The Psychology Of Bowling

Thursday, August 31, 2006

:: Become King Of The Alley ::

Oh well, this one is mainly about the cover art, which I think is simply fabulous. I took the beginning and the end of the 14 minute A side, and cut it down to a minute and a half, for your convenience. I think you'll get the point.

The narrator is Prof. Richard Carl Spurney (pictured in the upper right star). He "...has taught psychology at two well known colleges on the West Coast, and is one of the world's noted authorities on recorded suggestion. He has served in this capacity as consultant to our armed forces, the medical profession, educational institutions, and large corporations. His staff of consultants includes doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, and experts in every field."

The liner notes go on to say: "THIS RECORDING IS NOT A TOY - This recording was designed under the continuous supervision of Professor Richard Spurney and his staff of experts, and is not a plaything. It is an aid to your personal development and bowling proficiency, and should be looked upon as a thing of great value. It is your introduction to the latest and most powerful motivating force to be developed in the field of recorded suggestion."

So here you go, Dude. Pour yourself a Caucasian, lay back on your Persian rug, and get ready to bowl like Jesus.


Ug Funk

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

:: Kung Fu ::

Disco. Exploitation. Disco. Exploitation. Disco. Exploitation. Rinse, lather, repeat. OK, so most of you hep cats know that the whole Disco experience quickly went from music that put some dance in your bones to taking over the world and making it a worse place. Don't get me wrong, Disco Defenders, I have a deep affinity for many Disco tunes. It's just that it got way out of control rather quickly. Disco got its start in the early 70's, and it didn't really die until sometime around 1981. Lady Disco, not only did you overstay your welcome long enough that we started to see your wrinkles, but we also had to see your liver spots and false teeth.

This single came out in 1973, which means that this goofy blend of funk, disco and martial arts grunting and sound effects was a very early exploitation of the genre. In fact, it was probably intended as funk. But one listen and you'll recognize this as the same type of Disco they used as TV detective show opening theme music. The more imaginative among you might have already pictured the show in your mind's eye as you listened. I see a ridiculously long Fu Manchu beard on a guy wearing an earth tone corduroy suit, chasing a perp down an alley and eventually leaping exaggeratedly high over some trash cans like an avenging monkey. They would freeze frame this shot and the actor's name and character would be displayed. Shit, where was I? Oh yeah -- I think this song is an early example of exploitative Disco. And hey, look! It was co-written by Neil Bogart, a man who rammed more than a little bit of Disco down our throats in the 70's. Neil honed his skills of marketing trendy pap at Buddah with many of the scads of Bubblegum bands. It seems like at this point, he had moved on to funkier pastures. Later on, he formed Casablanca Records. Even later on, he died.

The other credited writer on this song is Tony Camillo, who later had a Disco stunner with Bazuka and their criminally funky song "Dynomite." If you listen to both of these songs, you get a fast read on Camillo's style. To top it off, this was recorded by a young Ed Stasium, who went on to much success in the producing and engineering arena. I should mention that Neil, Tony and Ed did do other things together that were more successful, like their involvement in Gladys Knight & The Pips' "Midnight Train To Georgia."

"Hey Tony," you might ask, if you are the kind of person who talks to your monitor while reading blogs, (and I am sure we have a few readers like that), "What about the band, man? The Dragoneers?"

Well, you, I don't know shit about them. I bet they were Buddah house musicians put together just to do this single. I bet some of them were in Bazuka. I wouldn't be surprised if Ed Stasium played guitar. I bet at least three of them had moustaches. Styx-quality moustaches. I bet some of the money they were paid for these sessions was spent on something you can find a lot of in Colombia, which you can snort off a hooker's ass. At any rate, you've heard of them now, and this should now supplant "Kung Fu Fighting" as your favorite martial arts dance tune of all time.


We Do Not Spare The Rodd

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

:: I'm Your Happy, Happy Guy ::

:: Loving You This Way ::

Rodd Keith does it again! Uncle Eddie and Cousin Gracie sent him more of their cheesy, vapid poems, and he once again found a way to transform them into little melodic pop masterpieces. How he managed to do it, day in and day out, without frying his brain on Angel Dust and jumping off a bridge, I’ll never know. Oh, wait, I’m sorry.

