Sunday, May 29, 2016

SIX COMEBACKS FROM DEATH

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, lets look at some celebrities who died and then had comebacks several years after their death.


6.  JIM REEVES -  Reeves was a huge star in the 1950s and early 60s in both country and pop music. The crooner, dubbed Gentleman Jim, is best remembered for the song, "He'll Have To Go." What many people today don't realize is he hosted a radio show on the ABC Radio Network and was HUGE in Great Britain and South Africa. Then, he died in a plane crash in 1964. Interest in Reeves music dwindled as a new crop of country-pop performers came along. However, Chet Adkins convinced his widow to help him promote a compilation of hits sold via TV. It sold in huge numbers. Adkins also used technology to create "duets" with singer-songwriter Deborah Allen in the early 80s. All this brought Gentleman Jim's music back.


5. ERNIE KOVACS - Ernie Kovacs had was one of TV first stars. Kovacs used camera tricks to create elaborate sight gags. He hosted the weekend edition of The Tonight Show (which was quickly done away with) and was bounced on TV from network to network with little major success because his gags were expensive to produce. He appeared in some popular movies such as Bell, Book & Candle and North To Alaska. His longest gig was a game show called Take A Good Look. He was killed in a car accident in 1962. He seemed forgotten with the exception of mention in the first Joker episode of Batman. Then came a TV series called Laugh-In which revived many of his most famous gags and paid tribute to him during one of their early shows. In the late 70s, his last TV show, which aired on ABC, was rebroadcast on PBS. He was a star again after being forgotten. The alternative rock band The Loud Family's video for their song, "Don't Respond" was made to look like his show.


4. LON CHANEY - "Lon Chaney Must Not DIE!" is what the headline in Famous Monsters read. Chaney was sort of forgotten after his death in 1930, with the exception of his son using his name and a biopic starring James Cagney in the late 50s. Forry Akerman wrote several articles to get the monster kids reading his magazine interested in him. Chaney had dropped suffered from being a silent star and the fact that many of his films were lost. Before the face of the Phantom of the Opera and the vampire of London After Midnight were on posters and toys.





3. W. C. FIELD - Fields died in 1947. TV revived his old movies and the late 60s and early 70s nostalgia craze brought his radio appearances to LPs. A biography by his son and a film starring Rod Stieger helped bring him back. Firesign Theater frequently dropped his voice onto random characters and Fritos had a cartoon spokesman called W. C. Frito.


2. HUMPHREY BOGART - Bogart died in the mid 50s. French film historians began talking about his work and TV was showing his films. College students and hipsters began putting his face on posters and T-shirts. He was immortalized in songs by Roxy Music, Al Stewart and Bernie Higgins, as well as the Woody Allen film Play It Again, Sam.


1. JIM MORRISON -  The Rolling Stone cover sort of summed up this phenomenon. In the early 80s, Morrison and the Doors were suddenly big again. Many point to Elektras release of The Doors Greatest Hits LP and the book No One Here Gets Out Alive. Soon Jim Morrison posters were all over and radio stations were working in Doors songs between Olivia Newton-John, Michael Jackson and REO Speedwagon.       

DESDINOVA'S PODCAST NUMBER 8


Yes, it is time for another pod cast from yours truly. This time, I let you hear my real voice. Find out what Strawberry Alarm Clock, Shocking Blue, Ronnie Cook & the Gaylads, Barry Ryan, The Clique, and the Four Lads have in common.

NOTE: I will probably be deleting the first podcast. So if you want to download it, do it now. Also, if you like this format of the podcast, leave a comment below or with Podomatic or on my Facebook page.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A TRIBUTE TO K-TEL RECORDS


Canadian businessman Philip Kives died this past week. He was 87 years old. The name may not ring a bell, but the company he founded will. Kives was the "K" in K-tel Records. Before the Now That Is What I Call Music CD series, K-tel gave people a chance to own 20 of their the top hits on one record or tape.

Before K-tel released their first record in 1966, compilation records contained only songs by that label or company's artist. Kives managed to create records which featured major hits, from competing labels, side by side. Then, he sold them at a budget price in chains stores like Woolworths, Wallgrens, Ben Franklins, T. G. & Y, and K-Mart (no relation) with the aid of flashy TV commercials.

