White Duck, White Dog -- Burl's Done 'Em All

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

:: Dwelling in Beulah Land ::

:: When the Roll is Called Up Yonder ::

:: Jesus Loves Even Me ::

One of my earliest childhood memories is being sick with the chickenpox, fevered, spotted and lying in bed, and my father bringing home a Burl Ives record for me, The Little White Duck. I remember playing the shit out of that record and just loving the old guy's warm and friendly voice. I've been picking up Burl’s records lately when I see them, and I still find his voice comforting. Why, even his name is comforting. Say it, kids: BURL.

Released in 1963, this record is one of a few recordings that Burl did with Word Records, based in lovely Waco, Texas. It was done in conjunction with World Vision, Inc., the Christian relief organization that aims to feed and clothe impoverished kids around the world through "child sponsorships." That organization was originally begun in the 1950's to aid kids who were orphaned in the Korean War. Anyway, the World Vision Korean Orphan Choir was flown to a Hollywood studio to record some sacred tunes with Burl and this album is the result. It's not the most exciting result, and I can't say that I felt God's love envelope and comfort me while listening, but that’s okay - Burl’s voice did instead. Thank you, BURL.


I Lived A Trekkie's Fantasy

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

:: War of The Worlds (excerpt)::

Even with my upper echelon Robot connections, I cannot claim to have been invited to attend many record release parties, however I can honestly claim to have been at this one.

The year was 1977. As I've written about here before, I was glomming onto a band who were trying to make it in the rock biz. Somehow the guys in this band knew a guy named Rick Canoff, who had blown sax in a band called The Flock in the late 60s. Canoff used to join Chopper on stage at Shenanigans in Hermosa Beach. Although I wasn't really familiar with The Flock at the time, I did know that their biggest claim to fame was electric violinist Jerry Goodman, who went on to fame and fortune (?) as a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. One might then reasonably expect that a sax player who was in a band with Jerry Goodman would probably be a complete wild man. In reality though, Canoff would honk in a style reminiscent of "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters. Not exactly jazz fusion.

Well, come to think of it, Canoff was probably an acquaintance of Chopper's manager, a guy named Bob Davis. Davis was a classic. A cocaine fueled super-schmoozer who would fly off the handle one minute, and talk his way out of an impossibly dire situation in the next. The record release party for William Shatner "Live" was held at Bob Davis' Hermosa Beach home. Canoff produced the album. Don't ask me how or why or anything else, I'm just reporting the facts here.

The party was completely unremarkable by 1977 Hermosa Beach standards. As I recall (and to be honest, I don't recall a whole lot about it), I took on the roll as DJ early on. I descended upon Davis' record collection (which probably wasn't too bad considering he had been an A&R guy at MCA and reportedly had a hand in signing Olivia Newton John) and dictated what these late 70s beach hipsters would sip their Heineken's to that night. All was going well until the guest of honor arrived.

Right from the start, the reason for the gathering didn't make much sense. Who in their right mind would produce an album by William Shatner? In 1977, Shatner couldn't have been a bigger has-been. Star Trek had been cancelled due to poor ratings some 8 years earlier, and Shatner was a typical victim of type-casting. For my part, I was never a Star Trek fan, so the presence of a celebrity of Shatner's caliber did not affect me much.

When he first arrived at the party, there was a bit of the kind of excitement one might expect with the arrival of a minor celebrity. I didn't attempt to speak to him or anything though, instead busying myself with DJ duties. After a short while however, I was handed the two disc set that was the reason for the evening, and was asked to play side one. A hush descended upon the room, and it continued for the next 78 minutes. They probably had to wake me up to change the side 3 times. This is probably the most boring record ever made.

The one bit of audio I found suitable to accompany my little story here is pure Shatner. One has to wonder what H.G. Wells would have thought of this reading. The live performance, at Hofstra University in Hampstead, NY is One Man Show, spoken word all the way, with occasional, sparse musical accompaniment by Mark Goldenberg, who has gone on to become a major session guitarist and songsmith in his own right.

I never owned this record until just recently. I started seeing it for sale in the $50.00 range, which made me say "huh?", so when I found a copy for under $20.00, I dove in. This one's in good shape, albeit for some surface noise, and it comes with a poster. The fact that I attended the record release party for this piece of shit never made me want to actually own it, and even after I bought it I never thought about doing a Record Robot piece about it. Thanks to my friend Mikey for mentioning that I should do a write up on it, after finding it buried in my collection last week. Also thanks to Robot Phil for a certain photo that helped tie it all together. And thus I rule.