Seriously though, once you immerse your auditory senses in the bizarre world of song poems, it becomes immediately apparent that Rodd Keith was brilliant - the King Midas of this sub-genre, with the ability to turn lyrics made of turd into gold. His tunes always shine quite a bit brighter than his colleagues’ cuts, with arrangements that were more complex, eccentric and sometimes insane. He changed his style and voice with each recording, as you’ll hear on these two tunes – he’s the cool, laid back pop singer on “I’m Your Happy, Happy Guy.” On the flip, “Loving You This Way,” he’s the deep-voiced, love-song crooner. I guess what really sets him apart from the rest, aside from being more listen-able, is the personality, enthusiasm and humor he injects into his songs. You get the sense that he was having a lot of fun and had a big smirk on his face while churning out this stuff.


A Call To Exterminate

Monday, August 28, 2006

:: The Beetle-Bomb ::

:: Stomp 'Em Out ::

This here is a novelty record written, recorded and released in 1964 in reaction to the Beatles craze. Of course it's ironic because, try as they might, The Exterminators seem to have been unsuccessful so far at exterminating their subject matter.

"The Beetle-Bomb" was written by Joe Favale and Henry Boye, who (thank goodness) bring some sense of identity to an otherwise anonymous venture. Joe Favale was the founder and lead vocalist of the 50s Doo Wop group The Emotions. Henry Boye was their manager and Joe's songwriting partner. Together they wrote hits like "Echo". Joe still performs with The Emotions on the oldies circuit, and, in the 70s, after he could no longer sell his songs, Henry wrote books like "Selling The Songs You Write". I don't know if Joe Favale is responsible for the Terry Thomas inspired vocal here, but I'd like to think so.

About the b-side, "Stomp 'Em Out"; what is there to say except that it unsuccessfully expands upon the complex musical themes perhaps only hinted upon on the eponymous "Beetle-Bomb". The whimsical, unique use of 1-4-5 chord progressions most certainly did not put Thee Beatles in their place back in thee day. And no doubt, this killer combination of tunes would have stomped out the insidious Beatle menace once and for all, had they not sucked. I could say stuff about the "repellent" nature of the music, or it's "toxic" effect upon the listener, but why be obvious? Beetles are like roaches; mere attempts at genocide often prove ineffective. No amount of DDT could have helped The Exterminators' cause. It was too late.


Oh, You Creepy Little Bears

Friday, August 25, 2006

:: Care Bear Theme (with Robot Feverdream Remix Outro) ::

You remember the Care Bears, right? Man, those things were gayer than Paul Lynde's silkiest ascot. At least that's what people who weren't small children and the parents who nurtured them thought. But that's just the knee-jerk, face value reaction when you first see these overcute cuddlemeisters. Once you learn a little more about them, they go from sub-unicorn ridiculousness to being, well, kinda creepy. I mean, I am sure they were great for the little kids, but to a cynical adult, their dedication to the whole smothering love thing borders on the insane. Plus, they shoot hearts out of their chests, something that I know Mike will never be able to erase from his mind.

So this 45 was a crappy gift from Triaminic, and contains their bubblegummy theme song (or one of their theme songs) as well as a goofy story that consumes 2/3 of the whole slab. Here is side A. It's the theme song, and part one of the insipid tale, which I lovingly screwed with to make it sound as if you're in the fever dream aftermath of downing a whole bottle of the finest Triaminic nectar. Actually, to me it sounds the Butthole Surfers performing an exorcism on Peg Bundy at a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour, but that's just one dude's opinion.


Love Is All Right

Thursday, August 24, 2006

:: Love Is All Right ::

:: The Horse ::

We may often think of the 1960’s as a time of peace, love, and smelly hippies, but it was also the heyday for crazy dancing teens and the dance craze records that propelled their endeavors. The Twist, The Boogaloo, The Shing-a-Ling, The Watusi – dance fads that popped up in cities across America as quick as American Bandstand could bring it to them. In 1968, Cliff Nobles unwittingly joined the fray when he released his single, “Love is All Right” and included an instrumental version on the flip-side and called it, “The Horse,” named for a dance that started up and disappeared quickly in 1960 Chicago. The A-side never caught on, so DJ’s flipped it over and began playing the instrumental track. Biff! Bang! Pow! - the song shot right up to #2 on both the R&B and Pop charts in the summer of ’68 and kids were shakin’ all over doing The Horse again.

