Francesca Solleville Paul Eluard EP (Production "la boite a musique", 1969)
Known in France as an interpreter of poets and singer of leftist songs, Francesca Solleville is pretty much a mystery over here in the US. That isn't too big a surprise. Americans are not known for embracing non-Amer/Anglo singers, especially ones who are French commies. Too bad, because there are a lot of cool records from Paris of the 60s and early 70s that mate French music with politics and often rock & roll. Not this one, though. Solleville's Paul Eluard 7" is one of several of her records dedicated to putting French poets and writers to music. Besides Eluard, she's done Genet, Baudelaire, and (the much underrated) Apollinaire. Not all of it is knock out shit, but there are a few tracks on each that stand out. On this one, it is "Couvre Feu" that steals the wax. The other two tracks (out of a total of five on this EP) are good enough for a few listens.
Big Girls Don't Cry
Edith Massey Big Girls Don't Cry b/w Punks, Get Off the Grass 45 (Egg, 1982)
If Divine was The Star in John Waters' celluloid universe, Edith Massey was the Cosmic Egg. Both ladies were outrageous but with Massey there was always something real, the sense that you could meet Edith Massey on the street or at a bus stop or working behind the counter of a junk shop, Fans of Waters' movies took an instant liking to Edith Massey so much so that she became known simply as Edie. What made her popular wasn't her bad acting, but what it revealed, an every day person, a sweet, odd lady. Waters' might get freaky or outrageous or campy or all of the above but as long as Edie was in a film, there was still a bit of reality, that everydayness that gives at least a fraction of a possibility that Waters' fantasies could become reality. Yeah, right.
Pleasant thoughts and a bunch of babble BUT, still, Edie had fans and she was enough of a cult icon that someone teamed her up with disco producer Howard Lee Wolen and a studio band to pump out this great novelty single. Like most novelty records, Big Girls b/w Punks, isn't about great songs or great playing. It is about presentation and that is where this works. Granted, both songs would sound better with a shitty pick up band, but that would push this out of the realm of novelty and into something more art/punk brut, which, on second thought, wouldn't do well for "Punks, Get Off the Grass", one of the most moronic punksploitaion songs ever made (and about 3 years late for the trend!). Hmmmm, come to think of it, I am not sure Edie's cover of the Four Seasons' "Big Girls Don't Cry" would sound better without the musical polish. Sure, it would sound like the great Titmachine, but then there would be no reason for Edie to be Edie on the record. And that is what this record is about, Edith Massey.
No More Radio
It is with not so heavy heart that I tell you that tonight will be my last radio show on KDVS. I've done a weekly show at Davis's greatest institution for a decade or more and it is time for a break. Who knows if I will be back. I have so many other things going on and this blog will get the music out, just not in as big of blasts. The last show will consist of my favorite odd records, stuff that is or was pretty unique to my show. Some have been featured here, some haven't. Tune in if you will. The show is 11 pm - midnight, Pacific time. Just click KDVS. The show is archived here.
Kiss of Fire
Georgia Gibbs Kiss of Fire 45 (Bell, 1966)
What is there to say about a song like "Kiss of Fire"? It is what it is and really doesn't need explanation. As far as the singer, Georgia Gibbs. She was raised in an orphanage and it was there she took to singing. Worked her way into gigs with Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey. Though she made her first record in 1936 and had cut singles with Danny Kaye and others, "Kiss of Fire" was her first hit. While that hit came in 1952, she rerecorded it in 1966 (this version here). She had some minor hits with everything from torch songs to rock & roll, but nothing huge. She retired in 1966 and died forty years later.
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye
The Casinos Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye b/w I Still Love You 45 (Fraternity, 1967)
I guess you can call this a "golden oldie," though like many an oldie the Casinos' biggest hit is just another single buried in a pile of records, waiting for some schmoe to dig it up and discover it for him/herself. There are hundreds of songs like this, minor hits that get a second life on oldies radio, maybe a third on some collection of lowrider songs, and perhaps a forth on a PBS oldies telecast. While "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" is a very nice song, I dig the flip, a solid mid-tempo Vegas soul song with some sweat Latin horns.
Give Him Love
The Feathers Give Him Love 45 (Kapp, 1968)
Here's a great piece of bubblegum for you to chew on. The man behind the Feathers was one Jimmy Calvert. You might not recognize his name but you know his arrangements and his guitar. He sorted out and played on the Ohio Express's "Yummy Yummy Yummy," wrote songs for Tommy James & the Shondells, and sessioned on Ringo Starr's Ringo LP. He was in the Tradewinds, who do an excellent 60s sunshine pop album, and played on a bunch of Kasenetz & Katz productions. I am sure there are dozens, if not hundreds of uncredited songs he's played on and arranged. That Calvert is an unknown isn't surprising. Many a bubblegummer's fate is obscurity.
(Go On and) Cry Me a River
Jim Nesbitt (Go On and) Cry Me a River 45 (Chart, 1964)
I don't think I feature enough country music on Crud Crud and maybe I oughta start tossing a few songs on here once in a while. God knows, there is always a need to counter the candy-assed bullshit being passed off today as country, classic rock and power ballads with a twang. Seems like any blow-dried asshole that knows how to fake a drawl can throw a slide guitar on a Loverboy song and he's the next big country hit machine. I don't have to tell you how wretched the shit it. You know. And you know how sad it is that a once rich genre of music is pretty much a wasteland. Was a time when stellar country tunes regularly appeared not just as hits, but on B-sides, too. They were so plentiful that I could go on for months posting you not great but just good country songs and you would dig each and every one of them. This Jim Nesbitt song is a good example.
"(Go On and) Cry Me a River" was released as a B-side to Nesbitt's novelty tune "Looking for More in '64", the follow up to his first hit "Please Mr Kennedy." From the beginning it is obvious that "River" is a rip of "I Walk the Line." The opening riff is a near note-for-note riff. The rhythm is Cash's freight train. Nesbitt's voice even hints at Johnny Cash. But none of that matters, because the song is good. It cruises right along the way a good country number should and warrants repeated listening. And ripped off, tossed off B-side that it is, it buries anything by Kenny Chesney and his ilk.
Jerry Reed 1937 - 2008
Jerry Reed died on Monday. I am a big Jerry Reed fan. He was a hell of a guitarist, a good songwriter and very funny. My intro to him was as The Bandit in the movie Smokey & the Bandit. Like anyone who grew up with that movie, he was the star. He was funny, he drove a big truck, and he had a cool dog. But also like many folks, I didn't know he played music. It wasn't until I was discovering Chet Atkins and buying up every Chet record I could find, that I met Jerry Reed, the Guitarist. I got one of the Chet Atkins/Jerry Reed records and was hooked. Soon I was picking up every Jerry Reed record I could find. Some great stuff, some not so great stuff; but enough good stuff to make me a fan. So this evening I am not going to leave you with a batch of songs, but some youtube clips. Seeing the man work is great fun (and in the spirit of my failed attempt to stock Crud Crud with versions of "Summertime" there is a clip of him and Chet Atkins doing a jazzy version of the song).