Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Monday, April 30, 2007

:: Lesbian Seagull ::

One criteria I use in selecting a record album is a quick look at the song titles. This gives a clue about the quality of the songwriting, and depending on how good or bad the song titles are, I might just decide to take a chance on it. Other times, doing the song title scan can pay dividends when you find something you've been looking for, or maybe just a song you've heard about but haven't yet heard. I don't know that I would have picked up Gay Name Game by Tom Wilson if it didn't have a song called Lesbian Seagull on it.

We all remember when Mr. Van Driessen was mauled by a bear during a campfire rendition of the song in Beavis and Butthead Do America, and of course Engelbert Humperdinck's take of the song during the closing credits. I never knew anything about the origins of the song. If anything I probably assumed it was written for the movie, but here it is as sung by its author in 1979. Good stuff.


I (You) Probably Won't Get Into This

Friday, April 27, 2007

:: I (You) Can Dance All By My (Your) Self ::

Rule #1 in titling a song that you have chart aspirations for should probably be to not make it so fucking convoluted and non-sensical that no one would ever want to have it leave their own lips. If you are Sun 0))) or Harry Pussy or Bottleskup Flenkenkenmike, and you know the Billboard Hot 100 is somewhere you'll never hang your hat, you can call a song anything you want. Shit, you could make up your own language. So yeah, I bought this 45 because I simply couldn't believe anyone would actually give a song a title like this.

I love the opening of the song, probably because it sounds like something I would sing if I were to improvise a ridiculous disco song on the spot. I absolutely love genre music where they have to get into the genre right off the bat. It's sorta catchy, but mostly it's that late 70's white people disco music that people like you and I would never admit to liking. There's also some superfluous guitar work where the pedal was definitely dialed in to the LA STUDIO setting.

So who are Dalton & Dubarri? Well, they aren't importers of fine distilled spirits like they sound like they might be. Gary Dalton is a bassist/guitarist/vocalist/clarinetist, and Kent Dubarri a percussionist/vocalist. Kind of makes you wonder if Dalton really needed Dubarri. They put out some albums in the early 70's and opened for some heavies like Boz Scaggs, the Doobies, and even the Beach Boys; but as so often was the case, they never found fame of their own. This tune is from what I have to assume was their swan song. I don't know if they were disco-ish before (I'm guessing they sounded more like Seals & Crofts), but going disco in 1979 sure smacks of a last desperate stab at the charts. And I challenge you to find any clarinet in this recording.



Thursday, April 26, 2007

:: Time Out For Tears ::

:: I've Got The Blues ::

:: The Love Trip ::

:: The Lies That You Told Me ::

:: Bonnie & The Treasures - Home Of The Brave ::

What do toe-tapper Fred Astaire, madman Phil Spector and song poem maestro Rodd Keith have in common? Not a whole hell of a lot, but they can be somewhat linked together by an obscure session singer named Charlotte Ann Matheny.

Charlotte lived a few blocks away from the Santa Monica and Vine intersection in Hollywood during the sixties, making her readily accessible at Stan Ross and David Gold’s legendary Gold Star Studios, home to the infamous “Wall of Sound” (and now home to a strip mall where this contributor likes to scarf down cheesesteaks each week). Producer Al Hazan was asked by Ross to show his friends how a record was made, and Hazan enlisted Charlotte to do the vocals on a song he penned called “Daydreams.” The master tape belonged to Hazan to do whatever he wanted with afterwards, so he took it to Fred Astaire’s Ava Records. The Ava execs liked it so much they signed Hazan on as an A&R man, and released the song on a single, christening Charlotte with a name from Gone with the Wind: Charlotte O’Hara. Those execs apparently didn’t “give a damn” about Charlotte, because she wasn’t offered anything further.

A few years later in 1965, Phil Spector protégé Jerry Riopelle chose Charlotte to sing lead vocals on Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Home of the Brave.” The song was credited to Bonnie & The Treasures and released on Spector’s Phi-Dan Records. Incredibly loyal to the Spector sound, the song is gorgeous and has our heroine stirring up emotions by passionately pleading for a young boy’s right to attend school with long hair. Those Beatle haircuts sure caused a shitstorm back then. At the same time, Capitol Records released a different version of the same song by Jody Miller. Both singles entered the Billboard Hot 100 the same week: Bonnie & The Treasures peaked at #77; Jody Miller’s climbed to #25. Thus, anyone who remembers the song usually remembers Miller’s version. While I don’t have a copy of the record (yet), the song was included on an out-of-print cd called, “Poodle Skirts and Poni-tails Vol.1.” I’m breaking from our vinyl-only tradition and posting it, if only to provide Charlotte a little justice and offset the song poem selections.