“The Horse” was credited to Cliff Nobles & Co., and being as it’s an instrumental, Cliff Nobles and his vocals are notably absent. The Company were uncredited session musicians Bobby Eli, Norman Harris (guitarists), bassist Ronnie Baker, and drummer Earl Young, who later went on to become MFSB for Gamble & Huff’s Sigma Sound Studios. You can find the instrumental on various Funky Dance Hits of the ’60s-type compilations, but I’ve put it up here along with the harder to find a-side. I dig ‘em both, and for the last week I’ve been shakin’ my ass to them as I get dressed in the morning for work. While I don’t know how to “Do the Horse,” I’ve created my own dance moves for the songs, which I like to call, “The Jackass.”


Circus Maximus

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

:: Quick Joey Small (Run, Joey, Run), zipped up and ready to d(own)load ::

And now, yet another follow up to a post I did sometime last year. At that time the album I had written about was the only Kasenetz-Katz music I'd been exposed to, except for a vague recollection of some of their late '60s hits. Thanks to recommendations from readers, I started picking up Ohio Express and 1910 Fruitgum Co. records wherever I could. Then I found this one.

I was stunned at the sight of a 2nd album by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz and their Singing Orchestral Circus (known this time as the Super Circus for added "catchiness"). I bought it without question, knowing it probably sucks. But it doesn't suck, too much.

Beyond the fact these guys had the huevos to release a 2nd album under the Kasenetz-Katz moniker, this record is stuffed with hook laden Bubblegum rock. "Quick Joey Small (Run, Joey, Run)" is a great kicker offer, and is not to be confused with David Geddes' melodramatic hit of a similar title. Next, "Let Me Introduce You (to the Kasenetz-Katz Orchestral Circus)" introduces the concept that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Not. Gotta love the spoken word intro by chief songwriters Joey Levine and Artie Resnick. Fuck yeah!

From there on it's a reliably dumb-ass pop record, until you get to "New York Woman" where the whole thing crosses over into lost Brian Wilson territory. That one's followed by the seemingly innocent sounding "Up In The Air". This song should have been a hit, and if it had been it might have saved America a few decades of misery. Oh the fuck well. Better late than never I guess.

So what the heck, might as well throw the whole album in this time. Too hard to choose. Not that the whole album is great, but there's something for everybody, and then some. So go ahead, indulge. It's impossible to overdose on Kasenetz-Katz.


The Softer Side Of The Satan Lovers

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

:: Lord, Have Mercy (Kyrie) ::

:: Holy, Holy, Holy (Sanctus) ::

:: Lamb Of God (Agnus Dei) ::

:: They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love ::

Hymns done in a Bossa Nova style. By South Side Chicago gang members, and the pastors who love them. There's not a whole lot I can say; the interpretations of three classic hymns on side A sound a hell of a lot like each other, and the song on side B is a pretty tasty little arrangement for Jesus music. And I'd be really surprised if WFMU does not own a copy of this. The back cover explains all you need to know, and yes, the Satan Lovers were an actual south side gang, not some fictional group created to make the record's concept seem more dramatic.

I was Catholic for a year. Well, my mom was going to convert to Catholicism, and part of this process was having me attend a Catholic grade school. It was my fourth grade year, and to really immerse myself in the ways of the Catholics, I became an altar boy. That was actually kind of cool, or at least it was more fun to be involved in the ceremony than just out there in the pews watching it. I got to wear flowing clothes, and it was at the Cathedral of the Epiphany that I poured my first alcoholic drink. I can happily report that I never experienced or saw any of those nasty things that you hear happen between little boys and priests. However, one time, during some special and fancy and extra holy ceremony, myself and a fellow altar boy were seated next to a visiting Bishop, already nervous and watching our every move as not to disappoint his holiness, when the old bastard ripped a fart. One I swear that only the three of us on that padded bench could hear. How I did not rupture an internal organ holding back my laughter is beyond me. Perhaps it was a miracle.


