Saturday, December 22, 2007

Just stepped out, back in five minutes...

...or maybe about a week, I'm thinking.

Just a wee break for some traveling, some family, some holidaze - - oh yeah, and MAYBE a few minutes spent not staring at a computer screen.

What a concept!

There's still plenty of stuff to explore here. Visit the archives, hit the links.

- - And be sure to take care of yourself through the holidays, okay?

I'll be back shortly to continue with the steady stream of essential nonsense. Promise!

Friday, December 21, 2007

'Crash Route U.S.A.' - Fashion photo-spread, 1969

Whether influenced by Kerouac's 'On The Road' or the curiosity of the era, there were indeed record numbers of young people who traveled around America in the latter half of the 1960's.
Some wandering, exploring, seeking to 'find themselves'...

...and like everything under the sun, it was only a matter of time before the whole experience would be co-opted and merchandised into the mainstream.

This particular skewed vision of the 'Rock & Roll Gypsy' lifestyle appeared in Look Magazine in 1969.

Photographs taken in various locations around the US were by Dennis Stock.
The young wanderers were 'New York City Artist' Jim Kronen, and fashion model Stephanie Farrow, Mia's little sister.

Granted, it was a big prestige photo shoot, not intended to represent reality. Nevertheless the silliness of it puts me in mind of Albert Brooks' impassioned speech in his film 'Lost in America'.
As the staid, suburban 1980's junior-executive ready to chuck it all, he tries to convince his wife:

"We can get out there. We can get out and see this country. We can find out what it's about.
"We can touch Indians. We can live in the mountains. We can do anything we want to do.
"And we're still young enough to really explore. So come on, let's go."

"It'll be just like 'Easy Rider'".

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)







(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 12/21/07

Another week, another batch of bits and pieces and debris...

1. Follow the link to: Alice Illustrations other than Tenniel - - an ongoing project found over at
Hugo Strikes Back!

Different artist's visions through the looking glass, old and new and from all over the globe.

(clicking on images makes them larger...)

⬆ Top row, L-R: Jan Svankmajer, Dmitry Che, Michael Hague, Willy Pogany

⬇ Bottom row, L-R: Arthur Rackham, Saulo Corona Gtz, Khodozhnik S. Goloshchapov, Aleksandr Dodon




2. This week I've been enjoying listening to The Bonzo Dog Dooh-Dah Band's NEW studio album, 'Pour L'Amour Des Chiens'.

It feels so very strange to be saying that, as it's been 35-or-so years since the last one.

The big UK reunion tour that the Bonzos staged not too long ago seemed delightful by all reports.

Bless them, the remaining original band members are still full of spark and whimsy, despite getting a bit long in the tooth.

The new CD is good fun, and if it's not the mad sixties group dipped in amber and perfectly preserved, the album is still SO much better than it probably needed to be.

But clearly, this is an album for the fans, a fine addition to the Bonzos canon, but certainly not the place to begin for the novice curious about the band.

There's a healthy amount of the tweaked twenties-trad-jazz that is unmistakably Bonzo. It's wonderful to hear Rodney Slater's exquisitely tortured saxophone again.

There's something slightly off however, as the sound of seasoned older musicians recreating that vibe now comes off so much different than the one created by young art students bucking trends in the swinging sixties.

Now they also seem to be making an effort to hit on a wide variety of different musical styles as the album bounces merrily along, almost as if they need to make up for lost time since their last recordings.

As always, Neil Innes' contributions are practically perfect in every way, though it sounds like some of his tunes are ones he may have been toting around a little while.

I suppose I miss the psychedelia-tinged fringes of the old albums, and the feeling of rough edges. Thankfully, it sounds entirely like the band is doing what they please, not trying to hit an expected mark.

Of course it's the presence of the departed Vivian Stanshall that's missed the most, though 'shiny new millenium' Bonzos Stephen Fry, Ade Edmondson and Phill Jupitis seem only too willing to try to fill the gap. Who could blame them for living a dream?

