Friday, August 31, 2012

Damian Luca

Artist: Damian Luca
LP: Trésors Folkloriques Roumains
Song: "Repezita"
[ listen ]

Here's evidence that Zamfir isn't the only Romanian flautist in the world who knows his way around a pan flute. Instructed by his uncle, the great pan flautist Fănică Luca, Damian mastered the flute and hit the road, performing at the Olympia in Paris, at New York's Carnegie Hall...he was even on The Ed Sullivan Show! My copy of Damian's "Trésors Folkloriques Roumains" LP is autographed by the entire troupe from Lucas' 1978 Pacific Northwest Tour, which lasted from October-December and which I somehow missed. "Repezita," one of the album's exuberant dances (side II - 1), provides a terrific showcase for Lucas' pan flutin' skillsthis guy's a real Romaniac! You can read a bit about Damian Luca on the International Swiss Panflute Seminar website here, and LP liner notes in English and French are included below.

 [ Fănică Luca: April 5, 1894 October 28, 1968 ]

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Di Marie

Artist: Di Marie
LP: ¡¡Preciosa!!
Song: "El Libro de Mi Vida"
[ listen ]

Lately I've been feeling like el libro de mi vida could really use more interesting chapter headings, ya know? Not to be confused with the functional and fashionable LA-based ladies' denim line (with a huge photo of downtown Chicago on their website), this Di Marie was born in Puerto Rico, was originally named María Dolores Pérez, and she released this terrific LP on Columbia Records in early 1963. Aside from the LP liner notes included below, there's not much information available about this lovely singer whose voice simply throbs with Latin emotion. What we do know is this: the release of ¡¡Preciosa!! earned her a notice for International Special Merit in the January 19, 1963 issue of Billboard magazine!

 [ Shazam! ]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Banda Mochis de Porfirio Amarillas

Artist: Banda Mochis de Porfirio Amarillas
LP: Banda Mochis de Porfirio Amarillas
Song: "El Payasito"
[ listen ]
Song: "Arriba Mochis"
[ listen ]

When I was in high school, my mom used to complain that my music sounded like garbage cans being banged together. I rolled my eyes and informed her that she was wrong, but now it seems I'm turning out just like my mother! It sounds like Banda Mochis de Porfirio Amarillas is banging garbage cans together! I mean that in the best possible way, of course. They're practically punk rock! There's not much info about Porfirio Amarillas or his Banda Mochis on the web, but I'm guessing they're probably from the northwestern Mexican coastal city of Los Mochis, and I bet Porfirio Amarillas is the fellow who got this exuberantly noisy bunch together and gave them their garbage cans. "Arriba Mochis" is the only song on the LP with vocals, and they're sung with gusto by a gentleman named Concepción Cristobal. If anyone has more info about Porfirio Amarillas, Señor Cristobal, or Banda Mochis, let me know!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller [1917-2012]

Artist: Phyllis Diller
LP: Phyllis Diller Laughs
Track: "Driving Downtown"
[ listen ]

Last week I called Phyllis and told her that I had one of her LPs I'd been wanting to post here, and she said was dying to be featured on my blog. Phyllis first came to public attention when she appeared on Groucho Marx's televised quiz show "You Bet Your Life," after which she paved the way...well, it's hard to imagine Phyllis Diller paving anything. Phyllis blazed the trail, shall we say, for women in standup comedy for generations to come. (Phyllis was nothing if not a blazer.) Ten interesting facts about Phyllis Diller: 1.) She was born in Lima, Ohio. (I've been there!) 2.) She was an accomplished concert pianist and played with over 100 orchestras throughout the country in the 1970s and early '80s. 3.) She also played the saxophone. 4.) In 1967 she starred with her friend Bob Hope in a terrible, terrible movie called EIGHT ON THE LAM. 5.) In 1979 she auditioned for director Blake Edwards in hopes of starring in his new movie, but the part went to Bo Derek instead. 6.) For some reason this guy shows up when you Google images of "Phyllis Diller pianist." 7.) Diller went under the knife for plastic surgery fifteen times during her life. 8.) She was born 3 months and 11 days after the United States of America declared war on Germany in WWI. 9.) Her "Phyllis Diller Laughs" LP was recorded at the Bon Soir nightclub in NYC's Greenwich Village 52 years ago, in March of 1961. 10.) Phyllis used to joke that she never made it on "Who's Who," but she did end up on "What's That." You can read all about Phyllis Diller's brilliant career on Wikipedia here and go here to find a nice obituary for her in the New York Times.

