It was inevitable that with the crazy success of the Beatles and Beatlemania in general that enterprising labels would try to cash in and perhaps dupe a few customers with releases like The Beat Boys’ Beatlemania or The Beats’ The Merseyside Sound. One of the most interesting cash-ins was the Buggs’ The Beetle Beat, touted on the cover as “The Original Liverpool Sound” . . . “Recorded in England”. Not quite true, as the Buggs were actually a Bergenfield, New Jersey band called the Coachman V and the album was recorded in New York City. The band was convinced that the album which included two Beatle tunes, I Want to Hold Your Hand and She Loves You and a bunch of Brit-sounding originals like Mersey Mercy and Teddy Boy Stomp, was to be released under their Coachmen V name. To add insult to injury, the moody “Beatlemania” style cover featured models, not the band members, and the band never received any royalties at all from the recordings even though Coronet would re-release the album in 1966 under the title Boots a Go Go and tracks from the album would show up on a bunch of the label’s compilations as well. Not totally discouraged by the experience was the Coachmen V’s keyboard player, Gary Wright, who would go on to join Spooky Tooth and enjoyed a solo career with the mega hit Dreamweaver.
Posts Tagged: "Mondo Phono"
Alshire Records, the home of countless 101 Strings albums, would sometimes venture into the world of rock music with their Pop series, with albums by The Animated Egg and the California Poppy Pickers, non-existent bands formulated in the studio as low budget cash-in records. One of the most blatant examples is the Black Diamonds Tribute to Jimi Hendrix album.
Alshire cheaped out and instead of paying publishing royalties for actual Hendrix tunes, they filled the record with somewhat Hendrix titles like Hazy Color (for Purple Haze), Flame (Fire), Lady Wolf (Foxy Lady), Experienced You (Are You Experienced?), Hey Horse (Hey Joe) and Burp Gun (Machine Gun). That being said, the record does have, a sort of cool cheese factor for fans of somewhat psychedelic instrumentals. But the chicanery continues as the label would often recycle tunes from their other efforts by just changing the title. Continue Reading
You probably saw the adverts in the back of comic books or issues of Hit Parader, “Your Poems Set to Music” . . .”Poems Wanted for Songs and Recordings” . . . or “Songwriters Wanted”. Those who were hooked by such lines, could for a price, have their thoughts and musings professionally recorded, the first step in their hoped for stardom. You can imagine the output from these dream mills. Well, imagine no more since Bar None records got a hold of 28 outstanding examples.
The titles of some of these alone should reveal some of the wackiness featured here. Take the jaunty country number performed by Bobbi Blake, I Like Yellow Things, or another country rocker performed by Ramsey Kearney, the poignant A Blind Man’s Penis, which also mentions Martians, LSD, and Nazis, as well as a certain appendage in its wacked out lyrics
Those who paid anywhere from $70 to $400 would receive a recording sung and performed by nameless singers and bands, though even this genre had their superstars. The legendary Rodd Keith performs three tracks here, the Beach Boyish drug song, Ecstasy to Frenzy, the folk rocker, How Can a Man Overcome his Heartbroken Pain?, and the novelty jazz number, Run Spook Run.
Porn is pretty accessible in this digital age, but way back in the late 60′s and early 70′s, it was the domain of sleazy big city theatres and bachelor party stag loops. Who would have thought it would creep its way into the world of phonograph records, but here it is in the subtly titled Humpingville U.S.A., which I imagine was a mail order item (shipped in a plain brown wrapper) ordered out of the back of a men’s magazine. Very much in the style of those old radio dramas, side one starts off with our heroine Sheila being visited by the milkman, who brings more than one kind of cream, while side two has Gloria, a travelling cosmetic saleslady stop by, with more than a few makeup tricks for the busy Sheila. Audio Stag Records released eleven more examples of ear-otica with titles like, Shaftman and Midnight Cowpoke. Kudos to the sound effects man
With the dawn of full length albums, stereo sound and Hi Fi fanatics, a variety of artists playing a variety of instruments were unleashed on the record buying public, making stars of Ruth Welcome and her zither, Dick Contino and his accordion and Ethel Smith at her organ. This trend saw an amazing number of albums featuring percussion instruments, with volumes of Persuasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion albums. The king of the percussion world had to be Dick Schory, a classically trained percussionist who served time with the Chicago Symphony as well as working as the educational and artistic director for Ludwig drums.