Granted, K-tel's records were cheesy in the beginning. The first one was country music, followed by a polka record and then came the many Top 40 hit compilations. Originally, the covers were black and white with tiny photos of the artist on them.

In the early 70s, the record covers were usually multicolored with small, color photos of the artist and an over abundance of text that listed the names of every artist on the record. These records featured about twenty hits, some of which were shortened for time. Some would maybe feature fifteen hits, but would pad with early recordings by major hit artist, such as "Love You Til Tuesday" by David Bowie, "It Might as Well Rain until September" by Carole King, "Bless You" by Tony Orlando and "I Can See For Miles" by The Who.

By the late 70s, K-tel began putting together some two record sets, which allowed for longer versions of the songs. The artwork improved quite a bit, including a cover featuring Robby the Robot and one featuring a sexy blond singer named Kerry Ciardelli, who was later married to the inventor in Rollerblades.

About this time the Canadian produced comedy TV show began featuring a character named Harvey Ktel (like Harvey Keitel), a fast-talking, loud announcer, who specialized in voice-overs for record commercials, such as Stairways To Heaven. The character was played by Dave Thomas.



The 80s saw the records become more focused on, sometimes on one genre of music, such as new wave and heavy metal. These probably took a cue from the success of records devoted to country, soul (SUPER BAD) and novelty songs (GOOFY GREATS). The cover design was the biggest improvements. During this time, they released what many believe to be their best compilation, Rock 80, which contained a mix of new wave and power pop.

K-tel even had a hit LP. Kives saw the success of the Stars On's disco oldies medleys and decided to try apply the same formula, only with classical music. Hooked On Classic was a big hit.

Sadly, that was the last hurrah for K-tel. In the late 80s, the filed for bankruptcy, just missing the CD boom. Part of their problems were attributed to a controversy in America surrounding a collection of music from a popular British kids show called Mini Pops, which featured kids dressed as Madonna, Boy George and Prince singing their hits. Cranky American parents felt it was "immoral."

I wanted to do a post about K-tel, because I collect K-tel Records. Most collectors don't want them. I like the kitschish nature, as well as the musical nostalgia held within the cover and grooves.

I've created a Ipod playlist for a non-existent K-tel record of the 70s called "Make Believe - 22 original hits by the original artist" and an 80s K-tel record "Make Believe Two - Today's magical hits."

1. "Little Willy" - The Sweet
2. "Back Stabbers" - The O'Jays
3. "How Do You Do?" - Mouth & MacNeal
4. "Brandy" - The Looking Glass
5. "Don't Pull Your Love" - Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds
6. "Why Can't We Live Together" - Timmy Thomas
7. "Cum On Feel The Noize" - Slade
8. "I Am Pegasus" - Ross Ryan
9.  "Beach Baby" - First Class
10. "Dancing In the Moonlight" - King Harvest
11. "Rock The Boat" - Hughes Corporation
12. "Heartbeat It's a Love Beat" - The DeFranco Family
13. "Love You Til Tuesday" - David Bowie
14.  "Beautiful Sunday" - Daniel Boone
15.  "Bang Bang" - Cher
16.  "Smoke Gets In your Eyes" - Blue Haze
17.  "Who Do You Think You Are" - Candlewick Green
18.  "Treat Her Like Lady" - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
19.  "Look In My Eyes Pretty Woman" - Dawn
20.  "Hooked On a Feeling" - Blue Swede
21.  "Jolene" - Dolly Parton
22.  "Armed & Extremely Dangerous" - First Choice

1. "Sweet Dreams" - Air Supply
2. "Turn Your Love Around" - George Benson
3. "Going Down" - Greg Guidry
4. "Take It Easy On Me" - Little River Band
5. "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone) - Chilliwack
6. "Easy For You To Say" - Linda Ronstadt
7. "Trouble" - Lindsey Buckingham
8. "Is It You?" - Lee Ritenour
9. "Don't Talk To Strangers" - Rick Springfield
10. "One Hundred Ways" - James Ingram
11. "Run Home Girl" - Sad Cafe
12. "Waiting For a Girl Like You" - Foreigner

Sunday, April 24, 2016

JAMES DEAN WAS IN AN INFOMERCIAL BUT NOT A PSA


Let's set the record straight on a misconception or mistake in labeling. You've seen it on YouTube or on video compilations for years. It still circulates on social media still, but has been misidentified. I first saw it on a video compilation of old TV commercials that I bought in high school. It was put out by a company called Goodtimes. It also appeared on the Floor Sweepings videos sold through Filmfax magazines. It also turned up on the old USA network Night Flight program.

