Friday, 18 October 2019

Shake Me, I Prattle


Little Beverley Bunt, from the village of Indian Queens in Cornwall, was just seven years old when she recorded her first - and so far only – EP for His Master’s Voice back in 1959. 

According to the sleeve notes, even at that young age Bev was already something of a veteran, having won several singing competitions including the Junior Vocal Championship of Cornwall.

Arranged and conducted by Ron Goodwin, the four songs on this release are just lovely: The Queen’s Highway attempts to teach children how to cross the road safely, and predates the Tufty Club and the Green Cross Code Man by years. Open Up Your Heart has also been recorded, notably by Little Marcy, as Let The Sunshine In

Me And My Teddy Bear had been recorded by dozens of artists before, including a pre-Little Marcy Marcy Tigner, on her one-off EP for Angelus, which I featured on this very blog back in 2013. My Choc’late Rabbit, credited on the disc as having been written by a gentleman by the name of Pascal Marks was, in fact, co-written by American songwriters Gerald Marks, the author of All Of Me and Milton Pascal. The song had previously been recorded by Rosemary Clooney in 1950, the year before she hit the big time with Come On-a My House

Bev did not release a record under her own name again, although she did pop up in 1968 in the regional heats of a Miss Cornwall competition, and she also appears to have done some session work at Roche Studios in Cornwall in the late 1970s.

The name Indian Queens, incidentally, seems to have come from an 18th Century public house and rather than Pocahontas or Queen Victoria, the one-time Empress of India.

Here are all four tracks from this charming little release. Enjoy!

Download Teddy HERE


Download Heart HERE


Download Rabbit HERE


Download Highway HERE

Friday, 11 October 2019

It's The Jesmonds


Love Is All, the only EP release from lounge act the Jesmonds, comes from the same label that brought you the wonderful Joanne Duo, Eron.  

Issued in 1980 “to satisfy the demands of their innumerable fans” (it says here), the Jesmonds were another woeful cabaret trio made up of brothers Kevin (keyboards) and Andy Hyde (drums) who, according to the sleeve notes, “had played together for about five years and won outright at an 'Opportunity Knocks' show and later, at a Butlins talent competition.” In September 1979 they took on vocalist Roy, who the brothers at another Opportunity Knocks show (my assumption is that these were regional talent shows, rather than the TV version), where Roy and the brothers tied for first place.

Managed by the brothers’ father John Hyde, by the time they came to record their EP they were “one of the most popular acts in Kent at hotels, clubs and at dinners,” apparently. that’s something I find hard to accept, although having listened to most of the Joanne Duo’s output it’s fairly obvious what passed for entertainment in the hotels and social clubs of Kent in the late 70s and early 80s. there’s very little (read: no) information about the trio online, although according to the sleeve notes their act was full of “energy and dynamism” as well as showcasing their “excellent visual presentation and their likeable personalities.”

I’ve found a listing for the trio playing a summer season at Romney Sands Holiday Park in 1983, but that’s all I’ve got, I’m afraid. The usual shout out for anyone who may have more information about the band, but until then here are a couple of tracks from the EP: Cracklin’ Rosie and Love Is In The Air.

Enjoy!

Download Love HERE


Download Rosie HERE


 Thanks to Conrad Zimmer for the info!

Friday, 4 October 2019

Wheely Great


Not much is known about the two young men behind the insanely rare Wheelz of Steel Volume One, brothers Raymond and Richard Markowski of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But what follows is what I been able to glean so far.

Born in 1961 and 1962 respectively, the brothers were born with Muscular Dystrophy, an inherited genetic condition that gradually causes the muscles to weaken, leading to an increasing level of disability. Unable to get around without assistance, the boys were not going to let their situation get the better of them, and with commendable good humour and a certain irony (and a nod, no doubt to British NWOBHM band Saxon), named their band Wheelz of Steel after the wheelchairs they were confined to.

Issued in 1983, the self-funded and self-released album features the brothers swapping guitar and bass duties, with vocals handled by Richard. Throughout they are accompanied by their trusty Roland drum machine, credited on the reverse of the sleeve as “T.R”. All eight songs were co-written by the boys themselves.   

It’s a dreadful record, but you have to admire their spirit. How many of us in a similar situation would have been able to write, perform on and release our own LP? Not only that, but they even performed live, entering into a local Battle of the Bands competition and winning. Admirable stuff.

Sadly, both of the Markowski brothers are no longer with us: Raymond passed away, aged just 32, in 1993. Richard died in September 2011 aged 49 after power was lost at the Milwaukee home he shared with his mother in an overnight windstorm, cutting off the electricity supply to his ventilator. Richard’s mother, Beverly, called 911 when his ventilator started to beep, but she told emergency personnel that she had backup batteries, so they left. She called 911 again shortly afterwards because her son was struggling, and the alarm was beeping again. He later died at a hospital. According to the county medical examiner’s report, Mrs. Markowski believed that the batteries had a longer life. A sad end to a short, but accomplished, life.

Have a listen to a couple of tracks from the brilliant Wheelz of Steel Volume One here: Outerspace Man and Mad Man. If you want more, the whole thing is available on YouTube,

Enjoy!

Download Outerspace HERE



Download Mad HERE

Thursday, 19 September 2019

A Demo


Kenneth Higney’s absurd album Attic Demonstration, issued on his own Kebrutney Records in 1976, has gained a reputation as an outsider classic over the years.

The album was originally recorded to promote the former truck driver’s work as a songwriter, with Higney roping in friends Gordon Gaines (guitars, drums), John Duva (bass guitar), and Mark Volpe (guitar, percussion) to help fill out the sound. The collection of demos was never intended for commercial release,  however when none of Higney’s songs proved sellable he had a limited run of just 500 copies pressed, “because I figured it was easier than constantly making up cassette tapes to send out,” he explained in a 2011 interview for It’s Psychedelic Baby magazine.

One of those 500 discs found its way to the editors of Trouser Press, who called Higney’s work a “cross between Lou Reed and Neil Young without the aid of melody”. That’s a pretty accurate description, and although Higney was none too flattered, he did like the idea of his work being mentioned alongside such luminaries as Reed and Young. In 1980 he released a 7”, I Wanna Be The King/Funky Kinky, a tribute to New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders backed with a hideous stab at disco. The single, limited to just 1,000 copies, again featured Gaines and Volpe, plus John Lynch on bass. It’s a delightful mess.

After years in obscurity, occasionally issuing recordings by other artists through his Kebrutney label, Higney resurfaced in 2003, reissuing Attic Demonstration (or “A Demo”) as a limited run of 3,000 CD copies and adding the two sides of the single in for good measure. He followed that six years later with a new album, American Dirt. Many of the songs on the album were written around the same time as those on Attic Demonstration, which featured musicians such as Jack Pearson, formerly of The Allman Brothers Band. Two years later he issued his third album, Ambulance Driver: a collection of newer songs but still with one – Nonsense – from the Attic Demonstration days.

