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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