Friday, August 29, 2008

Suffer the Little Children

Got myself a sweet plum of an after school gig babysitting for dear old Unkle Lancifer and Aunt John over at Kindertrauma.

Even though I was told “Absolutely No friends allowed”, I managed to slip all the brats in my charge some cough medicine and put a keg of ‘Natty Boh’ on standby, so why not stop on over at the ‘Trauma’ ward, pull up a flashlight and let me regale you with tales of the darkest decade I have ever known – the 80’s

Boogedy Boo!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"I've Got to Know the Girl in the Miniskirt"

With summer winding down and the coming autumn exuding it’s cooling influence over exposed midriffs and chilly knees alike, the time has invariably come to say goodbye to the minskirt as the come-hither garment of choice for choice chicks.

(sigh) As much as it pains me to say it, there is a definite correlation between the yearly harvest and a very noticeable decrease in the ratio of knee-high boots to pleated Skirts; even stocking are adversely affected.

Though the 'Sunshine State' has never suffered such a seasonal shortage, that didn’t stop California natives ‘The Flower Children’ from making the socially conscious choice and penning this public service announcement extolling the virtues of that ever-present garment.

Simultaneously pressed on both Allied and Castil , all signs point to a 67' release on this, the bands only cut. Once you get passed all the beaded, unwashed activism implied by such a name, 'Flower Children' actually becomes quite apropo, especially when you consider the fact that it sounds like a bunch of kids playing four different songs at once.

A slight technicality when you consider the strong overall message:

"She Did the 'Coffee Grind' and the 'Buffalo Flirt'. That tantalizing temptress in the Miniskirt."

Mini-Skirt Blues - Flower Children

Marching Lovers - Flower Children

Lancelot Link & the Evolution Revolution!!!

Courtesy of T.V. Party:

"Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp debuted on Saturday morning, September 12, 1970 and was an instant hit.

With a cast made up entirely of primates, this live-action series chronicled the comical adventures of secret agent Lance Link; a silly simian version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with fur puctuated with Laugh-in style blackouts, cartoons and music breaks.

Together with his female sidekick Mata Hari, the agents from A.P.E. (Agency to Prevent Evil) battled nefarious villains like The Duchess, The Baron, Wang Fu, Dr. Strangemind, Creto, Ali AssaSeen and other colorfully clad agents of C.H.U.M.P..

The narrator for Lance Link was Malanchi Throne, with the apes voiced by Bernie Kopell (Love Boat), Dayton Allen (Winky Dink) and Joan Gerber.

The creators of the program, the writing team of Mike Marmer and Stan Burns, sold ABC on Lancelot Link in part because of their stint writing for the clever spy spoof Get Smart, which had just left the air after five seasons.

Marmer and Burns were known for exceptional work, writing for the best variety programs of the Sixties and Seventies - including Flip, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and, in particular, The Carol Burnett Show, where their infamous Gone With The Wind parody won the duo an Emmy.

The budget for Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp was the highest ever (at that time) for a Saturday series - over a million dollars for a fourteen episode season. The chimps were trained by industry veteran Frank Inn (Petticoat Junction, Benji).

The sets and props were fairly elaborate and many new lighting techniques had to be devised to shoot the dark chimp faces. The best part of the show was the groovy rock band, The Evolution Revolution, whose music videos were at least as pop refreshing as The Archies."

Monday, August 18, 2008

So Easy Even a Caveman Can Do It!

Well, how about them VRD posts huh? I just wanna take this opportunity to thank JB over at 'The Hits just Keep On Comin' for allotting me a little corner of internet sky to shop my wares. Looking forward to next years swarm.

Now. On to the filthy business at hand.

Several weeks back I began a string of posts who’s common thread had threatened to degenerate into a testosterone fueled orgy highlighting the indiscretions of the fouler of the sexes – namely me. While that was admittedly fine w/ the Devil (He is, after all, a ‘natural man’), I found it prudent to spare the ladies my boorish behavior - far be it from me to offend my female constituency (all two of em’). That said, despite my best efforts, I’m afraid this monster can no longer be contained as it is bursting out of the proverbial button fly as we speak.

In the spirit of scientific inquiry, I give you “I Was a Teenage Caveman”.

Not since Nervous Norvus first opined on the very nature of the Pterodactyl has a record so succinctly summed up the Darwinian plight of the caveman (Only ‘Be a Caveman’ by the Avengers comes close, and even that is way too accessible for consideration).

