Friday, 15 December 2017

Christmas Cavalcade 2017 Part Two

And here we go again... four more awful Christmas-themed audio car crashes for you to endure.

First up is/are both sides of the 1986 45 from Culturcide, Santa Claus was My Lover backed with Depressed Christmas. Unsurprisingly this particular disc is somewhat of a rarity, no doubt having to battle with the estate of the late Michael Jackson and that of Irving Berlin would have made distribution difficult - although you can pick up copies on Discogs right now for around $10. The single was issued in the same year as the band released their most famous album, Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America, which – like the single - featured the band's satirical lyrics overdubbed onto popular songs by the original artists. These backing tracks were used without permission and the band soon faced legal threats from some of the original copyright holders.

Founded in 1980 in Houston, Texas, Culturcide are still active today.

Now, last week I promised you some Elvis-themed tackiness and, not wanting to disappoint, here it is!

Elvis Won’t be Here for Christmas was issued by Great Northwest Records in 1977, just a couple of months after the King met his demise. Performed by Linda Hughes, it follows on from the Culturcide single by having her intone the dumb lyric over the top of another tune, this time Silent Night. Linda Hughes had at least a brush with the song poem world: she recorded songs by William Howard Arpaia for the latter’s Vandalia Records the same year as she recorded Elvis Won’t be Here for Christmas.

We’re going to close today’s selection with another Elvis-related Christmas song, this time the 45 from Marlene Paula. A fun, infectious little ditty, I Want to Spend Christmas With Elvis was co-written by Bobby Darin and Don ‘Monkees’ Kirshner and issued by Regent Records in 1956.

Enjoy!

Download SANTA here



Download DEPRESSED here



Download WON'T here


Download WANT here

Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas Cavalcade 2017 Part One

Yes, it’s that time of year again, just three weeks to go until some fat bloke tries to break in to your house and creep around while your kids are asleep. And that means another selection of terrible Christmas records for you to enjoy (or endure!)

First up is our old friend Red Sovine. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a huge dollop of misery courtesy of Ol’ Red, and Here It Is Christmas is no exception, the story of an ageing drunk whose wife has left him after 27 years of marriage. Listen to him as he cries in to his ‘flat martini’ (I wasn’t aware that martinis were supposed to effervesce…) 

Such unbridled wretchedness. A peach.

The second song this week is a bit of a rarity – a mostly spoken word performance from the great Cary Grant. Issued in 1967, the year after Cary retired from the big screen and the year in which his daughter Jennifer was born, Christmas Lullaby is sickeningly schmaltzy but you really can’t blame the guy for recording what is essentially a love song to t his beloved daughter. The song, incidentally, was co-authored by none other than Peggy Lee.

I’ll close today’s selection with a couple of Beatle-related Christmas howlers from 1964 – which seems appropriate as today is the 37th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. Neither I Want a Beatle For Christmas by Becky Lee Beck nor Bring Me A Beatle For Christmas by the terribly-named Cindy Rella are truly terrible, but neither do they have the charm of Dora Byran’s brilliant All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle. They're essentially the same song, with a squeaky teenage girl opining that she wants a Beatle - any Beatle - under her tree on December 25th. She's not fussy... 

I'll leave the Elvis-related horrors until next week.

Enjoy!

Download Red Here



Download Cary Here



Download Becky Here



Download Cindy Here




Friday, 1 December 2017

Hopeless Sings the Blues

Yes, I know it's December 1 - and yes, I'm fully aware that usually means the start of a month of calamitous Christmas crud, but bear with... there's plenty of time for that!

I first became aware of the existence of this week’s disc some six and a half years ago, shortly after my very first WWR post about Grace Pauline Chew… an anonymous tipster mentioned it and had a stab at recounting the lyrics. But that was it. Then, on a Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago, whilst thumbing through old copies of Cash Box magazine I came across the following advertisement.

How exciting was that? Now I had names for the performers, info on the label and an approximate release date. A short trawl around Discogs and Ebay and voila! An actual copy of the actual record for sale. And boy, did it live up to its reputation! Described by my original correspondent as ‘sung to the accompaniment of what sounded to me like a solo pump organ, very wheezy. The tune… was about as downbeat and lugubrious as you could imagine’, Steve Carr’s performance of Chickasaw Blues is simply atonal rubbish. Grace’s usual solovox, piano and bass drum accompaniment dragging the slightly jokey vocal down in to an abyss from which it will never escape. The flip, the disc’s A-side proper, Up Along The Mohawk Valley, is slightly better – at least Bob Colla can sing – but the playing is as woefully inept as ever, and the point where Bob first sings that he wishes he ‘could sing to the girls’ and the keyboard player fluffs their part had me in stitches the first time I heard it.

Of course, as is so often the way, one path leads you down another and I soon discovered that Bob Colla had released at least one further 45 on Bingo, namely Oh What A Night For Love backed with Sally Conboy singing Hi Diddle Diddle Do… and so off I went in search of that disc too. And I found one! And I bought it! And here it is! Oh What A Night For Love is another classic GPC dirge, with the performance credited to Bob Colla and the Girls. It’s impossible to know exactly who ‘the girls’ were, but to my ears one of the two voices belongs to Sally Conboy... and I can’t help but hope that the other belonged to Our Gracie herself. But the flip - Hi Diddle Diddle Do – is ridiculous. Poor Sally tries to inject some fun in to her performance, but the funereal piano and solovox drag her into a hole she stands no chance of ever escaping. Both songs are absurdly gloomy. This is music to slit your wrists to.

For those of you who don’t know Grace Pauline Chew’s story, here’s a brief synopsis. You can read more about her in my first book, The World’s Worst Records Volume One.

Grace Pauline Chew reigns supreme as the World’s Worst Songwriter. Born on September 9, 1898 in Camden, New Jersey, Grace was a voice teacher, soprano, and erstwhile song composer. She came from good musical stock: her father, James Buchanan, was a concert and operatic tenor, so it must have been a massive disappointment to him to discover that his daughter was unable to follow in his footsteps and tread the boards of America’s great concert halls. Educated at the Palmer Institute in California and at the Clark Conservatory of Music in Philadelphia, It seems that Grace learned her true vocation whilst studying in New York under Frank LaForge, a pianist, composer and arranger who had played on the first American recordings by Enrico Caruso and also accompanied the great coloratura soprano Lily Pons.

Grace Buchanan married Walter C. Chew in January 1917 and the pair set up home in New Jersey; the union produced one son, Walter Chew Junior, who was born that same year but who tragically died before his 25th birthday in 1942. It seems that Grace’s way of dealing with her grief was to throw herself into her career. She made a number of concert and radio appearances during the 40s and published her first compositions, I’m Counting on You and the magnificently-titled Put on Your Roller Skates and Roll, Roll, Roll in 1946. Shortly after this she and Walter left New Jersey and relocated to Philadelphia, where Grace set up a company called Art Service Music and established no less than three record labels to issue her art-song compositions: Musicart, Silver-Song and Bingo Records. How this woman managed to finance a company that ran three record labels each of which simply existed as an outlet for her own vanity is beyond me. I’ve yet to find any releases in Silver-Song, and before too long that label disappears from the Art Service canon, leaving Grace to concentrate on Musicart and Bingo.

