like a bar. What makes this fascinating (well, to me at least) is that on the plug side Barbara is singing from a man’s point of view, and on side two from a woman’s. That’s not exactly unheard of, but in this day and age you could look at it another way. Was author Michael R. Guesman an early trans pioneer who was gently outing himself through his song lyrics? Is he going to put on make-up and a mini to please his man, after the bar-hopping jackass has come back from a night with his fag-hag girl pals playing bingo?

Of course not. I’m just pulling your proverbial.

What does make this interesting is that Michael R. Guesman was a musician who gained some small amount of fame on the Country scene, so how did he end up writing for Preview? My best guess is that he simply paid to have these songs cut for use as a demo and that he wrote both words and music, rather than sending his poems in to have Preview’s staff set them to a mediocre melody.

Born on 7 January 1935, in Carmichael, Pennsylvania, Michael Guesman served with an Air Force crash and rescue team during the Korean War. He married his wife, Rachel, in 1955 and moved to Warren, Ohio in 1969. They had seven kids, four boys and three girls. For ten years he worked for the Packard Electric Division of General Motors.

A noted guitar player, in 1965 he wrote the music to a song called Rena by George A. Cole. Other compositions include Lonely Room (1976), Go Home, Virginia and Please Mr. Jukebox in 1977, and 1978’s The Many Loves of Mary, and the brilliantly-titled Your Clown Left Town.

According to his local newspaper, The Vindicator, Michael “was recognized in 1980 by the Country Music Association and the Grand Ole Opry as a country music pioneer for his songwriting, and was invited to participate in the family reunion of country music artists at the 9th International Country Music Fanfare in Nashville.” I’m not quite sure what that means, as I can find no record of this event, but the International Country Music Fanfare is now part of CMA Fest, a four-day Country fan convention, which has been running annually since 1972.

Michael passed away, aged 66, at his home in April 2001.

Download Bingo HERE



Download Just HERE

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Moore is Less

Singing (or, in this case, emoting) actors… the gift that gives on giving.

Today I present for you both sides of Ivanhoe/the Saint/James Bond actor Roger Moore’s 1965 single Where Does Love Go, a slice of sickly schlock that should never have made it to the pressing plant.

The plug side was a cover of a Charles Boyer number which had been issued on an album of the same name earlier that year. The album was, apparently, a favourite with Elvis. God knows why, as Boyer’s version is almost as charmless as old Rogers. Interestingly the flipside - Tomorrow After Tomorrow - has the songwriters credited as Roger and Luisa Moore. Luisa was our boy’s third wife, only she wasn’t his third wife when the disc was released and would not become his third wife for another four years. For at the time that Where Does Love Go was issued, Roger was still married to singer Dorothy Squires.

Moore’s marriage to Squires was tempestuous, and he left her in 1961 to shack up Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. Squires refused to accept their separation and sued Moore for loss of conjugal rights, an archaic system often used in the days before divorce became commonplace, with the court demanding that Moore return to the marital bed within 28 days. Moore refused and continued to live with Mattioli, who gave birth to their daughter, Deborah, in 1963, and later gave Moore two sons, Geoffrey and Christian.

Squires also sued actor Kenneth More for libel, as More had introduced Mattioli at a charity event as Mrs. Roger Moore, and she smashed up a house in France where the couple were staying. What’s the phrase about a woman scorned? Squires finally granted him a divorce in 1969, after they had been separated for more than seven years. Moore married Mattioli, and they stayed together until 1993, when he left her for wife number four, Kiki Tholstrup, one of Luisa’s closest friends.

Where Does Love Go was Moore’s only attempt at pop immortality, although he had earlier narrated the story of Aladdin for British company Lantern who issued Disney-esque storybook-and-disc combos, and in 1959 contributed to a Warner Bros. Christmas album, reciting Once in Royal David’s City. Reviewed (briefly) in The Daily Mirror’s “Discs” column, on 25 November 1965, the paper’s Patrick Doncaster reckoned that “Roger Moore gets into the groove,” and that “he talks the words with enough charm to get the birds off to a record shop.” Lovely… and he was not talking about birds of the feathered variety, in case you wondered. It’s just horrible. I had to have a copy.

Where Does Love Go was not a hit in the UK, but it sold reasonably well in Holland when it was issued there the following February as, according to Cash Box, Moore’s “starring roles m the TV series of ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘The Saint’ have made quite an impact on Dutch viewers.” Please, no Moore! And shut that bloody bouzouki up!

