Allan Sherman – My Son the Vampire

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Allan Sherman

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Listen/Download – Allan Sherman – My Son the Vampire

Greetings all.

I don’t always have something ready for Halloween, but when I do, it’s a doozy.

I must preface this post by looking backward many years to the many enjoyable lunches I spent rapping with my old buddy Voger.

Though (sadly) we haven’t seen each other in years, for close to 20 years – when we both worked at a newspaper where neither of us works any longer – we took every opportunity possible to converse about pop culture of all kinds.

We weren’t  that far apart in age, but both of us had what might be described as an unhealthy obsession with the old, black and white years of showbiz, from decades before either of us was born.

There’s something special about the kind of bond that forms when you’re probably the only two people in a building holding hundreds that have any idea who Mr Fields and Stinky were on the old Abbott and Costello Show.

One of the cooler things he introduced me to way back when, was a bizarre movie called ‘Mother Riley Meets the Vampire’ aka ‘Vampire Over London’ aka ‘My Son the Vampire’.

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The movie, initially released in 1952 was one of series of flicks featuring an English drag performer named Arthur Lucan, who portrayed a character named ‘Old Mother Riley’.

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Arthur Lucan as ‘Old Mother Riley’, and Bela Lugosi as ‘Von Housen’

He created the character as part of music hall act with his wife Kitty McShane (who often played Mother Riley’s daughter), moving on to a successful series of films (Lucan was one of the UK’s biggest wartime movie stars) and even a comic strip.

The character was so beloved, that after Lucan’s death in 1954, another actor, Roy Rolland took over the role and continued to play it on stage and TV into the 1980s.

‘Mother Riley Meets the Vampire’ was not only the last ‘Mother Riley’ film, but also a late entry into the Bela Lugosi filmography. Lugosi plays a mad scientist with an army of uranium controlled robots,who also happens to believe he’s a vampire (I mean it’s Bela Lugosi, so what did you expect…).

The movie – which I saw thanks to my man Voger – is a bit of low comedy, of interest as part of the English drag continuum (see Python, Monty) and as Lugosi-ana.

However, the movie had a second life, thanks in part to the rise of Allan Sherman.

I’ll assume that most of you over a certain age already know/dig Allan Sherman, a kind of proto-Weird Al (with a healthy shmear of New York Jewish culture), who is best remembered these days for his big 1963 hit ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter From Camp)’.

Sherman recorded a series of very funny albums in the early-to-mid 60s, composed of song parodies. Admittedly, how funny you find them will have a lot to do with the breadth of your cultural grasp (and probably your age). Many of his funniest numbers tap into NY/suburban Jewish culture, and are based on older pop songs and classical pieces.

I love his records, but I was also lucky enough to have a 4th grade teacher (where are you now Mrs Teller??) who played his records for us. They made me laugh then back in 1971, and they make me laugh today.

I have no idea who had the idea to resurrect an obscure British film, have Allan Sherman create a theme song for it and rename it to tie it into Sherman’s string of album titles, i.e. ‘My Son the Folksinger’, ‘My Son the Celebrity’ and ‘My Son the Nut’, but thus was born ‘My Son, The Vampire’.

Opening with a bizarre percussive prelude, the song opens up into a pseudo-tango, with Sherman shouting either “BLOOD!” or “BLAAHHH!”, then launching into a fairly typical, fairly funny lyric.

The record went exactly nowhere (which is where the movie went, too), but it still makes for an interesting footnote in the Allan Sherman story, and a nice little Halloween treat.

I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you all next week.

Oh, and…Goodnight Voger, wherever you are.

Peace

Larry

 

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NOTE: Stay tuned for a tribute to the late, great Jack Bruce on the next episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show

 

 

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Baker Knight and the Knightmares – Hallucinations

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Baker Knight

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Listen/Download – Baker Knight and the Knightmares – Hallucinations

Greetings all.

I hope the new week finds you well, or at least well enough to withstand having your ears turned inside out and your mind blown.

The record you see before you is one that I hunted for a long, LONG time.

You already know that I am a huge fan of the mid-60s Sunset Strip Au Go Go sound, embodied in those records that once they fall under the needle, release into the air the very essence of flashing lights, op art, granny glasses and the sweet onrush (yet not complete onset) of psychedelic expansion.

‘Hallucinations’ by Baker Knight and the Knightmares is such a record.

I first heard it maybe ten years ago when Rhino Handmade released the comp that borrowed its name from the song, ‘Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults’.

