Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ruby and the Romantics

Artist: Ruby and the Romantics
LP: Our Day Will Come
Song: "Stranger on the Shore"
[ listen ]

This lovely and sentimental ballad seems a good fit for a cool and cloudy last day of June in Seattle. Formed in Akron, Ohio in the early '60s, Ruby and the Romantics were an all-male quartet briefly known as The Supremes before singer Ruby Nash joined up with them and they changed their name. Though today they're primarily known for their 1963 #1 hit, "Our Day Will Come," all the songs on this Kapp LP are terrific. After releasing a handful of flop followup singles throughout the remainder of the 1960s, Ruby and the Romantics split up in 1971. Ruby reportedly now works at the Barberton, Ohio Salvation Army thrift store and earns no royalties from the use of her group's songs. You can read more about Ruby Nash and her Romantics (Edward Roberts, George Lee, Ronald Mosley, Leroy Fann) by clicking here and here.

[ Ruby and the Romantics ]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ruth Olay

Artist: Ruth Olay
LP: Olay! O.K.!!
Song: "Gonna' Build a Mountain"
[ listen ]
Song: "I Concentrate on You"
[ listen ]

Jazz singer Ruth Olay was born in San Francisco, California in 1924, but her family moved to Los Angeles when she was just 18 months old. Her father was a Hungarian rabbi born in Yonkers, her mother a classical singer who performed in the chorus of Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy movies. You can read more about Ruth Olay on Wikipedia here—where they think she was born in Los Angeles—and you'll find a terrific 1999 interview with Olay for Songbirds magazine here. In the interview, you'll find out how Ruth first got started singing, read about her friendships with Benny Carter and Judy Garland, learn how she used to "pass" as a black singer and find out what she's been doing since retiring from her singing career. Notes and pictures from the 1963 "Olay! O.K.!!" LP are included below, along with a YouTube clip of Ruth Olay performing "The Best Is Yet to Come" on the Johnny Carson Show.

Ruth Olay on YouTube:

[ Ruth Olay ]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rosalind Russell

Artist: Rosalind Russell
LP: Wonderful Town
Song: "One Hundred Easy Ways"
[ listen ]
Song: "Conga!"
[ listen ]

Along with the corporate sponsorship takeover of the Seattle Gay Pride parade and festivities, and the rivers of rainbow-colored vomit flowing through the streets of Capitol Hill after late-night block parties this past weekend, I've noticed yet another disappointing trend that signals the decline of the traditionally intellectual, non-conformist nature of the gay community of decades past: indifference to Broadway musicals! According to the date listed on the price tag, this terrific and campy soundtrack for the 1958 TV show "Wonderful Town"—based on the 1953 Broadway hit for which gay icon Rosalind "Auntie Mame" Russell won her only Tony Award—had been gathering dust at a store in the heart of Seattle's gay district for nearly two years before I finally snatched it up for just .99¢ last month. 

"Wonderful Town" concerns the plight of sisters Ruth and Eileen Sherwood, who've fled from Columbus, Ohio to New York City in search of love and fortune. The stage show debuted on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on February 25, 1953, starring Rosalind Russell as Ruth, the more sensible sister, and Edie Adams as Eileen, the blond bombshell (in the TV show, and thus on my LP, Eileen is played by Jacquelyn McKeever). With music by Leonard Bernstein (WEST SIDE STORY) and song lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green—the duo responsible for songs in popular musicals like ON THE TOWN, as well as story and screenplay for SINGING IN THE RAIN—"Wonderful Town" went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1953. You can find production details and the entire delightfully-convoluted "Wonderful Town" plot synopsis, in two acts, on Wikipedia here.

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1907, actress Rosalind Russell went on to a prosperous career in movies, television and stage. Initially typecast by Hollywood studios as an elegant and wealthy lady, Russell voiced her frustration with these roles in a 1936 interview: "Being typed as a lady is the greatest misfortune possible to a motion picture actress. It limits your characterizations, confines you to play feminine sops and menaces and the public never highly approves of either. An impeccably dressed lady is always viewed with suspicion in real life and when you strut onto the screen with beautiful clothes and charming manners, the most naive of theatergoers senses immediately that you are in a position to do the hero no good. I earnestly want to get away from this. First, because I want to improve my career and professional life and, secondly, because I am tired of being a clothes horse—a sort of hothouse orchid in a stand of wild flowers." Rosalind Russell eventually did get to take on a wider variety of roles, starting with her breakout performance in THE WOMEN in 1939; she went on to earn four Oscar nominations for Best Actress—first with MY SISTER EILEEN in 1942 (from which "Wonderful Town" is adapted) and lastly for AUNTIE MAME in 1958. Russell had an active career right up until just a few years before succumbing to breast cancer at the age of 69. You can read all about the exciting life and career of Rosalind Russell here and find her complete filmography and list of television appearances on IMDB here. Liner notes from the back of the "Wonderful Town" soundtrack LP are included here:

[ Rosalind Russell: June 4, 1907 — November 28, 1976 ]

