Saturday, December 31, 2016


Artist: Blackwell
LP: Blackwell
Song: "Wonderful"
[ listen ]

If yesterday's song was for expectant fathers, this one's for fathers who are brand new on the job. I met sweet little Darla today, and hey, it was wonderful! Blackwell was a "Texas rock & roll outfit" that placed only one song in the Billboard Hot 100. It was "Wonderful," which sat at #89 for two weeks back in October of 1969, just a few months after I was born. This is one of the LPs I found at Revolver Records in Buffalo, NY a few months ago. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Fontanna and His Orchestra

Artist: Fontanna and His Orchestra
LP: Music For Expectant Fathers
Song: "Sweet and Lovely"
[ listen ]

Here's one that my friends John and Aine gave me as a Christmas gift three days ago. They were just about to have a baby, and I helped! Funny thing is, I haven't even gotten through both sides of the LP yet, and now it's already démodé. Darla Helen O'Connor was born just a few hours ago! I'm pretty sure she's actually Debbie Reynolds reincarnated. When I meet her tomorrow I'm going to perform "Singin' In the Rain," complete with rotating hand motions. I bet she's gonna' light up like a light bulb—she may even sing along!

I don't actually recommend listening to "Sweet and Lovely," unless you're an expectant father who's so overly-enthusiastic about your forthcoming baby, you need a strong dose of relentlessly nondescript blandness to bring you back down to earth. Any one of Fontanna's selections should do the trick.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Debbie Reynolds [1932-2016]

Artist: Debbie Reynolds w/ Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor
LP: "Singin' In the Rain" [10" EP]
Song: "Good Morning" 
[ listen ]

Okay, now it seems like Death is just chasing celebrities around and mowing them down for fun, trying to get as many as possible by the end of the year. So very sad. 

My friends Chad and Melody and I once sang "Good Morning" from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN as we danced down some bland suburban roadway in Provo, Utah as the sun came up over the hills. That was in the early '90s—we were in college and had stayed up all night for some reason or another. 

You can read all about Debbie's incredible career here (I recommend WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?) and go here to find her obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Debbie Reynolds
[ April 1, 1932 — December 28, 2016 ]
We will miss you, Debbie.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Patti Page

Artist: Patti Page
LP: 7" single
Song: "I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart" 
[ listen ]

First of all, I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart too! That's got to be the sexiest cowboy drawing I've seen this side of Finland. Second of all, why are all the good celebrities dying, while the other kinds live on forever? Stop it already. Enough! 

This charming early 1950s (released in '51, '52 or '53, according to the internet) Patti Page yodeler is one of the things I accidentally found for myself when I was out Christmas shopping for others last week. It's the perfect escapist ditty to keep the mind off all the end-of-year dying going on.

[ Patti Page: November 8, 1927 — January 1, 2013 ]

Monday, December 26, 2016

George Michael [1963-2016]

Artist: George Michael
LP: 7" single
Song: "A Different Corner" 
[ listen ]

Just when it looked we might make it through the end of the year without yet another talented musical icon disappearing from Earth...WHAM! George Michael is gone. This lovely and moving 1986 ballad, released when he was just 23 years old, has always been one of my favorites of the '80s. I'm grateful for whatever corner it was George went around that helped him bring his music to the world. His obituary in The New York Times is here.

George Michael
[ June 25, 1963 — December 25, 2016 ]
We're gonna' miss you, George.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Johnny Cash

Artist: Johnny Cash
LP: The Christmas Spirit
Song: "Ringing the Bells For Jim"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Little Drummer Boy"
[ listen ]

Once again, I didn't have time to post nearly as many musical Christmas ditties here as I'd hoped to have done before the holiday arrived. Oh well. I've managed to get all my presents wrapped, the lefse is thawing out and I've stuck it in the bag with my three kinds of cheese, four kinds of crackers, and a really, really long baguette. I'm ready to head to the Island. 

I leave you with this pair of tunes from Johnny Cash's first Christmas LP, released in 1963—"Ringing the Bells For Jim" (it was after this incident that they finally put a goddam lock on the bell-tower door) and "The Little Drummer Boy" (a decidedly different version than the one by Alexander O'Neal). Cash is way too dignified to get involved in the "puh-rum-pum-pum-pum" business, leaving that to the ladies, since they actually like that sort of thing. 

Merry Christmas! I hope you have joy.

[ Johnny Cash: February 26, 1932 — September 12, 2003 ]

Monday, December 19, 2016

Alexander O'Neal

Artist: Alexander O'Neal
LP: My Gift to You
Song: "Sleigh Ride"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Little Drummer Boy"
[ listen ]

Little drummer boys are always so sexy! I did some Christmas bin digging this weekend at Jive Time Records, unearthing this copy of Alexander O'Neal's 1988 Christmas LP, "His Gift to Me." Did you know Alexander was front man for The Time...until he got in a fight with Prince and got replaced by Morris Day? This was news to me. More here. "Sleigh Ride" gives a hint as to what Alexander O'Neal and The Time might have sounded like.

[ Alexander O'Neal ]

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Artist: Odetta
LP: Christmas Spirituals
Song: "Virgin Mary Had One Son"
[ listen ]
Song: "Poor Little Jesus"
[ listen ]

When I traded in three bags of LPs at Everyday Music on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago, this 1960 Odetta Christmas Spirituals record is one of the things I got in trade. Martin Luther King, Jr. called Odetta the queen of American folk music; when Bob Dylan first heard her sing, he immediately traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic one; Rosa Parks was one of Odetta's biggest fans. And I like her too.

[ Odetta: December 31, 1930 — December 2, 2008 ]

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Five Americans

Artist: The Five Americans
LP: 7" single
Song: "7:30 Guided Tour" 
[ listen ]

These fellows are about as American as five guys can get—they're from Oklahoma. They were only together as a group for about five years (1965-1969), with one top ten hit and three others that landed in the top 40. Sadly, they called it quits at the end of the '60s, shortly after "7:30 Guided Tour" was released in 1968 and peaked only at #96. Of course this 'flop' single is probably eight-to-ten times more interesting and exciting than any 15 of the songs that were currently in the top 20 at the time. So it goes. I found this one at Bop Shop Records in Rochester, NY back in September.

[ The Five Americans ]

Friday, December 9, 2016

Paul & Paula

Artist: Paul & Paula
LP: Holiday For Teens
Song: "Holiday For Teens"
[ listen ]
Song: "Winter Wonderland"
[ listen ]
Song: "Holiday Hootenanny"
[ listen ]

First of all, these people's names are Ray and Jill, not Paul and Paula, and they were both in their 20s when this record came out in 1963. This entire enterprise has been built upon a pack of lies! Not only that, but I tried singing "Holiday For Teens," hand-claps included, to some festive-looking teenagers on the bus on my way home from work today, and it did not go over well, to say the least. I immediately switched over to "Holiday Hootenanny," since to be honest that one seems more likely to appeal to today's youngsters, but the teens silently shuffled away to another part of the bus before I even finished the first verse.

[ Paula & Paul ]