So yes, in 1967 Charlotte began working for the Preview and MSR labels under lead artist and producer for the two imprints, Rodd Keith. There she cut an ample amount of song poem putridity with various “Bonnie” pseudonyms - Bonnie Graham, Bonnie Clive, Bonnie Braye, and with best friend (and Keith’s then-girlfriend) Nita Garfield as “Bonnie and Nita.” Charlotte and Nita eventually got out of the song poem game and became a songwriting team. They penned songs for Bobby Bland and the Jackson 5, among others, before Charlotte succumbed to breast cancer while still in her thirties in 1976. For more info on Charlotte, be sure to check out the excellent Spectropop site, which dedicates six pages to her life and career through remembrances and photographs from people who knew her, and without which I wouldn’t have been able to find a damn thing about her.


Ready To Burn You With Love 'Til You're Sore

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

:: I'm A Love Volcano ::

What can you say about R&B music produced during this particular era? It was all about drum machines and synths and midi, and blatant sex. Walt Tucker and Gary Johnson were a couple of aspiring superstars from Compton, CA who booked some time in a Hawthorne recording studio owned and operated by a guy named Emitt Rhodes. The year was 1983 and Prince was hot, as was Michael Jackson and Rick James. Tucker and Johnson had a formula and a song, co-written by the two of them along with Tucker's mom, novelist Martha Hinton-Tucker.

Wha-wha-what? "I'm A Love Volcano" was written by a couple of dudes and one of the dudes' mom? Yep. Turns out Walter Tucker III is no mere kid from the ghetto. His dad, Walter Tucker Jr. was a prominent dentist, and civic leader, who by the time this record was made had been elected Mayor of Compton. Also by this time Walt III had already graduated from Princeton, then USC with a law degree, then Georgetown with a juris doctor. He passed the bar the year after Love Volcano came out.

So the record stiffed, but it wasn't like Walt Tucker had nothing to fall back on. He was a successful prosecutor working for the DA's office in LA when the elder Mayor Tucker passed away after about 9 years in office. Walt III was elected to succeed the old man the following year. The year after that, Walt ran for congress and won, leaving his brother Kenneth to unsuccessfully run for Mayor.

By all accounts, Tucker made a fine congressman. On top of everything else (including writing sexy songs with his mom), Tucker was an ordained minister, who would often give Sunday morning sermons at his family church in Compton. The fairy tale came to an abrupt end though, when he was convicted of bribery and extortion as the result of a sting operation while he was Mayor of Compton. He served 27 months in prison and is now a church pastor in Illinois.

I couldn't find any information on Gary Johnson, so who knows? Oh, and that recording engineer in Hawthorne, Emitt Rhodes? You gotta wonder what he thought of I'm A Love Volcano...


What The Seventies Sounded Like In 1967

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

:: Freedom! Freedom! ::

:: The Lost Love ::

:: Serious Fun ::

:: Fusion ::

:: Lazy Beauty ::

Here's some frenetic, sort of out-there West Coast Jazz for you. I was sucked in by the cover's semi-psychedelia, and pleasantly surprised by the music. There's not too much info on Tommy Vig on the internet, but he did put out a CD a few years back and seems to have come up with some sort of car rating system. While Vig worked with tons of heavies over the years, the only named I recognized in the credits is the man behind the traps, Shelly Manne.

What I've thrown up here is side 2 of this platter, because it contains a suite Vig wrote in tribute to social scientist Erich Fromm for Stan Kenton's Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra, who actually performed it before this was committed to wax. The first four tracks are the four movements of the suite, and the track Lazy Beauty is unrelated and the album closer. This side was recorded in Vegas, while the first side was recorded in Los Angeles. If I get time, and I suppose more importantly, if anyone shows interest, I'll toss up side 1 later once I get the tracks separated and labeled. It gets almost Zappa weird on that side.


