Geeked Out Gershwin

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

:: Rhapsody In Blue ::

:: I Got Rhythm ::

:: Porgy And Bess Introduction And Opening Scene 1/Summertime ::

:: My Man's Gone Now ::

:: It Ain't Necessarily So ::

:: Clara, Clara ::

:: Crown's Killing ::

This album certainly looks innocuous enough; you almost might never expect there to be anything interesting about it at all just by looking at the cover, unless you thought the afroed man on the cover was Dr. Who. Fortunately I had been seriously grooving on Gershon Kingsley's double CD collection God Is A Moog recently, so I knew better than to pass this up.

Side A is mostly eaten up by the famous-to-even-people-who-don't-know-its-name-but-have-seen-a-United-Airlines-Commercial-in-the-last-fifteen-years classical piece, Rhapsody In Blue. The remaining pittance is an extremely short and percussive take on another Gershwin biggie, I Got Rhythm. On these two tracks, Kingsley is accompanied by Leonid Hambro, a Juilliard-trained pianist and avowed athiest who just died last year.

Side B is the real prize. Selections from Porgy & Bess are wrung through Kingsley's wacky Moog mill, with funky ring modulations, spaced-out wave oscillations and analog flutters that give these numbers a decidely non-showtune flavor. Sounds more like the music to an interpretive dance routine on Buck Rogers. I have to admit being pretty unfamiliar with the musical's songs, but I sure like the results here.


Running Off With The Sun City Girls

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

:: Hitman Boy ::

:: My Painted Tomb ::

:: Black Tent ::

:: Trippin' On Krupa ::

:: Helwa Shak ::

With the passing of Sun City Girls drummer Charles Gocher last week, I pulled the album that launched their career off the shelves for a few plays. I picked it up way back in the day because it was on Placebo, the label that spawned JFA and that insane Feederz’ Jesus 7-inch. Those were the days when I busied myself with falling off my skateboard a lot and angering my folks by blaring songs with lyrics about Jesus fucking people in the ass, so I didn’t really “get” the Sun City Girls. By the time I came around and started appreciating their kind of thing, it seemed like they had about 50 releases and it was too daunting a task to dive in. So I didn’t. I know – lame. It’s even lamer when I look at all the Lawrence Welk records on my shelves and see only one SCG release. Ah, well. Here are a couple of tunes off it, from 1984. Maybe it will inspire the uninitiated to delve where I haven’t yet.


Hello Johnny

Monday, February 26, 2007

:: Hello Vietnam ::

:: A Dear John Letter ::

:: Pretty Little Vietnamese ::

Being an ignorant smartass, I figured this record would be a hoot, and it is, just not the way I thought it might be. I'd never heard of Johnny Wright, and when I started researching, I found little about him. Seems he has the same name as some dude who used to manage Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, or some such shit. Finally I found a country guy who was somehow associated with Kitty Wells. I've heard of her. When I read her bio, I found out everything I needed to know about Johnny Wright.

Johnny was half of a singing duo, Johnnie & Jack (a record company had him change the spelling of his name way late in his career), who started out in the late 30s and continued until Jack Anglin's death in the early 60s. They sold themselves as a brother act, although in fact they were brothers in-law, Jack having married Johnnie's sister. The act also included Jack's brother Jim, who sang harmonies and wrote songs. Another secret weapon in the band was Johnnie's wife, Muriel Deason whom he later renamed Kitty Wells. By the early 50s, Kitty was a huge star, which suited Johnnie & Jack fine as they were a family act anyway.

So now it's the mid-60s. Jack's gone and America is changing. Johnnie is now Johnny, but his approach to making country music hasn't changed a whit. Hello Vietnam is the kind of song you'd expect it to be; unquestioningly patriotic in a very sincere, innocent way. I assume that's Kitty Wells singing harmonies, and as far as I can tell, they're together to this day (Kitty would be pushing 90 about now). If Hello Vietnam sounds familiar, maybe that because it was used in the film, Full Metal Jacket. Oh yeah, that's where I've heard it.

And now you know... the rest of the story. Good day!