3. Being released to US-Region 1 DVD in a few months is
'Shemp Cocktail: A Toast to the Original Stooge'.

It could easily turn out to be as dreadful and shoddy as much of the apocryphal Stooge residue floating around out there, but this release sounds promising to me:

"This long-overdue 2-disc spotlight on Shemp – one of the first and one of the last Stooges and older brother of Moe and Curly Howard – contains five early ‘30s solo Shemp shorts; a trio of Shemp’s Three Stooges shorts; a live TV Camel Comedy Caravan with Shemp, Larry, and Moe; the complete 1942 feature Private Buckaroo, starring Shemp and The Andrews Sisters - and more, including outtakes from Africa Screams and sequences from the 1935 drama Convention Girl, in which Shemp plays it straight as a smalltime hood!"

Shemp definitely turned up in a lot of places, and was working hard in Hollywood for a long time - - apart from the Stooges more often than not.

I've often been curious about all those hundreds of Hollywood film shorts from the 1930's and '40's that mostly we NEVER get to see anymore.

I recall some late-night surfing at IMDb, following one
cross-reference to another. I was amazed at how many different series of comedy shorts there were at Columbia Studios alone, in a vein not disimilar to that of the Stooges.

Take a peek sometime at listings for some of the 'repertory company' of folks you might associate with The Three Stooges. Producer/Director Jules White, actors Christine McIntyre or Emil Sitka - - There's a heap of appearances they made in shorts and two-reelers that sound very familiar, but for the fact that they're Stooge-free.

See also: Follow the link to In The Balcony.Com's Short Subject Department, and scroll down the page to the 'Solidly Shemp' listing.

4. This 'Wheelbarrow Race' ⬇ clip on YouTube should be worked into a 'Wide World of Sports'-type
'Thrill of Victory' opening credit sequence on TV, don'tcha think?

Wait for the thrilling and slick home-stretch manuever that sends the crowd into a frenzy and makes you proud to be human...



(Via Nothing To Do With Arbroath, via David Thompson.)

The de Paur Chorus - Calypso Christmas (1956)

I've always found it just a bit surprising how many people are familiar with this old record.

What's not surprising is how many of them have such clear and fond memories of it.

I guess the first time I heard it I was expecting something more tropical and less sober, but was soon charmed by its sweetness.

As musical director of what had started as an infantry glee club in WWII, Leonard de Paur (1914-1998) became a driving force not only in male choral music, but also in the Folk Music revival.
Among his many other achievements following his work with the chorus, de Paur would go on to a career in television as a musical arranger and conductor, and as the director of community relations for New York's Lincoln Center.

See also:
- A very impressive list of de Paur's credits appear in his New York Times obituary.

- A Leonard de Paur bio page at the Columbia College Chicago website, which also yields a page for members of The De Paur Infantry Chorus.

- Leonard de Paur listed at the Internet Broadway Database.

- 'Beware of Pretty Chords' - A TIME Magazine article on de Paur's Infantry Chorus.

- A helpful illustrated history of Calypso music in its various incarnations can be found at
'Calypso: A World Music' - - An online exhibition from The Historical Museum of Southern Florida. There is mention of the de Paur Chorus in an interesting section on the 'Calypso Craze' in America.

From the 'Calypso Christmas' LP
(Columbia Records, 1956),
Listen to The de Paur Chorus -
Leonard de Paur, Conductor:

Christmas in de Tropics
De Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Mary Had a Baby
La Virgen Lava Panales
Christmas Present for Sallie
Mary's Little Boy Chile
Oh, Poor Little Jesus
Roun' de Glory Manger
Mary, Mary, Where Is Your Baby
What You Gonna Call Yo' Pretty Little Baby?
Ring de Christmas Bells

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 12 tracks in one 28.6 Mb zipfile.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

(link:) 'Invaders from the Ice World!' (1957 comics story)

Big thanks to Tom, a recent visitor who was nice enough to drop me an e-mail, and kind enough to share the fantastic seasonal image below...













































Big thanks also to Sleestak at Lady, That's My Skull, who was brilliant enough to have been on top of things and already have the story all blogged up.

- Follow link to: 'Invaders from the Ice World!'
Once there, you can view the entire story as a pdf file!



Here's a bit of what Sleestak has to say on the subject:

"In Strange Adventures #79 (April 1957) the story 'Invaders from the Ice World' is an entry typical of that era of DC. It has the familiar plot featuring a generic Science Detective going up against an invading force that uses technology far in advance of Earth, is invulnerable to brute force and atomic weapons, yet who are beaten back by wits, brains and sometimes simple parlor tricks."

