Monday, August 31, 2009

Debbie Gibson

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Only In My Dreams"
[ listen ]

Today is Debbie Gibson's 39th birthday, and I've been waiting for this day for a long, long time. You see, at the same time I found all those Taylor Dayne singles (posted on Dayne's birthday back in March) I also found someone's entire collection of Debbie Gibson 45s. But to be honest, I actually had "Only In My Dreams" in my collection when it first came out in 1987, but then got rid of it about ten years ago when my record bins got full and I had to weed things out. I've since made lots more room and could even accommodate a bunch of singles by Tiffany and Stacey Q if I came across them. You have to admit though, "Only In My Dreams"—which reached #4 on the Billboard singles charts back in September of 1987—makes a good first impression. It's bouncy, danceable and full of youthful electricity. Judging by the photo on her debut single's picture sleeve, Debbie Gibson was a fresh and vibrant new presence on the pop music scene who somehow successfully managed to combine a distinctly '80s hairstyle with a touch of the glamorous elegance of the 1940s. Nobody knew then that people were already hard at work behind the scenes, frantically planning her transformation into a pouty, gooey-eyed twit with a Boy George hat and clothing made from upholstery (see "Lost In Your Eyes" below).

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Shake Your Love"
[ listen ]

In December of 1987, Gibson's second single also made it to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is one of my favorite Debbie Gibson songs, mostly just for the disco/police whistle used during the bridge.

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Out of the Blue"
[ listen ]

The title track from Debbie's debut LP peaked at #3 on the charts in March of 1988. There are two things worth noting about the picture on the cover of this single.
two:You can no longer pretend you didn't know.

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Foolish Beat"
[ listen ]

The title of this song never made sense to me, but when I listened very carefully to the lyrics last night, I realized she was talking about the "foolish beat" of her heart, whereas I always thought she was talking about the beat of her song. Anyway, this fourth single went all the way to #1 in June of 1988—making Gibson, at age 17, the youngest female to write, produce and perform a Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit.

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Staying Together"
[ listen ]

It's not common to hit the #1 spot with an album's fourth single, and Gibson had not prepared a follow-up, since the album's other songs were nothing but mediocre filler. Still, she couldn't really let a golden opportunity go to waste, so she picked one of the album's faster numbers and lobbed it at the charts to see what it would do. (Unfortunately, her label couldn't scrape together funds for yet another picture sleeve, so Debbie had to piece something together herself at the last minute using photos her mother had taken at one of her Vegas shows.) As feared, the song failed to follow its predecessors into the top ten, peaking at #22 in September of 1988.

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Lost In Your Eyes"
[ listen ]

Putting the relative failure of "Staying Together" behind her, Debbie focused her attention on a new album, "Electric Youth." Having learned from past mistakes, the album's best ballad was released as the first single rather than the fourth, and "Lost In Your Eyes" sailed to #1 in the spring of 1989...exactly as planned.

Artist: Debbie Gibson
LP: 7" single
Song: "Electric Youth"
[ listen ]

The album's title track was the second single, which stalled at #11 in May of 1989. I like this one for all the laser sounds and orchestra blasts. The "Electric Youth" album produced two more singles, "No More Rhyme" (#17) and "We Could Be Together" (#71), but the person whose records I found evidently stopped collecting Gibson's work after May of '89, or maybe those last two singles were just too good to give up.

[ Happy Birthday, Debbie Gibson! ]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Angel Baby (1961)

Buy this film from the WB Shop

ANGEL BABY — A Glorious Cinematic Revival!

5 5

Director: Paul Wendkos, Hubert Cornfield (uncredited)

Actors: Salomé Jens, George Hamilton, Mercedes McCambridge, Joan Blondell, Henry Jones, Burt Reynolds, Roger Clark

Run Time: 97 mins | Country: USA | Release Date: May 14, 1961

Best Uses: With a group of atheists.