RIP Charles Gocher

Friday, February 23, 2007

:: JFA - Julie's Song ::

:: Sun City Girls - Caravan ::

:: Mighty Sphincter - Furious Curse ::

Charles Gocher of the Sun City Girls passed away from cancer at the age of 54 this week. I happened to pick up this Placebo Records compilation a few weeks back, which features a track by SCG -- their interpretation of the old standard Caravan. Also included for your aural pleasurementation is a short and frenetic instrumental from skate punk legends JFA. And for vocal lovers of questionable tastes, a track from make-up wearing horror-rock purveyors Mighty Sphincter, a band I'd frankly never checked out because of their ickypoo name. Marilyn Manson must have known about these guys.


Chan, Pao, Chu!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

:: Young A-Go-Go ::

:: Fascinating Hong Kong ::

:: Joy ::

:: Soul Dance ::

Chan Pao Chu, Hong Kong hottie of Sixties Hong Kong cinema, returns to these pages with a 7-inch soundtrack to one of her films, The Miraculous Thief (a.k.a. A Romantic Thief). It contains messy, yet endearing, girl group renditions of both The Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” and Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).” The Movie-Fan Princess site has the lowdown on the slapstick comedy, where we learn that Chan and her girlfriends use the Lennon-McCartney hit, here titled, “Joy,” to distract prison guards and make their escape from jail. The site also contains a link to a clip from the film of the girls performing, “Young A-Go-Go,” while night-clubbers look to be doing something similar to “dancing.” All of this fine music swirls around a plot involving a pair of drag-queen jewel thieves and a crime-fighting duo containing a 7-foot tall cop and his midget partner. This is no mere movie, folks; this appears to be Cinema.


Get Your Jet Ear Ready

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

:: Frank Virtue And The Virtues - Guitar Boogie Shuffle (zipped) ::

- Frank Virtue bio from Wikipedia - translated (Dutch to English)

"Frank Virtue were on 21 January 1927 born in Philadelphia. Its family was of drawer Bruzzi original in Italy and changes their family name to ' Virtue ' then them in the United States arrived. Franc grew up with the music of 1930s and 40s such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Harry James, Duke Ellington and Woody Herman. He started with violin quench but chose on 15 person whose birthday it is age for jet ear. He learned play traditionally jet ear of Mr. Torrelli, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Franc studied school for boys ' on ' thomas Jr. high ' the ' Southern, ' Temple Univerisity ' and then he during the second world war at the Navy ended up was he part of the Regular Navy dance link in Bainbridge (MD), of which he later also the LEADER became. There came he also Arthur Smith against, a country gitarist who was about six years parent. When its father to cancer was operated, he had leave the service because he was the only breadwinner in the family. The economic climate and is circumstances ensured that it remained tijdje quiet. Also lost the large piglet link as a result of the bad economy their legitimacy. In the postwar period he started the Virtuoso trio with itself on bass and jet ear, Ralph Frederico on piano, and Steve Rossi on jet ear. In the middle of vijftiger years they had built a rather existence with fixed performances around Philadelphia and the area at north of this city, to even reputation on radio and TV, general to Canada and enjoy them, also they played link for zangers sometimes as a backup such as Patti page, Rosemary Clooney, Dick Haymes and June Christy, and worked with artists from the jazzscene such as Charlie Ventura. In the meantime by it Rock & Roll revolution took place with its origin in Philadelphia, Bill Haley & His Comets where also frank its advantage participated. In 1958, they prerecording new arrangement of Arthur Smith's "Guitar Boogie," with the title "Guitar Boogie Shuffle," where they used new priorities and the county & western image of the boogie woogie bent more to Rock & Roll. With Virtue on the lead jet ear, Gibson L5 "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" became of most most known instrumentaaltjes of that era. As booklet music the number has sold complete well and nearly all large gitaristen it, or something have played similar made. The single appeared on the Hunt label H-324 and was the first under the new name The Virtues. Although it a number 5 hit became, the Virtues became not really of it realm because this way the plates put business in those years in each other. With regard to the trio the group had been enlarged with 2 link members. There were a number of agreements with Bill Haley's Comets, namely know; five blanken that parent was then the average Rock & Roll link from that period, and considerably informal and with much laugh their music played. When frank Virtue entirely added themselves in 1962, on producing in its Virtue Recording studios The Virtues were dissolved. There he had success with * "Yes, I'm Ready", Barbara Mason, * "Boogaloo down Broadway", The Fantastic Johnny c, * "The Horse", Cliff Nobles & co. * "Hey There, Lonely Girl", Eddie Holman. Frank was the prerecording LEADER at these hits. Later Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were the most important producers at Virtue's studio."

