Enough To Make Even Mike Jolly

Thursday, May 29, 2008

:: A Jolly Theatrical Season ::

Robert Morse and Charles Nelson Reilly were creatures of Broadway whose paths crossed during the stage production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Apparently the two hit it off well enough to want to make this album together, and I was lucky enough to find a copy some 35 years after it first appeared on the shelves.

Their enthusiasm for the material comes through loud and clear, and listening to it now on the 1 year anniversary of Charlie Reilly's death, one is reminded what a great talent he was, and how much he is missed.

Not much else can be said about it. If you're not prone to show tunes (as I'm not), I suggest you have a listen anyway, and I'd be surprised if you didn't like it. Bawdy and broad, this one note joke doesn't get old during almost the entirety of it's nearly 5 minute duration.

If you're wondering who Ira Cook is (he scrawled his name in magic marker on the cover), he was a DJ in LA at KMPC-AM during the 60s. I remember him spinning Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Vicki Carr as I rode with mom to the mall. Ira passed just about a year ago too, and lucky for me, one of my favorite record stores picked up his collection. I bought a ton of his mostly mono demo discs, all in great shape except for his huge autograph which adorns most of the covers. Although I accept the fact dead people were the original owners of a good percentage of my records, I'm glad most of them didn't leave their mark on them quite so prominently.


Go Middle Country

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

:: Classical Gas ::

:: Witchita Lineman ::

:: I Don't Want To Be With Me ::

:: Harper Valley P.T.A. ::

:: Little Green Apples ::

:: Fire Engine Red ::

:: Kansas City ::

Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. Fancy threads like Robert Wagner mighta worn when he was courtin' Natalie Wood, and a double necked lavender gee-tar with a sparklin' gold pick guard that'd a made Prince himself envious. Sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced it enough.

I can't find much info on Vistone or Danny Michaels, but I can tell you that this certainly seems like one of those bargain imprint albums full of the usual covers you'd get in the early 70's. I don't think Vistone was a bargain imprint, however. This album kicks off with a decent bang, a nice little version of Classical Gas that made me think perhaps I'd stumbled across a long forgotten gem of guitar music, but once I hit the tracks with vocals my opinion changed.

Obviously the reason I picked this up is that there's a version of Wichita Lineman (called Witchita Lineman here), and while his singing is not up to the standard that Glen Campbell set, the arrangement is at least interesting (including a super short pedal steel flourish that only makes me wish they'd incorporated more pedal steel.) Every song ends with the same drum part, you'll notice. One kind of funny thing is that on the front cover, this album is called Danny Michaels Goes Middle Country, and on the back cover this album is called Danny Michaels and his Rebel Playboys Go Middle Country. I've tagged these as the latter; just seems more democratic. And what could be more hip and wild than a rebel playboy?? Sometimes you eat the bar, and well, sometimes the bar, it eats you. Here's side two, dude.


This Spells Fun

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

:: The Letter People, A-Z ::

[note from Tony: When I imported these into iTunes, the artist showed up as simply "People," so adjust your tags accordingly]

This record and I go back a ways. No, I wasn't brainwashed by it as a child because by the time this record came out I was busy buying Black Sabbath records. I have been aware of it though for about 15 years now, and the story of how I became aware of it goes a long way toward explaining my rather odd tastes in music.

Way back in the early 90s, my friend Alec was working in an art framing shop in Venice, CA. Some of his coworkers would bring in mixtapes, and according to Alec, working in that shop and listening to the wide and varied musical offerings brought in by these wacky artist types served to broaden Alec's musical tastes in a direction he never would have expected. Now I don't know much about exactly what all he was subjected to, but I do know that he became much more open minded and he gained an appreciation for musical "cheese" that is second to none.

Alec began scouring the .25 bins at local record stores and began making his own mixtapes filled with obscure genre hopping would be pop gems. His mixtapes helped inspire Robot Tony to make his now infamous "Scars on 45" series of mixtapes, and eventually inspired us to take the concept to the blogosphere, and here we are.

Back to the Venice framing shop though, one day one of Alec's coworkers brought in a tape with sort of a "best of" selection from The Letter People LP. Alec loved it, and was able to make a dub of the tape. The song Mr. S appeared on one of Alec's mixtapes, and the legend was born. About a decade later, our young friend Trags recognized the track as part of the soundtrack of his youth, so Alec supplied another dub of the tape to us. Lately I had been keeping an eye open for a copy of the album, but the ones I found on Ebay were going for $50.00 and up. I finally found this copy for under $20.00 and pounced on it. As most kids' records tend to be, it's not in the greatest shape, but it plays through for the most part without many skips (Mr. M being one unfortunate exception).

The Letter People was of course a television show on PBS during the 70s. Each letter of the alphabet was represented by a puppet character, and each character sang a song about themselves. Consonants were represented by male characters and vowels by females (I have no idea why this is the case, but as a result the Letter People were a male dominated society, to say the least). The show proved to be a wonderful teaching tool for preschoolers, and it survives today though the music undoubtedly lacks a certain element of 70s funkiness.

Speaking of the music, I couldn't find much information about the people who wrote, arranged and produced these songs, but whoever they were, they were monsters. We can thank the folks over at Sesame Street for not only revolutionizing children's television, but for changing the sound of children's music from the innocent and innocuous drivel of the 50s and 60s, to urbanized, street smart 70s funk performed by hipster jazz cat studio crawlers of the day. Of course each of these songs is in a different style, the better to give each letter it's own distinct personality, but when these musicians want to turn it on, as they do in Mr. S and a few others, any worries about a 3 year old's musical sophistication are thrown out the window. No wonder there are so many smart 30 year-olds running around.

One tip: Watch out for Mr. H. He's HORRIBLE!


Mutter's Day

Friday, May 09, 2008

:: Ich Hab' Ehrfurcht Vor Schneeweißen Haaren ::

:: La Mamma ::

:: Mamatschi ::

:: Schwalbenlied ::

:: Ja, Ja, Wenn Mutter Lacht... ::

:: Weißt Du Muatterl, Was I Träumt Hab'? ::

:: Gute Nacht, Mutter ::

:: An Die Freude ::

:: Wenn Du Noch Eine Mutter Hast ::

:: Ave Verum Corpus ::

:: Ich Möchte Dir So Gerne Sagen ::

:: Ais Die Alte Mutter ::

:: Ave Maria ::

:: Schlafe Mein Prinzchen ::

Born with a mug only a mother could love, Heino pays tribute here with a full LP of songs dedicated and devoted to mommas all over. The full album title translates to, “Dear Mother…the bouquet that never wilts.” I was gonna give it to my own momma on Mother’s Day, but I’m afraid she’ll take a look at it and decide not to love me back. So, she’s getting one of those fruity Yankee Candles instead, and I’m giving the music to you.