Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The DiMara Sisters

Artist: The DiMara Sisters
LP: Italy Revisited
Song: "Guaglione"[ listen ]

Last night I watched an episode of The Golden Girls called "Foreign Exchange," in which Sophia's friends from Sicily arrive in Miami with the news that Dorothy and their daughter Gina had been mixed up in the Brooklyn hospital where they were both born at about the same time. They've come to the Golden Girls' home to take Dorothy back to Italy with them where she will marry Guido, the most handsome man in the village.

According to a sticker on the cover of this terrific collection of Italian songs by the DiMara Sisters, the record once belonged to U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. Geraldine M. Guccione at the USNS Hospital based in San Francisco, California. If she or anyone in her family is reading this and wants to hear this entire record again, let me know and I'll make you a copy. Here are notes about the DiMaras from the back of the LP
THIS ALBUM WAS INEVITABLE. Ever since the release of their
debut album, "Italy," there has been a growing clamor for more
of the delightful and ear-pleasing harmony of the DiMara
Sisters. In this collection of songs, the girls have more than
adequately answered the clamor, and offer their growing legion
of fans a refreshingly new and satisfying musical experience

It has been some five years now since the DiMara Sisters left
their native Italy to come to America. Musically speaking, Italy's
loss has been America's gain. In the past five years Lillian, Rose
and Marisa DiMara have lifted their
thoroughly ingratiating young
voices in sweet song and given us a touch of
the sadness, the
romance, the gaiety and the beauty of sunny Italy

Back in the old country, the DiMara girls lived the quiet normal
lives of youngsters growing up. Their father, Senor DiMara, was
a representative of the International Accordion Company, and he
made certain that music played an important part in his daughters'
upbringing. All three studied music under a number of professional
music teachers, including the well-known Maestro Sciorelli

When the girls were ready, they made their professional debut
over the Rome television station "La Rai." The three young
charmers met with instantaneous success. In 1953, Senor
DiMara and his American-born wife left Italy and brought
their daughters to these shores and in 1955, at the Club
Alamo in Detroit, the DiMaras made their first appearance
in an American nightclub. Once again, they met
with immediate success

There are, without a doubt, many albums of Italian music
and songs on the market today. What makes the work of
the DiMara Sisters different is best described in one word—
authenticity. There is no vocal group that can sing with
the complete authenticity and innate "know-how"
as these three young ladies
In this album, as in the first, Tony Dannon plays accordion
and conducts the orchestra. Tony, who has been associated
with the DiMara Sisters for many years, is also connected
with the Internaional Accordion Company and operates
an accordion school in Detroit
Most of the songs in their first album were comprised of old
Italian melodies—the songs of a past generation. In this long
player, most of the songs are of the new generation. They all,
however, retain the flavor and intrinsic qualities that we have
always associated with the music of Italy. The group offers a
variety of numbers, running the gamut from the satiric bite of
the opening song Torero, to the tender refrain of Anema E Core.
There is the rollicking, joyous La Tarantella, and the ebullient
strains of the closing song, Polka Italiano
As we stated in the beginning, this album was inevitable, a
natural follow-up to their first album. Whether you have heard
the first album or not, this collection convincingly points out why
one visit to Italy with the DiMara Sisters could never suffice,
and that "Italy Revisited" is truly a most welcome event


Monday, March 30, 2009

Carl Douglas

Artist: Carl Douglas
LP: Kung Fu Fighting and Other Great Love Songs
Song: "Dance the Kung Fu"[ listen ]

Exactly what I needed to get me going on this cloudy and cold Monday morning, this follow-up to Douglas' #1 hit "Kung Fu Fighting" only reached #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart back in early 1975. Still, Carl Douglas was the first Jamaican-born singer to have a #1 hit in the USA. You can read more about his life and career here and visit his official website here, where you can download a Carl Douglas desktop background for your computer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Stewart Family

Artist: The Stewart Family
LP: Days of Sand & Shovels, You Gave Me a Mountain, Stand By Your Man and
Other Country Favorites

Song: "I Wanta Make Sweet Love to You"
[ listen ]