Falsetto From A Diff'rnt Ghetto

Friday, May 26, 2006

:: Yes Miss, No Miss ::

:: Mr. Cool ::

Before there was The Smiths, The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Chameleons, and just about every other band I moped and gnashed my teeth to in high school, there was Sweet Sensation. Now this isn't the Sweet Sensation from the 80's that the guys at Soul Sides probably have on cassingle, this is a soulful Manchester act from the 70's. Hey, how come since the UK version came first, they didn't make the American version call themselves Sweet Sensation USA?

I'm loathe to mention a certain very popular American TV show where people compete for the right to make awful pop music, but since that sort of thing has been in the news a lot lately, it's appropriate to tell the tale of Sweet Sensation. The young band was discovered by Tony Hatch (a very successful Pye Records producer, worked with Petula Clark on "Downtown", etc...) on a UK talent show program called New Faces, and were marketed as a sort of Jackson 5 act, with the very youthful and somewhat Michaelesque Marcel King on lead falsetto. Their album Sad Sweet Dreamer did pretty well, scoring a #1 in the UK with the title track, but subsequent efforts were not as well received, and in the end they reportedly couldn't even make it as the British entry in the 1977 Eurovision song contest.

These two songs are from Sad Sweet Dreamer, and one is funky (Mr. Cool, natch) and one is sort of breezy Philly soul (Yes Miss, No Miss), except that if you carried your school books around in a black briefcase in Philly, you'd probably get your ass kicked. All the elements are here - clavinet, disco flutes, absurdly pronounced cymbal sounds, fonky bass, fonky horns, wah guitar, and of course some string parts boogied in directly from Hustle central. Dig it.


The Stylers!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

:: Non-Stop Dancing Medley 1 ::

There’s a cool cadre of bands that were popular in Southeast Asia during the sixties and seventies, playing a genre of tunes which I’ve seen referred to as “Off-Beat Music.” It’s basically instrumental dance music (A Go-Go, Fox Trot, Cha-Cha, etc.), a lot of the bands sounding sort of like a fuzzed out Shadows with lots of reverb and keyboards thrown in. The Stylers were one of the more popular of these bands, as they sure put out a lot of records, both on their own and as backing band for numerous female vocalists. This LP contains 6 medleys, each made up of 6 songs, for a total of “36 Great Hits.” Here’s the first medley off the album – dig the farfisa, washboard, whistles, and handclaps! If you’re itching for more cha-cha goodness, you might want to head over to Show & Tell Music for a copy of the fantastic Teen Dance Music from China & Malaysia while it’s still available.



Wednesday, May 24, 2006

:: If I Had A Hammer ::

Everyone knows "If I Had A Hammer", right? I certainly came from a generation that knew that song, performed by numerous folky types in the 60s. I guess I was too young to remember who had a really big hit with it though.

Growing up I'd see records by Trini Lopez, but I never knew what he was all about. I just figured he did not rock, so I never bothered to check him out. But now that I'm buying just about anything that inexplicably triggers my "I must own this record" synapse, I now own "Live At P.J.'s", and when I put it on I got a big surprise.

I immediately recognized "Hammer" as THE hit version of the song from 1963. I was like 6 years old, and I loved it, I just never knew who it was, or maybe I just forgot. It's one of those songs that was a "crossover" hit - probably big on both top 40, and adult contemporary stations, yet for some reason it doesn't get played on oldies radio today, at least not around these parts. So when I played it, it was the first time I'd heard it in probably about 40 years. Funny how songs can remind you of odd things. This one reminds me of cheeseburgers sizzling on the backyard grill in the summertime. Mmmm, cheeseburgers!

Texas native Lopez recorded for the King label prior to being discovered by arranger Don Costa, who had Frank Sinatra's ear at the upstart Reprise label. It didn't hurt that Frank's buddy Dino took a shine to this Latin folky as well. Some credit Trini with helping to jump start the Folk/Rock movement of the mid-60s, but that's arguable. What isn't is that this kid swings, and he's got style. I guess I'm going to have to check further into the Lopez catalog now. Good music to listen to while grilling cheeseburgers in the backyard in the summer time...


More Wingtip Sloat

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

:: Infectious Sharps Only ::

:: Beauty ::

:: The Bed Pot ::

:: Left Leaning Forward ::

So this week's theme is revisiting artists we've covered before. No, no, no, it's not. This is just coincidence. Or we're nostalgic for ourselves.

