Monday, April 30, 2007

Spaghetti Head - Big Noise From Winnetka b/w Funky Axe (1975)

Can't say that I know much of anything about the band Spaghetti Head. I'd welcome some info, if you have it.

I bought this 45 back in the mid-'70's, when I was about twelve years old. It was in a 'mystery grab bag' of singles at the record store. You didn't know what you'd get, but for a buck you were assured that at least four of the dozen or so discs in your blind purchase would be 'Top 40 hits'. Not sure I remember what else I got, but I have no complaints.

I gather that now this 45 is a bit sought after by club deejays as breakbeat fodder. What a funny world.

The instrumental classic 'Big Noise From Winnetka' had first become a big hit in 1938, as recorded by bassist Bob Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc, when they were members of Bob Crosby's Bobcats.

Listen to:
Spaghetti Head - Big Noise From Winnetka
(click for audio)

Listen to:Spaghetti Head - Funky Axe
(click for audio)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

'The Glass Bottom Boat' print ad, 1966

From the film's plot summary at the imdb listing;

"Jennifer Nelson and Bruce Templeton meet when Bruce reels in her mermaid suit, leaving Jennifer bottomless in the waters off Catalina Island. She later discovers that Bruce is the big boss at her work (a research lab). Bruce hires Jennifer to be his biographer, only to try and win her affections. There's a problem; Bruce's friend, General Wallace Bleeker believes she's a Russian spy and has her surveillanced. But when Jennifer catches on...Watch out!"

Let's see here, height of the '60's 'spy' craze, Frank Tashlin directs, that works...

...also starring John McGiver, Paul Lynde, Dom DeLuise, Dick Martin... Oh, okay - - Edward Andrews, right...

Who else... huh. Ellen Corby, wow, Florence Halop...

... AND an uncredited cameo from Robert Vaughn AS Napoleon Solo!?!

I may have to put this in my queue!

Sounds ripe for a bad remake, too. Top of my head, I'd say Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson.
Special appearances by Pierce Brosnan and Andy Dick.

Don't say you weren't warned...

ADDENDUM 6/3/07 - - Just an FYI. When I posted this, and up until a few moments ago, I was completely unaware of the term 'Glass Bottom Boat' becoming a modern slang term pertaining to a small variety of certain sexual practices. Wow. What a funny old world.

It could certainly add a new wrinkle to that imagined movie remake, I suppose...

Thanks, Urban Slang Dictionary. I'm all for more picturesque speech, but my curiousity might likely end there.

Lena Zavaroni - River Deep, Mountain High

Lena Zavaroni was a Scottish singer whose huge voice rocketed her to fame in the UK in 1974, at the age of 10.

Her version of the classic pop song 'River Deep, Mountain High' appeared on her first LP, released that same year. Despite the song's lyrics, I always found it a little odd to have a child cover the bold Tina Turner showcase - - but darned if she doesn't pull it off.

Lena would go on to become a beloved fitxure of British TV on through her teens, but by her twenties her long-term battle with anorexia had taken its toll. She passed away in 1999 at the age of 35.

You can find out more by linking to the Lena Zavaroni tribute site...

...and you can see a mini-documentary of her career in this piece at YouTube.

Listen to: Lena Zavaroni - River Deep, Mountain High (click for audio)

PLUS from the same album, added by request...
Listen to: Lena Zavaroni - Help Me Make It Through The Night (click for audio)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Should-Have-Been FOUND submissions

I love FOUND Magazine. It's a great compendium for important cultural artifacts with continuing appeal.

Over the years I've gathered a few such artifacts myself, the ones pictured below being the 'A-List'. I'd been planning to submit them to FOUND, but have been amazed by how long I've procrastinated and not done so. I've come awfully close a few times, but no - - and it's been at least 2 - 3 years now. Shocking.

I've just decided that it must have been a subconcious choice; Obviously I've been waiting until I'd put together an appropriate place of my own in which to display them. Sure. That's probably it. Certainly not mere laziness...

I found all the following items in Mill Valley, California, where I used to live, between 1984 and 2004. All four were found lying on the ground (or floor).

(click images to ENLARGE on a new page)

Last Time, circa 2002

Uh Uh No Way Baby, found on 9/24/1984 near the cash register at Village Music (where I worked at the time). PLEASE NOTE the delicate and decorative notations in the top and bottom margins; 'Run DMC', 'Morris D. Day', and 'Prince The Revolution'.

Double Wrap It, circa April 2004.
20 years later, but nearly the same message as the previous artifact. Please note again, the decorative yellow highliter embellishment. The author chose to compose this on the other side of a school election schedule, dated 4/5/2004. Notations next to candidate's names indicate that the author might be named Alana.

And A Dog Died Including Myself, circa 2003.