Design Records released this terrific compilation of old country hits that includes "I Wanta Make Sweet Love to You" by The Stewart Family, which I'm pretty sure is from 1960. The record features lots of other great tunes, including "Pretty Rainbow of Love" by the Tillman Franks Singers, which you can listen to [ here ] and there's also a nice version of "Days of Sand and Shovels" that you can listen to [ here ]. Unfortunately, the singer for that one isn't listed anywhere on the record. I did a little hunting on the web and I'm pretty sure it's Faron Young, but can anyone tell me for sure? Though they may have forgotten to list artist credits for three of their country compilation's primary tracks, Design Records' notes on the back of the LP do at least shed some light on the puzzling enigma of country music:

Design has created a library of country and western music which
includes some of the greatest hits of recent years sung by artists
who made them hits. Among these albums, you'll find Johnny
Cash, Patsy Cline, Hank Locklin, Carl Belew, T. Texas Tyler

What is country music, anyway? And just why is it becoming so
increasingly popular—not only in the small towns, but in the major
cities from Chicago to Miami, from Boston to Los Angeles?

There are those who say that country & western music has
its roots in folk music—the songs the original settlers of the
Southern mountains brought over from England with them
and passed down from generation to generation; the songs
the original cowboys sang to pass away the lonesome
hours on the range

Others point to the effect of New Orleans jazz and the blues
on today's country & western music. Certainly some of the
greatest country tuns are based on the blues, and jazz harmonies
have found their way into much of this music

Still others point out the emergence of rock and roll from country
& western music. It's perfectly true that the early rock and roll
stars came from country backgrounds, that some of the biggest
R & R hits deal with themes familiar to C & W fans—themes like
love, loneliness, hard luck, religion or country humor

When you come right down to it, country and western music
is none of these—and all of them. Country and western music
is America singing—songs of love, songs of hope, songs of
neighborliness, songs of grief and suffering. Perhaps the
reason for its rapid spread in popularity in recent years is
that it strikes a responsive chord in each of us.
It's music with something to say

Here's your opportunity to build your country & western music
library at a fraction of the price you'd expect to pay, made
to standards as critical as any in the industry,
consisting of pure vinyl

Friday, March 27, 2009

Peter Schilling

Artist: Peter Schilling
LP: 7" single
Song: "Die Wüste Lebt (Alarmsignal...)"
[ listen ]

Here's another 7" single from Germany, but unlike yesterday's posting, this one's sung in the German language. Also, I didn't acquire this one abroad, but just up the street at Golden Oldies here in Seattle. You can read about Peter Schilling here and watch two different videos of the strikingly handsome singer performing "Die Wüste Lebt" here and here. Warming: one of the clips is introduced by a blond mustachioed man with a large, talking dog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Flirts

Artist: The Flirts
LP: 7" single
Song: "Dancin' Madly Backwards"
[ listen ]

Here's something I picked up at a Munich record shop while on a week-long summertime trip with my mother back in August of '85. I've always thought this single's picture sleeve was pretty cool... and only this morning—some 24 years later—did I finally realize it's just a piece cropped from the band's "Made In America" LP cover. You can read all about The Flirts here and here and watch a cringe-inducing video clip of the three gals performing "Dancin' Madly Backwards" here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mykhailo Hryshko w/ the Ukrainian Radio Folk Instruments Orchestra

Artist: Mykhailo Hryshko w/ the Ukrainian Radio Folk Instruments Orchestra
LP: Ukrainian Songs and Dances—Volume 7
Song: "Chy Tse Zh Taya Krynychenka (Is This the Water Well)"
[ listen ]

This jaunty dance number from Ukraine got my blood flowing this morning faster than any cup of coffee ever did. When you next find yourself in Kiev, be sure to visit the National Mykhailo Hryshko Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora

Artist: Jermaine Jackson and Pia Zadora
LP: 7" single
Song: "When the Rain Begins to Fall"
[ listen ]

Here's a special song for this gray, rainy and slightly gloomy first week of springtime in Seattle. Featured in the Pia Zadora/Ruth Gordon film Voyage of the Rock Aliens, "When the Rain Begins to Fall" shot all the way to #54 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart in March of 1985—fueled mainly by sales to thousands of aerobics instructors all across America.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Kaempfert of Strangers

While visiting my folks a few weekends ago, I stopped by Vashon Island Music to find that someone had sold off their entire vinyl collection of instrumental music from the 1950s and '60s—including eleven everlovin' Bert Kaempfert LPs! Each of the Kaempfert tracks on this mix is from a different album, of course.

side one:
01. Marjoram - Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
02. Sweet Sensation - Stephanie Mills

