Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Oliver Postgate’s Cousin

I reckon the death of the Mighty Oliver Postgate will be all over the web for the next few days: or at least the Blighty Web. I couldn’t let the occasion pass without comment, but I don't want to just repeat what everyone else is saying: “Blah blah Bagpuss blah blah great loss blah blah distinctive voice blah blah narrator of our collective childhoods blah blah grandson of George blah blah soup dragon blah blah Peter Firmin blah blah Nogbad the Bad blah blah.”

So instead here's his cousin, Angela Lansbury, on the George Gobel Show in 1956.

Why have I posted this inconsequential stuff? Well I actually wanted to post a long and fascinating interview with Angela which is available chopped up into chunks on YouTube, but embedding's disabled, so you'll have to click here to see it.

And if you want to experience Oliver’s powerful, magical voice, here's the start of the BBC's Alchemists of Sound, a documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, narrated by the late, great Mr. Angela Lansbury’s Cousin.

The whole programme is on YouTube, in chunks. And Don’t get me started on the blessed Delia...

Friday, 14 November 2008

Does anybody here know a robot girl
who wants to meet a mechanical man?

I went to a double birthday last Saturday night (Hi Bryan! Hi Alison!), and as I often do, made up a mix CD to give as a cheapskate-but-personal present to both parties. No discernible theme here: it's a catholic mixture of stuff I've found and liked recently. Mostly cheesy soundtrack instrumentals, with some hillbilly rock, country, calypso, and so on.

In the past, I would make up a couple of dozen copies of my mix CDs for distribution among friends, but I'm doing it via the WibblyWobblyWomb this time for various reasons:

  1. I can't be arsed making up all the covers and burning all the Cd's.
  2. Even if I did distribute Cd's, I reckon most people would rip the tracks to their MP3 players anyway: this way they get the MP3s as I got them, eliminating a generation of lossyness.

So here's Hippy Bardot via Rapidshare

Download ZIP archive (79.7 MB).

Track list

  1. Yes We Can — Lee Dorsey
  2. Man Piaba — The Eloise Trio
  3. Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor — Johnny Horton
  4. Babylon I’m Comin’ — Piero Piccioni
  5. Mechanical Man — Bent Bolt and the Nuts
  6. I Don’t Like You — Bo Diddley
  7. Heeby Jeebies — Colin Cook
  8. I’m a Believer — The Golden Gate Strings
  9. Corcovado — Harry Stoneham
  10. Pepe — Hermanas Navarro
  11. Wives and Lovers — Howard Blake and his Combo
  12. He’s My Baby — Jean Shepard
  13. Hully Gully Guitar — Jerry Reed and the Hully Girlies
  14. Rockin’ Chair — Mildred Bailey & Her Orchestra
  15. Can I Believe It’s True — Merv Benton
  16. Eso Beso — Howard Blake and his Combo
  17. Poor Ellen Smith — Molly O’Day
  18. The Shark — Howard Blake and his Combo
  19. Strange Love — Slim Harpo
  20. Bo’s Bounce — Bo Diddley
  21. Ree Baba Ree Baba — Sonic Omi
  22. Gold Dust — Teddy Redell
  23. Cincinatti Dancing Pig — Red Foley
  24. Sputnick-Saturn Jive — Unknown

The cover and title are a variation on the classic “Hippo Birdy Two Ewes” birthday card, with my own mix of pictures. I used a Photo of Bryan himself on his copy: but I couldn't get my hands on a picture of Alison, so had to substitute a picture of the most famous Alison I could think of: Ms. Goldfrapp. That's the version included here.

I don't have the time or inclination to make every track available in playable form on this page, but I had to give you at least one: here's the gloriously, monotonously daft The Mechanical Man by Bent Bolt & The Nuts:

Listen:

Download Bent Bolt & The Nuts – The Mechanical Man MP3 (rapidshare)

Thanks to all my various sources (mostly in the I Don’t Hate list on the right).

Note for Bébé and Alison Goldfrapp fans, who might have googled there way to this article: no material from Brigitte or Alison is included.

“Maybe it wasn’t very good, but it was awful loud, wasn’t it?” — Jean Shepard.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Gateway Trio – Foolish Questions

The gateway Trio are an example of American mainstream folk music in the early sixties, before Bobby, Joan and their bath-avoiding beatnik buddies stormed the citadel. It's the sort of clean-cut, button-down, blue-eyed balderdash that is parodied so, – I dunno, what's sweet and sour at the same time? Sour Gums? – so tartaric-acidly, by Christopher Guest and troupe in A Mighty Wind.

It's from the same cheap & cheesy movie (Hootenanny Hoot) as my previous Johnny Cash Clip. The plot is the eternal movie musical standby: putting on a show. In this case, the show is a Hootenanny Circus. Which I suppose should go some way to explaining why the Gateways are performing... while gently bobbing on a trampoline. have a look:

Download The Gateway Trio – Foolish Questions AVI (rapidshare)

If, for some unaccountable reason, you want to know more about them there's a pocket biography here. Looks like they're still going, too (probably not on the trampoline, though) if the old geezers on this site are the same band.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Johnny Cash – Frankie & Johnny

Johnny Cash? Yes, I've been a big fan of the man in Black for decades. I'm in a tiny minority of Cash fans, though: I really didn't think much of the Rick Rubin American Recordings period. The whole project struck me as a mixture of novelty ("Listen to this old guy sings songs written by young guys!") and car-crash ("Listen to how frail he's getting! How much longer can he last?"). "Hurt" I particularly detested. Lyrically, the song is soaked in egotistical self-pity, expressing a young man's callow emotions, full of self-regard, but without the maturity and reflection to realise that this self-regard is the main obstacle to the resolution of his pain. Such callow words sound frankly grotesque in the mouth of an aging, reflective man like Cash.

