Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PETE SEEGER DIED - Talking...Over the Hills, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

The greatest of the folkies passed on the other day.

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was justly praised in the press, and on national TV news shows, for spending so much of his 94 years preserving the heritage of American folk music, lending his name and fame to important causes, and declaring himself ready to sing a protest song or raise the spirits of the people wherever and whenever he could.

You'll find the details of his life in many obits on the Internet, and reminders of some of the songs that inspired those that came after him (Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, etc.) These include "Turn Turn Turn" made popular by The Byrds, the much-covered "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and "We Shall Overcome." An ardent, enthusiastic fan of all music, his adaptations of old folk songs and ethnic oddities (such as the re-done and re-titled "Wimoweh") helped make "The Weavers" one of the most successful folk groups of all time.

He was the epitome of the folk singer…traveling all over this land, singing to young and old, a repertoire of tunes for any occasion, and unlike singers of today, music that everyone could sing along to. A singer-songwriter such as Harry Chapin or Joni Mitchell might have the crowd sing to one number ("All My Life's a Circle," "Circle Game") but with Pete, you could sing to most all of them, and with his voice not as strong in his 80's and 90's, he was pretty glad when people did.

His remarkable energy and enthusiasm kept him going almost to the end. He was still performing in concerts at 94, still riding the Hudson River and reminding people about conservation, and ruggedly chopping wood for his rural home in upstate New York until about 10 days before he died. How many 94 year-old men are out chopping wood during a Polar Vortex?? Maybe he should've eased up on the wood shopping. But Pete Seeger was not the kind of guy to ease up on anything.

I mentioned to him, of course, my admiration for his support of Phil Ochs…and shared a few personal joys about his work. First was his humor. People don't talk about it that much, because most of his popular songs are more spiritual or political. But the first song of his that really impressed me was "Talking Blues," which was part of the folk tradition of "rap," a talk set to minimal music. His "Talking Blues" most likely inspired the similar ones from Dylan and Ochs, but it's less a protest than just a lotta fun. That's Fred Hellerman lending his "greasy" guitar to the proceedings. On the same Weavers album, Pete performed a simple piece called "Over the Hills," on a recorder. And I wanted to learn to play that tune on a recorder, too, and I did.

So Pete inspired me to add the recorder to the list of instruments I was trying to learn, and to nearly memorize "Talking Blues" to amuse my friends. He also inspired me to a lifestyle of social protest and general muckraking, so of all the things he could've signed, I asked him to sign my CD of "Waist Deep in The Big Muddy and Other Love Songs."

This was his comeback album. Eclipsed by folkies gone electric, and a wide range of protest songs by younger artists, he returned to prominence with this anti-Vietnam anti-Lyndon Johnson song that was also a return to his roots as a rabble-rouser and figure of controversy. Would he be allowed to sing it on "The Smothers Brothers Hour?" The brothers, who had turned from comical folkies to conscientious objectors (much more than their rival "Laugh-In") were intent on bringing back guys like Pete, and Mort Sahl, and Joan Baez.

"Waist Deep" was kind of the official re-emergence of Pete Seeger...and he didn't stop there. Decade after decade he was still active, still a force, and fortunately, he was well-rewarded with tributes, awards, and that Springsteen album a few years ago. He could be counted on, even in his 90's, to appear at important benefits, singing "This Land is Your Land" or another iconic song or two, so his death isn't just a reminder of a life well lived, but a life cut short…a remarkable thing to say about someone 94 years old. Only a few months ago he was autographing a new book about his life and his songs. Go find the ending of the film "The Grapes of Wrath," and watch the little speech Henry Fonda makes as Tom Joad. I'll paraphrase it this way; wherever there's a fight for what's right, Pete's music can be there. It can be there in two ways, let's not forget: by playing Pete Seeger's recordings or…by lifting up your head and singing it yourself, right out loud.

Below, "Waist Deep," and I've combined "Talking Blues" with, ending the little tribute, the gentle "Over the Hills."




If the punk didn't have bodyguards around him 24-7 this spoiled brat would've gotten some sense beaten into him.

Enough is enough. If he can't be punched, he can be kicked out of the country.

Here's the petition to Revoke the Brat's Green Card.

Seriously. Go ahead sign up and sign it. Happily, we're over the 100,000 needed, but adding to it just increases the fun!

The Biebs can't go a day without having his fucking name in the news? Then have it for "President Obama has received a petition to kick the snotty bastard back to Canada..."