There is nothing quite like having your cage good and rattled by a song that you have never heard before, so much so that all you want to do is hear it again right away, which is what happened when I hit play on that very comp.

‘Hallucinations’ is perhaps the finest example of the form that I have ever heard, representing the gateway from the SoCal of pre-1965, with hot rods, surfboards and sun, into the world of 1966 and beyond in which minds were starting to open, yet not so far that brains were spilling out on the sidewalk (if you know what I mean).

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As discussed years ago when I first dropped/pontificated on ‘Iron Leg Digital Trip #5: The Party’, there’s something very groovy when someone outside of a scene looks inward and tried to recreated a simulacrum thereof. In that case, I was talking about largely square Hollywood types glomming onto youth culture, with highly skilled craftsmen like Mancini applying their gifts to the groovy.

What you get with ‘Hallucinations’ is kind of the same thing, but created a lot closer to the source.

Thomas Baker Knight started out as a rockabilly cat, meeting Ricky Nelson in the late 50s and writing a grip of tunes – including ‘Lonesome Town’ – for him. He went on to write songs like ‘The Wonder of You’ (recorded by Elvis, among others), a bunch of cuts for Dean Martin (including ‘Somewhere There’s a Someone’) and tracks for folks like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.

So, how did that guy (the one in the picture up top) end up writing and performing one of the absolute masterpieces of the early days of psychedelia?

The likely answer, is that Baker Knight was both a sponge (able to absorb the sounds around him) and a chameleon (then able to use those sounds in the proper way to emulate something he was not).

However, in my humble opinion, there’s no way to explain the perfection of ‘Hallucinations’ without assuming that somewhere, deep inside his Brylcreem soul, Baker Knight had a pageboyed, gogo dancing, freak stirring the pot so that just this one time, a record like this might pop out and make its way onto wax.

‘Hallucinations’ is as hard-hitting as any basement-crafted garage number, but also benefits from actual musical skill and craftsmanship.

Produced by Jimmy Bowen, the record features huge swaths of tremolo, fuzz, pounding drums and most interestingly, some tastefully applied Moog synthesizer!

Bowen manages to weave quite a rich tapestry of sound without tripping over himself. There are waves of guitar, vocals and sound effects moving through the mix without the power of the basic rhythm section getting lost.

This is one of those records that not only fills your ears, but also puts your minds eye to work. While I wouldn’t quite say that it rises to the level of synesthesia, you can’t help but “see” this record as it plays. It probably has something to do with how vividly a listener is already acquainted with the world of 66/67 LA, but if you are, ‘Hallucinations’ will take you there.

Oddly, despite his huge success as a songwriter for others, none of Baker Knight’s own records had any chart success.

Later in his life, Knight returned to his native Alabama, where he passed away in 2005.

I hope you dig this one as much as I do, and I’ll see you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Iron Leg Radio Show #42

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Beep beep beep beep…..

Playlist

Pacific Northwest Special!

Alan Hawkshaw/Keith Mansfield – Action Scene (KPM)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Night Train (Columbia)
Viceroys – Sack O Woe (Seafair Bolo)
Viceroys – Come On (Seafair Bolo)
Dave Lewis – JAJ (Panorama)
Dave Lewis – Searchin’ (Picadilly)
Dave Lewis – Mmm Mmm Mmm (Panorama)
Don and the Goodtimes – Turn On (Wand)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Revolution Promo

The Sonics – The Witch (Etiquette)
The Sonics – Psycho (Jerden)
The Sonics – Maintaining My Cool (Jerden)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Louie Go Home (Columbia)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Kicks (Columbia)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – the Great Airplane Strike (Columbia)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Louise (Columbia)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Get It On (Columbia)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – SS-396 (Columbia Special Products)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Too Much Talk (Columbia)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – Pontiac Judge Commercial

Don and the Goodtimes – Little Sally Tease (Dunhill)
Jimmy Hanna and the Dynamics – Leaving Here (Bolo)
Springfield Rifle – 100 or Two (Jerden)
Daily Flash – Jack of Diamonds (Parrot)
Daily Flash – Queen Jane Approximately (Parrot)
Kingsmen – Trouble (Wand)
Kingsmen – Long Green (Wand)
The Bards – Jabberwocky (Capitol)
Mr Lucky and the Gamblers – Alice Designs (Panorama)
Ian Whitcomb and Bluesville –You Turn Me On (the Turn On Song) (Tower)
Sir Raleigh and the Cupons – Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day (Jerden)
Springfield Rifle – Nordstroms Ad

 

Listen/Download -Iron Leg Radio Show Episode 42 – 159MB/256kbps

 

Greetings all.