03. Over the Wall - Echo and the Bunnymen
04. Flight to Mecca - Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
05. The Conversation - In Camera
06. Don't Cry Out Loud - Melissa Manchester

07. Sweet and Gentle (Me Lo Dijo Adela) - Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
08. Lobo Bobo - Juarez y su Conjunto
09. La Novia - Antonio Prieto
10. Mambo Mania -
Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
11. I Wish I Was the Moon - Neko Case
12. My Pearl - Automatic Man
13. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) -
Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
14. Back-Up - Jesse's Gang
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Jezus Redt - Robert Long
02. Theme From Shaft -
Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
03. Urgent - Shannon
04. I'm a Levi - Ijahman
05. You You You - Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
06. For Beginners - M. Ward
07. Have You Seen Her - The Colors
08. The Mexican Singing Bird - Gilbert Becaud
09. Swissy Missy -
Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
10. Bacoso - José Melis

11. Gonna Sing You My Lovesong - ABBA

12. Boo Hoo -
Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
13. Life In a Northern Town - The Dream Academy
14. Mattinata - The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett
[ listen ]

[ Bert Kaempfert: October 16, 1923June 21, 1980 ]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Melveen Leed

Artist: Melveen Leed
LP: My Hawaiian Country
Song: "My Hawaiian Country"
[ listen ]
Song: "No Ke Ano Ahiahi"
[ listen ]

Melveen offers the answer to a question that's been on my mind lately: what if the country music capital of the world wasn't in Nashville, Tennessee at all, but on the Hawaiian island of Molokai? I was happy to find a nice photograph of Melveen Leed when I flipped the record over, since on the front cover someone unwisely decided to make it look like her entire body has been smeared with feces. You can read all about Melveen Leed on her website here, become her friend on MySpace here and copy the recipe for her delicious crab omelet here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson [1963-2009]

[ Natasha Richardson w/ husband Liam Neeson ]

When I first read on Monday that actress Natasha Richardson had possibly suffered brain damage from a minor spill while skiing with her two young sons in Canada, my mind filled with hopeful fantasies; I imagined that I would soon be reading that she was able to walk again, about how she was re-learning to speak and, finally, that she had made a complete recovery. It's incredibly sad to realize instead that she's just plain gone. I can't imagine the devastation her two sons must feel—on a fun ski trip with their healthy, active mom during the day, she complains of a headache a few hours after the ski accident and then slips into a coma and out of their lives that very evening. It's just horrible! My heart and thoughts go out to them and to her husband and family; she seemed like such a neat woman.

[ as Blanche DuBois in 2005 stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" ]

You can read about Natasha Richardson's life and career here, read the NY Times obituary here and read some of the nice things people are saying about her today here. Edwardo and I rented and enjoyed her film Asylum just a few weeks ago and I remember really liking her in the film Widows' Peak back in the mid '90s. You can find the complete list of Natasha Richardson's films on IMDB here.

Natasha Richardson
[May 11, 1963 - March 18, 2009]
We will miss you, Natasha.

Margaret Whiting

Artist: Margaret Whiting
LP: The Wheel of Hurt
Song: "The Wheel of Hurt"
[ listen ]

This sad and pretty Margaret Whiting song reached #26 on the Billboard Singles Charts in December of 1966. You can read a little about Margaret Whiting here and these notes from Ed Sullivan are taken from the back of the record:

What a pleasure to be writing the liner notes for a new Margaret
Whiting album. I have been a close friend as well as a fan of
Margaret's for many years. Her father Richard Whiting was one
of the greatest song writers this country has ever produced
and his marvelous feeling for melody and lyric was clearly
inherited by his daughter

Originally a protegé of the great Johnny Mercer, Margaret Whiting
emerged as one of the brightest stars in a golden age of singers,
with a fantastic string of hit singles and albums that lasted for
years. During the sensational run of million sellers, the following
songs were included: "It Might As Well Be Spring," "A Tree In the
Meadow," "Far Away Places," "Moonlight In Vermont," "Guilty,"
"Baby It's Cold Outside," "Come Rain Or Come Shine," "Wonderful
Guy," and "Let's Go to Church On Sunday." Her repertoire ranged
all the way from pop songs to jazz and included sacred and
country songs as well. Indeed, with Jimmy Wakely she formed
one of the most successful recording teams in country music
history. Their recording of "Slippin' Around" is a classic
and has sold millions