* * * * * * *

Nearly 20 years ago I caught a few riveting minutes of Mercedes McCambridge's performance in ANGEL BABY on cable TV and I've been wanting to see the entire movie ever since. I finally watched it last night, and I was not disappointed. It totally blew me away.

When kindhearted and handsome young preacher Paul Strand (George Hamilton) miraculously cures the
lovely young mute Jenny Angel (Salomé Jens), the grateful girl returns God's favor by using her new-found voice to help spread the word of the Lord. This doesn't sit well with Sarah (Mercedes McCambridge), Paul's devout and judgmental older wife, who prefers the fire-and-brimstone form of religion to her husband's more sympathetic methods. As the relationship between Jenny and Paul intensifies, trouble stars to brew.

Years ahead of its time with its frank and startling examination of religious perversion, ANGEL BABY begins with a disclaimer that states, in part, "In order to prevent any possible confusion, we urge that you consider carefully this picture's suitability for viewing by impressionable children."

The beauty of a pure belief in good (or in God), as well as the positive power that comes from a genuine desire to help others, is clearly on display in ANGEL BABY. On the other hand, the film also presents a scathingly critical examination of the rampant manipulation, sexual repression, delusion, opportunism and corruption that's commonly found growing in the garden of religion. (Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker and the many thousands of Catholic Church sex abuse cases come immediately to mind.) One of the most startling lines in the film comes near the end, when a poor couple brings their crippled son Elijah to Jenny in hopes that she will heal him with her touch. Jenny, believing she's lost the ability to help the family, kindly, and without irony, tells young Elijah, "There's all kinds of wonderful workers for the Lord just waiting to put hands on little boys like you."

The cast of ANGEL BABY is particularly inspired. George Hamilton is fine as the young and idealistic preacher and an aging, bug-eyed Joan Blondell does interesting work with Henry Jones as a pair of boozy revival-circuit has-beens. A dashing, bare-chested Burt Reynolds makes an interesting film debut as a testosterone-laden brute set loose at a church picnic/swim party.

But Mercedes McCambridge and Salomé Jens are the film's real attractions; both are absolutely mesmerizing. McCambridge manages a performance as Sarah Strand that's equally horrifying and heartbreaking—and mostly devoid of camp, which is no small feat since she's done up to look like W.C. Fields in drag. Salomé Jens as goodhearted and innocent Jenny Angel is simultaneously plain-looking and wildly sexual. You can't tear your eyes away from her whenever she's on the screen.

Aside from a few minor scratches on the print used for the DVD transfer, the film looks brand new and
provides a great showcase for famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler's moody lighting and inventive camerawork. I'm grateful to Warner Brothers for making this obscure gem available in the Archives Collection, but I would love to eventually see ANGEL BABY released on DVD with commentary by cast and crew, many of whom are still around to talk about the film. You can rent this and all other Warner Archive DVD releases at Scarecrow Video in Seattle.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Marvin Rainwater

Artist: Marvin Rainwater
LP: 7" single
Song: "Gonna' Find Me a Bluebird"
[ listen ]
Song: "Get Off the Stool"
[ listen ]

Here are two songs from a 4-track 7" EP from one of my favorite old-time country singers. Marvin Rainwater was born on July 2, 1925 and celebrated his 84th birthday this year! He's ¼ Cherokee (Rainwater is his mother's maiden name) and was the 73rd inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. You can find more info on Marvin Rainwater here, read his bio on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame page here and visit his website here— where you can sign his guestbook and find out what he's up to nowadays. These notes are from the back of the "Meet Marvin Rainwater" 7" EP, which was made and released in the UK:

MARVIN RAINWATER, who is partly of Cherokee Indian descent,
comes from Wichita, Kansas. One of nature's own musicians,
he has penned hundreds of folk style and religious songs and
recently aroused nation-wide attention in America with his
record of "Gonna' Find Me a Bluebird

