Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The San Sebastian Strings

Artist: The San Sebastian Strings
LP: La Mer/The Sea
Song: "Le Vent, La Mer, L'ete (Beyond the Bend Ahead)"
[ listen ]

"The most successful, beautiful mood album of our age, now in French" seems like a good way to bid adieu to October of 2013. It's been a beauty. This collaboration between Anita Kerr (music), Rod McKuen (words), Marc Ogeret (voice), Rumi (translation) and The San Sebastian Strings (strings) makes for perfect after-work bubble bath music. It's another wonderful thing I found at Goodwill last weekend. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed [1942-2013]

Artist: Lou Reed
LP: Transformer
Song: "Goodnight Ladies"
[ listen ]

When I went to my friends' place yesterday afternoon to carve pumpkins with their family, they told me that Lou Reed had died. I'm embarrassed to admit that I first heard of Lou Reed when I bought his "My Love Is Chemical" single, which was featured in the movie WHITE NIGHTS. I was 16 years old and living in Yakima, Washington. Nobody there had ever heard of The Velvet Underground. I still don't think anyone there knows about them, except probably my friend Tiffany. It's also embarrassing to admit that I purchased Lou Reed's 1972 "Transformer" LP at a thrift store in Southern California while on my LDS mission primarily because of the photo on the back—the one of the guy with the French baguette stuffed down the front of his pants. Of course eventually I found out about The Velvet Underground, I learned that Lou Reed's music and his themes of sexual promiscuity and ambiguity had a profound influence on lots of other bands I liked, and I came to be extremely grateful that I happened across one of Lou Reed's early records at a California thrift shop, even if I did buy it mainly for the "art." You can read about Lou Reed's incredible life and career on Wikipedia here, and go here to read his obituary in the New York Times.

 [ Here's the jack-o-lantern I made the day Lou Reed died. ]

Lou Reed
[ March 2, 1942 — October 27, 2013 ]
We will miss you, Lou.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Pickwick Children's Chorus and Musical Friends

Artist: The Pickwick Children's Chorus and Musical Friends
LP: Sesame Street & Other Children's Pop Hits!
Song: "Bozo's Song"
[ listen ]

Here's a kids' record I found at Goodwill yesterday, featuring a song performed by Bozo the Clown. That reminds me: I read in the news last week that a powerful Mexican drug lord was shot dead by assassins dressed as clowns at a family children's party in Cabo San Lucas. There's a picture of Pickwick Children's Chorus leader Laurie Ringham on the back of this slightly disturbing LP, along with photos of other young ladies (one toothless lass is featured in unflattering closeup). But nothing in the liner notes, evidently written by a four-year-old, indicates whether the girls pictured are actual members of The Pickwick Children's Chorus or just some of their Musical Friends.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leo Sayer

Artist: Leo Sayer
LP: Just a Boy
Song: "Telepath"
[ listen ]

Remember a few weeks ago when I was trying to stay "on the wagon" and stop myself from buying new records until I'd gotten rid of some of the ones I had? It hasn't been easy staying on that wagon, and last night it got particularly cold in my apartment, so I chopped up the wagon and used it for firewood. Then today, after enjoying a delicious breakfast at Pete's Egg Nest with my friends Edwardo and Ted, I went to the local Goodwill to rummage through their vinyl. They had lots of goodies and weird stuff, and by the time I left I had such a big pile of records I could hardly carry them all to my car. (Goodwill takes .05¢ off your purchase if you don't use a bag.) This 1974 record from British singer Leo Sayer is one of the things I nearly put back in the bin to lighten my load (and lower my bill). I'm glad I kept it though. I only knew Leo Sayer from his mid-to-late '70s hits like "You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'" and "More Than I Can Say," and I like those just fine, but I was curious to hear what sort of music Mr. Sayer was making in 1974. Turns out it was GOOD music! "Just a Boy" was Leo's second LP, and it went to #16 on the US album charts on the strength of his "Long Tall Glasses" single, which was a top-ten hit. You can read all about Leo Sayer's life and career on Wikipedia here or visit his official website.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Elena Madera

Artist: Elena Madera
LP: Elena Madera
Song: "El Pollo Se Me Escapo"
[ listen ]
Song: "Tu Seras"
[ listen ]
Song: "Canto Karabali"
[ listen ]