It became popular because it is the definition of irony caught on film. Gig Young talks to James Dean, on the set of the film, Giant, on the subject of safe driving in your teen years. The only thing that could make this more ironic would be if Gig Young told kids not to drink alcohol. People have marveled at the spooky irony of James Dean telling teenagers to drive safe, because they might have a wreck with him, in a 50s PSA for TV. However, it is not a PSA, but a loose segment from a very staged infomercial.

I discovered this when I bought a special edition DVD of Rebel Without a Cause. One of the extra features on the DVD was an ABC TV show called Warner Brothers Presents. It was a wheel program that consisted of the popular Western, Cheyenne, and TV shows based on the movies Casablanca and King's Row. At the end of the show was a 15 minute infomercial for the latest Warner Brothers movie called Behind the Camera, hosted by Gig Young.

One episode promoted Rebel Without a Cause. The first segment featured Gig Young schmoozing with Natalie Wood about "growing up on a movie set." The second segment, Gig talks to Jim Backus about being a comedian playing a serious role. Backus makes some bad jokes, but never gets too deep into Gig's question. The third segment is what we have always been told is a safe driving PSA. Gig Young ask James Dean about his hobby of automobile racing. Gig then asked Dean to advise young people on the dangers of drag racing in traffic.

What is odd watching this with the other segments, not out of context, is that Gig Young sort of veers off (no pun intended) the subject of movie making into safe driving.

Many websites have different versions of the history of this clip, which has lead to the confusion over it. There is also some debate on whether it ever aired or not.

Now we know what it is we are watching. Of course, this still doesn't make this any more eerie watching James Dean talk about the possibility of being involved in a car accident.

     

Saturday, April 23, 2016

DESDINOVA'S FAVORITE PRINCE SONGS


I was attracted to Prince, not just because of his music was great, but because he was considered "evil" by adults. Most people seem to have forgotten about this in the passing years. Of course, the right-wing arm of the media is trying to remind us of this, while scandalizing his death. I notice they leave out the name of the person, who brought Prince's erotic hits to public scrutiny: Tipper Gore, ex-wife of former Vice President Al Gore Jr.

I spent most of one summer trying to tape a perfect recording of "When Doves Cry" from the radio. I loved the opening fuzztone guitar solo.

Remember these are my personal rankings, not anything official.

1. "When Doves Cry"
2. "Little Red Corvette"
3. "Let's Go Crazy"
4. "Peach"
5. "Delirious"
6. "Darling Nikki"
7. "U Got the Look"
8. "1999"
9. "Raspberry Beret"
10. "Purple Rain"
11. "Kiss"
12. "Take Me With U"
13. "I Would Die for You"
14. "I Wanna Be Your Lover"
15. "Controversy"

Saturday, April 16, 2016

DESDINOVA'S FAVORITE DAVID BOWIE SONGS


I had promised to do this at the time of his death. I said I was going to compile a list of my favorite David Bowie songs. These are just my preferences.

Before I get into this list, I have something to admit. When I was small, there was a TV special called NBC: The First 50 Years. There was a segment, narrated by Dean Martin, on the history of music and variety program on the NBC network. He was doing the voiceover of clips from these various singers. There was a clip of some singer, like Eddie Fisher, then Dean Martin says something about The Midnight Special showcasing "current singers like David Bowie." On screen was this strange, inhuman looking person with bright red hair singing. It scared me to death. From that moment, I was frightened of David Bowie. There was a copy of the Pin Ups LP at the Consumers Supermarket in Lebanon and I would try not to walk past it. I was scared of this guy.

