Yank My Doodle, It's A Dandy

Monday, June 30, 2008

:: The Star Spangled Banner ::

:: The Yankee Doodle Boy ::

:: America The Beautiful ::

:: You're A Grand Old Flag ::

:: Conquest of the American Wilderness ::

:: The Stars And Stripes Forever ::

It just dawned on me that the weird little Christmas album I have that I haven't gotten around to posting is by the very same guy who did this, which I picked for the very same reason -- something "seasonal" to post. What I'd never bothered to find out was who this Joseph Byrd fellow was. Turns out I'd heard his work before; he was the leader of psych-electro-weirdos United States of America. Fitting he'd do album of synth ditties celebrating the US of A.

OK, so the title of this, and the boobies, and the Yellow Submarine quality keyboard wackness on the front might've gotten my hopes up a little for this one. I love the fact that he was able to squeeze 22 songs on here, but I have to say I was disappointed with the overall weirdness, at least initially. But I listen back to some of this stuff, and it really is pretty fucking weird. I got completely confused trying to keep track of where songs ended on side A, so I have decided to cherry pick the most obvious and patriotic songs, along with the one original by Byrd (which isn't very musical, especially in contrast with the other chirpy, cheery numbers), called "Conquest of the American Wilderness," which I guess maybe is supposed to sound like the trampling feet of progress screwing up the natural habitat of the cicada. Or something like that.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a nice long 4th of July weekend here in the greatest nation in the universe; may you BBQ proud and imbibe like an off duty sentry. The rest of the world, I want you to join us. I mean in doing that stuff, not in any broader political sense.


Yet Another Conspiracy Theory

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

:: Creedence Medley ::

:: McArthur Park Medley ::

Yet another night club act who had no business documenting their musical indiscretions on vinyl, yet here it is: The Chandler Conspiracy. The time: The early 70s. The material: Medleys of current day hits - some with Christian overtones. The look: Sideburns (except for the lovely ladies of course). The sound: Well, you decide.

For some reason, I couldn't gather much information about The Chandler Conspiracy except for the ever so informative liner notes which explain that they are "eight", that's right, "eight" people. They then go on to say that they are "eight" show people. And from what I can gather, none of them are named Chandler nor is any explanation for the name of the band given. My copy happens to be autographed by a Ron Chandler, but is that really band leader Ron Di Palma using his "stage name"? Oh, it's too much to ponder considering it's overall value, which is nothing. The guitar player's name is Vidal "Beaver" Bermudez - ok that's something.

Anyway they played the Raleigh Hotel in the Catskills, The Sheraton Inn in Ft. Myers, FL, The Blue Max in Chicago, The Dunes in Riverside, CA, The Brat Cellar in Sioux City, IA (hi Tony!), Pzazz in Burlington, IA and of course the Golden Nugget in Vegas.That's a lot more touring than I've ever done, so I'll shut up now.

Here's an except from the liner notes (by Earle H. Corry): "What kind of show is it? It's a musical show; it's a dance show, it's a comedy show; it's a serious show; it's an entertaining show; it's a show you'll never forget. (Especially if you are one of the "volunteers".)"

Anyone want to volunteer to listen to this shit? Do you like listening to the sound of tap dancing? To a Creedence song?


Thanks For The Breath Of Fresh Air, Child

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Entire Album, Zipped (YSI)

:: Lying Here Loving You ::

:: Goodbye Unspoken ::

:: Cross Country Driver ::

:: She's My Lady ::

:: Sweet Street Lady ::

:: Dues ::

:: Let My Imagination ::

:: Also Ran ::

:: Goodlight (Show Me Home) ::

:: Picture of Mom And Dad ::

Note from Tony: Alec is a good friend of ours who shares a similar interest in weird and wonderful vinyl, and whose ".25¢ Record Collection" CD's have amused and bemused us for years. If it weren't for people like him, we wouldn't be doing shit like this. This is his first post for us, but we hope he'll be doing more. Take it away, Alec...

