Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

February 23, 2022


Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:01 am

When you consider that there are still children’s clothes and shoes being sold under the BUSTER BROWN brand-name, that gives the character a life of 115 years so far, and for the first 60 or so of that, he was a major figure in popular culture.

BUSTER BROWN first appeared in a newspaper comic strip in 1902, created by Richard F. Outcault, best known for THE YELLOW KID, and was adopted as advertising mascot by the Brown Shoe Company in 1904. Whatever vague memories most people have of the character today can be attributed to the Buster Brown Shoes.

The Buster Brown character was an urban boy whose parents dressed him in somewhat foppish clothes (not unlike Little Lord Fauntleroy), which caused him to get into scraps with other boys of the neighborhood. He was a savvy boy, a kind of trickster, able to outsmart adults, and the moral lesson sometimes presented at the end of an adventure had an ironic ring to it, as if everyone was in on the joke that the “lesson” was tacked-on and not really relevant. Buster was accompanied by his friend Mary Jane and his dog Tige (short for Tiger….pronounced like Tide, but with a hard-G instead of a D). There were two versions of the Brown comic strip, which ran in newspapers for about 15-20 years. In the late 1920’s, the character had his own silent comedy shorts at Universal–and on You Tube, I found a few primitive Edison-produced Brown shorts from 1904! However, he was still best known as spokesperson for Buster Brown Shoes.

In the 1940’s, the Brown Shoe Company spun the character off into a comic book, which was given away at shoe stores. In 1943, a Buster Brown radio show began broadcast, hosted by SMILIN’ ED MCCONNELL, a man who’d paid his dues in radio since 1922 (!!!) and had the ability to adapt his persona to his audience, finding success with heartland audiences in shows with a religious or an agricultural theme. His warm, neighborly persona was perfectly suited for children’s programming, and in 1944 he began the show SMILIN’ ED’S BUSTER BROWN GANG, sponsored by Buster Brown Shoes, and featuring such McConnell character creations as Froggy the Gremlin. You can listen to a number of episodes of the show in the old time radio collection at

The show was a huge success, and the comic book under review today was a tie-in to the show. It was a giveaway comic, available at stores which sold Buster Brown Shoes and/or sponsored the radio program. The left bottom of the comic was left blank so that the name and address of the local sponsor could be printed. This copy came from the Fort Worth area and also highlights the radio stations on which the show could be heard. Smilin’ Ed’s jovial presence is seen at the right bottom of the cover.

Smilin’ Ed’s success on radio was such that he moved into TV in 1950, where he was also a success. He passed away in 1954, when he was replaced on the show by Andy Devine, fresh off the fame of being comic sidekick to GUY MADISON in the WILD BILL HICKOK TV show. The show then became ANDY’S GANG, which ran from 1955-1960. Andy Devine was a larger-than-life character, who had worked a lot in radio (he was on a number of Jack Benny programs), television, and films, and once you hear his uniquely screechy voice, it is not soon forgotten. ANDY’S GANG is considered a classic, and various episodes are in circulation. However I’d bet that many fans of that show were unaware of its roots in Smilin’ Ed.

While the 1948 comic book reviewed here features full-page Buster Brown shoe ads with Buster and his related characters, and Smilin’ Ed gets a full-page to promote shoe sales, the actual comic book stories here—-written and drawn by Hobart Donovan—-are, alas, not that interesting and do not feature any of Buster or Smilin’ Ed’s “gang.” SEAN AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, THE BIGGEST SNAKE IN THE WORLD, and SHARK DRUM are all competently done children’s comics with an “adventure” theme and setting–at best, they resemble an earlier version of JONNY QUEST; at worst, they seem like something which could be used as filler in a religious children’s show.

I owned one pair of Buster Brown shoes as a boy. I generally was given cheap shoes, as most kids were, but when I was assessed as having fallen arches, it was suggested I get a better-made pair of shoes with better arch support, so my parents took me to the Buster Brown shoe store and bought me a pair. I don’t remember if comic books were still given out at that time. I never did get another pair of Buster Brown shoes after that–it was back to whatever K-Mart was selling.

Although this comic book is nothing special, it does reflect a special phenomenon, one which lasted for decades. If you have time to kill, take a listen to one of Smilin’ Ed’s broadcasts and return to a world that was a fantasy even while it was being produced…..the world of Ma and Pa Kettle and of Andy Hardy….of county fairs and caramel apples and grandmothers who baked pies and wore flour-stained aprons, while slipping you a quarter and a cookie behind your mother’s back….a world where, just like today, children’s programming is full of ads for products which the average working family cannot afford!

