Monday, January 31, 2011

Duke Errol

Artist: Duke Errol
LP: Calypso Island
Song: "Bally Mena"
[ listen ]

Here's a neat calypso record I found at the new Bop Street Records location in Ballard last week. The liner notes say that this is the best Duke Errol record to date—so I took it out to dinner on Saturday night, and then we caught the new Mike Leigh movie. I'm not really one to kiss and tell, but let's just say I was making coffee for two on Sunday morning. You can read all about the life and career of former taxi entrepreneur Errol Strachan (aka. Duke Errol) on the Verum Serum website here, where you can also listen to a few more of his songs.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Dave Bacal

Artist: Dave Bacal
LP: The Latin Touch of Dave Bacal
Song: "Dengozo"
[ listen ]

Ironically, Dave Bacal started his career by "beating it out in theatres," which, in more recent years, is just the sort of thing that could bring a successful career to a sudden and abrupt end. Before releasing this terrific Latin-themed album on the Crown Records label in 1960, Dave Bacal worked with fitness guru Jack LaLanne who, as a troubled youngster, once set his house on fire and attacked his brother with an axe. After recovering from sugar addiction, LaLanne got his own fitness show on TV in 1951, for which Dave Bacal provided improvisational accompaniment on the organ. You can read more about Jack LaLanne, who died earlier this week at the age of 96, on IMDB here, on Wikipedia here, and find his Los Angeles Times obituary here. The notes from Dave Bacal's "The Latin Touch" LP are included below.

 [ Dave Bacal: December 12, 1908 — September 12, 1986 ]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blue Mink

Artist: Blue Mink
LP: Real Mink
Song: "Good Morning Freedom"
[ listen ]

Good Morning Fogbank is more like it. My bike-ride to work this morning was completely shrouded in mystery. This 1970 Blue Mink LP is one of the things I found up in Bellingham over the New Years holiday. Blue Mink was making music from 1969 to 1974, featuring vocals by British singer/songwriter Roger Cook along with Madeline Bell, who's originally from New Jersey. The group had six top-twenty singles in the U.K. during their five years together, including "Good Morning Freedom" which made it all the way to #10. You can read about Blue Mink on Wikipedia here, find a comprehensive biography for singer Madeline Bell on her website here, and find the "Real Mink" liner notes and group photo right here:


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blue Swede

Artist: Blue Swede
LP: Out of the Blue
Song: "Half-Breed"
[ listen ]

Somehow I find it unlikely that Swedish pop sensation Björn Skifs has ever been harassed for being half Cherokee. More likely he's been ribbed good-naturedly for providing the voice of Woody in the Swedish versions of TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2. You can find out more about Björn Skifs here, read about Blue Swede here (just lay off of their shoes), and below you'll find I've arranged the Blue Swede group member photos according to overall sex appeal—judging solely on what can be seen on the outside. Everyone knows it's what's on the inside that really counts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Violetta Villas

Artist: Violetta Villas
LP: Dla Ciebie Mily
Song: "Czterdziesci Kasztanów (Forty Chestnuts)"
[ listen ]

With her elaborate style and an operatic vocal range spanning five octaves, Violetta Villas came to be known as the Yma Sumac of Poland. Though she's toured the USA, has appeared in several movies, including PAINT YOUR WAGON, and she regularly performed in Las Vegas in the 1960s—singing duets with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Eartha Kitt, I'd never heard of Violetta Villas until last weekend when I found this LP at a store just a few blocks from my home. The liner notes, in both Polish and English, are included below, along with the "Zespoly." I'm not sure what that means, but it might be important. There are lots of amazing pictures of Violetta Villas on the internet—like this one, this one, this one and this one too—but I've included my favorite at the bottom of this post. You can read about Violetta's fantastic life and her international career on Wikipedia here — and special thanks to London correspondent Graham Russell, who not only dug up lots more information about Violetta Villas that you can see here, but he also found this gloriously zany 1971 Violetta Villas video. Wunderbar!

Violetta Villas on YouTube:


Monday, January 24, 2011

Billy Mure

Artist: Billy Mure, His Guitar and Orchestra
LP: Hawaiian Percussion
Song: "Blue Hawaii"
[ listen ]
Song: "Pink Hawaii"
[ listen ]

Here are some his-n-hers Hawaiian hits from a neat Billy Mure record I picked up in Bellingham a few weeks ago. From the notes on the back of the album, I'm guessing Jack Paar must have stayed at the Royal Hawaiian. I ate breakfast at that pink hotel every day during my family's week-long summertime stays at the neighboring Sheraton Waikiki for the Shaklee conventions of 1978 and 1982. You can read about Billy Mure on Wikipedia here, listen to more of his music on his MySpace page here, and watch a video of Billy's 93rd birthday party at Squid Lips here.

[ That's an awfully big guitar you have there, Billy. ]

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Red Foley

Artist: Red Foley
LP: Beyond the Sunset
Song: "When God Dips His Love In My Heart"
[ listen ]

It's Sunday, so let's all go to The Church of Red Foley. Born in Blue Lick, Kentucky (!) in 1910, Clyde Julian "Red" Foley had learned to play the guitar by the time he was 7 years old, and he went on to a successful singing career in the 1930s and '40s. In January of 1945, he became the first country singer to record music in Nashville, Tennessee—which is now the country music capitol of the world. You can read about Red Foley in the liner notes from his 1955 "Beyond the Sunset" LP, included below, and then read even more about his life and career on Wikipedia here.

 [ Red Foley: June 17, 1910 — September 19, 1968 ]

Friday, January 21, 2011


Artist: Christine
LP: Christine Gives You a Little Bit of Sunshine
Song: "Jesus Is My Sunshine"
[ listen ]
Song: "He's the One"
[ listen ]

I'd like to thank Christine for giving me a little bit of sunshine, since it's rainy, gloomy, and gray here in Seattle today. I was prepared to make fun of this record, flinging pithy zingers about auditions for "The Brady Bunch" or something...but this album is actually really nice! It's like The Carpenters meet Olivia Newton-John for a picnic in the Garden of Gethsemane. Warning: you may get 'turned on,' 'knocked out,' or even converted by Christine's singing, so please listen at your own risk. The LP liner notes are included below, you can see Christine's discography here, and you can find out what she's been up to lately by visiting her website here.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stan Jones and the Ranger Chorus

Artist: Stan Jones and the Ranger Chorus
LP: Walt Disney Presents Songs of the National Parks
Song: "Grand Canyon"
[ listen ]

Here's something I picked up in Bellingham for .50¢ during my New Years getaway a few weeks ago. Born in Douglas, Arizona in the summer of 1914, Stan Jones wrote more than 200 songs during his career, including well-known standards like "Ghost Riders In the Sky" and "Saddle Up!" as well as some not-so-standards like "My Gal Is Purple" and "Jim Marshall's Nugget." Stan appeared both on television and in a few motion pictures, and he wrote some of the music for John Ford's popular westerns RIO GRANDE and THE SEARCHERS. He made several records for Walt Disney, including this 1963 LP that features songs about various national parks in the USA. You can buy your own copy of the record here. Sadly, Stan Jones died of cancer at the young age of 49 the same year this record was released. You can read more about Stan's life and career here, where you'll also find some neat pictures, some links for listening to a bunch of Stan's songs as recorded by himself and various other artists, and there's even a link where you can listen to Stan telling an audience what inspired the writing of his hit song "Ghost Riders In the Sky."

 [ Stan Jones: June 5, 1914 — December 13, 1963 ]