I was literally talked into buying this record by a seller at the Pasadena Record Swap Meet a couple of months ago. There's this one old guy, I think he lives out in the desert somewhere. He doesn't have a store or anything, but he's got this massive collection, and he's always at that swap meet. I bought a couple of 78s from him the other time I was there, and this time he approached me and engaged me in conversation. I didn't feel like I was being given a "sales job", instead it was a sincere discussion of "what do you like?". I probably said something like, "Interesting old stuff I've never heard".

He brought out a few old records, and played them on an old record player*, probably with a 78 needle. This particular God damn thing sounded great, so I bought it. I didn't want to argue its merits with the guy. His price seemed fair, so I went for it. As far as grading the record; it's in *good* condition. The cover's split, but it looks good. And the record is worn, as if it had been played on an Elementary School record player with a 78 needle for many years. But lovingly.

Release your jet ear and enjoy.

*Some kind of thing you'd find in an Elementary School in the 60s.


Shift Your Pitch

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

:: Strange To Your Ears [20 Sounds] ::

:: Strange To Your Ears excerpt [backwards speech, triangle, chicks, pin] ::

Here's a little slice of audio experimentalism from the 1950's. Jim Fassett was a musical director for CBS Radio in New York City, and in his spare time (using the equipment available to him) began to mess with common every day sounds by altering their pitch dramatically. Magnetic tape was a relatively new media, and it allowed Fassett to conduct mad audio science that was previously impossible. Even with the more malleable format, the work was painstaking and utilized up to three tape machines to do even the most simple reworkings. Much of this work involved using the two speeds of tape machine, one twice as fast as the other. He introduced an intermission program, entitled Strange To Your Ears, that was played during Sunday broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic.

This is the album form of some of his audio wizardry. Trust me when I tell you that this had to have sounded really otherworldly at the time. We've all heard things backwards and sped up and run through effects, in fact most of us can do it ourselves on our computer. But 50 odd years ago, this was some pretty weird shit. Guided by Fassett's calm and dignified voice, this commercial venture into concrete music is still an interesting listen. My copy turned out to be a white label promo, with an typed insert of instructions on Columbia Records stationery for a radio program, including a list of what the 20 mystery sounds really are, and intentional bad guesses by the DJ.

Fassett did another piece of work, which I am anxious to hear, where he used pieced-together fragments of field recordings of birdsongs to create a symphony. Some of this eerie bird-sound-fuckery is included on this album, but unfortunately there's a gnarly skip on my copy that prevents me from sharing that portion. Instead, here's the 20 altered sounds, and an excerpt where he talks about backwards recording and pitch changes.


Gee Wally

Monday, February 19, 2007

:: Wal-ly, Wal-ly ::

:: Say Wally ::

:: Wally Rap ::

:: America, Why I Love Her ::

Do all of you God-fearing patriots remember Wally George? The right-wing buffoon’s primitively low-budget talk show, Hot Seat, littered late-night UHF channels across the country during the Reagan era, to the hoots and hollers of his audience of college-aged jackasses. Broadcast out of conservative Orange County’s KDOC, usually a haven for Hawaii Five-O and Rockford Files reruns, Hot Seat made a point of parading in low-rent guests for Wally to shout at for a few minutes and then kick off the show, usually dragged off by security guards dressed in California Highway Patrol costume. The staple of guests included El Duce of The Mentors, strippers, and female mud-wrestlers, the latter of which would usually end the show by pulling Wally into their mud tub after he’d called them “Bimbos” one too many times. I’ll admit, as a teenager, this was “must-see tee-vee.” Anyway, at the height of his popularity in 1984, Rhino Records put out this 4-song EP packed with Wally’s blunt, cornball idiocy and I can’t help but love it for how stupid it is.