I've noticed a pattern with my Wingtip Sloat purchases. The pattern is that I usually don't even know I am picking up something by them until after I've gotten it home. I blame their funky packaging.

A while back I picked up a healthy stack of 50¢ records. A great deal of them were shots in the dark that turned out to be total crap, or something that's already easy to find on CD. Tonight I was about to give up on my stack of crap as a source for today's article, when I decided to listen to one more slab. Now, I know for a fact that even though I couldn't tell who the artist was when I came across this, I was intrigued enough by the words "Smelly Straggler" scrawled in one corner to take a chance. That's me. That's who I am, what I do. I actually couldn't even tell from the 45 label that it was a Wingtip Sloat release, so it actually took hearing this before I was like "What the...?" and dug inside the sleeve for more info, at which point I learned I'd serendiptiously happened into some more Sloat. Righteous, brah.

Here's all 4 tracks on the EP, which is titled "Return Of The Night Of The Ardent Straggler." The song "Beauty" is a Tall Dwarves cover. The song "The Bed Pot" doesn't sound like Wingtip Sloat to me at all, save for one wonderfully strange chord during the chorus. But that's all it takes to make me happy.


Billy's B's

Monday, May 22, 2006

:: True Fine Lovin' ::

:: Wedding Bells ::

:: Mountain of Love ::

:: Why Am I Lonely ::

:: What Have I Done ::

:: Crazy 'bout You Baby ::

I spent a few days in Milwaukee last week for work and found a great little record shop on Kilbourne Avenue called Musical Memories. It’s actually the basement of an apartment complex and the racks are stacked tight with LPs, all covered in a thick layer of dust. It was heaven until I started flipping to the back of the LPs that I wanted, only to find $30 price tags on most of them. Not wanting to go broke, I spent more time in the back of the store going through all the five dollar 45’s that were lovingly shelved by artist in alphabetical order from floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Jackpot! I found five of soul singer Billy Stewart’s Chess singles with b-sides that didn’t appear on his three out-of-print LP’s, nor have they appeared on “One More Time: The Chess Years” compilation that MCA put out. I wrote about my extreme love for this man’s music way back when the Record Robot was still an infant in June 2005, so check there for a little history on him. I’ve got to say, finding these songs made me a very happy boy.

Here’s the rundown on the tracks:

True Fine Lovin’ b/w Wedding Bells – Chess #1835

Mountain of Love – Chess #1948, b-side to Because I Love You

Why Am I Lonely – Chess #1960, b-side to Love Me

What Have I Done – Chess #2053, b-side to What Have I Done

Crazy ‘Bout You Baby – Chess #2063, b-side to I’m in Love (Oh, Yes I Am)



Thursday, May 18, 2006

:: Dreams ::

:: The Peruvian Flute ::

:: Lonely Chase ::

Like Phil, I sometimes have trouble wrapping my head around certain European varieties of music. Particularly when Continental musicians are going for a "westernized" pop feel. With just a little effort however, Eurorock can sometimes yield great rewards. What at first sounds "cheesy" may later reveal itself as pure genius, or not.

Prog rock has always been uniquely European. If you ask me, Prog never did exist in North America. Fuck that Rush, Styx and Kansas bullshit. So while I mostly think of King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and other British bands when it comes to Prog, PFM, Amon Düül (I and II) and other bands from the Continent qualify as well.

Prog, of course is a general term encompassing many sub genres, one of which is "classical rock". Not classic rock, you knitwit, I'm talking about classical music elements with drums, electric guitars, organ, synth and just about always a breathily executed flute. And thus you have Ekseption, a bunch Dutch musicians who were apparently quite successful in Europe in the late 60s and early 70s, although I never heard of them until recently, once again proving that I know very little.

Ekseption had no vocalists, and their classical rock came spiced with bits of jazz and psych as well. It's distinctly European, and they don't aspire to much of any western pop influences, but I still roll my eyes a bit. Can't help it. On the other hand I like this stuff, and it reminds me of a period of time when rock went all cerebral and "yeah, yeah, yeahs" and "oh baby, oh baby, oh babys" were frowned upon. Thank goodness that didn't last too long.

Now, hopefully Phil will do a good punk rock post on Monday. Or not.


Phase The Music

:: Light My Fire ::

:: Satisfaction ::

:: Get Back ::

:: In The Year 2525 ::

Long before the human fruit leather known as Aerosmith released a hits comp called Big Ones, British band leader Ted Heath released his own collection of hit interpretations called The Big Ones, all of them covers. AND it came out the year after his death, a trick Aerosmith hasn't pulled off, yet.