Welcome to this month’s episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show.

Following the passing of Paul Revere, I made a command decision and turned this months show into an all-Pacific Northwest special, with a healthy dose of Mr Revere and his Raiders, the Sonics, Don and the Goodtimes, The Springfield Rifle, Live Five, Dave Lewis, Daily Flash, Mr Lucky and the Gamblers and many more!

This is a much fussed over crate in my record room, so you know there’ll be some high quality stuff included.

As always, I hope you dig it.

See you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners

Paul Revere 1938-2014

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Paul Revere (center) and the Raiders

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Listen/Download – Paul Revere and the Raiders – The Great Airplane Strike

Listen/Download – Paul Revere and the Raiders – Louise

Listen/Download – Paul Revere and the Raiders – Louie Go Home

Listen/Download – Paul Revere and the Raiders – SS396

Greetings all.

I woke this morning to the sad news that Paul Revere, leader of the Raiders, had passed away at the age of 76.

Oddly, I had just finished prepping two different posts about Pacific Northwest bands (the Kingsmen and Don and the Goodtimes), but I’ll have to push those back a few weeks.

I’ve decided to devote next week’s edition of the Iron Leg Radio Show entirely to Pacific Northwest bands, so stay tuned for that.

The music of Paul Revere and the Raiders has been featured here at Iron Leg a bunch times in the past, in posts and as part of the podcast.

I’m one of those old timers that’ll take time out of my busy day to bend your ear about how the Raiders were one of the great underrated/underappreciated bands of the 60s.

The irony built into that particular conversation is the fact that they were, for a few choice years, very, very successful and big stars.

They were a regular presence on the charts, and on TV, appearing on just about every show that presented rock bands, and as regulars on a couple of Dick Clark vehicles, like Where the Action Is and Happening ’68.

The band, but especially lead singer Mark Lindsay, was fodder for the Tiger Beat crowd as well, appearing in teen magazines and no doubt tacked to the bedroom walls of a healthy percentage of America’s teenage girls.

Oddly enough, it was this popularity, and the band’s highly polished showbiz schtick, with the Revolutionary War uniforms, synchronized steps and clowning, that sank them like a brick in the estimation of the ‘serious’ rock crowd, when that part of the scene rose to prominence in the late 60s.

When the festival and mud thing took over, and rock singers became something a lot less finely tuned and more ‘underground’ (though their records were still being manufactured, marketed and sold by the same gigantic corporations) Paul Revere and the Raiders fell out of fashion.

They still had records on the charts, but my the mid-70s they were by and large relegated to the oldies circuit, with Mark Lindsay gone, and Paul Revere leading a revolving cast of Raiders through the state fairs and night clubs of America.

I first became aware of the Raiders through oldies radio in the early 70s (when their oldies were less than half a decade gone), largely oblivious to their image and the era when I was too young to notice them.

What I heard,  was a band that mixed pop hooks with fuzzed out power better than just about anyone else.

At their best, Paul Revere and the Raiders made records that – had they been recorded by some obscure pack of long-haired basement dwellers and released in a run of five hundred singles, sold out of car trunks and at pizza parlor gigs – would be changing hands for hundreds of bucks today.

They were a big part of the Pacific Northwest sound (and its most successful proponents) , having cranked out their first hit in 1960.

When I came of age, in the late 70s and early 80s, while alt rock was emerging, the classic Raiders vibe couldn’t have seemed less cool.

These were the days when bands cultivated an ‘organic’ look, in which everyone tried their hardest to seem like they couldn’t care less. Paul, Mark, Fang, Harpo and Smitty yukking it up on Hullabaloo was the very antithesis of Michael Stipe peeking through his mop while emoting to a bar full of hipsters.

Yet, by 1984, something weird started to happen.

While most of the alt rock world was wearing their hearts on their sleeves, a bunch of us made a U-turn, going back to 1966 for attitude, fashion, and most importantly music.

This was less of a reach than you might imagine, since 60s sounds, jangle, pop, and even fuzz had been a big part of New Wave and power pop, but what my friends and I were onto was something much more explicitly retro.