My own introduction to Grace Pauline Chew came when trawling eBay for bad records. After a couple of hours of searching I found a copy of a 45, You’re The Only One For Me backed with You Don’t Remember Any More, listed on the auction site as a contender for the worst record the seller had ever heard. How could I resist? When the disc arrived I was immediately blown away by it. Mamie Watson performs the funereal You Don’t Remember Any More with the ‘Musicart Ensemble’ – an out-of-tune piano and a kind of reed instrument that, at the time, I was unable to pinpoint. I’ve since discovered that this is/was a Solovox. You Don’t Remember Any More is an absolute dirge; Mamie does her best but is badly let down by both the distinctly untalented Musicart Ensemble and by Grace’s wretched lyrics. It’s turgid, with a strange otherworldly quality: it sounds as if it were written in the 1920s - an odd thing when you consider that the disc was released at the height of the rock ‘n roll era in 1957. I was soon to discover that all of Grace’s material sounds as if it was written either in or for a bygone age: every single song I’ve so far unearthed sounds as though it was composed for Rudolf Valentino’s funeral. If you enjoy the distinct oddness embodied by the Halmark song-poem factory, you’ll adore the work of Grace Pauline Chew.

As for Hank and Jimmy, the performers of You’re The Only One For Me, their accompanists (listed as Rhythm Duo on the disc), appear to be one person playing an out-of tune village hall piano while a second clicks his fingers, kicks at the studio floor in an attempt to keep time with all the elegance and rhythm of a drunken mule, and then provides a spectacularly ham-fisted hand clap solo. It truly is an awesome coupling.

To really get a handle on how spectacularly shocking Grace Pauline Chew’s song writing skills were you need to listen to the hysterically awful coupling of Could You Would You and Moon Crazy, released on Bingo Records in 1957. The Planets, the act credited with this dreadful, positively atonal performance, are clearly Hank and Jimmy again, too embarrassed to have their real names connected with the gloriously useless Grace a second time. Both sides are perfectly dreadful. On Could You Would You, The Planets are listed as being accompanied by 'Cha Cha, Solovox and piano'. Whatever the 'Cha Cha' (their capitals, not mine) was, it appears to be mercifully silent; the Solovox was a primitive, three-octave monophonic keyboard which employed vibrating metal reeds and an oscillator to create a vibrato effect. I love the fact that, although the unnamed Solovox player makes several mistakes during this recording, no-one bothered to put him straight and demand a second take. Maybe Mr Chew’s largesse had finally been reined in. Given the quality of the sound coming out of the piano it has to be the same, discordant instrument employed on nearly every other one of Grace Pauline Chew's masterpieces. You have to wonder if the great lady herself sat at this omnipresent instrument during these obviously chaotic recording sessions.

The B-side, Moon Crazy is, without doubt, the prize: woeful, out of tune vocals from a pair of male vocalists occasionally singing completely different words to each other; someone kicking a bass drum out of time; what sounds like a pair of castanets (possibly the missing Cha Cha from side one?) being thrown about with gleeful abandon and, to cap it all, a whistling solo so tuneless and clumsy that it would make Mrs Miller turn in her grave. God, I love it: this is bad music gold.

Every single disc issued by Musicart and/or Bingo is wretched; spectacularly awful. Maybe none so much though as The Space Ship Blues, copyrighted in 1955, issued by Musicart the following year and performed by ancient vaudeville act The Romany Sisters (accompanied by the grandly-named ‘Instrumental Quartette’). Grace had the temerity to announce, via the pages of Cash Box, that this particular horror was ‘the first space song’. Actually she may have been right: most of the classic 50s space novelties came after the Russians launched Sputnik in October 1957. If so then she deserves a place in the Hall of Fame for that alone.

Around 1961/62 our Grace moved to Florida… the 1962 Cash Box and 1963 Billboard directories have her living at 113 North East First Court, a small bungalow in Dania Beach. She was still running both Musicart and Bingo from her home address, although I have yet to find any releases by the company after 1959. My assumption is that she moved there to retire, possibly after Walter Senior had passed on, although she did continue to write songs and copyright them until at least 1962.

So far I’m aware of more than 60 songs written (occasionally co-written with or credited entirely to Kerry Brooke, which was a pseudonym Grace employed from time to time) and published by Grace Pauline Chew, and I’ve made it my life’s work to track them all down. She regularly contributed to the periodical Musical Chit Chat and also wrote and published a ten-page pamphlet entitled Know How: A Brochure of Information for the Singer Who Wants to Become Professional, in 1953, which contains lists of TV and stage production companies, record labels, opera companies and some words of advice and encouragement from the great lady herself.

As she writes: ‘This is based on years of research…as a voice teacher and musical director of a recording company (I have) had first-hand acquaintance with singers and their problems.’ You have to admire the woman’s cheek.

The complete GPC:

Musicart 101/102: Melody Mac Music In the Sky/Still In Love With You (1949)
Musicart 103/104: Jeanne Heard Music In the Sky/Starlight and Roses (1950)
Musicart 103/106: Jeanne Heard Music In the Sky/Leonard Maclain (Melody Mac) Heaven Sent Me An Angel (1950)
Musicart 105/106: Alfred Federici Another Called You Sweetheart, Why Can’t I?/Leonard Maclain (Melody Mac) Heaven Sent Me An Angel (1950)
Musicart 107/108: Melody Mac It Could Be Forever/? (1951)
Musicart 312/313: Bud Brees with Art Smith It’s Just Because I Love You/Art Smith Will You (1952)
Musicart 314/315: Phil Sheridan I Have No Wealth, I Have No Gold/? (1952)
Musicart 316/317: Don Valino with the Celebrity Singers and the Magictones There’s A Fire In My Heart/Phyllis Moore with the Celebrity Singers and the Magictones Damisela (1954) (78 & 45)
Musicart 318-45/319-45: Phyllis Moore and the Magictones I Don’t Know Where I Stand With You/ Richard Rossiter and the Nightingales Helpless (1955)
Musicart 320-45/321-45: Richard Rossiter and the Nightingales Why Can’t It Be Only Me/ The Romany Sisters The Space Ship Blues (1956)
Musicart 324/325: Hank and Jimmy You’re The Only One For Me/Mamie Watson You Don’t Remember Any More (1956)

Bingo 326/327: Bob Colla Up Along the Mohawk Valley/Steve Carr Chickasaw Blues (1957)
Bingo 328/329: Bob Colla and the Girls Oh What A Night For Love/Sally Conboy Hi Diddle Diddle Do (1958)
Bingo 330/331: The Planets Could You Would You/Moon Crazy (1957)

Grace also copyrighted the following songs: no doubt some of them were recorded and issued on the missing Musicart (108, 322-323) numbers. 

