Moldy Gold

Friday, March 28, 2008

:: Galveston ::

:: Wichita Lineman ::

:: By The Time I Get To Phoenix ::

I'm sure you can imagine how excited I was when just after having seen Mike complete an impressive run of nine Wichita Lineman covers, I stumbled across another. OK, it wasn't that exciting, but my eyes did light up a little, and I immediately turned to my friend and stuck it in his face. He's a veteran of record stores, and the first thing he noticed was that it was on Marble Arch, so he told me that the vinyl was going to be flimsy. And it is. In fact, the surface noise on this record sounds like sizzling bacon, and I haven't had breakfast. Shit.

I knew immediately this one was one of those godawful budget records, haphazardly thrown together every step of the way. But I love Glen Campbell, and I love bad covers: $2 well spent. When I looked up the Nashville Country Singers, I found a hilarious recounting (with a few song samples) of another piece of their putrid output. Check it out.

The man they chose to sing on this is an odd choice to tackle the songs of Glen Campbell. He kind of reminds me of a flat version of Jack Sheldon or Burl Ives. Even though I have no idea of his age, he sounds like someone's grandfather. And these aren't really grandfatherly tunes, y'know? Yeah, I have to mention the lady on the cover. My guess is that that look on her face is the result of being absolutely stunned by all the Aqua Net they put in her hair.


Danny & Joyce

Monday, March 24, 2008

:: Chinook ::

:: Earth ::

:: The Stars ::

‘Tis Spring, ‘tis Spring! Flying bugs have materialized in my living room to announce it. Ants are making their yearly pilgrimage from the dirt outside and through the walls to my kitchen. Pollen floats in the air directly towards my reddened, itchy eyes and my increasingly sneezy, snotty nose. Hooray! Spring is here!

Let us celebrate with the music of Danny and Joyce, for they knew how to sing out the joys of nature. With songs of the wind, the earth, and the stars, let us commune together and be at one with the universe. And no, let’s not stare at that album cover for too long, because yes, it’s kind of creepy.


More Light Fare

Thursday, March 20, 2008

:: Yellow Submarine ::

:: Over, Under, Sideways, Down ::

:: Sunshine Superman ::

We've covered easy listening heavyweight Enoch Light before, and I am sure we'll cover him again. You remember him, the guy that liked to experiment with stereo separation and record onto 35mm film, with a definite weakness for the Cha Cha and other dances the kids definitely weren't doing.

There are probably no circumstances under which I wouldn't feel that I absolutely had to hear what Mr. Light and easy had done to groovy 60's staples like Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" and the Yardbirds' "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," and the fact that he tackled "Yellow Submarine" makes me quite happy.

It certainly didn't hurt to have the considerable talents of Tony Mottola on these sessions; if this music could be considered to have an "edge" of any kind, his guitar work is it. It's often interesting to hear songs in which vocals play such a huge role turned into instrumentals. Sometimes the horns carry the vocal melody, other times an organ does. In kind of a funny way, these versions sound like they could come from a Beatles movie, in some strange place where adults listen to more palatable renditions of the young peoples music. And no doubt wear monocles and generally dress like the little Monopoly guy.


Die! Die! Die!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

:: Die! Die! Die! - Blue Skies ::

:: High Dependency Unit - Stupormodel ::

Die! Die! Die! is a band us here Robots like very much. Personally, I've seen them 5 times in the last 2 years. Not bad for a band from New Zealand who don't tour the States all that often. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Wilson, the trio is anchored by bassist Lachlan Anderson and drummer Michael Prain. While Anderson and Prain lay down the heavy grooves, Wilson goes nuts, flailing himself around the stage, then moving into the audience, climbing tables, chairs, walls, anything that might get in his way. At one show I saw him scale a ten foot wall and disappear into the night, leaving his guitar to wail on its own.

On the surface they're a punk band, full of youthful abandon and angst, but they go so far as to describe themselves as "blues", and a close listen to the lyrics explains why. Beyond that, there are elements of Gang of Four, Wire, The Fall and other late 70s/early 80s post punk prototypes.

Their new album, Promises, Promises (available in vinyl format!) is highly recommended. The song from this 7", "Blue Skies" is included on the album, but this is an earlier version. The other side of the split, by fellow NZ band High Dependency Unit is called "Stupormodel". A quick look at their myspace site seems to indicate they're not nearly as active as their splitmates, but a new album is promised for next month. I hope you enjoy these tart slices of kiwi.