Electric Lovin' From The Philly Oven

Monday, August 21, 2006

:: A Better Song ::

:: Under Candy Bridge ::

:: Another Please ::

:: What We Talk About ::

In the late ‘80s, just prior to the whiney grunge explosion, there existed a great little pop-punk band in the city of Philadelphia, named The Electric Love Muffin. They put out three wonderful albums between 1987 and 1990 before calling it quits. Their first album was a bit more in the punk territory, but by the time of Second Third Time Around, their last album, they’d touched on a broad mixture of music terrains that they pulled together to form a tight sound, sort of in the Soul Asylum/Replacements vein – there are elements of jangle-pop, cow-punk, even a bit of R&B contained in these songs. The record was produced by Joe Nicolo, who at the time was known for his hip-hop productions of Schoolly D and Steady B, and who later formed Ruffhouse Records, which brought the likes of Kriss Kross, Cypress Hill, and the Fugees to the world.

Lead singer Rich Kaufmann went on to provide twangy goodness with alt-country outfit, The Rolling Hayseeds, and put out a solo album, Common Senses, in 2002. E.L.M. reunited for two nights in 2004, along with surviving members of Dead Milkmen, for the memorial shows for Milkmen bassist, Dave Blood.


Wichita Lineman, Continued

Friday, August 18, 2006

:: Mendes' Lineman ::

:: Dudley's Lineman ::

Back in October of last year, we posted 3 versions of the venerable classic, "Wichita Lineman." A reader commented that there are many versions of this song out there, which got me actually going out of my way to look for them. They're not easy to find. There's always the hope, when you look at a pop record from the late 60s / early 70s that it might be included, but rarely does it turn up. The fact that it's not an easy song to sing or arrange might have something to do with it. I imagine many artists passed on it when it was offered, for one thing because it was hard to top the hit version, recorded by Glen Campbell in 1968. Oh man, I love that version. I remember listening to the radio in late '68, hoping to hear one of the new Beatles' songs from the White Album, and getting Wichita at regular intervals. I became addicted.

As our anonymous reader noted, Sergio Mendes' version is killer, and it begs the question: Is this the only version recorded by a female vocalist (and thus sung in the 3rd person)? I hope so. Dave Dudley's version was a happily accidental find. I was trying to suck up as many Dudley records as possible, being totally into his baritone delivery. By the late 60s, Dudley had graduated from trucker anthems to patriotic preemptive swipes in reaction to the anti-war sentiment of the day. Lineman served as filler on one of his albums from that period. Yay.

Don't worry, I'm still on the lookout for more of these and hopefully we'll have more Wichita Linemen on the Robot in the future. In the mean time, please bask in the glory of one of Jimmy Webbs' greatest triumphs once again.


Not For Coarse Palates

Thursday, August 17, 2006

:: Pickled Mushrooms ::

:: Viennese Stuffed Eggs ::

:: Paliscenta ::

Vincent Price was one smooth orator. Listening to him to talk on any subject is gratifying, but hearing him talk about cooking is -- and this isn't a word I use often because I think people would hit me if I did -- splendid.

He was quite the gourmet, and in 1977 he put out this series of audio cookbooks intended to be an international cooking course. Were people's turntables situated close enough to the kitchen for this to be worthwhile? If not, did you have to crank the volume on your living room stereo to previously unacceptable levels just to be able to hear it in the kitchen? Well, it doesn't really matter, because people weren't going to buy this so much because they wanted the recipes; it was all about hearing Vincent, right there like he was dispensing the culinary advice in person. If you were unelegant, and got this series on cassette, it was called Push-button Cookery.

This edition I found sealed, with a price tag still attached from the long-gone Santa Monica department store, Henshey's. That place has been gone so long that the Toys R' Us that was put up in its spot has even been gone for a few years.

Hearing Vincent Price proclaim that he loves mushrooms is strangely comforting, even though I hate mushrooms. According to Vincent, this means I have a coarse palate and am not sophisticated enough to enjoy his appetizer. That's okay, because I am sophisticated enough to say "wash" instead of "warsh." Gotcha that time, Vinny! Anyway, these three recipes for Austro-Hungarian appetizers will warm the aortae and ventricles of anyone who ever loved Vincent Price.

