Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Otherworldly Sounds

Okay, this one is weird on several levels. As I've documented here (in posts which are, unfortunately, not currently able to play sound), the Cinema label and it's generic band "The Real Pros", started off as what appears to have been a one man band with one of those early '70's living room organs which would play the rhythm and chords for you, while you soloed (whoever this person was, he made some of my all time favorite song-poems - thanks, dude!).

Then, early in the label's existence, they transitioned over to the crew that were also making records for MSR - Rodd Keith, Dick Kent, Bobbi Blake, etc. The first of these records appear perhaps halfway through the 1972 run of records (Cinema's record numbers indicate the year they were made). Some feature the one man band on one side and the MSR crew on the other.

This one falls within that time period, but I have no idea who is singing - perhaps someone out there does. That's one element of the weirdness. The much bigger element is the sound of the thing.

The first song, "The Daydream of a Girl", is fairly straightforward, with lyrics full of pain, not unlike a hundred others, although they are, to my ears, a bit more effective than a lot of "you hurt me" song-poems. But what's with this arrangement? The guitar starts us off, but the track is dominated by a wah-wah'd organ - probably the same one the one man band used, based on the other settings used for coloring of the piece. But I find the whole thing has just a strange feel.

Download: The Real Pros: The Daydream of a Girl

But "Daydream" is downright mainstream compared to its flip side. "Lonesome Sad and Blue", features more of that wah-wah organ, a badly strummed guitar and otherworldly production. I picture this being recorded in a cave, a mile from anyone other living souls. It has an acutely lonely sound, and this is one of those sessions I would LOVE to have been at. It's creepy and amazing at the same time.

That said, the performance is half-assed on virtually everyone's part (sort of like if those on "The Basement Tapes" were just learning to play their instruments and to sing), and the lyrics are painfully direct and tell a sad story with little style. With all of that said, the melody and chord changes resonate with me. And I think that's because a significant parts of the melody are lifted almost directly from "Spanish is the Loving Tongue", at least in the tune sung in my favorite version, by Ronnie Gilbert, which you can hear here.

Download: The Real Pros: Lonesome Sad and Blue

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Storming the Chapel

To start, a few responses to comments....

First, thanks to everyone who has been reading and listening - I appreciate your eyes and ears on what I'm sharing here more than I can say. And second, thanks to those who have offered up comments, whether occasionally (or once) or many times.

Thanks for the notification of downloads and play-files which have been corrupted somehow. I have fixed the track about One of Satan's Angels, which you can hear here, and one of the fantastic tracks from the Film-Tone label, "Have Faith in Love", which you can hear here

I've had a few people ask about the years in which one or more of the records I've shared may have been made. Aside from a few facts gleaned from The American Song-Poem Music Archives' labels page, in most cases, I just don't know. The same goes for those who ask about details on particular records they've found - those inquiries have mostly been about Rodd Keith records. If I have an answer, I'll post it - and if you link your comment to an e-mail address, I'll answer you by e-mail - but in most cases, again, i just don't know. 

And I really enjoy and appreciate the posted comments which go into some detail regarding the songs posted, similar songs, etc. I don't always have much to add, so I don't always respond, but that doesn't mean they aren't appreciated. And I do know I keep promising to repair the old pages. I really do hope to get to that some time in the next few months. It just seems so daunting...

On to this week's post!


The Chapel Recording Company was part of the same team that brought us the tremendous products of Halmark (aka Hallmark) records. I have no idea if Chapel existed before Halmark or at the same time, but at least some of the time, they used the same decrepit backing tracks that were the hallmark of Halmark. The only other Chapel records I own are acetates, but today, here's an honest to goodness 45, although my preferred side (of the two) sounds worse than many acetates I've heard.

And it's my preferred side because it features everyone's favorite Halmark dude, BOB STORM!!! He's not named on the label, as usual, but it's clearly him. And not only that, it has one of my two favorite Halmark backing tracks - the one most famously used on on "My Hamburger Baby". If you listen closely, I think you can hear some differences between the track, as used here, and as used on "Hamburger", which, if true, would confirm that Halmark owned the multi-track reels for these tracks. To my ears, the final instrumental coda is missing some of the instruments heard on the version used on "Hamburger".

The other remarkable thing about this record, titled "What is Life Without You", is that it is one of the poorest pressings I've ever heard. The surface noise in the opening sections is a mystery - the record is as clean as they come. And the track audibly wobbles. This is not my turntable OR an offcenter pressing - it seems to have come off of the original reel sounding like this. It's truly horrible.

But Bob Storm comes through like a pro, his over-the-top unctuousness never even missing a beat. Enjoy!

Download: No Artist Named: What is Life Without You?

The flip side features that other label stalwart, Jack Kim (also uncredited), on a tedious (3 1/2 minute long) piece of religious tribute, perfect for those who want to do penitence in Lent, "With Him in Glory"

Download: No Artist Named: With Him in Glory

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Moaning and Groaning!

Who among us would find out that there was a song-poem record containing songs titled "Moaning and Groaning Twist" and "Wanted for Murder!" and not fervently hope that at least one of them lived up to the promise of its title? I certainly did, and was happy to obtain a copy to hold in my own little hands.

And both of them turn out to be worth the price of admission, with "Moaning and Groaning Twist" taking the top prize, for my money.

Let's start with the fact that, in barely two minutes, the song features not one, but TWO bass solos! Then, after the first of these solos, singers Phil Celia and Ellen Wayne come in, singing in lovely harmony over a heavily rhythmic track, with some great drumming and a nice (and lengthy) piano break. The lyrics are concerned with some intense twisting which was taking place in New Orleans - Ellen in particular seems to be really feelin' it - and the whole package is just first rate from start to finish.

Download: Phil Celia and Ellen Wayne - Moaning and Groaning Twist

Phil's got a solo number on the flip side, in "Wanted for Murder!". The lazy beat, and laid back vocal may throw the listener off at first, until you get to the point of the lyric - what it is that the singer is said to have killed, and why. It's not as clever, in my opinion, as I'm guessing that the lyricist thought it was, but it's still good for a smile.

Download: Phil Celia - Wanted for Murder!

And just as an aside, this record further confirms to me that, if I had been a song-poet in the late '50's or early '60's, Tin Pan Alley would have been the place to submit my lyrics. They received the most interesting lyrics during that period, and did the most interesting things with them.