(click images to ENLARGE on a new page)

With the exception of 'Last Time' up at the top, what strikes me about each of these objects is that it makes perfect sense for them to be found discarded on the ground, rather than in the trash. I picture each of the recipients emphatically casting away the notes immediately upon recognition of its contents, and then leaving the scene to distance themselves from the event.

Now go check out FOUND Magazine.

Wally Cox sips and sings (1957 and 1953, respectively)

(click on photo to ENLARGE)

Wally Cox appeared in this Smirnoff print ad in 1957, three or four years after his emmy-winning role as Mr. Peepers.

It's a treat to watch the DVDs of Mr. Peepers now, but it can be hard to avoid the distractions of seeing the TV era in its infancy. The show could be a little clunky, and the average human's attention span is just different from what it was decades ago.

The part that still comes through crystal clear however, is what a great talent Wally Cox was.

Here's a record that Cox made in 1953, while he was still playing Peepers on TV. His singing and yodeling had apparently been a part of his stage act, prior to television.

Listen to: Wally Cox - There is a Tavern in the Town (click for audio)

It's a very jolly song, until you notice some pretty dark lyrics. What were they drinking in that tavern?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 04/27/07

1. Daniel Craig's performance in 'Infamous'. A Bond that won't be typecast.

2. Seems like there's always a promising-looking stupid fun comedy on the horizon, bound for a theater near you. Y'know, matinee material. Two-for-one rental fodder. The heavy gravity in the Wilson brother-Will Farrell-Ben Stiller vortex seems to keep sucking in more members and spawning more variants. The last set of previews I saw, it seemed like every one of them was "...from the people who brought you 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin'. I'm okay with all of that, and it's good to see Seth Rogen getting more work.

Speaking of which, for a wee chuckle, check out the Will Ferrell movie generator.

3. You *can* teach an old dog new tricks, and there's always something new to learn.

4. To expand on that last one, if I may share one of my personal Reasons To Be Cheerful this week; it would have to be the reception this blog is being given. It's all new to me. People all over the world have been visiting, I'm getting comments, sites are linking to it, and as of today the blog is only one month old. I'm having big fun doing exactly what I enjoy - - sharing fun crap - - and it looks like I've finally found the perfect excuse to keep actively learning new tricks with the net and assorted software. Maybe the blog should be titled 'I'm Sharing To Learn'. So thanks for visiting, and thanks for your indulgence!

5000 Fingers of Dr. T publicity photo

It's 1953, and the boys pictured above are standing on their school's front steps, posing and squinting in the sunlight while they shill for an odd movie just coming out. (click on photo to ENLARGE)

'The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T' was the first Dr.Seuss story created solely for the big screen.

If you've somehow managed to avoid it thus far, it's a very '50's, very Seussian musical. Simply put, it's the story of a boy falling in love with a plumber while trying to escape from a maximum-security piano camp. It's also the story of how movie-making can go awry.

As it turned out, Ted 'Dr. Seuss' Geisel hated the experience of being involved in the movie, and detested the final product. He forbade any other Seuss material to be adapted to the big screen during his life time. (Sound reasoning, as it turned out.)

In turn, Columbia Pictures lost faith in the film mid-production, yanked promotion, cut the budget, and cut huge portions out of the finished movie.The plans for an epic children's fantasy along the caliber of Wizard of Oz were dashed, and the film received tepid reviews upon release.

And yet there's still something there, and it's a movie that needs to be seen. Especially if you're a Seuss fan.

- - And I STILL want my own Terwilliker beanie!! The ones pictured up top are the promo versions with the name of the movie printed on them. I suppose I'd settle for one if I couldn't have an authentic 'Happy Fingers' beanie like the ones used in the film. Actually though, it looks like they don't hold up very well... Maybe it's better to do without and keep the dream, he said.

Enough dissertation, really I just wanted to share that publicity photo I found many years ago. But you know how I can go on...

...So here's just a quick Dr. T checklist: (click on links)

Here's details on the film at imdb...

...Here's a great tribute fansite. Lots of info, lots of photos, lots of fun.

You can head over to YouTube to watch the movie's trailer...

...And as long as you're there, you should also REALLY check out everyone's favorite musical number from the movie, featuring American national treasure,
Hans Conried.

ADDENDUM 8/13/07: An amazing promo still ganked from the visual and stunning
if charlie parker was a gunslinger... ☛ ☛ ☛

That's Tommy Rettig in the center.
Dig the shirts!
Click over for some background info!

ADDENDUM 3/28/08: Though it's been available on (Region 1) DVD here in the U.S. for a few years, die-hard 5000 Finger fans should be aware of the movie's recent inclusion in the 'Stanley Kramer Film Collection' DVD box set.

