“Frankenstein of ’59”: Roots of Sampling

Dickie Goodman, in partnership with Bill Buchanan, produced a series of comedic “break-in” records – newscast spoofs in which a fictitious reporter’s questions are met with carefully-selected snippets taken from the latest radio hits (i.e., early sampling).  Buchanan & Goodman’s groundbreaking partnership, which started in 1956, sadly lasted only lasted 3 years, and “Frankenstein of ’59” just might be among their last collaborations:

Frankenstein of 59

“The Ostrich”: Lou Reed’s Patented Dance Step

By now you have no doubt heard that Lou Reed has left us.  My favorite Lou Reed moment that I feel compelled to pass along is his dance send-up from 1964 entitled “The Ostrich” – from a time when he was a songwriting hack for Pickwick Records and part of a beat group called The Primitives:

Bizarrely, all of the strings of his guitar on this song are tuned to D – a tuning subsequently known as Ostrich Guitar.  For the life of me, I cannot imagine what induced Lou to release a single completely bereft of any commercial potential, unless it was to make others laugh, which it does for me every time.  If doesn’t for you, well, might I humbly suggest that you try harder.

Irene Ryan: Motown’s Newest Teen Sensation

How unfortunate when an actor embodies a character so convincingly that s/he becomes forever associated with that one role – such as Irene Ryan, heretofore known to millions as Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies.  But, as her 1973 UPI obituary points out, Irene Ryan was part of an elite group of entertainers who enjoyed success in vaudeville, radio, film, TV, and Broadway – where Ryan [would not] won a Tony award for her portrayal of Berthe, a “regal but lusty medieval grandmother,” in Pippin.

Looks like we might need to add “music” to Ryan’s long list of accomplishments, since one curious consequence of Pippin being partially backed by Berry Gordy is that Irene Ryan got a chance – at the very end of her life – to release a 45 on Motown.  In this YouTube video for “No Time at All,” look for a promotional ad featuring Irene Ryan, as Granny, with the tagline, “Motown’s Newest Teen Sensation” (around the 50-second mark).

No Time at All - Granny Ryan on Motown

Songs for 1972’s Pippin were written by Stephen Schwartz, composer of the previous year’s Godspell.  “No Time at All” produced by Bob Crewe, who co-wrote “Lucky Ladybug” for Billy and Lillie.

Granny:  The Role of a Lifetime 

Rather than be upset about being typecast as Daisy “Granny” Moses from The Beverly Hillbillies, in fact, quite the opposite was true.  In her UPI obituary, Irene Ryan was quoted in 1967, during the height of the show’s popularity, as saying, “A show like this comes along once in a performer’s lifetime. It’s the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. The minute I saw the pilot script I knew it would make a big hit.”

“Broccoli”: Virtually Unknown in the US until the 1920s

1968 saw The Association release a strong album – Birthday.  The following year’s self-titled release, The Association, was a less cohesive affair, but it did produce a paean to everyone’s favorite member of the cabbage family – broccoli – that begs the question Frank Zappa once rhetorically asked:  does humor belong in music?

Association LP

Italian Asparagus

According to Texas A&M’s Aggie Horticulture website, “Despite broccoli’s antiquity, sprouting broccoli apparently was unknown in England until about 1720, when it was introduced as ‘sprout cauliflower’ or ‘Italian asparagus.’  It is surprising that such an excellent vegetable as sprouting broccoli, known for more than 2,000 years in Europe and perhaps 200 years in America, should have become popular here only in the past 25 years.  Since 1925 it has suddenly become an important market and home-garden plant in the United States.”

“Artistry in Western Swing”: Progressive Sounds in County & Western

Stan Kenton – who released a 10″ Capitol EP Artistry in Rhythm in 1947 – was a progressive voice in jazz, just as Tex Williams, who answered Kenton in 1948 with “Artistry in Western Swing,” was likewise a forward thinker within the realm of western swing and country music.

SONY DSC

Kenton had actually kicked off this whole “artistry” thing back in 1943 with the composition, “Artistry in Rhythm” – one of the year’s big hits.  The Capitol EP, curiously, does not include the actual title track but does offer “Artistry in Percussion and “Artistry in Bolero” instead.