Phyllis Diller
[July 17, 1917 — August 20, 2012]
We will miss you, Phyllis...probably even more than we'll miss Kitty or Chavela.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Heintje Simons

Artist: Heintje Simons
LP: Ich Denk an Dich
Song: "Hey Mister"
[ listen ]

I've been gallivanting all over Europe these past few weeks, via my record collection, weeding out LPs from my overcrowded Italy, Germany, and "other" sections. Next, I'm off to France! This 1973 record by the sensational singing Dutch tot Heintje (by now an elderly 18-year-old) was one of the things I had to send off to boarding school to make more room. Like Loretta Lynn, Heintje was a coal miner's daughter—er, son—and the young singer's immense popularity and fame lifted his family from the depths of poverty. You can read more about Heintje Simons here, listen to another one of his songs from an earlier posting here, and I've still got several pre-'70s Heintje LPs on my shelves, so you'll probably be seeing him again real soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nancy Walker

Artist: Nancy Walker
LP: I Hate Men
Song: "You Irritate Me So"
[ listen ]

Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Nancy Walker was raised in high vaudevillian style by her father, showman Dewey Barto of the comedic dance act Barto & Mann. Nancy made her Broadway debut in "Best Foot Forward" in 1941, and stayed with the show when it became a movie starring Lucille Ball two years later. This provided Walker with her first film role, after which she went on to a five-decade-long career as singer, actress, entertainer, and comedian in stage, television, and film. Most people probably remember Nancy from TV shows like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda," but those were too sophisticated for me and I wasn't allowed to watch them. I grew up knowing Nancy as the lady with the really strong and absorbent paper towels--"the quicker picker-uppers." Some may also remember Nancy Walker as the director of the spectacular cinematic disco fiasco CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC, though I bet she would probably prefer that you didn't. This man-hating-themed LP was released in 1959, and its cover is reportedly considered to be one of the worst ever made, which of course automatically makes it one of the best. You can read all about Nancy Walker's life and career and see what other movies and shows she appeared in (like this one!) by visiting Wikipedia here.

[ Nancy Walker: May 10, 1922 — March 25, 1992 ]

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Haruo Minami

Artist: Haruo Minami
LP: Let's Dance the Ondo Together For the World's Fair
Song: "Tokyo Olympic Ondo"
[ listen ]

Olympics, Olympics, Olympics. I don't know about you, but I'm kinda glad it's finally over. Since I don't get any TV channels, I pretty much missed the entire thing, but I did fortuitously happen to catch a glimpse of the Italian men's volleyball team one morning while I was at the gym. They all look like underwear models! Then yesterday I spent a little time on the elliptical machine and got to see Evgeniya Kanaeva's incredible gold-medal-winning performance with a hula-hoop in the Individual All-Around Rhythmic Gymnastics competition. I'd never seen this sort of thing in the Olympics or anywhere else before, and I was totally mesmerized. I kept imagining how many times I would have accidentally sent that hoop flying into the bleachers if I ever dared to attempt such a routine. The performance was so otherworldly, beautiful, and strange (especially with no music or crowd noise), it was like watching science fiction!

Does anyone remember the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo? Maybe the theme song will jog your memory—you can listen and then download it to use as your ringtone here. If singer Haruo Minami were still alive, he would remember the 1964 Olympics. Haruo, a popular performer of enka music (not to be confused with the Anka music of the west) had a hit with "Tokyo Olympic Ondo" (lyrics included below) which was very likely played to death during the internationally televised 1964 event. The song was also included on this terrific Haruo Minami album full of ondo music a few years later. There are instructions inside the LP for learning to dance various types of ondos; I've included one of my favorites below. The album also features a track called "Ondo for the World's Fair," which I'm assuming was prepared for the 1970 Expo in Osaka (see some neat photos of Expo '70 here). Haruo reportedly caused quite a stir by performing in a kimono, which Japanese men just weren't doing in the 1950s and '60s. Everyone eventually got used to the idea though, and Minami even enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the early '90s when his songs were featured in the "Super Zugan," animated TV show. You can read more about Haruo Minami here and find an interesting music-video-type-thing for "Tokyo Olympic Ondo" below. This posting is dedicated to my friend Aki, who gave me a vinyl-to-mp3 turntable for my birthday earlier this week. "Tokyo Olympic Ondo" is the first file produced by my new apparatus, and I'm looking forward to its modern convenience allowing me to post more regularly again, and not just whenever somebody dies. Thanks, Aki!

Haruo Minami on YouTube:

 [ Haruo Minami: July 19, 1923 — April 14, 2001 ]