Floren It

Friday, March 14, 2008

:: Anna ::

This has been a very emotional, painful few days for me. You see, the SXSW festival is occurring right now, and I’m not there. Right about now I should be cracking open another Lone Star tall boy, and having my ears bludgeoned by the 20th band of the day after having quaffed down a tasty Buffalo burger at Casino el Camino. How does one cope? Bacon flavored lollipops just weren’t doing the trick, so I’m doing what any normal person in my mental state would do. That’s right. I’m turning to Myron Floren. The Happy Norwegian gives of himself and asks nothing in return. Myron heals all wounds and repairs broken spirits with each mighty squeeze of his stomach Steinway.

Why, I’ve just listened to his joyful rendition of “Anna” and am now filled with peace and tranquility. No more crying myself to sleep on my pillow! South by South what? It’s too much damn money anyway.


Salinas Is As Keen As It Can Be

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

:: California Suite ::

Fuck New York, and New Yorkers. I mean, just listen to this "Eddie" character. Who would you rather associate with? Eddie or Sammy? I'll take Sammy and L.A. any day of the week. We've got cool cats like Sammy, and hot chicks hanging out with Sammy in a compound in the Hollywood Hills smoking some radical sinsemilla. No wait, that was that other Sammy Davis Jr. record, but anyway, you know what I mean.

Seriously though, I actually love New York and there's simply no way you can compare the two places. Sure you can waste your time at parties bickering back and forth over each place's merits, but why? The way I see it, if you're Sammy Davis Jr., you can afford to maintain residences in both cities, and maybe throw in a little chateau in the south of France somewhere while you're at it. Don't quibble, just enjoy.

Mel Torme wrote California Suite back in the 40s, and we can blame him for inspiring Gordon Jenkins to compose Manhattan Tower (another unnecessary rebuttal?). And I have to remind myself that this suite is not only about Los Angeles, it's about the entire state. San Francisco gets it's due, as does San Diego. But Mel Torme knows that Los Angeles is the center of the universe, and so does Sammy or he wouldn't have sung it, right? But back to this Eddie guy. What an idiot. Apparently he's a screenwriter who uses words like "normalicy"? Faggedaboutit!



Monday, March 10, 2008

:: Half Past A Heartache ::

:: It Takes A Lot Out Of Me ::

:: If The Devil Wants To Talk ::

:: Count Down ::

Famous for a song that may have marked the beginning of trucker music, 1952's "Diesel Smoke," Doye O'Dell's name might not sound familiar to you. Even though I'd heard that song before on a few of the trucker comps I've picked up over the years, I don't think I really paid attention to who performed it. Not only that, but I thought his name was Doyle O'Dell until I later noticed the lack of an "l" on the neck of his guitar.

Mr. O'Dell had one of those Nudie-wearing, TV-show having careers that so many 50's country stars seem to have had, and the songs on this budget label compilation were probably taken from a variety of different sources, some of which no doubt predate the 33rpm LP. Here's a handful of numbers covering a few different styles of country songmanship.


Bee Gees Vs. Dragon!

Friday, March 07, 2008

:: Night Fever ::

:: Shadow Dancing ::

:: Stayin' Alive ::

There's a heavily sequined horse fitted with an open collared silk blanket and mirrored saddle. It died of a cocaine overdose. This is the dead horse I like to beat here on the Robot; its name is Disco. I am constantly finding further evidence that Disco saturated nearly every fiber of popular culture during the late 70's, even though the real movement was far dead by then, and evidently I continue to get some sort of perverse thrill from it.

Finding a symphony orchestra doing up the Disco hits of the Bee Gees isn't exactly novel. That sort of thing has been done before, most famously with Saturday Night Fiedler, and seeing as a great many popular Disco hits had strings and flutes on them, it's a fairly easy transformation. That being said, the mirror balls in my eyes did light up and spin a little when I saw this combination of Carmen Dragon and the Bee Gees.

I'm sure no one needs an introduction to the Bee Gees (although I am sure a lot of people don't realize how solid and different a band they were long before they blew up with the Saturday Night Fever stuff,) but Carmen Dragon isn't a name you hear that often these days. Over his distinguished career he conducted many a famous orchestra (Royal Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl,) won an Academy Award and an Emmy, released over 75 albums, and perhaps most interestingly, begot the owner of one of the most famous moustaches of the Seventies, Daryl Dragon, more commonly known as The Captain (of Captain and Tennille, natch.) He also sired his brother, Dennis, who was in the Surf Punks. Here Carmen and the Glendale Symphony Orchestra teamed up with chest-baring rock act Sabu, featuring Paul Sabu, son of the actor, Sabu. It's very Hollywood in here, ain't it?