The first thing that grabs your oculars is the cover, which looks like someone ate a child's bedroom from the late 60's and then promptly threw it up. If you open the gatefold -- and since I know computers don't allow you to do this yet, I'll just describe it to you -- instead of pictures of Ted Heath and His Music or more bad psychedelic drawings, you get a bunch of propaganda about Phase 4 Stereo and the formidable 20 channel console they used to create it. Mike did a nice little piece that talked about this sort of crap, so refer to that if you'd like a crash course in stereo history. All I can tell you is that there's some serious stereo separation going on, neatly isolating some pretty funky drumming and making this record a bit of a breakbeat seeker's field day. This was obviously a record made with the specific intent of showing off Phase 4, which London must have been very proud of. Just look at the giant 4 superimposed over the cartoons on the front. See how it's more colorful where the 4 is? Get it? SUBLIMINAL.

The Big Ones is certainly an appropriate title for this album, Ted and his Music selected a few songs that are just as recognizable now as they were then. It's obviously a talented band, and while they seriously cook on a few of these numbers, you quickly realize that a big band jam on a song that could probably never be done justice by a cover is fairly unnecessary. The strangest cut on the album is the version of "Satisfaction," which starts out with the signature riff played by a guitar but then gets overtaken by lots and lots of horns. Then there's lots of professional stunt drumming. The kind of drumming that makes me think of a scene in some movie where someone you would never guess even plays the drums gets behind the kit and proceeds to Buddy Rich you to death. Anyway, enjoy these popular, eternal classic rock hits and the transmogrification they underwent at the hands of Ted Heath and his band.


Freaks N' Greeks

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

:: Fallin' ::

:: Far Away ::

Though I’m a big, fat, hairy Greek, I haven’t really heard much music from Greece. Well, I’ve heard a little bit, but it’s mainly relegated to the music that is played at big, fat, Greek weddings when those crazy circle dances start up. My sisters and I always got a good laugh watching my father link arms with other partiers, hopping counter-clockwise and kicking the air. More fun would ensue when we’d break glasses on the floor, spit on the bride and spray Windex on each other for good luck.

Actually, there’s one band from Greece I’ve heard and dig: psychedelic/progressive-rock band, Aphrodite’s Child. Their final album from 1972, 666, a soundtrack to events described in The Book of Revelations, is a strange, intense, and incredible trip. Demis Roussos was the bassist and vocalist for the band, which is why I picked up his solo offering from 1976, Happy to Be, when I saw it for two bucks a few months ago. (That doesn’t mean that I’m also picking up albums by Aphrodite’s Child bandmate, Vangelis, by the way.)

Upon first listen, I let out a groan and turned it off before side one had even finished; it all felt a little too much like one of those Eurovision compilations for my tastes. Over the weekend, I thought I’d give this fellow big, fat, hairy Greek another chance and plopped it onto the turntable. I’ll be damned if I didn’t like what I was hearing this time around. Roussos’ tremulous warble jumps out, as opposed to the way I remembered it being buried within all of the instrumentation, chanting and psychedelic weirdness of 666. When I hit the Arabic-styled song, “Far Away,” I was sold on him. It was worth the two bucks, anyway. And yeah, I know that Roussos is well known to the rest of the world, but here in ‘murka he’s been virtually ignored.

Phil Beta Kappa

Dakus, Brought To You By Canada

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

:: You Just Keep Me Hangin' On ::

:: Armful of Teddy Bears ::

:: Love Is Just A Word ::

:: Mission Bell ::

:: Sad Souvenirs ::

:: Big-City People ::

Canadian rock bands are funny. Actually, I should just leave it at that. No further explanation necessary. But that wouldn't be fair, would it? For every Barenaked Ladies, there's an Arcade Fire, or Neil Young. Still though, there is something inherently funny about Canadian rock. It's very similar to American rock, and in some ways it resembles Brit rock as well. It's somewhere in between. One thing for sure: It's pretty dog gone white.

I bought this album because of the cover. How could I resist? Also, the name of the band didn't really make sense to me. "Wes Dakus' Rebels"? What the hell is that? Turns out the real name of the band was Wes Dakus and the Rebels. I guess they just shortened it to be cool or something. They came down from Edmonton, Alberta to record with Norman Petty in his Clovis, New Mexico studio in 1966. Apparently Petty, who produced and co-wrote most of Buddy Holly's hits and was the man behind the scenes with The Fireballs, saw some commercial potential in the Rebels. Unfortunately, no hits were to be had and Wes Dakus retired the Rebels in 1967.

