Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Week In Review: Stan Freberg, Cheese Cake Central.

I've been busy putting together another Singles Going Steady series but I have to comment on two passings of the week.  One of which Bob Burns, former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer, who played on the first two albums was killed in a car accident Saturday in Georgia.  He was 64. When you hear the original version of Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird, that's Bob playing drums.  The original Skynyrd is now jamming in the great beyond, with Bob joining up with Steve and Cassie Gaines, Allen Collins, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkerson and Ronnie Van Zant.  They're rocking in the heavens as they say.

The other big story is Stan Freberg passing away today at age 88 from pneumonia.  While in later years he hosted When Radio Was, a syndicated show that originally aired on KMRY back in the late 90s, Freberg is famous for his parodies of songs and satire of the late 50s and early 60s while recording for Capitol Records.  Many of his albums can be found in the used bins, including Freberg  Radio, which he coined the phase Pay Radio (You have to pay for it to hear it), which if you think about it, Freberg may have envisioned cable and pay TV in the future.  Rhino put together a 4 cd Box set of Freberg's stuff: Tip Of The Freberg, whereas Capitol in the US, put out Capitol Collector's Series to which the lesser offending and more well known songs and skits were used.  The 1951 infamous John and Marsha which hasn't dated very well, Freberg would use that for Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes Cartoon.  Some of the parodies didn't set well with the original artists.  Johnnie Ray was not amused when Stan parodied Cry into Try, until Ray found out that Try was actually enhancing record sales of Cry.  But Lawrence Welk didn't care much for Wunniful Wunniful which may have been the most perfect satire of the Mr. Bubbles himself.  But Jack Webb according to rumor liked his Joe Friday persona on Christmas Dragnet.

Freberg took over for Jack Benny on CBS radio for his short lived radio show but what stands out was that Stan didn't want any advertising from Tobacco or Beer companies.  Anything was fair game, but Capitol censored him on a parody of Arthur Godfrey (They submitted the sketch to Arthur, to which Arthur said no to it) or Ed Sullivan although Stan appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show a few times.  The greatest asset of Stan Freberg's career was his commercials back then were classic, from Ann Miller's tap dancing routine for Heinz Great American Soups https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY2VAIIQAj4 to Geno's Pizza Rolls to which Stan parodied Lark Cigarettes and having Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as the Lone Ranger and Tonto make a cameo appearance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9aU-NBNADA

And of course the Sunsweet prunes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lpytcTqaAs

The Ann Miller Heinz commercial was at that time one of most expensive spots ever filmed. 

Stan Freberg's influences can be felt all the way to Weird Al Yankovic who had Stan on his short lived TV show in the late 90s.  Freberg left When Radio Was in 2006 but still continued to do voiceovers for cartoons, most notably Garfield And Friends playing Dr Whipple and Fluffykins. Weird All has cited Stan as his biggest influence.

In the end, Freberg was a one of a kind performer who was good at studying and parodying the latest trends of music of the 50s and even thumbed a nose at Joe McCartney, the infamous Wisconsin Senator. If there's was a negative, he wasn't a big fan of rock and roll of the early era and it showed in his deconstruction of The Platters' Great Pretender or Elvis'  Heartbreak Hotel or even Lonnie Donagen on Rock Island Line.  However I do think he was dead on some subjects, most likely Green Christmas to which in 1956 Freberg noted of the over commercialization of Christmas and it may be his most controversial but perhaps his finest recording moment.   Nevertheless, Freberg was a one of a kind.  His recordings may have dated themselves but rest assured that he might be the king of best commercials ever made.

He will be missed.  

A excellent overview of Stan's output can be found here: http://www.cyberonic.net/~atrain/comedy/freberg.htm

From the Archives: http://lahistoriadelamusicarock.blogspot.com/2011/06/pink-floyd-brain-damage-from-album-dark.html

Rastro's blog was one of the best things I read that mentioned me.  Hard to believe four years ago that radio is better than it is now.  Since then Bob Dorr's Backtracks got moved to Saturday Afternoons and he still does Blues Avenue and The Beatles Medley on Sunday Nights.  I used to promote his shows on a regular basis till a falling out happened. I'll give him this, he did play the requests but never mentioned me by name on the songs.  I guess I was wearing sun glasses at night  incognito and being mysterious as he would say on the sign off.  I don't promote his shows anymore but the ones that I did are still in the archives. 

Geoffrey Lewis, best known for playing alongside Clint Eastwood in Every Which Way But Loose and other movies passed away at age 79 from natural causes.