You can purchase all of Kenneth’s work via his own website, http://www.kebrutney.com/

Here are a couple of the standout tracks from Attic Demonstration, Quietly Leave Me and Night Rider, Higney’s song about the Ku Klux Klan.

Download Quietly HERE

Download Night HERE


Friday, 13 September 2019

Buddy Repeats Himself


History Repeats Itself by Buddy Starcher, first issued by BES – Starcher’s own label - in 1965, is a truly mad record, a conspiracy theory put to music and issued just as the American public were waking up to the horrors of the Vietnam war. It’s brilliantly nuts, comparing the death of Abraham Lincoln with that of John F Kennedy and suggesting that more than mere mortals were involved in both assassinations. 

The disc didn't do much until it was reissued by the Boone Record Company in 1966. Shortly afterwards the far bigger Decca Records heard the potential, picked it up for distribution and took the track to Number 39 on the Billboard pop charts, and Number Two on the magazine’s Country chart. An album, also called History Repeats Itself, made the Country Albums Top 40.

Born in Ripley, West Virginia Oby Edgar “Buddy ”Starcher (16 March 1906 —2 November 2001) was an American country singer who released his first record way a full 20 years before this, his only chart hit. According to Wikipedia, History Repeats Itself  was co-written by American country comedian Minnie Pearl, who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years and will be best remembered for her “How-deeeee!” catchphrase. However, all of the releases credit Starcher, who starred on his own show on WCHS-TV from 1960 to 1966 as either sole arranger or composer.

The flipside, Sniper’s Hill, is equally memorable, a country song that sounds alarmingly like a Halmark song-poem, about the last days of a GI framed as a letter from the young man to his wife, who has just given birth to his first (and, presumably, only) child. As we all know, there was a rash of such songs issued around the time of the Vietnam conflict, and this is a wonderfully maudlin pip accompanied by healthy dollops of Christian guilt and flag-waving humbuggery.

Enjoy!

Download History HERE

Download Sniper’s HERE


Friday, 6 September 2019

The Art of Falling Apart


I’ve heard some sick records in my time, but this genuinely takes the biscuit. 

Issued in October 1969 by Capitol, We Love You, Call Collect by Art Linkletter made number 42 in the Billboard charts on 22 November (it was 46 on the Cash Box chart the same week), almost six weeks to the day after the subject of the recording, Linkletter’s daughter Diane, committed suicide. In an even uglier twist, the flip side of the disc, Dear Mom and Dad is credited to Art Linkletter and his Daughter, Diane and features the ghost of Diane narrating her reply interpolated with portions of the plug side. Mindblowing.

Linkletter, real name Arthur Gordon Kelly, will be an obscure name to most outside of the US, but the Canadian-born radio and TV personality was the host of House Party, which ran on CBS radio and television for 25 years, and People Are Funny which aired on NBC radio and television for 19 years. The most popular feature of House Party was Kids Say the Darndest Things, where Linkletter would interview youngsters and the audience would howl at their naïveté. A series of books followed which contained the humorous comments made on-air by the kids, and serial sex abuser Bill Cosby would steal the idea for his own TV series in the late 1990s. In Britain troubled TV personality Michael Barrymore would do the same thing at the same time with Kids Say the Funniest Things. There’s a lesson in this: don’t host TV programmes about kids unless you want to screw up your career.

Diane Linkletter was a troubled soul, a wannabe actress forever in the shadow of her far more famous father. After dabbling with LSD (well, it was the 60s) and suffering from depression over her lack of career, she jumped to her death from her sixth-floor apartment. Linkletter senior blamed the drugs, however police reports confirm that the acid was not to blame, and friends confirmed that she had become increasingly depressed in recent weeks.

We Love You, Call Collect was first issued, earlier that same year, by Christian record label Word, and – in a deeply cynical move - picked up for distribution by Capitol after Diane’s death. Her untimely passing would also inspire fledgling movie director John Waters, who assembled his cast of Dreamlanders - Divine, David Lochary, and Mary Vivian Pierce – the day following her death to produce a mostly improvised short film based on the tragedy. The film features clips from both sides of the disc, used without permission. Waters himself called The Diane Linkletter Story “the worst taste thing I ever did.”

In the summer of 1971 Linkletter and Word issued a full length album We Love You, Call Collect Plus Interviews With Young Drug Users. In the sleeve notes, penned by Linkletter himself, Art hopes that “this album could be the jumping-off point in a family rap session which might then serve as the beginning of a communication bridge between the young and the old.” Given the circumstances, you have to admit that was an unfortunate turn of phrase…

Enjoy!

Download Call HERE


Download Mom HERE

Friday, 30 August 2019

The Joanne Duo Revisited

Way back in the mists of time, well, last November to be exact I first introduced you to cabaret lounge act The Joanne Duo, and bemoaned the fact that, although I knew of at least four releases by them, I had only been able to track down a copy of one, the Feelings EP. Well now, thanks to my friend Conrad Zimmer, I am able to bring you a couple of select cuts from their album, Together.

Issued on the Kent-based Eron label in 1977, Together is one of the most despondent records you will ever hear. And there’s the rub. The Joanne Duo worked - a lot. How could an act that maintained a successful career for around two decades and kept themselves busy working cabaret clubs, cruise ships and the like have made such an appallingly bad record?

Recorded “in the summer of 1977 when the duo were playing their second successful season at Maddieson’s Chalet Hotel, St. Margaret’s Bay, Kent”, some of the blame has to lie with the producer. Sure, Eron was a small outfit and had tight budgets, but surely they could have afforded a few extra hours in the studio to fix the numerous fluffs and mistakes? And why does everything sound so unmitigatedly miserable? Where’s the spark? How can a couple who wore sequins for a living sound like they’ve just od-d on Mogadon? It doesn’t make any sense. They must have kept audiences happy with their live act, but my God you’d be disappointed if you queued up after a performance to buy a copy of this album from the boot of their car. Try to imagine the horror as you slapped this on your record deck and heard Tom’s appalling Louis Armstrong impersonation. Ghastly.

The album’s sleeve notes give us some idea: “The album was recorded without the doubtful benefit of double-tracking and there are no added instruments or session men. Thus the sound listeners hear on this record is a fair reproduction of the duo’s normal playing - bearing in mind, of course, that the record cannot reflect the duo’s professionalism in their visual performance, which is an important part of their act.” Joanne, as I previously revealed, was also a drummer (as can be seen from the EP sleeve here: the same photo was used for the front cover of the album), but she’s not playing drums here: all the ‘rhythm’ comes from her organ’s inbuilt drum machine. It all makes for a rather funereal feel.

Anyway, thanks to Conrad – and to label owner/producer/Joanne Duo manager Ron Milner’s copious sleeve notes - I can now bring you a bit more information about the couple that I had last year.