Most wet brains are familiar w/ this minimalistic masterstroke from the Monster Bop comp, brought to you by the fine people over at Buffalo Bop records (I can never remember if it is Horror Hop or Monster Bop. Sue Me!). Comps aside, I myself scoured for it’s like in the tar pits for what seemed like a Devonian age before finally striking flint several years ago w/ a dealer just this side of Connecticut; and then only to trip over a spare copy at a junk shop right outside of Winston-Salem North Carolina. First single at the top of the stack. Go Figure.

Anywhoo, it should come as no surprise that there is precious little ‘Know’ on Randy Luck, suffice to say that he was undoubtedly torn to peaces by a pack of cave-women w/ a bad case of Dormitory Syndrome upon first air-play. Seriously, you would figure a poet who’s immortal input includes the line “So I smacked her around and I laughed real loud!” would have left some kinda lingering trail, at least a Domestic Disturbance charge, but alas, not a trace remains of Ole’ Lucky save this here fossil.

I can say with some amount of certainty that this pre-historic Rockabilly offering originated in the swamps of Florida - as any throw-back rightly should - on the cusp of 58’. In addition, it is more than plausible to assume the title was a least partly inspired by American International Picture’s ‘Teenage Caveman’ – released the same year – but as for the songs low-key maliciousness, I can only sit back and ponder like I would the meaning of my own existence (i.e. A complete Fucking Mystery.)

The artists intent now lost to time – it sounds like it was recorded by a homeless person w/ a ukulele in the bottom of a mine shaft – I’m gonna have to defer to the record label for this one, the aptly named ‘Art’ being the only true arbiter by which one can hope to judge a song of such…quality?!?! At least its art as I understand the word.

I Was A Teenage Caveman – Randy Luck

Twelve O’clock – Randy Luck

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Blind (Willie) Leading the Blind: VRD 08/12/08

As a child I distinctly remember going to a local garage sale with my mother who, having acquired an obsession with antiques, managed to buy an original Edison Phonograph and a bushel full of wax cylinders under the auspice that she was getting a bargain (@ $20, who's to say she wasn't?). The deal done,that phonograph sat for a number of years before an elderly clockmaker of some repute managed to restore it’s delicate system of gears and springs to some semblance of order. Some might find the expense hardly worth the effort, but where those same people see junk, my mother saw potential; a potential I have seen realized, having had the pleasure of watching this ancient machine spin to life for the first time in ages, and having actually heard it’s tiny bandwidth issue out of the requisite trumpet. Perhaps it is this self-same concept of ambiguous ‘potential’ that makes the search for records worth all the while.

Living, as I do, in the town of Edison New Jersey (Menlo Park is less than 100 yards away), the exploits of one Thomas Alva Edison are close to my heart, as it is in the hearts of any NJ resident with a mind of history. He is our Orvil Wright (if forced to choose between the two brothers) or, if the Ruskies weren't so possessive, then our own Nicoli Tesla. Perhaps he is both those things, that and a dash of Dr. Theremin, a man whose impressive work owes a certain debt, as do those previously mentioned, to the Wizard of Menlo Park.

It is in the spirit of that aforementioned antiquated device, and it’s creator, that I have chosen to dip uncharacteristically deep into the digs to spin something that, while not as old as Mr. Edison's miracle cylinder, is none-the-less, a shinning example of the kind of 'Potential' once regularly lost to the world, now captured for the sake of history and posterity.

"Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1897 near Brenham, Texas (before the discovery of his death certificate, Temple, Texas had been suggested as his birthplace). When he was five, he told his father he wanted to be a preacher, and then made himself a cigar box guitar. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried soon after her death.

It is thought that Johnson was married twice, first to a woman with the same first name, Willie B Harris, and later to a young singer named Angeline, who was the sister of blues guitarist L.C. Robinson. No marriage certificates have yet been discovered. As Angeline Johnson often sang and performed with him, the first person to attempt to research his biography, Samuel Charters, made the mistake of assuming it was Angeline who had sung on several of Johnson's records. However, later research showed that it was Johnson's first wife.

Johnson was not born blind, and, although it is not known how he lost his sight, Angeline Johnson provided the following account to Samuel Charters. She said when Willie was seven his father beat his stepmother after catching her going out with another man. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it, not at Willie's father, but into the face of young Willie.

His father would often leave him on street corners to sing for money, where his powerful voice left an indelible impression on passers-by. Legend has it that he was arrested for nearly starting a riot at a New Orleans courthouse with a powerful rendition of "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down", a song about Samson and Delilah. According to Samuel Charters, however, he was simply arrested while singing for tips in front of a Custom House, by a police officer who misconstrued the title lyric and mistook it for incitement.

