Thursday, February 19, 2015


With the wind chill making it seem like zero (and the night promising an actual record low of just 4 above), friends, relatives and loved ones gathered at a funeral home in Manhattan today. They were saying "Goodbye Lesley." And here, I add: "Goodbye Tony." It's a song you can download or listen to on line, via the link below.

This odd blog doesn't deal with ordinary hits (of which she had many). One of the more obscure items in the Gore collection is "Goodbye Tony." No other words in the song are in English. It's her rather sweetly sung German-language version of one of her most menacing anthems, "You Don't Own Me." Oddly enough while the original was performed with raging power, the German version is much softer and more sorrowful. This is a bit surprising since German is "a rather brutal language" (as Max Prendergast phrased it).

One of the more underrated singers in the rock world, Lesley Gore (Lesley Sue Goldstein, May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015) seemed like just another amateur, ala Little Eva, when she became a sensational star in 1963. She was only 16, hitting the Top 20 with a literal cry-baby novelty called "It's My Party." As unlikely is it might seem, the wizard behind the curtain was Quincy Jones. Somehow he knew just what white America wanted to hear, and with the help of Ellie Greenwich, the veteran songwriter-producer, he made this catchy-naggy pop squeal a hit. The unknown singer had been taking voice lessons and making experimental demos thanks to her affluent father, Leo Gore. Not long after Lesley's birth, Mr. Gore had the family name changed from Goldstein to reflect his Russian heritage. Or at least, the first syllable of it.

In this era of 45 rpm singles, the biggest demographic was now teenagers, and most especially teenage girls. They pushed Fabian into the Top 10, and Rydell, Anka, Avalon, and other pretty boys they wanted to swoon over. They also liked teen girls who could be role models and sob sisters, from Connie Francis to Donna Loren. Perhaps the queen of them, for a few years at least, was Lesley Gore. They related to her and this song about being dumped at her birthday party. They were glad to see, from the fan mag photos, that Lesley was sort of pretty, but not the hated prom queen type. She was believable as a victim.

Also in 1963, Gore followed up with her "answer" song, the triumphant "Judy's Turn to Cry." In 1964 she offered the surprising "You Don't Own Me," as dark and menacing as any Shangri-Las number. It proved she had the pipes for a dramatic vocal. As the years passed, that song became a feminist anthem (just as the Shangri-Las became remembered as "liberated" ladies.)

Teen agony remained Lesley's specialty with 1964's "I Don't Wanna be a Loser" and the better, haunting "Maybe I Know." To get ridiculously analytical about it, the zeitgest heped her existential enigma over a frustrating romantic purgatory, with listeners internalizing her threnody.

The song had simple lyrics: "Maybe I know that he's been a'cheatin', maybe I know that he's been untrue. But what could I do?"

This kind of song had the co-eds nodding and buying, but there was enough vulnerability to make most any boy take notice, too. As in, "Maybe I could get her on the rebound," or "Gee, girls don't have it so easy after all." Her pain was everyone's pleasure.

Lesley continued to vacillate between teen anguish and utterly stupid pop tripe and had another Top 20 with "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" in 1965. That one was penned by the nephew of Quincy Jones' dentist, one precocious kid named Marvin Hamlisch. A number of songs in 1966 "failed to chart," as the pinhead never-was losers like to say. At least she kept trying and didn't just go buy somebody else's music at a boot sale, smugly self-congratulating on being a mediocre nobody.

In 1967, Lesley became "Pussycat," hench-girl to Catwoman on the old "Batman" show. 1967 was also the year of her last Top 20 hit, the Marvin Hamlisch variation on "California Dreaming" called "California Nights." The next year, 1968, she graduated college and wasn't so concerned with show biz. Which is a shame, because after all those years she no longer needed to be double-tracked. She had developed a great stage presence and could drive the crowd wild with an emotional, defiant ballad. Let's say she was so good that nobody ever remarked on her being Jewish.

In the 70's and 80's she put out a few solo albums, but so did Lou Christie and so many others. They, and Lesley, became locked in a time capsule and fans mostly wanted to see them at oldies shows, doing THE HITS.