Enjoy!

Download Where HERE


Download Tomorrow HERE


Friday, 28 September 2018

Wilde About Marty

The Dazzling All Night Rock Show… now that’s some name for a band.

Magnet Records was founded by Michael Levy (later Baron Levy) and songwriter Peter Shelley in 1973. A highly successful independent, the company is probably best known for hit singles by Alvin Stardust, Matchbox, Guys ‘n’ Dolls, Darts, Kissing the Pink, Bad Manners, Chris Rea, and Shelley himself, who scored with Gee Baby, Love Me, Love My Dog and who originated the character Alvin Stardust. The company also provided a home for some of the more grotesque audio excesses of one Jonathan King, including Lick A Smurp For Christmas, after the collapse of his own UK Records around 1976.

Shelley wrote, produced and sang Stardust’s hit My Coo Ca Choo, Magnet’s first single release, and he appeared as Stardust on the TV show Lift Off with Ayshea. However Shelly did not want to play Stardust (an amalgam of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Gene Vincent and early Brit rocker Vince Taylor) full time, and for all following TV appearances the character was played by former hitmaker Shane Fenton (born Bernard Jewry). Fenton became Stardust, performing as him from the second single and went on to have seven Top Ten hits.

The immediate success of Stardust took Shelley and Levy by surprise, and the pair were keen to capitalise on this. Teaming up with another former star, Marty Wilde, Shelley tried to recreate the formula… with dire consequences. Written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and one of the earliest releases on the label, 20 Fantastic Bands was, unsurprisingly, The Dazzling All Night Rock Show’s only release. Fronted by Wilde (Kim’s dad; one of Larry Parnes’ stable of British teen stars), the Dazzling All Night Rock Show were a studio-only setup, put together in the hope of a novelty Christmas hit and with the intention of launching Wilde as a glam rock star. Sadly it wasn’t to be, which is hardly a surprise when you listen to the lame ‘jokes’ and ‘impersonations’ (including Boris Karloff, George Harrison and, I’m guessing, Edward Heath) on this disc, and the not-so-subtle appropriation of a couple of Number One hits from 1973, including Gary Glitter’s smash I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am!) and Sweet’s Blockbuster.

This was not Wilde’s first attempt out out-Garying Mr. Glitter. Magnet’s second seven-inch was a thing called Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazy by Zappo. Zappo was Wilde; the song was again written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and it is another obvious (and not very good) rip off of the whole Glitter Band sound. The B-side Right On!, is an early synth/glam mashup that sounds like a rejected BBC-TV theme. Shelley and Wilde had no shame: they also collaborated on The Shang-A-Lang Song by Ruby Pearl and The Dreamboats, with Wilde impersonating a female doo-wop group on the A-side and mumbling over a bizarre, reverb-drenched instrumental on the flip that almost defies description. Shelly and Wilde wrote and produced any number of peculiar pseudo-glam discs for Magnet (Rub My Tummy by Zenda Jacks, for example) and Wilde also released a brace of 45s on Magnet under his own name.

None of these attempts to pitch Wilde into the glam rock field worked, and he and Magnet soon parted company. It would not be long though before he was back, masterminding daughter Kim’s pop career. Magnet was sold to Warners, where the company continued to have hits with the likes of D:Ream.

Marty is currently writing a biography: I wonder how many paragraphs he’ll give to his time on the fringes of glam… or how different the pop music scene would be today if he had taken on the mantle of Alvin Stardust rather than Shane Fenton?

Download 20 Fantastic Bands HERE



Download 20 Fantastic Bands (Continued) HERE



Thursday, 20 September 2018

It's Tivvy Time!

This is one of the longest WWR posts I think I’ve ever written, but stick with it. Huge thanks to TV historian Tim Worthington for helping to fill in many of the gaps.

Today’s record is one of the most disturbing things I have heard in a long time, and it all comes courtesy of a little black duck/troll hybrid originally found in a Scandinavian toy shop. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Tivvy – or rather Tivvy and the Clubmates - with his/their creepy Christmas 1965 offering Tivvy’s Tune/My World Of Colour. If this doesn’t give you nightmares, then you’re probably already dead.