Mega Hurts

Friday, February 16, 2007

:: 01 Water Is The Window ::

:: 02 Sitcom ::

:: 03 Little More Time ::

:: 04 The American Dreamer ::

:: 05 On The Roof ::

:: 06 Radio ::

:: 07 Danskin Danceking Demons ::

:: 08 The Last Rainbow ::

:: 09 Gizmo Su ::

This was one of those homemade albums I simply had to take a chance on. Self released in 1981, this Voltz character recorded the album in his bedroom, utilizing Drum Drops because real drums would've caused a horrible racket and Larry's Mom would have gotten totally pissed. On the one hand, this is a very impressive effort. He obviously put a lot of work into it in an age before Protools put magnetic tape manufacturers out of business. On the other hand, this is some real pompous over the top weird shit.

Sample lyrics:
"It's good for the land and we'll relieve all this commotion
Our nuclear plants can sail upon the ocean
a novel idea they're such clever sharks
I think I see a killer whale glowing in the dark"
(from "Sitcom")

At least that sort of makes sense. I couldn't pick up on the lyrics while listening to the album, so I finally forced myself to read the lyrics printed on the back. I still can't pick up on the lyrics and I don't want to. He seems to be upset over environmental issues and stuff like credit cards and bad TV. Who isn't?

In any case, this is a very ambitious effort, and one can't help but wonder if Larry ever found the inspiration and wherewithal to make another album. Hmmm?


You Might See A Horse Race In The Moonlight

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

:: JKD ::

:: Parting/Ballad Of Bruce Lee ::

:: Sometimes ::

:: Pointing Finger ::

:: Let's Go For A Walk ::

:: This Boy ::

:: Sittin Around ::

:: We've Got A Lot Of World To See ::

:: This Is The Good Time ::

What did I get you for Valentines Day, my pretties? Perhaps some hot romantic grooves to get you in the mood for some tongue fu? Of course fucking not. Instead, please enjoy a 1975 album by the younger brother of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Parts of this album are heartfelt tributes to the Little Dragon and his martial arts discipline, JKD ("The art of the intercepting fist"), parts are borderline boogie rock. And there's the obligatory Beatles cover (This Boy.) My favorite track is probably Pointing Finger; it's got a killer music box intro that I would totally sample if I were a rapper, and some hot kung flute pipin'. The spidery acoustic guitar intro that connects Parting, a poem Bruce left behind, with the Ballad of Bruce Lee is so Lindsey Buckingham that it almost made me do coke off an old silk scarf.

All in all, this is a pretty interesting little album. They had two sealed copies of this at Record Surplus, I have to wonder who ended up with the other one. Happy JKDVD!


Tiny Bradshaw

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

:: Powder Puff ::

:: Ping Pong ::

Tiny Bradshaw was a swing band leader in the 30s and 40s who helped usher in rhythm and blues in the 50s. Recording for the King label in the late 40s/early 50s, he released a string of singles that helped define jump blues and set the stage for rock & roll. One of Bradshaw's big hits was "Train Kept A-Rollin'", which of course was later recorded by the Yardbirds and Aerosmith, among others.

This record came out late in 1953, and "Ping Pong" became a signature song for Bradshaw and his sax player Sil Austin. The innovative use of echo gives the record a unique flavor, and it probably sounded like all hell breaking loose back in 1953. About a year later, Bradshaw suffered a major stroke, and spent the next couple of years recuperating in Florida. In 1958 he slowly returned to leading his band, and made another record for King trying to tap into the teenage rock & roll market that had sprung up since his forced retirement. The record flopped and Tiny returned to his home town of Cincinnati where he passed away at the age of 53.

I'm gonna buy me some more Tiny Bradshaw records if I can find 'em. Gooood stuff.