We were tunneling backward and appreciating the (mostly) lost sounds of the mid-60s, garage punk, mod, R&Beat, folk rock and psychedelia, trading bootleg tapes of shows like Hullabaloo, Shindig, Action, Beat Club, Ready Steady Go and Upbeat, and (to varying degrees) resurrecting the fashions of the times in clubs in New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, London and anywhere else there were enough devotees to muster up a scene.

While all of this was going on, a generation of kids, most of whom weren’t nearly old enough to realize what a big deal Paul Revere and the Raiders had been the first time around, started to dig their music.

Nearly twenty years removed, with most of their fame buried in cobwebs and the fan magazines mildewed, their music struck a nerve for all the right reasons. The big booming sound, power chords, fuzz and most importantly the hooks drilled their way into fresh, unspoiled minds.

Sure there were still the hardcore obscurantists, hipper than thou, who insisted that the Raiders were uncool, and way too mainstream to stand alongside barely-heard local 45s from 1966, but those types pop up in every scene and are (and were) best ignored.

The tracks I bring you today are some of my favorites by the band, as well as an obscurity that I only recently put my hands on.

Here you get all of the aforementioned elements, the hard charging side of Paul Revere and the Raiders, with the fuzz, tremolo, pounding drums and memorable melodies.

‘The Great Airplane Strike’ – maybe my fave Raiders record, was co-written by Revere, Lindsay and Terry Melcher, and is still a mind-blower. Not their best-known song, but not exactly obscure (it grazed the Top 20 in the Fall of 1966) is a throbbing tornado of guitars. The production by Melcher is amazing, with the fuzzed-out lead cutting through waves of rhythm guitar, bass and drums.

‘Louise’, written by Jesse Lee Kincaid of the Rising Sons was recorded by both Keith Allison, and the Raiders (who he would soon join). Released by the Raiders first, ‘Louise’ was a minor 1967 hit for Allison who recorded his vocals over the existing backing track. It’s a classic slice of pop-garage, with a pounding rhythm guitar line.

‘Louie Go Home’ (co-written by Revere and Lindsay) is one of the more interesting cuts in the Raiders discography.

The original version, a minor hit early in 1964 is a bit of classic PNW R&B stomp, covered by both the Who and Davie Jones and the King Bees. A few years later, the band rebuilt the song on a more 1966-friendly frame for the ‘Midnight Ride’ album, turning it into a completely different, much groovier beast.

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Raiders SS396 Picture Sleeve (water damage included!)

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The last track was a promo for the Chevy SS396 released on a 45 with a tribute to the Camaro by the Cyrkle on the other side. Released in 1965, and sounding like the band had been hanging around with Jan and Dean, it wouldn’t be the last time they pushed muscle cars, doing a commercial for the Pontiac GTO ‘Judge’ a few years later.

The cool thing is, you can easily find some excellent collections of their stuff (The Legend of Paul Revere, and the Complete Columbia Singles) over at iTunes, or head to your nearest flea market or garage sale where you’re likely to find some of their 45s (or LPs if you’re lucky).

If you’ve never seen the Raiders in action, get on over to Youtube where you’ll find a grip of TV performances from their peak years.

So take a moment to hoist a tankard of ale to the memory of the mighty Paul Revere.

I’ll be back next week with that all-PNW edition of the Iron Leg Radio Show.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

The Rugbys – You, I

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The Rugbys

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Listen/Download – The Rugbys – You, I

Greetings all.

Whilst strolling aimlessly through the back alleys of the windows of my hard drive, it occurred to me that I had never posted the record you see before you today (except for an appearance in a mix).

The Rugbys were a Kentucky band that specialized in a certain brand of what might be called “early American heavy”.

Though they got their start during a more genteel, psychedelic era, they laid down ‘You, I’ right on the cusp of flower power getting obscured by acres and acres of mud and amplifiers.

I think it would be fair to trace most of this back to the Cream (a band who’s sticky, hash-oil fingerprints are all over this record), with the volume, and the wah-wah and the heavy drums and of course the Jack Bruce-ian vocals.

The Rugbys had already had some local success with their cover of Doug Sahm’s ‘Walking the Streets Tonight’, but when they unleashed ‘You, I’ on the world they had a monster on their hands.

The record was an instant smash in Louisville, and was soon Top 40 (often Top 20) in much of the rest of the country.

This is where I have to take a detour to question why- if this song was so successful – had I never heard it until a few years ago?

Sure, the Rugbys were heavy, even treading delicately over the border into Stooges territory for a few moments, but then so was Blue Cheer, who had a similarly sized hit with ‘Sumertime Blues’ the year before, which never seems to go away.