What changed this was his appearance on the Bing Crosby Christmas special. He looked normal on that. A few years later, I saw an attempt to bring back the old TV series Omnibus, which feature a segment on David Bowie appearing in The Elephant Man on Broadway and a debut of the video for the "Fashion." I was later delighted, when a college, my drama teacher told how she had got to meet him, after a performance, and he ask her to meet his personal trainer the next day.

However, my love for his music really started with a syndicated radio show, where there was a profile on his career and it featured music from his new LP called Let's Dance. I taped the music from it. From then on, I was hooked.

1. "Rebel Rebel"
2. "Panic In Detroit"
3. "Golden Years"
4. "1984"
5. "Blue Jean"
6. "Suffragette City"
7. "Space Oddity"
8. "The Man Who Sold The World"
9. "Ashes To Ashes"
10. "Modern Love"
11. "Fame"
12. "Lady Grinning Soul"
13. " Let's Dance"
14. "Day In - Day Out"
15. "The Jean Genie"

Let me add as an extra, I will also mention favorite covers David Bowie did.

1. "Wild Is the Wind" (Johnny Mathis)
2. "Knock On Wood" (Eddie Floyd)
3. "Let's Spend the Night Together" (The Rolling Stones)
4. "White Light/White Heat" (Velvet Underground)
5. "Friday On My Mind" (The Easybeats)

And three early Bowie tunes:

1. "You've Got a Habit of Leaving" - David Jones & the Lower Third
2. "Liza Jane" - Davie Jones & the King Bees
3. "Good Morning Girl" - David Bowie & the Buzz
4. "Love You Til Tuesday"
5. "Laughing Gnome" (It is probably the worst thing he ever did, but I like it)

R. I. P  Ziggy Stardust 1947 -2016         

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO DIDN'T LIKE MERLE HAGGARD?


I found out something this week. I must be the only person on the planet who didn't like Merle Haggard's music. Facebook has bombarded me with Merle Haggard tributes and I quickly scrolled past them thinking, "Why did you like him?"

I can remember hearing his songs as a kid on the radio and disliking them. He always sounded like some cranky old coot that would get ahead of you at the barber shop. Everyone would be forced to hear this loud-mouthed moron rant and rave about college students partying, teenagers with long hair playing rock music too loud, little kids watching cartoons on Saturday morning, instead of doing chores. Even I as a child, I knew I was intellectually superior to those old, white guys.

Likewise, Merle seemed to be against a lot of stuff: cities, The Beatles, long haired men wearing beads and Roman sandals, pacifist, people on welfare, people eating popcorn at Christmas time and Utopian governments that hand out complimentary, carbonated soft drinks to their citizens. Instead of "Mighty" Merle, he should have been "Cranky Negativity" Merle.  

Granted, I can understand I those old, cranky, white guys liking Merle Haggard's music, but why did my former classmates from Lebanon R-3 Schools like him?  I think it is a symptom of the problem of growing up in the Ozarks that I have talked written about before on this blog and the old blog, they were conditioned to like his music by the old, cranky, white people in charge. They were conditioned to think like the old, cranky, white people in charge.

I tried to tell them in back as far as junior high school, "YOU ARE TEENAGERS! YOU SHOULDN'T LIKE THIS CRAP! IT HAS FIDDLES AND DOBROS IN IT! YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO MUSIC WITH SYNTHESIZERS AND FUZZTONE GUITAR BY BRITISH GUYS WITH MAKEUP AND BLEACHED, SPIKED HAIR OR GUYS FROM CALIFORNIA WITH LOG HAIR IN LEATHER PANTS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? CAN'T YOU SEE THEY WANT YOU TO LIKE THAT MUSIC! THEY WANT YOU TO CONFORM AND BE LIKE THEM!" Sadly, they never listened. Now they are bitter mean-spirited adults, posting memes about the pleasures of being beaten with a belt by their fathers or how they don't think every kid should be given an award in sports.  

There is only one song Merle Haggard I ever liked. He recorded a theme song for a mid-70s TV show called Movin' On, staring Claude Akins and Frank Converse as truck drivers named Will & Sonny. I remember my family enjoyed watching this program, which is sadly not on DVD. The theme song had a longer life on country radio stations playlist than TV show did (only two seasons).

Here are the opening credits with an abbreviated version on the song.





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...