The Quinn Of Second Guessing

Monday, February 12, 2007

:: In My Own Way ::

:: What Is Love? ::

:: I Love You, You Love Me ::

:: Love Is A Headache ::

:: Ask ::

Since Valentine’s Day approaches, let’s take a listen to some of the ruminations on love that Anthony Quinn bestowed on us back in 1969. The idea for the album was born of drunkenness at a New Year’s Eve party that Quinn threw, according to composer Harold Spina’s liner notes. After much drinking of sparkling burgundy, the party animals decided to greet the first sunrise of the new year with Quinn reading verses from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, while his tanked guests hummed along. At some point during all this merry-making, Quinn remarked, “Why don’t we record this?” Spina, in a moment of clarity, responded, “Can the world stand it?”

That question went happily unanswered for a few years until, in 1967, Spina and Quinn teamed up to record a single for Capitol Records, “I Love You, You Love Me” (no relation to Barney, the purple dinosaur’s hit of the same name). It became a hit in France, leading Spina and Quinn to believe that the world could indeed stand it, so they recorded an album’s worth of Quinn’s love odes. As this idea seemed a good one while drunk, it might also be a bit easier for the world to stand it if it were equally as intoxicated while listening.



Friday, February 09, 2007

:: Oily Boyd ::

:: Pixie Pipes Parade ::

:: Sweepy Time ::

:: Rub-A-Dub ::

:: Chinatown Bricklayer ::

:: Adios Castanets ::

:: Latin Hardware ::

:: Spring, Sprang, Sprung ::

:: Makin' Tracks ::

:: An Old Saw ::

:: Basket Weaving ::

:: Foggy Recollections ::

If you've ever heard Tennessee Ernie Ford's biggest hit, Sixteen Tons, you've heard Jack Fascinato. He worked with Ernie a lot at Capitol in the 50's. He also did musical duty on Kukla, Fran & Ollie before that. He did some commercial jingles, too (a lot of that going around this week on the Robot, no?), and even the theme to the short-lived Hot Wheels cartoon. But probably the most entertaining thing he was ever a part of was this here album. I didn't realize this was a fairly sought-after space age pop album when I bought it, but no one who writes for the Robot would ever pass up an album of songs that includes the use of various tools, junk, and building materials to complement the music. The liner note lowdown can be found here, so that you might see just what funky items are being utilized on each track.

This is yet another album I can't believe has never been reissued, although at least one track (Spring, Sprang, Sprung) can be found in the essential-for-space-agers Ultra Lounge series. Foggy Recollections is amazing. Just about the only chink in this album's armor is that I am pretty sure the title Latin Hardware has appeared on the marquee of the TomKat Theater. Aw hell, most of these could be porn titles. I am glad I can give y'all a listen of this; perfect Friday music to send you jetsetting into your weekend.


Even Welker

Thursday, February 08, 2007

:: Love is Blue ::

:: We Can Fly ::

:: Goin' Out of My Head ::

:: Talk to the Animals ::

:: Can't Take My Eyes Off You ::

:: Green Tambourine ::

:: Watch What Happens ::

:: Spooky ::

:: Am I That Easy to Forget ::

:: The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener ::

It’s been some time since Lawrence Welk made an appearance on these pages, so I thought we’d get back on track by featuring his seminal 1968 LP, Love is Blue. Though it never became a big seller, Love is Blue has been influential since the day it was released. Euphorically received in Japan, it was praised by the press and championed by top musicians. Paul McCartney went so far as to say, “I’ve often played Love is Blue and cried. I love the orchestra…the arrangements…it sends shivers up me spine.” Beatles producer George Martin stated that, “Without Love is Blue, The White Album would never have happened…The White Album was an attempt to equal Love is Blue.” Bob Dylan gushed when speaking of Welk’s talents: “That ear – I mean, Jesus, he’s got to will that to the Smithsonian.” Upon listening to the album for the first time, John Lydon enthused, “Lawrence Welk is a cunt.

Due to such laudatory praise, I can not and will not break up the sequencing of this tour de force. Instead, I offer it up whole for your auditory gratification.


Technical Difficulties

Well, we're having some issues this morning getting all of the pieces of Phil's article for posting, so I thought I might quickly plug a few blogs that were new to me and worth checking out if you already haven't. First off, because I am part Dutch -- from the Netherlands: Wiel's Time Capsule. He digs up very interesting things with regularity and tends toward the full-album side of sharity. I also have to admit that was the first place I saw the Snap web-preview thing that we're now utilizing here on the Robot. Another interesting visit is Peter Nidzgorksi's Nevver, where an image and a song are paired to great effect. The friends I've directed there have been rather effusive in their praise of the site, so check it out. And for your obscure garage fix, you simply have to check out Garage Hangover, a site so chock-full of goodies that the first night I discovered it I downloaded 138 mp3's. Awesome.