You can compare and contrast yourself – first, here’s 1943’s “Artistry in Rhythm”:

Next, click on the triangle below to play “Artistry in Western Swing” by Tex Williams & His Western Caravan from 1948:

“Artistry in Western Swing”     Tex Williams     1948

In The Jazz of the Southwest:  An Oral History of Western Swing, Jean A. Boyd writes,

“The Western Caravan at this time included Tex Williams (bandleader, vocals, guitar); Smokey Rogers (vocals, guitar, banjo); Deuce Spriggins (vocals, bass); Pedro DePaul (accordian, arranger); Cactus Soldi (fiddle); Rex “Curly” Call (fiddle); Max “Gibby” Fidler (fiddle); Johnny Weiss (lead guitar); Ozzie Godson (piano, vibraphone); Muddy Berry (drums); Spike Featherstone (harp); Earl “Joaquin” Murphey (steel guitar).  [Guitarist] Benny Garcia was also part of the Western Caravan band that recorded the magnificent Artistry in Western Swing album, a western swing response to Stan Kenton’s monumental Artistry in Swing.  Benny recalls that he had to hire jazz flutist Ezzie Morales to play the flute parts on the Kenton arrangements.”

Artistry in Western Swing 78

Stan Kenton:  The Original Wall of Sound

As Jim Gilchrist of The Scotsman points out in his piece, “Bringing Back the Original    Wall of Sound,” Stan Kenton gained distinction for his orchestra’s famed Wall of Sound “way before Phil Spector annexed the term.”

Texas Troubadours: Backup Band Extraordinaire

Perhaps it’s not fair to single out a backing band in country music, since there are so many outstanding ones – The Texas Playboys, The Cherokee Cowboys, The Drifting Cowboys, The Golden West Cowboys, The Brazos Valley Boys, The Western Caravan, The Buckaroos, The Strangers – and yet I am unable to stop myself from nominating Ernest Tubb’s 1960s incarnation of The Texas Troubadours as one of the all-time great backing bands in country music.

This live rendition of “Rhodes-Bud Boogie” knocks me out every time:

For extra fun, click here to enjoy Willie Nelson backed by the Texas Troubadours, with help from fiddler, Wade Ray, and a beehived chorus on “My Window Faces the South (Blues).”

Texas Troubadours Discography

– LP STEREO ALBUMS –

  • Ernest Tubb Presents the Texas Troubadours  [1964]
  • Country Dance Time  [1965]
  • Ernest Tubb’s Fabulous Texas Troubadours  [1966]
  • The Terrific Texas Troubadours  [1968]

– 45 RPM SINGLES –

  • Decca 31699  “New Panhandle Rag” / “Rhodes-Bud Boogie”  [1964]
  • Decca 31770  “Honky Tonks and You” / “Cains Corner”  [1965]
  • Decca 31837  “Highway Man” / “Leon’s Guitar Boogie”  [1965]
  • Decca 32065  “Walking the Floor Over You’ / “E.T. Blues”  [1966]
  • Decca 32121  “Gardenia Waltz” / “Honey Fingers”  [1966]
  • Decca 32185  “Almost to Tulsa” / “Oklahoma Hills”  [196?]

Texas Troubadours Personnel Over the Years

– Bill Drake (circa 1947)
– Billy Byrd (lead guitar, circa 1949-1959)
– Buddy Charleton (steel guitar, 1962-1967)
– Buddy Emmons (steel, 1960-1961)
– Cal Smith (rhythm guitar, 1961-1967
– Dickie Harris (circa 1956)
– Hal Smith (circa 1947)
– Jack Drake (bass guitar, circa 1945-1967)
– Jack Greene (drums, 1962-1965)
– Jimmie Short (circa 1943-1948)
– Johnny “Boy” Sapp (circa 1945)
– Leon Rhodes (lead guitar, 1960-1967)
– Leon Short (circa 1945)
– Ray “Kemo” Head (circa 1945)
– Rusty Gabbard (rhythm guitar, circa 1956)
– Tommy “Butterball” Paige (circa 1947)

“Secret Reunion”: Dainty, Angelic

How interesting (though not surprising) to learn that the vocalist on the previous track by Ennio Morricone is the same one featured here on this tinkly and mesmerizing instrumental – “Secret Reunion (Lucky Theme)” – from Bruno Nicolai’s soundtrack for an Italian spy thriller in the James Bond style, Agente Speciale:

These soprano vocals, described by Richie Unterberger as “dainty, angelic easy listening,” belong to Edda Dell’Orso and can be found on Chris Barrus’s revolutionary 166-song mix of sounds from 1967.