So enough of this: time for a bit of vintage Johnny, singing "Frankie & Johnny" from Hootennany Hoot!, a frankly farcical let's-put-a-show-on-right-here musical made in 1963.

Download Johnny Cash – Frankie & Johnny MP3 (rapidshare)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Mike Sarne — Dodgy Looking Bird

Always remember to ask your mother

I had to borrow Revolt into Style from my Dad, for my last bit on Mike Sarne (my copy is lost in the permanent revolution of books in my house). When my mother heard me talking about Sarne, her response was surprising: "Oh, the one who had an affair with Brigitte Bardot?" she said. I was a little taken aback, since I'd found no mention of this in my research. So I shoved my head back into the packet stream, and came out with... not much. There's a mention of an affair in this pretentious twaddle: looks like it happened while they were filming À coeur joie (Two Weeks in September) together.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have sung this song to Bébé:

Download Mike SarneDodgy Looking Bird MP3 (rapidshare)

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Mike Sarne – Come Outside

Bad timing can make the best of us look like fools.

George Melly has the humility to point out his own turn as History's joke, in Revolt Into Style, (1971) his groundbreaking study of popular culture of the fifties and sixties. George quotes himself in an Article for the then-young New Society Magazine in October 1962, as readable as he always was, and making smart, funny and pointed observations, he came a cropper when he saw what he thought was the future of pop music.

He was suitably dismissive of the anodyne pap that filled the charts in the backwash of Rock & Roll and Skiffle: the various clean cut Bobbys (Vee, Vinton, Rydell etc.), Helen Shapiro, and the stuff of Children’s Favourites. The only interesting stuff he saw in the charts were the hard-edged and witty songs about real life from the likes of Bernard Cribbens (Hole in The Ground and Right Said Fred) Anthony Newley (Pop Goes the Weasel) and Mike Sarne (Come Outside), all using an early form of that adapted, adopted Cockney of Youth, later pinned-down as Estuary English or Mockney .

Spare a thought for George: in the 1971 book, he graciously owned up to his mis-prediction. He didn’t try to mitigate his faults at all, although he could have. Yes, he should have spotted the potential of the proto-Beatles playing interval beat sets at then-jazz-club The Cavern when he played there: and the Beat and Blues Booms (led by the Fabs and the Stones) scoured a lot of rubbish out of the British (and international) music charts: but there was a lot of prosaic wit and humour still around in the world of beat music. Ray Davies of the Kinks moved rapidly from ersatz R&B to British barbed whimsy as the sixties progressed. And both Freddie and the Dreamers and Herman’s Hermits developed successful pop-comedy formulas. You might not like me including minnows like Peter Noone and Freddie Garrity in with cultural blue whales like John, Paul, Mick and Keef, but remember, I’m talking about how things looked then, not how they look from here. I will draw a veil over the Barron Knights.

Here’s Mike’s hit Come Outside, with vocal contributions from Wendy “Miss Brahms” Richard. I can’t seem to think of her as “Pauline Fowler” at all. Maybe it’s just my age, or maybe the performance on the record is much more Miss Brahms to Mike’s Mr. Lucas/Trevor Bannister character. And who was Trevor Bannister replaced by on AYBS? Mike Berry—a sixties pop star! It’s all coming together. A bit.

Listen:

Download Mike SarneCome Outside MP3 (rapidshare)

What? Not enough about Mike? Well he had a few more minor hits like Just for Kicks, Code of Love (which i can’t find), acted a bit, in The Avengers, Man In A Suitcase, and The Bill: and he directed a few films, most notably Myra Breckinridge.

Oh look: here's Judge Dread's dismally unfunny rude version.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Clarence “Bad Boy” Palmer and the Jive Bombers—Bad Boy

My record shelves are peppered with them: if you’re a charity-shopping, jumble-sale-haunting vinyl fan like me, yours will probably also have a few. I’m talking about those records with fabulous covers you’re willing to gamble a few pennies on. You don’t know the artist: you don’t know the label: you can’t tell the genre. But the cover demands to be yours.

Of course they usually turn out to be musical mince when you get around to playing them, but every once in a while, every now and then, you’ve found a gem.

Here is such a gem, courtesy of my pal Cat (Hey Catherine!) who found this album Surprise Party Rive Gauche in a Barnardo’s Charity Shop, so many years ago she’s forgotten exactly when. There are a few pleasant numbers on this seemingly arbitrary French compilation, but the big standout track has to be “Bad Boy”: a fairly standard jazzy doo-wop arrangement, it’s the lead vocalists extraordinary ability to sound like a muted trumpet which makes it fab.

That LP itself is difficult to place; not least because of the bizarre arrangement of information: tracks titles are listed in one place (with a dance category: cha-cha-cha, charleston fox, etc.), while artists are listed elsewhere. I initially assumed that this was a cheap knock-off for tourists: local cabaret artists covering big international hits. But when I consulted the TCP/IP soothsayer, I found that The Jive Bombers were a New York band, and “Bad Boy” was a big US hit for them in 1957.

And the Song? Written by Lil Armstrong (neé Hardin), Louis’ second wife, it was originally titled “Brown Gal” in her version. The Jive Bombers recorded it first as “Brown Boy” in 1952, then the hit version here, now racially defused as “Bad Boy”, in 1957.