The NCAA tourneys are now done.  U Conn was the dominate favorite and they showed that by downing Norte Dame by 10.  Wisconsin played the biggest game of the year by beating  the "we will go undefeated" Kentucky   Wildcats before running out of gas against Duke 68-63.  The referees were terrible in all stages of the game but make no doubt, the big game was them kicking Kentucky's rent a players 71-64, to which afterwards most of Kentucky's players declared for the draft leaving sleezeball John Calipari to find able bodied replacements for next season.  Certainly Wisconsin had one of the best teams but they simply couldn't beat Duke in the two games they played.  The Badgers lose Frank Kamensky, and three others and Sam Dekker is slated to go pro, but one thing is certain, Bo Ryan does have ways to get excellent players and even though next season will be a rebuilding year, he did managed to get them to the final four last two seasons.  Now only if he would put names on the back of the jerseys he would be a cool dude.

It seems that the Chicago Cubs do well in spring training, only to get back on a plane and back to the cold unfriendly confines of Wrigley Field and stink up the first game of the year and Sunday was no exception.  There should be a law forbidding any games played at Wrigley till May, it's cold as hell and the Cubs act as if they left themselves back in sunny Arizona.  New manager Joe Maddon, a new team and the same results of being shut out by St Louis 3-0 in what is being dubbed as Hell at Wrigley.  To which Tom Ricketts is undertaking a very long and expensive upgrade and keeping the bleachers empty as they work on renovations.  The Cubs have 3 catchers on the roster and neither one could throw out Cardinal runners as their wild throws went out to center field.  It seemed more that the Cardinals were at home than the home team themselves, going 0 for 15 with runners on base and anything well hit was held up by cold winds or Cardinal outfielders making great plays.  The biggest sufferers were the fans themselves, with all but four restrooms open and long waits didn't bode well for those that could afford 10 dollar Budweisers and ended up using the cups or the wall to relieve themselves.  The papers dub this Peegate and Ricketts did decide in adding about 30 porta potties to combat Peegate but it's regardless it's going to be a long season.  Don't think going to Wrigley will be on my list to do this year.  And I hope the Cubs bats do show up soon, otherwise having a well known overpaid manager isn't going to help.  He can't bat for them.

Record Store Day is April 18th.  This is the cash cow day that independent record stores owner hope that folks with lots of money will come spend it on overpriced exclusive LP and 45s.  Dave Grohl is ambassador and anything Dave does is great.  Since the inception of RSD back in 2009 I have tried to visit a store within driving distance, but the way I look at this is that anytime I go to the record store is considered RSD.  And this year I do not feel compelled to rub elbows with fellow collectors to find things that may appeal to me. Last three weekends I have done RSD in Davenport, Madison and Iowa City and I think I did quite well.  I could ask Bob Herrington to open up upstairs to find 45s but since Ragged Records will be busy, I don't think it would benefit me.  And of course since RSD is held during the rainy season, I'm usually fighting monsoons to get anything decent.  Right now the decision would be staying close to home and seeing what the thrift stores would have, unless the scavengers beat me to the bargains.

Record Reviews R Us.

Robyn Hitchcock-Fegmania! (Yep Roc Reissue)

Last week, I managed to find this CD via Rhino which was great but alas Another Bubble skipped which pissed me off so I ended up ordering up a new copy.  Back in the 90s Hitchcock granted release rights to Rhino Records (Back when Rhino was keeping the forgotten alive instead of rehashing classic rock crap that they do today) and he would then add bonus tracks and commentary to Grant Alden's liner notes.  Hitchcock has been the definitive alternative artist, too damn weird for radio and for cult fans only.  Which explains why I have 14 other albums from him.  Fegmania! reunites him with the Soft Boys rhythm section of Andy Metcalfe and Morris Windsor (renamed The Egyptians) and the original 11 track album shows Robyn stealing a page or two from The Byrds and Echo And The Bunnymen but Hitchcock's lyrical sense is his alone.  Fan favorite Egyptian Cream is vintage alternative classic rock and Another Bubble wouldn't sound out of place on Matthew Sweet's albums.  The bonus track Bells Of Rhymey is just about a perfect note for note cover of The Byrds and surprised that this didn't make it on the album.  I have intentions of donating the Rhino CD however, the bonus cuts do differ from the Yep Roc reissue.  On the plus side Yep Roc has better sound and mix, on the negative side the Rhino remains a keeper due to Grand Alden's notes, a demo and live version of Egyptian Cream, a demo of Insect Mother and Swingbeat, an outtake that didn't make it the Yep Roc issue.  The Yep Roc offers Lady Obvious, The Drowning Church and a instrumental of The Man With The Lighbulb Head.  The most interesting cut is The Pit Of Souls (Part 1-IV) which sounds like prog rock.  I don't know if Swingbeat being omitted from the Yep Roc album makes it that much stronger, and trading Egyptian Cream for The Drowning Church lessers or broaden the value, but what I do know is that Fegmania! the album is my favorite Robyn Hitchcock album and whatever copy you find is worth getting.
Grade A-