1946: I’m Counting on You; Put on Your Roller Skates and Roll, Roll, Roll
1948: I’m A Fool to Believe It’s Love; I’m Gonna Live to be a Hundred and it Ain’t No Lie
1949: Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ and Hob Nob-Nobbin’ With You; How Can I Tell?; It’s a New Love
1951: Gone From Me; If I Could Ask You; Let’s Join the Easter Parade, You’re My Girl; Take My Love, My Darling
1952: Christmas Serenade; Dance With Me; Somewhere the Sun Must Be Shining; Willie Had a Love Affair
1953: Nothing Can Take Me From You; Santa’s Going to Get Married; Somebody Painted My Bunny’s Tail Blue
1954: China Doll; Give Me Your Shoulder to Cry On; Santa Ain’t Comin’ Down the Chimney Tonight; Shut Your Great Big Mouth; You Gotta Get Happy
1955: The Jungle Rhapsody; What Do they Like About Me; You Believed in Me
1956: Give Me the Right to Fall In Love With You; So Long Joe; The Magic of the Island; Wham, Bang; Who’s That Knocking at My Heart?; You’ll Have to Do It Yourself
1957: Near Me; Part-Time Sweetheart; Sweet and Easy; The Wedding in the Sky
1958: Go Slow; I Fell For You; Let Me Down Easy
1959: Don’t Ever Leave Me; I Gave You My Love (I Gave You My Heart); the Little Lost Sheep; Sunset on the Prairie
1961: I Love You, My Darling
1962: I’m Still In Love With Josie

Enjoy!

Download Mohawk HERE



Download Chickasaw HERE



Download Love HERE



Download Diddle HERE

Friday, 24 November 2017

Post Punk Power Station Pop

Who the hell thought that this was a good idea?

Battersea were a group formed specifically to highlight up-and-coming singer songwriter Charles Ridgway Coxill, a.k.a. Charlie Fawn – just one of the many faces on the London punk scene who never quite made it. They recorded an album’s worth of material, but only the one single saw the light of day.

Call me an old cynic if you must, but it cannot have taken the PR department at Anchor more than a couple of seconds to come up with this rubbish. ‘Oh, the Stranglers have just done Walk on By, and it worked for them… let’s take another Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic and give it the punk treatment. I know: we'll call them 'Battersea' - it's like Chelsea... very London, very punk. It’s bound to be a hit’. Sadly, it wasn’t. Always Something There To Remind Me throws every New wave tool in the box in to the mix but falls short. It’s weedy, and the vocals are simply irritating. B-side (Fawn’s own composition) is better, but suffers from the same poor production and idiotic affected ‘punk’ accent. It was never going to compete with Sandie Shaw’s definitive version. the disc's chances were further stymied by Anchor Records going down the toilet that same year.

As the 70s turned in to the 80s Charlie played a number of gigs, released several singles, an album and also recorded a number of sessions for projects that were later abandoned by record companies. Looking not unlike the scrubbed-up kid brother of Sid Vicious there was an air of expectation about him, but he simply wasn’t different enough (or didn’t get the breaks) to stand above the crowd of post-pub rockers now clambering on to the New Wave bandwagon. Blue Skies is a melodic, power-pop tune that could have been a hit, but the affected vocals are a bit annoying, and it’s all a bit too ‘clean’. There’s no grit. Had he worked with Nick Lowe at Radar or Stiff rather than Tom McGuinness (Manfred Mann, McGuinness Flint) it might have charted; as it was, but 1979 he already sounded dated.

Still hoping for a hit, Charlie recorded Always Something There To Remind Me a second time in 1980, this time with a tip of the hat to the latest bandwagon, the two tone/ska hybrid that had worked so successfully for The Specials, Madness, The Beat and so on. Again the disc – this time issued by WEA/Atco – failed to ignite the charts. With no hits and no gigs, he moved in to modelling and acting. Charlie is still about today, and still occasionally making music. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, very self-aware and spiritual. It’s not his fault that Battersea have ended up here: if someone offered you a contract for what, on paper, must have sounded like a sure-fire hit wouldn’t you take it?

Enjoy!

Download Always HERE


 Download Split HERE

Friday, 17 November 2017

Kermit the Frogg

Even though it was from the same stable that had produced the successful Sesame Street, the Muppet Show failed to spark in the States, and it wasn’t until ATV’s Lew Grade picked it up that it became a hit. The show debuted in the UK in September 1976, and Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Animal and their friends were soon charming British audiences of all ages.

Riding the back of the Muppet craze, Puppet Love by the Froggs was issued in May 1977. A comedy record that isn’t funny - as far as I can make out, the ‘joke’ is that the Muppets get shot one by one until there’s no one left to finish the song – and copying the well-known Muppets theme tune but making ‘just’ different enough to avoid any claims of plagiarism, it’s a hideous mess. A parody of a parody, and the irony of that seems lost on all involved.

Written and produced by Keith Bonsoir, who also produced (and added backing vocals and keyboards to) the Pinkees recordings, the flip side is the throwaway instrumental Wheeling, included here for completists. Promo copies were issued with ‘this is not a Muppett record’ [sic] stamped on the cover. Sadly the copy I picked up for a quid in Bristol’s Wanted Records this week is lacking that particular detail. I have yet to discover who is playing on the disc, but best guess would be that piano and vocals are handled by Monsieur Bonsoir himself.

The disc was issued on the short-lived Paladin label, which appears to have been connected in some way to singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur, television and radio presenter and sex criminal Jonathan King: King issued a disc on Paladin (under the pseudonym The Joker), and Bonsoir, who wrote and/or produced a number of tracks for Paladin, had also worked on productions at UK, King’s own label. Paladin existed for less than a year (September 1976-June 1977), but Keith Bonsoir had been making records since the early 70s, and had also worked with John Holt, Geno Washington and cruise ship singer turned actress Sally Sagoe, who appeared in EastEnders for a couple of years in the mid 80s. He had a fair bit of success in Europe, with pop-disco acts including the Bear Brothers, and was also the voice of Alphonse the Horse, a kid’s cartoon/book/record franchise which never quite took off.

After Paladin Bonsoir went to Creole Records, where he produced The Pinkees and 53rd and 3rd among others. The latter act had scored a hit with King and the song Chick-a-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes Love It) in 1975 and issued at least three 45s on UK. I, like many I would assume, had thought that 53rd and 3rd was just another King pseudonym, but apparently not. King also recorded for Creole, issuing the dreadful God Save The Sex Pistols under the alias Elizabeth, (and impersonating Queen Liz). Prince Charles, apparently, asked for six copies of the disc to be sent to Buckingham Palace. King is due back in court to answer charges of historic sexual abuse in June 2018, but sadly I have been unable to discover the current whereabouts of Mr Bonsoir.

Enjoy!

Download Puppet HERE



Download Wheeling HERE

Friday, 10 November 2017

I Lost 200lb Instantly!

This is one of those albums that regularly turns up in worst records lists, but I’ll bet very few of you out there have ever actually heard it. Well you’re in luck, for here’s the whole album, just for you

Crying Demons was issued some time in the early 60s by the A. A. Allen Revivals of the appropriately named Miracle Valley. Arizona. Side one is the transcript of one of Reverend Allen’s services recorded, as noted on the label, ‘under the Miracle Revival Big Top’, and includes the good Pastor trying to exorcise the demons within a suicidal woman. Side two is the gold: actual recordings of the aforementioned demons jabbering away. My favourite is the demon who doesn’t like books and appears to suffer from haemophilia. Poor, illiterate thing!