Some blogs that aren't new to us, but always keep us happy are: Crud Crud, Office Naps, Waxidermy, Funky 16 Corners and Post Punk Junk. And for (usually) newer stuff, Pop Zeus is the place to be entertained by more than just the music. So make like a golfer and hit the links.

Hopefully we'll be hitting you with an armful of Lawrence Welk later today.


The Freberg Follies

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

:: John And Marsha ::

:: The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise ::

:: Try ::

:: I've Got You Under My Skin ::

Here's news: I've always loved records, and some of the earliest records I loved were comedy records, probably because they made me laugh (duh). An Aunt and Uncle had a Stan Freberg album, and I loved to listen to "John and Marsha". Even when I was very young I understood what was going on. It was a soap opera, with all the twists and turns of melodrama, yet the only words spoken were John saying "Marsha", and Marsha saying "John". Genius!

Freberg was basically just that, and his association with Capitol Records in the early 50s afforded him the opportunity to do parodies of recording artists of the day, while utilizing the talents of Capitol's stable of studio musicians, arrangers and producers, all to great effect. Everyone from Lawrence Welk to Elvis Presley got the Freberg treatment, and in the case of Johnnie Ray, whose "Cry" was parodied on this EP ("Try"), he was none too happy with the unflattering results. Freberg was dead on though, and his contempt for rock & roll and much of the pop culture of the day was thinly veiled, at best.

Freberg was given a radio show in the mid-50s, but it didn't work out because he wouldn't allow himself to be sponsored by tobacco or liquor companies, and his spoofs of other advertisers flew in the face of his network bosses. Later, in the 60s he got into the advertising game himself, creating ads for Contadina Tomato Paste and Sunsweet Prunes, and in the 80s he produced ads for the Encyclopedia Britannica employing his teenage son who was obviously a chip off the old block.

I chose to ignore Freberg in my later record collecting years, thinking his work would be quirkily annoying, or just plain corny, until I found this EP and decided to revisit John and Marsha. I'm glad I did because, all these years later it's still funny. Or at least it is to the 5 year old in me.


Film School

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

:: The Longest Way ::

Some time in 2005, I downloaded an mp3 from Insound or somewhere like that, of a band called Film School, who I'd heard before from some Epitonic stalking I'd done a few years before. The mp3 was Harmed and it instantly became my favorite song. I wanted to get the album right away. But it wasn't due out for some ridiculous (to me, the rabid) amount of months. A little later on I learned that Harmed was to be a 7", so I snatched that up posthaste. Even the b-side was delicious.

Eventually in 2006, the full length album came out, and it became my favorite album of that year. Maybe of the last 2 or 3 years, judging by the fact that I will actually sit down and listen to it all the way through, something I rarely ever do in these days of the constant shuffle. I'm only putting up the non-album b-side because I really want you to spend your money on them. This song is a lot more subdued than the album, but there's the hints of what they're about even at this quiet pace. So forgive my quick sidestep into current times, and if you like this song, there's plenty more goodness on the album.



Monday, February 05, 2007

:: I Don't Mind ::

:: Wild Weekend ::

:: Right Side of My Mind ::

I’ve been playing nothing but Teengenerate for the last couple of days and lovin’ every minute of it. I’m a babe, sucking on the tit of rock ‘n’ roll purity. I’ve ensconced myself firmly in their discography again, and it’s just as I remembered it: fast, hard, dirty and excellent. It’s difficult to say which one is the best, but today, for me, at this moment, it’s this one. Put out by Dionysus Record in 1994, it’s got two blistering covers - “Wild Weekend” (The Zeros) and “Right Side of My Mind” (The Angry Samoans) – and an equally ferocious original, “I Don’t Mind.” My soul feeds off of the type of electric violence that Fink, Fifi, Sammy and Suck were able to churn out here. But I guess it’s not for everyone. The other day I was in my car, stopped at a red light. “Wild Weekend” was thrashing loudly from my speakers as a prissy little man crossed the street in front of my car. He heard the music, jumped back theatrically, scowled, and flashed me the peace sign. I responded with my middle finger, ‘cause that’s the proper ROCK N ROLL reaction, man.