Bieber's become the #1 male celebrity you love to hate. Only, enough is enough. Just GO AWAY Justin. And take Justin Timberlake with you...just because we don't need so many shitty songs sung by white assholes pretending to be black.

In Bieber's case, this is a jerk who has also been ripping off Michael Jackson for too long. It was one thing when he was just a silly-haired puppy, the new generation's Donny Osmond. Then he started the bad dancing, the crotch-grabbing, and looking like an ass-hat with a silly cap perched like a bubble atop his brainless skull.

Add being a wussy twerp who talks big when surrounded by his posse of drug-addled suck-ups. Add walking around with no shirt. Add annoying his neighbors with his loud parties, being a frat boy moron pissing in public, add a pointless curse at Bill Clinton, add throwing eggs like an 8 year-old snot nose at Halloween, add being a cynical greedhead selling overpriced perfume to little kids who are bankrupting their parents for him...and dozens and dozens of other offenses.

Oh yes, and add that every fucking time he gets into trouble, he sobs, "I'm just a kid." Then an hour later, he's back out partying with his homeys and whores and his dumbass father. Like his lookalike, Viley Virus, this is a poor role model. He's also a no-talent. He's also obnoxious and part of a trend of teen-pests that needs to be STOPPED. Maybe if he's out of the fucking country, the idiot media, his enablers in poor taste and bad behavior, will have to take it down a notch and stop encouraging brainless brats to prance over the line in falling-down pants or no panties at all.

Some say there should be an intervention...that Justin needs to have somebody step in and give him a good talking to. Well, he has parents, hasn't he? David Letterman and Bill Clinton have talked to the punk. He's going to listen to sobering words from Flava Flav?

People whine, "He's going to self-destruct if he doesn't get help." Yeah? So what's the big deal if he does self-destruct? We're not losing anyone with talent. Consider that the great "King of Pop" Michael Jackson is best remembered for his dopey moonwalk, and for only 2 or 3 decent songs: "Billie Jean," "I Want You Back" (when he was squealing with the Jackson 5) and "Bad." How many other songs of Michael's aren't dated? Even "Thriller" is no longer a thrill. Bieber hasn't done anything worth remembering at all. So who the fuck cares if he overdoses, runs a car into a tree, or gets AIDS from a Brazilian whore? Not me. That's why this blog offers him some lines from Homer and Jethro:

Drop dead, little darlin' drop dead!
Fall asleep smokin' cigarettes in bed.
Try and stop a locomotive with your head.
Drop dead, little darlin' DROP DEAD.

Sign the petition!

HOMER AND JETHRO your download of Drop DEAD Little Darlin'


"Bitch Slut Whore Cunt" is a great song. Better than most anything Kanye's ever done...

In a sane world, a skanky bitch remains a skanky bitch…and either marries a pimp, becomes a crack whore, overdoses in an alley, or ends up a welfare burden or a prison inmate. In THIS world, skank Kim Kardashian is famous and a millionaire. For what? She was nothing to begin with...

Her father was a shyster, a lowlife, a dirtbag, part of the slimy "dream team" that helped get sociopath O.J. Simpson acquitted of a double murder. What did she do except find some monkey moron and do some whorish skanky antics on a video? The video "somehow" got leaked all over the place. The old "slut makes a video and the media makes a big deal out of it" trick. The one that brought us beak-nosed half-mast-eyed useless Paris Hilton. Great, another role model for brain-dead ho-imitating white girls all over the world...

You'd think that some kind of bestiality sex tape would only mean 15 minutes of fame, but Kim's wily witch of a mutha, Kris Jenner, made sure to feed the media with mo' mo' mo' of mutha and ho' games. And, keepin' it real, let's place a good part of the blame on the lowlife public that actually WATCHES shitty reality shows like "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," or "Duck Dynasty" or anything to do with Honey Boo-Boo, "Jersey Shore" idiots or various "real housewife" and "real bachelor" shows. The pukey public gets what it deserves. My objection, is I don't deserve to have to suffer, having to see Kim Kunt Trashian and/or Viley Virus or the misshapen Olsen Twins or crazy Amanda Bynes, Katy Perry, various siliconed nobodies, or all those stubble-faced "hunks" seen sashaying out of a disco with many a smirk. Or any idiot with a silly last name like Le Beauf or Cumbersnatch. Christ, "celebrities" are barely worth looking at in films, much less after hours.