(Bill Shute, originally published online in 2017)

February 19, 2022

Alexis Korner, Tony Sheridan, Steve Baker – At RIAS (The RIAS Session) (Live In Berlin, June19, 1981)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 4:04 pm

Relaxed, deep acoustic blues set, live in the studio, from Alexis Korner and Tony Sheridan

This album is a beautiful, relaxed hour of live-in-the-radio-studio acoustic blues from Alexis Korner, Tony Sheridan, and harmonica player Steve Baker, recorded in Berlin in 1981. Korner and Sheridan had never met prior to the radio session, and you hear them each adjusting to the other, but united in a common blues language and repertoire. Alexis Korner always felt that he was at his purest playing live, and Tony Sheridan was certainly under-recorded at this point in his career, so this session will be a revelation to fans of either man. If an unrehearsed hour of acoustic blues from two masters with nothing left to prove, enjoying themselves long after midnight in a dark radio studio appeals to you, be sure to get this album. It will become a welcome friend on a long night when only the blues can satisfy….

1 High Heel Sneakers
2 Hallelujah, I Love Her So
3 Juvenile Delinquent (Mit Deutscher Ansage)
4 Will The Circle Be Unbroken
5 Going Down Slow
6 So Glad You’re Mine
7 In The Evening (Mit Deutscher Ansage)
8 Bright Lights, Big City
9 Honky Tonk Women (Mit Deutscher Ansage)
10 RIAS Berlin Blues
11 Lost John
12 Diggin’ My Potatoes

Released on CD in November 2018 by RWA (Richard Weize Archives), Germany

February 18, 2022

PLAIN JANE (Hobbit Records LP, 1969)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:19 pm

The original LP is now a big-ticket item, unfortunately. Reissued on CD by Fallout in 2008, and that copy is not too hard to find. Also, it’s available online….

If I were a rare record dealer, I’d call the 1969 album by Plain Jane (on the Hobbit label) “mellow but tasty west-coast rural-rock with late-night trippy feel and occasional burnout-psych moves”… but I’m not, so I won’t! If Big Star were from the West and were locked in a room with a stack of Michael Nesmith albums and a bottle of Quaaludes…

February 16, 2022


Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:49 am

textbook example of efficient, exciting b-movie programmer

The b-level programmers of Columbia Pictures during the 1930’s are often quite exciting and well-paced. The studio’s assembly line produced audience-satisfying product quickly and inexpensively. And, in this case, with a director like Albert Rogell, veteran of dozens of fine b-westerns in the silent era and who would continue working in bread-and-butter product through the 1950’s, AIR HOSTESS (not the most exciting title!) has all the elements of a textbook example of the exciting, efficient b-movie. Daring stunt flier James Murray (of King Vidor’s THE CROWD, who would die a few years later due to alcohol) sees his friend and mentor get killed during WWI and helps watch over the friend’s young daughter over the years. The film soon switches to the early 30s, where the daughter (played by the perky Evalyn Knapp, perhaps best-known today for starring with John Wayne in the long-time public domain, dollar-rack favorite HIS PRIVATE SECRETARY in 1933) is a grown up airline hostess and Murray is a pilot who is still a daredevil but also an inventor of aviation technology looking for an investor to help see his plans to fruition. Needless to say, they fall in love, a number of problems arise, Thelma Todd appears (looking especially regal!!!!) as “the other woman”, and the film ends up with an amazing train-plane sequence. Knapp is quite appealing (although a few flubbed lines are left in, reminding us that Columbia was NOT a major studio in 1932!), and James Murray shows the charisma that made him a star in THE CROWD. He has a brash quality, and had he lived, he surely could have made a career of playing wisecracking newspaper reporters and leads in b-action films. Interestingly, his character is drunk in about 1/3 of the film–one wonders if that was written into the film to capitalize on the bad publicity Murray had received for his drinking problems, or if he actually was drunk on the set and the writers quickly decided to play along with it (I’m betting the former). In any event, he is quite impressive and this is a major role for him, though the movie was undoubtedly a bottom-of-the-bill product that vanished quickly from theaters. In less than 65 minutes, we laugh, we cry (the scene where the WWI flier has his daughter’s letter read to him is a real tearjerker), we feel for the characters, we cheer them on, we worry about them, and we are brought to the edge of our seats in a nail-biting climax. What today’s directors could learn from a film like this and a director such as Albert Rogell. Also, it’s not every film that’s set in Albuquerque (at least half of it is!). Finally, those who collect films with spanking scenes can put this one on their lists, although it’s a brief one. Highly recommended to lovers of classic fast-moving early 30’s b-movies.