This album is not at all bad however. They cover a variety of styles, all of which are very good examples of what 60s pop/rock sounded like. Their cover of "You Just Keep Me Hangin' On" sounds at first like it's being played at the wrong speed, but then it settles into a competently played and sung cracker-soul workout. I certainly do luv me an "Armful of Teddy Bears", and many of the other covers and original compositions on the album reflect a group of musicians firmly rooted in 50s and early 60s torch rock.

Besides Dakus, who I assume was the guitar player, the Rebels featured Barry Allen, Dennis Paul, Maurice Marshall and Stu Mitchell, all of whom took turns as lead vocalist. Marshall wrote "Love Is Just A Word" and "Big City People", and Mitchell wrote the childlike and haunting "Sad Souvenirs", proving these guys were not merely a decent bar cover band from the Great White North. There is nothing on this record however that would be good to listen to while driving a motorcycle through a wall of fire (except maybe their cover of "Mockingbird" which I have mercifully omitted), so I have no explanation for the cover art, except to say that it's the only reason I bought the album in the first place. FIRE! heh heh.


Joe Williams Got You Covered

Monday, May 15, 2006

:: Something ::

:: You Send Me ::

:: Oh Darling ::

Saturday was quite a day for the Robot kids. In the afternoon we got to pick through a pile of records left to Mike's nephew by his grandfather, all the while drinking a sumptious variety of ales, and in the evening we got to see The Fall. I ended up at Pink's at 3am. Tough to beat that. This record is one of the ones I scored.

Joe Williams was a singer's singer, possibly the most famous big band singer of all time. He was milky smooth in more than one vocal range, and one album he did with Count Basie (Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings) is one of my favorites.

This 1970 offering on Blue Note is yet another case where a famous, established singer was given a crack at some hits of the day, the kind of thing that more often than not turns out more humorous than good. As great as Joe Williams is, some of these readings really don't work too well. It's not all Joe's fault, some of the arrangements pretty much guarantee a strange trip, but there's something about the way he sings the Beatles classic "Something" that's just not right. Over all, it's at the very least different than what you might expect, even if you know all the originals and are familiar with Williams' work. Here's both Beatles covers from the record, and a darkly minor jazz rendition of the Sam Cooke hit "You Send Me." Enjoe!


More Philly Hardcore

Thursday, May 11, 2006

:: Talking Shit ::

:: I Just Wanna Be Friends ::

:: Beer City ::

:: End it All ::

Hawaii-time is over, kids, it’s time for something different – Philly Hardcore! Well, okay, that’s not so different from any other week, huh? Stalin’s Daughter put out this 7-inch, Oktoberfest, on IE Records back in 1988, and I think it was their only release. I listen to it often, and that has a lot to do with Rick Dobrowolski’s vocals. His voice goes all over the place in “End it All,” and dig his mimicking of the girl that doesn’t want you in “I Just Wanna Be Friends.” That’s sort of the way I’ve imagined I’d treat my vocals if, you know, I had the determination to get off my ass and start a band. Dobrowolski went on to book shows for awhile at the Khyber Pass in downtown Philly, and used to serve up “The Special” (shot of Jim Beam & a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon - $3) at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, the best hole in the wall in the world, located at 15th & South streets. He’s now co-owner of Tritone, a nightspot just across the street from Bob & Barb’s.


Knife Dancing: Good Prerequisite For Songwriting?

:: I'll Remember You ::

:: Ain't No Big Thing ::

:: Na Ali'I ::

:: Get On Home ::

:: No Other Song ::

Well, how do ya like that? I guess we do have a bit of a Hawaiian theme going here. Must have something to do with the tiki lamps I just installed in my back yard and the huge pig roasting pit (imu) I dug there last weekend. Anyway, here goes:

I bought this record on a lark, never having heard of the artist, I figured it was more than likely a failed commercial attempt by some obscure artist from the mid-60s. I was right about the mid-60s part, but it turns out the only thing Kui Lee failed at was staying alive long enough to enjoy his success.

Born in China in 1932 to Hawaiian parents, his family moved back to Hawaii after his Mother's death when Kui was 5. After graduating high school, he moved to New York to pursue a life in entertainment, specifically choreography and knife dancing. There, he met a hula dancer named Nani Meadows, whom he married and proceeded to have 4 children with. Moving back to Hawaii in 1961, he found work in nightclubs, eventually ending up at Honey's, where Don Ho was rapidly ascending to Hawaiian style stardom.