In this "famous for being feces" age, Kunty Kim and and her creepy, ear-splitting sheep-bleating sisters and their dumbass boyfriends are inescapable. So is Kris Jenner and her sex-change double-ugly witch-faced loudmouthed subby-ex-hubby Bruce Jenner. Who the fuck cares when Kim changes the color of her hair, drops a blobby brat with her anus-lipped idiot Kanye, or throws "selfies" out there when there aren't enough paparazzi to pap-smear her puppy dog face all over the daily news. It's also ridiculous that anyone on the planet thinks that Kim Kardashian is "beautiful." The dumbing down and monkeying of popular music is bad enough...but to claim that a giant ass is attractive is just...shit. So is failing to see that a woman like Kardashian is ALL MAKE-UP and PLASTIC SURGERY. Even now, wipe all the gunk and spunk off her face...and she is a DOG. Da bitch.

"BITCH SLUT WHORE CUNT" is dedicated to Kim, but you could envision the lead singer (from the defunct indie band HOTBOX) singing to a me-no-speak-English-good skankpot like Penelope Cruz, or perhaps Sofia "Look at Me, I Have a Cunt" Vergara, or Sarah Palin, or her slutty daughter Bristol, or even Margaret Thatcher (hate does not stop at the grave).

Kim Kunt Trashian You "BITCH SLUT WHORE CUNT"


What, you don't hate Justin Bieber? Or Viley Virus?

You've got to hate somebody. Or something. Kim Kardashian? Geico TV commercials? Commercials for dysfunctional genitalia male or female, with half the ad devoted to all the side effects of taking the medication? Speeches from incompetent politicians? Racists? Religious fanatics?

Here's a generic "I HATE YOU" song that goes on for two and a half minutes. Play it when you're fed up with anyone in the news from Kanye West to Kim Jung-un.

If it wasn't for bandwidth, I would've made this a half hour, so you could work out to it, or just leave it blasting as you escape a family member. Or retaliate against a noisy neighbor who plays shitty Eminem music all day or has a barking dog.

"I Hate U" is the name of da tune...which is also a reminder that you shouldn't stay in the past and listen to the fucking Beach Boys all day long. While there isn't all that much out there that's any good (just check out who won Grammy Awards!) there's a few good artists out there, and some worthy music. As for Simon Curtis, well, an obnoxious "I Hate U" techno-rap serves a good purpose. A loop of W.C. Fields muttering "I Hate You" might be a little too humorous. THIS thing ain't.

As for "Ill Folks Mix," that may imply a lot of effort, but at the moment I don't have that technology handy. I'm still learning my digital 8-track. All I did was cut out the blab (Simon was putting the hate on some bee-atch, of course) and leaving just the "I Hate U" lines, and doing some speed-balling (at some points I made him a bit pitchy, dawg).

Suffice it to say that anyone on the receiving end of "I Hate U" will hate it! Dat's da point, yo!

I Hate U (Ill Folks Mix) your download of Simon Curtis No egocentric password to type in. No "tip jar" request. No idiot capcha codes. No use of a "service" that wants you to pay to be a "premium" member for faster downloads…or that pays uploaders to steal from artists.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Following the unholy three holidays that make November and December such a stressful misery (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's) America heads into January, an entire month of unrepentant idiocy...

"Hysteria for a football team," as Sammy Walker sings it. Or, "teams."

Americans go berserk as the playoffs lead down to the moronically named "Super Bowl," which practically shuts down the entire country. Stores are deserted. Everyone is obsessed with watching a game that involves two teams that 90% of the country never saw in person and couldn't reach without a plane ticket. It involves a bunch of millionaires carrying on for a city they most likely don't live in. It also involves the incredible idiot hype over...get this...being sure to WATCH TV COMMERCIALS. "Wow, these super-rich companies that make enough to pay over a million dollars for 30 or 60 seconds...are gonna do their utmost to get our attention, so let's all WATCH and later talk about which ad was our favorite!"

That's hysteria for a football game, all right; another reason to hate Americans. Yes, let's all watch Madison Avenue's sick but "clever" if we haven't had enough of a slimy gekko, a loud duck, and all the other daily pests in TV ads.

Ooh ooh! Lets not move off the couch for a moment, in case we miss that Oprah ad everyone will be talking about Monday morning, or Schwarzenegger, or some "hilarious" beer commercial, or maybe just some stupid girl in Viley Virus gear getting risque (at only a lad-mag Maxim level). Oooh, she's whoring for some stinky cologne. Or an Internet company. Oooh, you go girl, you Go Daddy!

