“Mrs. Fletcher”: Pop Dub II

For the sixth year in a row – on its December 12th anniversary date – Zero to 180 has once again made the dubious and (it needs to be said) rather contemptible decision to post one of its own homemade recordings, under the laughable supposition that the “composition” in question is somehow deserving of a worldwide audience.  It’s not —  let’s be clear.  This is the musical equivalent of a vanity license plate that serves, awkwardly, to salute another year’s efforts by Zero to 180 in its pursuit of the preservation of cultural memories in danger of being lost.

Those who have stumbled upon this post are invited to ignore this annual exercise in self-indulgence — a pathetic attempt to conflate my “work” (to the extent that it exists) with the greats who have come before.  Let’s not kid ourselves that anyone, beyond family and close friends, might possibly be interested to learn that this year’s recording is not of the usual ancient vintage but something organized very recently in a makeshift recording studio in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“MRS. FLETCHER” (DUB MIX A)     DUB-BLE TRUBBLE     2018

“MRS. FLETCHER” (DUB MIX B)     DUB-BLE TRUBBLE     2018

Not much is not known about these recordings other than the fact that one musician (yours truly) laid down the guitar and bass lines, while another musician, who served as producer and mixmaster, provided all other sounds.

RARE PICTURE SLEEVE FROM THAILAND

In its way, “Mrs. Fletcher” extends the ‘pop dub’ aspirations expressed twenty years earlier in “One (Love),” Zero to 180’s final four-track home recording in Cincinnati before the big move 500 miles eastward — ten years or so before the first appearance of the Rocksteady Kid.

Zero to 180 Milestones:  Let the School-Age Years Commence

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother #1).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter and session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace.
  • 4th anniversary piece that formalized – as a public service – musical chord changes for an old (and tuneless) “hot potato” playground game called ‘The Wonderball.’
  • 5th anniversary piece that paid tribute to the Buchanan & Goodman “break-in” records that helped fuel (along with Mad Magazine) this young music fanatic’s appetite for satire.

Smitten by the “Break-In” Record

I must have been about 9 or 10 when I first became aware of the “break-in” record, in which the man-on-the-street dishes up pop hit sound bites in response to each and every one of the news reporter’s questions.  I remember hearing “Watergrate” and “Mr. Jaws” on Cincinnati’s pop juggernaut, WSAI 1360 AM, and then, not too long after, obtaining an LP compilation of the better Buchanan and/or Goodman break-in records, from the first flying saucer 45 in 1956, all the way up to “Superfly Meets Shaft” & “Convention ’72.”

Cover design by JIM O’CONNELL

Watergrate + Superfly Meets Shaft

[Pres. Nixon in the driver’s seat, with Henry Kissinger riding shotgun & Spiro Agnew in the backseat, flanked by Superfly and Shaft]

 

I enjoyed the silliness of it all and was thrilled, as a fan of satire, by the send-up of pop culture, as well as straight society.  My brother Dean’s experiments stitching together break-in records at home inspired me to make my own, and I even roped in my friends to help me in my pointless series of “interviews” set at Fred’s (fictitious) Delicatessen.

Images below:  1962 LP ++ 1974 US 45 ++ 1977 JAPAN 45

Dickie Goodman LPDickie Goodman 45-xDickie Goodman 45-Japan

Zero to 180, thus, would like to celebrate a milestone — 5 years!  over 700 posts! — by force-feeding you an amateur “break-in” home recording (c. 1976) that features extensive sampling from the family record collection, aided in no small part by the 4-LP box set, Superstars of the Seventies.  Best to ignore the reporter’s inane line of questioning:

“Fred’s Delicatessen”     Chris Richardson & Co.     1976

[Pssst:  click triangle above to play “Fred’s Delicatessan” by Chris Richardson & Co.]

Zero to 180 Milestones:  The Preschool Years

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother #1).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter and session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace.
  • 4th anniversary piece that formalized – as a public service – musical chord changes for an old (and tuneless) “hot potato” playground game called ‘The Wonderball.’

“Wonderball”: Musically Reborn!

Do you remember playing a “hot potato” game as a young child called “The Wonderball” in which a ball is passed from person to person, while a rhyming passage is recited aloud, and you try to avoid being the last to hold it?  More importantly, do you recall a melody that accompanied the verse?  I can answer that one for you:  no.

I was taught this game as an adult in the late 1980s by the fabulous dance & fitness educator, Patricia Sears, who instructed other schoolteachers how to incorporate movement activities into traditional classroom settings.   At the time, Sears was only able to convey the lyrics to “The Wonderball” — melodically, we were on our own.

Kristin C. Hall, on her website, acknowledges some simple chord changes – but does not specific any particular melody line.  Also, some kind soul has posted a home-spun version on YouTube that includes something along the lines of a melody, however one that likely exists in that household and nowhere else.

Fortunately, the long national nightmare is over.  Zero to 180 – as a public service to future generations – has crafted a tune for all of humanity to use freely:

[Pssst:  click triangle to play “The Wonderball” as interpreted by The Recess Committee]

The wonderball goes round and round
To pass it quickly you are bound
If you’re the one to hold it last
Then for you the game is past
And you … are … out!

Can you identify which early 60s television sitcom theme was thieved for the opening line of the keyboard solo?

Today’s special post celebrates Zero to 180’s fourth birthday in grand fashion and encourages parents all around the globe to keep children physically active.  The Centers for Disease Control point out in their 2010 report – The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance – that “there is a growing body of research focused on the association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance among school-aged youth.”  At the risk of stating the obvious, this means that movement is fundamental to education’s bottom line (i.e., academic achievement).

wonderball-45Zero to 180 Milestones:  The Preschool Years

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother #1).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter and session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace — the brand his never really recovered.