In closing, I'd like to add what will have to pass for my own Vincent Price anecdote. A few years ago when I took the tour of Forrest Ackerman's house, a veritable museum of sci-fi and horror memorabilia, ephemera, and well, junk, there was one item that really stood out to me. In Forry's living room, on a wall near the piano, and in a tiny frame, was a personal check from Vincent Price, written to an upholstering company. I can't remember whether it was cancelled or not, but at some point Forry had added it to his collection. That's weird, right?


Curtin's For Elvis

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

:: It's Now or Never ::

:: Little Darlin ::

So, it was twenty-nine years ago today that The King died on his throne. In reflecting on that, I remembered that every once in awhile at the dinner table while growing up, my father would say to me and my sisters, “Eat your vegetables, kids. If you don’t, you’ll die straining on the toilet like Elvis. Elvis didn’t eat his vegetables.” That morbid pearl of wisdom never did convince me to put a Brussel sprout in my mouth, but it did provide a lasting, imagined visual of what the Big E’s final few sweaty moments on Earth were probably like.

Anyway, in Deathiversary tribute we’ve got this 1978 single of Elvis impersonator, Jim “E” Curtin, recorded at South Philly hotspot, Palumbo’s, before it burnt down in the early ‘90’s. Curtin was an Elvis fanatic, collecting Elvis ephemera and memorabilia until he amassed one of the largest collections in the world. Of course, famed actor and Elvis memorabilia collector, Nicholas Cage still wins for acquiring the ultimate Elvis collectible, if only for a short while – that being Lisa Marie.

But I digress. Curtin was so devoted to Elvis that he had a custom-made Gibson J200 guitar with “Elvis Presley” and two crowns engraved on the fret board, and was able to meet Presley in 1974 to give it to him. This guitar is on display at Graceland, and was one of many gifts that Curtin gave to Elvis over the course of the remaining few years of Presley’s life. You often hear of Elvis bestowing gifts on others, not the other way around.

Anyway, he began doing impersonation shows in Philly-area bars in 1976, and after Elvis strained himself to death and the demand for these types of shows took off, Curtin swiveled his hips into the fray, toured the country, released three albums, and acquired twelve different fan clubs filled with middle-aged housewives eagerly awaiting his next performance to hit town. He also wrote eight books on The King.

On this single, the chatter of the spaghetti-slurping audience while he really belts it out on “It’s Now or Never” and the lackluster backing vocals on “Little Darlin” are some of the little things that lend a hand in making the recording sort of charming in a way. The photo on the cover is cut-off at the bottom, but it looks like Curtin is playing the keyboards - in a karate uniform! Now, that’s entertainment.


Second Cummins

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

:: Sorry Charlie ::

:: Professional Lovemaker ::

:: Sharing The Night Together ::

Aw shoot. It's that time of year again. We must pay tribute to the King. But, because we're a blog mostly about the obscure, it's hard to find anything Elvis ever recorded that isn't available in over 100 countries and selling briskly to this day. So, the obvious choice is a record made by a tribute artist.

When you think about it, a record by a tribute artist is a bit absurd to begin with, but that's where this one is different. Elvis Wade looks like the King, and sounds like the King, but instead of trotting out Don't Be Cruel and Hound Dog, Wade picks up where the King left off. This album, "Introducing: Elvis Wade", is a bit of a "what if?" record. What if Presley had lived? Would he have picked these songs to record? Not likely, but that's ok. You gotta hand it to this guy for trying to do something... original(?).

I figured Wade was another in an almost infinite list of Elvis imitators who made a cheapo record to sell at shows. Boy was I wrong. As it turns out, Elvis Wade is probably one of the most successful fake Elvises out there.

Wade Cummins was a rock singer in Detroit in the late 60s who happened to have a strong resemblance to a certain other, more famous rock singer. One night at a club, some audience members requested an Elvis song, so Cummins gave it his best shot, and took it a bit over the top for comedic effect, but the audience went nuts. Soon, the act was devoted to all Elvis all the time, and they were packing them in. So, while we think of most Elvis imitators having a career after the real Elvis could no longer take his act on the road, Wade Cummins became Elvis Wade in 1968, about 9 years before Presley's death.