Download Clarence “Bad Boy” Palmer and the Jive Bombers—Bad Boy from Rapidshare

Here’s Lil’s original “Brown Gal” on YouTube, complete with lyric captions:

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Pop Music from my area is superior to the Pop Music from your area in every way.

Perhaps I’m a little biased, but I’ve always been aware that Scottish Pop Music is the best in the world. Not to mention our choreography, costume design, and television production. Too prove it, here’s Lulu making a guest appearance on Shang-a-Lang, the Bay City Rollers’ astonishingly good TV show from the mid-seventies.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Bonnie and the Treasures—Home of the Brave

“Home of the Brave, Land of the Free
Oh why won’t they let him be what he wants to be?”

I heard this song only once, thirty years ago, but those lines from the chorus have been stuck in my head ever since. John Peel was playing selections from an album of Phil Spector rarities on his weekday-evening show, and this one stuck out. Of course human memory is fallible: I distinctly remember the artist as “Ronnie and the Relatives” which of course was the name Veronica (Ronnie Spector) Bennet, Estelle Bennet and Nedra Talley used before they became the Ronettes. But then, they had become the Ronettes before they’d even met Crazy Phil. Who knows; maybe Peelie also played a Ronnie & the Relatives track that night, and my faulty memory conflated the two.

I’m not alone in this confusion: any online discussion of this little gem of a record sooner or later has somebody stating that Bonnie is Ronnie Spector as an absolute fact. Hey, even Ronnie herself is on record as agreeing. But now I can actually here the record again, I’d have to disagree: there is a similarity, but that’s mostly in the Spector wall-o’-sound treatment (actually produced by Spector protogé Jerry Riopelle). This vocalist sounds like Ronnie would if you took the Washington Heights out of her voice. And who on earth would want to do that?

No, the packet switching muse tells me that Bonnie is in fact Charlotte O’Hara, a talented singer and songwriter who never really made it, and died tragically young.

So why did it stick in my mind all these years? It’s a good bad-boy song in the manner of He’s a Rebel or even Leader of the Pack (but no death, though). Seems like a reasonable Spectory production, although this copy is particularly poor quality, and wall-of-sound quickly turns to wall-of-mush once we move too far from the hi-fi. But the main reason has to be the sentiment. Us pinko limey bastards, like all foreign bleeding-heart liberal cowards, have a love-hate relationship with Yankee Culture. We Hate the Rednecks, but in our hearts of hearts we know that nobody ever heard a good commie rock and roll record (Well, apart from Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’ maybe). But here we have a pop record comparing and contrasting the USA’s Liberty-loving rhetoric with the reality of deeply conservative conformist suburban culture.

If you’re having trouble hearing the lyrics, you can always try Jody Miller's hit version from the same year (1965).

I’m trying out a new way of embedding the sound here: I’d appreciate comments if you can’t play this, or even just to confirm that you can. Thanks!

Download Bonnie and the Treasures—Home of the Brave from Rapidshare

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Janie Jones — Witches Brew

Mention Janie Jones, and people about my age think “He’s in love with Rock & Roll whoah...” the song Janie Jones from the first Clash album. If you’re a bit younger, you may be be thinking of the lazy carbon-copy Babyshambles cover version (Look! there’s Janie!). Or if you’re older, you'll perhaps remember the scandal and the vice: court cases accusing her of attempted blackmail (got off) running a brothel (got off), and sex payola (banged up).

But you real old codgers out there might remember this: the nearest thing she got to a hit (Number 46) in her short mid-sixties pop career.

Janie never seems to settle into a consistant vocal style, floating in a grey area somewhere between Terry-lovin’ Twinkle and Commie-lovin’ Eartha Kitt. Backing vocals sound like average sixties beat boys. The music has a relentless, piano-driven simplicity, like a lounge band who’ve been asked to cover a Velvet Underground song. And mixed heavily over the whole thing, a gloopy, burbly, bubbling sound wash, supposedly representing the witch’s, erm, brew, but it sounds more like a malfunctioning cistern to me. Glorious.

Listen:

Download it from rapidshare: Witches Brew.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers — Not Yet Three

A pop star once asked what my favourite Jonathan Richman album was. I reckon it was a test to find out if I was a true believin’ JoJo Junkie, or just a Hipster Dilettante. I fluffed the test a little: while my choice was suitably obscure (Jonathan Sings from 1983), I spoiled the effect by forgetting the title of the album: “Erm, the one with Not Yet Three on it.” was my reply.

So here’s Not Yet Three, a minor Jonathan Masterpiece, about his little daughter’s ravenous hunger for life. Like all Jonathan’s best songs, it dances skillfully on the sublime knife-edge between maudlin sentimentality and subtle joy. Even bitter childless cynics like myself cannot resist.

But I don’t enjoy Jonathan’s live gigs anymore: on the rare occasion he gets to my town, the audience is jammed with loud, sycophantic JoJo Boosters. I feel a rant coming on…

Listen punks: I love Jonathan at least as much as you: I’ve got at least as many of his records as you: I know the words to most of his songs like you do: but I didn’t come here to show off about it: I came to hear Jonathan sing; and I won’t sing along because his songs are living, changing things, and every time he comes, the songs have changed, polished, evolved, twisted: but I CAN’T HEAR THE CHANGES because you’re BELLOWING OVER IT. it’s like spray-painting “I’M MARK ROTHKO’S BIGGEST FAN” all over a Mark Rothko canvas.