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Artist: Meco
LP: The Wizard of Oz
Song: "The Wizard of Oz — part one"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Wizard of Oz — part two"
[ listen ]

Yesterday morning on NPR's StoryCorps series, I was moved as I listened to Michael Levine describing what it was like to witness the Stonewall riots in New York City on June 28, 1969—an event which marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. You can listen to Levine's account of the events on that fateful and historic evening here. On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York to commemorate the Stonewall riots of the year before. You can read all about the Stonewall uprising and the various phases of the gay rights movement since then on Wikipedia here. Tomorrow, the "Over the Rainbow" pride parade and festivities here in Seattle will be marking the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Gay Pride March. Unfortunately, I won't be at the parade tomorrow, since I have to play the organ for some Christian church out in the suburbs. But if they start singing hymns about gay people going to Hell, I promise to make lots of mistakes. In solidarity with the movement, and to show my support for equal rights for the LGBT community—including marriage, adoption, and the right to be tacky and annoying—I'm posting this fabulous and overlong disco version of "The Wizard of Oz," produced by Domenico "Meco" Monardo in 1978. Meco, who you can read about here, reportedly says of this LP, "This is my best work, bar none!"—and what I think he means is that, unlike most of his other work, he can stand listening to this one without getting stone drunk down at the local watering-hole first.

 [ The Stonewall Riots — June, 1969 ]

Friday, June 25, 2010


Artist: Hyksos
LP: Metal Massacre II
Song: "The Kings"
[ listen ]

Gay Pride Heavy Metal Week comes to an end with this energetic-yet-moody metal ditty by short-lived California group Hyksos. "The Kings" comes from the Metal Massacre II LP, which also features songs by metal bands with names like Surgical Steel, Warlord, Trauma, Molten Leather and...Aloha. Hyksos released just one LP, back in 1982, which you can read about here; you can visit the band's MySpace fan page here, and if you have no idea what a Hyksos is, find out by clicking here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Artist: Hellanbach
LP: Now Hear This
Song: "Kick It Out"
[ listen ]

Summer has finally arrived in Seattle, which means warm, sunny bike-rides in the morning. It's not all that far from my apartment to my work, but when I arrived this morning I was sweating like I'd just ridden to Hellanbach. Anyway...often considered little more than a cheap Van Halen imitation, British metal band Hellanbach released just one LP in the early '80s before calling it quits while working on their second record in 1984. (My copy of 1983's "Now Hear This" was pressed in Italy!) You can read more about Hellanbach on their fan-based MySpace tribute page here. Though "Kick It Out" is mostly a fairly standard rock song, it features a bizarre percussive interlude that includes blasts of gay-disco police-whistle!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Artist: Oz
LP: Heavy Metal Heroes — Hey You
Song: "In the Chains"
[ listen ]

For day #3 of Gay Pride Heavy Metal Week here at The Homoerratic Radio Show, I've selected something congruent with the theme for this year's Seattle Gay Pride festivities: "Over the Rainbow." Originally from Finland, Oz recorded and released this 1982 album in Sweden. You can read about Oz on Wikipedia here. On the record label, the group is actually credited as "The Oz," but that sounds stupid—and, speaking of stupid, I've included the 2010 Seattle Gay Pride poster below.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Artist: Horsepower
LP: Metal For Muthas, Volume II: Cut Loud
Song: "She Gives Me Candy"
[ listen ]

With "She Gives Me Candy," British band Horsepower contributes one of the best cuts on this less-popular second volume in the Metal For Muthas series. I think it's safe to assume that he's probably just being fed cubes of sugar and not some real candy (like a Butterfinger for example), but I bet it's hard for horses to tell the difference.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lucifer's Friend

Artist: Lucifer's Friend
LP: Mean Machine
Song: "Action"
[ listen ]

In honor of the Seattle Gay Pride festivities coming up this weekend, I've designated this Heavy Metal Week at The Homoerratic Radio Show. I last attended the Seattle Gay Pride festivities about 7 or 8 years ago, and,  regrettably, I've still got the image of the "kissing booth" seared into my brain. Amongst all the political stalls and the merchants selling rainbow flags and cock rings, a small wooden booth had been erected, labeled with a sign: "Kissing Booth." Standing under the sign with no shirt on was someone's idea of a "sexy hunk," his muscles bulging in all directions. A large group of not-so-hunky men were lined up in front of the booth, each waiting to pay $1 for their turn to sloppily make out with the sexy hunk for several seconds. To me it seemed like a depressing and bizarre form of public prostitution. 