The Mark Holly album is an interesting specimen, which is not an easy feat considering he's a kind of soft rock-ish songwriter from 1973. He has a decent voice, is a competent songwriter, and the album is well-produced. Much of it is so competent, in fact, that it would otherwise blend into the vinylscape unnoticed and unnoteworthy, if it were not for a few peculiar distinctions.

First there is that amazing cover photo, where he's wearing a black belt over a beige jumpsuit. He stands there, clearly in a rather low-rent photo studio, in front of a blue pull-down backdrop, striking a pose that announces his readiness to take on the world. But there's that jumpsuit, and that ruddy, boy scoutish face…something's not right. And then there's the record company logo, Grit Records. Isn't it exactly the same as that phony Grit newspaper they used to try to get kids to sell? They used to advertise in comic books with an ad that said "Everyone loves GRIT!" Even as a ten-year-old I knew Grit was bunk.

The brief liner notes on the back cover tell us that Mark originally hailed from St. Petersburg, Florida, then moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where it is readily admitted that "life for Mark was very difficult here." It seems like a strange detail to include, when you only have one paragraph to promote the artist. But that's nothing when, a few lines later, we learn that "a two year stint in the Navy ended tragically with his internment in the Neuro-Psychiatric ward of the Philadelphia Naval Hospital." What?! These grim facts are laid out side by side with checking off other details like club dates, moving to L.A., and fronting a group that opened for "The Rolling Stones" – in quotation marks, making one wonder if that really happened or not. I've done a few online searches for Mark Holly but haven't turned up anything, other than someone selling another copy for sixty bucks, noting that Larry Carlton is on it (true), and classifying the record as "RARE". Perhaps "OBSCURE" is more accurate, but clearly I'm not a salesman. Nor am I a rare record collector – I got my copy for twenty-five cents. But I do keep it in a plastic bag and treasure it. It's not like it's about to come out on CD with bonus tracks anytime soon.

Like the liner notes and the cover photo, the songs alternate between two distinct approaches: trucker-type numbers about "bein' on the road" and "payin' dues" as a traveling musician, counterbalanced with soft, sensitive ballads. The swaggering numbers are, unsurprisingly, not all that convincing, but Mark Holly's kind of like a kid on the block you can't help but tolerate because he's so harmless. It's impossible to not see that he's just a well-meaning, rather innocent guy who has a fantasy of being a really cool touring musician. And if the liner notes are true, he did do some touring. But the innocence never rubbed off, somehow – most of Mark's traveling songs eventually confess to falling head over heels for some random tramp met along the way, who, he always seems to assume, has probably already forgotten him.

Although I've had this record for years, it has only been in the last few weeks that I've listened to all of it. I was mesmerized all this time by "Lying Here Loving You," which displays an amazing imbalance of studio session cheese, David Gates-ish sincerity, and then one magnificent vocal performance gaffe. Not precisely a gaffe; more an eyebrow-raising, highly questionable stylistic choice: the way he suddenly floors it on the word "me." It's that unexpected surge that makes the song so fantastic and memorable. The dramatic bridge in "Sweet Street Lady" comes close to this pinnacle, but "Lying Here Loving You" is really the gem.

Many of the other songs might be quaint but forgettable if not for those liner notes and that cover photo, which after awhile become a little bit haunting. You begin to wonder if there aren't far darker implications in lines like "I wonder if I'll ever know the man I thought I was" and "Just a picture of Mom and Dad/The only love you ever had." But overall, the record makes for pleasant, sunny Saturday listening, some of the guilty pleasure variety, some tinged with greater irony than that - I mean, periodically Mark Holly adopts an unconvincing penchant for lingo, replete with an unnatural twangy accent, and there's a big Jesus number that kicks off side two. But after awhile, his genial songs just appeal to you directly, and that tinge of irony kind of 'does a fade.'



Friday, June 13, 2008

:: Bedrock Rap/Meet The Flintstones ::

:: Take Me Out To The Ballgame ::

We all get bad ideas; terrible concepts, the perfect band name, plays on words that seem remarkably clever upon conception. And most of us later realize that our ideas aren't quite so remarkable, either by the cold hard light of later reflection, or even more quickly by a "who farted?" look from the first person you tell. That being said, I have to say I admire those who take their terrible ideas and push them through to fruition. Anyone can come up with a shitty idea, but it takes a certain kind of person to stick with their shitty idea and make it a shitty reality. And I am fairly certain the motivation is usually not the love of the idea itself, but money. I am sure this 12" was made with the idea that they might have the next Dr. Demento "hit," or become a contemporary of Weird Al Yankovic.