At 16, Joanne was playing accordion with small dance bands in her native Yorkshire and taking part in amateur musical productions. She later emigrated to Australia and during the crossing entertained the passengers with her musical prowess. On her return to Britain, she worked for a while at a Pontin’s holiday camp, and as a resident solo accordionist in a hotel in Wetherby, where she met Tom. According to the notes on their first EP, Joanne “ was equally successful as a fashion model and appeared briefly in the film Holiday on the Buses.” She’s not credited at IMDB, so my assumption here is that she appeared as one of the many uncredited extras.

Tom began playing the flugelhorn in a brass band at the age of seven, and by 21 had mastered most brass instruments. He played with the Yorkshire Copper Works Band, the Leeds Musical Society Symphony Orchestra, and played semi-professionally on the local pub circuit. Meeting Joanne at the Alpine Inn in Wetherby (destroyed in a fire in 2006) they decided to form a duo, both musically and in life, marrying shortly afterwards.

Joanne went on to master the electric organ (as you’ll hear on the tracks below) and Tom generally played tuba, trumpet, ukulele, and harmonica. They toured extensively and were a particularly popular draw at US forces bases in Europe. The duo issued their first EP, again via Eron, in 1976, having moved south and settled in Kingsdown, Kent, in a bungalow overlooking the Channel.  

You can learn more about Eron and its roster at Conrad’s site HERE 

I hope that both Joanne and Tom are still with us and that they're both happy. They clearly adored each other and I'd feel a lot less mean knowing that they were still at home in their bungalow overlooking the Channel, reflecting on a long and successful career and not caring tow figs what I might think of their recorded output. For now, here are the standout tracks from Together: Until It’s Time For You To Go and By the Time I Get To Phoenix. Enjoy!

Download Until HERE





Download Phoenix HERE


Friday, 23 August 2019

Norris In Waiting


I realise that writing about Christmas records as the August bank Holiday approaches is a little unseasonal, but I realised that I had not yet featured this disc on the blog and, as I included the A-side on this week’s World’s Worst Records Radio Show it seemed apposite to share it with you now.

The Ping Pongs’ Pinky Tail/The Things I’d Like For Christmas was unearthed by fellow obscure music blogger Bob Purse, and first shared by him, via WFMU, back in December 2014. It’s a howl: the lyrics are inane but the performance is a riot, wonderfully discordant and almost wilfully awkward, with a stilting, arrhythmic piano, dreadful drums and reedy, weedy vocals. It’s ace.

What attracted me to the disc is that the group credited with the performance, the Ping Pongs, are clearly the same act credited as the Seaboard Coastliners on several tracks on the Norris the Troubadour collection Our Centennial Album, including (appropriately enough) Christmas Time Philosophy, Singing Sied the Showboy, I Am Back From Vietnam, Grits and Gravy and But The Rock Rolls On. Bob thought at the time that the group may have been employed by the Globe song poem studio, and this would certainly make sense, as Norridge Mayhems, aka Norris the Troubadour, did put a load of work their way: several earlier Norris the Troubadour recordings (also collected on Our Centennial Album) feature Globe’s go-to male vocalist Sammy Marshall.

Both songs on this particular 45 were written by Adolph Salvatori. He had at least three more of his compositions recorded: around 1956 (which I would think is the best part of two decades before Pinky Tail was issued) he received a co-composer credit on the 45 When I Found You, issued by the Kansas City label Continental. Recorded by Bobbie Clark with Herb Six and his Orchestra, his co-author that time was Paul Salvatori, his brother. He also penned two songs released in 1960 by song-poem label Star-Light: Promise Me and Somewhere In This World turned up on a four-track EP credited to Mickey Shore with The Versatones.

The Salvatori brothers had big plans in the world of show business: in 1931 Adolph penned the three-act drama Julie le Ferrier, and Paul also saw himself as an author of hit shows. Back in 1936 both men (and their financial backers) invested thousands of dollars in their stage musical From Out Of the Darkness. Sadly the show, due to play in Chicago, never got off the ground, but Adolph and Paul insited that their investors would get back every cent they had spent on the project. Paul found himself a job as a song-plugger, working out of Chicago, and the pair continued in the business, working together as well as individually. The year after their flop, Adolph got bitten by the foxtrot bug and seized by inspiration wrote the songs This Is Heaven, Won’t You Please Get In the Mood, I Was Just Pretending, Why Can’t We Be Friends and My Heart Went Astray In Havana. This appears to have been Adolph’s busiest period, although the pair would continue to write throughout the decade and into the 40s.

In 1947 Tommy Dorsey recorded one of Paul’s songs, My Love For You. Spurred on by this success, the following year the brothers set up their own publishing company, Salvatori Music, publishing several songbooks containing works by both of them. Adolph also saw himself as a bit of a journalist, penning (and copyrighting) articles including 1974’s Welcome to Our Home (In Forest Park, Il.), and What Makes A Person Great (In Forest Park, Il.)? Did I mention that Adolph lived most of his life in Forest Park, Illinois?

It’s odd then that someone who had been involved in the business for so many years would resort to using song-poem outfits to get his songs recorded. However exactly the same thing happened with Norridge B. mayhems, of course: after a little early success he too was forced to employ companies like Globe to have his songs recorded. You have to wonder if Norridge and Adolph (or Paul) ever met. I’d like to think that they would have been friends – or at least friendly rivals.

Enjoy!

Download Pinky HERE


Download Christmas HERE



My thanks to Bob Purse for first blogging this wonderful record!


Friday, 16 August 2019

The Joy Of Lex


The album I’m featuring today comes courtesy of Dave Frankel, owner of Inner Groove Records of Collingswood, NJ. Dave is also a follower of this here blog, and was kind enough to send me a rip of this album when it turned up in his store recently.

And, oh my, what a record it is. Joy and Love From Lex James is an absolute pip! Through a mix of standards and his own compositions, pianist Lex lets us into his wonderful world.

Hailing from Big Spring, Texas, as the sleeve notes declare: “Lex James has been in the spotlight musically since his ‘stage debut’ at the age of six in his home town.” By the mid-1950s he had left home: in 1956 we find him working with a second pianist, Art Darcy, at the cameo Room in Palm Springs; three years later he’s earning a living in Pasadena, living in a custom-built, mobile trailer along with Art, his partner, and their two grand pianos. By the middle of the following year, James was vice president of the Los Angeles Pianists Club, an organisation made up mainly of cocktail bar pianists, with Darcy a member of the same organisation’s grandly-named Executive Council. Peachy.