Oh yes…and let's not forget the hysteria over a "rock concert" plopped in at halftime. Let's watch some pretentious superstar asshole (Broooooose) singing his gratingest hits, or some fading rockers try to show they still have it, or some newcomer bitch giving a performance that would embarrass her gynecologist.

Meanwhile, people are dying. More than likely, a call to 911 on "Super Bowl" Sunday wouldn't get a response for a half hour, and the only personnel at the hospital on duty would be a few hapless bedpan cleaners.

The contrast between a stadium of screaming fans and one old woman's silent last moments on Earth, is the subject of Sammy Walker's song, which sort of takes his friend Phil Ochs' "Flower Lady" to a logical extreme. While a football game is going on (at the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the perennial top Super Bowl contenders) nobody is caring much about an old lady living…and now dying…alone.

Do I watch the fucking "Super Bowl?" Not usually. Thanks to the Internet, more "American-wanna be" fetishists are doing it. The ones who sit around calling themselves Cal E. Fornia and desperately import Velveeta over their own country's cheese. If I do watch, it's generally the last quarter, when it might be mildly interesting to see how the teams cope with pressure in a close game.

PS, it ain't exactly over on February 2nd. Once the football insanity has finally died down, including the post-game week of analysis and listing "favorite commercials" and how the rock act's BASKETBALL idiocy, and an entire month of "March Madness." Ugh.

Watch the "Super Bowl?" I'd rather "support the artist" and go see Sammy Walker in concert. Unfortunately, ticket prices are high, times are tough, transit is impossible, and the number of decent venues for a singer-songwriter continue to shrink. Indie artists desperately need and often can't afford a booking manager, and small clubs don't pay enough to pay for the hotel and car fare. Some deserving artists chronicled here on the blog may perform locally once in a while…Severin Browne, Martin Briley, Turley Richards…and that's about it. Most aren't making money off royalties, either.

Sammy Walker was recently interviewed by Kasper Nijsen at the website, mentioned that he hasn't performed much, except for a few local dates in North Carolina. It's just not easy for any singer-songwriter on an indie label, or no label, to get worthwhile gigs "Without the internet and the new technologies, no one would be listening to my songs at all..."

And most important is to actually listen: "Sometimes it seems a lot of people have forgotten to listen to the words to songs. I mean, the general listening public. I don’t know how many people today can still sit and listen to the words and contemplate what they’re hearing. But there’s always the exceptions, of course, who are influenced by that kind of music and do listen to music where the words are a big part of the song."

Listen to "Cold Pittsburgh Morning," one of the great songs that has often led reviewers to link Sammy Walker with such contemporaries as Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs.

Sammy Walker your download of "Cold Pittsburgh Morning " No egocentric password to type in. No "tip jar" request. No idiot capcha codes. No use of a "service" that wants you to pay to be a "premium" member for faster downloads…or that pays uploaders to steal from artists.



Well, yes, there were technically three of them. First, the terrible theme song used for the pilot episode (which didn't feature some of the show's most popular stars). Then there was the familiar theme that most everyone knows by heart, all about that "fateful trip." It was in the second season that the theme song was revised from "and the rest" to mention "the Professor and Mary Ann," the two "normal" members of the cast.

One of the "normal" ones died, at age 89, a few days ago. Russell Johnson (November 10, 1924-January 16, 2014) made some extra cash just by signing his name on 8x10's. Nice work if you can be remembered, and generations have continued to be entertained by the lovable cast…rather than the feeble jokes and predictable knockabout visual comedy. "We had a great chemistry," Russell Johnson recalled.

Technically his role was the least interesting. He was almost the straight man for everyone else. He certainly was the only member of the cast that had any possible chance with Ginger the movie star. As Tina Louise once told me, "It would've been great if he could've just gotten us off the island." Three years of that career-wrecking show was enough for her. Dawn Wells told me that she viewed it as a "double edged sword," that playing Mary Ann may prevented her from getting good roles afterward, but at least she was well known, and IS well known wherever she goes: "I get on a plane, or go into a restaurant...and people will actually start singing the "Gilligan" theme!" Yike.