The voice of Margaret Whiting has weathered many changes
and styles of popular music. In this new album, Margaret has
been joined by two major talents; first the gifted composer-
arranger Arnold Goland has supplied her with magic backgrounds
that represent the best of today's musical stylings. Secondly,
the album was produced by Jack Gold, who has a way with
writing and selecting songs and who always gets the best per-
formance possible out of those people involved in his projects

Listen carefully to this album: listen to the bright new version
of "Time After Time," the brilliance of "You Don't Have to Say
You Love Me," the tour de force on "Show Me a Man." Notice
the deft Whiting touch on "Winchester Cathedral." Above all,
notice "The Wheel of Hurt," her big hit recording, and her
stunning performance of "It Hurts to Say Goodbye."

--Ed Sullivan, Noted TV Personality and Syndicated Columnist

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cook County

Artist: Cook County
LP: Pinball Playboy
Song: "Pinball Playboy"
[ listen ]


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Los Bukis

Artist: Los Bukis
CD: Falso Amor
Song: "Cuando Tu Cariño"
[ listen ]
Song: "Sentimientos"
[ listen ]
Song: "Mi Plegaria"
[ listen ]

My cousin Michael Buzzard from Omak was in Seattle this past weekend, so we spent Sunday checking out the EMP and the Sci-Fi Museum, watching "Frost Nixon," eating out and doing other things like that. Mike wanted to visit a Seattle neighborhood he hadn't been to before, so we went to Columbia City. It was pretty dead on a Sunday night, but Discoteca Los Tres Reyes was open so we stepped inside.

[ Los Bukis at sunset. ]

They had lots of Latin music CDs and cassettes to browse through, but I was particularly drawn to this 1984 CD by Los Bukis, which looked like it had been sitting in the glass sales case for the past 25 years. It was priced at $13.99, but the nice salesclerk told me (in Spanish) that he'd let me have it for just $13. I meant to respond with "What a great deal!" but my Spanish isn't up to snuff and instead I exclaimed, "What a great day!" It had actually been pretty nice, but kinda windy.

[ Los Bukis in matching brown shirts. ]

Monday, March 16, 2009


Artist: Eclipse
LP: Night and Day
Song: "You Really Got Me"
[ listen ]

According to Wikipedia, one of the guys in this band is Laura Mars' half-brother. can you guess which one?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Timi Yuro

Artist: Timi Yuro
LP: Timi Yuro
Song: "Hurt"
[ listen ]

This wonderful song from Italian-American singer Timi Yuro reached #4 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1961. Sadly, she failed to find much success throughout the remainder of her career and died on March 30, 2004 at the age of 63. You can read about Yuro's life and career here and here, find the Timi Yuro fan website here and watch a YouTube video of Yuro performing "Hurt" in September of 1981 here. These are the notes from the back of Yuro's self-titled debut record on the Liberty label:

Timi Yuro is possibly the outstanding singing discovery
of the 'sixties. Although she had made no professional
appearances up to that time, her first record release, Hurt
and I Apologize, was a smash success for her and Liberty

Timi, who is tiny in stature but immensely endowed on the
talent side, celebrates her twenty-first birthday on August
4, 1961, and at about the same time comes of age vocally.
She sings with an authority and persuasion that belies her youth
and her short professional career. Her vocal prowess stresses full

tonal quality, timing that is sure to arouse envy among more
seasoned pros, and an astonishing ability to phrase perfectly

Before signing her Liberty contract, Timi doubled as a
weekend cashier-singer at her family's Italian-style Hollywood
restaurant, where she sang both in Italian and Spanish. Although
she studied operatic singing for five years, and cooks a lip-smacking
lasagna, Timi's singing aspirations are all in the popular field

Now, Timi proves that there is something new under the sun—
an excitingly different singer who will intrigue your imagination
and please your ear

You'll enjoy every word, every note, as Timi joins the music world.