But after a year of playing at separate venues, Lex and Art wanted to try something different. Playing piano nightly in in the town’s Old Virginia restaurant was not enough for the ambitious Mr. James: he wanted to bring two-piano music to one-horse towns, as he told Pasadena’s Independent newspaper. “The thing that got us started on this trailer idea was the problem of finding matching pianos. Even In large cities, it’s hard to find two available grand pianos of the same kind - not to mention matching the tone quality and touch. In small towns, where we want to play, it’s almost impossible”

Lex left the Old Virginia in June 1960, planning to put their $25,000 two-piano mobile studio on the road, dragging the contraption behind a three-quarter-ton cab. James and Darcy took turns driving the truck that pulled their piano parlour. “We had to hunt for a long time before we found a trailer company willing to build it,” he admitted. “They all tried to discourage us.” The two pianos were strapped and clamped into a standard large house-trailer, 35 feet long and eight feet wide. One side of the trailer had been adapted to open down to form a piano unloading ramp. “We use a hydraulic jack,” said James, “and put special oversize ball-bearing casters on the piano feet. Sometimes we have to take off the legs and pull the two pianos on dollies, on their edges, like harps.” The whole rigamarole was worth all the trouble, he insisted, because the joy of playing two perfectly-matched pianos was superior to the joy of making any other kind of music. “We try to make it sound like one gigantic instrument. In most teams you can tell who has the melody and who is playing support. But we try to toss the melody back and forth between us so fast that nobody can tell who is doing what.”

Obviously at some point between setting out on the road in the summer of ’60 and his solo album debut (issued around 1972 would be my guess, as most of the covers on the album originally appeared around 1969/1970) Lex and Art abandoned their plans to bring two-piano music to the masses, and our Lex found his way back to California. In 1966 he was playing piano nightly at Lydia and Leonard Stahl’s Town House, in Arcadia

This Liberace in lace (check out those shirts!) continued playing in restaurants: in 1973 he could be found, bringing his own special brand of keyboard magic to the new Medallion Room in San Gabriel five nights a week. Lex even had his own fan club, run from a tiny office in Pasadena. I’ve found evidence that Lex and Art continued to tour, although one would assume without the trailer, appearing together in Tucson in 1976.

Then something else happened: Lex found God, and became the Reverend Lex James, still playing the piano but this time to the glory of the almighty. As late as 2001 Lex and Art were still touring together, playing for mostly religious audiences. Sadly he passed away in 2009 at the age of 77. He was survived by Art, happily in these more liberated times able to announce himself as having been Lex’s life partner, after something like a half-century together.

Here are a couple of tracks from this magnificent album, Where Do I Begin (Love Story) and Sunday. Thanks Dave! I owe you one.

Enjoy!

Download Love HERE



Download Sunday HERE


Saturday, 10 August 2019

Let's Go To The Beach


Over the last few weeks I’ve been treating listeners of The World’s Worst Records Radio Show to the selected cuts from the delightful CD album by Fernando Y Francisco. Realising that not everyone who reads this here blog listens or has access to the radio show, I thought I’d treat you to it too.

Issued in 2003, Vamos a la Playa (Let’s Go to the Beach) is the only album (to date, anyway) from Venezuela’s Francisco y Fernando, two semi-naked backpacking chums who self-funded the recording and release of the ten tracks (in other, less reputable corners of the net you’ll find Sacven credited as the label that issued ValP: Sacven isn’t a label, it’s a copyright society, similar to BMI or ASCAP, the Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de Venezuela).

With our boys vocalising (you can’t really call this singing) over pre-recorded backing tracks, bad midi programmes and the like, unsurprisingly the CD disappeared without a trace, selling probably no more than a handful of copies to family and friends. In fact, it would have been forgotten forever if Francisco had not appeared on a local TV talent show, TV Libre, a year or so after the release of their magnum opus, performing an a cappella version of the title song. His appalling performance quickly became something of a viral hit in his home country, igniting interest in the album.

And, my goodness, what an album it is! Highlights include the wonderful Rigi – sample lyric “Rigi, rigi-rigi-rigi, rigi-rigi-rigi, rigi-rigi-rigi”, the title track Vamos a la Playa and the incredible Con La “P” – a song that pretty much consists of an endless list of things that begin With A “P”. It may make some sense in the boys’ native tongue but does not travel well at all: from what I can make out “Podemo decir pana, pana, panaderia/Ponte, ponte, ponte, las pilas” translates as “I can say bread, bread, bakery/Put on, put on, put in the batteries”. Shamelessly, Con La “P” uses the same backing track as Vamos a la Playa.

I love the way that the boys take every opportunity to remind listeners who is performing, shouting out “Francisco Y Fernando” at every opportunity, like there’s some old school rapper in da house, yo, yo yo! Luckily they refrain from doing so during the woefully out of tune ballad Mariluisa and the Ricky Martin-esque Yo Quiero. Francisco is still making a racket today, performing in tourist bars under the name Francisco el Playero. Fernando has kept a respectful silence for more than a decade.

You can find most of the album on YouTube if you wish to, but for now here are what for me are the two standout tracks, the aforementioned Rigi and the title track, Vamos a la Playa.

Enjoy

Download Vamos HERE



Download Rigi HERE

Friday, 2 August 2019

Pot Holing For Fun and Profit



You’ll recall – for it was only a couple of week ago – that I recently introduced you to Chuck Holden’s weird and wonderful 45 The Cave, issued by Joe Leahy’s Unique Records in 1956. Well, apparently that’s not the only peculiar record about damp and dark crevasses.  

Gary “Spider” Webb’s The Cave (Parts one and two) was originally issued by the tiny Bamboo label in 1961. It’s just as nuts as the Chuck Holden track, but this time with an added sense of suspense that gives it a more Timothy-esque twist. Oh, hang on: that makes three crazy cave records.

I’ve not been able to discover much about Webb, apart from his being a former serviceman, stationed at the Naval Air Station Alameda in California in 1959. He was also an impressive drummer, winning an all-Navy talent contest and appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show. Webb’s parents owned an apartment complex in Hollywood, called The Hollywood Argyle, and he would go on to play on sessions for our old friend Gary Paxton. Paxton formed a studio band called The Hollywood Argyles (presumably named after the apartment complex) for a one-off single by his friend Kim Fowley, Alley-Oop. When that song became a hit – eventually selling over a million copies in the US alone - Paxton formed a touring band, and Webb became their drummer. He did not perform on the record.

Being a drummer kind of complicates things, because there’s another Spider Webb who was also a drummer, and details about the two different men have been conflated across the Internet.

We can be reasonably sure that the 45 issued on Donna records in March 1960 and credited to Spider Webb, Drum City  (again in two parts), was by our Gaz for several reasons. First of all, the other Spider Webb, born Kenneth Ronald Rice, was only 15 at the time of the recording. Also, a year before a band called Spider Webb And The Insects had been signed to Donna’s parent company, Del-Fi. SW&TI are notable because a former member was Tom Fogarty, brother of John who would go on to become the rhythm guitarist for Creedence Clearwater Revival.

When Tom was still in the band SW&TI recorded an unissued session for Del-Fi, but after the tracks recorded were rejected the band broke up; Tom went on to find fame and fortune and a solo Spider recorded his one-off single for Del-Fi’s sister label. That’s what you call research!

Two years after The Cave our Spider Webb issued a further 45, this time credited to his previous band Spider Webb And The Insects. Maggie/Big Noise From Winnetka was issued in 1963 by the tiny Lugar label, but it does not appear to feature any CCR alumni.