About this time Kui learned to play guitar and sing, and began composing songs. He played "I'll Remember You" for Don Ho, and Ho flipped. Many credit Lee with Don Ho's success, including Ho himself, but there's more to it than that. During his short career, Kui Lee is said to have written 80 songs, many of which were recorded by the likes of Andy Williams, Tony Bennett and Herb Alpert. His songs helped to popularize Hawaiian music, and Hawaii in general.

Where Don Ho and his crack band, the Aliis were consummate performers, Kui Lee was a composer first. Although not a bad singer, his voice often sounded strained to these ears. Of course it might have had something to do with the fact that at the time of these recordings, he was suffering from an as yet undiagnosed case of lymph gland cancer, which would claim his life at age 34 in December of 1966.

Don Ho still professes to miss his soul mate and composer of so many of his hit songs. The selections presented here, from his 1965 Columbia debut, show the variety of styles Kui was able to conjure up. From the most tender ballads to Hawaiian Punch rock, he could do it all and stir up a healthy appetite for Kalua Pork and Mai Tais and hot, dark skinned women in grass skirts and... oops, sorry!

Of the two rockers included here, one thing that strikes me is how much they sound like early Neil Diamond rockers like "Cherry Cherry" and "Thank The Lord for the Night Time", only they pre-date Neil's songs by a couple of years. Hmmm... that's funny. You don't suppose Neil Diamond ripped off Kui Lee, do you?

Me Ke Aloha,

The Don Ho Show

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

:: Night Life/E Lei Ka Lei Lei (The Beach Party Song)::

:: A Taste Of Honey ::

The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, which means Tiki drinkin’ seaso...oh shit. I guess we got ourselves a little Hawaiian theme going here this week. It'll be interesting if this forces Mike's hand and he puts up something tropical, too. OK, that will only be interesting to us. Back on track, Tony, back on track.

Don Ho. You know Ho. Big lounge star of the 60's, pop icon of the 70's, and the Tiny Bubbles dude every decade since. He still performs, and he's still the first person the average person would think of if they were asked to name a Hawaiian singer (sorry, Hoku.)

This was Don's first album, recorded live at Duke (The Big Kahuna) Kahanamoku's club in Waikiki in 1965. His backing band, a group of ex-Air Force islanders calling themselves The Aliis, are featured prominently. I was expecting a much blander flavor of cheese, but some of these numbers really cook. You'll find no Tiny Bubbles here, that phenomenon didn't strike until the following year. Here's the show opener (and closer), Night Life, the feel-good island sway of E Lei Ka Lei Lei, and a very interesting song that I think serves as a showcase for the Aliis, A Taste Of Honey.


Swingin' Hawaii

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

:: Hawaiian Waltz Medley ::

:: Hula Blues ::

:: Ahulili ::

:: Hawaiian Fox Trot Medley ::

The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, which means Tiki drinkin’ season is upon us. Actually, the winter weather doesn’t stop us Southern Californian robot kids from filling our gullets with fruity tropical cocktail goodness, but those Uga Boogas sure tend to be tastier in the heat. For optimum satisfaction, of course, you need the appropriate music, which is why I plucked this record out of the dollar bin a short time ago.

Released on clear red vinyl by Waikiki Records sometime in the late 1950’s, Poolside Music Hawaiiana features twelve Hawaiian favorites played in dance-time by Pua Almeida & his Polynesians. Almeida was a steel guitar player and vocalist who had a residency at Moana Hotel Banyan Court at Waikiki Beach in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, though he’s credited here as band leader, so I’m not sure which songs, if any, feature his voice and steel playing. I’ve become a sucker for Hawaiian steel guitar sounds of late and there are good sounds to be found here. Unfortunately my copy is a bit thrashed, but I was able to salvage some of the songs for your digital listening pleasure. Okole maluna!


You Want More Puppet? I'll Give You More Puppet.

Monday, May 08, 2006

So, I've gotten quite a few requests, mostly in real life from people I know, to put up the rest of the Roosevelt Franklin album. I can do that. I don't usually do this, but I am doing it this time. So if you dug that funky puppet stuff, go back to the original post and find the missing three tracks are now magically there.


Cottage Cheese Soliloquy

:: The Lettermen - Everything Is Good About You ::

:: The Lettermen - Morning Girl ::

One of those acts I heard regularly in my Mom's car when I was a kid, I haven't had much interest in acquiring any of their records because I equate them with musical cottage cheese. Not that I mind cottage cheese. With a little salt and pepper, it's not bad stuff, but I haven't eaten any since the last time my Mom served it to me.

