Friday, 24 January 2020

Hooray for Harry-Wood

It’s a rare event when this blog features a novelty record, but this is such a great one – and the tracks have been going down a storm on The World’s Worst Records Radio Show – that I feel it is more than appropriate to share here. If you like the Frivolous Five, or perhaps the magnificent Mrs Miller or Madame St Onge, you’ll love this. Welcome to Hooray For Hollywood Starring the George Garabedian Players Featuring the Awful Trumpet of Harry Arms.

Issued in 1968 by Mark 56 Records, there’s little doubt that this album was inspired by the success of such oddball characters as the aforementioned Mrs Miller or Tiny Tim. The Frivolous Five is an obvious link, especially as Garabedian, Arms and company cover Whipped Cream, the Herb Alpert track that inspired the Frivolous Five’s 1966 album Sour Cream and Other Delights, among the album’s 10 tracks.

The sleeve notes give away little: "Wonder if the best musicians in Hollywood were called for a record date...and, HARRY ARMS happened to drop by with his AWFUL TRUMPET...?" that’s it, in toto.
Garabedian, a musician, producer and arranger who also owned Mark 56 Records, specialised in cover albums, supermarket specials, advertising music (not too dissimilar to library music I guess) and reissues of out-of-copyright Hollywood films in audio form. The success of Alpert in the pop music industry gave him an idea, and he cut deals with advertisers for a series of Tijuana Brass sound-alikes, some direct covers of Alpert hits, others faithful facsimiles of hits in an Alpert style. Garabedian’s music was used to sell everything from Philips electronics to Kentucky Fried Chicken (there’s even a spin-off KFC/Garabedian album, Colonel Saunders’ Tijuana Picnic that was repackaged at least half a dozen times as Pepsi Cola Presents Tijuana Taxi, Pet Ice Cream Presents Tijuana Taxi and so on) and Taco Bell (the album Taco Bell Presents Tijuana Taxi is a different collection to the KFC one).

By the mid-1970s, he had all but given up on releasing his own music or attempting to out-Herb Herb, and was concentrating instead on reissues of old radio serials via his Golden Days of Radio imprint, and other oddities including a reconstituted telephone interview with legendary recluse Howard Hughes. His work in reissuing historical recordings – including those by Mae West and Laurel and Hardy - paid off: in the late 70s and early 80s he received three Grammy nominations for his reissues.

Harry Arms remains a mystery. The name is almost definitely a pseudonym, but for whom?

Anyway, here are a couple of tracks from this magnificently mad album: the opener Hooray For Hollywood and the brilliant Georgy Girl. If you’d like to hear more, the whole album is kicking around on the net and it's well worth tracking down.


Download Hooray HERE

Download Georgy HERE

Friday, 17 January 2020

The Sheik of Ab-Cheri

It’s been a while – almost exactly 10 years to be precise – since we last featured Frank Perry on this here blog, so let’s make up for that now with a pip of a song-poem 45 from Sandy Stanton’s Film City label.

Having said that, our Frank only appears on one side of this particular release, Jerry Herzon takes the topside, The Legend of the Old Dutch Mill, relegating poor old Frank to the flip, Cheri. Herzon is credited on the A-side as having composed the clip-cloppy tune to The Legend of the Old Dutch Mill, and label head Stanton takes composer credit for the tune to Cheri, which is a bit of a liberty if you ask me as it’s clearly stolen wholesale from the Sheik of Araby.

The lyrics to both songs on this 45 were composed by Peter van Mourick, and it was only when researching that name did I realise that I had actually featured him before: he was the lyricist responsible for another Film City 45, Chattanooga, Nashville, Battlecreek Trek/Antique Hunter's Craze, which I wrote about back in March 2017. You can find that post HERE

As is invariably the case, neither 45 is dated, making it impossible to be 100 percent accurate about when they were recorded and released, but I’d pitch it somewhere around 1967, after – but not too long after - Rod Rogers/Rod Keith left Film City for Preview (around the beginning of 1966) and Frank Perry became Stanton’s go-to guy. Perry sounds very young here, his voice definitely matures and becomes fuller over the years, so I figure that date will not be too far wrong.

Jerome ‘Jerry’ Herzon had been active since the 1940s, even writing songs while serving in the navy on the USS Belmont during the Second World War, and at one point he ran his own publishing company, Chair Music, in California. 

The only Peter van Mourick I can find who was working around this period was pool attendant on the Dutch island of Aruba, but I think it’s safe to assume he’s not our man. If you know anything more about this release - or any of the folk involved - do please get in touch.


Download Mill HERE

Download Cheri HERE

Friday, 3 January 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone… and as it’s a New Year what better for this week’s blog post than a couple of New Year-themed songs?

First up is Mae West and My New Year’s Resolution, from her 1966 album Wild Christmas – an album we featured back at the beginning of December.

Once again Mae is accompanied by Somebody’s Chyldren, and the album was produced by David Mallet, the same team that had served her so well on her Tower album Way Out West. Six years after the release of Wild Christmas Mae would make one last sojourn into pop and rock, issuing the album Great Balls of Fire on MGM in 1972.

Next up is an oddity from Sandy Stanton’s Film City song-poem label, I Like The Old Year by Beth-Anne Hayes with the Film City Orchestra. Although Film City is best known for its chamberlain-driven song-poems, it often issued vanity recordings, and this falls solidly into that category.

I Like The Old Year was written by Barbara L. Hayes (presumably Beth-Anne’s mother or grandmother), and issued around 1970, the same time that the flip side, Oh Please, Dear Santa Claus, was copyrighted. Sadly I have no further info on this one; both names are reasonably common, and a quick scour of the internet yielded nothing, so if you know anything about Beth-Anne or Barbara, please do get in touch.


Download Resolution HERE

Download Like HERE

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