It's an interesting collection of 5 completely diverse (and classic) films produced by Kramer in the 1950's and '60's, a couple of them coming to DVD for the first time in this set.

As to Dr. T in the set, the print is certainly as good if not better than the previous stand-alone disc. The noteworthy additions are in the supplemental extras on the new edition. 'Labor of Love' would seem to be the catch-phrase for the effort put into a couple of interview segments.

Karen Kramer, Stanley's widow, gives some background on the production. The daughter of
Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy gives insights on her parents involvement. Actor George Chakiris (of all people!) relates his experience of working as a green-painted dancer in the memorable 'dungeon symphony' sequence. Michael Feinstein does a very cogent examination of the film's music and composer Frederick Hollander's score.

A few tantalizing allusions are made to music and sequences cut from the film, and the behind-the-scenes photos included are MAGNIFICENT.

Comparing the (pricy) box set to the previous stand alone release - - ? If you're a fanatic, there's great things to see in the newer version. If you don't care, - - why have you read this far??

The only thing I've noticed that you get on the previous single-disc release that's NOT on the Stanley Kramer Collection disc are a couple of those production photos that DIDN'T make the jump to the new 'bonus feature' mini-documentary, and a tacked-on vintage UPA 'Gerald McBoing Boing' cartoon.

Just an FYI...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

78s fRom HeLL: Raymond Scott Quintet - The Girl With The Light Blue Hair (1939)

In recent years there's been much written about the music and career of Raymond Scott. That's a good thing, giving credit where credit is due. A pioneer in jazz, a pioneer in electronic music, you're likely at least a little bit familiar with some of his work, even if you don't think you are.

Pictured above: The Raymond Scott Quintette In New York, 1937

From left to right: Pete Pumiglio (clarinet), Dave Wade (trumpet), Lou Shoobe (bass), Raymond Scott (piano), Johnny Williams (drums), Dave Harris (tenor sax)

For the lineup on this particular recording, replace Dave Wade with Russ Case on trumpet (not pictured).

For more photos, you can go to The Official Raymond Scott Website. (click to link)

To see the band in action, check out this very cool video clip over at YouTube.

As it happens, Scott's proto-bebop, 'chamber jazz' Quintet recordings from 1936 - '39 have proven to be an influence in my life. Certainly the adaptation of some of his compositions in old cartoon soundtracks helped form (warp?) my path from childhood. Later, it was seeking out his music that helped lead me to collecting old 78 RPM records. A bit later still, it was the reissue of some of that same music that finally led me to breaking down and purchasing a CD player.

From what I've been able to tell, this fine Scott Quintet recording has thus far not been reissued on CD. There's a different version of the same tune on a recent collection, but this is the one released in 1939 as the flip side to 'New Year's Eve In A Haunted House'.

As more of Raymond Scott's demo and radio transcription recordings resurface, and as more contemporary bands explore his music, I continue to be struck by how amazing and tight these arrangements are, and what a strong sound the band pulled off with their six-man 'quintet'. No overdubs, no multi-tracking... Wow. Still wow...

Listen to: Raymond Scott Quintet - The Girl With The Light Blue Hair (click for audio)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Different Side of Hank Ketcham, circa '46 - '54

Cartoonist Hank Ketcham had been working in the field for several years prior to creating Dennis The Menace in 1951. Most of the cartoons shown here appeared in the pages of True magazine.

In assembling this posting, I did a bit of hunting around and found this interesting blog article over at Today's Inspiration showing other examples of Ketcham's magazine work.

- - And then I *very* happily discovered that there is a new book coming, due for release this August, "Where's Dennis?: The Magazine Cartoon Art of Hank Ketcham".
Hurray! It's another project from editor Alex Chun, who in recent years has assembled similarly welcome collections of the artwork of Dan DeCarlo, Jack Cole, Russell Patterson and others.

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

I found the cartoons shown above in a few different old & tattered 'pocket book' album collections.

These last two are from 1946, and display a bit of Ketcham's earlier, rougher style. I found them in one of Lawrence Lariar's 'Best Cartoons of The Year' books.

As an aside, on the few occasions when I've seen such early Ketcham art and have had trouble recognizing his style, I've found that if there's any doubt; Check for the way he draws creases and folds in pant-legs and sleeves. Bingo. All doubts removed!

ADDENDUM, 10.23.08: For still more 'Dennis-less Ketcham', see several great posts at
Those Fabuleous Fifties

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Amral's Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra - Oye Como Va

I'm almost always up for an old steel drum LP, especially when the selections will break away from the norm of 'Yellow Bird' and such. I love it when there's steel arrangements of classical music, and I dig it even more when they do inspired versions of pop tunes.