Circa 2004, she hosted "In the Life," a PBS-TV series about lesbian issues. (OK, hackies, you've been waiting for it: Lesby Gore.) By then, one could quietly ease out of the closet and, if anything, develop new fans. Janis Ian, a two-hit wonder ("Society's Child" and "At Seventeen") found herself in demand at coffee shops and small venues, and Lesley also found the supportive lesbian cult backing her up, as well as some more affluent fans. She performed at upscale niteries such as (Michael) Feinstein's in Manhattan, where the cover charge and price for drinks and food could bankrupt the average person. The crowd would sit politely through the newer songs, many co-written by Lesley, then get juiced on the crowd-pleasing oldies, and absolutely cream over that now lesbian-feminist rallying cry: "You Don't Own Me."

When Lesley died, her last effort, the 2007 release "Ever Since," was on eBay and Amazon for about $4 and no takers. It had a rather haggard looking Ms. Gore on the cover, a fresh version of "You Don't Own Me" to try and get some sales, and was issued by one of the smaller indie companies.

I'm not sure what Lesley's legacy is, and if many people care about her few Top 40 hits (or her hundreds of songs on albums that fans love so much). Maybe you had to be East Coast to identify with her a lot, or you had to grow up with her. She might be, like Petula Clark and "Downtown" or even Nancy Sinatra and "Boots," just a footnote to rock critics who would rather write about Aretha and Janis. But here's something: you can always tell it's Lesley Gore when you hear her. If stardom involves being unique, Leslie was, and remains, a star.

For fans of irony, let's note that she supplied the music for a tune called "IMMORTALITY."


Some Ho' Sings the Lyrics to "Hawaii 5-0"

Here's no ordinary Ho. That's Don Ho, who died in 2007. Maybe he didn't live to see his last name used by whites (such as Jay Leno) who adopted the illiterate black slang term for whore. Look anything for a pun, punk.

Ho was the most famous singer from Hawaii, and as such, had the inside track on lousing up one of the best TV theme songs of all time. Why not try and put sappy words to a driving, exciting instrumental? And slow down the tempo? It might get somebody lei'd:

"If you're feeling lonely, you can come with me. Feel my arms around you. Lay beside the sea. We will think of something to do, do it till it's perfect for you and for me, too. You can come with me."

No, this was no Ho-down. A bit better known, and anthologized on those campy "celebrities sing" and "so bad it's good" CD's is Sammy Davis Jr's uptempo take, re-titled "You Can Count On Me." Did he know Ho? He did know ho's, and was prone to putting red polish on ONE nail, as a symbol of devil worship, and indulge in orgies. Go read "Why Me?" His autobiography reveals quite a bit of his traumatic and confused life, though he didn't explicitly detail doing down on Linda Lovelace's manager/Svengali while she coached him.

Davis's autobiography is a lot more lively than "My Music My Life" the Don Ho story. Don did have his triumphs and failures. His biggest triumph was "Tiny Bubbles," which was not about Michael Jackson's sexual attraction to a chimp. His biggest failure was heart failure. Don had a stroke at age 65, developed heart problems, and struggled with a lot of controversial therapies (including stem cell implants).

Don was Ho-spitalized several times, hoping he'd become well enough to perform again. Quoth Don" "Someone told me 'You're 75.' Everyone gets old. Why did I think I was exempt?"

Don had a pacemaker operation in 2006. He died the following year.

DON HO Hawaii Five-O Theme Song

Monday, February 09, 2015


Prosecutor: Chicolini, isn’t it true you sold Freedonia’s secret war code and plans?
Chicolini: Sure! I sold a code and two pairs o’ plans! Ay, that's-a some joke!

Oh. Wrong guy. We're talking about CICCOLINI.

Though not one of the all-time greats, the late Aldo Ciccolini (August 15, 1925-Februrary 1, 2015) sold a lot of albums for Angel/EMI. Maybe it was because Horowitz and Rubinstein didn't seem to know about composer Erik Satie. Or, care to record him. In the late 60's and early 70's, college grads and classical music enthusiasts suddenly doubled over, discovering the duo of Satie as recorded by Ciccolini.

The impudent avant-garde dadaist and now decomposed Satie had to sustain himself as a cabaret pianist. Likewise, Ciccolini (born in Naples but a Parisian since the 1950's) found himself playing for bar patrons in order to keep baguettes on the table. Yes, "don't quit your day job just yet" was always a good strategy for oddballs trying to defy all odds and bring something new to the world. Even after winning some awards and getting record deals, Aldo didn't quit his day job, which in the 70s involved teaching at the Conservatoire de Paris.