It hasn't even been one week since I posted Elena Madera's self-titled LP here on the blog...and now here's another one! When I located a copy of this other record by Ms. Madera online, I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough to place my order. The record was in California, but for some reason the merchant's bank was in France. When I tried to buy it, fraud protection shut down two of my credit cards before PayPal finally came to the rescue. My order was placed, the money was paid, and "¡Que Buena Está... Elena!! The Torrid Voice of Elena Madera" arrived at my workplace this afternoon! I was hoping the record's liner notes would shed new light on this amazingly talented woman whose life and career remain shrouded in darkness and mystery. They don't. Still, there's a nice photo of Elena on the back of the record—pictured with Lou Perez, who leads the orchestra here. Unfortunately, Lou won't be able to give us the lowdown on Elena, since he died when he was hit by a car in Manhattan eight years ago. In any case, I couldn't help but post a trio of songs from this fantastic, cotton-candy-colored album in order to demonstrate the many facets of Elena's intriguing personality. The non-revealing LP liner notes are included below, in both English and Spanish. If you want your own copy of this record, you can get it on sale here

[ Elena Madera w/ Lou Perez ]

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Boris Kovačič Ensemble

Artist: The Boris Kovačič Ensemble
Vocals: Stanka Gorišek and Danilo Čadež
LP: Slovenian Songs
Song: "Autumn Song (Jesenska)"
[ listen ]
Song: "Mountain Girl (Gorsko Delke)"
[ listen ]

Have I mentioned yet that fall is my favorite season? Here's a short ditty all about fall-time (aka. "autumn"), and another about a girl from the mountains, both from beautiful Slovenia!

[ Boris Kovačič ]

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Charles Linton

Artist: Charles Linton
LP: Bientôt
Song: "A Tous Les Amoureux (I'll Never Fall In Love Again)"
[ listen ]
Song: "Delilah"
[ listen ]

There are certainly worse things to aspire to than wanting to be known as the Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdinck of French-Speaking Canada. And when it comes to glorious early 1970s hairdos, Tom and E-Bert have nothing on Charles Linton. The "Bientôt" LP, probably from the late '60s, is filled with Linton's French- and English-language covers of some of Jones' and Humperdinck's most popular tunes. Nowadays this talented and handsome singer is known as Charles Prévost Linton, and you can find him performing the Canadian national anthem at the Bell Centre sports arena in Montréal. Go here to read more about that and to listen to a few more of his songs, including a French-language version of "Penny Lane" with his '60s group Les Sinners.

[ Charles Linton ]

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Elena Madera

 Artist: Elena Madera
LP: Elena Madera
Song: "Pepito"
[ listen ]
Song: "El Chipi Chipi"
[ listen ]

There was nothing "Chipi Chipi" about this old record I picked up last month; it cost more than 1,200 pennies! There isn't much info about Elena Madera on the web (she doesn't even have a page on Wikipedia!), but according to the LP liner notes, she was born in Havana, Cuba of a Cuban-born mother who was a professional dancer, and a father, born in the USA, who was a band-leader in the Philadelphia area. Elena came to the United States of America at age two, began singing at age three, and the rest, as they don't usually say, isn't history. Or at least it isn't history that anyone has posted on the internet so that it's easy to find. What we do know is that Elena sang with musicians like Tito Puente and Duke Ellington, that she had an international hit with the song "Pepito," and, after listening to her music, we know that she is amazing! We also know that "Elena Madera" (Decca #DL 8976) was probably released sometime around 1958 (Caterina Valente's 1957 "Olé Caterina" LP is Decca #DL 8436) and we know that Elena Madera did not become famous and seems to have faded into obscurity today. I wonder whatever happened to her. While wondering, we can read a little about her in Spanish here, where there's also a neat video of "Pepito" being performed by Los Machucambos, and you can go here to read a brief review of the "Elena Madera" LP by someone named Tony Wilds on

[ Elena Madera ]

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Band

Artist: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Band
[ Merle Evans, Conductor ]
LP: Circus Time [10" EP]
Song: "The Purple Carnival (Wild Animal Act)"
[ listen ]

I know I'm a few days late (I haven't been meeting any of my 2013 blog posting goals), but the music from this 1953 10" circus EP I found in Seattle's White Center neighborhood a few weeks ago seems like the perfect fanfare to usher in my favorite month of the year—October! The sun is shining, a cool breeze is blowing, the leaves have started turning red, yellow, and orange, and it all makes me so happy inside! I feel like the clown face on the cover of this record. Circus band conductor/cornet-player Merle Evans, known as the "Toscanini of the Big Top," was with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for over fifty years! His music once even saved thousands of lives, during the Hartford Circus fire of 1944. Upon discovering the fire, Evans instructed his band to play the disaster warning song, alerting other circus performers that it was time to evacuate the public. You can read more about Merle Evans, his career, and his musical life-saving techniques here and go here to read more about the Hartford fire.

[ Merle Evans: December 26, 1894 — December 31, 1987 ]