Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The mini-opera from Where Do We Go From Here? (1945)

A parody of Grand Opera, with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Edward Meeker - "I'm A Yiddish Cowboy" (1908)

A track from the compilation album Jewface, a collection of antique novelty records made by Jewish performers for an audience made up mostly of recent immigrants. Mel Brooks would be working virtually the same shtick almost 70 years later in Blazing Saddles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kaleidoscope - "Flight From Ashiya" (1967)

The UK Kaleidoscope, that is, not the US outfit with David Lindley on guitar. Kaleidoscope (UK) were one of the very best popsike/freakbeat acts, but they never made the British charts and remain virtually unknown in America.

This is the only known footage of the band, appearing on a French TV show. That's Serge Gainsbourg at the piano.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bruce Channel - "Mr. Bus Driver" (1967)

A nice uptempo soul-rocker, from the singer who unfortunately couldn't buy a hit after his "Hey! Baby" smash.

If it reminds you of that same year's "The Letter", that's because they were both written by Wayne Carson Thompson.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Penguins - "Memories of El Monte" (1963)

From Wikipedia:

In the 1950s, as the unstable racial climate and the hostility toward rock & roll started to merge, rock & roll shows were forced from the City of Los Angeles by police pressure. The El Monte Legion Stadium, outside the city limits, became the site of a series for rock and roll concerts by Johnny Otis and other performers.  During the fifties, teenagers from all over Southern California flocked to El Monte Legion Stadium every Friday and Saturday night to see their favorite performers.... Disc jockeys Art Laboe and Huggy Boy enhanced the stadium's popularity with their highly publicized Friday Night Dances with many popular record artists of the late 1950s and 1960s. "El Monte Legion Stadium", as it was often called, was the "Happening" place to be for the teenagers of that era.

El Monte is known for the long-time rock & roll hit "Memories of El Monte", co-written by Frank Zappa and originally recorded by The Penguins, one of the local Doo-wop groups from the 1950s that became famous nationwide. The song is in remembrance of The El Monte Legion Stadium and can be heard on many albums including Art Laboe's Memories of El Monte. Although the stadium closed their doors nearly 50 years ago, the music continues to live on.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Going Back To Louisiana

Many people have heard this classic performance by Delbert McClinton from his 1980 album The Jealous Kind:

Many sources, including the Secondhand Songs website, cite this as the original version of "Going Back To Louisiana". But the song had previously been released in 1964 by Delbert's old crony Bruce Channel, Mr. "Hey! Baby" himself:

Whether Channel's version is the original I don't know. 

The composer credit is generally given to "Bobby Osborne" ("Bob Osborne" on the Channel release). Can anyone confirm or deny if this is the same Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brother bluegrass group ("Rocky Top"?). McClinton is not mentioned in the bio on Osborne's web page, so I presume he isn't the composer, but I'd just like some confirmation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

October Country (1967)

A unique document -- a short film made in 1967 about the L.A. band October Country.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Russell Morris - "The Real Thing" (1969)

One of the great obscure (at least in the States) singles of the '60s:

This is the version edited for radio airplay. For the full impact you need to hear the whole single.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Billy Grammer & The Jordanaires - "Gotta Travel On"

Singing live. 

Recording date unknown. Faron Young appears briefly at the beginning. Can anyone tell me what this is from?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tennessee Ernie Ford - "Shotgun Boogie" (1951)

Cousin Ernie rips it up with some proto-rockabilly, supported by guitarist Jimmy Bryant and pedal steel maestro Speedy West.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Attack - "Magic in the Air" (1967)

Another repost, this time of a UK pop-sike classic that was inexplicably unreleased until the 1990s.

Read more about The Attack here

The Atlantics -- "Come On" (1967)

Reposted by reader request, this classic garage-punker is one of the greatest tracks ever recorded by an Australian act:

The leas singer's hairpiece remains as indestructibly dent-proof as ever.

Leroy Van Dyke -- "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (1965)

This Dylan cover from country fixture Van Dyke ("The Auctioneer", "Walk On By"). is an early example of country-rock-folk-whatchacallit.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Archie Campbell - "Bonaparte's Retreat" (1953)

A home movie with sound, shot in 1953 by future Hee Haw fixture Campbell (note his absent toupee). Smoky White on fiddle, Luke Brandon on guitar:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sonny West

Sonny West  was born July 30, 1937, near Lubbock, Texas (he is not to be confused with Sonny West of the Memphis Mafia who was Elvis' bodyguard). 

He was extremely active in the West Texas music scene of the late 1950s, recording two songs that would become world-famous. Just not in his original versions.

Friday, April 1, 2011

1930s Hit Parade

The Top Ten records of the decade:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Alternate History

An uptempo "Suzy-Q". James ""Master Of The Telecaster" Burton on guitar:

A franticly hurried version of "You Talk Too Much":

The original version of "Sheila", released in 1960, two years before Roe's own remake would go to #1. Thia version isn't quite such a blatant "Peggy Sue" cop:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Josephine Siao -- "Shakin' All Over" (1967)

From a Hong Kong film called The Lady Killer. Sung iCantonese, with helpful Mandarin subtitles:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jonathan Richman -- "Velvet Underground"

An acoustic version of Jonathan's classic tribute to the Velvets, recorded in Cleveland  in 2009 .

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prophet Motive

The Prophets were from Iowa. In early 1967 they went to Chicago to record for the new Twin-Spin label. The single that resulted, "Yes I Know", is one of greatest rave-ups of the era, a magnificent if blatant cop from Them's "Gloria".

The flip side of "Yes I Know" was "Sad On Me", a delightfully catchy bit of sunshine-pop harmony rock reminiscent of Chicago's New Colony Six -- not surprising, as the producer was NC6 member Ray Graffia.