(Bill Shute, originally published online in 2006)

2022 comments on AIR HOSTESS: There are multiple films from multiple decades with this title, so be sure to include “1933” in any search for the film. Sony did release an MOD DVD-R of this after my original 2006 review, but as with many Sony archival releases, it was very overpriced for a barebones DVD-R. You can find a decent copy on You Tube.

James Murray has an interesting filmography in the early sound era, particularly for the fan of low-budget cinema. His career arc is similar to that of, say, a Jan-Michael Vincent or a Troy Donahue, though over a much shorter period of time.

February 9, 2022

PRAIRIE PALS (PRC Pictures, 1942), starring Bill ‘Cowboy Rambler’ Boyd

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:35 am

During its brief run in the early-to-mid 1940’s, PRC Pictures (Producers Releasing Corporation) made a lot of westerns, featuring Bob Steele, Buster Crabbe, Lash LaRue, and a number of others. Though the films were a rung below Monogram in terms of production level, they usually delivered the goods in just under an hour, had supporting casts full of western veterans, and were made by people who could produce this kind of thing in their sleep.

Because of the success of The Three Mesquiteers team over at Republic, beginning in 1937, there were imitation Western trios over at Monogram….The Range Busters, with Ray Crash Corrigan, John Dusty King, and Max Alibi Terhune (with his ventriloquist dummy Elmer, someone I need to devote an entire review to in the future), and The Trail Blazers, with Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, and Bob Steele. PRC also jumped into that world with The Texas Rangers, with Dave O’Brien, James Newill (replaced by Tex Ritter in the final eight films), and personal fave Guy Wilkerson as “Panhandle Perkins.” PRC had another trio series, though, which released six films in the 1942 season, THE FRONTIER MARSHALS. They’ve received little attention over the years, although the combination of talent on offer was quite successful and gave the films a lot of variety within their 56 or 57 minutes. Even by PRC standards, the films had a ramshackle look to them, and they are not well-remembered today– it took me years to collect all six of them on VHS back in the 80’s and 90’s.

PRC took original Lone Ranger LEE POWELL, who’d also starred in the US Marines-oriented serial FIGHTING DEVIL DOGS (a man with a tough demeanor, a gruff and manly voice, and a strong screen presence), and paired him with two Western Swing musicians then popular throughout the South and Southwest and Midwest, BILL BOYD, who led a band called the COWBOY RAMBLERS, and his vocalist (who was to Bill what Tommy Duncan was to Bob Wills) ART DAVIS. Boyd and Davis had successful radio programs and dozens of RCA-Bluebird 78’s and were veteran entertainers—taking their shtick to the movie screen was undoubtedly not too difficult. Generally, the plots involved Powell, the “tough guy” and hero of the films, working independently from “the boys” toward the same goals to round up some outlaw gang or stop some evil-doer. I haven’t watched most of the films in decades, but as I remember, in most of them the three were all marshals….it’s just that Boyd and Davis would be posing as cowhands or entertainers or whatever, and their affable, joking personas kept anyone from ever suspecting they were undercover marshals. Of course, being successful radio and record and live performance stars of western swing, they performed a number of songs in each film (SIX in the one under review, five in the actual film, and one in the closing credits), and played themselves (as did Powell in this film). The mixture of western action, gunfights, fistfights (VERY loosely choreographed, if it all—-this is certainly NOT a Republic western!), comedy from Boyd and Davis as well as their songs, and Powell’s charm with the ladies, as well as fine casts of villains (this one features Kermit Maynard, Ken’s brother, as well as Charles King, John Merton, and I Stanford Jolley, with Maynard doubling as a stuntman), makes the films move at a good clip and provides a lot of variety within the short running time. It’s solid Western entertainment, done quickly and cheaply by people who knew what they were doing. Truly, this was the Golden Age of B-Western series, when something like this was tossed off as a disposable piece of product, playing second-and-third-run houses and small towns for a week, and then vanishing until revived for late night TV in the 1950’s and 1960’s. PRC features like this don’t even survive in decent form. PRC’s classic film noir from 1946, DETOUR, starring Tom Neal and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, only survives in one 35mm print, which the Austin Film Society borrowed from its owner a year or two ago and I had the privilege of viewing. And that was one of the most acclaimed PRC features! One doubts any effort was put into preserving the Powell-Boyd-Davis FRONTIER MARSHALS films.