The 'generic science detective' in this particular case was the recurring character Darwin Jones.
Jones was sort of a 1950's version of
Agent Fox Mulder (all the curiosity, with none of the discipline problems), and had made his first appearance all the way back in
Strange Adventures #1.

This issue of the classic anthology book Strange Adventures is also a perfect example of the policy at DC Comics (and likely many other publishers) in those days; That of writing the story AFTER having created a compelling cover to accompany it.
The more outlandish the better...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

78s fRom HeLL: Renato Carosone - The Little Alarm Clock / My Luciana (circa 1956)

Singer / Pianist / Bandleader Renato Carosone (1920 - 2001) remains much beloved in Italy, but it appears that his name hasn't been heard very often here in the US since the 1950's.

- From his entry at allmusic.Com:

"Renato Carosone is regarded as the father of Neapolitan singing, bringing elements of jazz and swing into traditional, Italian songbook.

"Carosene was born on January 3, 1920, and started his singing career at the age of 17 after studying piano at a conservatory.

"He was best known for his 1956 hit about postwar Italy, 'Tu Vo' Fa l'Americano', which translates to 'You Want to Play the American'.

"Other hit songs of Carosone's include 'Maruzzella' and 'O Sarracino'. Though he revolutionized the genre in his home country, he also internationalized Italian song."


This VERY worn 78 was released in the US. I'm assuming it was a US-market follow-up to his song 'Torero', which had charted well in the States in '58.

(ADDENDUM, 12/26/07: Turns out I'm mistaken. This was issued in '56, before 'Torero'. See comments)

Apologies for the terribly rough sound quality on the first side of this disc...

...though I think it carries a certain authentic charm as a testament to how well-loved it was by a previous owner.

Especially as the B-side is delightfully clean by comparison...



Listen to:
Renato Carosone & his Quartet -
The Little Alarm Clock (La Sveglietta)

(Capitol 78, circa 1956)

(click for audio)











Listen to:
Renato Carosone & his Quartet - My Luciana ('A Luciana)
(Capitol 78, circa 1956)

(click for audio)




See also:
- The official Renato Carosone website, in English and
Italian.

- A nice biography page at Sorrento Radio.Com.

- Carosene discography & guide for American collectors at
HYP Records' Vinyl Safari



...And via YouTube:
- Below, a clip of the Renato Carosone Sextet performing their rollicking hit song,
'Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano', ⬇ as seen in the 1958 film 'Totò, Peppino e le fanatiche'.



- and here below ⬇, what looks to be a TV performance following Carosone's 1975 comeback, reprising 'Torero', his huge international hit from '58, presented with a 'modernized' arrangement.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'The Wedding Racket': Edward Gorey magazine illustrations, 1969

(click on image to ENLARGE ⬇)



These Edward Gorey images accompanied an article that ran in the June 10th, 1969 issue of Look Magazine.

'The Wedding Racket' by Peregrine Pace gave cautionary information on how excessive charges can mount up quickly when planning a wedding.

Subject headings included: 'The Bridal salon is a booby trap', 'Beware the "free" photo album', 'A good caterer is the clue', 'Most club managers are such artful grafters', 'Florists can fleece you', and others.

Monday, December 17, 2007

George Conedy at the Hammond Organ - Merry Soul Christmas (circa 1972?)

Here's a nice instrumental LP that mixes holiday treacle with some deep soul.
At first, hearing George Conedy's organ puts me in mind of similar efforts from Booker T. and the MG's, but the overall sound here is understandably just a little bit more churchy - - and perhaps pleasantly less polished in places.

It's sincere, is what it is...

...AND it includes a smoky (if misspelled) version of Duke Pearson's 'Christo Redentor'.


The original album was issued on a gospel imprint of the Kent Records label out of L.A.

Judging by other matrix numbers near to this one, a guesstimate would place its release around 1972, give or take a year or so.

Back cover liner notes give a bit of info on George Conedy... ➤

(click on bio to ENLARGE text) ➤

Some web searching turns up very little else on Mr. Conedy, except for a page about
The Antelope Valley Inter-Denominational Crusade Choir.