[ Timi Yuro: August 4, 1940 — March 30, 2004 ]

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Artist: Kansas
LP: 7" single
Song: "Fight Fire With Fire"
[ listen ]

Toto, I've a feeling we're not into Kansas anymore.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hanna Ahroni

Artist: Hanna Ahroni
LP: Songs of Israel
Song: "Artza Alinu"
"...We have ploughed, sowed, but not yet reaped."
[ listen ]
Song: "Tzel-Tzel"
"...At the village square near the well, the shepherds dance as they
water the sheep. The reed flute and the drum loudly sound and ring

as the well gurgles. Tzel-tzel, the sheep."
[ listen ]

Yesterday after work I finally went to see Waltz With Bashir, the Israeli animated movie nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars. It's a fascinating, thought-provoking film about Israel's invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, in which a soldier tries to piece together memories of his own involvement in the war. What troubles him most is the part he may have (unwittingly?) played in the Sabra and Shatila massacre, in which hundreds or perhaps thousands of Palestinian refugees were slaughtered. Though the film left important questions unanswered (it wasn't the fim's aim to answer all questions on the issue, of course), I was impressed to see an Israeli film playing on American screens that dealt with these issues. Afterwards, I decided to post something from Israel that's a bit on the lighter side. You can find a career timeline for "petite songstress" Hanna Ahroni here and these are the notes from the back of this 1959 record:

Hanna Ahroni was just a baby when her Yemenite father and
Eritrean mother brought her to Israel. The family first settled
in the hills surrounding the Holy City of Jerusalem, then moved
to the banks of Lake Kinnereth in the Galilee. There, young
Hanna tended her parents' sheep, singing traditional Biblical
songs as she worked, in a voice that was one day to draw the
most glowing plaudits of audiences and critics the world over

She was discovered by M. Wallin while singing her songs in
the fields of the Galilee. Wallin, the famous Israeli impressario,
brought the girl to Tal Aviv, where she was tutored in all
phases of music and drama, and where she mastered
the eight languages in which she can sing fluently. Her
remarkable four-octave voice was developed with delicate
care, preserving the natural qualities with which nature
and her heritage had endowed her

At fourteen, Hanna made her concert debut, and later
became the singing star of Wallin's Revue Theatre and
Music Hall. She then appeared on radio, made a number
of recordings, and before long Israel's foremost composers
were writing especially for her unusual voice

Miss Ahroni has appeared in two motion pictures: "Song of
Israel" and "Tel Aviv." On a recent world tour, the petite
songstress enchanted vast audiences in Paris, Monte Carlo,
Cannes, Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Mexico City, Capetown,
Johannesburg, San Juan and Caracas

In this album, Hanna Ahroni sings a collection of traditional
Biblical songs as they were
sung thousands of years ago. you
will also hear songs of modern Israel, exciting new legends in
the making. She sings them all with a deep sentiment and
warmth, a dramatic virtuosity, drawing freely from her
remarkable vocal resources, the end product of which
is a thrilling listening experience

Sam Grossman, conductor and arranger for the album, possesses
a wide range of musical experience that runs the gamut from
his radio and motion picture work with the late opera star
Grace Moore, to fifteen years with the famous "Hit Parade."

Background photo for cover courtesy of the Israel Government Tourist Office.

[ Hanna Ahroni ]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The High Keyes

Artist: The High Keyes
LP: 7" single
Song: "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"
[ listen ]

I first heard this High Keyes version of the Doris Day song last summer when my friend Gene played it at the Emerald City Soul Club, a monthly night of rare Northern Soul, booze and dancing 'til the moon don't shine. He played it again at Talcum, a gay-friendlier Northern Soul Night he started up after the first one got too crowded and started drawing people like this. I went on and on about what a great song it was, so Gene got me the single for Christmas. thanks, Gene! Everybody come to Seattle on Saturday, March 21 and dance your ass off at The Baltic Room, Talcum's new home!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Walter Carlos

Artist: Walter Carlos
LP: Electronic Music
Song: "Dialogues For Piano and Two Loudspeakers"
[ listen ]

This record also features neat electronic compositions from Andres Lewin-Richter, Tzvi Avni and Ilhan Mimaroglu. Here are liner notes about the LP and about electronic music of the mid-'60s from Professor Vladimir Ussachevsky, along with some notes from composer Walter Carlos about the song I've posted here:

This recording of electronic music presents the works of
four authors who come from four different countries with
quite varied musical backgrounds. Two of them have
considerable knowledge of electronics which stems from
a formal engineering training in one case, and from a high
degree of practical experience in the other. Diversity of
styles is in evidence, as each composer's style is his own
concern. The common experience for these composers
has been the use of technical resources at the Columbia-
Princeton Electronic Music Center and the investigation of
specialized methods for the evolution and transformation
of recorded sound materials, conducted in my course at
Columbia and further demonstrated in private sessions
by technicians. This work is done in Studio 106, located
in McMillin Theatre on the campus of Columbia University
in the same room where the older Columbia University
Tape Studeo was housed. The present studio has been
considerably expanded in recent years and has become
a part of a complex of three studios and a small laboratory
established under a Rockefeller Foundation Grant given to
Columbia and Princeton Universities in 1959