I've been on the lookout for a Lettermen album with "Wichita Lineman" on it, since one of our readers recommended it, but haven't found it yet. While scanning song titles on this Lettermen offering from the early 70s, I noticed it had a song called "Morning Girl" on it. And thus, my first Lettermen purchase.

"Morning Girl" was originally done by a band called Neon Philharmonic in the late 60s. Tony turned me on to them a couple of years ago because he knew I'd be all over the over the top melodramatics, the lush orchestrations and lyrics that sounded as though they had been written by Charleston Heston on acid. "Morning Girl" is a fairly tame example of Neon Philharmonic's canon, but given the Lettermen treatment, it comes off a bit more palatable than the original version.

Palatable is what The Lettermen are all about. Founded by vocalist Tony Butala in the late 50s, they're still going to this day, although they gave up their lettermen jackets long ago. And I'd be damn surprised if they still perform "Morning Girl". I just want to hear them do "Wichita Lineman", then have a bit of cottage cheese, get tucked into bed, and sleep like...

Oh never mind.


Damn, That's A Fonky Puppet

Friday, May 05, 2006

:: Roosevelt Franklin Counts ::

:: Days Of The Week ::

:: Mobity Moseley's Months ::

:: Keep On Trying ::

:: The Safety Boy Blues ::

:: Just Because ::

:: The Skin I'm In ::

:: A Bear Eats Bear Food ::

:: Halfies ::

:: Me And You ::

:: Old King Midas ::

:: Roosevelt Franklin's ABC's ::

UPDATE: Entire album is up now, puppet lovers.

When I happened across this record in a box in a parking lot in Austin, Texas, still it in its thick plastic library sleeve (Kalamazoo Public School System proclaims the stamp inside), I thought I'd found something cool. I had no idea how fun and great this album would turn out to be once I actually listened to it. It's funky, it's from the heart, and if I had kids, I'd tear the X-Box controller away from them and force them to listen to this instead. Then, of course, I'd need to explain why I was then playing X-Box while they listened to some dumb old record, but that's another story.

Matt Robinson was a very gifted man. He was the original Gordon Robinson on Sesame Street, as well as Roosevelt Franklin, and is actually responsible for all the male voices on this album. He also penned all the lyrics and co-wrote all the music with Joe Raposo. Outside the cozy of environs of Sesame Street, the Philadelphia native was also a playwright and producer. He wrote for Sanford & Son, and co-produced The Cosby Show. He did it all with soul, bringing his urban flavored wisdom into the homes of mainstream America.

The lessons here are counting, knowing your months, respecting people no matter how different than you they are, looking both ways before crossing a street -- good stuff like that. It's definitely got some black flavor to it, but the message is universal, and it probably prompted a few little white kids to ask their parents what collard greens are. The only kind of messed up thing is that the Hispanic character, A.B. Cito, is a super-stereotype, and the drawing of him is just a sombrero with legs!

Matt Robinson suffered from Parkinson's for over 20 years, and passed away in 2002. He certainly left a legacy, and he gave us Holly Robinson-Peete. I think my favorite line on here is from the song The Skin I'm In: "So if you look at me funny, I'll look at you funny, too." That's pretty sage for a puppet. It was really hard to pick just a few songs, so here's all of side one and some of side 2.


The Ten Commandments of Drinking (Amen)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

:: Drinking Saved My Life ::

:: Drinkin' in the Men's Room ::

:: (When They Have Their Way There'll Be) Hell to Pay ::

:: Thunderbird.mp3 ::

I’ve been in a vile and disgusting mood for most of the week. In my pathetic little world, the solution to that problem usually involves cranking Black Sabbath and consuming lots of tasty alcoholic beverages. But drinking at night in the middle of the week will interfere with my ability to get to work the following day, and well, that’s happened too often of late. So I’m making a concerted effort to wait until Friday for my first taste and, Jesus Christ, it’s taking forever to get there this week, isn’t it?

To aid and comfort me, I’ve turned to Alcoholics Unanimous. The Ten Commandments of Drinking EP, released on gold vinyl in 1990 on Brilliancy Prize Records, features four songs about drinking from these lovable winos, as well as a copy of their Ten Commandments. “Drinking Saved My Life” is the real winner here, produced by recently deceased Poison Idea guitarist, Pig Champion. There’s a special dedication inside to “Del Shannon, the aging rock’n’roller who blew his head off on February 9, 1990, just six days before this record was released. The tragic truth is that “Dead Del” had given up the bottle in 1976. What a shame he couldn’t hear this record, it could have saved his life.” Ha! Is it Friday, yet?