Asa Alonso Allen (March 27, 1911 - June 11, 1970), was a controversial evangelist with a Pentecostal healing and deliverance ministry, dragging an enormous big top – which, reportedly, could house 22,000 people and was the largest gospel tent in the world - across the nation to hold his powerful revival services. He was born in Sulphur Rock, Arkansas to poor, mixed race parents. At the age of 23, Allen became a Christian at the Onward Methodist Church in Miller, Missouri.

Allen, one of the country's best-known evangelists and faith healers, built his ‘nondenominational Christian’ religious group into a multimillion dollar organisation that sponsored Allen’s frequent tours around the nation and published the monthly Miracle Magazine, with a circulation at its height of 350,000. Miracle Magazine is an absolute hoot, replete with stories of how an overweight woman lost 200lb during a service (‘I weighed over 500 pounds when Brother Allen prayed for me; the lord took 200 pounds off me instantly’), how a man was ‘cured’ of being an hermaphrodite and of how audience members at Allen’s tent revivals grew new hips and even new toes.

He also put out an unknown number of records on the Miracle Revival Recordings label with gospel singing, sermons, miracle cures and exorcisms. Allen’s extensive discography includes the brilliant I Am Lucifer, God Is a Killer, and he Died as a Fool Dieth.

A popular televangelist, one of the first to use TV to enhance his ministry (you can find a number of his shows on YouTube), Allen died at the age of 59 in the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. Although it was initially claimed that he died from a heart attack the coroner, Dr. Henry Turkel (who, apparently, was the inspiration behind Quincy M.E.) told the inquest that his death was the result of ‘acute alcoholism and fatty infiltration of the liver.’ His father had also been an alcoholic. Allen’s followers and family dispute the cause of death, claiming that Dr. Turkel later recanted his testimony. Dr Turkel committed suicide shortly after, but some of Allen’s followers have claimed that the Reverend himself arose, Lazarus-like, from the dead.

Allen was buried at his 2,400 acre Miracle Valley headquarters.

Enjoy!

Download HERE and HERE

Friday, 3 November 2017

Acid Raine

UPDATE: I can now bring you Mrs Gerald Legge's I'm In Love, courtesy of fellow bad music enthusiast Dame Agnes Guano of the Downstairs Lounge.

Now this is an unusual post: I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about a record that I didn’t have before, or at least didn’t have access to a copy of. But I need your help, so here goes.

I had no idea of this disc’s existence until this August, when the briefest of clips aired during a TV documentary I happened to be watching, but ever since I became aware of it I have been desperate to track a copy down. I can’t imagine it will cost me much, but neither can I believe that many copies remain in circulation after 60 years. It’s not even listed on Discogs, and has not turned up on Ebay once in the last four months. I know it will turn up in a junk shop pile one day… but maybe one of you out there owns a copy?

Released in June 1957 on both 78 and 45, Luck's In Love With You was performed by Her Grace The Duchess Of Bedford. The record’s b-side, I'm In Love, is credited to Mrs Gerald Legge. Both sides feature Geoff Love and his Orchestra, and the b-side has vocal accompaniment from the Rita Williams Singers.

Barbara Cartland penned lyrics to both sides, and the disc was issued to raise fund for charity, Mrs Legge’s Fund for Old People. Mrs Gerald Legge was Cartland’s daughter Raine McCorquodale, who would achieve notoriety as the ‘wicked stepmother’ to Diana, Princess of Wales. Dame Babs, of course, would go on to release the gruesome Barbara Cartland’s Album of Love Songs, which I’ve featured here before.

Reviewed by John Oakland in Gramophone magazine in August of that year as ‘an interesting record, for while it is obvious that neither artiste is a professional entertainer vocally, their voices have a certain something that disarms criticism even if their raison d'etre in the studio did not, and I can honestly say I would rather listen to either or both than to many of the more recognised "singers" from either side of the Atlantic’, so I’m itching to know exactly why the NME labelled the disc the ‘worst record of the year’! The a-side isn’t completely dreadful, which may have had something to do with the fact that The Duchess of Bedford at the time was Lydia Russell, whose mother was music hall singer Denise Orme… but the short clip I’ve heard of the flip leads me to believe that that’s a howler. UPDATE: Raine sounds amazingly like her mother on this, in all her reedy, weedy, off-key splendour. The disc is an absolute joy!

Mrs Legge also fancied herself as an interior designer: for the 1958 Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition she fashioned a bedroom and bathroom. Raine was described by The Spectator as ‘the Boadicea of gracious living — whose own programme note reads, “People who are afraid of colour are afraid of life. I am not afraid of anything, so my ideal room is all flame and aquamarine, with glowing, golden furniture.” And acknowledgments to “my mother, Barbara Cartland, my grandmother, Polly Cartland, aged eighty, my son, William Legge, aged eight, my brother, Glen McCorquodale, my brother, Ian McCorquodale, and my son, Rupert Legge, aged seven.” I don't suppose they’re afraid of anything, either.’ Oh wow! ‘All flame and aquamarine, with glowing, golden furniture.’ Now that’s something I’d love to see. I’ll bet it was hideous!

If you have a copy of I'm In Love please share.. but until then, enjoy!

So here, thanks to Dame Agnes Guano, is the only copy on the internet of the wonderfully dreadful I'm In Love.

Enjoy!

Download Im In Love HERE

Friday, 27 October 2017

Now She's in Purple, Now She's a Turtle

Now, as you know, I seldom post novelty records here but the story behind this one is just too good to ignore. Here’s Crazy Little Men by the world’s best-known trans woman, Christine Jorgensen.

Born in May 1926 (as George William Jorgensen Jr.), Christine grew up in the Bronx, convinced that she was trapped in the wrong body. After graduating from school in 1945 young Jorgensen was drafted in to the Army, where she came across an article about a Danish doctor who was experimenting with gender therapy by testing hormones on animals. Shortly after leaving the services Christine began a course of hormone therapy to build up the amount of oestrogen in her body – the first step in her journey towards gender reassignment. In 1950 she headed to Copenhagen; her family were Danish, and it wasn’t hard to explain away a trip to the Old Country. However Christine chose not to tell anyone about her real intentions – to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

In 1952, shortly after the surgery took place, Christine wrote to her parents: ‘Nature made a mistake which I have had corrected, and now I am your daughter.’ Then, on December 1, 1952 the New York Daily News ran a front-page story Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty, telling readers that Jorgensen had become the recipient of the first ‘sex change’. She wasn’t: Danish artist Lili Elbe transitioned in 1930, and there had been unsuccessful attempts at surgery in the 1920s, but she was the first American to break cover. Christine’s experiences, as I’m sure you already knew, were liberally adapted by the auteur Ed Wood Junior for his film classic Glen or Glenda, a.k.a I Changed My Sex.

Christine became an overnight sensation, a regular guest on talk shows and earned money as a nightclub performer, talking about her experiences and singing in a very passable, Dietrich-esque smoky voice. In 1953 she played the famous Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas, and in 1954 it was reported that she was earning up to $8,000 a week – a phenomenal sum. She also managed to get caught up in the 50s craze for ‘little green men’ novelty discs, releasing the incredibly rare (I snaffled this - and the image - off the internet, although there is a copy currently for sale at Discogs) 45 Crazy Little Men, along with the Transfusion-influenced b-side Nervous Jervis, on the tiny Jolt Records in late 1959. Sounding to all the world like Lucia Pamela, Crazy Little Men is a nutso record, well worthy of its inclusion here.