With the notable exception of the very unique possibilities
offered by the RCA Sound Synthesizer located in Studio 318,
the standard and specialized equipment of the Center is
devoted to the production of sound materials by "Classical"
methods, common to all electronic music studios. Thus,
materials (of either purely electronic or non-electronic origin)
recorded on tape, may be subjected to manipulation by
tape speed variation, electronic filtering, several types
of frequency modulation, artificial reverberation, etc. Tape
cutting and splicing by hand still occupies a good deal
of time in preparing the sound patterns and arranging
them in longer sequences. Techniques are available to
create certain types of rhythmic patterns and timebre
variations by semi-automatic methods, but the materials
thus produced are of limited usefulness. Much time in clasroom
discussion is devoted to the structural considerations which we
believe to be quite challenging and of paramount importance
in the electronic music medium, rich as it is in unusual timbres
and opportunities for the realization of complex rhythms

It is hard to imagine that there is much occasion any
more for claiming that electronic music is "dehumanized" in
its context. Electronic music simply undertakes to express,
by different means, human situations, ideas, and emotions.
-- Vladimir Ussachevsky, Professor of Music—Columbia University

* * * * *

Dialogues For Piano and Two Loudspeakers (1963) is
rhapsodic in character, deriving most of its thematic-motivic
construction from an ascending series of gradually diminishing
intervals, forming an almost-serial basis for the piece. Two
of the themes are developed and transformed at some
length, i.e., the piano's theme in twelfths at the entrance
of the electronic sound, and the rhythmic novelty of a rising
and accelerating series of seven eighth-notes, heard in the
middle and latter portions of the piece.

-- Walter Carlos

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Taylor Dayne

Artist: Taylor Dayne
LP: 7" single
Song: "Tell It to My Heart"
[ listen ]

Pop star Taylor Dayne was born on March 7, 1962. In honor of her 47th birthday, I'm posting the four singles spawned by her 1987 debut album, "Tell It To My Heart." Taylor Dayne became an instant pop sensation, with each of her first four singles becoming top-ten hits. The first single released was "Tell It to My Heart," the album's title track. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of January in 1988. I've got two picture sleeves for this single, and I've always wondered why two different ones were made. I asked my friend Hector Lopez, who works in the archives at Arista Records in Los Angeles, if he'd heard anything about it. He hadn't, but he did a little digging and was able to find some of the minutes from a board meeting where Arista's top executives were discussing the release of Dayne's first single. It turns out that Arista was under contractual obligation to release the "Tell It to My Heart" single before Christmas of 1987 so that holiday sales would drive Taylor Dayne's album up the charts. Dayne's Arista contract also stipulated that all her 7" singles were to be released with picture sleeves. Trouble was, Taylor Dayne's "Tell It to My Heart" picture sleeve hairdo wasn't scheduled to be completed until the first week of January. According to the meeting notes, Arista execs ordered a stenographer named Francine MacPherson in the label's front office to throw together a design by the end of the day—so the pink-orange-green-on-black picture sleeve that enclosed the single for its initial pre-holiday release was actually MacPherson's handywork. After several unforseen setbacks, Taylor Dayne's hair was finally finished on January 23rd, photos were taken and the "Tell It to My Heart" single shipped to stores with the new picture sleeve by the end of the month.

Artist: Taylor Dayne
LP: 7" single
Song: "Prove Your Love"
[ listen ]

This was the second single from the "Tell It to My Heart" album; it also reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1988. Dayne's breasts in this photo remind me of candy-corns.

Artist: Taylor Dayne
LP: 7" single
Song: "I'll Always Love You"
[ listen ]

No, Taylor Dayne; I'll always love YOU. This single made it to #3.

Artist: Taylor Dayne
LP: 7" single
Song: "Don't Rush Me"
[ listen ]

The fourth and final single from Dayne's debut LP went all the way to #2 on the Billboard singles charts, while inspiring young girls all across America to cling to their virginity for just a few days more.