Marvin studied veterinary medicine in Washington and is
supremely fond of horses. Tall and handsome, he has, in a
knock-about character, worked in logging camps and in the
U.S. Navy and at the beginning of his career his friends nick-
named him "Starvin' Marvin." Marvin soon put an end to such
talk when his original song "I Gotta Go to Get My Baby" was
covered by six artists on records and made his name a power
to reckon with in the field of country music. Marvin turned the
corner on the road to fame when he won first place on Arthur
Godfrey's talent scouts which led to regular work at CBS in
New York and ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Mo

Marvin already has many friends in this country and is
making no small contribution to the growing interest that
exists in country music of which he is, indeed, one of
America's supreme exponents

[ Marvin Rainwater ]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Los Lobos Del Norte

Artist: Los Lobos Del Norte
LP: Quisiera Amarte Menos
Song: "Tú"
[ listen ]

This sharp-looking (late '60s?) Tex-Mex quartet of handsome Latino lads evidently bears no relation to the other group of similar name that had a hit with "La Bamba" back in the 1980s.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hank Mardigian Sextet
feat. George Mgrdichian on the Oud

Artist: Hank Mardigian Sextet feat. George Mgrdichian on the Oud
LP: Oriental Delight
Song: "Mood Orientale"
[ listen ]
Song: "Caucasian Dance"
[ listen ]
Song: "Come My Sweet One"
[ listen ]

Here are some mid-week delights from "the Orient"—or Armenia, to be precise. Not much info about Hank Mardigian or his Sextet on the web, but you can find the New York Times obituary for famed oud player George Mgrdichian here and the "Oriental Delight" LP liner notes are included below.

ORIENTAL DELIGHT is the music of Asia Minor expressing
its sad and joyous moods with exotic and mystic sounds.
This music is truly an expression of Armenia—its people,
culture, history, and not to be overlooked, their feeling.
They knew of no superficial moods or ways of life. There

was only one way to do things—the right way—the full
way. The music is intoxicating because it is played from
the heart with all its warmth and color. The men smoked
their favorite nargula (water pipe), while the women with
veils and necklaces of gold pieces and coins danced to
the exotic and captivating age-old melodies of never-
to-be-forgotten oriental sounds

Massacres, tortures, and enslavements are blended with
much joy in the music of these people, who, for many
centuries knew only of peace and happiness. History
tells us of the greatness of its early kings, people, and
nation. All of its early music was joyful and told only
of happiness. Then, sadness blanketed the nation
and its people. And, thus, the reason for the moods
of Oriental Delight

Hank Mardigian's Sextet has, since early childhood, lived
and played oriental music. In the eight, short years that
the six gifted musicians have been playing together, the
band has become one of America's most popular and
well-known Armenian bands of today

Hank Mardigian, in his playing of the mandolin and the alto
saxophone, has captured the style and authenticity of the
ancient music of Asia Minor. The popularity of the band
is due to his leadership, arrangements, and inspiration

The oud, a large hand-carved pot-bellied long-necked
mandolin-type string instrument, is the most important
in oriental music. George Mgrdichian, without question,
is considered one of the best oud players in America
and is a perfectionist. He plays very fereely, with genuine
feeling, and his interpretations of the oud have won wide
recognition for him. He is such an artist that when he plays,
the music "lives," and makes you wonder when the oud
will start "talking."

Roupen Gureghian, the youngest member of the band, plays
the clarinet with feeling, and not from notes. The music moves
him so, that the result is a distinctive style of playing

The rhythm section, which is most important to an oriental
band, has Berge Jehanian playing the castanets for added
flavor. The section is paced by Roger Mgrdichian, who plays
the treble dumbeg, an hour-glass-shaped drum which is
open on one end, with a unique style. George Terkanian
plays the bass dumbeg, which stands thirty inches high
and he excels as "the whistler" in "Come My Sweet One."