Tivvy was supposed to be a friendly cartoon character and the icon of the TV Times’ kids club but ‘he’ (the TV Times always referred to the hateful little sprite as male) comes across as the embodiment of a predatory paedophile and sounding like a scary, hoarse-throated old man in a dirty raincoat proffering sweets or offering a peek at his puppies. “Want to come along with me and ‘ave a bit of fun, eh?”, the raspy voice enjoins at the beginning of Tivvy’s Tune; he could have been created with Jimmy Savile or Stuart Hall in mind, had they not been plying their trade at the BBC at the time.

“He isn't very big. He gets into some awful scrapes at times. He'll be on your television screens very soon,” claimed the article introducing Tivvy to a less-than-enthusiastic world. The doll had been discovered by ad man Paul Usher while holidaying in Finland. His company, the Erwin Wasey Agency, had been commissioned to come up with a kid-friendly creation but all attempts so far had failed. Then he found Finland’s Fauni company. Fauni started life in 1952, with their own line of troll dolls; three years later they won the rights to create toys based on Tove Jansson’s wonderful Moomins.

Usher was convinced that he had found exactly what he was looking for. This was a time when trolls, gonks and all sorts of weird-looking dolls were filling the shelves of toy shops and finding their way in to British homes: there was even a dreadful sci-fi comedy musical, Gonks Go Beat, featuring Lulu, two-thirds of Cream, Charlie from Casualty and Captain Peacock from Are You Being Served?

The Fauni troll – still available today – was (and still is) called Mr. Sumppi. For British consumption, and with stunning originality, he was rechristened Tivvy Times. Oh, the hilarity! Erwin Wasey would redeem themselves with a string of early 70s TV adverts for Coca-Cola, including the famous Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway-authored Sell A Million, originally performed by The New Seekers and later issued as a solo single by Lyn Paul.  

With his “real cool, Beatles-style haircut,” Usher claimed that the terrible troll was “loveable, yet aggressive in his own way. He’s ham-fisted and gets into a mess sometimes. But he’s always enthusiastic.” The voice of Tivvy was supplied by John Ebdon, an actor and voice-over artist who at the time was the senior lecturer at the London Planetarium. Can you imagine what attending one of his lectures must have been like, especially with the lights off? It must have been akin to being shut in a room with Dwight Frye. Ebdon was found after auditioning more than 200 people for the job: “TV personalities, comics, and film stars. But none could create quite the correct image.” The doll was given life by animator George Moreno, and he soon began popping up on ITV shows and in adverts for the TV Times. American-born animator Moreno had worked for Universal and Walter Lantz before joining the Fleischer Studio, and had also been one of the animators on the feature-length Gulliver's Travels (1939). He moved to London in the 1940s and continued working in the UK, as an illustrator and filmmaker, producing animated adverts for Pearl and Dean and many others. At the height of Tivvy’s fame, Moreno filmed a pilot starring Fauni trolls, but it failed to find a buyer.

Tivvy appeared with Ken Dodd and our old friend David ‘Diddy’ Hamilton, promoting kids’ pop show Doddy’s Music Box, with Dodd claiming that, because of their wild hair, “Everyone thinks Tivvy’s my dad!” A photograph appeared in the TV Times showing Tivvy on stage with The Beatles during a rehearsal for their second appearance on ABC-TV’s Blackpool Night Out in August 1965. You could buy (or collect coupons for free) Tivvy badges, Tivvy Jewellery, Tivvy dolls and you could even pick up a pattern to knit your own Tivvy. Suede’s Brett Anderson owned a Tivvy doll that, he claims, he used to try and stick up his nose. Not to be left out, over on the BBC Valerie Singleton showed Blue Peter’s audience how to make their own troll (pointedly not mentioning the name Tivvy) out of an old washing up liquid bottle. Moreno’s company produced a cartoon strip for the Tivvy Club page in TV Times.

Presided over by actor Jimmy Hanley (Jenny from Magpie’s dad), we’re led to believe that at the height of his fame, Tivvy had a fan club numbering 130,000 members. In September 1965, to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, the TV Times had a complete revamp. One of the innovations in the new-look, all-colour mag included was a special section for kids, incorporating the Tivvy Club page and adding puzzles, games and an all-new, full colour cartoon strip starring the disgusting doll, again produced by Moreno’s company and drawn by cartoonist Bill Hooper.