The other Spider Webb, an American jazz drummer and session musician, recorded with United Artists and Holland-Dozier-Holland in his early teens, before joining forces with King Curtis around 1967. He would go on to record for Fantasy in the 1970s, and was once married to the legendary Carol Kaye. As of three years ago, our Gaz was still living in California.

Enjoy!

Download Part One HERE


Download Part Two HERE

Friday, 26 July 2019

I Feel Liberal


Politics. Haven’t you had enough of politics?

Not only is the Leader of the Free World™ a racist, misogynistic simpleton, Britain now has it’s own Mini-Me Trump in the shape of BoJo the Clown, a man who has successfully lied and cheated his way to the top, aided by a party so desperate to cling on to power that they’d shove their own granny under a big red bus (emblazoned with more lies about where your money goes) to do so. The world is going to hell in a handcart… so we may as well go out singing.

Issued in 1982 and masterminded by one-time hitmaker Jesse Rae, I Feel Liberal (Alright) was an attempt to get Scottish politician and then-leader of the Liberal Party David Steele into the pop charts... and perhaps install him as Prime Minister into the bargain. And it’s horrible. A funky little tune with a stupid chorus and a few quotes from a Steele speech (given, if memory serves, at a Liberal Party conference) stapled on, the song even came with its own dance, the Steel Step, with instructions on the reverse of the sleeve. Steele's profile was at an all-time high: his party had recently entered into an alliance (referenced in his 'vocal') with the SDP, and the two parties would go on to win 25 percent of the vote at the next General Election.

The flip side, credited to Luzuli (the name of Rae’s publishing company), was simply a version of the a-side with Steel’s ‘vocals’ erased. The disc was issued to coincide with the Party Assembly in Bournemouth. Unsurprisingly it did not sell well, making copies quite hard to find these days. David Steel would not become PM, although he would eventually be elevated to the House of Lords.

Rae, who wrote and produced the disc, performed on it and issued it on his own Scotland Video label, had a minor hit in 1985 when his follow-up single Over the Sea, was picked up for national distribution by WEA. In the same year that I Feel Liberal was issued Rae had his biggest success, writing the number three hit Inside Out for soft soul act Odyssey. The self-styled “funk warrior” and former farmer from the Scottish Borders town of St Boswells had a penchant for hanging about in full clan regalia, and his self-funded pop videos, shot in dramatic rural landscapes were alleged to have inspired the look of the Highlander films. A long-time supporter of Scottish independence, Rae ran, unsuccessfully, for the Scottish Parliament in 2007 and 2011. In 2015 he attempted to stand for election to the House of Commons – as an independent, naturally - but wasn’t permitted to take his signature claymore (a traditional Scottish variant of the late medieval two-handed sword) into the polling station. He’s still performing and recording today.

Anyway, here are both sides of this ridiculous record. My thanks to Mr. Weird and Wacky for the sound files, and to 45Cat for the images.

Enjoy!

Download Steel HERE


Download Luzuli HERE


Friday, 19 July 2019

Le Freak


I featured the a-side of this disc on my radio show this week, and was horrified to discover that I had never blogged about it – although it did get a chapter all to itself in The World’s Worst Records Volume Two, and Michael was gracious enough to grant me an interview for that. Here’s an excerpt from that chapter.

Welcome to the weird, weird world of Chainmale, the antipodean performance artist, poet, and musician better known to his family as Michael Freeland.

Michael was born in Melbourne in 1952 but grew up in Sydney, his family relocating there when he was four years old. He showed an early aptitude for music and performance, appearing in musicals at the Castle Cove Primary School. Pleasingly, an early musical influence was the murderously brilliant Elva Miller: “My father bought a recording of Mrs Miller, not for her singing quality but for her guts. It inspired him and made him laugh,” he explains. When he moved on to Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School Michael was introduced to eurythmy, a form of expressive movement originated by Steiner and Marie von Sivers in the second decade of the 20th century. Primarily a performance art, eurythmy is also used in education and for therapeutic purposes. “I later used eurythmy in combination with classical French mime and method acting to form my own school of performance,” he says.
“At the end of 1968, at 16, with ambitions to become an animal collector like Gerald Durrell, I left school to become a zookeeper. On returning from a collecting trip in the Outback and in the far north of Australia I took a second job working at night as an assistant stage manager at The Music Hall at Neutral Bay in Sydney.

“This all happened in 1969/70, when Australia was involved in the Vietnam war and Sydney’s streets were filled with personnel on R and R. There were demonstrations everywhere: I left home and spent several months as a hippy, travelling north and pretending I was Arlo Guthrie, with three chords to my repertoire. I remember going into a pub on the Queensland-Northern Territory border and asking if I could sing for my supper: I got halfway through the first song and a bloke came up and said he would buy me a meal if I promised not to sing another note!”

Michael produced a two-man poetry show specifically aimed at children. Recalled from Childhood featured the poems Michael had learned from his mother, father and grandmother, and it was here that he got his first crack at fame, of sorts, appearing on the Australian TV show GTK (Get To Know) in 1973. “GTK was the first of the rock video type shows in the world,” he explains. GTK “set the pace for all that was to follow. I then went to work in television, at ABC, in staging and floor managing.” He continued to perform, busking around Sydney before leaving ABC to study drama at the Mechthild Harkness Speech and Drama Studios. It was there that Michael’s passion for mime was born.

“I resurrected Recalled From Childhood as a school show, and put together a performance of original poetry at the Stanley Palmer Culture Palace in Darlinghurst. Then in early 1975 I joined the Queensland Theatre Company with their Arts Council Schools Presentation, touring throughout Queensland. I met my first wife while in Queensland, and in late 1975 we returned to Sydney.”
Michael returned to busking, this time incorporating mime into his act. “That worked well and we began to earn a decent living,” he says. “Although it must be remembered that in those days busking was illegal.” Being chased by the police became part of the act and Michael worked his occasional brushes with the law into his routine. “We were invited to perform at the Sydney Opera House, in the lunchtime outdoor venue, and also by the Sydney City Council in their Martin Place outdoor venue. This was very satisfying because the very person who was trying to arrest me a week earlier was now carrying my gear and setting it up!”

Under the name The Modern Mime Theatre he organised a series of performances in schools and won a contract with the Arts Council of New South Wales, which in turn lead to work in other states. “I found that I was booked out for two years in advance with three shows a day, five days a week, with one or two evening shows on top of that if I wanted them.” In January 1977 Michael performed at the first annual Sydney Festival: he would perform there each year until 1983. His act was going down well: that same year reviewer David Rowbotham, writing in Queensland’s Courier Mail newspaper wrote that Michael’s performance ‘speaks volumes for the possibilities of his art. He is a classic entertainer and storyteller.’

“In 1978, with an 18 month and a six week old baby, we headed over to the UK on our way to the Fools’ Festival in Amsterdam. I busked in Leicester Square in London, in Amsterdam, on the steps of the cathedral in Cologne and in front of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. After four weeks we returned to Australia and went back on tour.” As his act, and his confidence, grew he added fire breathing and balancing on a unicycle to his act and The Modern Mime Theatre became a duo in July 1978 when Canadian-born actor and mime artist Bob Eustace joined; the pair had been friends since they first performed together in 1972.

