Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Bit of a Mystery

As I've probably mentioned almost every year since starting this project, the middle weeks of May are the busiest of the year at our house, for a variety of reasons. The two graduations just added to that craziness, and I ended up skipping a full week for reasons not related to technical problems for the first time ever. I'm going to try and get back up to speed over the next week and a half with two more posts. But first.....:


Before I get to the mystery mentioned at the top of the page, here's the (much) better of today's two songs, which is offered up by our old pal Norm Burns. It's titled "Shanghai Blues", which is a misnomer for at least a couple of reasons. First, that specific combination of words is never said during the lyric, and second, the music is about as far away from Blues as I can imagine. (A side note - what is the word that Norm sings before the word "Blues" in the chorus?) All that said, I enjoy this bouncy, peppy (if also slight) little number, and hope you will, too.



On the other side, it's a whole different story. As far as I can tell, the artists involved, "Victor & the Trophies", never showed up on any other song-poem release that's documented (in fact, a search for that phrase turns up only one hit - the AS/PMA documentation of this record!).

What's more this sounds NOTHING like any other Sterling record I've ever heard. It sounds to me far more like the stuff that the MSR crew were turning out in Los Angeles for both the MSR label (under their own (or assumed names) and Cinema (under the name "The Real Pros). There is none of the crisp guitar, minimalist band arrangements or any of the known Sterling singers on this record. Instead, it has the muddy, half-assed sound (in my opinion, anyway) sound that the MSR folks produced more and more as the '70's wore on.

On the other hand, I don't recognize any of the vocalists here as sounding like an MSR regular, it seems unlikely that a label in Boston which did things in house would team up with an LA crew, and the devolving of the MSR/Cinema sound I'm referring to really started to devolve after Rodd Keith's death in 1974, and this record is from 1971. So maybe it's just a vanity record that ended up pressed onto a Sterling disc, written and recorded by some local band. I really have no idea.

It is, however, deadly dull, interminable (nearly SIX minutes long), badly produced and unimaginatively performed.

Thoughts? Anyone?




Saturday, May 09, 2015

Songs for Mother and Daddy


 Time is exceptionally short this weekend. As of this moment, I am the father of no (0) college graduates, yet in less than 48 hours, I will be the father of two (2) college graduates, with my younger daughter taking part in her graduation tomorrow, and her older sister doing the same on Monday.

So, rather than blather on about what I have to share for Mother's Day, I'll just say that here's a perfect song for anyone out there who is a mother, or who has a mother. It's our Tin Pan Alley friends, the band "New Image", with a song simply titled "Mother".



And on the flip side, here's the same song-poet, the same band and the same label, offering up a tribute to that other parent, "A Friend is Daddy".



Sunday, May 03, 2015

Okay... Seriously... What the Hell?


Divshare was down for another full week, at least in terms of being able to upload anything, immediately after the date of my last post. Sheesh. Anyway, that's why today's post was delayed. And if you've come this far, I encourage you to listen, because "My Doll Jane" is a doozy.

And I'm not going to say much about today's featured side, except that it's by the otherwise unknown Terri Wells, who is not confirmed to have appeared on even one other Preview side, and that it's lyrical content is several kilometers past completely bizarre.

I won't write a word more about the story Ms. Wells is going to relate to you, but if it makes more sense to you than it does to me, or if you just want to chime in with your own "what the hell", feel free to comment. I'd love to hear what others think of this one.



The flip side is a performance of "Helen Goodnight", sung by Gene Marshall. The lyric was written by someone named Helen - perhaps she wrote that which she was wishing her lover would say to her? This is a pretty forgettable record, to my ears, notable only for a really nice opening nine seconds, much of which would probably sample-able, and, even more notable, a rare complete flub from Gene Marshall, who comes in after a key change away from and back to the original key change, at 1;47, and is, for a moment, nowhere near in the same key as the backing. It would be jarring with anyone, but to hear Gene completely lose is startling.




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

And Mike Thomas As the "Young Girl"!



 
The setting: A drab office outside a tiny recording studio, some time in the late '60's or early '70's:
 
Charlie: So, uh, we got this thing here called "Lonely Girl's Prayer". Who are we gonna get to sing it? We don't have any girls to sing it.
 
Bill: Right now, we don't have anyone but Mike Thomas to sing anything!
 
Charlie: Well, Mike sort of sounds like a girl when he sings... sometimes. I guess that'll be okay. But whose name do we put on the label?
 
Bill: Mike Thomas. Duh. Really...who is going to care? The writer? She'll just be happy to get a little piece of plastic with her song on it.
 
(...Later...)
  
Charlie: Ya know, this lyric is full of concerns and worries, and the whole thing is sort of a prayer for the country. Are you sure this bouncy backing Joey wrote for it fits?
 
Bill: Who is going to care? The writer? She'll just be happy to get a little piece of plastic with her song on it.
  
Bill: Oh, okay, I'll tell Joey and the band to add a drum and bass player add an intro that quotes from some patriotic tune.
 
(...Later...)
  
Charlie: Um, this thing's tune is all over the place - I don't know how Mike does it sometimes - I wouldn't pay for this. And the damn thing is barely 100 seconds long.
 