Jolt had been set up by Joe Lederman, a well-known juke box operator from Newark, New Jersey in September of that year, and Christine as the first artisit signed to the company. ‘Miss Jorgensen is going to record albums and singles for us,’ Lederman announced to Billboard. ‘We have already heard from a number of writers with special material for her. The first project will be a sort of party type of LP record, but there will be nothing offensive about her songs. Her first single will contain Crazy Little Men and Nervous Jervis.’ As far as I am aware, the scheduled album did not appear. Other artists signed to the company included singers Dolly Dawn and Cathy Castro, ‘a luscious looking doll of 19 who will easily be the next Connie Francis’. Indeed!

A biographical film, The Christine Jorgensen Story, appeared in 1970. Christine also released an interview album, Christine Jorgensen Reveals, in 1958 and a live album of her nightclub act, I Enjoy being a Girl, in 1983. Gay performer Ray Bourbon claimed that he too had surgery and announced to the world, via his album Let Me Tell You About My Operation, that she was now to be known as Rae - however it seems that Ray never actually underwent gender reassignment. You can read more about him (and his crazy life) in my latest book, David Bowie Made Me Gay.

An eloquent spokesperson for trans rights, Jorgensen died of cancer in 1989. She was 62. You can find out more about Christine at JD Doyle's Queer Music Heritage site.

Enjoy!

Download CRAZY here


Download NERVOUS here

Friday, 20 October 2017

Burt's a Singer

Burt Reynolds: 70s sex god, all-round macho man and seemingly, aware of his shortcomings. ‘I was an asshole,’ he once told the Mirror’s Rod McPhee. ‘I made some stupid mistakes and I haven’t been the nicest guy in the world about keeping my mouth shut about women’. It’s not just his mouth he should be guarded about, as the former women in his life who have talked openly about domestic violence and spousal abuse would no doubt agree.

Reynolds is an actor who gets that the whole notion of celebrity is faintly ridiculous… as ridiculous as that wig he insists on wearing (which, unlike some actors and singers we could mention, at least he acknowledges). Still, celebrity he is… and we all know what that (potentially) means.

Yes, in 1973 Burt, still riding the crest of a wave of fame brought about by his starring role in the film Deliverance the previous year and his appearance as Cosmopolitan magazine’s first nude male centrefold, made a record. He was nominated for Academy Award for his performance in the movie, but it was the Cosmo spread that turned him into a bone fide celeb. After more than a decade beavering away on TV and in low budget movies, he was a star; a star who was about to launch his singing career. The thoroughly dreadful record in question contains eleven cuts of vaguely-country flavoured schmaltz, ‘sung’ by a man who cannot sing. Not that it should surprise any of you that I was going to hate Ask Me What I Am, as the whole project was masterminded by that arch fiend Bobby Goldsboro.

It’s catastrophically bad. Goldsboro’s songs are as sickly sweet as you’d expect and he pulls every trick out of his albeit limited bag: there are songs about children and childhood, relationships, spoken word pieces and, oh dear lord, there’s even one of his trademark religious epics in There's A Slight Misunderstanding Between God And Man. Burt tries his best, God love him, but the whole album is dreadful and There's A Slight Misunderstanding Between God And Man is every inch as awful as you’d hope.

Accompanied by a pull out poster featuring the oh-so hairy gentleman clad from head to toe in baby blue polyester, Billboard liked it, calling the album a ‘good personality-as-singer package with lots of Burt beefcake photos’, and claiming that the ‘actor actually has pleasing, pro-quality voice’. Evidence, as if you needed it, to believe in the old maxim ‘don’t believe everything you read in the press’, as Burt’s voice on this album is paper-thin and as fragile as sugar glass. This record is easily as bad as anything Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner produced.

Despite everything Burt and Bobby remained friends. The same year the album was released Goldsboro and Reynolds appeared on the TV special Burt Reynolds’ Late Show and the following year the pair were brought together on a US telethon, helping raise money for people with cerebral palsy. In 1993 Goldsboro would provide the music for Burt’s hit TV comedy Evening Shade.

According to the engineer on the sessions, Ernie Winfrey (writing on YouTube) ‘I have to give Burt credit for having the balls to even try it. My boss, and his friend Buddy Killen, got together with Goldsboro and decided that, considering Burt's huge popularity at that time, they would sell tons of records based solely on his fame.

‘I know that Burt knew in his heart that he didn't really have the chops to bring it off but he may have expected me to perform miracles on his voice. I know this because when I was out adjusting his mic he whispered “Ern, please help me sound as good as you can”. As you can see I have only so much control over that; all the effects in the world will not make a bad singer sound good.

‘But the most important thing to me was how humble he was and how down to earth he was. After we finished recording all his vocal tracks Buddy invited him to go out and eat. They left and I was putting all the tapes back in the boxes and I heard “Hey Ern!” Burt stuck his head in the door and said “Come on man...We can't forget our engineer.” That’s the type of guy he was. I understand that it was the stunt men and crew that Burt hung out with on his movie sets.

‘The most endearing thing that Burt did was to call Dinah Shore (who he was dating at the time) every night after that days sessions were over and play her the results holding the phone up to the speakers. I kept his vocal down in the mix so it was hard to tell how really bad it was. But he seemed to be so proud of his shot at being a recording artist. Although Burt will never be that recording artist he wanted to be, I can truthfully say from my observation that he is one of the nicest, most humble guys I've ever worked with in the studio. It kills me to see the problems he’s gone through the past few years.’

The problems that Ernie Winfrey alluded to include divorce from wife Loni Anderson and her revelations of his abusive behaviour, bankruptcy (in 2011 his 153 acre ranch, where many of the scenes for Smokey and the Bandit had been filmed, was seized), addiction to prescription painkillers (which he began taking after an on-set accident), back surgery, and a quintuple heart bypass in February 2010. Reynolds, who apparently was once in the running to play James Bond (producer Cubby Broccoli went with George Lazenby instead) and Han Solo in Star Wars, is now a frail 81 year old. He’s a fighter though and he’s still acting, appearing in five movies this year alone.

This would not be the only time that Burt flexed his tonsils. Apart from singing on a number of TV variety shows (including the Dinah Shore Show) he also sang the song Let's Do Something Cheap and Superficial on the soundtrack to Smokey and the Bandit 2. Here’s a brace of tracks from Burt’s 1973 album Ask Me What I Am, Room For a Boy and the title track.

Enjoy!


Download I Am here


Download Room here 

Friday, 13 October 2017

It Took Two

Seriously. Footballers cannot sing. We’ve proved the point on numerous occasions in the past but here is yet more irrefutable evidence that no footballer should ever be let loose in a recording studio.

Yes, it’s infamous ladies man and famous alcoholic George Best as ‘a creepy computer voice’ (as Howard Wolowitz would put it), the man who – in my household – is important only because his moniker provided the name for the debut album by the awesome Wedding Present.