[ Happy Birthday, Taylor Dayne! ]

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Yama Yama Man

Artist: The Yama Yama Man
LP: Fabulous Harmonica Played By The Yama Yama Man
Song: "Samson and Delilah"
[ listen ]

I've never seen an Asian man with such a big... harmonica. Here are notes from the back of the LP that delineate the high standards guaranteed by Riviera Records:


In order to meet the demands of the public for the best
in music at a popular price, RIVIERA has succeeded in bringing
to you a superb and timeless album of fascinating music

A Full Frequency Stereo High Fidelity recording is offered.
The reproduction is of the ultimate in Stereo Hi-Fidelity, using
only the finest equipment; RCA Telefunken Altec and Electro-
Voice microphones, recorded on a three-track Ampex tape
recorder, thereby reproducing the finest in true tonal sound

In order to insure the very finest high quality reproduction,
the tapes are mastered by a Westrex Feedback cutter
with heated stylus on a Scully lathe. The Frequency
response is from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second

RIVIERA will continue to bring you the finest reproductions
of the most refreshing music; the latest in hit tunes and
the greatest variety is planned for your listening pleasure

We invite you to enjoy Music at its finest.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jeane Manson

Artist: Jeane Manson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Avant de Nous Dire Adieu"
[ listen ]

While sitting together on a panel of judges for the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest in London, Jeane Manson and Olivia Newton-John discovered that they both use the same brand of shampoo.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eddie Dunstedter

Artist: Eddie Dunstedter
LP: Pipes and Power
Song: "Nola"
[ listen ]

I couldn't find much info about Mr. Dunstedter on the internet, but here's what I do know: He was born on August 2, 1897 in Edwardsville, IL and died in Van Nuys, CA on July 30, 1974. He taught at the MacPhail College of Music in Minneapolis at some point in his life and his incredible playing on this "Pipes and Power" LP transplanted an amazing range of sounds into my listening room. Here are some liner notes about the man behind the pipes and about the song "Nola"—along with some organ pictures I found on the web:

Eddie Dunstedter at the consoles of the Robert
Morton pipe organ and custom-built Hammond

[ The Robert Morton pipe organ in Glendale, CA ]

[ The 3-manual Hammond electric ]

This album features the 24-rank Robert Morton pipe organ
located in the Lorin Whitney Studio, Glendale, California. One
of the finest and best maintained in the nation, it is the largest
theater organ Eddie Dunstedter has recorded

For selections in which speed is a factor, Eddie introduces a
three-manual Hammond electric, which speaks through five
Leslie loudspeakers, each with its whirling high frequency
unit set to rotate at a different speed. The Hammond is
also equipped with a Krueger (electronic) plucked bass
played from the pedals. On several tunes, multiple recording
lets us hear both organs simultaneously, thus transplanting
an amazing range of sounds into the listening room—all
molded by the unique musical artistry of Eddie Dunstedter,
one of the all-time masters of the console.

Much has been said of the "Dunstedter tone," but attempts
to analyze it seem futile. It's true that Eddie has a fondness
for an organ sound rich in mutation stops, such as the Quint,
Twelfth, Tierce, and mixtures in general—pipes which sound
notes other than the pitches of the keys pressed. Yet, other
organists playing on Eddie's favorite registration combinations
don't sound anything like the real Dunstedter. His playing is
reminiscent of no other organist, and he has no imitators

* * * * * * *

Nola takes Eddie to the console of the Hammond, whose
special design enables him to play just about the fastest
version on records. For contrast he plays the more
legato middle section on pipes

[ Eddie ]

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Set the Tone

Artist: Set the Tone
LP: 7" single
Song: "Dance Sucker"
[ listen ]

Hopefully this song will set the tone for the start of my work day on this sad and gloomy Tuesday. You can read about Set the Tone here and then you can watch a short, horrible and unrelated "Dance Sucker" YouTube video here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ziegfeld Zagfeld

During my recent obsession with actress Luise Rainer, I rented the 1936 film THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, a biopic in which William Powell plays the great entertainer/producer/glorifier-of-the-American-girl Florenz Ziegfeld. Previews on that DVD included two other MGM films about Ziegfeld and his follies, ZIEGFELD GIRL from 1941 and ZIEGFELD FOLLIES from 1946.

