Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Useless Playboys - Bim Bam Baby b/w Cool (1994)

A fun picture disc 45 with colorful silk-screened cover art by poster artist Frank Kozik, released back in 1994, smack dab at the beginning of the 'lounge revival'.

The Useless Playboys called themselves a 'Swing Noir' band, they were together from '89 - '95. Looks like they were based out of Richmond, Virginia.

Frank Sinatra released a version of 'Bim Bam Baby' in 1952.
'(But I Was) Cool' was recorded by Oscar Brown, Jr and released in 1960 on his 'Sin and Soul' LP.



































Listen to: The Useless Playboys -
Bim Bam Baby
(click for audio)

Listen to: The Useless Playboys - Cool
(click for audio)

Dork Decor (flickr link)

Shocking, the way some seemingly grown men choose to live...

I debated about this, whether or not I was comfortable sharing my sad and poorly lit photos of the junk and other treasures around my house.

"People are going to think I'm insane. Or that I'm creepy. Or worse, that I'm trying to show off. I *think* I'm just sustaining my mood to share... Is it vain to think anyone would be interested? Or am I being too obsessive about my obsessions...?"

"Okay - - Everything you just mentioned? They all sound exactly like all the things that are the most fun about the internet. Get over yourself. Just share. What else is there in life?"

"Yeah... okay. Good point."




Please link to my flickr set: Dork Decor

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Un poco más Romero está aquí: Cesar Romero reads to children in Spanish

ONCE upon a time, a week ago, I posted an item featuring Cesar Romero.

Not content to just let it go at that, I've dug into my record library to pull out these old thrift store finds.



On the first record, Señor Romero reads 'The Three Bears' in spanish to a group of english-speaking children to assist in their language lessons. On the second, he reads 'Little Red Riding Hood'.
He reads books from translator Hanna Hutchinson's series of familiar stories designed to help kids learn new languages.

If these books came out in 1962, I'll assume for now that the tie-in records appeared around the same time.



Side Two of each record has Cesar reading the story again with the children parroting each line back to him.
It has its educational value, to be sure, and its comedic value, as often the kid's pronunciation falls short.
But mostly the 'drill' factor gets a bit tedious for the casual listener, so I haven't included those recordings.

Sorry, and you're welcome.



















(click on images to ENLARGE)




Also pictured in the cover photograph above is cartoonist Ed Nofziger, illustrator of the books and these record jackets.

For some additional info on Nofziger, try here.








- - and speaking of Cesar Romero and storytelling, from Mark Evanier's POV Online, here's a link to his Cesar Romero story.


Listen to: Cesar Romero - Los Tres Osos (click for audio)

Listen to: Cesar Romero - Caperucita Roja (click for audio)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cosmoboy & Goat Coat: Two Pierre Cardin jackets from 1967 (Yikes)

Functional(?) flights-of-fancy from Pierre Cardin, as featured in the August 1967 issue of Cavalier magazine.



(below) "...The Cosmoboy, a red reversible whipcord vest jacket, priced at $250 at the Cardin Masculine Collection in Bonwit Tellers, New York, New York. The designer successfully incorporates the new Space Age trim, slim look and the practical no-nonsense quality of the actual space suit."




(ADDENDUM 6/17/07) This post appears to have recieved some nice attention lately.

Circling links back around on themselves, CHECK OUT the similarity of the Cosmoboy design to the Captain Scarlet uniform, from just around the same time.
(Via the Boing Boing link to this item, and a BB reader's comment.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Louis Jordan in the 1960's, part 2 - One Sided Love/Sakatumi

Last week I began this piece, focusing on some of the later years of Louis Jordan's long recording career.

(for some background, click here for part one)

Jordan recorded this LP in 1968 for Paul Gayten's Pzazz record label.



It's an odd, mixed bag of an album to be sure, with some hits and misses. Even on the few cuts that make some attempt to capture something close to his old sound, the music here comes off as VERY different from the style of what Jordan was recording in the forties and fifties.