While Ciccolini did earn some good reviews with war-horse pieces (his 1950 United States debut was a Tchaikovsky piano concerto performed with the New York Philharmonic) he found that the best way to get attention in the very competitive world of classical piano, was to specialize in esoterica. This included the twin darlings of keyboard oddness, Alkan and Satie, as well as the even more obscure Déodat de Séverac and Alexis de Castillon. With the success of his Satie recordings, the French-Italian pianist even turned up at New York's Bottom Line in 1979. It was rare for that venue to feature a classical pianist, but Aldo Ciccolini was a name that progressive rock fans knew (along with Tomita, Walter/Wendy Carlos and Virgil Fox. Fox, many recall, played an organ concert at the Fillmore, highlighted by that Phantom of the Opera toccata by Bach, man. Bach, man, he could be booked one night and Turner Overdrive the next! And the same fans might show up! Wowie Zowie)

Mainstream music fans who could tolerate SOME classical music, were delighted with Chico's Satie material, which included gnossiennes (more narcotic than Pachelbel's "Canon") and Zappa-esque titles such as "Flabby Preludes for a Dog." Ciccolini's record label allowed him to branch out for Ravel, and some of the more mainstream composers, while he continued to teach and to perform dates both on hip college campuses and at the standard classical music venues that once hosted the now-deceased Rubinstein and Horowitz.

“Ciccolini avoids standard clichés, and his is one of the finest lyric talents of the piano today,” wrote Washington Post reviewer Joseph McLellan after a 1983 show at the University of Maryland. “He makes it easy to forget that the piano is essentially a mechanical contraption, capable of doing very complex things and splendid in its dynamic range, but limited in expressive possibilities. He makes the piano breathe like a human voice — like a variety of human voices.”

On Dec 9, 1999, Aldo commemorated the 50 years since he first won a major award (the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition). In 2010 he celebrated his 85th birthday with concert appearances in conjunction with EMI putting out a massive (how about 56 CDs) set of his recorded works. By that time, an entire generation had grown up with almost no "star" classical pianist to follow, and only Alfred Brendel being ubiquitous for new releases. Artur who? Vladimir who? Van Cliburn what? And let's not bother with mono from Kempff or Schnabel.

Below? In under 3 minutes, you get Aldo's version of Satie's three short "Flabby Preludes for a Dog." In a different era, these works were as shocking to classical ears as Zappa's weirdly named instrumentals were to rock audiences. So give it a try. It showcases the melodic quirkiness that has continued to make Satie (and Aldo's recordings) such fun listening.

ALDO does Flabby Preludes for a Dog

As always, listen on line OR download...with no capcha codes, Zinfuck password, or promotions to get you buy a premium account for which the artists get nothing.


Donna Douglas, the beloved sitcom actress from "The Beverly Hillbillies," was the first celebrity to die in 2015 (January 1st). Mournful fans rushing to Google's copyright-stomping YouTube started watching old TV clips and listening to her sing "He's So Near" and...other songs she didn't sing. Those were from a different Donna Douglas, who is very much alive.

YouTube uploaders assumed there was only one Donna Douglas on the planet, and if a record had "Donna Douglas" on it, the TV star was the singer. But as this blog's done with two different performers named Johnny Carson and Jack Larson, it's time to be the prime and official source for another truth. Donna Douglas the actress is not Donna Douglas the singer, who was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland and now proudly lives in Perth, Australia, "still married to the same wonderful man for over 45 years." PS, her real name is Donna Douglas. The American actress was born Doris Smith.

When Doris was starting out in show biz, she was sexy (and usually brunette) in pin-up photos and small roles on TV. By the time she became "Donna Douglas" and got a major TV guest role (in an episode of "Twilight Zone," with no rural accent) the OTHER Donna Douglas already had four singles out in the U.K., and was signed for more.

Donna's singles "did not chart," but record companies saw enough potential in her to keep trying. Initially signed to Fontana, Donna Douglas recorded four singles for them: "The Shepherd" (1958), "Come Back to Loch Lomond" and "Six Boys and Seven Girls" (1959) and "Teddy" (1960).