Fully Bonded

Monday, April 23, 2007

:: The James Bond Theme ::

:: Goldfinger ::

:: Dawn Raid on Fort Knox ::

:: Dr. No's Fantasy ::

:: Twisting With James ::

:: From Russia With Love ::

:: The Golden Horn ::

:: Girl Trouble ::

:: Leila Dances ::

:: 007 Theme ::

Thus far, I’ve managed to get through life without ever having seen a James Bond film. Maybe I should try to change that, as I’ll have some extra time in my schedule, not to mention a void to fill in my soul, now that I can’t vote for Sanjaya every Tuesday night. Anyway, I don’t need the films to dig the big, brassy spy music sounds that came out of the Sixties, and The Roland Shaw Orchestra’s Themes from the James Bond Thrillers is one of the better examples that I own.

The UK branch of Decca was London Records and Roland Shaw was one of their leading arrangers during their Phase 4 years. He recorded a lot of spy theme records for them, including three volumes of James Bond Thrillers. This is the first volume, which includes music from the first three films: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger.


Uptight White

Thursday, April 19, 2007

:: Swear With Flair (edit).mp3 ::

Ah, how I long for the innocence of last week. Remember Don Imus?

Randy Newman once said of Lester Maddox: "He may be a fool, but he's our fool". I think what he meant is that while we may not take responsibility for an Adolf Hitler, or a Saddam Hussein or a Kim Jong il, when it comes to a Lester Maddox or a Don Imus for that matter, we have only Americans to blame. You might wonder who listens to Don Imus? Americans.

Yes, it's getting more and more politically correct in here. God knows the '70s were a liberating period in American history. Comedians like Lenny Bruce paved the way for the Richard Pryors, George Carlins and Don Imuses to come. At long last someone could stand in a comedy club and say shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits, as well as any number of derogatory ethnic terms, and the sheer release generated by those words rolling off the tongue so freely and without guilt or embarrassment was, well, liberating to previously uptight (white) Americans.

At the same time, political correctness was beginning to seep in, and Don Imus was there to counteract it. In the mornings, Imus couldn't use any of the 7 forbidden words on his NBC radio show, but in the comedy clubs at night, anything went. Not only could he talk about any subject he chose to talk about, he could talk about that subject using any form of language or vernacular he liked. These days thanks to satellite radio, talkers can bring the late night comedy club to morning radio, and gee, I wouldn't be surprised if Don Imus wound up there, where he can say whatever he wants, and offend whoever might be offended, without fear of consequence. Don Imus may be an asshole, but he's our asshole. Deal with it.


A Kiwi Belter

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

:: One Day ::

:: I Must Have Been Out Of My Mind ::

Have we covered New Zealand yet? Maybe not. So this here ready-for-Vegas crooner is of Maori descent and has very big hair. These numbers are sung a little bit Elvis, a little bit Tom Jones, and almost a little bit Scott Walker. Rowles was already playing Vegas by age 21, and has maintained a steady career in Europe and the Pacific Rim ever since. He was once in a band called The Dingdongers, but I also read that he holds a black belt in Karate, so I won't press that point too much. Speaking of belts, he really likes to belt it out at certain points, and I don't think my soundcard could handle it. It's gonna tickle yer ear hairs.


Please Do Not Insert Don Imus Joke Here

Monday, April 16, 2007

:: You'll Never Go Home ::

:: I Love The Simple Folk ::

Don Ho, who passed away this weekend at age 76, did more for the tourism industry in Hawaii than anything since Diamond Head. By popularizing Hawaiian music, and making it contemporary, while exuding laid back charm and sexuality that proved irresistible to women of a certain age, Ho was a one man chamber of commerce, and Hawaii was glad to have him.

No mere beach bum, Ho had a degree in sociology and became a fighter pilot in the US Air Force. A crash landing convinced him that life was meant to be enjoyed, so he hung up his wings and started working in his parents' night club, Honey's. His dad talked him into playing the organ, which he had picked up during his Air Force stint, and soon he formed a combo and began entertaining the locals. He moved on to the much larger Duke's nightclub in Honolulu and eventually attracted the attention of Reprise Records.

This album was one of his first studio efforts after a couple of live albums launched his recording career. Note the use of the ipu (a traditional Hawaiian percussion instrument made from a gourd) which starts off both of the tracks I selected. "You'll Never Go Home" is an upbeat little number reeking with 60s go-go wackiness, while "I Love The Simple Folk" is a more somber evocation that none the less makes you want to chuck it all for a grass skirt and a diet consisting of poi and Spam. The latter song also serves as a nice way to remember Don Ho himself: A simple guy who helped many people learn to enjoy the simple things in life. He will be missed.