Yet despite this, the pages of the TV Times were filled with letters from youngsters refusing to buy in to the lie. Desperate to breathe new life into their dead duck/troll hybrid, Tivvy’s owners ushered Ebdon in to a recording studio in late 1965 in the hope of grabbing the Christmas Number One. With a backing provided by The Clubmates, fifteen or so well-scrubbed but bored-sounding kids swept up from a primary school (in Hurst, near Twyford), and a bored - and very amateur - sounding organ player, Tivvy cut his first and, thankfully, only single. If you thought Tivvy’s Tune was bad, the flipside, My World of Colour, is a funeral dirge... hardly the kind of thing parents would be rushing to buy their kids in time for Christmas. Well, not unless those parents were particularly malevolent. If they really hated you they could also buy a Christmas Special magazine, full to the brim with cartoons of the ugly little gonk, puzzle pages and pictures to colour in. Such fun!

At least the A-side featured a guitar and some rudimentary percussion; the accompaniment on My World of Colour comes straight out of the Grace Pauline Chew playbook. For most of the song he (or she) only plays two notes, and they can’t even get that right! The way these desperate kids - hopped up on a diet of “green eggs (hard boiled), ham sandwiches, jam butties and pink lemonade” - reluctantly sing the single word ‘brown’ will should have alerted their responsible adult to get them the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

“It’s so catchy, I sing it all day long,” Tivvy said of the A-side. “The other one... is all about the rainbow-coloured world I live in. I’m hoping Tivvy’s Tune goes zooming up the record charts. I’d love to get into the Top Twenty and win a golden disc. Then all the girls would scream at me.” Oh, don’t worry Tivvy: the girls (and boys) were already screaming, but in fear, not out of excitement. Incidentally, if you if you thought that Tivvy was banging on about colour to promote the fact that ITV was no longer broadcasting in black and white, think again. Colour transmissions did not begin in the UK until 1967: the BBC began with Wimbledon in July, before launching full colour in December. ITV did not follow suit until 1969, although Lew Grade’s ITC had begun making programmes in colour, to sell to foreign markets, in 1966. Tivvy’s constant cackle over colour, or “cullah” as he pronounced it, was about the fact that the TV Times was now an all-colour magazine, whereas its’ rival, the Radio Times, was still predominantly black and white.

The disc was produced by independent company Cameo Sound, and the tracks written by advertising copywriter George Hanness (who, it has been suggested, may have provided the voice of Tivvy on the record rather than Ebdon) and one K. Harris. It’s doubtful that this was ventriloquist Keith Harris: he would have only been 18 at the time, although he had been performing since he was 14 and made his TV debut (in the BBC show Let’s Laugh) the same year that Tivvy’s Tune was recorded. Publishers Macmelodies was an American firm that had been operating since the dawn of the century; one of their staff writers was a Charles K. Harris. It’s possible that Hanness simply wrote new words to a couple of old tunes, but as Hanness died in 2002 and Keith Harris passed on to the big green duckpond in the sky in 2015, it’s impossible to know for sure.

The doll was a disaster, and the record was a flop, but Tivvy limped on through the first half of 1966, with parents being encouraged to buy Tivvy dolls rather than Easter eggs for their kids. You can imagine how well that went down. The Trustee Savings Bank (and its various affiliates) adopted him, and attempted to part kids from their lucre via a plastic Tivvy piggy bank. Then, there was a colour Christmas annual produced, to usher you in to 1967 in a Tivvy-tastic way. Thankfully none of these last-gasp efforts succeeded in reinvigorating Tivvy, and he was quietly put out of our misery, no more to haunt children’s dreams… until now, that is.

Anyway, see what you think. Here’s both sides of the Tivvy and the Clubmates single. A last aside, the 45 that Tivvy is holding on the picture sleeve of his single is, I believe, You Make It Move, the third Fontana single by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch which was released in November 1965.


Sleep tight!

Download Tune HERE


Download Colour HERE

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Saga Saga

Today’s selection will split opinions. Some of you will think of these tracks as psychedelic or avant-jazz masterpieces, others as a complete waste of vinyl. I know where I stand.

Another bizarre find brought to my attention by the Squire, who discovered the first track, a particularly peculiar take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade on the RPM compilation Swinging London: The Accidental Genius of Saga Records 1968-1970.