Johnson remained poor until the end of his life, preaching and singing in the streets of Beaumont, Texas to anyone who would listen. A city directory shows that in 1944, a Rev W J Johnson, undoubtedly Blind Willie, operated the House of Prayer at 1440 Forrest Street, Beaumont, Texas. This is the same address listed on Blind Willie's death certificate. In 1945, his home burned to the ground. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed. He lived like this until he contracted pneumonia two weeks later, and died. (The death certificate reports the cause of death as malarial fever, with syphilis as a contributing factor.)In a later interview his wife said she tried to take him to a hospital but they refused to admit him because he was black, while other sources report that, according to Johnson's wife, his refusal was due to his blindness. Although there is some dispute as to where his grave is, members of the Beaumont community have committed to finding the site and preserving it."

Lord, I Just Can't Keep From Crying - Blind Willie Johnson

Keep Your Lamplight Trimmed and Burning - Blind Willie Johnson

In the end it is all about preservation. If you consider momentarily how much music has been lost over the centuries through no fault but the inadequacies of the day's technology, then Thomas Edison's contribution seems all the more poinient. I hope you dig today's sentimental, if not 'long winded' post. Below you will find a link to a number of excellent bloggers celebrating 'Vinyl Record Day 08'. Give em' a whirl.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Starr is Born!

That 'Harlen County' cut below yonder has put me in a ole' hickory mood as of late, and what better reason to cut a corner piece of this-here Rockabilly classic!

The essence of rockabilly is so indicative of it's region, era and cultural factors, that it seems almost pointless to try and duplicate it's sneer and cock-sure posturing, not that plenty haven't tried. Seeing as how I never could get galvanized over a pale imitation when the genuine article is always ever just a spin away, marvel with me as Mr. Starr, a man who lived every cliche associated with being an Arkansas rube, beats the 'King' (God rest his soul) to the punch w/ this 1956 cut.

Born Franklin Delano Gulledge near Combs, Arkansas, in 1932, he grew up in dire poverty, and was never far from the edge of delinquency, going over the edge, according to scholar Wayne Russell, when he pulled a pistol on a teacher -- by 14, in 1947, he had left school and was riding the rails and living life as a hobo. According to those who knew him, Starr had one talent in those days beyond a knack for survival, and that was playing guitar, something he'd picked up in his abbreviated time at home and never forgotten. He was 17 when the Korean War exploded and he signed up; luckily for him, someone noticed his musical ability and he was assigned to special services rather than to a combat unit, where his fate might have been very different. He formed the Arkansas Plowboys from the ranks of fellow southerners and survived his two years in South Asia, coming out a little bit straighter in life than he'd gone in -- he still drank, sometimes to excess, but he tried regular work in a factory in Kansas before moving to California. There, he and his brothers Bob and Clark formed a new group, also christened the Arkansas Plowboys. Billing himself as Frank Starr, he played lead guitar in the band and soon so outstripped his siblings in skill and seriousness that he left them behind, musically and literally. He packed up for Texas, and in the early 1950's was scratching out a living around Denison for two dollars a night, working some of the worst roadhouses and shanty-town clubs in the state, catering to military personnel and anyone else brave enough to enter -- by some accounts, nights without barfights and flying beer bottles and chairs were rarer than those with. But he hung on and built a reputation for doing an exciting show and generating a hot rockabilly sound, and in 1955 he parlayed a spot on local radio into an audition for Joe M. Leonard Jr., of Lin and Kliff Records. Leonard was impressed enough to cut four sides with Starr, two of which, "Dig Them Squeaky Shoes" and "The Dirty Bird Song (You Can't Hardly Get Them No More)", become his debut single. Although neither his first nor his second singles were hits, Starr managed to get work on the same bills with the likes of Porter Wagoner and Grandpa Jones. He also occasionally wrote songs, including "Rockin' Reelin' Country Style." Then, in 1956, he was forced to change his name -- he and Leonard got word of a performer using the name Frank Starr working out of California, which led to the Arkansas-born singer changing his name to Andy Starr. Joe M. Leonard Jr. was unfazed by the momentary pause, and was prepared to continue recording his most promising rock & roll act. He got Andy Starr placed with MGM Records, which opened his national recording career with the best record of his whole life, "Rockin' Rollin' Stone", co-written by Starr, who also played lead guitar on top of singing -- in the former department, he was no Cliff Gallup, but he had a distinctive style and a very raw, visceral sound. The B-side was the almost equally fine "I Wanna Go South."

Rockin' Rollin' Stone - Andy Starr

I Wanna Go South - Andy Starr

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jimmy Lomax

Ok, I got nothin' on this 1971 soul two fer. The A-side is the money maker with its fine, uptempo self, where as the flip is a transistor-organ driven moody little cuss. Short of that...the trail done gone cold.

I'm Gonna Love You - Jimmy Lomax

Remember Me - Jimmy Lomax