Retro stacks of wax for cool cats and kittens!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Carol & Martha: Together Again for the First Time

A great thrift store find: Carol Burnett (one of RetroGuy's favorites since childhood) and Martha Raye's "Together Again For The First Time" album from 1969. Unlike Burnett's other pop music albums, never released on CD. Which is too bad because it's a fun little recording. Carol--being the more popular at the time--has the lion's share of the solos, and those who have never heard any of her Broadway material may be surprised that she's quite a decent singer. Martha Raye doesn't come off terribly well standing next to a major talent like Burnett, but who could? Actually, RetroGuy sort of doubts that they stood next to each other at all for this project--listening closely to their duets, it seems clear that each woman recorded her part seperately. Definitely worth a download. The zip file includes cover scans.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Bunch Of Bongos: Everybody mambo!

For all you Space Age pop fans, a real treat: "A Bunch of Bongos," featuring Willie Rodriguez and the International Stars. Produced in 1960 by Enoch Light on the Grand Award label, the album features lounge music with a distinctly latin flavor, lots of unusual percussion instruments not normally heard in this genre of music and a great deal of brass. Maybe a little bit too much for my taste, but your mileage may vary. Also of note: listen for the ways they show off the album's stereo sound, which was fairly new back then. You'll hear lots of examples of "dueling channels," where a musical phrase is played first in, say, the left channel and then the right. The zip file includes front and back cover scans.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Just A-Fannin' the Flames: Big Bruce

In 1961, Jimmy Dean (who would later found a successful sausage-making enterprise) had a Grammy-winning hit with "Big Bad John," a story song about a mysterious coal miner who heroically gives up his life saving his fellow miners during a cave-in. The song spawned a fair amount of parodies over the years, but perhaps none as popular as "Big Bruce," comedian Steve Greenberg's 1969 hit about a flouncy hairdresser who saves his fellow salon workers from certain disaster because of a "fire in the Number 5 dryer." Ignoring the song's obvious homophobia--RetroGuy wonders if this was responsible for sparking the Stonewall Rebellion that same year--it's interesting to note that "Big Bruce" appears to have been penned by none other than Mack Vickery (pictured), the late songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Fame Member who wrote tunes for Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and countless others. Further note of interest: BMI now lists the sole writer of the song as Jimmy Dean, even though no less than 4 people are credited on the single's label and the song is somewhat different than Dean's original. Hmmm. You can hear 12 (count 'em...12!) other gay-oriented parodies of "Big Bad John" at Queer Music Heritage.