For the record, there were six films in this series released in 1942: TEXAS MANHUNT (where Powell played “Marshal Lee Clark,” in all the others he played himself, Marshal Lee Powell), RAIDERS OF THE WEST, ROLLING DOWN THE GREAT DIVIDE, TUMBLEWEED TRAIL, PRAIRIE PALS, and ALONG THE SUNDOWN TRAIL. Powell then enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1942 and served in the Pacific in WWII against the Japanese, including the battle of Tinian, in the Northern Mariana Islands, where he died in 1944. Powell had also worked in circuses doing trick riding and the like after his Lone Ranger fame, and before this series of films, and certainly a man who was the original Lone Ranger, had his own western series of feature films, starred in a circus act, and fought with honor in World War II, passing away during his service in Asia, is the kind of REAL hero who should have had his own comic book (had he lived after WWII, he might have, and I’d be reviewing it here).

PRAIRIE PALS was the fifth in the FRONTIER MARSHALS series (available for free online), and it’s a fine introduction to the pleasures of this series. The surviving print is a bit rough, but that just shows how road-worn it is from multiple small-town showings back in the day, and for me it just adds to the charm, like the surface noise on the sole surviving “fair condition” copy of an obscure blues 78, released only on Paramount Records’s dime-store subsidiary Broadway Records. When the film starts, Boyd and Davis croon the jaunty title song under a tree, with gang members Kermit Maynard and John Merton looking on. Expository dialogue after the song (thanks, guys, for cluing us in) tells us that the boys have joined an outlaw gang, and with their “aw shucks” vibe, you KNOW that they aren’t REAL outlaws. They are undercover. Later, Marshall Lee Powell arrives in the area, and arrests and takes the boys into custody, in front of the whole town AND their criminal cohorts…just to prove they really are outlaws. Of course, they escape (with Marshal Powell’s help), get back into the gang, and continue to feed Powell info whenever they can. The plot here is somewhat outrageous, with lead bad-guy I. Stanford Jolley having kidnapped a scientist who has a formula to turn some element called Vanadium into gold, and he’s being forced to practice this outlaw alchemy at the gang’s hidden hideout. All the while, the scientist’s daughter (stop me if you’ve heard this plot device before), played by the spunky and charming Esther Estrella (who also appeared in two Hopalong Cassidy films, with the other and the better-known Bill Boyd, William Boyd, whose Hoppy films were two or three or four rungs above PRC in the grand scheme of things), is working as a waitress at the local café, looking to gather information about her father’s whereabouts. She and Powell discover they are after the same thing and begin to work as a team. Meanwhile, Boyd and Davis alternate comic relief and good-natured, toe-tapping western swing songs, and before you know it, the hour is up, and the magic has concluded.

Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers recorded hundreds of sides from the 1930’s-1950’s and were huge here in Texas—his brother Jim Boyd was also in the band (and made solo records). In the mid-50’s, as with many country music stars whose hits began fading, Boyd moved into radio DJ’ing, where he worked until the 1970’s. The British BACM (British Archive of Country Music) label has released a few fine Boyd CD’s, as has the Cattle/Bronco Buster family of labels in Germany. And of course, you can find much of their material on You Tube and in some of the collections of 78’s at the Internet Archive. I’m surprised Bear Family never released a massive Bill Boyd and related recordings box set. Why not listen to some of the Cowboy Ramblers excellent 78’s online, pop open a Foster’s oil-can beer, and find the 1942 film PRAIRIE PALS on You Tube. Get some microwave popcorn at the local dollar store, turn the lights down, and pretend you’re in some backwater Oklahoma Panhandle hamlet in 1942, in town for the evening from the ranch. It will be an hour well-spent, in a world much preferable to the one in which you’re reading this review.