I never met Johnson, but I think he felt the same way…that in exchange for a sort of career-ending role, there was enduring fame and life on the memorabilia circuit. There are a lot of respected actors who, in retirement, can't sit at a memorabilia table and get $20 or $30 for signing something. Russell Johnson could. Before "Gilligan," Johnson was best known for playing a sheriff on a few seasons of "Black Saddle," which starred Peter Breck. Let's just say that Breck, and quite a lot of other very fine, handsome and talented actors who starred on a 50-'s or 60's series…couldn't make the same kind of money Johnson could by making public appearances at fairs, store openings or comic book conventions. Heck, once in a while a fan might ask Johnson to sign a photo of himself in an episode of "Twilight Zone" or "This Island Earth" and "It Came From Outer Space."

Russell Johnson was a lucky guy. "The Professor" could've been played by Richard Denning, Guy Madison, Jack Larson, Robert Paige and many other nice looking guys with varying degrees of personality or comic skills. Which isn't to diminish his likability or talents, or that he played the role so ably and amiably, without being the traditional "absent-minded" professor or attempting, ala Bob Cummings, to be hilarious or irressistable.

Tina Louise, who for many years was notoriously uninterested in talking about "Gilligan's Island" or participating in memorabilia events about it, was at least instantly available to pay tribute to the last of the men of the island. "My prayers and condolences go out to his wife Constance and his family. He will always be in our hearts and remembered from 'Gilligan's island' as part of American pop culture history. He will truly be missed."

Missed indeed, because at 89, he was still active, making appearances to sign autographs and greet fans…fans who were dedicated enough to know his full name on the show: Professor Roy Hinkley. His autographed photos on eBay, by the way, go for a lot of money, because it took money to get 'em. Johnson was not prone to freebies, so dealers who had to pay $20 or $30, expect that much and more.

Your download? The awful calypso theme song from the pilot (which had three school teachers in the cast, rather than Ginger, Mary Ann and the Professor), and the complete "real' theme song and end song, including the names of all aboard.

Gilligan's Island TV theme and end theme, including "Professor and Mary Ann"

Gilligan's Island "calypso" TV theme used for the pilot episode which did not include Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells or Tina Louise

DAVE MADDEN : from "Camp Runamuck" to "Reuben Kincaid"

For most people, Dave Madden (December 17, 1931–– January 16, 2014) was "Reuben Kincaid," the manager of "The Partridge Family." To borrow a phrase from Piers Morgan, "if I'm going to be honest," I must admit that I have never, EVER watched an episode of that show. I've had pleasant dealings with Shirley Jones (and Marty Ingels) but that still couldn't get me to watch it. Or "The Brady Bunch." Or "Laverne and Shirley." Or "Happy Days." To name a few beloved 70's sitcoms.

That's why the download is Homer & Jethro's version of the "Camp Runamuck" theme. That was Dave Madden's first sitcom as a regular ("Alice" was his last…another show I never watched.) After "Camp Runamuck," Dave joined the cast of the fading "Laugh In," which did give him a chance to do the kind of gags that were part of his formative years as a stand-up comic and magician. There are probably existing episodes of "The Ed Sullivan Show," "Hollywood Palace" and "The Merv Griffin Show" featuring the blond-haired goofball doing his harmless and zany antics.

Madden was one of many actors who played harmless, slightly goofy average guys…Jerry Van Dyke and Tom Poston were two more, and with a little slow-burn edge, there was Dave Ketchum and Allan Melvin. Madden did have a more complex role on "The Partridge Family" than he did as just another simpleton at the "Camp Runamuck" summer camp. As Shirley Jones said the other day, "“His relationship with Danny Bonaduce is what made the show work; this strange, mad little boy and the grown man who was even worse as a father figure.”

Dave had a hint of the rube about him, but was not from America's South; he was born in Canada, and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana. Indiana, of course, gave America the original all-American Hoosier comic, Herb Shriner, and later on, David Letterman. Madden left Indiana State Teachers College to join the Air Force in 1951, and as part of a Special Services unit, entertained the troops as an mc and comic. Over the years, Madden's brand of All-American nice-if-off personality made him welcome in guest-star roles in a number of classic stupid TV shows, including "Happy Days," "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." For more on Madden, there's his autobiography, with a pun title reflecting his most famous role and a particular type of deli sandwich (featuring sauerkraut, corned beef, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing), "Reuben on Wry."

The twice-married actor spent his last months at a Jacksonville, Florida hospice, dealing with myelodysplasia, a blood disease…the same problem that eventually took the lives of actors Larry Hagman and Pat Hingle, and writers Roald Dahl and Nora Ephron.