Still In Love With Who?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

:: Simon Leung - Steven ::

There are some records you see over and over in the same store, in the same bin, month after month. You look at it and wonder what it is. In the case of this record, I opened up the gatefold, pulled out the record, tried to glean some clues. But this record was purposefully elusive. I saw it's title, checked out it's pink, one sided disk, and from the huge booklet included, I could see it was some kind of artsy tribute to Al Green's 1972 album, "I'm Still In Love With You". But I passed on it time and time again, thinking each time I visited the store that it might be gone, but it was still there, as if everyone else who came across it was even less intrigued by it than I was. Finally I could stand it no longer, and now that I've had it in my house for a couple of months and have been able to investigate it at my own leisure, I know little more about it now than I did the first time I saw it in the record store.

Well, here's the little bit I do know: The album's jacket is a clever container for a multi-media art and literature presentation. Organized by painter/curator Steven Hull, whose love of Al Green's masterpiece inspired him to invite 46 visual artists and 29 writers to contribute works representing their reactions to the album, whether they liked it or didn't or merely felt indifferent toward it. Hidden inside the sleeve was a pink CD in an envelope which contained the bulk of the audio "art" (the one sided pink vinyl only contains 3 songs). The 11" X 11" booklet, is approximately 50 pages long and contains the lyrics to the songs on the CD and vinyl, visual art and prose. Apparently, there were two gallery exhibitions of the project in February and March of 1998 in Eagle Rock, CA.

The audio track presented here is the 2nd of the 3 tracks on the pink, one sided vinyl. The song is called "Steven", by Simon Leung. The song was apparently originally called "Peter", because on the lyric sheet, the word Peter is crossed out and Steven is scribbled along side it in it's place. Perhaps this is in tribute to curator Steven Hull? Hopefully I'll never know the answer to that question.

The song speaks for itself, and I think it fairly represents the loose nature of the various artists interpretations of the subject matter throughout the presentation. Most of the writings, photographs, paintings, poems, essays and songs makes one wonder what the fuck any of it might have to do with a certain Al Green album, but I guess that's what makes it art (?). Oh well, I may not know art (I spend too much time in record stores, not enough time in galleries), but I know what I like, and I don't know if I like this thing or not. But, considering it's one of the most unique and baffling record albums I own, I'm glad I decided to give it a home.


This One's Got Sole

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

:: Gunnar Wiklund - Du Bist Schön Wie Der Sonnenschein ::

It is truly a momentous time in Record Robot history. Maybe all of Internet history. I believe I am the first person to ever put up an mp3 of a song from a one-sided flexi-disc advertising lady shoes. In German. Sung by a Norwegian Swede.

Of course if my knowledge of German wasn't restricted to a few foul phrases and how to say Echo & The Bunnymen, I'd have put this up much, much earlier.

So, here's the deal. The song is about how you, the woman and potential shoe buyer, are beautiful like the sunshine. And how you should pick up some chic, comfy, attractive shoes made by Servas. You know you can't resist. It's Gunnar Wiklund, an evidently-at-some-point-famous guy, melting your heart with his velvet pipes and prying open your pocketbook with his dulcet intonations. The narrator's voice ain't bad either. Just look down at those tired old things you've been wearing. I bet you are getting callouses, and when you take them off it smells like pimento loaf. You deserve an upgrade, fraulein.

I am sure this record is a lot funnier if you understand German, but I'm content to chuckle when he sings "Du du" at the beginning of the hook. Auf Wiedersehen!



Monday, May 01, 2006

:: Live in Pankow ::

:: Spara Jurij ::

:: Punk Islam.mp3 ::

This is the first record from Italian band, CCCP-Fedeli Alla Linea (USSR – Faithful to the Line), released on commie-red 7-inch vinyl in 1984 by Attack Punk Records. I really dug what I was hearing here, so I picked up their 1987 LP released on Virgin, Socialismo E Barbarie, but was disappointed to find that they’d veered off into a more synthesizer laden direction. Each of the releases seems to concentrate on communism and Islam, but I couldn’t tell you what their take on it all is – are they proponents or just being ironic? If I understood Italian, perhaps I’d know. Regardless, it’s the music that counts and this 7-inch is good stuff, especially the final song, “Punk Islam.” There’s a minor skip or two at the end of the song, so apologies in advance. I’ll return your money if you’re unsatisfied.