This 1981 LP by German rock group Lucifer's Friend is one of several neat early '80s heavy metal records I found at Budget Music in Grand Forks, North Dakota on my road trip through the Dakotas last summer. All this week's records will be from that same Grand Forks stash, which I'd actually forgotten about until re-discovering them behind my piano while doing a little straightening in my apartment last night. You can read all about Lucifer's Friend here. By the way, this morning on NPR I heard that today is the 62nd anniversary of the birth of the vinyl LP record!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Scaredy-Cat Photographer Lady


The Scaredy-Cat Photographer Lady
Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 6:00am

I know this isn't technically a blog about dreams, but I had such a horribly strange and vivid nightmare this morning, I felt compelled to write it down:

I was walking with a friend (not sure who, doesn't matter) through a posh older urban residential neighborhood w/ big trees lining the street when we came across a man walking a small dog. We stopped and began talking with him casually. After a while we noticed a large and stuffy older woman approaching with a big black poodle on a leash. Her hair was pinned up under a fancy old-fashioned hat, she wore a long dark brown fur coat and had a camera around her neck. With her poodle pulling at the leash, the eccentric woman was following behind a humongous gray, brown and black tiger-striped pussycat (like, as big as a medium-sized suitcase). As she approached the cat, she would make her poodle lunge so that the cat would freak out by hissing, bristling its hair, and making an angry, frightening face. Whenever the cat did that, the woman would quickly snap a succession of pictures of the cat with her camera. We all assumed she was a famous photographer who specialized in pictures of terrified cats. When the cat finally relaxed and began to wander away, the woman would follow it with her poodle and, again, make the dog lunge at the cat. The cat would bristle and hiss again and the woman would take a bunch of pictures.

This went on for a while as we all watched, until finally the man we were talking to, the one with the small dog, addressed the woman: "Ma'am, I want you to know that I can not condone what you're doing to that cat!"—to which the stuffy woman answered haughtily, "I just love the way the mouth of the cat looks when it's frightened—the look of primal fear!"... and she made her poodle lunge once more toward the large pussycat. But this time the cat hissed, bristled, and raised its paws up and scratched down the front of the woman's right side from her shoulder to her waist. We could see that the cat had ripped four vertical stripes in the woman's brown fur coat. As the cat meandered away, the woman stood stunned for a second as we all watched her in silence. Gradually, blood began seeping through the four long rips in the woman's coat, and then the blood began squirting out in long vertical ribbons. We ran toward the woman as she was backing toward the stone steps of an old brownstone behind her, muttering to herself, "Oh my, it's been a long time since this sort of thing has happened..." As we helped her sit down and were fumbling for our cell phones to call 911, a petite dark-haired girl in her early 20s who had seen the entire episode came rushing over to give advice: "Ma'am, as a professional ventriloquist, I recommend you call Dr. Thomas O'Neal." The eccentric woman, weakening, replied faintly but firmly, "Don't call me a doctor—call the hospital. Quickly!" And then I woke up.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Filmon Wahbi

Artist: Filmon Wahbi
LP: Lebanon Souvenir
Song: "Malli Al-Garra"
[ listen ]

Have you ever owned a souvenir from someplace you've never been? If this French-influenced Filmon Wahbi song is any indication of what I'd find in the record stores of Beirut, then I need to hop on a plane—pronto! Filmon Wahbi (more commonly spelled "Philemon Wehbe") is a popular Lebanese composer who wrote songs for iconic singer Fairuz, who is also featured on this terrific record I recently found in West Seattle. Liner notes and complete track list are included below, both in English and in Arabic.

[ Assi Rahabni ] 

ps. I sent a link to this posting to my boss, who was raised in Lebanon, and he told me the man in the photo above isn't Filmon Wahbi (as previously credited), but Assi Rahabni. He also told me about a dream he had last night, which is strange, since he rarely dreams and was never obsessed with Fairuz. Here are his notes about the Lebanese music scene and his dream, followed by actual photos of Filmon Wahbi:

The pic is that of Assi Rahabni. He was Fairouz's discoverer, husband, and primary composer. He died young due to a brain hemorrhage many years ago. Assi and Mansour (his brother) were a formidable composer/musician team. They composed many songs and music for Fairouz. The trio dominated the music scene in Lebanon for decades. Assi and Farouz had a son named Ziad. After Assi died, Mansour continued composing for other artists, but Ziad assumed the role of Fairouz's primary composer and took her into an entirely new "Oriental jazz" direction. It was a rebellion against the old tradition represented by his father and the state of the Lebanese music scene which emphasized folklore. At first, Lebanese people shunned the change en mass. They were used to the happy/romantic songs that the Rahabani Brothers and Fairuz were known for. At one point, many people walked out on a Fairouz concert in Paris because she sang mostly new jazzy songs composed by Ziad. But in the end there was finally acceptance of the new direction. 

Ziad is sort of a Michael Moore figure in Lebanon. He is known to be on the left politically and a very heavy drinker. Ziad is also a playwright. One of his famous plays was a beautiful adaptation of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" set in an insane asylum during the Lebanese Civil War.

Yesterday I had a very weird dream. I dreamed of being Fairouz's manager! It felt great to be close to her. At one point in the dream, Fairouz came back from a trip and we were all lined up to welcome her at the entrance of her house. She appeared in a white dress and gave me a hug when she entered the house!

 [ Filmon Wahbi ]