Rant Over. Enjoy.

Listen:

Download it from rapidshare: Not Yet Three.

Jerry Levitan - I Met The Walrus

More lazy shoving-in of stuff other people have found. Here's I Met The Walrus, a short animation based on a conversation with John Lennon taped in 1969 in Toronto by 14-year-old a Jerry Levitan. It's a good example of Lennon's mercurial, infuriating, never boring, constant, rapid shifting between hippie mysticism and political astuteness; wrapped up in animation that refers to both sixties psychedelic surrealism and today's post-everything dada-cynicism.

Directed by Josh Raskin, Pen work by James Braithwaite, digital illustration by Alex Kurina.

Credit where it’s due: I found this on Jack Shedd’s Big Contrarian blog.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Lucy in London

I try to avoid just shoving in stuff I've found elsewhere, but I can't avoid showing you this. After all it's got two iconic "hate-to-love-to-hate" figures of mine: Lucille Ball (of course), and driving her around Swingin' London in his motorbike & sidecar, the great Tony Newley.

All credit to Will Kane's splendid World of Kane blog, and the unhealthily obsessive Lucy in London fan site.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Zigzag 86—August 1978

Back at my folks’ house a few weeks ago, my Dad gave me a box: inside were various bits of paper, notes, magazines, fanzines, and concert programmes from the late seventies: the last kibble left behind when I left home.

Among the gems (more later) was this Zigzag. Founded by Pete Frame in 1969, this well-respected British Rock Journal had, by 1978, come thoroughly under the Punk Spell, thanks to new editor Kris Needs.

The layout is a curious hybrid: text is mostly properly typset (which in those pre-DTP days meant professional) but the subject matter and the then-current DIY aesthetic meant that layouts also included felt-tip scribbly headlines, rules and page numbers, giving a more fanzine-ish feel.

Like everybody else, I know in my heart-of-hearts that the music being made when I was in my teens is the absolute, ultimate, best ever. So if you’re in your mid forties like me, you’re sure to enjoy these articles on The Raincoats, Suicide, John Otway, Steel Pulse and The Human League. Even the piece on cover stars The Rich Kids is an interesting bit of “Slik-Pistols-Vox-Visage-Pistols-again” history. And there’s a column by the great John Walters to boot.

But the best piece has to be the interview with my then-favourite band, The Rezillos, by Cramps Legionnaire Lindsay Hutton. Here’s the Rezillos piece (click for bigger, readable pages):

...and here’s the whole magazine, rapidshared:
In Acrobat format
In Comic Reader format
As a ZIP archive of JPEG pages.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Harry Roy & His Bat Club Boys — My Girl’s Pussy

While searching for recordings of R. Crumb’s Sweet Shellac radio show (from BBC Radio 3, a few years ago), I came across this little gem of English double entendre thirties jazz. If you’re fortunate enough to have a copy of my Love at First Sound mix CD, you’ll have heard Crumb’s Cheap Suit Serenaders perform a loving remake of this sweet record, complete with cod-English accents.

The double entendre smut is laid on trowel thick: worthy of the great Mrs. Slocombe herself, in fact.

Of course you can find whatever you want on the ole international packet switching network, if you’re smart or dogged enough (or both), and I tracked down Sweet Shellac on eyecandyman's interesting blog of old-time music and Honk Honk exploitation movies. He’s even got video of R. Crumb and his fellow old-time music enthusiast Robert Armstrong listening to this very record.

Take care to remove your gloves.

Listen:

Download it from rapidshare: My Girl’s Pussy.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Washing All Their Troubles away

We start with a track from Lee Scratch Perry's great Battle of Armagideon (Millionaire Liquidator) from 1986. A cassette tape of this album was always by my kitchen machine back then, and "Show Me That River" always seemed to come on when I was doing the washing up. It always seemed appropriate, with it's "Wash all my troubles away" line. But like a lot of Lee lyrics, it was just slightly crazy:

Listen:

Download it from Rapidshare:Show Me That River.

Show My that river, Take me Icarus, And wash all my troubles away. Like that lucky old sun, I've nothing to do, But rolling in heaven all day.

Sounds to me like Perry's magpie, gadfly, creative mind has morphed "across" into "Icarus" here, under the influence of the sun mentioned in the next bit.

Then I found this Prince Buster Tutti Frutti LP in the 50p bin at my local second hand record shop; and the song "Wash Wash" seemed familiar.

Show My that river, Take me across, And wash all my troubles away...

Listen:

Download it from rapidshare: Wash Wash.

Aha! "Across" here! Of course the music industry in general, and the Jamaican music industry in particular, have never been that fastidious about nicking bits of songs from each other. And before you Prince Buster fans out there start looking down on the Scratch fans, wait: Mr Bustamente nicked it himself.

That Lucky Old Sun was a big hit for Frankie Laine in 1949. It was written by Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie, and was covered many times, by the likes of Vaughn Monroe, Ol' Frankie, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. Here's Louis Armstrong's version.

Listen:

Download it from rapidshare: That Lucky Old Sun.