The tracks that are the most fun are the more contemporary ones. Even if Jordan was past his prime years, they show that he was not merely a 'remember when' artist, preserved in amber. Especially exciting are the few where he rips it up on the sax.

He's tough as hell covering Lalo Schifrin's them from 'Bullitt'. Listening to it I find the notion thrilling that we're hearing the same Jordan who recorded 'Five Guys Named Moe' back around 1943, 25 years previous.

'Monkey See, Monkey Do' would sit well in very good company with Dave Bartholomew's classic, 'The Monkey (Speaks His Mind)'...

...and then there's 'Sakatumi'. Good-natured but unfortunate, it rivals Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 'Hong Kong' in its 'inappropriate yet compelling train-wreck' qualities.

In addition to a couple of slow croony numbers, one of the tracks I *didn't* include for you features Louis singing in duet with his wife, Martha.

A dancer, formerly Martha Weaver, that's her on the cover. She became Jordan's fifth wife in 1966. She also can be found singing and dancing with the band in some of the 1966 appearances on 'The !!!!Beat' TV show I mentioned in part one of this piece.

Hope you enjoy, I'll leave off with excerpts (below) from the album's back cover liner notes, written by Sammy Davis, Jr.:

**********************

IT'S BEEN A GAS! A REAL GAS!

Sitting, Listening and Reminiscing with these power packed performances by this Dynamic, Artistic Personality.

At one time or another you probably have heard claims to the Title "Soul Brother Number One", All due respect to some of those that make this claim or have had it thrust upon them, but as far back as I can remember the man in question (Mr. LOUIS JORDAN) is the Original Soul Brother.

LOUIS JORDAN (possibly the greatest hit maker of all times) was the first recording artist to project basic Negro Life and Situations (Life and Situations of the Black Community, if you prefer) on records with humor and dignity.

I and many others like me have dropped nickel after nickel in the juke box to enjoy his messages in song and monologue. Remember "Beware", "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying", "Outskirts of Town", "Five Guys Named Moe", "Saturday Night Fish Fry", "Let the Good Times Roll", and many others! Well, Chillun', in case you weren't around, you missed some goodies. In fact, some of the above mentioned set the pattern for several of our present day performers.

In many instances, liner notes are not so important, but in this particular situation they are of the utmost importance due to the historical involvement here. In LOUIS JORDAN we find a career that spans over some thirty-five or more years unceasingly, and still the fire and enthusiasm of the earlier JORDAN illuminates as much as ever.

Thanks to Paul Gayten and PZAZZ RECORDS for bringing this truly great Musician, Vocalist and Entertainer to the attention of the record conscious public again, A note of thanks also to the arrangers Teddy Edwards, Jack Scott and Carroll Skinner as well as the new composers for helping make this album one of the finest of this or any other year.

As I said before, IT'S BEEN A GAS! A REAL GAS!

SAKA-TU-EM, Brother Jordan, SAKA-TU-EM!

SAMMY DAVIS, JR.

P.S.: It's good hearing this most important Saxophone voice again. Dig "ONE SIDED LOVE" AND "BULLITT"!

**********************

A-men, Sammy!

(click for audio) From the LP 'One Sided Love / Sakatumi' (1968, Pzazz #321), listen to:

One Sided Love
Bullitt
You Gotta Go
Sakatumi
Monkey See, Monkey Do
The A-men Corner

(click for audio)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Busy Life With Archie: A few covers and some links

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

In reference to those old Archie 'Christian' comics, a few days ago I stated that"...I (had) felt Archie and his friends shouldn't stray too far from the malt shop."

But of course, truth was that life could get pretty complicated for a Riverdale teenager.

It's hard to know how they could handle the busy schedule of adventure and international intrigue in addtion to the regular duties of hanging at Pop's, placating Mr. Weatherbee, overcoming Reggie's deviltry, keeping a jalopy running, and power dating.

It seemed that of all the myriad Archie titles, 'Life With Archie' could be counted upon for a fairly steady stream of those more far-out exploits.





And again, it being the internet, many others have made note of this long before I got around to it.