It was when Michael and his family got back to Australia that he created the piece of art for which certain people, me included, will always be grateful: the 7” single Freakout. Released under the name Chainmale (“It just seemed like a cool name,” he laughs) and backed with the electro-boogie track Mean Little Woman, Freakout is one of the most unsettling three minutes ever committed to vinyl: Numanesque keyboards, crying babies, manic screaming and with the words sung and music played in different time signatures to add to the disturbing effect. Odd and disquieting, Michael would incorporate the song into his act, building an uncomfortable and intense mime performance around his lyrics. That performance would later be adapted for use in a video filmed to accompany the single, now available for all to wonder at via YouTube.

“We were driving down a lane in the back streets of Hobart and I was jumping out of my skin. We passed a sound studio and my wife said, ‘why don’t you go in and record one of those songs you’re always making up?’ So, I went in an asked. Nick Armstrong (the studio proprietor) asked what I wanted to record. I went home, wrote out the lyrics, brought them back, and sang them to him with a single beat of my hand on the desk. He looked at me incredulously and said, ‘is that it?’ I said ‘Yeah. If (renowned Australian musician) Billy Thorpe can get away with ‘mashed potato yeah, oh yeah!’ then we’ll kill it’!”

Armstrong asked Michael if he would object to his having his friend Ian Clyne, best known for his keyboard work with the sixties band The Loved Ones, look over his song. “Ian and I met a couple of days later to record it having never met before. He played the sort of thing he thought I would like: it was big, but it was conservative. I said I wanted something with no holds barred; no constraints of convention, just freak out and do what you want. He smiled and said, ‘this is going to be fun’. As we were recording the vocals I got excited: my heart started racing and my tempo with it. He tried conducting me but I was gone.

“When we finished he said to me ‘you started in 8/8 and you ended up in 7/8’. I asked if we should do it again. We hit playback and Ian said ‘no, it works! You sound like you’re freaking out! Hell knows how you’ll ever sing it live’. That was the birth of Chainmale. I was around 30, I already had three kids, and in those days rock stars were around 18! I think Ian was around 14 when he was playing at the Wembley Stadium with the Loved Ones.”

Issued by the independent Candle Records in 1979, very few vinyl copies of Freakout exist: “I think about 1000 copies were pressed, of which only a fraction made it to the stores. However every now and then someone tells me they have a copy,” Michael says. “Did I consider myself a serious singer? I considered myself a serious performer with serious concepts to put forward and humour, confrontation, and sound were the best ways I had of achieving that. I don’t think anyone would come to hear my voice for the musical lilt in it, however they might come to experience the theatrical content of it.”

Chainmale recorded two further tracks, Schizophrenic Breakdown (a jolly little sing-along about crazy people) and the bizarre electro/skinhead anthem Kickback, in 1982. Videos were made for Freakout and for these two tracks: the video for Kickback – which is listed on YouTube as the ‘worst 80s music video’ ever made - features Michael and his young son Joel in skinhead gear, scaring the wits out of anyone who should happen to pass them by. “What we did others got to years later. The subjects of the songs were whatever I was experiencing at the time. The lightheartedness in Schizophrenic Breakdown is the lightheartedness you find in a riot. Everyone participating in a riot is jovial: it’s a release. The rage is only for the cameras, when they are given the opportunity to spout about their cause.

Freakout was the only record issued. The problem with the other two videos was getting TV play. Kickback had drinking and smoking in, which was against airplay policies, and Schizophrenic Breakdown could have upset people who might link it more with the illness rather than with the splitting of the social fabric in the UK into an apartheid similar to that in South Africa. As we already had the videos we put together a pilot for TV by adding some sketches, but I got sidetracked with life and with touring.”

Michael continued to perform until the mid-1990s. More recently he has become an author, penning two well-received satirical novels – 1995’s Pius Humble and The Company (1996) - under the pseudonym Bogan Gate, a name he took from a small village in NSW. 

How does the man once known as Chainmale, whose recorded work (thanks primarily to its resurrection on YouTube) is both feted by people who love it and ridiculed by others feel about his newfound fame? “I think it’s great. At least it’s not mediocre!”

Here are both sides of this exceptional disc: enjoy!

Download Freakout HERE


Download Mean HERE

Friday, 12 July 2019

Spelunking

I’ve been listening to a lot of what you would loosely categorise as library music and exotica recently. This is thanks primarily to my friend DJ GeorgyGirl, whose show, High Waisted Modernists, follows my own World’s Worst Records Radio Show on a Wednesday evening (and is an absolute must-listen), and to the recent purchase of a Martin Denny CD collection which pulls together eight of his albums, including Exotica, Exotica 2, Exotica 3 and Forbidden Island.


Today’s disc comes from the world of Exotica, a genre that took its name from Denny’s 1957 album and which is defined by Wikipedia as “the non-native, pseudo experience of insular Oceania, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, the Amazon basin, the Andes and tribal Africa. Denny described the musical style as ‘a combination of the South Pacific and the Orient...what a lot of people imagined the islands to be like...it's pure fantasy though.’ While the South Seas forms the core region, exotica reflects the ‘musical impressions’ of every place from standard travel destinations to the mythical ‘shangri-las’ dreamt of by armchair safari-ers.” Well, that clears that up then.

Chuck Holden’s The Cave not only encompasses the above, it also adds a wonderful layer of weird, a patina of peculiar if you will. When I found that it was also issued by Joe Leahy’s Unique Records, well I just had to have a copy.

I don’t know a lot about Holden: this is the only disc listed by him at Discogs, and that only appears to exist as promos – no one yet has turned up a stock copy. But it’s an absolute pip: Holden strums his zither (or I guess it could be an autoharp) while some unnamed, dusky sounding maiden shrieks over the top of his rather basic instrumentation. It’s mad and it’s ace! I have unearthed a few details though: as leader of the Charles Holden Orchestra he had a residency at Manhattan’s El Morocco nightclub in the 1950s and ‘60s. Credited as Charles Holden and Orchestra, they released one album, again on Unique, Dancing at “El Morocco”, 25 light jazz arrangements of popular classics including You’re the Cream in My Coffee, Putting on the Ritz and, tantalisingly, The Third Man Theme which I’ve not heard but one has to wonder if Mr. H dusts off his zither for. According to the album’s sleeve notes “the most unique and outstanding characteristic of Mr. Holden’s eight-piece group is its tremendous repertoire which includes the favorite songs of every well-known patron who frequents the club.”

Anyway, make of this what you will. I love it, and it led me down a path of discovery towards more cave-themed oddities, some of which you’ll hear if you tune in to next week’s World’s Worst Records Radio Show.

Here are both sides, The Cave and My Lost Melody. Enjoy!


Download Cave HERE

Download Melody HERE

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Bandwidth Exceeded

Just the briefest of notes.