Chunk Of Chamberlain

Friday, April 13, 2007

:: Theme From Dr.Kildare (Three Stars Will Shine Tonight) ::

:: A Kiss to Build a Dream On ::

:: All I Have to Do is Dream ::

:: Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo ::

I spent the ‘60s twinkling in my daddy’s eye, so I never thought of Richard Chamberlain as a teen idol for his starring role on Dr. Kildare. Had I been around, I might’ve known he’d enjoyed a brief stint as a pop star, topping the charts with six songs off of his 1962 debut, Richard Chamberlain Sings, released to capitalize on his television popularity. I became aware of Chamberlain later, when he was getting pissed on in Shōgun and doing his part to usher in an era of bad television mini-series movies. So, when I came across these two singles from that debut album, I was thinking I might be getting some good “golden throat” type celebrity stuff, but surprisingly found the music is pretty good. Well, pretty good in a bland, tame sort of way.

Today we’ve got his most popular hit, “Theme from Dr. Kildare,” which went to number 4 on the US charts that year, and a Louis Armstrong favorite on the b-side, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” Next is a single released the following year in 1963, both sides containing songs whose best known versions were recorded by the Everly Brothers – “All I Have to Do is Dream” and “Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo.” Chamberlain’s versions went to #6 and #18 respectively on the US charts that year.


Ying Ying

Thursday, April 12, 2007

:: Wind And Rain ::

:: About To Get Married ::

:: The Flowers ::

:: Crying For You ::

Well, here we are. You and I. Each of us knowing about the same amount of information about Ying Ying. From looking at the cover photo, she might have been the Cantonese Leslie Gore. But I have no idea, and Lady Internet just isn't putting out tonight. So enjoy these tunes. The first song has a Latin cruise ship vibe. The second is more Oriental. The third ventures into that lovely territory that Dengue Fever recreates so well. You tell me what the fourth one sounds like, since we are in this together.


No, We Will Not Spare You The Rod

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

:: One of those ZIP thingies ::

I would never buy a Rod McKuen record. Never wanted to. Except for the fact this was still sealed and only 3 bucks, I wouldn't have. And it was only after having a long argument with myself that I took it to the cashier, giving it a home after nearly 40 years in vinyl purgatory.

When I first put it on, I wondered how much I could take. The first track was a bit of a hoot, but when the 2nd track began with the same monotonous intonation over cocktail hour string-laden lobotomy music, well, I wondered how much I could take. But the more I listened, the more I felt myself seeping into Rod McKuen's world, and the more I wished I could stay.

But how much of this could I inflict on the Robot world? Y'all had to hear of Rod's sexual exploits on "Church Windows (San Francisco)". But without "Morning (San Francisco)" as a lead-in, you wouldn't get the whole picture. The songs that close out each side of the record ("To Watch The Trains" & "Lonesome Cities") feature Rod's attempts at vocal melodies, and are must haves, especially in contrast to the spoken word selections. But without all the other tracks, their impact is lessened.

Many of you will elect to skip this one, and who can blame you? But, if you're ever alone late at night, dicking around the house and enjoying some mellow libations, it might work for you. Personally, I wish I could have taken a house in Manhattan Beach circa 196?, and had felt such ambivalence toward virtually everything for one summer, only to move on to Paris or Gstaad with some unbelievably hot and detached babe, ultimately wishing I were but a small toe-headed boy waving at trains passing my insignificant mid-western hamlet. Fuck yeah.


Inspired By Woodpecker

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

:: Woody Woodpecker Song ::

:: Oswald the Rabbit Hop ::

:: Woody Woodpecker Waltz ::

:: Woody Woodpecker March ::

:: Chilly Willy the Penguin ::

:: Andy Panda Polka ::

:: Pepito Chickeeto ::

I just picked this up because I saw that it had “Chilly Willy the Penguin” on it, which I haven’t heard since I was a wee lad watching Woody Woodpecker cartoons religiously. As I walked to the register, the cute sneezes interspersed throughout the song came back to me, and I felt all warm and gushy deep down inside where I’m soft and tender, like a woman. I was crushed, CRUSHED, when I arrived home to find that Chilly Willy, along with most of the songs on this 1957 record, were “inspired by” the cartoon characters, rather than being the actual theme songs. Ah, well. It’s still a cool little piece of cartoon history, I guess. I’ve left the “heheheHAHA” at the beginning of each song, so see if you can get through them all without going batshit.