This version, with its sacred, gospelly overtones, is clearly implying that the river being shown is the Jordan, and the point where the troubles are washed away is death. Or maybe the Styx, I suppose, but nobody ever got washed in the Styx, unless they got thrown overboard by the ferryman, maybe.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Susan Cadogan — Hurts So Good

I must have heard this song on the Radio in the early seventies, when I still had that child’s thirsty cultural-vacuum-cleaner brain: and for years later the chorus would leap back into my mind at odd moments, though I couldn’t remember the title or artist. Before I’d even heard of double tracking (recording a lead vocal twice to beef up a weak performance) I would think of it as that “hurts-so-good” sound. Until I eventually found it by accident on one of those cheapo reggae compilation LPs, in the eighties. And the reason it had stuck became clear: it was a Lee “Scratch” Perry production.

Listen:

Download it at rapidshare.com

But then I found out that it was actually a Millie Jackson song. Of course I should have known: Millie is, after all, the queen of the I-Love-You-You-Bastard genre. Here she is singing it on Soul Train, in 1973 at a guess:

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The Mighty Terror – Women Police in England

The best known story about the Mighty Terror is probably too good to be true: how, when he arrived in from Trinidad in London in 1953, he asked the taxi driver to take him to the home of Lord Kitchener. The terror was obviously (to us) referring to the Great Calypsonian, but the confused taxi driver at first thought he was referring to the long-dead British Imperialist War Hero. Hilarious consequences ensued. Right.

Anyway, for us bleeding-heart liberal middle class muddle-headed do-gooder pinko types, the only time we can tolerate Sexism or Affection for the Police Force is when it comes out of the mouth of an Ethnic Minority Person. Here's The Terror fondly dreaming of being arrested by a nice “blondie one”.

Listen:

Download The Mighty Terror – Women Police in England MP3 (rapidshare)

Friday, 30 May 2008

Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs

Here’s one of my early nineties Country & Western mix tapes. Since the source is a cassette tape recording of mostly vinyl (and some cassette), the sound quality is hardly pristine, with both vinyl pop & crackle and tape hiss. I decided not to even try to filter any of this out, partly through laziness, partly for anyone nostalgic for the pre-digital experience. Any high-fidelity seekers after perfection among you will have to look elsewhere.

Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs

I hate Country & Western Volume 3

Side One

  1. Chug-a-lug — Roger Miller
  2. Slow Pole — Pee Wee King
  3. A Satisfied Mind — Porter Wagoner
  4. The Fightin’ Side of Me — Merle Haggard
  5. Don’t Liberate Me (Love Me) — Tammy Wynette
  6. Man in Black — Johnny Cash
  7. Crystal Chandeliers — Charley Pride
  8. Dang me — Roger Miller
  9. Born A Woman — Sandy Posey
  10. Sittin’ and Thinkin’ — Charlie Rich
  11. May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose — ‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens
  12. Tumbling Tumbleweeds — Gene Autry
  13. Six More Miles (to the Graveyard) — Hank Williams
  14. Almost Persuaded — David Houston
  15. Six White Horses — Tommy Cash
  16. Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs — Charlie Rich

Download I hate Country & Western Volume 3 — Side 1 MP3 (rapidshare)

Side Two

  1. You All Come — ‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens
  2. The Hanging Tree — Marty Robbins
  3. Tennessee Wig-Walk — Bonnie Lou
  4. Wrinkled, Crinkled, Wadded Dollar Bill — Johnny Cash
  5. Heart to Heart Talk — Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan
  6. T B Blues — Jimmy Rodgers
  7. Right or Wrong — Wanda Jackson
  8. I Saw the Light — Hank Williams
  9. Big Iron — Marty Robbins
  10. Blue Bayou — Roy Orbison
  11. There’s Another Place I Can’t Go — Charlie Rich
  12. Four Walls — Jim Reeves
  13. Roving Gambler — Everly Brothers
  14. These Hands — Hank Snow
  15. Waiting for a Train — Jimmy Rodgers
  16. Little Old Wine Drinker Me — Robert Mitchum

Download I hate Country & Western Volume 3 — Side 2 MP3 (rapidshare)

No streaming version this time folks: my poor wee server account cannae handle it (Captain).

If you're looking for the authentic cassette experience, there's a scan of the whole fold-in cover here:

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy

No, No, No! Nothing to do with Nerys Hughes, Mollie Sugden, or Lucian’s rabbits. I’m talking about a sixties all-girl beat combo who, like Carla Lane, took the name from the statues on the top of the Liver Building.

Pete Frame’s intricately hand-lettered flow-diagram histories of rock bands and their members are at once an elegantly simple way of communicating complicated information, and beautiful examples of handmade graphic art. I savoured them wherever I found them (his own Zigzag magazine, for instance, and Sounds), and bought and devoured the book collections. They were so good, it was even a pleasure to read about bands i didn’t care much about, or even actively disliked (Journey, Asia, The Eagles). When his third collection The Beatles and Some Other Guys: Rock Family Trees of the Early Sixties came out, I was a little apprehensive to discover that it contained photographs: “Surely a dilution of the purity of his art?” screamed the Raging Aesthetic Puritan within me. But upon flicking through the book, those doubts vanished when I found this picture:

(Click on any picture for a bigger version)

“Wow! An all-girl mersybeat group! Cool!” I thought. Then I found the entry on them in the previous page’s tree:

This looks pomising: although I’d never heard of them before, they had been big enough in Germany to make two albums. And the one recording mentioned by name was a Bo Diddley song: excellent taste in covers, then. I was hooked: I had to hear them. But how?

I asked all my knowledgeable muso mates: they all said “What? the TV series?” Eventually Davie said I should try George. Of course! I should have thought of George earlier. We even worked in the same building at the time. So the next time I spotted him, in the Smoking Room (yes, this is so long ago that not only were there smoking rooms, but I was in them, smoking), I asked. He frowned, and thought for a moment, and said “Yes, I know who you mean. Might have a track or two, on a compilation, somewhere. Not very good, as I remember.”