Their information places him in the choir's backing band as recently as 1997, at their 2nd anniversary concert held at Highland High School in Palmdale, CA.

(Addendum, 7/2/08; Information has recently come through via a family member that George Conedy passed away "a few years ago".)

Musicians on this recording:
George Conedy - Hammond organ, piano
Horace “Hawk” Jones - bass
Elliott McKenzie - drums
Joe Youngblood - guitar

From George Conedy's 'Merry Soul Christmas' LP
(Kent Records, circa 1972?),
Listen to:

Come All Ye Faithful
Away In A Manger
We Three Kings
Christo Redento
Drummer Boy
Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
White Christmas
The Christmas Song
Silent Night

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 9 tracks in one 38.7 Mb zipfile.

(click to ENLARGE ⬆)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pee-Wee Herman Fan Club Membership Kit (1983)

It was likely on the strength of his first TV appearances on the Letterman show that I jumped at the chance to see Pee-Wee Herman perform live in
San Francisco in 1983
.

After that I was sold on P.W., and soon became a proud card-carrying member of the fan club.

I suppose I was already among the faithful when the movies and and the TV show came along.

Here are some scans of the swag that came with the membership...

I framed the autographed photo, and it's been on display ever since. →









Now it can be revealed!
The 'secret' club membership card masquerades as an ordinary business card you can carry in your wallet.

← CLICK on the card to 'unfold' and reveal the club I.D.

(for reasons of club security I've photoshopped out my personal info)

This issue of the 'Pee-Wee Press' newsletter ↓ included appearances from the cast of 'The Pee-Wee Herman Show' stage production, and was the only one I received. Don't know if there were later issues. This one mentions concepts for 'Big Adventure' and 'Pee-Wee's Playhouse' being shopped around, so perhaps things got too busy soon after...

(Follow the link to my recent post: The Pee Wee Herman Show Original Cast Recording)

(Click on newsletter pages to ENLARGE text in a new window ⬇)






(Click on newsletter pages to ENLARGE text in a new window ⬆)

See also: The 'In The News' section above mentions the 'Likely Stories' anthology TV series.
Click here to watch 'School, Girls & You' at YouTube, featuring Paul Reubens in the role of Wally Bile.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Brian Browne Trio - Flowers On The Wall b/w Blues For The U.F.O.'s (late 1960's??)

Canadian Jazz pianist Brian Browne was a talented young prodigy when he left his native Montreal as a teen and began playing nightclubs in Ottawa.

Subsequently he was enrolled at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he won a scholarship to study under jazz great Oscar Peterson.

By the late 1960's he was playing dates and recording with bassist Skip Beckwith and
drummer Donald Vickery.

I can't quite draw a bead on any release date info for this single, or find any reference to the Academy label.

The Statler Brothers had their hit with 'Flowers On The Wall' in 1966, and the bulk of recorded cover versions of the tune seemed to fall between '66 and '68.

A small label and a slight Ramsey Lewis feel to the record (note what sounds like faked 'live' nightclub noise in the intros) - - It makes want to guess that it came out right around '68, give or take, just prior to signing with bigger labels for his first LPs.

Or I guess it could be following the early albums...
...Feel free to drop a line and set the record straight!

It looks like Brian Browne was based out of Toronto in the 1970's, and back to Ottawa in the '80's.

After a long residency in New York City, in more recent years he's been back in Canada where he continues to perform.

Follow link to: BrianBrowne.com



Listen to:
Brian Browne Trio -
Flowers On The Wall

Academy Records 45,
(release date unknown)
(click for audio)



Listen to:
Brian Browne Trio -
Blues For The U.F.O.'s

(click for audio)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Cheese Cones (1970's print ad)

Oh, dear... Yeah, I remember my Mom proudly presenting concoctions like this on occasion.

I can still feel a bit of a gag reflex just looking at these constipation bombs.*

(click on image to ENLARGE recipes)

(* A.K.A. 'Nut-Encrusted Cheese Turds')

See also:
Several similar recipe reactions can always be found at Do What Now?

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 12/14/07

1. Amazon reviews as guerilla creative writing projects - -
Who knew?!?

Earlier this week, Boing Boing posted an entry linked to funny reviews for Bic pens at Amazon UK.