Early 80s Cincinnati Power Ballad

If it’s true that Aerosmith invented the “power ballad” in 1973 with their prom-rock classic, “Dream On,” then let history take note that Cincinnati teen rockers – Max & the Bluegills – would enter a sound studio 8 years later to record their own aching power ballad about unrequited love’s endless torment.

Birthday cakeZero to 180 would thus like to celebrate its 3rd birthday in nepotistic (and bittersweet) fashion with what proved to be the swansong of its founder’s high school rock group:

Pssst!  Click on the link above to play “I Think I Love You” by Max & the Bluegills from 1981

Guitar & vocals:  Michael Andrew Frank
2nd guitar & piano:  Rick Mosher
Drums:  Keith Bortz
Bass:  Chris Richardson

I Think I Love You” is a personal plea written just a couple short years before the singer’s departure to Boston’s Berklee School of Music, where his art would explode into a dazzling multitude of vectors (as celebrated in this Zero to 180 piece from July, 2015).

Michael (left) Sharing Vocals with David Stallings

Art shot of Michael & DavidBy this point, the band (whose name had been shortened to simply The Max to save time) would find its original power trio – Michael Frank, Keith Bortz & Chris Richardson – augmented by second guitarist, Rick Mosher.  But alas, 1981 would see Bortz and Mosher take their final high school.exam — and the band their final bow by year’s end.

(Clockwise from left) Keith Bortz, Mike Frank, Rick Mosher, Chris Richardson
[image courtesy of Sheva Weeks]

Max & the Gluegills

Link to encore Max and the Bluegills piece!

Zero to 180 Milestones to Date

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that establishes a bona fide cross-cultural link between Cincinnati (via James Brown‘s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster‘s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother #1).
  • 1st anniversary piece that features an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refuses to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrates the under-sung legacy of songwriter and session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.

“Concrete Jungle”: Paradise, in fact, for Joe South

I love the grand Spectorian splendor of this Ray Stevens arrangement for Joe South – “Concrete Jungle” – that was released January 25, 1964 on MGM:

According to PragueFrank, South had recorded this song plus “The Last One to Know” on October 20, 1963 – possibly in Atlanta.

South would go on to produce a version of “Concrete Jungle” for The Tams, who would release a 45 on ABC-Paramount in 1965.  Meanwhile, Ray Stevens would arrange and produce a version for Bobby Allen Poe, who would release a 45 on Monument in 1966.

Joe SouthGoing back to 1958, Joe South released a steady string of singles for a number of smaller, independent labels mainly – NRC, Ember, Fairlane, Allwood, MGM, Tollie, Apt, Columbia – before signing to Capitol, where he had his first big hit with 1968’s “Games People Play” (although, to be fair, 1958’s “The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor” did go as high as #47).

Not only did South enjoy respect from his peers as a songwriter (inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979), but he was also a session guitarist of note who backed Aretha Franklin (“Chain of Fools”), Bob Dylan (“Visions of Johanna”), and Tommy Roe (“Sheila”), among others.

Alaska Coldly Pushes Texas Aside

Joe South’s first 45 is a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union:

“Mad”: Little Jerry & the Monotones Are Steamed

Anger doesn’t get any more adorable than when expressed by those muppet rockers,  Little Jerry & the Monotones, on “Mad,” the standout track from 1971’s Sesame Street 2: Original Cast Record LP — be sure to listen for the surprise “Howard Dean scream” that can only be found on this mix, a Zero-to-180 exclusive:

Mad (2004 Remix) – Little Jerry & the Monotones

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Mad” by Little Jerry & the Monotones.]

Song written by Princeton University’s own, Jeffrey Moss (class of 1963)

Sesame Street 2 LP

Thanks to Muppet Wiki for the back story:

“The members of the band were Little Jerry as the frontman, backed by Big Jeffy along with Lavender and Pumpkin Anything Muppets, usually known as Chrissy and Rockin’ Richard.  All members of the band are named after the people who served as their original (and primary) voices:  Little Jerry is named after Jerry Nelson, Jeff Moss supplied the voice for Big Jeffy, Rockin’ Richard’s by Richard Hunt, and Christopher Cerf was Chrissy. The individual members introduced themselves by name in the song “Four,” while the group name first appeared on a 1971 record.  On occasions, the names and voices for the back-ups, especially the latter two, were swapped.   In a late 1980’s appearance, the group consisted of Little Jerry, Big Jeffy, and another Fat Blue Anything Muppet performed by Richard Hunt.  At this point, the group’s previous hippie attire were replaced by more contemporary, yet still flashy clothes. The trio can also be spotted in a framed photo on Jackman Wolf’s desk in the 1990 video release, Rock & Roll.”

Click here to check out a “live” performance on TV’s Sesame Street.

Zero to 180 – Not Yet Potty Trained

With today’s post, Zero to 180 turns one!  Zero to 180 would like to thank WordPress for being such a pal.  WordPress, I quickly learned, time stamps each blog piece 4 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.  But what they don’t tell you is that the first time you flip the switch on a new WordPress blog, the time stamp of your first blog piece is two days prior to the current day.  Normally, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  However, the math nerd in me was very excited about the prospect of starting my blog on December 12, 2012 — 12/12/12.  So imagine my bitter disappointment, as I gathered up the courage to click “publish” on my first piece, only to look on helplessly as WordPress lied to the entire world that my blog kicked off on December 10.  It’s not true – and it’s important you believe me.