Well that was hardly encouraging. I basically stopped looking, after that. But then the internet happened, and I found a few MP3s on the sainted audiogalaxy. And George was right. Not unpleasant, adequately performed, typical mid-sixties British lead-&-chorus-vocal/lead/rhythm/bass/drums beat music.

But still, I had the photograph. Do I have to explain what’s so good about it? Maybe the fact that they all look so individual: that even although they’re doing fake goofy pop group gestures for the camera, their smiles seem fairly genuine.Or the badly hand-painted “LIVER BIRDS” on the oil drum. Oh, go on then, I have to admit it to myself: it’s Sylvia Saunders' definitely dykey “pseudo-sideburn” locks of hair in front of her ears. Frankly, they make her look like me when I was fifteen.

Preparing for this post, I thought I’d have another trawl of the internet, in case there was some lost gem of a good record out there. I did find a few more, but more importantly, I found (drum roll…) A colour version of the photograph!

Woohoo! Their’s even a rubbish painting of a bird on the oil drum! But wait! I found another photograph:

Check out that cup on Val Gell’s head!

Make your own mind up: here’s their top 5 hit in Germany:

Listen:

Download The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy MP3 (rapidshare)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra – Miss Marple Theme

Nobody could possibly be a bigger Margaret Rutherford fan than me: she's my magic third granny. So when got the chance to watch all of the old Miss Marple movies recently, thanks to my postal DVD rental service, I was surprised by how, well, boring they were. Pedestrian pacing, ludicrous plots, four-square, dull cinematography and editing. I could hardly believe these were the same films that had kept me glued to the telly as a child. No criticism of Rutherford herself, mind: immune to bad scripts and bad direction, she is never anything but delightful to watch.

And the other factor that has not lost any of its sparkle is, of course, Ron Goodwin's fabulous theme tune.

Here it is: go, on stick it on your iPod and walk down the street in shuffle mode: when it comes on, you'll find the gritty urban desolation around you (I'm absolutely convinced that EVERYONE who reads this blog lives in a sprawling, dangerous, crime-ridden ghetto) will suddenly become a grainy black and white home counties village in 1964: particularly when the harpischord bit comes in. Try it.

Listen:

Download Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra – Miss Marple Theme MP3 (rapidshare)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Earl Vince and The Valiants – Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight

Back in the late seventies, “Fleetwood Mac” was a dirty word (dirty phrase?), at least it was if you were a punk/new-wave/power-pop person like what I was. Alongside Journey, Kansas and Foreigner, they represented all that we hated about smug, comfortable American FM-radio stadium rawk. So how did a groovy plastic (in a good way) punky pop group like the Rezillos get away with doing a Fleetwood Mac cover? After all, they did choose to stop playing the blessed Joe Meek’s Have I The Right when manufactured boy band The Dead End Kids had a minor hit with it.

Well, to begin with, it’s not technically a Fleetwood Mac song . Back in their UK-based, blues-band-fulla-guitarists period in the late sixties, they would goof off by playing pastiches of old rock’n’roll numbers, and calling themselves “Earl Vince and the Valiants”. And one song, this one, managed to get on the B-side of a proper Fleetwood Mac single (Man of the World). The song was also easily the “punkyest” in the Rezillos’ repertoire: with all there other stuff being about science fiction and sculptures and luv, this one was their only song dealing with violence. And it was fast too, at least the way the Rezillos performed it.

So I guess Eugene, Faye and the boys just hoped nobody in the audience had that old Fleetwood Mac single. Or indeed Blues Leftovers, the cheapo Immediate Records compilation where I found it. So here it is, with Jeremy Spencer’s brooding Elvisish (Elvine? Elvistic?) vocal.

Listen:

Download Earl Vince and The Valiants – Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight MP3 (rapidshare)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Lion – Trinidad, the Land of Calypso

Raphael de Leon, (1908–1999) AKA The Lion, or Roaring Lion, a leading figure in Calypso for over sixty years, was both a popular Calypsonian, with songs like Ugly Woman, Mary Ann and Netty, Netty, and a historian of the genré. In his book Calypso From France to Trinidad: 800 Years of History (1986) he argued against the prevailing idea that Calypso was based on African musical forms, and proposed medieval French troubadour origins.

He even disputed the origin of the name “Calypso”, usually said to be from the word kaicho, from language of the Huassa tribe in Nigeria. Roaring Lion argues that it's from Enrico Caruso. The name of Caruso, the opera superstar of the turn of the century, had in the Trinidad of his youth became a descriptive noun for any singer, or vocal performance. More information in an interview from Variant Magazine in 1991.

Anyway, here’s a recording made in London on the 16th of June 1954, where he teases those who assert that the source of Calypso is anywhere else but the “Land of the Trinity”.

Listen:

Download The Lion – Trinidad, the Land of Calypso MP3 (rapidshare)

From Caribbean Connections: Black Music in Britain in the early 1950s Volume 2. New Cross records (Charly) NC006 1987. My first vinyl-to-mp3 conversion.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Ken Dodd – Where's Me Shirt

Ken Dodd wasn't the first or last comedian to have hit records, but his hits were distinctly uncomic. He had parallel careers as a successful comic, notably in kids telly, and as a crooner of unbearably saccharine syrupy ballads. If you listened to "Tears". "Love Is Like A Violin", "Promises", "More Than Love" "Let Me Cry On Your Shoulder" or "Tears Won't Wash Away These Heartaches" looking for a giggle, you'd be sadly, sadly disappointed. For every mind-altering, world-improving hippy anthem that misty-eyed sixties survivors remember, there were ten tin-pan-alley atrocities by Ken and his showbiz chums.