February 2, 2022


Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:14 am


1 School Of Hard Knocks (stereo)
2 Street Singer (stereo)
3 Little Old Clockmaker (stereo)
4 I Dig Love (stereo)
5 Nature’s Way Of Saying “Thank You” (stereo)
6 I’ll Stay With You (stereo)
7 Mary Jane (stereo)
8 I’m Puttin’ You Off (stereo)
9 Run Boy Run (stereo)
10 Good Time (stereo)
11 Love In The First Degree (stereo)
12 School Of Hard Knocks (mono)
13 Street Singer (mono)
14 Little Old Clockmaker (mono)
15 I Dig Love (mono)
16 Nature’s Way Of Saying “Thank You” (mono)
17 I’ll Stay With You (mono)
18 Mary Jane (mono)
19 I’m Puttin’ You Off (mono)
20 Run Boy Run (mono)
21 Good Time (mono)
22 Love In The First Degree (mono)
23 Lonely As A Vacant Lot
24 Shoppin’ Around
25 Chicky-Chicky Boom Boom (stereo)
26 Chicky-Chicky Boom Boom (mono)

Their 1968 debut LP in both original stereo and mono off the original master tapes
+ 2 unreleased tracks from the album sessions
+ 1 single recorded at Petty Studio in both stereo & mono “Chicky-Chicky Boom Boom”

Willie and the Red Rubber Band formed in 1967 while attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and like many Lubbock artists before them, eventually found themselves on the two-lane state highway heading west to Norman Petty’s studios in Clovis, New Mexico. The band recorded two albums for RCA, though only the first one and the single from the second one were recorded with Petty (the rest of the second album was recorded in Nashville, as RCA often had their Texas and Midwest artists do), so what’s featured here are Petty’s original stereo and mono (the latter being my preference) mixes of the first album, plus two unreleased tracks from those sessions, and the single mentioned above (their most commercially successful single, “Chicky-Chicky-Boom-Boom”). Petty is not credited as producer on these sides—one “Duke Niles” is. According to a 1968 Billboard article, Niles was a successful New York music publisher building up his own stable of artists, and Petty is mentioned as “A & R-ing” the session, so you can presume that this is a Petty production in all but the name, and it sounds like one. Put George Tomsco on lead guitar and have Jimmy Gilmer sing the songs, and this is an album the Atco-era Fireballs could be proud of (although Willie and crew have more of an R&B base—I’d guess they could have done Mitch Ryder-style material convincingly in the clubs of West Texas).
I owned both albums in the late 1970’s, and they struck me then as kind of like if the Box-Tops had merged with the 1910 Fruitgum Company (their costumes on the cover certainly have a Buddah Records bubblegum look)…with horns on some of the tracks. In that period, I wanted all my 60’s albums to sound like The Chocolate Watchband or The Standells or the 13th Floor Elevators, so Willie and crew did not really impress me that much, but in hindsight, I seriously underrated them.
This CD sounds much clearer than my old RCA LP, and it’s obvious that the music is essentially live-in-the-studio, and that Willie and the Red Rubber Band were an exciting live band. Perhaps one reason the album did not become a hit was that no song on it has the kind of hooks or catchy melody that propelled a song up the charts then. Also, it was a bold move to issue a full album of new and unfamiliar material (8 or the 11 songs written or co-written by group leader Willie Redden) without a hit single first to test the waters. However, there is fuzz guitar on a number of tracks, an organ driving the band along, and always a strong beat. It’s just hard music to categorize, and music programmers of the day must have felt the same way. I’m hearing elements similar to the second Cryan Shames album or the Neal Ford and the Fanatics album on Hickory or mid-period Box Tops or the two Fireballs albums on Atco. The two unreleased tracks are especially hot, and the single from the second album did get some regional airplay, so who knows if history would have been different had the band continued to work with Petty and “Chicky-Chicky-Boom-Boom” made the Top 40. Had the band been from a city the size of Houston or Chicago, they could have built a large regional following, been championed by local high-wattage radio stations, and spread their popularity more easily. Lubbock didn’t provide that kind of a launching pad in 1967-68.
Only Glen Ballard (the band’s guitarist/bassist) went on to sustained national fame, but unfortunately, his website does not list Willie and the Red Rubber Band (though it does mention Michael Jackson and Alanis Morissette) among his credits.
There’s not a weak track on this album, and except for the single, it should all be new to most listeners. Singer-songwriter-bandleader Willie Hedden is quite a talented man. Those who would take a chance on little-known 1968 albums by bands who dress up like a Texas version of something from the Kasenetz-Katz family of artists will find a lot to enjoy here, another feather in New Mexico producer Norman Petty’s cap!

(Bill Shute, originally published in Ugly Things magazine in 2019)

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