There’s an argument to be made that Blue Cheer, though they might have been a tad, how do you say, dumber, were in the long run a far more consistent band than the Rugbys, laying down a blueprint that legions of filthy hippies (said with nothing but love, of course) would follow decades hence, whereas the Rugbys didn’t seem to have their eyes planted quite as securely on the prize, having a tendency to get a little more in the words of the great Chico Marxtootsie frootsie.

People have always assumed that the end of the 60s was some kind of hippie paradise, but I’d argue that a listen to the first Stooges album is a much clearer snapshot of the era. There is no arguing with the potency of ‘You, I’, especially the last 30 seconds which paint a very vivid picture of the way the worm was turning that year.

It’s a groovy 45, and one you ought to be able to pick up for a couple of bucks.

So dig it, and I’ll see you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

The Other Side – Streetcar b/w Walking Down the Road

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Listen/Download – The Other Side – Streetcar

Listen/Download – The Other Side – Walking Down the Road

Greetings all.

The 45 you see before you is one of those records that got lodged in my brain like some kind of splendid splinter back in the heady garage/mod days of the 1980s.

Both sides of the Other Side’s sole 45 had been included on a compilation LP (Mindrocker) and represented for me – then and now – the peak of the mid-60s California garage band sound.

In many ways this is a perfect two-sider, with a garage mover (Streetcar) on one side and a moody folk-rocker (Walking Down the Road) on the other, reflecting the brightest facets of the pre-psych years.

The Other Side were a San Francisco Bay-area band (they cake from Fremont, just south of Oakland), and only ever recorded the two sides you’re hearing today, for the storied Brent label, also home to Boo Boo and Bunky and the Harbinger Complex.

‘Streetcar’ has that West Coast pop/garage sound, with just a touch of UK R&Beat rave up in the mix.

‘Walking Up the Road’ is a very groovy folk jangler with a really interesting change-up in the chorus and a positively sublime guitar solo that may be the ultimate bit of Byrds music not actually created by the Byrds.

This record is a perfect microcosm/time capsule of a very specific moment in California rock history, just before things started to get a little heavier and more serious.

During their brief time together the other side gave up members to both the Chocolate Watchband and the Vejtables*, but by 1967 they were a done deal.

Interestingly, both sides of this 45 appeared on the 1967 Mainstream comp ‘A Pot of Flowers’, before showing up a bunch of times on various comps during the 80s garage revival.

I hope you dig the sounds as much as I do, and I’ll see you all next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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*There is also an unconfirmed rumor that Skip Spence may have played on this 45

 

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Iron Leg Radio Show #41

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Beep beep beep beep…..

Playlist

Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield – Action Scene (KPM)
Harvey Mandel – Wade In the Water Pts 1&2 (Philips)
Clover – Wade In the Water (Liberty)
Keith – Waiting (Mercury)
Motherlode – Soft Shell (Buddah)
Grateful Dead – Dark Star (45 Edit) (WB)

Everly Brothers – Mary Jane (WB)
Everly Brothers – Talking to the Flowers (WB)
JK and CO – Land of Sensations and Delights (White Whale)
Joyride – Crystal Ship (World Pacific)
Kaleidoscope – Keep Your Mind Open (Epic)
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart – For Baby (A&M)
Beaver and Krause – Good Places (WB)
Beaver and Krause – By Your Grace (WB)
Fairport Convention – She Moves Through the Fair (A&M)

Buffalo Springfield – Expecting to Fly (Atco)
Virgin Sleep – Love (Deram)
Bobby Bland – Rockin’ In the Same Old Boat (Duke)
Grace Markay – Sally Go Round the Roses (Capitol)
Mickey Newbury – The 33rd of August (Mercury)
Jerry Blavat – All Be Joyous (Bond)
The Sunshine Company – Bolero (Imperial)
The Beach Boys – Feel Flows (Brother)

 

Listen/Download -Iron Leg Radio Show Episode 41 – 160MB/256kbps

 

Greetings all.

Welcome to this month’s episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show.

Hey, maaaaannnn…..

When I sat down to work out this month’s podcast, some of the trippier things caught my ear, so I decided to make this episode one in which you should feed your head.

Things are – as always – in a free-form bag, but it’s all engineered to get you to mellow down easy.

I’ve given this one a few listens, and I think you’ll dig it.

See you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners

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