Lee Dorsey-Wheelin' And Dealin' (Arista 1990)

The late car mechanic got lucky with a nonsensical hit Ya Ya, based upon a made up song between girls was helped by having the great Allen Toussaint playing piano and arranging it.  Being part of the New Orleans scene Dorsey was helped by some of the finest musicians New Orleans had to offer and he took advantage of it. Despite it all, I find Working In A Coal Mine more fun than Ya Ya but Dorsey was a very underrated singer.  Just about all of his hits on Fury and Amy records are here, from Get Out Of My Life Woman, to Ride Your Pony, to a remake of Lottie Moe (sounds like The Meters backing him up with their patented funky beats) and Everything I Do Is Gohn Be Funky  (from now on). One of the earliest compilations done by Bob Irwin who later form Sundazed Records, this collection is mastered beautifully.  Nothing is taken off Lee's final album, ABC's Night People (recommended if you can find it) but Wheelin' And Dealin' is a nice overview of a forgotten New Orleans legend and shows more to him than just Sitting in la la, waiting for my Ya Ya.
Grade A-

Stan Freberg-Capitol Collectors Series (Capitol 1990)

Freberg's satire may seem dated nowadays but he did predict a future of pay radio and if anything, he was the master of making commercials but this best of, presents a glimpse of what Freberg could do best.  At his best he could parody Jack Webb and make it very convincing and the three skits on Dragnet theme (with Walter Schmann's arrangements, Freberg got the the composer of the Dragnet show, which is why it's one of the best moments of this album), and he was dead on about the commercialization of Christmas on Green Christmas, which still remains true to this day.  At his worst, his parodies of The Platters, Elvis and Sha Boom demonstrates a hatred toward rock and roll and doo wop (he was a jazz fan).  And the 1951 freak hit John And Martha has dated badly.   I recall a Sunday afternoon local puppet show used Banana Boat (Day O) to which Freberg is fighting a bongo player that doesn't like loud noises and is one of the better numbers on this compilation. Perhaps the best of the parodies was a Wunniful Wunniful (sic) Part un One and Part un Two) to which the Lawrence Welk person loses out to a runaway bubble machine.  I think when comparing other folk and their parodies, Homer And Jethro were much warmer and more receptive to rock and roll then Stan was, and even Spike Jones showed more respect toward the music that was putting his obsolete. There is a mean spirit that can't be overlooked on The Great Pretender or Try, the Johnnie Ray rip apart.  Overlook that and just focus on St. George And The Dragon or Little Blue Riding Hood and Green Christmas.  Freberg was a whiz in advertising and the modern business world and it shows on Green Christmas.  An uneven look into the world of Stan Freberg.
Grade B

I haven't posted much cheese cake of late, however Ivy Doomkitty continues to make cosplaying a fun fantasy as she dressed up to be Vampirella.  The hope is that we don't censored cuz of this or have your computer melt due to all that hotness.  But I'm thinking this is one of her best costumes ever.  She's offering this print for 15 dollars at her website.  I'll take three please! http://ivydoomkitty.storenvy.com/collections/202662-rocketeer-pinup/products/12765031-vampirella

Finally, Barry Manilow came out of the closet to marry his manager Wed, thus setting up the usual backlash, but in reality this didn't surprise me at all.  You hardly seen Barry with any woman throughout his history and his songs did twinge a bit toward the gay community.  I suppose this will give a whole new meaning of his hits It's a Miracle does sound a bit gay, and what if Mandy was a man?!  The thought that it was uncool to hate Barry Manilow but some of music he did does rock a bit.  New York City Rhythm could be considered the new YMCA, He did cover Ian Hunter's Ships and he put a new wave power pop spin on Some Kind Of Friend.  His underrated 2 AM Paradise Cafe album with the late Shelly Mann on drums is quite good although his revamping of the 60s catalog is a money making venture like Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook Series.  I tend to look at Barry with a bit more seriousness than the average critic, he's camp but he's got some campy good in him. So congrats to our new man and man couple. Tip, don't go to Indiana anytime soon.  They reserve the right to refuse service on gay and lesbians.

More Cheese Cake photo and thoughts. 

 When a skinny woman complains to me about their 120 pound body... I often find myself wanting to punch them in the face with my HUGE ass - I mean, don't you?..... Just because I'm a plus-sized girl... Does not mean I want to commiserate over weight problems... From London Andrews.

1 comment:

TAD said...

MY GHOD, Crabby, these women are GORGEOUS. You are killing me with these cheesecake photos -- like I ever have ANY chance of getting within breathing distance of someone as unbelievably hot as Ivy Doomkitty.... More photos please, and for Ghod's sake don't ever change....