Follow link to: Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, medium point, black, EACH

Fun and fascinating. Reference was also made to dozens of reviews for milk - -
Link to: Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz

People have posted haikus and sprawling pieces of fiction all centered around the mundane and ubiquitous offerings from the gi-normous globo-vendor. It's brilliant, cheerfully and quietly subversive, and I'm pleased to discover it's out there.

I think it's the sort of thing that exemplifies all that is BEST and TRULY wonderful about the internet.

While reading a milk review I also noticed the little
"Customers who viewed this item also viewed" sidebar thingie.

It was offering Uranium Ore - - →

"I bought a can of this about 4.5 billion years ago, give or take a few million years, but when I went to use it today I noticed only half of it was still in the can. I swear I put the lid on tight. I'd give it more stars if it came in a better package."

← - - and the $20k
JL421 Badonkadonk
Land Cruiser/Tank
- -

"Finally, a tank you can trust"




2. A wicked and wonderful guilty pleasure: men who look like old lesbians (Via Mira y Calla)
Some of the magic works by power of suggestion, much of it works just fine without any persuasion...

... and I can just hear the response of some of the assorted gentlemen: "Whaddya mean 'old'??"

3. A few Xmas-tly items I ran across this past week:

- WishbookWeb.com has painstakingly archived EVERY page from a baker's dozen of vintage Christmas catalogs from Sears, JC Penneys, and others, dating from 1944 - 1985.

Thousands of cultural artifacts to inspire interest and awe, such as this image from 1971. (click to enlarge)
⬅ (Via Coudal Partners' MoOm Annex)

- The Saint Nicholas Center:
Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus


"Who is St. Nicholas? Who is Santa Claus? Are they the same? Find out here."
Saint Nicholas traditions and celebrations in many countries, activities, crafts, recipes, stories & more!

- Xmas crafts and such from Better Homes & Gardens (circa 1958) at Jim Dunn's always intriguing Do What Now?

4. Legendary pioneer of Rock & Roll Ike Turner finally found peace this week.

Follow links to :

-Ike Turner obituary at Reuters.

- Bedazzled's posting of a complete 1959 episode of the 'Party Time' TV show with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm as the House Band



5. M_Patton's lists at
Rate Your Music.

Another recent post at Bedazzled linked to
'NUDE NUDE NUDE!!!'

- - a trove of *1487* examples (and counting) of nude photography in album cover art.

(Big surprise: 99% female, and many of them FAR less tame than these posted examples. NSFW!)

I loves me a good gallery of old LP covers.

So, y'know, that's great and all - - but (if maybe that's not your thing) I found that M_Patton has also listed several other galleries of album art that are also quite fun.

Aside from his personal faves, there are several lists sorted by the cover's subject matter, such as:

Painted portraits of the artist, Artists sitting on stairs, 'Half a face', Silhouettes, 'Out of focus', Album covers spoofing other album covers, Albums without the title or the artist's name written on the cover
- - and many others. Check it out!

6. NPR ran a nice little piece on über-outsider musician Jandek this week. (Thanks to JLIV and KALX for the heads up)

- Link to Jandek: The Man from Corwood

Some nice insights, and a great primer for the uninitiated.

I guess there's a small nagging voice inside me wondering if it isn't somehow 'wrong' for Jandek to be garnering such media attention - - yet here I am contributing, in my own small and hypocritical fashion...

7. The Movie Title Screens Page is just about exactly what it sounds like, and it's a great, eclectic and colorful resource.

(Via the expansive and wondrous Coudal Partners' MoOm Annex)


8. Thanks for coming out, Jodie, and congratulations.

Also in her speech this past week, accepting the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award:

"Growing up, there were hardly any women in my professional sphere — there was maybe a script supervisor, the makeup artist and the lady who played my mother. I became the prodigal daughter after I proved myself in a family of men."

"I don't feel very powerful. I feel fragile ... unsure, struggling to figure it all out, trying to get there even though I'm not sure where there is ... I've been working in this business for 42 years and there's no way you can do that and not be as nutty as a fruitcake."

"I always feel like something of an impostor. I don't know what I'm doing. I suppose that's my one little secret, the secret of my success."

Freshly-stirred links