A collection of unrelated musical, comedy and dance pieces reminiscent of Florenz Ziegfeld's stage productions from the early 20th century, ZIEGFELD FOLLIES quickly became one of my favorite film oddities with its wildly fantastical sets, lavish costumes and tons of MGM talent from the mid-1940s. This spectacular movie includes many wonderful segments that showcase the beautiful and the bizarre: Lucille Ball whips a litter of dancing black kittens into shape; Virginia O'Brien presents a horse-riding parody of the Ziegfeld Girl (pretty much forgotten nowadays, O'Brien first impressed me with her weird and hilarious bit in The Marx Brothers' 1941 film THE BIG STORE, see here); Judy Garland gives a dazzling press interview for her upcoming biopic (the critics are all in accord, she's gonna' win the next Academy Award); Lena Horne sings all about "Love" in a smokey Southern cantina; Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer dance together even as they drift apart on hidden conveyer belts moving in opposite directions; Esther Williams performs an underwater ballet while somehow grinning the entire time and the finale involving Cyd Charisse, Kathryn Grayson and large clusters of airborne soap suds is out of this world. While it's true that the film screeches to a halt during some horribly dated comedy routines by Red Skelton, Fanny Brice and others, even those are so completely over-the-top and fascinatingly unwatchable that my eyes were glued to the screen. Anyone who enjoys the music and fashions of the 1940s should see this film, pronto. Here are some nice ZIEGFELD FOLLIES stills I've stolen from Carline's terrific Hollywood Musicals blog:

[ Lucille Ball is the icing on the cake. ]

[ Lucy's got a kitty whip and she's not afraid to use it. ]

[ "Line up!" bark the eyes of Lucille Ball. ]

[ Virginia O'Brien, devoured by chiffon while riding side-saddle. ]

[ Esther Williams briefly entangled in red MGM seaweed. ]

[ Esther Williams is wearing waterproof makeup. ]
[ Marion Bell sashays down a heavenly corridor lined with debonair gents. ]

[ Blair Witch 3: Dance of Shadows ]

[ Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire dance together... gaily. ]

[ Fred Astaire is sometimes Asian. ]
[ Judy Garland at one of the "Friends of Dorothy" board meetings. ]

[ Cyd Charisse on tippy-toe with tutu. ]

[ A spectacular, sensational, slippery finale. ]

For this mix, I basically tried to make my own ZIEGFELD FOLLIES-like variety show, featuring several numbers from the film's soundtrack and adding a bunch of other songs and bits that Florenz Ziegfeld would surely have included in one of his follies if only he'd had the chance.

side one:
01. Ziegfeld Follies—Main Title - Conrad Salinger and Wally Heglin
02. Cow Cow Boogie - Ella Mae Morse
03. Dancing Guitars - Billy Mure's Supersonic Guitars

04. Housework - Carol Channing
05. When Doves Cry - Prince
06. Vivacita Polka - Dominic Cortese

07. Bring On Those Wonderful Men - Virginia O'Brien
08. Triángulo - Los Tres Reyes

09. Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey - Betty Grable
10. Unathletic Me - Julie Wilson
11. A-Two-At-A-Time - Luther Henderson & His Orchestra
12. The Interview - Judy Garland and the MGM Studio Chorus
13. Royal Hawaiian Hotel - Linda Dela Cruz
14. I Wish't I Was In Peoria - Mr. Osie Johnson
15. If You're Tired of Loving Me - Bela Babai & His Cigany Zenekara
16. Beadcraft - Phyllis Diller
[ listen ]

side two:
01. The Babbitt and the Bromide - Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly
02. The Lonely Man - Tennessee Ernie Ford
03. How Long Will It Last - Joan Crawford
04. The Well - His Name Is Alive

05. Baile Por Alegrias - Pedro Del Valle and Heredia
06. Love - Lena Horne and the MGM Studio Chorus
07. The Kiss In Your Eyes - Dick Kesner
08. Tales of Wells Fargo - Mitch Miller and Friends
09. Ugly People - Flip Wilson

10. Hard Hearted Hannah - Dorothy Provone

11. There's Beauty Everywhere - Kathryn Grayson and the MGM Studio Chorus

12. Boat Song (The Hahn River) - Korean Children's Choir
13. Chopin - Mike Nichols and Elaine May
14. I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart - Patsy Montana
15. Adieu Ciao Ciao Goodbye - Horst Jankowski
[ listen ]

[ Florenz Ziegfeld, circa 1910 ]