Kendra Steiner Editions

March 15, 2020

John Gilbert’s recipe for Clam Chowder (1927)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:56 pm

john gilbert 2

Taking a break from work, I was catching up on a silent film discussion list where someone posted John Gilbert’s recipe for clam chowder from the 1927 PHOTOPLAY COOK BOOK, which featured recipes of the stars (there is also a 1929 volume, which I’ve seen). I did a little online sleuthing and found a scan of the entire book from a Canadian library.

John Gilbert is my favorite silent-film leading man, and he went on to do fine work in the early sound era too, up through his final film, the bizarre but totally entertaining 1934 ensemble cast feature THE CAPTAIN HATES THE SEA.

john gilbert 3

I love clam chowder and can attest that this is a good solid recipe. You could always add a small amount of something of your own, but Gilbert has got the basic recipe down with the small touches like bacon and pepper and parsley and real butter. You can easily buy canned chopped clams (instead of the two dozen clams he mentions), which would make the job a lot easier and would not really hurt the end result any….and the clam juice (or liquor, as Gilbert calls it) in the can is perfect for chowder. You could also pick up a bottle of clam juice at most supermarkets, to make your recipe even richer and more flavorful, as it is available for mixed drinks. I will often use a bottle when I’m making rice to make a kind of clam rice. Anyway, here is Gilbert’s recipe, copied and pasted from the book….

Clam Chowder 


JOHN GILBERT 


2 doz. clams 
1 cup water 
3 large potatoes 
2 slices bacon 
1 onion 
1 quart milk 
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons flour 
1 teaspoon parsley 
1 teaspoon salt 
Crackers 
Pepper 


Fry diced bacon and chopped onion together. Add clam liquor, 
water and diced potatoes. Cook until tender. Add clams and milk. 
Thicken with butter and flour creamed together. Pour chowder over 
crackers and sprinkle with chopped parsley. 


Sponsored by Mr, Gilbert, clam chowder is due for a big revival 
in popularity. And it's good, too. 

You would certainly want whole milk for this, not 2% or skim, and if you don’t have to worry about calories or cholesterol, you could use half and half instead! Talk about rich!

…………………………………..

john gilbert

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert

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trailer for Gilbert’s 1933 feature FAST WORKERS, with Robert Armstrong (same year as RA starred in King Kong!)

 

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Many of John Gilbert’s best-known films from the 1920’s, including the ones where he is paired with his friend and companion Greta Garbo, were made for MGM and are not available for free online….however, they ARE available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive. However, here is one in its entirety, Erich Von Stroheim’s THE MERRY WIDOW from 1925, starring Mae Murray and Gilbert, the film Von Stroheim made after GREED. It’s 137 minutes long, so make a cup of coffee and settle back in a comfortable chair….

 

Kino (before they were merged into Kino-Lorber) did a wonderful release of two Gilbert classics on DVD many years ago, BARDLEYS THE MAGNIFICENT (1926, directed by King Vidor) and MONTE CRISTO (1922), and the set also includes a documentary on Gilbert, featuring a number of comments from his daughter, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. It’s highly recommended!

bardleys

note: when I was a child, my mother used to make something not unlike Margaret Livingston’s SALMON LOAF, which is on the page after Gilbert’s chowder in the Photoplay cookbook.

March 14, 2020

SEBERG (2020), starring Kristen Stewart

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 10:28 pm

seberg

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Jean Seberg in the film that made her a star, Otto Preminger’s SAINT JOAN (1957)

 

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Scenes from LILITH (1964, directed by Robert Rossen), considered by many to be Seberg’s finest English-language performance

 

 

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Iowa-born Jean Seberg (1938-1979) had a film career of less than 20 years and passed away at the age of 40. She did not appear in a film during the final three years of her life. However, much of her early work….from SAINT JOAN (1957) through BREATHLESS (1960) through LILLITH (1964)….is sublime. She deserves to be better known today, and there is something to savor in every one of her performances, right up through her final film, an Ibsen adaptation from 1976 with Bruno Ganz. Looking at her filmography, I can say that I’ve seen about 70% of her 35-film body of work. Had she lived, she might have continued to alternate European art films and/or literate dramas with genre films. Maybe she would have returned to the US and taken a role in one of the “nighttime soaps” like KNOTS LANDING or FALCON CREST, which loved to give a platform to the glamourous stars of the past. Maybe she would have gone into charitable or political work, devoting her time to the UN or some other international agency. Who knows….