CAMP RUNAMUCK - sung by Homer and Jethro

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Tonight! January 9th! CAPTAIN NICE and MR. TERRIFIC

"Wow! TONIGHT, the premieres of CAPTAIN NICE and MR. TERRIFIC!"

Well, that's what you might've been saying if you were a child in 1967. It isn't 1967 anymore, but some do have nostalgia for those days. The Beatles were alive, nobody heard of "Jihad," and record stores were wonderlands of fun and excitement and what they sold was valuable. Instead of reality shows on TV, there were actual attempts at entertaining you! And yes, two such attempts on January 9th, 1967, were super hero sitcoms "Captain Nice" and "Mr. Terrific."

Like a previous year when two similar-concept shows magically arrived together ("The Addams Family" and "The Munsters") most viewers had a favorite. They favored either the more satiric show, or the goofier one. In this case, the more satiric show was "Captain Nice," produced by Buck Henry, who had worked on "Get Smart."

Following the "Get Smart" formula somewhat, the idea was to have the lead actor play it straight, which would make things even more ludicrous. With a serious actor (William Daniels) rather than a stand-up comic (Don Adams), "Captain Nice"did let the viewer find the laughs without the laughtrack having to boom. In the "99" Barbara Feldon role was attractive Ann Prentiss (sister of Paula, who had once starred in a sitcom called "He and She" with husband Richard Benjamin). Tragically, Ann would eventually suffer some kind of mental breakdown, ending up in jail for a raving plot to murder Benjamin. She died in prison in 2010.

The quickie theme song is by Vic "Addams Family" Mizzy and Jerry Fielding. And it rhymes "hammers" with "pajamas."

"Captain Nice" premiered on January 9th, and lasted 15 episodes. Also premiering on January 9th, and lasting 17 episodes, was "Mr. Terrific."

Mr. Terrific, starred the forgotten Stephen Strimpell, who had better luck in off-Broadway plays and in teaching acting (he died in 2006). His boss on the show was played by reliable moon-faced grouch John McGiver. In the photo, Steve is posing with Dick Gautier, who many will remember as "Hymie the Robot" on "Get Smart." The show had a short run but a much longer TV theme, narrated by voiceover legend Paul Frees. The theme song in the background is by Gerald Fried (better known for his incidental music for many episodes of "Mission Impossible." Gilligan's Island""Star Trek" and "Roots").

The "Captain Nice" theme doesn't try to set up any narrative, but "Mr. Terrific" informs viewers that the ordinary Stanley Beamish got his super powers after experimenting with a "power pill..." but few cared. Well, except Germans. For reasons too peculiar to even contemplate, while "Captain Nice" is only around in bootleg form, a German DVD company actually issued "Mr. Terrific" on DVD as "Immer wenn er Pillen nahm (Whenever He Took Pills)" with German dubbing (and the original English as another menu option). Ist dat gut? I haven't bought the set to find out. Listening to the ol' theme song is enough nostalgia for me.

Theme Song your download of CAPTAIN NICE

Theme Song your download of MR TERRIFIC (No captcha code, wait time or request to pay for a premium account. No use of a weasel cloud service, no shout box for idiots to demand entire albums especially of items they can buy, and no tip jar requesting Paypal donations for the blogger's "hard work." )


Now that Thanksgiving is long over, here's "Turkey Mambo." No way would this blog endorse or celebrate a holiday that degenerated into nothing but an excuse for shopping, gluttony, and killing animals. The irony is that most people don't even like turkey (not when dere's frahhhd cheekun). Most housewives FAIL with a dried out carcass that even gravy and Stovetop Stuffing can't save.

If you're like me, and spent way too much time plowing through bargain bin records before the Internet made downloading cheap and easy, you probably know the name Richard Hayman, and confused him with the rudely named Dick Hyman. They offered two different specimens of lounge music. Richard "Dick" Hyman (March 8, 1927) specialized in keyboards…turning out literally dozens of albums featuring himself on piano, organ or even moog. Our tribute subject, Richard Hayman (March 27, 1920) was a virtuoso on the harmonica, and a capable music arranger and conductor. After a stint with the Harmonica Rascals, and working for the MGM music department as an arranger, he created charts for Vaughn Monroe's big band. A somewhat wacky guy, The Haymaker did some novelty harmonica songs on stage with the band, developing an entertaining presence that would suit him later on when he became a "Pops" conductor.