The track was originally issued by Saga Records in 1968 on the album Trumpet A’Gogo. Saga, as I’m sure you will all recall, was the UK independent record company who first introduced the concept of budget-price albums to the country, and who provided a home for the mighty Joe Meek’s label Triumph. Saga were a pretty shameless bunch; the Trumpet A’Gogo title was nicked from a series of albums issued from 1966 onwards by James Last. As the sleeve notes (ahem) note, it’s “a must for the listener who’s hip to the music of NOW!”

The group credited, The New World, are in no way connected to the Antipodean band of the early 70s who had a hit with Tom Tom Turnaround and recorded the original version of Living Next Door To Alice. Nor are they connected with Meek's space symphony I Hear A New Wold despite both being Saga products. Sadly, the vocalist on this oddity is not credited, but the six-piece group consisted of Chick Webb (Drums), David Moses (Bass Guitar), Graham Stansfield (organ), Michael Gibbs (trombone), Phil Parker and Stu Hamer (both on trumpet). Shortly after the release, the same six men (as David Moses and Group) issued another album for Saga called Golden Trumpet. That album is almost as insane as Trumpet A’Gogo. One track, Loving to Spare, features vocalist Ricki Martin, although he does not receive credit for any of the other improvised or scat vocalisations on the album. There’s a wonderful, hip psychedelic feel to the albums Moses and his friends recorded for Saga, although it’s clear that in both cases the band were not afforded the luxury of endless studio time. But for me the occasional bum note only adds to the charm. This is cool, Daddio!

Moses had a long career in British jazz and folk, working with everyone from the Mike Sammes Singers to John Martyn, from Sandy Denny to Stéphane Grappelli. The multi-instrumentalist is well-known and respected for the work he has done bringing music to children: he was a regular on BBC TV’s Playschool, has written hundreds of songs for children, and he is the author of the successful Recorder Boppers series of books. He’s still performing today. Graham Stansfield became Graham Field, joined Rare Bird and later wrote and performed the theme tune to the ITV comedy Agony. Mike Gibbs would go on to work with Uriah Heep, and have a long and successful association with the NDR Big Band.

A couple of tracks then from this odd couple of albums, Scheherazade from Trumpet A’Gogo and Ride the Night from Golden Trumpet. The latter also fails to credit the vocalist, but I’d hazard that, in both cases, it’s David Moses himself. I've just bought a copy of Trumpet A’Gogo - once it arrives I'll update you.

Enjoy!

Download Scheherazade HERE


Download Ride the Night HERE

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Impish Behaviour

An act that issued their only single in the twilight of Britain’s short-lived but hugely influential skiffle craze, The Imps were a five-piece band from Lancashire, so named because the boys were aged around 12 - although I understand that an Imp Father played guitar for the blossoming boy band. Discovered by talent spotter Carrol Levis, they came from Miles Platting, a suburb of Manchester, and they disappeared almost swiftly as they arrived, issuing their sole 45, Let Me Lie and Dim Dumb Blonde on Parlophone at the start of 1958.

According to Chas McDevitt’s book, Skiffle: The Definitive Inside Story, the line-up of The Imps was made up of “Danny McGee with his granny’s washboard; Don Ainsworth with his father’s fishing line attached to an old soap box and his mother’s broom handle; Geoff Wood, Jeff Tranter and Howard Tonge each played a miniature thirty-shilling plastic guitar,” although newspapers of the day referred to these instruments as ‘plastic ukes’. The novelty act appeared on Britain’s first rock ‘n’ roll TV show, 6-5 Special, in February 1958, and the A-side of their single, Let Me Lie, was featured in the film The Golden Disc.

Issued in America as The In-Between Age, The Golden Disc starred early British teen idol Terry Dene, alongside avuncular DJ David Jacobs, singer Nancy Whiskey (who sang lead vocals on the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group's Top Five hit Freight Train) and others. Dene had a tempestuous career, falling out with his management, the press, his wife, the British army and often falling down drunk. After disappearing from the UK pop scene he re-emerged in Sweden, having found God and become a preacher.

Although the disc’s label may lead listeners to believe that The Imps appeared in the movie, the film version of Let Me Lie was not performed by our bunch of pre-teen tearaways, but by the defiantly (and definitely) adult Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings: in fact, Stewart is credited as the song’s author. Sonny Stewart’s real name was the slightly more prosaic Arthur Chamberlain, and like a number of skiffle and rock ’n’ roll acts, the band first drew attention playing at the 2I’s coffee bar in Old Compton Street, Soho. Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings had issued their own version of the song, on Philips, at the end of 1957, although bizarrely Arthur’s publishers, Pan Musik Limited, didn’t get around to copyrighting it until February 1958, shortly after The Imps’ version was released. Despite The Imps replacing the original guitar break with a whistling solo, neither recording was a hit.