Even when Ken did make "funny" records, they usually concerned his truly awful comic creations, the Diddy Men, from his fantasy version of his real home town, Knotty Ash. Take it from me: i was a kid at the time — funny-peculiar, not funny-ha-ha.

But there was one shining exception that really makes all my analysis bunk. Yes, I've just wasted ten minutes of my life writing this, and twenty seconds of yours reading this. Because Ken did make one comic record in the sixties, that doesn't concern Dicky Mint, Mick the Marmalizer, Little Evan, Hamish McDiddy, Nigel Ponsonby-Smallpiece, Nicky Nugget, Sid Short or Smarty Arty. It's a belter, and here it is:

Listen:

Download Ken Dodd – Where's Me Shirt MP3 (rapidshare)

Friday, 11 April 2008

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan — Stone Cold Dead in the Market

I went along to Club Tromolo at Glasgow's Classic Grand Club the other evening and was bowled over by the duets performed by Miss Leggy Pee and her partner, Charlie. The evening went from pleasant to sublime when I, your original never-won-a-thing-in-me-life chap, won the grand prize in the raffle: a half bottle of Buckfast!

So, in this non-PC duet spirit, here’s some more ersatz calypso: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan’s 1947 hit Stone Cold Dead in the Market. Ah, those good old carefree Andy Capp days of humourous domestic violence.

Listen:

Download Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan — Stone Cold Dead in the Market MP3 (rapidshare)

I haven’t been able to find any information about the song’s history: not even whether it’s a Truly Trinny calypso song, or a piece of tin pan alley fakery; but here’s the song on one of those forties proto-promo-video “soundies”: in this case performed by Gracie Barrie.

Monday, 7 April 2008

George Martin – She Said She Said

It’s August 1965: The Beatles, touring America, are resting at 2850 Benedict Canyon Drive, Beverley Hills, where they are trapped by a beseiging army of fans. One day, they're visited by the Byrds and Peter Fonda. Everybody (except one goody-goody Beatle—yes, that one) drops acid. Discussing fear of death with George, Fonda starts talking about his near-fatal self-inflicted childhood gunshot accident, and how his heart stopping three times on the operating table. “I know what it’s like to be dead, man”.

The lysergically enhanced John Lennon finds this deeply disturbing: "Who put all that shit in your head?".

John deals with the trauma in his usual way: by turning it into music. It gets mentally chewed, torn, digested, reassembled, transformed and regurgitated, until it becomes a Beatles song: She Said She Said”, on arguably their best LP, Revolver (1966).

Then Fabs producer and Sixth Fifth Beatle* George Martin further transformed it in to this lush and swoony instrumental: from his 1966 LP of his interpretations of Lennon & McCartney songs: George Martin Instrumentally Salutes The Beatle Girls, using flute, strings, piano and bongos.

*After Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best, Brian Epstein, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, but before Jimmy Nichol and Billy Preston. Derek who?

Listen:

Download George Martin – She Said She Said MP3 (rapidshare)

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Diana Dors – Roller Coaster Blues

She was a pal of the Kray Twins, had terrible taste in husbands, was (cliché alert) Britain’s Blonde Bombshell, famously wore a fur bikini in Venice, hid millions in bank accounts around Britain that have yet to be tracked down, could act well if she got the chance, was one of the few successful pupils at J. Arthur Rank’s Charm School, never quite conquered Hollywood, and had a surprisingly pleasant singing voice: light, tuneful, and an actress’s talent for phrasing.

Diana Dors has always had pop-culture kudos: she’s appeared on LP covers from both the Beatles (Pepper) and the Smiths (“Singles”), in Adam Ant’s “Look-at-me-I’m-so-big-I’m-about-to-loose-it-completely-and-isn’t-Marco-beefing-up-a-bit” video for Prince Charming, and in minor marvellous movies like Deep End, Theatre of Blood, and Steptoe & Son Ride Again.

...tender as the inside of a caterpiller’s thigh...

I first heard this song so far back (How far back was it?) it was so far back, it was on a mix tape a friend sent me (Hi Chunny!). Here she is, Diana Mary “Don’t Forget the L” Fluck, swinging along with Wally Stott’s Orchestra, in a lyrically oddball song from her only album, Swingin’ Dors.

Listen:

Download Diana Dors – Roller Coaster Blues MP3 (rapidshare)

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Lord Melody – Mama Look a Booboo

If you’ve heard this song before, chances are it’s Harry Belafonte’s 1957 hit version: that’s the first version I ever heard, anyway. I knew Robert Mitchum had recorded some calypso, but it wasn’t till I managed to borrow a vinyl copy of “Calypso – is Like So…” that I realised he’d covered it too. But I finally chanced upon Lord Melody’s original while in the grip of mento* fever, a few years back. The huge international boom in calypso in the mid to late fifties (like Harry Belafonte’s hits) meant that just about all indigenous Caribbean music, including Jamaican mento, was being sold as “calypso”: so inevitably, in the hunt for mento gold, I necessarily had to listen to a fair bit of calypso pyrites: but no, I got to love calypso too, of course.

Shut you mouth! Go away!