This 45 constitutes the entire Prophets released oeuvre, although they allegedly recorded at least one other track (as yet unreleased), called "Twelve"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bill Hayes - "Message From James Dean" (1956)

This tasteful tribute from Bill "Ballad Of Davy Crockett" Hayes was released only a few months after the accident.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Harry Warren & Ian Whitcomb - "Home in Pasadena"

Legendary songwriter Harry Warren ("I Only Have Eyes For You","On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", "That's Amore", "Chattanooga Choo Choo"), performing with British Invasion hitmaker ("You Really Turn Me On") and musicologist Ian Whitcomb on Warren's 1920s composition "Home in Pasadena" (a spoof of "Home In Indiana"?),  at Warren's home in the 1970s.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hickory Wind - "Mr. Man" (1969)

Hickory Wind was a super-obscure Indiana band who released one insanely rare album (allegedly only 100 copies were pressed!!!). Taking their name from the Gram Parsons composition on the Byrds' album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, Hickory Wind was very much of the west Coast Byrds-Springfield-Stone Country country-sike school. They would evolve into the cult psychedelic band B.F. Trike.

The oddest track on the album is also my favorite. "Mr Man" features a spoken-word vocal backed by a Highway 61-style arrangement, occasionally emphasizing a tinkling piano. The vocalist delivers a heartfelt plea to the Man Upstairs, hoping for divine intervention to save our troubled world.

"By free will alone we are under his spell..."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Frank Zappa reads a Beatles radio commercial (1968)

Frank Zappa sitting in at KPPC, the legendary free-form radio station in Pasadena, helping out by reading a commercial.

You think record prices are high now? $11.98 for the White Album?! That'd be what, 50 bucks today...?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Cheryl's Going Home"

"Cheryl's Going Home" was released at the end of 1965 by a young singer named Bob Lind, but went nowhere. In early 1966 a Miami DJ turned the record over and played the flip side, and soon radio stations all over the country were playing that flip, a song called "Elusive Butterfly" -- which would eventually flutter to #3 on the national charts. "Cheryl's Going Home" is better, but that's the way things go sometimes.

In the the spring of '66 The Cascades ("Rhythm Of The Rain"), valiantly attempting to continue the group harmony tradition in the face of the British Invasion, gave the song a shot:

Adam Faith, still fairly popular in the UK in the age of The Beatles, made the British top 50 with a cover:

In November of that year The Blues Project took a crack at Cheryl, resulting in my favorite version, though it did no better on the US singles charts than the others:

A band called The Rokes cut am Italian-language cover that was apparently very successful in Italy, the only version I know of to become a hit:

But the oddest version of "Cheryl's Going Home" is probably the mid '70s cover by British singer John Otway:

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Wall-o-Bees - "The Ugliest Girl In Town" (1968)

The Ugliest Girl In Town was a short-lived sitcom of the late '60s, remembered now for two things. The first is its whacked-out premise. A gofer at a Hollywood talent agency (the late Peter Kastner,  star of Francis Ford Coppola's You're A Big Boy Now) falls in love with an English actress making a horror movie in the US. When she goes back to Swinging London, he follows her by dressing as a girl (?), and -- through a series of plot devices too  mind-bogglingly complicated to list here -- becomes a Twiggy-like sensation as a fashion model.

As ludicrous as TUGIT sounds, it actually seems to have had some of its basic premise  "borrowed" by the megahit Tootsie.

But the most fondly remembered aspect of The Ugliest Girl In Town is its theme song, written by Howard Greenfield and Helen Miller. Greenfield (1936-1986) is a legend among Brill Building rock aficionados, writing the lyrics for longtime collaborator Neil Sedaka's hits as well as classics like "Crying In The Rain" with Carole King.

Who owns that fabulous face?
The Ugliest Girl in Town
Who’s clothes are setting the pace?
The Ugliest Girl In Town 

You don’t have to be a 
Mia or Sophia
This is the year of the clown
Be the chickiest, freakiest
Ugliest Girl In Town!

Musically the theme is a catchy if blatant cop of "Georgy Girl", sung by a group of Seekers imitators called The Wall-o-Bees. about whom I know nothing.

Does anybody have the long version?

Was there a long version?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Index -- "Fire Eyes" (1968)

The Index were a peripheral part of the great '60s Detroit scene. This album was allegedly recorded in a basement at home. Supposedly 100 copies were sold and the rest thrown out by the parents of the band members when they moved out of the house.

An original of the album was recently offered on eBay for over $3,000.

For an informative article about the band,  go here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unknown Artist - "It Could Have Been Me" (1965)

Juliet Prowse and Sal Mineo dancing to the dynamite "It Could Have Been Me", in a scene from the notoriously sordid movie shocker Who Killed Teddy Bear.

I don't know who that is singing. Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons may have co-written it (the opening credits imply this) with New York session vet Al Kasha -- who may be singing. But really your guess is as good as mine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Mascots -- Swedebeat

The Mascots were one of Sweden's most popular bands during The British Invasion, notable for their steadfast devotion to the Merseybeat sound (and for having a drummer who looked like he was about 14 years old).

"Call Me Your Love" (1964):

"Sad Boy" (1965):

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Frank Albertson & Marjorie White - "Never Swat A Fly" (1930)

A DeSylva, Brown and Henderson (they wrote Good News) song from the 1930 movie Just Imagine, a science fiction musical (yes, you heard me right -- a science fiction musical).

1960s folkies may know the song from Jim Kweskin's 1967 cover -- although his version strikes me as very smirking and arch. This original has a nice innocence and sincerity to it.