So, onto the music. Well, these are pretty interesting treatments, and this was supposedly one of the first, if not the first, direct digital recordings. They're reasonably faithful to the originals, at least on the ones with rock instrument accompaniment, but the arrangements somehow manage to transform these songs into what sounds to me more like marching band or 70's Italian gangster movie music. I guess what I mean to say is that these numbers could have been played on The Love Boat. On the Sabu-less arrangements, things are taken down so many notches that you might not even hear the original. Emotion, for one, puddles along very romantically and when it finally crescendos and becomes recognizable, it sounds straight out of Dr. Zhivago or something. I suppose that's more interesting from a reconstruction standpoint, but it also sucks out all the energy. So I've included the upbeat numbers with funky drumming and bass; now make yo granny dance!


Golden Shower Of Hits From The Unpunk Saints

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

:: Song #3 ::

:: Song #7 ::

:: Song #8 ::

:: Song #16 ::

:: Song #17 ::

:: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep ::

Here’s a few selections off of a recent addition to my slowly expanding sixties Singaporean “Non-Stop Dancing” collection. At least, I think The Saints are from Singapore. They could be Malaysian. It’s hard to tell after some half-hearted Googling of the Internets and the lack of clues on the album. I couldn’t tell you any of the song titles, either, except for their cover of Mac & Katie Kissoon’s 1971 hit, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.” Yeah, I’m filled with information today, but hey we don’t need titles to these golden instrumental hits. We need only flex our feet for tapping to the far out farfisa, fuzz guitar and flutes from these far-eastern funsters. Fuck yeah, folks!


Ed: Some of you clever folks out there surely will recognize one or two of these, no?

Vincent Bell

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

:: Just A Little Kiss ::

:: Caravan ::

:: Baker St. Mystery ::

:: Bye Bye Blues ::

:: Guitar Boogie ::

:: Ebb Tide ::

:: Carioca ::

:: Golden Wild-Flower ::

Regardless of whether or not his name rings an, um...bell, you've certainly heard his guitar. Unless you've never listened to popular music, in which case I am now going to have to ask you nicely to leave. This man is such a part of popular music history that it's surprising to me how little I've heard about him over the years. In fact, the reason I sought out his records wasn't because of his reputation, but because I loved the guitar playing on a Lou Monte live album that I own, and Lou happened to mention his name in between songs. I am not even 100% sure that it was this Vinnie Bell on that album, but I see that this Vinnie played on Lou's "Pepino The Italian Mouse" and "Shaddup You Face," so it follows.

Even a partial list of sessions this man was in on is pretty staggering, and I doubt that a complete list will ever exist because he wasn't always credited. It's not only that Vinnie's a talented guitarist, because clearly he is, but he was a master of making sounds. He pioneered the watery guitar sound, he was doing Wah sounds before there was a proper Wah pedal, he did things that no one else was doing. In addition to that, he also invented gear. He can take credit for both the Electric Sitar and the Bellzouki, an electric Bouzouki-Guitar hybrid. There's a wealth of information and media on his website.

He didn't do a ton of solo work, but there's a handful of albums out there, including an Electric Sitar album that's fairly sought after. He had a hit with "Airport Love Theme," and played on the Godfather and Twin Peaks soundtracks. This album is a run through some standards and other songs that make a good showcase of his guitar work. Here's side A.


Georgia By Way of Nashville

Monday, March 03, 2008

:: Georgia On My Mind ::

I guess I picked this album up because I liked the cover and because I find it hard to resist the wonderful sound quality of early RCA stereo pressings. I don't have much interest in owning any Eddy Arnold records generally because he's not exactly what you would call edgy. If anything he's the exact opposite of edgy. In my world you gotta have some edges, or you might as well live in a padded cell.

Because of this lack of edge and a lot of other factors, Eddy Arnold is one of the biggest selling recording artists of all time. His career began in the 1940s, and his last album came out in 2005. He was managed by Colonel Tom Parker long before Elvis came along, and he's been married to the same woman for 60 some odd years. I gotta hand it to him - not a bad job.

Of course Georgia On My Mind is one of those songs that was recorded by a million different artists. It was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and lyricist Stuart Gorrell about Hoagy's sister Georgia. Although it may have been written about a woman, the song became forever associated with the peach state especially after Ray Charles made it his own in 1960. Eddy Arnold's version was recorded a couple of years before the Genius got hold of it, and although the arrangements are dissimilar, I can hear how Ray may have gotten a bit of inspiration from this version. Or maybe not. In any case, it's always been one of my favorite songs, and this Chet Atkins produced "Nashville Sound" edgeless rendition has done nothing to change my mind.