In the 50's, Hayman signed with Mercury for a bunch of easy listening albums as well as some singles. His version of the movie theme for "Ruby Gentry" ("Ruby") was a big hit in 1953. Eventually movie themes and middle-of-the-road (now called "lounge") music fell out of favor. Instrumentals (Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Percy Faith etc.) stopped making it into the Top 40. One last refuge for that kind of thing was the "Pops" orchestra. Fans of easy-listening could gather at a "Pops" concert hall for a clean, quiet evening of family fun...and perhaps still find a Christmas or "classical fireworks" album in the store somewhere. Hayman worked as an arranger for the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler, and conducted "Pops" concerts himself with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Through the 70's and 80's, affluent elders supported "pops" concerts, but by the 1990's, as so many of them reached their 90's, Hayman had to follow the money trail to Florida, where he became Music Director for the Space Coast Pops Orchestra. Given the title "Pops Conductor Emeritus," he would return to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra now and then for a guest gig. He performed a show with the St. Louis bunch on his 90th birthday.

Back in the day, there were so many "easy listening" albums in the racks, the record labels resorted to "sexy" album covers. Unfortunately for Hayman, his cover girls weren't quite as erotic as the ones for the 101 Strings, or even Jackie Gleason's mood music discs. Then again, his music wasn't intended for seduction. At least, not "Turkey Mambo," which turns up on "Let's Get Together." Like a supermarket assortment-pack of cheese, which would be some squares of Swiss, Colby, Cheddar and maybe a Muenster with a few caraway seeds in it, a Hayman album such as this, would have a travelogue tune, a romantic slab, a few ballads and some pleasant but not too upbeat jazz numbers. This one includes "Port of Spain," "Song of April," "Never Again," and for the sake of novelty: "Turkey Mambo."

"Turkey Mambo" is a mild big-band version of "Turkey in the Straw," which is stupid enough, but what renders this even more ridiculous, and delightful, is the chorus of middle-aged men who happily call out "TUR-KEY! MAM-BO!"



Raoul Poliakin (March 12, 1917-August 1, 1981) was a one-named lounge-meister in the mold of Mantovani and Melachrino, but he tried to break the monotony of his mood music albums with stuff that was actually worth hearing, not just "Music for Relaxation," "Music to Dine By," or maybe a Jackie Gleason "Music For Copping a Feel in an Elevator."

"Las Castanuelas" is a nice example. It sounds more like something from a movie soundtrack album than a traditional Muzak opus. It comes from his album "Come Fly With Me," which isn't Sinatra swing, but a concept album collection of familiar tunes from foreign lands. Poliakin's album may have been the only way a lot of dullards riding escalators all day could ever get to tour Europe. The album's audio adventure includes France ("Gigi"), Germany ("Auf Wiederseh'n My Dear") and representing Spain, this odd bit of eccentric excitement, which enthusiastically veers between some sort of Ravel or Bizet bit of Spanish cliche classical music and something that could've been used while Miss Ball and some half-drunk broad got into a grape-stomping contest on an episode of "I Love Lucy."

Before waving his baton at an orchestra, Poliakin was a violinist. He worked on various sessions with top vocalists of the late 40's and early 50's. He and Zelly Smirnoff were the violinists on Frank Sinatra's Columbia recordings of "When You Awake" "It Never Entered My Mind" and "I've Got a Crush On You" in 1947. He later played violin, backing Harry Belafonte, on "Soldier Soldier," "The Fox" and "Delia" among others. As a conductor, he emerged as Everest's easy listening rival to RCA's Melachrino, Capitol's Gleason and London's Mantovani. While the latter three tended to make albums that smoothly gave 50's guys 15 or 20 minutes a side to try and seduce a secretary, Poliakin sometimes avoided becoming aural wallpaper, and tried to vary the music and offer arrangements that were no insult to his classical roots.

Everest's claim to sonic fame was recording everything on 35mm magnetic film, rather than mere audio tape, yet for some reason, some of Poliakin's work was only issued in mono. Pretty odd for an audiophile label. The Everest catalog was recently sold to some enterprising bunch who have thrown mp3's onto Amazon and the other usual suspects for download. Apparently the masters are in mono, as "Come Fly With Me" doesn't sound much different from my original vinyl (from which the mp3 below was taken).

POLIAKIN Las Castanuelas