There's two of those here;
Tito Puente's tune, made immortal by Santana, and that groovy creeper first recorded by Booker T. & the M.G.'s.

Released on the Calypan label, this album was recorded in August of 1973 at the RCA studios in Montreal, while the band was in the midst of a
well-received U.S. tour.

Listen to: Amral's Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra - Oye Como Va (click for audio)

Listen to: Amral's Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra - Time Is Tight (click for audio)

ADDENDUM, 1.13.09: There's still a dearth of information readily available about this band, but the text below adds just a little bit to their background story.

(Excerpted from the liner notes to the 'Calypsoul 70' CD, released in '08 by Strut Records)

From the 1950s, as the sound of the pan gained international currency and the tourist trade secured itself as the central plank of Caribbean economies, it became increasingly common for large companies, including oil giants and airlines, to sponsor steel band ensembles.
Shell, Esso, Pan Am, Coca-Cola, Angostura and many other companies all had steel bands on their books, providing money for pans, uniforms, floats and other essentials.
Sponsorship also encouraged the panmen to give up the organized violence that went along with the pan clashes.

The Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra was supported by successful (and still running) Trinidadian travel agency Amral's.

Pan LPs typically featured covers of recent international hits as well as Caribbean standards and popular calypsos. The Cavaliers' unusual track selection serves as a good gauge of the kind of U.S. sounds that were reaching Trinidad, whether through imports and radio, or tourism and economic migration.

Willie Mays, Advertising Icon

Here's Willie Mays, as featured in three print ads that ran in Ebony magazine in the mid-1960's.

- - And here's Willie again in a public service announcement TV spot, also from the sixties. (click link for video clip)

ADDENDUM 10/31/07: Not an advertisement, but rather a photo op that ran in the September 8th, 1954 issue of Downbeat Magazine. ⬇ (click on image to ENLARGE)

The Giants were still in New York, and it was Willie's breakout year as a ball player.

He recorded his vocal interjections on "Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" with The Treniers in
New York City on July 15, 1954, four days after having made an appearance as the 'mystery guest' on TV's 'What's My Line?'.

Quincy Jones was the musical director on the recording session, and the single was released on the Epic/Okeh label on July 26th.

I appreciate in the photo that unlike stage actress Janis Paige, Willie knows to handle the disc by its edges!

(You can listen to the song over at Baseball Recordings.Com)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wayne Newton - (Intro)/Hard To Handle

Here's 'The Midnight Idol' captured LIVE in 1974 at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

The band is pumping the then-most-recent Bond theme as Wayne takes the stage and lauches into a feverish
Otis Redding cover.

The heat. The raw energy. The electricity.


Listen to: Wayne Newton - Live And Let Die (Intro)/Hard To Handle (click for audio)

Charles M. Schulz's 'Young Pillars'

There's a new book scheduled to be released around the end of next month or so, collecting several hundred examples of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz's lesser-known comic strip, 'Young Pillars'.

Young Pillars centered around a cast of lanky teenagers in predominantly church-related situations. It was a biweekly single-panel cartoon that ran in the Church of God's teen magazine Youth. There were three paperback collections of the strip published.
(pictured here)

Schulz was creating it concurrently along with Peanuts, between the years 1956 - 1965.

(Let's see... That would mean that for a portion of that time - - from 1957 to 1959, he was juggling *three* different strips going simultaneously, including his sports-related strip, 'It's Only a Game'.
Good grief!)

(click on panel images to ENLARGE)

The strip is not about to be confused with any of Schulz's best stuff, but it's a very interesting artifact if you're at all curious about seeing a different facet of his work. I knew nothing of the strip's existence when I first stumbled upon these books several years back, and I was struck by the array of differences and similarities between it and Peanuts. For starters, it's fun to see Schulz work in a single panel format, and for something of a specialized audience.

The general drawing style is impossible not to recognize, but at first it just seemed so alien to see Schulz portray these long and tapered figures, as opposed to the squat and rounded ones we're used to. A different focus on scale. Elongation. His simple and brilliant expressive lines seeking humor from gangly angles, a slightly different vocabulary of form. There's the odd moments of juxtapozed proportions; the towering teenagers dealing with children of a more familiar stature and appearance. And there's adult characters! How bizarre is that?! - - And they're adults who often look eerily like tired and aged versions of the Peanuts gang.

The humor tends not to be quite as sharp as in Peanuts, (and certainly not as wonderfully angst-ridden) but it has its moments.The characters populating Young Pillars also touch gently on some theological areas that I suppose I'm accustomed to being the sole property of Linus.

I'll be keeping an eye out for this new collection when it appears. I'll be curious to at least take a peek; I gather there will be some strips included that have never before been reprinted, as well as some new background information.

(click on panel images to ENLARGE)

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