Legend has it the real Elvis was told about this fellow who completely nailed his act, and that he attended an Elvis Wade performance in 1976 incognito, and gave him a standing ovation. Not bad.

It was an odd choice then that when Cummins went to record his first album, it was decided they would not use any of Presley's material, instead opting for "All Original Songs", as the cover proclaims. Depends on what you mean by original I guess, but Cummins himself did write "Ain't No Saint" and "Amazing". There are a few songs on the album written by Ava Aldridge, one of them is "Sharing The Night Together", which became a big hit for Dr. Hook. And, although the album is bogged down by too many sappy ballads, it's well produced and Wade does a heck of a job.

But the real story here is that Elvis Wade is still bringing his act to a corporate party, county fair or Indian casino near you. What better way to pay tribute to the King than to see the man the King himself paid tribute to? I honestly don't know the answer to that question.


...And One Ondioline

Monday, August 14, 2006

:: Eleanor Rigby ::

:: Ring Of Sound ::

:: Sign Of The Times ::

:: Walkin' My Cat Named Dog ::

:: The Breeze And I ::

Found for a buck in Sioux City, Iowa. If you ever find yourself there, and like records, you might want to sneak into Uncle John -- they don't have a ton of vinyl, but I certainly was happy with what I found. I am pretty sure I caught my first whiffs of incense at the old Uncle John location on the west side, and lo and behold, the newest home still has that aroma. God bless the glorious history of record store as headshop.

I don't know anything about Charlie Fox, other than what's on the back of this lp. He did some arranging for latin acts, and well, this. The record sounds great, and even though this is basically your usual reworking of hits by a less than cool band, an ondioline chirping alongside alto sax and comingling with 12-string guitars does pull out some very interesting renditions of songs you already know. Eleanor Rigby starts out kind of like Aerosmith's "Dream On," and it may take you a minute to recognize the Petula Clark hit "Sign Of The Times," but overall this is fun stuff, and I can't stop listening to it. Here's the entire first side, including one of two original compositions (one named for the band, one for the album - I guess they didn't spend much time on the titles).


Wright Stuff

Friday, August 11, 2006

:: Fed Up with the Blues ::

Here we have a song sung by deeply unappreciated soul artist, O.V. Wright. It’s the b-side to one of his biggest hit singles, “Eight Men, Four Women,” released on Don Robey’s Backbeat Records in 1967. Overton Vertis Wright had been singing gospel professionally since the age of six, and by his teens he’d made a couple of records with gospel group, The Sunset Travelers, for Robey’s Duke/Peacock label. This gospel background is evident in all of his recordings; his voice is FILLED with the Spirit – raw, emotional and brought forth from the deepest recesses of his soul. Listen to the way he finishes off “Fed Up with the Blues.” That’s some deep, sweet, soulful, soulfulness, folks. Can I get a witness?

Both sides of the single are credited to D. Malone, which was Don Robey’s nom de guerre. (Deadric Malone - names just don’t get any more bad-ass than that.) According to Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music, most of O.V.’s material was written by Roosevelt Jamison and/or Melvin Carter. Robey bought all of the Carter songs for a fee, and then put the D. Malone credit on them and collected all the royalties. So this song was most likely written by Carter.

Roosevelt Jamison was a music scout and songwriter who penned, “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” made popular by Otis Redding, but first recorded by O.V. Wright. Jamison had brought the song to O.V. after hearing him rehearse with a gospel group, The Harmony Echoes, and they decided to use it as a means for a solo crossover bid from the gospel field to commercial success. Goldwax picked it up and released it in late 1964. Only problem was, Wright was still contractually obligated to Robey with The Sunset Travelers, and Robey promptly filed a lawsuit. Goldwax released Wright back to Robey, in exchange for complete rights to the “That’s How Strong My Love Is” single, and Wright continued his solo career for Robey’s R&B label, Backbeat, with Willie Mitchell producing a few of his later albums. He then moved to Mitchell’s Hi Records label in the 70’s. Jamison, undeterred, went on to focus his energies nurturing the career of another unappreciated soul artist who had been singing with Wright in The Harmony Echoes: James Carr.