The flip side of The Imps’ single, Dim Dumb Blonde, is a horribly-dated slice of 50s sexism, and an odd choice for a bunch of boys not even in their teens to sing. Mind you, the plug side is a song about death, an even more peculiar junior choice. Dim Dumb Blonde was written by Eric Spear, who had spent his career writing music for minor British movies and who would go on to greater fame as the composer of the theme tune to the world’s longest-running soap opera, Coronation Street. Go man!

“The Imps make Tommy Steele seem positively senile, with their shrill unbroken voices,” said reviewer Arthur Reeves in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, “Although it is a pity they do not have the colossal and infectious beat that young Tommy generates.” Apparently, the lads found it hard to find work, as many of the clubs around Manchester refused to put them on because they were so young. I have contacted former Imp Don Ainsworth: should I hear back from him I shall update you all.

Enjoy!

Download Lie HERE



Download Blonde HERE

Friday, 31 August 2018

Nigh And Day By Day

A wonderful disc for you today that I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but had held off as I had very little information about it. I can’t even remember who first alerted me to its existence – it may have been Bob at Dead Wax, or Bob at The Wonderful and The Obscure. It may not have been a Bob at all. Never mind: whoever it was, I thank you.

Released in June 1954 (it was listed in Billboard, 19 June), although the writing credits for the plug side, Day-By-Day, are given to Hank-Oliver and Rusty-Newby, the song clearly owes a lot to Cole Porter’s Night And Day. And no, I’m not being heavy handed with the hyphens here, they pepper the titles and credits on the labels of the original release, including the flip side, Cry-Heart-Cry-On.

Choi-Nump-Ni, “a full-blooded Indian” (Billboard, May 1954), or Native American as we would politically correctly say now was signed by Academy Records, of Fresno, California, to “a long-term recording contract,” although this particular 45 seems to have been his only release. Confusingly there was another Academy Records, this one operating out of Chicago, at exactly the same time. Our Californian cousins issued at least one further 45, Word of Honor by Rusty Newby (without a hyphen this time). Newby led his own hillbilly act, Rusty Newby and the Saddle Serenaders.

So who was Choi-Nump-Ni? Well, he was also known as Hank Oliver, which explains the co-author credit on the disc, and he passed away last year at the grand old age of 91. Choi/Hank was the last member of the Choinumni tribe to speak its native language fluently, although his sister, who survived him, could speak the language reasonably well. The retired logger and ranch worker loved music, and he recorded several songs in the 60s and 70s, including In the Snows of Wounded Knee, which he recorded shortly after returning from the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, which had been the site of a Native American massacre in 1890. The occupation, also known as the Wounded Knee Incident, began in February 1973, when around 200 Native Americans seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, following the failure of the Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, who was accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Protesters also criticised the U.S. government's treatment of Native Americans. Hank also recorded a song about the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands in the 1830s.

An advocate of peaceful protest, Hank Oliver was quite a guy. When he was just 14 he was forced to take on the role of head of the family to his seven sisters and two brothers after their father was run over and killed by a car. He moved to Oregon to work as a logger, and also fought wildfires with the U.S. Forest Service before returning to his tribe’s ancestral land in Fresno County, where worked to protect sacred sites and teach the native language.

Oliver, who was Navajo on his father’s side (his father came from Albuquerque, New Mexico) and Choinumni on his mother’s, was buried at the Choinumni Sacred Burial Grounds on the tribe’s ancestral land in Piedra, not far from Fresno, where he had lived for more than three decades. Since 1991 Hank had lived in a small house, owned by United California Citrus, which was situated on land that had once belonged to his tribe. His former boss, Mo Zuckerman, insisted that the now-retired Hank stayed rent-free. Hank's mother, Emma, was the last princess of her tribe, and lived to the grand old age of 106: the family maintained that she was actually 109. She outlived all but four of her nine children.

Although Hank/Choi’s performance might seem a little harsh to Western ears, the sentiment is pretty special: “When I’m dead, I don’t want you to cry or grieve for me… I only ask for you to be merciful and kind.”

Enjoy!

Download Day HERE



Download Heart HERE

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