Back in the 80s there was this mad fashion for celebrity keep fit albums. Kick started by Jane Fonda (although less well-known names had been making exercise records since at least the 1930s), by the time Georgie Best Superstar (wears frilly knickers and a Playtex bra) had teamed up with Mary Stavin (Swedish actress, former Miss World and Best’s current squeeze) to release this abortion the Shape Up And Dance series had reached nine – yes, nine – volumes. A whole nine albums worth of wretched nonsense from the likes of Isla St Clair, co-presenter of the TV show the Generation Game, Jay Aston of Bucks Fizz, actress Felicity Kendal, newsreader Angela Rippon and (of course) Lulu. The series would end, after just three years, with volume 10 presented by singer Patti Boulaye.

The music featured on the albums usually consisted of anonymous cover versions of hit records, so what a coup the producers of the series must have felt when they managed to persuade George and Mary to record a cover of the Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston hit It Takes Two. Sadly, although the track was also issued as a single (coupled with an instrumental version), it was not a hit (neither was the album it was culled from) and is to the best of my knowledge the only time George attempted to launch a career in pop music… although he may well have appeared on other, football related recordings by any of the various teams he played for. The b-side, Sasquatch, is thoroughly ridiculous and will give you a taste of the rest of the album.

Stavin, who had previously released the Eurodisco single Feeling Good, Being Bad in 1979, appeared in two of Roger Moore's James Bond films. In Octopussy (1983), she played an Octopussy girl, and in A View to a Kill (1985), she played agent Kimberley Jones. She also played the Icelandic businesswoman Heba in Twin Peaks (Season 1, Episode 6), and appeared in the videos for two Adam (and the) Ant (s) singles, Ant Rap and Strip. Once described by The Irish Football Association as the ‘greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland’, Best sadly died in 2005 of multiple organ failure, the legacy of a lifetime of heavy drinking.

Download TWO here


Download SASQUATCH here

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Trials of Hercules

I’ve just spent a couple of days in the wonderful city of Edinburgh, ostensibly promoting the new book, but also taking advantage of the city’s numerous charity shops for a spot of obscure record hunting. I found a few doozies, one of which I lovingly present for you today, Running Bear backed with Come Back Hercules by Hercules and the Three Bears.

Hercules the Wrestling Bear (1975-2001) was a trained grizzly bear. Professional wrestler Andy Robin and his wife Maggie, a former show jumping champion, brought him up, having bought him as a cub (for £40 according to the Daily Record; Wikipedia will tell you they spent a whole £50 on him) from the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie in 1976. Andy, having once wrestled a bear named Terrible Ted in Maple Leaf Gardens in 1968, hit upon the idea of adopting his own bear to create a star.

Hercules first appeared with Andy in his act on the UK wrestling circuit in the late 1970s. Playing the role of a gentle giant, the bear regularly drew audiences of 15 million viewers on ITV’s World of Sport programme. But it was for an event in 1980 for which he is best remembered – an event that spawned at least two ‘tribute’ 45s.

While filming a television commercial in the Outer Hebrides in August 1980, Hercules escaped; the bear was missing for 24 days. Hundreds of volunteers formed search parties to look for Hercules with no luck until a crofter spotted the animal swimming. Hercules was shot with a tranquilliser dart, netted, and flown by helicopter back to Andy and Maggie, who had built a special compound complete with log cabin and swimming pool for the animal. Being used to eating cooked food Hercules had lost almost half of his body weight during his three weeks on the run, and it was this reputation as a gentle giant that led to the ‘Big Softy’ Kleenex campaign, which kicked off his film career. In 1983 he appeared in the James Bond movie Octopussy starring alongside Roger Moore, and other film and documentary roles followed.

Hercules’ three weeks on the run spawned this dreadful disco version of the Big Bopper-penned Running Bear (originally a hit for Johnny Preston) performed by an unknown female vocal act and issued by Sonet imprint Royale Chimes Records. Brian Spence, former guitarist and vocalist for the Scottish group Bilbo Baggins, wrote the b-side. The other disc, by Donnie MacLeod and a vile children’s choir, can be heard on Youtube

Hercules died in 2001 and was buried on the Robins' estate, Big Bear Ranch, in Glendevon, Perthshire. When the couple sold the ranch in 2013 they dug up his remains and re-interred them next to a statue of the bear in a wood on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Enjoy! 

Download Running Bear HERE



Download Come Back Hercules HERE

Friday, 15 September 2017

Leave It!

There have been plenty of naff TV spin-off singles, and although Don’t Cha Cry by Jerry ‘Beaver’ Mathers is hardy among the absolute worst, methinks it is still worthy of inclusion here.

Released in August 1962, the record itself is pretty innocuous, but Jerry’s flat vocal delivery is simply dreadful. The vaguely Spanish Harlem-sounding instrumental backing – Ben E. King’s version of the Jerry Leiber & Phil Spector composition had been a hit the previous year – cannot save it , and although Billboard called it a ‘sweet Latinish ballad that has a sentimental touch’, it’s hardly surprising that this would be Mathers’ only pop outing.

The single’s B-side, Wind Up Toy, is much more fun, and the peppy tune much better suited to young Jerry’s limited range. Billboard called it a ‘cute novelty item’, adding that ‘the lad sings it aggressively against medium tempo beat from a combo and chorus of chicks’. Ahh: such innocent times. I’ve included both sides here for your entertainment.

Gerald Patrick ‘Jerry’ Mathers (born June 2, 1948) is an American television, film, and stage actor best known for his role in the US TV sitcom Leave It to Beaver, which was first broadcast from 1957 to 1963. Jerry played Theodore ‘Beaver’ Cleaver, the younger son of the suburban couple June and Ward Cleaver and the brother of Wally, and he appeared in all 234 episodes of the series. Jerry, who began his career at the age of two with an appearance as a child model in a department store advert, was the first child actor ever to get a percentage of the merchandising revenue from a television show.

After the series ended he retired from the screen and returned to school (while in High School he fronted his own band Beaver and the Trappers) and later served in the United States Air Force Reserve, reaching the rank of Sergeant. He returned to University, earning a BA in philosophy, and after a break of more that a decade and a half, returned to the entertainment industry in 1978. He has since appeared in many US TV shows, on stage (in Hairspray) and in movies.

Enjoy!

Download Cry HERE



Download Toy HERE

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A Shameless Plug (and some awful music)

A bit of a two-pronged post this week: obviously it will end with some truly rotten music, but I have an ulterior motive for the theme.

My new book, David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music, comes out here in the UK on Thursday, September 7, and in late November in the US.

The book covers a century of LGBT people making records, from the early pre-jazz years right up to the present day. It also documents the struggle that LGBT people have had to endure over the last century to achieve equality, and looks at how musicians manage in countries where it is still illegal to be gay. I’m pretty proud of it. You can read more about it HERE and – if you want – order now from Amazon and all of the usual outlets.

I’m heading out on tour to promote the book, and will be appearing in Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, London, Bristol and other towns and cities around the UK over the coming months. If you’re around please pop by and say ‘hello’.