I know many of you have been frustrated, coming here to download the latest aural calamity simply to be told that your request has been denied because we have exceeded the limits of our bandwidth and that you need to try again later.

Well, hopefully, that is now a thing of the past! For today I have started paying for extra space in the ether to store and share our audio horrors. From tomorrow (Sunday, 7 July) you should no longer have any trouble downloading any of the live links on the blog. Ain't I kind?

This blog has been running for 12 years now: the money I'm paying for that extra bandwidth is not enormous, so I'm not asking for any of you to chip in, but please remember that I make no money from this, all of the costs incurred come straight out of my pocket. If you'd like to do something tangible to show support, listen in to the World's Worst Records Radio Show, and join the Facebook page to help grow this community of like-minded mad music fiends. If you're feeling exceptionally generous, check out my books.

Ta!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Xylophones for Jesus


On my never-ending hunt for peculiar recordings, I often pick up things that look ‘different’, only to be disappointed. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have purchased a record just because I liked the otherworldliness of its cover simply to find something mediocre inside the jacket.

Today’s disc almost fell into that category, in fact, I had earmarked it for return to a charity shop or some such, but on closer inspection – and a good listening to – it proved to be not only worthy of my collection but also worth bringing to your attention, dear readers. And, as a bonus, it’s autographed by the main protagonist.

Ken Cushing Xylophone with Margaret Veal Pianoforte has to be one of the most peculiar Christian-themed records released in the UK, easily on a par with Marcy Tigner’s trombone albums. Who on earth ever thought that a man hammering away at a bunch of wooden blocks with a pair of mallets was going to lead sinners onto the path to salvation?

Searching for info, I discover that Mr. Cushing originally hailed from Halifax and had been playing xylophone professionally since at least 1942. He was still playing concerts for the Salvation Army into the mid-1970s, having himself relocated to the seaside town of Flamborough. Margaret Veal, a pianist from Abertillery in South Wales, also began her career in sacred music in the 1940s and often played Salvation Army concerts and fundraisers through until the early 1970s.

I also discovered that Ken and Marge had played together in Bristol, my hometown, in 1968. On 27 April of that year, the duo played a fundraiser for the Salvation Army Bristol’s Easton Road Corps, alongside the Bristol Easton Road Band and the Treorchy Male Choir. During the 40s Ken played in Gloucester, the city I was born in (and couldn’t get away from fast enough). Later He became involved with Christian Endeavour, an inter-denominational organisation which trains and equips young people to become church leaders. A woman called Margaret Veal worked extensively as a musical director and accompanist in the 70s and 80s, but I doubt that was our Marge, as her repertoire was decidedly more secular.

Issued by Pilgrim Records in 1964, the Ken Cushing Xylophone with Margaret Veal Pianoforte EP appears to have been Ken’s sole release, although he did appear on recordings by other artists, including the 1976 album by the Cambridge Heath Songsters, May Jesus Christ Be Praised! Ken’s photo appeared on the back of the album sleeve, even though he only performs on two songs. The same year that this EP was released, Ken and Marge played together at the inaugural Festival of Evangelical Mixed Voice Choirs at the Albert Hall, a huge choir festival that would grow to incorporate thousands of voices.

Here are both sides of this oddity. Enjoy!

Download Side 1 HERE

Download Side 2 HERE

Friday, 28 June 2019

You Silly Savage!


As today marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Stonewall Riots, this seemed like an appropriate choice for this week’s blog.

Released in 1973 and credited to Ben Gay and the Silly Savages, The Ballad of Ben Gay is a riposte of sorts to Johnny Cash’s hit A Boy Named Sue, which Cash recorded live in concert in 1969 at California's San Quentin State Prison and that appeared on his chart-topping At San Quentin album the same year. Issued as a single it provided Cash with a Number Two hit on the Billboard pop charts (Number One on the country chart) and went Top Five in the UK.

The unidentified singer took the stage name Ben Gay from the topical heat rub (similar to our own Deep Heat) of the same name. I had always assumed that his backing group, the Silly Savages, were unrelated to the group that backed Teddy and Darrel on their album These Are the Hits, You Silly Savage, but now I’m not so sure. Teddy and Darrel were documentary maker Theodore ‘Teddy’ Charach and his friend Darrel Dee; record producer (and former Republican governor) Mike Curb produced These Are The Hits… (featuring camped-up covers of recent hits) by overdubbing their voices onto a session from his favourite studio band Arrows, led by guitarist Davie Allen. Charach and Dee also appeared with Curb on the soundtrack to the 1967 movie Mondo Hollywood. Could Darrel Dee be the same man as Darrel Gulland, co-author of The Ballad of Ben Gay?

I can’t be sure: Gulland continued to write songs for a few years after this, working with musician dale Norris, and appears to have passed away in 2000. The one thing that can be ascertained is that the disc is connected to Fabor, the country music label that was based in Hollywood, and that was owned by producer promoter Fabor Robinson. Robinson’s name appears as co-author of the flip side, Silly Savage Serenade and producer/arranger 9and co-author of the A-side) Edd McNeely also recorded for Fabor.

The silliness of The Ballad of Ben Gay follows a long tradition of campery on record. Depending on how you view these things these records are charming period pieces, badly dated Carry On-style comic cuts or complete anachronisms of a bygone age. Lispy, wispy and fey, and about as sophisticated as a hammer blow to the head the humour, such as it is, is broader than the backside of the average McDonald’s customer. This type of record reached its apogee in 1964, with the launch of the Camp Records label. Some of these records were advertised exclusively to the LGBT community through the pages of papers such as One, Vagabond and, later, Gay News.

Soon mainstream record companies would get in on the act and throughout the 1960s and 70s a string of camp 45s issued on both sides of the pond, such as The Butch Brothers’ Kay, Why? (on Thrust Records), Steve Elgins’ Don’t Leave Your Lover Lying Around (a silly song about bed-hopping issued in 1974 on Dawn Records) and Yin & Yan’s Butch Soap (on EMI). Many camp actors and comedians issued records: in the UK alone Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd, John Inman and Larry Grayson all put out novelty songs that pandered to their camp but closeted persona and that were meant to appeal to either children or grandparents, two demographics unlikely to blush at the tired single-entendres in a song like Inman’s Are You Being Served Sir? (‘I’m sorry that this fitting room is dark and rather chilly, just try these on and mind that zip in case you catch your…’). Interestingly, was covered by New Zealand act Des Gay And The Foolish Fag's (their misplaces apostrophe, not mine, I assure you) as the Ballad of Des Gay in 1974.

Anyway, here are both sides of this silly single. Enjoy!

Download Ballad HERE




Download Serenade HERE


Friday, 21 June 2019

Death and Taxes


I am forever amazed at the gullibility of people, especially God-fearing folk who – desperate to get into heaven (or their version of it) – plough their life savings into one scam or another, each one fronted by some charlatan claiming to be God’s representative on earth. All convicted felon Jim Bakker had to do was shed a few crocodile tears and he was quickly accepted back into his evangelist family, and he’s hardly the only one.