Twangy Guitars

Thursday, April 05, 2007

:: Night Rock ::

:: When The Lights Are Low ::

:: Jivin' At The Savoy ::

:: Diggin' The Blues ::

:: Mambo Boogie ::

:: South Hampton ::

:: Bolero Boogie ::

:: Duck Walk ::

:: Drifting ::

Way back in the day, you could buy albums at the grocery store. Actually, that went on for quite a while, at least into the 80's. I remember my friend Bruce bought an Iron Butterfly record at the IGA once. Weirdo. But back in the 60's there were albums put together quickly, and presumably cheaply, in popular styles on labels like Crown. They were seen more often at supermarkets than record shops; in fact the entire intent may have been to sell them at supermarkets and five and dimes. I'd be curious to know more about that. Anyway, this is one of those albums.

There's no real Billy Boyd (certainly not the dude who played a Hobbit recently) as far as I can tell, but there is, and seemingly has always been, Jerry Cole. A surf/hotrod/rockabilly/studio legend, you've heard his work on The Champs' "Tequila," Pet Sounds, and maybe a million other things. This is one of the million other things, as the twangy guitars of Billy Boyd are really his. Here's a short list of other bands he was "in" (courtesy of his myspace page) at various points: The Scramblers (Cycle Psychos), The Blasters (Sounds of the Drag) and Eddy Wayne (The Ping Pong Sounds of Guitars in Percussion), The Winners, The Hot Rodders, The Deuce Coupes (Shut Downs), The Red Jackets (Surfers Beat) and The Id (The Inner Sounds of the Id). And those are just the anonymous ones. I've seen the dude live (I've got pictures to prove it), and he certainly has some twangy chops.

This album, pieces of which have appeared on rockabilly guitar comps like this one, is completely drenched in reverb. Like everything has reverb on it. For me, it gives it a really eerie nostalgic sound. You know how Stephen King likes to have dead 50's teenagers in letter jackets in his stories? Those undead kids surely listened to music like this.


Little Esther

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

:: Fever ::

:: Try Me ::

Esther Phillips was a majorly talented but ultimately doomed blues belter. Starting out with Johnny Otis in the early 50s as Little Esther, the 15 year old began her journey along the path of record business abuse and heroin comfort. This single was cut during her stint with Atlantic in the mid-60s, and it shows the broad range of material she was capable of. In the '70s she cut an album for the Kudu label called "From A Whisper To A Scream" which included a Gil-Scott Heron song called "Home Is Where The Hatred Is". I haven't heard it, but I sure want to. Basically, this single has whetted my appetite for more. Esther's long time love affair with things that were bad for her finally wound up killing her at age 48.


Please Police Me

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

:: Next to You ::

:: So Lonely ::

:: Truth Hits Everybody ::

:: Walking on the Moon ::

:: Hole in My Life ::

:: Fall Out ::

:: Bring on the Night ::

:: Message in a Bottle ::

:: Bed Too Big Without You ::

:: Peanuts ::

:: Roxanne ::

:: Can't Stand Losing You ::

:: Landlord/ Born in the 50's ::

Is everyone excited for The Police reunion tour this year? I’ve never given a shit about their music, so I look forward to it with the same amount of enthusiasm I employ when checking my testicles for a lump. Still, I figure maybe there’s some folks out there interested in hearing this, a live bootleg of a 1979 appearance in Roslyn, New York’s My Father’s Place, broadcast on radio WLIR. My buddy Richie gave me this in a box of about 50 different 70’s era vinyl bootlegs over a year ago, with the expectation that I’d be making the records into cd’s for him. This one is as far as I got. Sorry, Richie! And this is all I’ve got to offer right now, due to laziness in getting any Record Robot-ing done lately. Sorry, readers!


Play Ball!

Monday, April 02, 2007

:: Introduction: Why Become An Umpire? ::

:: Duckin' The Empties ::

:: Umpiring At A Prison Game ::

:: Satchel Paige ::

:: Bob Feller's Fast Ball ::

:: Umpire's Off-Season Job ::

Well, baseball season is here, and now's as good a time as any to put this up. Mike gave me this a while back, presumably because he knows that I love my baseball as much as I love my music. So what could be better than a record about baseball? Well, lots of things of course. But this is a fairly unique recording, coming several years before Ron Luciano's lighter side of umpiring books. Red once ejected practically the entire White Sox bench in a 1946 Fenway Park episode that grew to legend status over many retellings over the years. This old coot's folky readings will probably not have you laughing as hard as the audience on this record, but how many times do you ever hear the phrase "pecker high"?

Also, this beats out Rare Earth as the least funky thing I know of on Motown. Play Ball! Or something.