Retro stacks of wax for cool cats and kittens!

Friday, June 02, 2006

You Meet 'Em Wherever You Go

With the state of the world being what it is today, RetroGuy has been starting to feel that he's living in the Vietnam era. Just last weekend, he saw a college student carrying around an SDS sign. While lots of Vietnam-era culture has experienced a rebirth, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that we haven't seen a new Up With People surface. Many people are familar with Up With People's far-too-perky views from their ill-advised Super Bowl halftime appearances (not to mention late night TV parodies by the bushel), but what many don't know is that Up With People started out as part of a conservative religious movement called "Moral Re-Armament." Sound like something Pat Robertson might dream up nowadays, doesn't it? While many of the youth of America were chanting "Down With The Administration," here were these squeaky-clean types who basically served as establishment-boosters. This 1965 album from Up With People's first television special features glowing quotes from conservatives like John Wayne and Pat Boone, as well as performances by a very young Glenn Close. You can read the album's liner notes here. Get three tracks from the long out-of-print album here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sing Boy Sing!

In 1957, Kraft Television Theatre was all set to produce "The Singin' Idol," the story of a Southern country boy who rockets to fame because of his rock and roll singing. Remind you of anybody? Unfortunately for Kraft, Elvis Presley turned down the project. So Presley's manager sent along his other client: Tommy Sands, a 20 year old who bore a certain resemblance to Presley. "The Singin' Idol" turned out to be a huge hit and Sands suddenly became a hot commodity. 20th Century Fox, not being a studio to turn down a good thing, cast Sands in Sing Boy Sing, a feature-length retelling of "The Singin' Idol." Was Sands actually Elvis material? Probably not. He certainly had the look, but lacked the sexual charisma or the voice of Presley. Nontheless, he clearly knew his way around a song. Here's the long out-of-print soundtrack recording from Sing Boy Sing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

She's Happy She's Barbie

A relic from my misspent childhood in the early 70s...or rather, my sister's: the trippy I'm Happy I'm Barbie. This was a 7-inch record that I dimly recall came with one of the Barbie playsets which somehow made the doll look like she was shaking her money-maker to this thing. The song itself is sort of "Wonder Woman theme-ish"--hardly unusual for the women-empowering early 70s--but the bridge feels oddly psychedelic. One can imagine Barbie on some sort of freaky acid trip, flying through clouds of color as she sings of being "free." The session singer who does the Barbie vocal is pretty wretched. Or maybe she was supposed to sound like that, and this was part of the "Don't Quit Your Dayjob Barbie Playset." For all of your aspiring Barbies out there, I've included the flip side of the single. It's the same song, but with a Hammond organ substituting for the vocals. I hope someone out there is ballsy enough to use it for karaoke.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Domestic Abuse 60s Style: The Darker Side of Bobby Hebb

Pretty much everyone on the planet has heard Bobby Hebb's gentle 1966 hit Sunny. But just 4 short years before he'd hit it big, he was part of an act called Bobby and Sylvia, which released the charming little ditty You Broke My Heart And I Broke Your Jaw on the aptly named Battle Records. You'll note from the label that Hebb actually wrote the song as well. A virtual celebration of domestic abuse, the tune concerns an affair that Sylvia has had--that would be the "broke my heart" part--and Bobby's reaction to the affair, which apparently amounted to popping her in the kisser. Most disturbingly, Sylvia seems to lightly shrug off her punishment like it's deserved, or simply business as usual.