It’s hard to fathom how a dance, specifically the Twist, had such an impact on the music scene. People of all ages were rocking the dance floor with the dance that was so simple to do, and the market was flooded with dozens of twist albums. Legit twist artists like Chubby Checker and Joey Dee and the Starlighters were joined by many that were just there to cash in on the dance craze. Take the suspiciously named Fats and the Chessmen, and Tubby Chess and the Candy Striped Twisters, who both put out albums that twist-addled shoppers might mistake for Chubby Checker’s.
Any type of music could become twistified, such as Peanut Hucko’s Dixieland With a Twist Beat, or Lester Lanin whose dance band was a favourite at gentrified affairs, with his Twistin‘ in High Society, featuring such groovy numbers as Sweet Georgia Brown-Twist. In fact it was quite common to tack ‘twist’ on of any song to make it sound now and happening. A prime example, is another big band cash-in by Les Elgart and his orchestra’s Twist Goes to College which contains classics, like Hawaiian War Chant-Twist, Turkey in the Straw-Twist and for you classical music fans, Khatchaturian’s Sabre Twist.
Sports celebrities, tend to stay out of the musical spotlight, except for Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Denny McLain’s album of organ favourites and the odd country album from pro wrestler Sweet Daddy Siki, the playing field of musical good sports was pretty clear. Hockey was represented in the music game by Maple Leafs’ ace goaltender Johnny Bower’s attempt at a new Christmas classic with his Honky the Christmas Goose. It’s the heartwarming tale of a goose whose amazing honking ability is utilized by Santa to circumvent all that extra Christmas air traffic and get presents for all the good girls and boys to their destinations in a timely manner.
More famous for its album cover that makes it on many of the worst album covers lists, and deservedly so – those textured toilet paper leisure suits and over coiffed puffy hair do’s multiplied by two can be disturbingly frightening. Hating to judge an album by its cover, I thought I would check out its contents.
When not getting beaten up on the streets of their hometown (that’s cowboy town Helena Montana) the Hopkins brothers, Jay and Jerry, put out an album of “surprise” groovy sunshine pop. It opens with sugary sweet Sixth Avenue Stroll, sickly sweet and terminally upbeat. The happiness continues with I Think I’ll Just Go and Find Me a Flower. The title pretty much tells the tale, but beyond the ultra-hippie sentiments, this is quite nice, with sitar accents, cool backing vocals and a pretty catchy tune. Even the downer songs about breaking up I Think I Know Him and unrequited love, Dilemma are pretty chipper.
Somewhat typical of the Quebecois beat scene with lots of retitled covers sung en francais, this album from Montreal’s Tony Roman (born Antoine D’Ambrosio) makes up for its low budget recordings with its endearingly unbridled enthusiasm. This collection of Roman’s singles starts off with Grand Fille, a low budget cover of the Troggs’ Wild Thing with a sparse garagey feel that takes a comedic turn when the distinctive ocarina solo is replaced by one played on the kazoo. Next up the highlight of the album, Le Petite Chose a cover of Sonny and Cher’s The Little Things with chanteuse Nanette Workman taking the Cher part and Tony doing his best Sonny impression that I prefer to the original even with its feeble attempt at the Phil Spector Wall of Sound sound. There’s a ragged cover of Mustang Sally and what I surmise is a poppy original, Fleur D’Amour, Fleur D’Amite.
Halloween is just around the corner, so it seems like a good idea to spotlight some truly disturbing songs for your Halloween party or just for listening to, with the lights off. We’re not talking about your cute novelty numbers like Monster Mash, but songs that are truly frightening.
Artie Shaw, Nightmare (1938)
Playboy big band leader and ace clarinetist Artie Shaw’s noirish, jazz number opens slowly with a horn progression that would later find its way into John Barry’s original James Bond Theme, then adds blaring horns and a spooky clarinet solo, all very dark and moody and a great start for our ten.
Larry and the Blue Notes, Night of the Sadist/Phantom (1965)
This Texas garage nugget tells the story of a lover’s lane stalker and was originally recorded as Night of the Sadist, upsetting a few folks and getting it banned from radio play. The band re-recorded it as the less threatening Night of the Phantom, which got them back on the radio, and though it’sa pretty cool tune, it only hit locally.
The original Donovan version is somewhat spooky but it took the Vanilla Fudge to take it to the next level, with their nine minute epic version which is full of creepy organ, wailing vocals, and whispered cries of “Help me”, building to its screaming conclusion and a whispered “Mommy . . . I’m cold.” Continue Reading