Oriental music knows no nationality or language barrier
and Oriental Delight, from the start, will inspire you to
join hands in the barr (dance), or merely sit back, relax,
and enjoy the age-old moods of that distant Middle East

[ George Mgrdichian: 1935-2006 ]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crescendo (1970)

Buy this film from the WB Shop

CRESCENDO — Guignol at it's Grandest

4 5

Director: Alan Gibson

Actors: Stefanie Powers, Margaretta Scott, James Olson, Jane Lapotaire, Joss Ackland

Run Time: 83 mins | Country: UK | Release Date: June 7, 1970 (UK) . November 29, 1972 (USA)

Best Uses: With a group of friends, with the lights out.

* * * * * * *

In CRESCENDO (the film is filled with wildly dramatic classical music), Stefanie Powers plays Susan Roberts, an attractive young music student invited to spend a few weeks at the large and remote estate of a recently-deceased composer in order to write a thesis on his life and music. As Susan sets to work on her studies, she begins to notice strange goings-ons involving those who live and work at the estate.

First, there's the composer's widow, Danielle—a commanding, gravelly-voiced Tallulah Bankhead type with big hair, flowing gowns and a forced congenial manner. Then there's her handsome, wheelchair-bound son Georges, a former tennis pro who was in a mysterious "accident" that nobody wants to talk about. He's plagued with nightmares and has something weird going on with the attractive but ice-cold French maid, Lillianne. And everyone seems to be steering clear of Carter, the gruff and towering butler-handyman.

As the Grand Guignol starts to kick in (strange sounds; empty wheelchairs; dismembered mannequins, bodies in the pool) a long list of dark, well-kept family secrets begins to unravel and young Susan Roberts finds herself on a macabre thrill ride of grizzly Hammer Studio fun.

The WB Archive DVD widescreen transfer of CRESCENDO looks terrific—doing justice to the eerie and bizarre
horror cinematography of the late '60s/early '70s that's typified in the film. You can rent this and all other Warner Archive DVD releases at Scarecrow Video in Seattle.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Elephants Gerald

Here's a mix for the end of summer—featuring three songs from a neat gospel LP by The Malcolm Dodds Singers that I picked up for a couple bucks at Half-Price Books last Friday.

side one:
01. Deep River - The Malcolm Dodds Singers
02. No Me Quieras Tanto - Leroy Holmes & His Orchestra

03. El Último Café - Julio Sosa
04. Hold On Hold On - Marianne Faithfull
05. Chin Music - Future of the Left
06. Owed T' Alex - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

07. Hawaiian War Chant - Hugo Winterhalter & His Orchestra
08. Zoom - Francis Lai
09. Sai Che Bevo, Sai Che Fumo - Nicola Di Bari
10. I Will - The Beatles

11. East of Echo - Phil Manzanera
12. The Night of the Dead - Mike Batt and Friends
13. Heav'n Heav'n - The Malcolm Dodds Singers
14. Shock Treatment - Invaders
15. We Love It - Tiny Tim
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Shake (the Foundations) - Glaxo Babies
02. Solid State Survivor - Yellow Magic Orchestra

03. Theme From Star Trek - Ferrante & Teicher
04. Coco-Nut - Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra
05. Je Sais - César et les Romains
06. Wild Like Wine - Ramatam
07. All the Beautiful Things - Eels
08. Starlight Souvenirs - The George Shearing Quintet & Orchestra
09. Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen - The Malcolm Dodds Singers

10. Taxidi - Kyriakos & His Orchestra
11. Cherry Coloured Funk - Cocteau Twins

12. Mexico - Panda and Angel

13. Chains - Sons & Daughters
14. Tea For Two - Liberace
[ listen ]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus

Artist: Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus
LP: Campfire Songs
Song: "Whoopee Ti Yi Yo"
[ listen ]
Song: "Cool Water"
[ listen ]
Song: "Lie Low Little Dogies"
[ listen ]

Like Menudo for cowboys (seems the lads are put out to pasture once they turn 17), the Tuscon Arizona Boys Chorus is just the sort of thing I would have longed to be a part of when I was 9 years old (I joined Yakima's "Company 7" instead). The 9-year-olds of today still have a chance though, as it seems the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus is still going strong—though founder Eduardo Caso died suddenly in 1965. You can read the history of the chorus and see what they're up to nowadays here, where you can also find a by-decade timeline, complete with lots of neat photos. I've included liner notes and drawings from the back of the LP below—along with some Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus pictures from the 1950s-1970s.