And Pleasant Vomiting?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

:: Many Happy Hangovers To You ::

As I've written here before, I love Bakersfield style country music. Back in the day, many Bakersfield artists were given showcases with Capitol Records producer Ken Nelson, who churned out country records made far from the meddling influence of Nashville just down the road in Los Angeles. One of Nelson's early artists was western swing pioneer Hank Thompson, who himself could have been an A&R guy for Capitol having discovered the likes of rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson.

While touring, Thompson heard Bakersfield's Melody Ranch Girls featuring bass player Jean Shepard. A pretty lass she was, and she could sing the hell out of a good honky tonk song. So, she was offered a solo deal with Capitol and the Girls... stayed on the Ranch.

Career ups and downs occurred with more downs than ups, yet Capitol stood by her and she recorded a zillion songs on their dime. By the time this record was made, she was experimenting with other producers, and as far as I know, this was one of her first Nashville efforts with staff producer Marvin Hughes.

The liner notes say, "Even a hangover can be happy when Jean Shepard sings about it"., which misses the point, but so what? I wish you, dear reader, many happy hangovers, as I hope for myself.



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

:: Japanese Doll ::

:: Hawaii ::

Ah, Hawaii. I've never been there. And I'm not going there any time soon. I am, however, going on vacation to the next best hot spot destinations, Iowa and Minnesota. So this will be the last post on The Robot until next week. I mean, the other guys are around, but I haven't shown them the excitement of how I put up posts on Blogger, or how to deftly wrangle an FTP program. In fact, I am only taking time to do this post because Phil was worried y'all would have to look at a Chuck Woolery piece every time someone came here. So when we're done here today, go read Crud Crud, Pop Zeus, and Funky 16 Corners, they'll take care of ya until we get back .

This is another one of those records that came out on the 49th State Record Co. imprint. If vocalist Bob Grabeau's baritone were to be a physical movement, it would be a wink. You can practically see him gazing into a woman's eyes from across a lounge, just by hearing his voice. He's smooth. The arrangement and orchestra conducting were handled (a-side and b-side respectively) by Lou Halmy and Danny Gould, both respected members of the Local 47 who did a lifetime of this sort of thing. "Hawaii" sounds like an airline ad, and for all I know, it was. It's pretty run of the mill, except for the sweet whistling bit. The real gem here is "Japanese Doll," which doesn't exactly break any new ground in the ode-to-a-lady-from-the-Far-East department, but is a nicely put together little slice of almost-Elvis nostalgia. Stay cool, and see you in a week.



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

:: The Greatest Love Affair ::

In the past we’ve posted songs sung by TV game show hosts, and in the spirit of continuing that occasional tradition, I give you – the music of Chuck Woolery. Woolery hosted the heinous The Love Connection dating show in the ‘80’s, but he’d actually started out his career in the late ‘60’s as a musician. He hit the U.S. Top 40 briefly in 1968 with his band, The Avant-Garde, and a song called “Naturally Stoned.” I just downloaded that one off of Soulseek, and it isn’t too bad if you like soft, billowy country rock. He followed it up with a handful of solo releases between 1969 and 1971. I believe “The Greatest Love Affair” was originally released in ’69 on Columbia, though my copy is a promo from 1980 on Epic, by which point he was hosting Wheel of Fortune. I hadn’t known until today that he was the original host of that show before Pat Sajak took the helm. I really do gather up bits of trivial minutiae while doing lazy, half-assed research for these little music posts.

If you choose to download, I recommend that you stick with it and listen until the end. I say this because I picked this record up over a year ago, listened to the first incredibly boring minute or so, took it off and chucked it into a box of junk vinyl. Over the weekend, I put it on again and listened to it all the way through. I don’t want to ruin the experience for you by giving anything away, but there’s a bit of a twist and Chuck treats us to a big, soulful payoff beginning around the three-minute mark. And by that I mean this song sucks on a completely different level than how it starts out sucking.