Some links:

- 'Life in Riverdale: Surprisingly Dangerous': A detailed accounting of the phenomenon at an earlier incarnation of Chris's Invincible Super-Blog.

- A few more examples in a small cover gallery at Comic Covers.Com.

- A 5-part feature chronicling the Archie gang's super-hero identities at the always-entertaining DIAL B for BLOG.

- Two from the archives of Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics...

1. Discussing 'A.R.C.H.I.E., The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.', and...

2. 'What is Geeko? Who is Geeko?', an in-depth look at issue #13, pictured above.

So let's see...
I wonder what vintage comic covers related thing I could post in the future that HASN'T already been done. Hmmm...

Apes? No...
Big heads? No...

Bondage? Nope.

Unintentional homo-eroticism?
No, can't swing a stick without...

Oh! Maybe an assortment of goofy old Jimmy Olsen covers!
Huh. Wow, there's a ton. No wait...

...well, shoot.

I'll have fun looking, anyway...
























































(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

78s fRom HeLL - - Listening in on Phone Chatter: Janette Davis - Hold The Phone, (and on line two) Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg - The Telephone

Here's a couple of minor novelty records from the fifties. They both feature a bit of 'chipmunk-esque' sped-up voices, used in this case to approximate the sound of someone chattering rapidly on the other end of a telephone line.

The fun bit of intrigue comes in deciphering what the manic little gibberish is actually saying (especially in the first example).

Janette Davis worked for many years on radio and TV with one-time entertainment king Arthur Godfrey.

She was his primary singing star on Arthur Godfrey Time (1946-1957) and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (1949-1957).

She helped foster much of the new talent, and often engaged in behind the scenes coaching with many of the performers who appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts.

In 1956, Godfrey made Janette Davis the producer of his program, in response to declining ratings.

She immediately instituted several improvements for the benefit of the performers, including a west coast audition facility (in addition to the one in New York) and better production values. It helped for a time, but in 1958 CBS cancelled the program, and Janette retired to private life.

Some years later, Arthur Godfrey was interviewed on NBC by Tom Snyder. After noting the amazing list of performers who'd been discovered on or had come through the Talent Scouts show, Tom complimented Arthur on his "gift" for spotting talent. Godfrey refused to take the credit, and said; "It wasn't me. I was just very lucky to have people around me who had that gift. Especially
Janette Davis!"

Archie Bleyer had worked for CBS radio in the 1940’s as an orchestra conductor, before becoming the musical director on the Arthur Godfrey Show.

In 1952 he founded the Cadence record label, initially as a vehicle for recording pop singer Julius La Rosa after Godfrey had publicly banned LaRosa from appearing on his show.

Bleyer left Godfrey's employ in 1953, at which point many more artists signed with Cadence, producing many popular records throughout the 1950's and into the sixties.


Janette Davis and Archie Bleyer's 'Hold The Phone' was released on the Columbia label in the Spring of 1952.

Davis sings into the telephone about her romantic new boyfriend while her friend Helen (Davis' voice sped up) chatters in response on the other end of the line - - except that in fact it turns out that Helen is discussing another topic entirely.

I had lots of fun using the 'scrubber' tool in my sound editing software to carefully piece together what gossipy Helen had to say.

Here it is, the individual sentences strung out through the background of the entire song:

"Wanna hear the truth about Arthur Godfrey?
"Arthur Godfrey doesn't wear any pajama tops.
"He doesn't wear any pajama bottoms either.
"You'll never guess what Godfrey really wears when he goes to bed.
"I got this information direct from a bellboy at the Lexington Hotel.
"He says all Godfrey wears is a strap."

"But have you heard the rumor about Archie Bleyer?
"But don't repeat this to a living soul.
"It's a vicious rumor and it's all over town.
"Everybody's saying that Archie Bleyer wears a girdle.
"I happen to know that story is a big lie.
"Archie Bleyer rolls his stockings at the knee, just like anybody else."