So let's start at the root of this bad idea. It's actually the only clever part of the entire thing -- changing Springsteen to Springstone. Perfect. Let's go over the rest, then. It's a Bedrock version of Bruce Springsteen covering both the theme from The Flintstones and what is ostensibly the official theme of baseball, Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Also, Clarence Clemons is a dinosaur. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but they followed through. And now that I've actually looked into this, here's some back story.

So it was done for shits and giggles, and actually did get played on Dr. Demento, evidently selling around 100,000 copies. Perhaps the most interesting thing for me about this slab is that lead guitar is handled by one Tommy Keene, power pop luminary and current Robert Pollard co-conspirator. I couldn't believe it was the same guy when I first saw the liners, but between the fact that this is from Baltimore and having someone actually check with Tommy Keene, I can confirm it. So, uh, PLAY BALL!


RIP Jerry Cole

Thursday, June 12, 2008

:: 007 Rides Again ::

:: Mo Jo ::

:: Ripple Blues ::

:: Mustang ::

:: Dang Thing ::

:: Coming On ::

:: Unchained Soul ::

:: One For The Money ::

:: Great Scott ::

:: Movin' On. ::

A couple of years ago, I posted this article about Jerry Cole in these very pages. The last paragraph went like this:

Funny how at the time it was like, "yeah, these old guys are pretty good", but when you learn a little back story, it becomes much more exciting and somehow, relevant. Oh well, next time I see those guys, I'll appreciate them more. If I live long enough.

Well, I'm sorry to report that I outlived the great Jerry Cole, who passed away a couple of weeks ago of a heart attack at his home in Corona, CA. I gave a brief synopsis of his career in that other post, and his MySpace page is informative and entertaining, so I won't go into much about him now except to say that pop music, and especially instrumental rock of the '60s wouldn't have sounded quite like it did without him.

I'm always on the lookout for his many hard to find records, many of which did not give any indication he was involved. I found this one on ebay, and couldn't seem to find anything about it anywhere, so I picked it up on the off chance it was "rare". Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it's definitely prime Cole. Rock on, Jerry.


Note from Tony: We really did love the Cole, this was very sad to hear.

Whistle A Happy Tune

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

:: The Andy Griffith Show Theme - The Fishin' Hole ::

:: I Spy ::

Earle Hagen, who passed away last week at age 88 may not have had the most recognizable name, but his compositions are among the most iconic of the mid to late 20th century. With the advent of television, Hagen's style found a new home when a tune he wrote in the late 30s while doing stints in big bands as a trombonist became the theme to Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. Suddenly the already legendary Harlem Nocturne was heard weekly by millions tuning in to see the hard boiled TV detective, and Hagen soon was hired by producer Sheldon Leonard to write themes for the new television frontier.

Among the countless TV themes he wrote (and here's a good source), perhaps one of the simplest was the most memorable: The Andy Griffith Show Theme: The Fishin' Hole (as performed here by guitarist Henry Kaiser with vocalist Cary Sheldon). The whistled theme perfectly conveyed the laid back small town feel of Mayberry and fishin' at the fishin' hole with Opie and Andy.

Earle's greatest challenge though was the I Spy series. Not only did he write the classic mid-60s spy show theme, in keeping with the show's extremely high production values in which each episode was shot on location the world over, Hagen was assigned to write and arrange original scores for each episode (an unheard of concept to this day). The composer traveled the world doing pre-production research in preparation for a caper in Morocco, or a cliffhanger in Tokyo.

I have to admit I didn't know his name until I read his obituary (although I've owned the I Spy soundtrack album for years), but when I read his many credits I realized what an impact he had in my musical development and appreciation for sophistication combined with a simple, memorable melody. His kind will be well missed.