It seems that claiming to be God’s messenger can help you get away with anything: gold plate-reading Joseph Smith, Jr. was “subjected to approximately thirty criminal actions” during his life according to one source: another reports Smith was arrested at least 42 times. In 1978 Scientology charlatan L. Ron Hubbard was convicted of making false claims about his ability to cure physical illnesses and was sentenced to four years in prison, which he failed to serve. Just look at the sexual abuse endemic in the Catholic Church, or the evil scumbag Fred Phelps - Leader of anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church – who was convicted of disorderly conduct and battery.

In May 2012 Daniel Gaub, the scion of evangelist Kenneth Gaub, was killed in a motorcycle accident. But was it an accident, or did Dan – as many believe - commit suicide in order to avoid a hefty prison sentence and the ruination of his family? Shortly after his death, the FBI raided Gaub’s home in search of evidence to support accusations that he was scamming people with high-risk foreign currency trading, known as “forex”. The agency took computers and boxes of records. Assets, including Gaub’s 70-foot yacht and a collection of cars and motorcycles, were also seized.

Brother Nathaniel (also known as Nathan), who for many years had been Daniel’s partner in the family’s musical act (and later the teen gospel band Eternity/Eternity Express) claimed that he “never saw [his] brother make an unethical business step in his life,” but Jack Baugher, a businessman in Gaub’s hometown of Yakima, stated that “he was committing a crime every time he took money from people… and he took a lot of money from people.” Baugher invested $200,000 in Gaub’s business, and several of those ripped off by Gaub claimed that he deliberately drove into a truck because he was under investigation by the FBI for fraud: local police were investigating claims that Gaub may have defrauded investors, many of them members of Stone Church in Yakima, of millions of dollars.

Nathan Gaub said that the accusations against his brother had sickened his family. “I don’t have a clue as to anything to do with the inside workings of that business, because I was not involved,” he said. “But I am blown away by any accusations of wrongdoing because it's just out of character.” Gaub's claims of non-involvement were, at best, disingenuous: his LinkedIn profile claims that he and Daniel were the co-creators of an "unsurpassed system of forex trading". 

Within months it was announced that the FBI was indeed investigating Daniel Gaub of running a Ponzi scheme that may have netted him and his family as much as $40 million. Although Dan Gaub’s parents were not implicated, it’s interesting to note that Ken Gaub has not filed his tax returns since 2012, the year his son died. His church – which he and his family have run since 1961 - is tax-exempt but still has to file returns annually. If a non-profit religious organisation fails to file for three consecutive years they can have their tax-exempt status revoked. So far this does not appear to have happened to Gaub senior.

Anyway, in happier times Dan, Nathan, Ken and the whole Gaub family played music together and made records. As I’ve already mentioned, in the 70s Nathan and Daniel played in a teen Christian rock band, but before that the brothers, their parents and their little sister Becky played in the Kenneth Gaub family band, which issued at least two albums in the mid 60s. Here are a brace of tracks from their 1964 album, Kenneth Gaub Family Feeling Fine: Jesus Loves Me sung by young Becky Gaub, and How Great Thou Art from Nathan, Dan, and Becky.

Enjoy!

Download Jesus HERE



Download Great HERE

Friday, 14 June 2019

The Crème de la Crème


André Van der Veken, born in the Belgian city of Ninove on 19 January 1949, has had a long a varied career in the world of pop.

He first recorded under the name Andy Free, issuing a number of 45s in both Belgium and Holland during the first half of the 1970s, including Mama (Philips, 1971) and Ik Kon Mijn Ogen Niet Geloven (I Could Not Believe My Eyes, BASF, 1974). In 1978, as André Van Der Veken, he released his first full-length album Maar Zo Is't (That’s How It Is). He then moved on to a successful career as a songwriter and producer, principally with the group Dance Reaction, who issued three 45s – including the oddly titled Shanks Mare Honey and Honey Puppy Is My Name between 1981 and 1983. He continued to work throughout the 80s and 90s, with duo Leeva and Andy (guess which one he was?), D.J. Arséne, and he co-wrote both sides of the comeback single for the 60s Belgian pop band The Paramounts. In 1996 Dance Reaction’s big Euro hit, Disco Train was remixed and re-released. 

Over the years he has worked with a number of Dutch and Flemish artists, including Jimmy Frey, Jo Vally, Willy Sommers and Laura Lynn, under such names as Dré Van der Veken, André Domien and Remien. But the pseudonym we’re most interested in here is Waylon, which he used for the one-off 1979 single Crème de la Crème/The Sparrow.

Crème de la Crème was the only disc Andy/André issued as Waylon, but what a record it is. A hellish mashup of Sylvester and Boney M, this ridiculously brilliant slice of disco buffoonery was released in Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and Portugal but failed to chart in any of those countries, despite being issued in both 7” and 12” formats, the latter available in both yellow and white vinyl. Over the years it has developed its own cult following, and quite rightly so. It’s a very special record.

After playing the songs on The World's Worst Records Radio Show and discussing them with listeners and fellow presenters there I decided to track down Dré Van der Veken, and was honoured when he kindly agreed to talk about the single with me.

The biggest surprise was the discovery that Waylon, the young man who appears on the sleeve of the 45, does not actually sing on the disc. “We only had the song and a nice boy who could not sing,” Dré admits. “So, I was required - poor me! - to perform the song myself. It was a laugh, believe me. We thought that the record would never make it to the market.”  

When asked about the voice he used on the disc, Dré candidly admitted that “I think it was a combination of wine and too much time in the studio. Things like that happened a lot, although those times are over now. Showbiz has changed; there’s no more money for crazy things and I am getting older. Although I’m still a little crazy!

“There was never going to be a follow up to the Waylon single: it was a joke. The real Waylon went off and married his boyfriend.”

In 2013 Dré released his second full-length album, Tussen Hoogtes en Laagtes (Between the Highs and Lows), which he describes as an “active creation between man and machine ... and my cat Johnny”. The album was “recorded in the bedroom, where I operate all the keys and synths myself, sometimes just with two fingers… It had to sound the way I heard it in my head and maybe I succeeded. The arrangements and sounds, perhaps not flawless, are primarily a bed for the lyrics. These are rather dark in nature, although I do not consider myself a pessimist but rather a pessimistic optimist and bon vivant.”

He's nonplussed about the curiosity that surrounds Crème de la Crème. “I'm surprised people are still interested in the Waylon thing,” he admits. “Copies now sell for more than 30 euro, and I never saw a penny of it,” he laughs. “Maybe I have to open a bottle of wine (or more than one), compose a follow-up and find someone who can’t sing again… what you think?”

Check out both songs below. My huge thanks to Dré Van der Veken for taking the time to talk to me. You can check out his more recent music, as well as tracks from his 1978 album Maar Zo Is't, at his website: www.drevanderveken.com

Download Creme HERE




Download Sparrow HERE


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