The Cowboy Ballad, born on the plains of our Great
Southwest, and an important part of the folk-poetry
which has served to record the story of this young
nation, remains today as one of the few forms of
truly American music.

The tunes were sung around the campfire and on the
long and lonely cattle trails—often improvised as soothing
lullabies by the vigilant cowboys on night-guard, as they
rode slowly around the restless longhorns

"What keeps the herd from running,
Stampeding far and wide?

The cowboy's long low whistle,

And singing by their side."

Cowboy songs are as honest and plain as the men who
sang them, that strange and reckless breed who roamed
the limitless range and lived a life of isolation and raw
simplicity under the broad prairie sky

It is music of a vanished era, for gone is the buffalo-
skinner, the gun-slinger, the rustler and the trail drive

The romantic legend of the West remains only in story
and in song, the song of the American Cowboy

The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus completely enchanted
a sophisticated Manhattan audience when they appeared
in recital at New York's famed Town Hall. Time reported:
"When it was over, the audience gurgled like a bunch of
doting mothers. Director Caso has polished the Tucson
Arizona Boys Chorus well. They were as well disciplined
as paratroopers. And their voices, like their faces,
were shiny and pure."

Straight from the heart of the cow-country, where once
the wild-riding vaqueros whipped their ponies through the
brush, come Arizona's famous "Singing Ambassadors of
Good Will," the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus

These "Singing Cowboys," whose ages range from 8 to 16,
were organized in 1939 by director Eduardo Caso. Today they
are one of the most interesting musical attractions on the
American entertainment scene, with triumphs that include

national radio broadcasts, annual coast to coast concert
tours, and several television appearances on
the Ed Sullivan Show.

The summer of 1955 marked their first European tour,
and the result was a tremendous success

Continental audiences were completely enthralled, as these
30 handsome lads sang their own original arrangements of
beloved western songs, complete with coyote calls
and the bawling of lonesome calves

They captivated concert-goers from London to Goteborg,
and in Hamburg, the Echo reported: "The audience
went wild, raged, applauded."

A French reviewer wrote: "These interpretations of folk-lore
transported us back to the very foundation of vocal art."

In perhaps the finest tribute of all, a leading critic in
Portugal stated: "We saw how beautiful genuine
American songs can be."

EDUARDO CASO, founder-director of the Tuscon Boys
Chorus, was born in England and received his education
at London's famous Old Westminster School. Entering
the teaching profession, Caso served on the faculties of
several noted British schools before going to France
for studies at the Paris Conservatory

He then came to this country and began to sing professionally,
but his successful and promising career was soon cut short by

illness. Caso went to Arizona to enjoy the healthful benefits
of its mild climate, and there the idea for the Tucson
Boys Chorus was born

His combined experience in singing and in teaching formed a
perfect background for this ambitious undertaking, and from
its humble beginnings in 1939, Caso has watched his dream
come true, for the Chorus has flourished and grown into
an organization of international renown.

[ Eduardo Caso ]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Graham Bonney

Artist: Graham Bonney
LP: Star Parade 72/73
Song: "Papa Joe"
[ listen ]

This German various-artists UNICEF LP from the early '70s is filled with terrific pop songs. That's Graham there in the "T" on the front cover...
...who you can read about here. There are lots of liner notes in German (translated below) on the back of the LP, along with a woman's photo. Her signature looks like "Rüb Braudf," but it's hard to tell for sure. I think she might be the German Miss UNICEF of '72/'73—but whoever she is, she's got fabulous fashion sense.