On Friday September 8 we’re having a special launch event at the British Library, and I have to admit that I am excited beyond words. With live music from Canadian country singer Drake Jensen – making his UK debut - and London-based k anderson, I’ll also be joined by style icon, artist and the ‘French voice’ of Visage, Princess Julia and by journalist, former That’s Life presenter and co-founder of LGBT charity Stonewall, Simon Fanshawe. Copies of the book will be available on the night, and there will be plenty of chance to have a chat afterwards. Tickets, if you’re interested, are available now but are selling fast. Click HERE for more information.

So anyway, to the ‘music’.

During my research for the book I came across a fair amount of mediocre songs, but it was while preparing the chapter on homophobia in music that I came across the band Anal C***. I had, of course, heard of them before but I’d never actually heard them. Oh dear.

Anal C*** was an American grindcore band formed in Massachusetts in 1988. Known for their ‘controversial’ lyrics, the band underwent several lineup changes, disbanded on at least two occasions and yet somehow managed to release eight full-length studio albums as well as a number of compilations and EPs. Early songs were usually no more than a few seconds long, and their musical ‘themes’ included misogyny, homophobia, nazism, antisemitism, racism and the like, with song titles such as You're Gay, The Internet Is Gay, You Were Pregnant So I Kicked You in the Stomach, Hitler was a Sensitive Man and Eazy E Got AIDS From Freddie Mercury. Lovely.

I’m sure that there are people who will insist that this was all meant in jest, and that the band were merely taking the rise out of the politically correct; that their entire career was simply one lone bad-taste joke. I don’t particularly care either way: their songs are too pathetic to offended. I simply offer you an opportunity to listen and make up your own mind.

Singer Seth Putnam, hospitalised after a suicide attempt in 2004, died of a hear attack, aged just 43, in 2011. Here are Hitler was a Sensitive Man and Eazy E Got AIDS From Freddie Mercury. If you'd like to hear more (really?) then the whole album is available at Mr Weird and Wacky


Enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Sound of Muzak

Although I have a had a copy (well, an MP3 rip) for a number of years now I had always assumed that Beatle Songs by Joah Valley was a send up. Apparently not.

Issued in 1980, this album – which features 11 whacked-out covers of Beatles’ classics plus a reasonably straight reading of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma - first came to my attention via Wfmu around a decade ago. I thought that I had featured a track from this record back in 2011, on a post about bad Beatles covers, but (again) apparently not. Allow me to make amends here.

Also known as The New Wave Sound of Joah Valley, the album was only available through mail order direct from Joah himself. There’s a note on the back cover, offering a gift to the first 25 people to notify Joah of any store or P.O Box trying to flog copies of the record. I would imagine there are at least 24 unclaimed prizes gathering dust on a shelf in Los Angeles.

If you think that the cover looks exactly like a Columbine compilation, that may not be such a surprise. Several correspondents have suggested that his real name is/was Andrew Clyde Diltz, and a ‘songwriter’ of that name began his career in music in the 1940s. An A. C. Diltz copywrited a number of compositions in 1946, including Evening Star, I Walk With You, A Song of Your Love and The Wanderer, and during the 1950s he was still writing songs and submitting them to song-poem companies. In 1955 he and his brother Cecil wrote and copywrited the song I’m Sending You My Love, and he’s credited as writer or co-author on a number of songs recorded and released by the Vellez song-poem outfit, including Kibble Kobble (The Flying Saucer Song) and The Lean Green Vegetable Fiend (From 'Tuther Side Of The Moon), both of which were recorded by Jimmy Drake, a.k.a Nervous Norvus.

Now, although others have suggested that these two are in fact the same person, I’m not entirely convinced. An Andrew Clyde Diltz died in California in 1966, and our Joah was still working in California in 1980. Andrew Clyde Diltz was a commercial artist and cartoonist by trade, and I believe it was he that wrote novelty songs in the 50s. Joah Valley could, of course, be a relative. In his obituary brother Cecil is listed but no children are mentioned, which makes me think that if Joah’s real name is indeed Andrew Clyde Diltz then he has to be, at best, a nephew if he is related at all. I also believe that our Joah would have been far too young (if, in fact he had even been born at this point) to have been writing songs in the 40s and 50s.

In 2008 the album’s producer Garry Goodman, commenting on the Wfmu blog, confirmed that Joah was indeed a stage name and that his real moniker was Clyde Diltz (this info also appears on Discogs). Have Andrew Clyde and Clyde become confused? Perhaps there's no connection at all outside of a similar name. Maybe someone out there knows for sure?

Anyway, on to the music. Here’s the vaguely discofied Things We Said Today and Joah murdering the greatest album opener of all time, I Saw Her Standing There.


Enjoy!

Download Things here


Download Standing here

Friday, 18 August 2017

Sing It Again, Sue!

There can be no doubt that whichever anonymous person (or people) put together the post-mortem compilation Songs By Sue did it out of love. There can also be no doubt that they were less that au fait with some of the song titles: La Bamba is rendered La Bomba, Hava Nagila as Hava Nagaela. Add to that the fact that something has clearly gone wrong in the mastering process, and that one of Sue’s well-meaning friends has added their own basic synthesiser overdubs to several of her tunes and what you have is an album with a uniquely ethereal, otherworldly quality that is at times maddening and at others naively beautiful.

So who exactly was Sue? Well, that I can’t tell you, as the compilers of this collection sadly forgot to include any details at all on the cover or label of the disc: no surname, no songwriter credits, no publisher details, no information on where any of the songs were recorded and no date either. My best guess is that the album was put out in the mid 70s… but that is nothing but a guess. The whole album lasts for less than 20 minutes: I assume, because of the varying quality, that the ten tracks presented here are the only songs Sue ever recorded.

Most of what I can tell you about Sue is contained in the scant sleeve notes: ‘Sue, always full of joy and laughter, in love with life. She started to sing before she could walk, then on to dancing. She was struck with polio in her second year. She could not dance again but she kept singing. Even though Sue was in a wheelchair twenty-seven years she worked weekends to get through college and went on to become an activities director at the St. Therese Nursing Home and an art teacher at Good Shepherd School.  She left us recently’ My assumption is that the author is referring to St. Theresa’s nursing home the Good Shepherd Catholic School, both of which are in St Louis Park, Minnesota.

After Sue passed away this album was pressed by her family and/or friends to celebrate her life. Originally posted on the Swan Fungus blog last year, the copy I pilfered this image from (the same copy; maybe the only one still in existence?) is now up for grabs on eBay.

For the record I do feel a little mean about featuring it here, but if I did not how would the majority of you fine people ever discover it? Here are a couple of tracks from Songs By Sue, the opener If I Had A Hammer, and Hava Nagaela.

Enjoy!

Download Hammer Here


Download Hava Here

Friday, 11 August 2017

Rocbuafro and Roll

Often written about in revered tones, and just as often compared to the atonal outsider music of Jerry Solomon, New York-based Jerry Rayson’s Taking Over (more popularly known as The Weird Thing In Town) has been feted as some sort of psychedelic masterpiece. Don’t let them fool you; the 1969 album is a cacophonous, clattering mess. It’s The Legendary Stardust Cowboy on acid.