Piccadilly felt she had the right look and chirpy voice for the times and debuted her with "Tammy, Tell Me True" in 1961. The following year came the big push. "The Message in a Bottle" was nominated for the "Song for Europe" contest (aka Eurovision) but lost to Ronnie Carroll's "Ring-a-Ding Girl" which, obviously, did not bring a winner home to Great Britain.

Donna's next singles were "Matelot" (1962) and "It's a Pity to Say Goodnight" and "He's So Near" (both released in 1963). A final single, "Java Jones" turned up via Pye in 1964.

By that time, the actress Donna Douglas was a superstar thanks to "The Beverly Hillbillies." And thanks to "He's So Near" being issued in America on an obscure indie label, some record collectors assumed that this and any imports had to be early rare recordings from the future Elly Mae Clampett.

Is there any vinyl from actress Donna Douglas? Yes, but mostly it's narrations of kiddie and/or religious material. She does talk-sing on a fairly lame "Beverly Hillbillies" cash-in album from Columbia. Book-ended by "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" and the familiar end theme as picked by Flatt and Scruggs, the filler is 11 weak novelty tunes penned by Zeke Manners. Based on familiar traits of the Clampett family (Jethro being naively stupid, Elly being virginal, Granny being ornery) the tracks offer some dialogue and little bits of singing. A few songs are about the hillbillies and sung by an anonymous chorus, and a few give a chance for ex-vaudevillian Buddy Ebsen to do some easy-listenin' vocals. Irene Ryan would issue some novelty singles but here, she's mostly talking in her "Granny" voice.

Now that you're wanting to compare Donna Douglas the singer and Donna Douglas the actress, you get "He's So Near" and "Birds An' Bees," in which Granny and Jed try to give some gentle advice to the blossoming beauty. Donna manages to be musical on a few line of this novelty, but it's pretty clear that a solo song of most any kind would've been one heck of a chore for her.

Donna Douglas the Singer He's so Near

Donna Douglas the Actress BIRDS 'AN BEES

Legendary LIZABETH SCOTT passes on at the age of 92

She was the Paramount screen star that the studio billed as "“beautiful, blonde, aloof and alluring.” Along with Lauren Bacall and Mary Astor, she was one of the most memorable ladies to appear opposite Humphrey Bogart (in "Dead Reckoning.").

Closer to a Joan Crawford than a Veronica Lake, Lizabeth was often called on to play complex women who could be tough and perhaps even untrustworthy…with a touch of potential evil enough to make even a Burt Lancaster or Dick Powell feel a little unsure. Lancaster's line in "I Walk Alone" was: "What a fall guy I am, thinking just because you're good to look at you'd be good all the way through." If the film was a tough noir, she was the woman to make it tougher. She could hold her ground against anyone, even tough guy Robert Mitchum. In "The Racket" she confronted him with: "Who said I was an honest citizen, and where would it get me if I was?"

Despite the typecasting, Scott (born Emma Matzo, September 29, 1922 in Scranton, PA) turned up in some light fare, from the wacky "Hellzapoppin" (in a touring stage production) to the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis hit "Scared Stiff," to Elvis Presley's "Loving You." Her last film was "Pulp" in 1972, an obscurity that co-starred Mickey Rooney and Michael Caine.

A strong woman who chose her name from two other strong women (Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots), she had the confidence to walk away from show business and devote herself to charity work and ways of improving herself by attending college courses and working out at a health club. She said, "I proceeded to explore all of life’s other facets. None of us is ever too young or too old or too smart to learn or to create.”

I found her to be a strong lady with good values and a resolute personality, and I'll miss her. She had so much talent, too. A lot of beautiful stars were tossed into musicals and had to have somebody else do the singing, and a lot of ladies needed an echo chamber when a studio insisted they cut a single or do an album to help promote a film. Lizabeth had a good, natural singing voice, and there are a lot of solid cuts on her lone album.

A wryly erotic little tease of a number is "A Deep Dark Secret."

This song about her secret doings does not name a particular gender. While she strenuously denied the lesbian claim in a 50's "Confidential" gossip mag, which could've ruined her career, it's safe to say that Lizabeth stirred longings on both sides of the sexual equator, and still does.

Lizabeth Scott, a friend to Ill Folks. Just why is…. A Deep Dark Secret