Liner Notes, Part One: In German

Der Reinerlös aus dem Verkauf dieser Langspielpatte fließt
dem Weltkinder-hilfswerk der Vereinten Nationen UNICEF
zu. Diese Organisation hat es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht,
notleidenden und unterstützungs-bedüfrtigen Kindern in aller
Welt zu helfen. Zw
ölf internationale Spitzeninterpreten haben
zugunsten von UNICEF auf ihr Honorar verzichtet und
dadurch das Erscheinen dieser au
ßergewöhnlichen Platte
zum sensationellen Preis erm

Liner Notes, Part One: In English

Net proceeds from the sale of this long play cuff flow to the
world child welfare organization of the United Nations UNICEF.
This organization made it's duty to help distressed and
support bedüfrtigen children in all world. Twelve international
point interpreters did in favor of UNICEF without their fee
and thus the appearance of this unusual plate at the
sensational price made possible

* * * * * * *

Liner Notes, Part Two: In German

"Der Hunger und das Leid vieler Kinder in der Welt erinnern
uns an die Not der Nachkriegszeit. Damals haben Regierungen,
Wohltätigkeitsverbände und unzählige Menschen in aller
Welt selbstlos unseren Kindern geholfen. Diese unvergessene
Hilfe verpflichtet uns heute, bedürftigen Kindern in der dritten
Welt unsere Nächstenliebe zu zeigen. Mein Dank gilt den Künstlern
die unter Verzicht auf Honorar die beispielhafte Hilfsaktion der
UNICEF unterstützen. Ich darf auch Ihnen dafür danken,
daß Sie sich durch den Erwerb dieser Schallplatte in den
Dienst einer guten Sache stellen."

—Rüb Braudf

Liner Notes, Part Two: In English

"The hunger and the suffering of many children in the
world remind us of the emergency of the post-war
period. At that time governments, charity federations
and innumerable humans in all world helped sebstlos
our children. This unforgotten assistance obligates us today
to show needy children in the third world our brotherly love.
My thanks are valid for the artists, who support the exemplary
relief work of the UNICEF through renouncement of fee. I may
thank also you for that you place yourselves by the acquisition
of this record into the service of a good thing."

—Rüb Braudf

[ Rüb Braudf: Miss UNICEF—Germany, 1972/1973 ]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Keane Brothers

Artist: The Keane Brothers
LP: The Keane Brothers
Song: "The Ugly One"
[ listen ]

This first LP from The Keane Brothers (Tom and John) was produced by David "Love Theme From St. Elmo's Fire" Foster, it was released in 1977 and it was found by me at the Dakota Ranch Thrift Store in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The record evidently once belonged to a gal named Patty Jackson, who kept strict accounts of her various schoolyard boy-crushes on the LP's lyric sheet/production notes insert, as seen below. I can't help but suspect that Patty Jackson was probably one of the "ugly ones"—chasing cute boys around the playground, just like in the Keane Brothers song. You can read about the brothers here, listen to more of their songs and become their MySpace friend here and watch a neat clip filmed off someone's TV of The Keane Brothers performing "Help! Help!" and being interviewed on the Mike Douglas Show here. As an added bonus, Cab Calloway makes a brief appearance too!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Santa Esmeralda

Artist: Santa Esmeralda
LP: Beauty
Song: "The Wages of Sin (part 1)"
[ listen ]

Here's a sexy disco number from Santa Esmeralda's 1978 "Beauty" LP. I'm not so sure about the Count Dracula/Groucho Marx thing singer Jimmy Goings is attempting on the front cover, but I am pretty sure about his picture on the back cover. Rrraaooooww! And no, it doesn't bother me that his eyebrows are as big as his moustache. You can read about Santa Esmeralda on Wikipedia here, see their discography here and become their friend on MySpace here. I tried to find some more sexy pictures of Jimmy Goings on the web, but all I found was this.