Agente Speciale LP

“My Name is Nobody”: Soundtrack for a Cipher

I would love to know exactly how Ennio Morricone instructed his vocalists to yip and mew and emit all sorts of silly sounds, as on the title track to the 1973 Sergio Leone film,            Il Mio Nome è Nessuno (My Name Is Nobody):

Vimeo lists musician credits for this soundtrack album – including a whistler, I love it:

Voice: Edda Dell ‘Orso & Franco Cosacchi

Whistle: Alessandro Alessandroni

Choir:  I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni

Flute: Marianne Eckstein

Mouth Organ: Franco De Lelio

Trumpet: Gino Agostinelli

Guitar: Bruno Battisti D’Amario

12 Strings Guitar: Silvano Chimenti

Piano & Keyboards: Arnaldo Graziosi

Synthesizer: Giorgio Carnini

Percussions: Vincenzo Restuccia

Il Mio Nome e Nessuno album cover

“Be In”: Flower Power Latin-Style

Caterina Valente and Edmundo Ros take on the hit hippy musical, Hair – and win!          “Be In (Hare Krishna)” is the side two kick-off track from 1969’s Silk ‘n’ Latin LP:

Silk 'n' Latin LP

Be In – Caterina Valente & Edmundo Ros

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play “Be In” by Caterina Valente & Edmundo Ros.]

Fascinatingly, “Be In” was issued in Germany as the A-side of a Decca 45 in May of 1969.'Be In' 45 picture sleevejpg

“Fire in the City”: Hendricks & The Dead

Not Jimi, but rather Jon — he of jazz vocal trio, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

In 1967 Jon Hendricks and The Grateful Dead composed music for the soundtrack of a Jerry Stoll documentary entitled, Sons and Daughters, in which students from the University of California at Berkeley march to the Oakland Army Terminal in 1966 to protest the Vietnam War.  AllMovie.com informs us that “the youth movement protesting the war contrasts with the many defense plants in the area and the fact that soldiers arrive and depart from the port on a daily basis”:

“Fire in the City”     Jon Hendricks & The Grateful Dead     1967

Gratitude to Hooterollin’ Around for the details surrounding this recording session:

“The Grateful Dead still had one more studio episode prior to recording their first album in Los Angeles.  Soon after signing their contract, they spent some time in the studio working with singer Jon Hendricks on the soundtrack to a documentary movie about antiwar protesters called Your Sons And Daughters.  Hendricks was well-known as the leader of the groundbreaking vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (vocalizing Charlie Parker solos), and Lesh and Garcia in particular were honored to work with him.

The band spent a few days with Hendricks at Columbus Recorders, at 906 Kearny.  Columbus Recorders was a popular studio for commercial work and the like, but it too had a three-track recorder.  The Dead ended up backing Hendricks on two songs, “Fire In The City” and “Your Sons And Daughters,” both released as a Jon Hendricks single on Verve.  However, according to McNally, although the Dead enjoyed working with Hendricks, they were uncomfortable with the overt polemical political stance of the movie and asked that their name be removed from the soundtrack.”

Fire in the City 45 (b)

The Warlocks vs. The Grateful Dead?

Some sources on the web attribute the backing band on “Fire in the City” to be The Warlocks, but this is simply untrue, as credible sources affirm that The Warlocks became The Grateful Dead sometime around November 1965, and this recording on Verve was made in March 1967 – the same month, interestingly enough, as the release of their Warner Bros. debut album.

Note the DJ copy below says “From the American Documentary Films ‘Fire in the City’.”Fire in the City 45 (a)