"Say, did you know Archie used to play the piano?
"That's how he got to be a band leader himself.
"He had to leave his job with the orchestra, though.
"One day, the boss said something real mean to Archie that he wouldn't take back.
"I got this straight from Archie's old boss.
"He looked him right in the eye and said, 'Bleyer, you're fired.'"

"The boys in the band have a new game.
"It goes this way: they ask each other questions.
"Yesterday, Remo* put this one to Johnny ______."**

*(Remo Palmieri, electric guitar)
**(hard to make out. could be John Mintz, clarinet. might be Johnny Parker, trumpet)

"This is some sort of a rumor about Archie Bleyer, the leader of the band.
"'If Archie walked 8 hours a day at the rate of two miles an hour, how long would it take him to get to Texas?'
" Johnny said, 'I don't know, but it's a swell idea!'"

Listen to: Janette Davis - Hold The Phone (click for audio)

The hidden chatter in Stan Boreson and Doug Setterberg's old 78 isn't nearly as juicy as the previous, but the record's still a goofy bit of trivial ephemera.

Boreson & Setterberg first teamed up in 1956, combining the individual 'Scandahoovian' comedy routines they'd each been previously performing as solo acts.

They were based out of Seattle, Washington, where they had a local TV show for a time, in addition to the records they put out.

The records were mostly parodies of popular songs performed in dialect. The team had basically picked up where similar performer Harry 'Yogi Yorgesson' Stewart had left off.

'The Telephone', released on Kapp simultaneously on 78 and 45, likely appeared in 1957 or '58 following on the heels of pop singer Jimmie Rodgers' chart-topping version of 'Honeycomb', which it parodies. (FYI, Rodgers was another alumnus of Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts.)

The background phone chatter here is used very sparingly. The recorded voice has been reversed as well as sped up.


It sounds very much like a quite random snippet of dialogue sampled from a TV drama or a radio program.

The woman's voice is faded up in mid-sentence:

"...But more than that. I want a job that's - - that's important, too. I want to work *with* people."

- - And then the second example picks up mid-way through the first, repeating the first half of the statement:

"...I want to work *with* people, not just for them."

Listen to: Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg with the Gene Boscacci Trio - The Telephone (click for audio)

And that's it. Enjoy!
Anyone who can prove the origin of the mystery monologue gets a prize.
Anyone who can prove that Arthur Godfrey slept in only a strap doesn't.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 05/25/07

1. Hay Fever season doesn't last forever. (sniff, honk, wheeze)

2. A couple of recently announced upcoming (US-region 1) DVD releases:

- 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie' Complete Season 3 & 4 boxsets, coming in July.

Huzzah! Can't wait. Sorry, but I still can't hang with watching Hugh Laurie (OBE) as 'House', because I know that Bertie Wooster and either of his Georges from 'Blackadder' are still in there somewhere. That's the Hugh Laurie I imprinted on so long ago. Well... it's probably because of that prior history, but likely also it's the weird American accent.

Here's a video clip link to that favorite musical number from an earlier season of 'A Bit of Fry & Laurie'.

Also, are you familiar with their 1988 BBC radio series? If not, check this out.

- And coming in August, it's The Myrna Loy and William Powell Collection. Five of their 'no Nick nor Nora' films from 1934 - 41.

Having loved them co-starring together in all of the Thin Man movies (even the lame ones), it's a treat to have an opportunity to catch them again, even in different roles.
I know I'll miss Asta, though...

3. The eclecticism and range of the web. I'm constantly finding more stuff that makes me say 'wow'. Name it, it's out there - - as you well know. I love finding cool stuff, and I love posting some of the links and tidbits.
- - Just like everybody else.

Maybe it's all just non-essential ephemera, maybe not. I guess I'm just old enough to still be impressed, remembering when all this information, all these sights and sounds were not ubiquitous and instantaneous.

Gol-lee gosh, that intra-net.

Impressed? Naw, even though I live with it every day, I suppose it's still more akin to 'awestruck'.

More links found to more things to see out there...