Anyway, Lord Melody (born Fitzroy Alexander in 1928; died 1988) was one of the big Trinidadian stars of the fifties Calypso Boom, with this song being a hit in America: he had another international hit in 1962 with “Shame and Scandal” (a song with too complicated a story for this place: wikipedia covers it well).

Here’s Lord Melody’s original 1955 version.

Listen:

Download Lord Melody – Mama Look a Booboo MP3 (rapidshare)

...and here’s a live version from 1958 (I think):

Listen:

Download Lord Melody – Booboo Man MP3 (rapidshare)

Bob Mitchum’s Trini accent is a bit ropey here, but he has a pleasant voice, and the band are excellent enough to calm the Original Version Purist Demon that snarls within me.

Listen:

Download Robert Mitchum – Mama Looka Booboo MP3 (rapidshare)

...and if you wany to here Belafonte’s version, here he is dueting with Nat “King” Cole, via YouTube.

* I don’t have the mental energy for the long, complicated answer that a seemingly simple question like “What is mento?” deserves. Follow the link to Michael Garnice’s exhaustively researched page if you’re interested.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Lee Hazlewood – Six Feet of Chain

More Lee Hazlewood, here sounding more Johnny Cash than Cash himself, in a strange song which I've always assumed was about a dog.

I found this on a compilation The Many Sides of Lee Hazlewood: I think it originally appeared on his Trouble is a Lonesome Town album in 1963, but since even the CD reissue is going for fifty bucks, and I'm a skinflint, I'll just have to go by the track listing, and assume it did.

Listen:

Download Lee Hazlewood – Six Feet of Chain MP3 (rapidshare)

Monday, 17 March 2008

Drimble Wedge & the Vegetations – Bedazzled

I could only bear to watch a few minutes of the dire Brendan-Fraser-Liz-Hurley remake of Bedazzled before switching off in despair, so I don't know if there's an equivalent of the Ready-Steady-Go-esque scene in the original 1967 version, where Peter Cook, Playing George Spiggott (the Devil Incarnate) effertlessly outcools "cuddly" Dudley Moore, with this eponymous song. The song features a fauning backing chorus ("You drive me wild") and a contrary, indifferent lead vocal ("you fill me with inertia").

“Don't you ever leave off?”

Pete's deadpan vocal is priceless, But we must give Dudley the credit for the writing this track (and indeed the rest music for the film), a fine soaring, moody bit of menacing jazzy pop. The only mainstream pop music anything like this at the time was Brian Auger's Trinity, or maybe Arthur Brown, but really, forget about these comparisons: Drimble Wedge & The Vegetations stand alone. The magic words: “Julie Andrews!

Listen:

Download Drimble Wedge & the Vegetations – Bedazzled MP3 (rapidshare)

Or watch the song being performed in the film on YouTube.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Les Bel-Air – Cupidon

Leapy Lee’s Little Arrows is a folk song in the vocal tradition as far as I’m concerned. That's because I learned it by repeatedly hearing it sung by a friend (Hi Irene!) years before I eventually heard his recorded version. Most people who know the song wince when they hear it mentioned: people who don't know it wait until they hear it before they start wincing. Maybe the sung-by-a-friend filter helped me get to like the song before the wince factor kicked in.

Here’s another filter: a foreign Language version, by Les Bel-Air, from Quebec. Who They? My translation skills are worse than Google's, but they seem to have operated in Canada from 1965 to 1969, doing original material and covers on English language pop hits, moving from mainstream pop towards country. There's also some sort of Johnny Halliday connection, (supporting? backing?) but my French vocabulary fails me.

Apart from the song itself, the most compelling thing about this recording is singer Eddy Roy's performance. Now that's what I call gusto.

Listen:

Download Les Bel-Air – Cupidon MP3 (rapidshare)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Duane Eddy & Lee Hazlewood – The Girl on Death Row

I've known for a long time that the late Lee Hazlewood produced Duane Eddy's great twangy guitar classics of the late fifties and early sixties. But I didn't know Lee actually sang on one of them. Here it is: The Girl on Death Row, a song with a morbid theme that suits the mood of Duane’s twang and Lee’s echo chamber.

I couldn't find a picture of the two of them together anywhere: if anyone out there has one, I'd love a copy.

Listen:

Download Duane Eddy & Lee Hazlewood – The Girl on Death Row MP3 (rapidshare)

Or watch Duane talking about Lee on YouTube here.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

The Springfields - Island of Dreams

The Springfields were the epitome of the clean-cut, button-down, deodourised stuff that stood for folk music in the entertainment world, before the authenticists and the pinkos came in. Christopher Guest's 2003 film A Mighty Wind manages to show how deeply awful most of it was. Like proper showbiz types, siblings Tom & Mary O’Brien had stages names: Tom & Dusty Springfield. Of course, their tidy non-threatening music has been entirely eclipsed by Dusty's outstanding critically and commercially successful solo career.

And yet, I've never been a big fan of Dusty Springfield’s voice. I know, I know, I'm in a tiny minority here, but I do think her voice suits harmony singing much better than solo. I’ll avoid the quagmire of the sibling singers genes-versus-nurture debate here: I just find the voices on this example, Island of Dreams, more moving and sublime than any Dusty Solo stuff I've heard. Yes, I can appreciate her skill, on, say, Son of A Preacher Man or The Look of Love, but my appreciation is intellectual: Island of Dreams, like all great music, transports and transforms me. 

Listen:

Download The Springfields - Island of Dreams MP3 (rapidshare)

Or watch them perform it on YouTube here.