Friday, November 27, 2015

Music of America! A Full Album from Your Friends at Star-Crest

Howdy, Y'all,

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, at least those who are in the areas which celebrated this holiday yesterday. And for all of you, I give thanks that you continue to read and listen to this site, and that I have continued to have this opportunity to share all of this wonderful, weird music with you.

As promised (or at least hinted at) in my last post, today, for the first time, I am posting an entire song-poem album. Previously, I had limited this level of posting to the WFMU blog, but with that no longer being an option, I've decided to periodically post full albums here.

One thing I'll not be doing, though, is making individual tracks out of all of the songs on an album - there is just too much time needed to separate and post them in this way. Instead, I'll highlight my favorites with two or three best-of tracks, then post both sides of the album in their entireties.

This week, the album in question is one of the many released by the deeply weird folks at Star-Crest, in this case, LP # 8400. It's likely that this was their 84th album (or thereabouts) rather than their 8400th album, given that every one of their album numbers ends with a double zero. And they didn't bother changing their album covers much, choosing instead to just slap on a sticker telling you which release number you were lucky enough to be holding. The front cover looks like this:

And here is the back cover:

The album, on the A-side, is credited to Robert Ravis (who you can also hear on a full album here), Tony Rogers and Linda Collins. They do not sing together, as you will hear. Here is the A-side's record label:

Robert Ravis does not appear on the B-side, so its label is only credited to Tony Rogers and Linda Collins, as you can see below:

Yes, you will be able to hear a full 24 songs below, 22 of them song-poems. For, as you may have noticed, like other song-poem outfits, Star-Crest sometimes made a point of including a few popular songs among the entries of their customers, so that Ms. Meeks, who submitted "Just One More Chance", can say that her song was on an album right alongside the title song to "The Desert Song" and that big hit "Mr. Sandman".

Before the files containing both full sides of the album, here are my three favorite entries. First up, Tony Rogers with "It's a Small World" (no, not that song). I enjoy the march music behind Tony, as well as the trip around the world to be found in the lyrics.

Download: Tony Rogers: It's a Small World

Oh, and did I forget to mention? Except for the aforementioned "The Desert Song", which is a bit longer, nearly all of the songs are within shouting distance of being 90 seconds long.

My two favorites from this album are both sung by Linda Collins. First up, from side one, is "Who Knows?", which starts off being about how she doesn't really understand her man, but by the end, she is making a startling (for the era) cry out for some rather intimate satisfaction. This, for me, is the high point of the album:

Download: Linda Collins: Who Knows?

Moving over to side two, we have one of the few clever lyrics to be found on an album which is otherwise made up of uninspired tales of devotion, and equally uninspired tales of loss. Again, we have Linda Collins, singing "Just One More Chance", the tale of an older person who hopes that life hasn't completely passed her by, complete with some downright weird lyrical choices (find me another song with the line "I wash my feet with any old soap"!) and a goofy bit of playing with words at the end.

Download; Linda Collins: Just One More Chance

And now, if you're still with me, here are the complete album sides. First, the A-side:

Download: Robert Ravis, Tony Rogers and Linda Collins: Music of America (LP 8400), Side One

And here is the B-side:

Download: Tony Rogers and Linda Collins: Music of America (LP 8400), Side One


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Are Those Like Charlie's Angels?

This is one of those weeks where there's barely been time to do anything. As a result, as occasionally happens, I've had to find time to make a few MP3's and am now slapping them up on the site for your perusal and enjoyment. 

I quite enjoy this slice of countrified Preview material, performed by the faceless group "The Sunbeams", who are documented to have turned up on only two such Preview discs. I'm not recognizing the singer on this song, which has the unwieldly title of "I Fell in Love with One of Satan's Angels". Perhaps one or more of you know him by his velvet tones. 


The flip side, "All Because of You", pretty clearly features Rodd Keith on the lead vocal - and just as clearly, Rodd Keith on arrangement, although it is still credited to The Sunbeams. Just a nice mid-'60's pop record. 


Coming next week: A BIG post around Thanksgiving, something I would have in the past saved for WFMU's blog. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ridiculously Short AND... Just Plain Ridiculous

Before I share my Tin Pan Alley find for this week, I wanted to pass along a new posting of both sides of a very nice late-period TPA single, recently purchased and posted to youtube by Sammy Reed. You can find both sides of that record here and here.
And now, for a very special episode of "The Wonderful and the Obscure"!:

Okay, I love this record. I do believe that of all of the song-poems I've heard for the first time this year, this is my favorite. I'm intrigued by the stylings of the singer, Johnny Williams, and now wish to find copies of the other half-dozen or so records he made for Tin Pan Alley in the late '50's and early '60's. I love every one of the record's 164 seconds.
And while two minutes and 44 seconds may sound like the length of a typical song-poem, the missing information is that this is the total length of BOTH sides of this record added together. Aside from the albums released by Star-Crest and George Liberace, both of which tended towards raw demo versions of songs, I can't think of another release I've seen containing two songs of 82 seconds each.
None of that would matter if the contents of these sides weren't outstanding - unique - deeply odd - with performances which are captivating in an decidedly off-kilter way. Let's start with the intriguingly titled "Somebody Fiddle! I'm Burning!" 
From the opening countrified instrumental, you'll know something special is happening. And then Johnny Williams comes in, and any suspicions that you had that he might be a moonlighting professional singer go right out the window. He sounds more like crazy ol' Ed at the Senior Center on talent night. And you're never going to improve on the opening lines:
I believe in Roman Nero
He has always been my hero
If anyone asks me why I collect song-poems, I now have another example to share with them. This is gold.

On the flip side, "Darling, I'm So Blue", is a much more conventional song, but it still has that rollicking sound, and another winning, heartfelt and deeply amateurish vocal from Johnny Williams.