Frisbee Collective: A gallery of flying discs
MOBA - THe Museum Of Bad Art
Roadside America - Your Guide To Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions

- - and a batch of a few new additions sitting on that MoOm Annex page- -
(See my previous post.)

The Webseum of Pocket Protectors
The Mao Suit Museum
Compact Cassette J-Card Gallery
Orange papers and Match box labels at flickr.
A Timeline History of the IBM Typewriter

- - and too, too many more.

4. It's been out for a while, but I finally grabbed myself a copy of the 'Rubber Room: The Haunting Poetic Songs of Porter Wagoner 1966-1977' CD.

It's a great collection of some of Porter's oddest 'deep album' cuts. If you've haunted enough record bins, you've likely noticed several old LPs of his with some curious cover art. (Here's a few examples from someone else who's noticed it too)

There's likewise a surprising number of superbly dark and dramatic songs that Wagoner recorded over the years, and as part of their on-going country reissues, the Omni label out of Australia has done a nice job of compiling some of them.

You can listen to the CD's title track over at The Omni Recording Corporation's MySpace page.

Now I'm curious about the *new* Porter Wagoner CD, 'The Wagonmaster', set for release in just a couple weeks on the (oh-so-hipsterish) ANTI- label. Looks like he's just now being given that familiar 'Rick Rubin-esque we-now-embrace-you-as-cool-and-alternative' treatment that Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Neil Diamond and others have been treated to in recent years. And therefore it looks like Porter's music will be visiting some of those dark corners again. Should be interesting.

There's a press release along with some preview video and audio available at the ANTI- website.

5. The 'NPR template for interviewing musicians' from Jon Carroll's column in this morning's SF Chronicle.

Sterling Holloway meets Disney's The Grasshopper and The Ants - The World Owes Me A Living, 1962

This is one of the first records I ever owned. The copyright date on the 45's sleeve says 1962, which makes sense.

Adapted from Aesop's fable, the Disney studios first released 'The Grasshopper and The Ants' in 1934, as one of its Silly Symphonies.

It introduced 'The World Owes Me A Living', as sung in the cartoon by Pinto Colvig .

Colvig was also the voice of Goofy (and later, Bozo The Clown), and the song would become Goofy's unofficial theme song.
(It was also covered by Shirley Temple that same year)

I'm going to guess and say that the '34 cartoon was either re-issued around 1962, or more likely, it was shown on the Sunday night 'The Wonderful World of Disney' TV series.

Regardless, this little kiddie 45 version doesn't quite do justice to the cartoon or Aesop. In this version of the song, the grasshopper (voiced by a Pinto Colvig stand-in) eventually agrees that maybe the ants were right about a prosperous life requiring hard work, but it's not a convincing statement.

On the B-side however, the beloved Sterling Holloway (pictured below reading a *different* story) tells the story more in depth - - only not really. He tells about how carefree and fun-loving the grasshopper is, alludes to the notion that it might get him into trouble one day, but that's it.

No comeuppance, no moral - - heck, it's not even really a story, just a brief character sketch.

It's almost as if - just like the grasshopper - they didn't want to do the work, figured that it was just a kiddie record and everything would just work out okay. Works for me.

I guess I learned my lesson for today, how about you?

Listen to: The Grasshopper and The Ant - The World Owes Me A Living (click for audio)

Listen to: Sterling Holloway - The Story of Hop, The Grasshopper (click for audio)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spire Christian Comics: A few covers and some links

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

The internet's nice.

When you set about to do some research in preparation for posting things like this on your 'pop culture' blog, it's a treat to find that there's often somebody out there who's already done most of your work for you.

There's nothing new under the sun; Welcome to the World-Wide Web.

So if I don't have much that's new to bring to a piece about that line of Spire Christian Comics that started appearing in the 1970's, at least I can round up a bit of the info that's already floating out there and provide some pertinent links at the bottom for you to peruse.

As a kid, I don't think I ever encountered any of the book adaptations like the ones pictured here.

I do remember being mightily confused when running across some of the Christian 'Archie' titles.