Bill: Charlie, maybe you're in the wrong business. All the writer is going to care about is getting a little piece of plastic with her song on it. But if you want, I'll have them write that the song is over three minutes long.
  
Bill: Hey, does "Girls" have an apostrophe or not?
 

 
Okay, here's more divshare problems. After four tries, "Young Girl's Prayer" uploaded. After twenty tries, the flip side would not, nor would anything else. Then Divshare stopped linking to the upload page. So I've linked the flip side via another site.

Anyway, I am not familiar enough with the book of Corinthians to know what the hell Mike Thomas and his writer are going on about in this otherwise rather bland offering. If anyone cares to enlighten the rest of us, please do.

http://blogfiles.wfmu.org/BU/Mike_Thomas_-_Corinthians.mp3




Monday, April 13, 2015

Rod Rogers: American

It's a mixed blessing today, as Divshare is back, but please see the announcement below and to the right, as there are major problems which will probably take weeks or months to resolve.


Nearly four years ago, in this post, I offered up both sides of a Film City 45 written by Clarence Boness, both songs featuring patriotic themes. Today, two equally patriotic numbers, from a subsequent Film City release, again featuring Rod Rogers and the Film City Orchestra, although the label in this case also credits "and chorus". If anyone out there can hear the chorus, please let me know, as they don't appear to exist. But then again, neither does the orchestra. Mr. Boness actually co wrote this one with Art-Cain, and Rod declined to take a writing credit, although he did so on the flip side. This is a bouncy, marching song, complete with faux glockenspiel solo!



On the flip side is Mr. Boness' offering up in that most stereotypical subjects of song-poems, and indeed, in the world of popular song for the last 50 years, the NORAD system. While this can't compete with such classics as "Crystal Blue NORAD", "The Ballad of John and NORAD",  "NORAD Got to Be Free" or "I Think I Love NORAD", it's surely still in the top ten NORAD hits of the '60's and '70's. And I think that maybe last note is among the highest I've ever heard Rod Rogers/Rodd Keith sing.


 

Announcement

Divshare is back, to a degree. The official announcements from the company include the news that most files uploaded before March of this year are lost forever. Supposedly, some were retrieved for some users, but I can't find any of mind that work.

This will require me to upload everything I've ever shared on the site, and rebuild every post, whether I choose to stay with Divshare or not. For the time being, no posts which are more than a month old (as of today) will work. I will try to provide updates as I work on this problem.

Thanks for your patience,

Bob

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Holy Week Halmarkary


If it's not already a tradition to offer up a Halmark 45 on or near Easter, 1.) it should be, and 2.) it will be soon. What other label so often offered up flowery language devoted to all things Jesus? 

First up on today's record is some typically stultifying Halmark mustiness, titled "Soldiers of Christ


Variations on a theme follow, even staying (as would a classical Mass) in the same key as the first song. I'm willing to bet that the title was supposed to be "My Prayer Oh Lord", but I've saved the track here under the title listed on the label, which is "My Prayer Old Lord". I hope the Lord isn't offended in being addressed so familiarly and casually. 


On to more secular matters, although STILL in the same key. The first line of "My Nancy" is the exceptionally un-promising and non-musical phrase: 

"There's an angel in Rose Hill
Who is so sincere...."

Having grown up near Chicago, and having lived in the area my whole life, the image I came up with was the famous Rosehill Cemetery. However, it turns out that there is town called Rose Hill, Va., just 15 miles from the town where this particular song-poet lived. Even so, and even though the lyrics refer to Nancy in the present tense, there is some quality in the lyrics that suggest to me that she's may not be coming back. 


The most remarkable track here, however, has to be "Stolen Wedding Band". Not content to have a spoken section within the song, over the much used backing-track, in this case, the singer actually offers up 65 seconds of a Capella prose, spoken before the music even starts. As to the rest of this wronged woman ballad, I'll let you discover its charms for yourself, and wish you a happier Easter than this woman was experiencing.


Monday, March 30, 2015

A Hit for Sonny? Nada Chance!

Okay, enough is enough. I'm going to offer up the next few posts via an alternative hosting site until Divshare gets their act together. For now, the song titles are the links to the songs themselves. Left click to play the links, right click to download. I'll try to post a batch of songs in the next week to try and get caught up...



The Nada label seems to have been a vanity project run by Nellie Doud Allen, who most likely took her initials, added an "A" in the middle, and came up with a label name which translates from Spanish into the word "nothing", which I'm guessing is not actually the message she was trying to send. Note that her publishing company was "Nada Music" - equally uninspiring, no?

She even added a cute little poem about writing poetry, just below the label logo! For her material, she chose to send said poetry (at least in this case) to the Globe song-poem factory, where the singer best known as Sammy Marshall (here billed as Sonny Marcell), provided one of his patented upbeat, bouncy numbers. Ms. Allen wrote the lyric from a male point of view, and Sammy/Sonny sells it with great verve and élan. For 90 seconds.


Ms. Allen's offering for the flip side, "You Didn't Break My Heart", is right in Sammy/Sonny's other wheelhouse, the slow, romantic weeper. But there's a twist here, evident in the title - the wronged man in this case isn't having any of that heartbreak that his former beloved intended, now, is he?