Da Bearsss

Friday, February 02, 2007

:: Together ::

Simon & Garfunkel. Hall & Oates. Loggins & Messina. Payton & Perry. Yes, if one of those doesn’t belong — and Loggins & Messina comes awfully darn close — it would have to be the last pair in this cavalcade of male duo singing teams. But in 1986, the same year the Chicago Bears went on to their last success in Super Bowl XX, Bears running back Walter Payton and defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry teamed up for an ill-fated rap 12” single simply titled “Together.”

If you thought “The Super Bowl Shuffle" was stiff and clunky, “Together” — written by four Evanston, Illinois teens — makes it sound like “Rapper’s Delight.” Payton, with a reedy voice that belies his slick player looks and the monosyllabic “Fridge” gamely wade through nearly six minutes of earnest-but-clumsy “uplifting” lyrics —

So be a part of our team
Watch everyone win
Keepin’ prejudice out
And friendship in
Bringin’ pride to the nation
And joy to the world
Find yourself joined with others
Like a string of pearls

— that are bridged by a sappy female chorus over something that sounds like an early Casio keyboard preset. There’s a weird “Hands Across America” motif going through the song (holding hands, locking hands, uniting hands— okay fellas, we get it) and a horrible sax solo over which we hear Payton’s vocal being scratched “To-to-to-to-to-to-together.” It’s not as unendurable as the “Ickey Shuffle” a few years later, but “Together” should be enough to put a moratorium on sports figures crossing over into popular — or given the muted reception to this single — unpopular music.

Payton, who held the NFL record for rushing yards until it was broken by Emmitt Smith in 2002, retired two years later in 1988 and died of a rare liver ailment that turned to cancer in 1999. “The Fridge,” however, is still kicking. Celebrated in rap songs by The Fat Boys and Roq-in’ Zoo and a one-time participant in WrestleMania 2, Perry was immortalized as a G.I. Joe figure (as a Physical Training Instructor, natch) in 1986, with his weapon being a black football affixed to a chain. More recently, however, “The Fridge” has had it rough. He competed in a Nathan’s Hot Dog eating challenge (in which he dropped out) and in 2002, well above the weight he retired at in 1994, was defeated by gangly African basketball star Manute Bol in a televised charity boxing match.

This goes out to Friend Of The Robot Kevin, who’s been waiting for this weekend for 21 years. Undoubtedly, he’ll be playing this rap number at maximum volume all day long on Sunday (and chanting the lyric “Please don’t turn to drugs/’Cause the answer ain’t dope”) until he tumbles into his stereo in a blissful Old Style haze.


Can You Take Two Pianists At Once?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

:: I'll Never Say Goodbye, Theme From The Universal Picture The Promise ::

:: Home Again ::

:: Ski Fever ::

My fascination with Ferrante & Teicher albums is probably something I shouldn't be announcing to the world, but maybe it just shows how damn macho I am to feel so free in doing so. Or maybe there's a dormant Wayland Flowers & Madame just waiting to fly out of me faster than a Paul Lynde center square one-liner. Whatever; their albums always cost about a dollar (so owning them all would cost about $300...), and I always look forward to the one or two originals that always pepper their post-sixties releases.

This could be the schmaltziest, wimpiest selection of covers they possibly could have laced together, and that's saying something. I wouldn't have subjected you to any of the sugary romantic 70's movie themes, except for the fact that the cymbal work during the brief uptempo portion of "I'll Never Say Goodbye" sounds like two hissing hairdressers having a scissor fight, and must be heard by others, lest I go insane. I've also posted the two originals from these intrepid tinklers, including the frenetic little number that seduced me into buying this with its title, "Ski Fever," which may as well have been entitled "Chasing Each Other Around The House Playing Grab-Ass Dressed Only In Towels Fever." Yes, it's that good.