Everything about this record is wrong: the acoustic guitar Jerry strums throughout is hideously out of tune, the drummer has clearly never heard of a click track or a metronome, and Jerry’s singing voice is little more than a holler. It’s an unholy mess. ‘My theory of music is to explore in the unknown vibrations of sounds, to create psychadelic [sic] ways of thinking which I make mostly with primitive sounds by adding them together…’ Well, that’s one way of putting it. The Acid Archives called Jerry’s album ‘spaced out fringe folk with unusual inner-city vibe and Puerto Rican tangents.’ That sums it up pretty well. Jerry coined the word Rocbuafro for his ‘sound’ describing it as ‘combined by three primitive sounds which are Rock & Roll, Caribean Latin [sic] and African combined together. It is a lowly, primitive type of space music which in the future will be developed in to all kinds of musical sounds from all parts of the world and will combine in to one sound’. Thankfully Jerry’s zeitgeist has yet to surface.

‘Hey you guys, keep quiet down there or I’ll call the cops!’ Jerry shouts at the beginning of third track El Bacelon de lo Junkie, (which almost translates as The Junkie Balcony) telling ‘you hobos, you bums’, anyone who believes in free love and his junkie neighbours, ‘you addict, you pot heads, you speed heads’ that he’s going to call the cops if they don’t let him sleep. Jerry also throws in a little racism, just in case we needed it confirmed that the man clearly hates everyone. As Jerry appears to have Latin roots, perhaps we should allow for the possibility that he is singing in character here, and that he is one of the aforementioned bums or addicts being berated.

As well as the album, Jerry also self-released two 45s on his own Psychedelic Worlds Records: all of his discs came in hand crafted covers and, as he writes on the extensive album sleeve notes: ‘all of my musicians read and write music and they play without discipline in ordr to get their natural feelings… we have recorded this album for listeners who enjoy something different and natural based on psychadelic [sic] thinking’. Yeah, right! The ‘musicians’ are simply credited as ‘band’ on the sleeve; Jerry credits himself as producer, recording director, cover design, cover photo and audio engineer. Oh, and for writing the words and music, naturally.

Here are a couple of tracks to whet your appetite: album opener My New York Woman and one of the shortest – and most musical – tracks on the album, Rocbuafro With L.S.D (incidentally, the album’s shortest ‘song’ Maybelle comprises of 33 seconds of silence; John Cage, or John Lennon, should have sued). The whole album is out there if you want to find it.

Enjoy!

Download My New York Woman HERE



Download Rocbuafro with L.S.D HERE

Friday, 4 August 2017

I 'Ave My Rights!

This is probably the most jaw-droppingly disturbing record I have ever presented at the World’s Worst Records, so those of a nervous disposition may wish to leave now. I originally discovered this horror on one of my ‘go to’ blogs for obscure music, the magnificent Left And To the Back. Sadly the copy available there was pretty beaten up. This one is in far better shape, apart from the occasional static crackle... not that that is necessarily a good thing, as you will soon discover.

Pierre Cour was a French songwriter with an impeccable pedigree: it’s almost beyond belief that he should also be the originator of this tasteless trash, possibly the most disquieting record I have ever heard, and that includes the vile racism of acts like Skrewdriver and Johnny Rebel. Letter to a Teenage Bride is the kind of song that gives Peter Wyngarde's Rape a run for its money. Naturally I had to find a copy for my own collection.

Born in 1916, Cour served in the French Air Force and became a PE instructor; after France was liberated, Cour became a journalist before moving into acting under the name Pierre Lemaire. Landing a job on radio first as a keep fit instructor and later on in the role of Régisseur Albert on the popular comedy show Silence... Antenne, he quickly moved in to full-time lyric writing. His first hit came in 1952, when Les Compagnons de la Chanson recorded Mon Ami, Mon Ami. Cour wrote songs for a number of successful acts from the 1950s through to the 70s, including Roger Whittaker (the massive hits Durham Town and The Last Farewell among others), Petula Clark, France Gall (Si J’étais Garçon), Sacha Distel, Brigitte Bardot (Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas) and Nana Mouskouri among many others. With composers André Popp and Hubert Giraud he co-wrote a number of Eurovision Song Contest entries, including Tom Pillibi, which won the competition for France in 1960 and L'Amour Est Bleu (Love is Blue) which, when performed by Vicky Leandros, came forth for Luxembourg in 1967. Paul Mauriat would later have a huge international hit with an instrumental version of the same song. His song Frère Jacques – a disco rewrite of the nursery rhyme - came 16th in 1977 for singer Anne Marie B.

Master though he was of lush pop balladry and the fine art of yé-yé, none of these hits can hold a candle to the distinctly dodgy Letter to a Teenage Bride. It is simply ghastly.

Describing, in all-too graphic detail, the rape within marriage of a barely legal young woman, Letter to a Teenage Bride is genuinely repulsive. ‘Oh my Daddy! Oh my Mama!’ the poor young protagonist whispers breathily all the way through this revolting record as her oily other half insists on his conjugal rights. Happily, after Pierre demands ‘Right! We’ll see! Come here darling! I ham you ‘usband! I ‘ave my rights!’, her entire ordeal lasts for less than 20 seconds, and with one short ‘ughh’ (it’s there, two minutes and 27 seconds in if you can bear to listen for that long), Pierre spills his seed - almost a full decade before Frankie Goes to Hollywood would be banned from the airwaves for doing the same. Clearly the French had yet to discover the joys of Viagra. Incidentally, the song was originally called Love Letter to a Child Wife, but someone at Charisma had the good taste to change the title to something marginally less offensive.

The B-side, Love Letter is little better, describing the morning after and how our Lothario is already bored with her. Surprisingly, in spite of the fact that Cour sounds for all the world like Kenny Everett’s Marcel Wave, the disc was not broadcast by Everett during his World’s Worst Wireless Shows or two Bottom 30 compilations, although I have no way of knowing if he ever dared air it on his regular Capital Radio show.

Issued on St. Valentine’s Day 1975, legend has it that altering the title was not enough to placate the sales staff and pluggers working at the Charisma office: despite at least two pressings of the sexist song most of the stock ended up being thrown in to a cupboard and forgotten about – which is why it’s easier to find A-label promos than finished, shop stock copies. Pianist and orchestral arranger Zack Laurence is better known these days for his work in television: he wrote the themes to Treasure Hunt and The Crystal Maze as well as acting as musical arranger on series including The Flame Trees of Thika. In an earlier life he was known as of Mr Bloe, and hit the UK charts with Grooving With Mr. Bloe in 1970: a later, France-only Mr Bloe 45 had both sides written and performed by Elton John. 'Record Supervision Ltd', the company credited with the production, was once one of the UK's leading independent producers. RSL operated out of the Lansdowne Recording Studios in London's Holland Park, where everyone from the Sex Pistols to Shirley Bassey, the Plastic Ono Band and Queen had recorded, and where Joe Meek had cut his teeth before setting up on his own.

Cour died, aged 79, in 1995. Hopefully he’ll be remembered for his many pop hits, and not this dreadful blip in an otherwise thoroughly respectable career.

Enjoy!



Download Teenage Bride HERE



Download Love Letter HERE

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