At the time it felt like some kind of creepy betrayal, not that I ever imagined that the Riverdale gang were Jews and Hindus.

Just like in my quietly Godless suburban upbringing, the subject just never came up.

It was fine for Dennis The Menace to occasionally try to instruct me on kite safety or building campfires, and I was okay with the Peanuts crowd hawking snack cakes and life insurance.

But I suppose I felt Archie and his friends shouldn't stray too far from the malt shop.

Of course the Riverdale connection came easily, as it was simple enough for Archie comics artist Al Hartley to bring them along when he began doing the lion's share of the artwork at Spire.

Here's something that's confused me about the Spire comics, though: The cover price. When these were coming out in the seventies, most comic books were traveling through their 15¢ - 25¢ price range.

Was Spire really charging 35¢ - 39¢ each at *that* time? ('Cuz, umm, dude... Seems like they should have been priced to be LESS expensive than normal comics, y'know? I'm just sayin'... Maybe it's a Christian thing and I just wouldn't understand)

It's entirely possible that I'm mistaken, as many of the Spire line just stayed in print for several years.

I suppose just because it lists a copyright date of 1973 doesn't mean it's not a 1980's reprint, priced accordingly.

(Huh, the only other comics I can think of offhand that did that were the undergrounds. That might *almost * be an interesting connection...)

So here's some links, if you'd care to explore the subject a bit further - -

- A History of Christian Archie Comics, a great article with plenty to say about Al Hartley, appearing over at Generation Exploitation.

- Al Hartley: Christian Comics Pioneer, a bio page at Christian Comics International that gives a very detailed rundown of the artist's work.
(I shouldn't be surprised that there's a HUGE website devoted to Christian comics creators around the world, right? Okay, thought not.)

- Finally, the Spire Christian Comics Fan Site has high-quality pdf files presenting nice scans of *the entire contents* of many of the titles issued! You'll need an Adobe Acrobat Reader, and likely a pretty fast connection to view the files.

Hurray! Now I don't have to hunt down my own copies of 'The Gospel Blimp', or
'Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika', or
'Hello, I'm Johnny Cash'!



(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

Sure, I remember The Bis-Quits...

...But only from that one self-titled album they put out in 1993, on John Prine's Oh Boy label. It was another exciting discovery from my early days deejaying at that college radio station.

They put me in mind of other perfectly rocking bar bands, like NRBQ, The Beat Farmers, and maybe even The Faces on occasion...







Will Kimbrough formed the band with fellow guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Tommy Womack. Mike Grimes was on bass, and Tommy Meyer played drums.
Based out of Nashville, The Bis-Quits existed as a band just for a couple years back in the '90's, before members would head off to session work and solo albums.

You can take a look at Will Kimbrough's website for further info and his current whereabouts.

(These Bis-Quits tracks will be available for a limited time - - click for audio)

Listen to:
Tommy's On His Own
Blues & Wine
Anal All Day
Yo Yo Ma

(click for audio)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

1950 print ad: Cesar Romero Discovers Schenley


I'm not exactly sure why I was relieved to discover that Cesar Romero *had* actually portrayed Cortez prior to this 1950 magazine ad. It was in 1947's 'Captain from Castile' opposite Tyrone Power.

I think I just didn't care for the idea that he'd dressed up as the conquistador *solely* to sell whiskey. No, I don't know what difference it makes.

As is likely the case with many of my generation, the first place I can remember becoming aware of Cesar Romero was as The Joker in the sixties' Batman TV series. My absolute favorite thing about his portrayal was how he'd refused to shave off his moustache for the role, opting to have it whited out to match the rest of his make-up. That's class - - or something.

I also remember as a little kid, watching old Shirley Temple movies on TV on Sunday mornings. I recall my quietly mind-blowing personal realization upon spotting a young Romero in a couple of them, cast in supporting roles with different ethnicities. It was the first time I considered that perhaps movie acting is merely a career, and one that must come with its own difficulties about its own expectations. It was the first time it occurred to me that being The Joker was in its way just another job in a long string of jobs for Cesar Romero.

Taking it a step further and guessing it must be something like that for all actors, and hey, what about the people behind the camera...
...I never thought about movies and TV quite the same way again.
(But my fondness for character actors was born.)

Just a very few years later, at a Saturday kiddie matinee, spotting Romero again in one or another of Kurt Russell's Disney flicks, I'd nod in something approximating quiet wisdom recalling my former epiphany.

Now, I'd love to see any of the half-dozen Cisco Kid movies he made between 1939 - '41. Maybe they'll be reissued to DVD some day. But don't get me started about the continued unavailability of that Batman TV series...

ADDENDUM 5/31/07 - - Here's a link to Cesar in another print ad, from 1954.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Louis Jordan in the 1960's, part 1 - Hardhead

Even as new-fangled rock & roll was gaining prominence in the mid-1950's, the music of one of its pioneers came to be viewed as a bit passé.

Louis Jordan had been rocking the bandstand for better than twenty years at that point, and had been 'King of the Jukebox' for perhaps half of that span.

A change of personnel to a larger group at the end of the big band era was bad timing, a decline in popularity led to moves to different record labels and further changes in his band's lineup.

But Louis still rocked, even if his heyday was behind him.

Following his departure from Decca, he recorded great material for the Aladdin label and then Mercury, but the spark his music had with his Tympany Five bands throughout the 40's and early '50's either eluded him, or was just out of favor.

In 1963, he recorded this version of his song 'Hardhead' for Tangerine, a record label founded by Ray Charles the previous year.

There were only sporadic recording sessions from then on (and I'll try to post a bit more of his later material in the near future), but despite diminishing returns, Jordan continued touring and performing throughout the '60's and until shortly before his death in 1975.








Listen to: Louis Jordan - Hardhead (click for audio)


There are several cool Louis Jordan video clips to be found at YouTube and other places, where you can see him in action in the earlier days...

...But this clip that's over at DailyMotion is from the 1966 TV show 'The !!!!Beat', and it shows Louis kicking serious ass at the age of 58 or so on one of his standards.

(And if you ever get a chance to take a peek at 'The !!!!Beat' series of import DVDs, jump at it! Awesome stuff!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chesterfield Advertisement, 1941

I'm doubtful about how much distance she'll get hurling that open carton of cigarettes. Maybe I'm unclear on the concept.

- - And it's a shame you don't see quite so many players smoking on the field anymore.

I *do* like the football-embossed sweater with the handy cigarette pocket, though.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

78s fRom HeLL: Vince Fiorino Trio - Red Canary

When looking up the definition of 'oddball', this record should be cited as an example.

A curious and somehow mysterious thing, released in 1953 on the Okeh label, both in 45 and 78 format. The arrangement; Bouncy organ, clattery percussion, and one shockingly agile tuba.

There's not too much information to be found regarding the artist;

Vincent Fiorino had been a tuba player with Paul Whiteman's band. He wrote songs that were hits for other artists, including 'Blue Canary' for Dinah Shore.

At some point he opened a supper club in Florida, where he performed and sold copies of his 'Golden Tuba' LP. ➔

(Many thanks for the LP cover image and some of this data to Raymondo's Dance-O-Rama, where you can also hear an excerpt from that LP)


A few points of confusion arise:

- 'Red Canary' is subtitled as 'Indian Song'. How so?
- Some folks have pondered if the 'red' canary was a McCarthy-era allusion to communism, mostly prompted by the lyric, "...in the future we'll be free".
- 'The Fiorino' is also a relatively recent new breed of frilled canary. Is there a connection? Would it be stranger if there wasn't?

Some things to consider while you enjoy this rockin' tune...

Listen to: Vince Fiorino Trio, vocals by Millie Coury & Lon Saxon - Red Canary (click for audio)

- - and on the flip side:

Listen to: Vince Fiorino Trio, with vocal by Arki, The Arkansas Woodchopper - Tuba Square Dance
(click for audio)

Freshly-stirred links