Calling this new film ‘SEBERG’ suggests that it might be a biopic, but it really isn’t. It covers only about 4 years in her life, and it both leaves out fairly significant items (the affair with Clint Eastwood—-oh, he’s still alive, isn’t he….although he did discuss the affair in a German interview you can find online) and fictionalizes a good bit of what’s left. The character of Hakim Jamal, the Black political and cultural activist she befriends and gets involved with, is presented as the voice of reason, the person with his feet on the ground. Perhaps he was at the time of his relationship with Seberg, but a little research on him shows that in the period after that (and he died before Seberg!), he was supposedly quite the megalomaniac with a messianic complex (and let’s not forget his involvement with the infamous Michael X). Perhaps he straightened himself out when he returned to his wife and to Boston to run the Malcolm X Foundation—-I certainly hope so. Jamal was murdered in 1973.  I thought his name rang a bell and eventually remembered that I’d read his book FROM THE DEAD LEVEL as a teenager.

The other main character in the film is an FBI agent (a fictionalized character, though Seberg was heavily monitored and messed with by the FBI) who is assigned to follow and wiretap/record/film her and ordered to create disinformation about her. He gradually becomes disillusioned with this and eventually wants to get out because of his conscience, as he can see the harm he is doing to this woman. OK, that makes sense. What does not make sense is the outrageous climactic scene near the film’s finale where the agent meets Seberg in a bar in Paris, after she’s returned to Europe. I won’t provide a spoiler and tell you what unfolds, but it is ridiculous and would never happen in real life….and it seems forced and ridiculous even in movie life. Were I not the only person in the theater watching SEBERG, I’d tell you how the other members of the audience reacted. Myself, I hooted at the screen.

Still, despite what I’ve written above, I consider this film very much a success and highly recommend it. Kristen Stewart (I’d only seen her once before, in Woody Allen’s CAFE SOCIETY, where she was very convincing) lights up the screen and makes us feel for her character, with a lot of subtlety and a lot of close-ups, the most demanding kind of film acting. Anthony Mackie is also fantastic as Hakim Jamal, a well-meaning but flawed individual. Mackie has been superb in everything I’ve seen him in, and he’s played a wide variety of roles. And Vince Vaughn is quite entertaining as an over-the-top and mean-spirited FBI agent who plays “bad cop” to the “good cop” whose story provides the backbone of the film. The late 60’s L.A. created by the film’s production design is sparkling and gaudy, with a sour and astringent kind of beauty, and is best appreciated on a big screen (I’m glad I caught this at the theater).

If you are not expecting great insight into the real Jean Seberg’s entire life and career, only a brief period in the late 60’s, and you just take this as the story of a character named Jean Seberg and a chaacter named Hakim Jamal, and you forget you saw the cringe-worthy scene near the end in the Paris bar, the film is riveting, or at least I found it to be so. If it generates interest in Jean Seberg’s career and it also creates interest in learning more about today’s intelligence-monitoring abuses, then it’s a worthwhile project.

When I admire some public figure, I usually hope that a film IS NOT made about them. More often than not, it misses the mark, and sometimes the films are so putrid, I feel sorry for the real-life person being depicted (thankfully, the film with Will Smith as Billy Strayhorn was never made!). However, in a film such as SEBERG or THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, the end result might not be accurate biography, but captures a greater truth, which makes me forgive the inaccuracies. The most important thing missing in the film is what made Seberg tick as an actress, how did she approach her craft. However, that’s not what this film is about, and also, in the period depicted in the film, she is trying to re-establish herself in Hollywood and appearing in films she is not at all proud of or interested in. Great acting is not what PAINT YOUR WAGON or MACHO CALLAHAN were about. Prior to this period, yes. After this period, yes to a large extent….in fact, I’d LOVE to see her 70’s period dealt with, as she works in the European cinema in more mature roles and in genre films.

Check out SEBERG, despite the mediocre reviews (although Rex Reed liked it, thankfully–he’s always his own man). And after that, find a copy of SAINT JOAN and LILLITH—-I presume anyone reading this has seen Godard’s BREATHLESS.

Until then, check out the trailers below, to get a taste of some of the European genre films she was making after the period depicted in SEBERG. Everyone needs to see the trailer KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!, written and directed by her husband Romain Gary (also a major character in the SEBERG film), at least once….then pick your jaw up off the floor!

p.s., It’s also interesting that the production company that holds the copyright on SEBERG is called RADICAL CHIC, LLC (yes, I stayed until the copyright statement at the end). The film certainly captures that phenomenon well, and one of the most hard-hitting and honest moments in the film is when Jamal’s wife Dorothy calls Seberg a “tourist.” There are actually a number of moments in the film that ring true to real life, undoubtedly a big reason I feel so favorably toward SEBERG the film.

SEBERG

Kristen Stewart as Jean Seberg

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seberg and cat

the real JEAN SEBERG, Italy, late 1960’s

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The incredibly over-the-top trailer for the incredibly over-the-top film KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! (1971), written and directed by Seberg’s husband Romain Gary, starring Seberg, Stephen Boyd, and James Mason….I saw this a few years ago on a DVD-R made by a friend and I still haven’t recovered. I did not know this got a US release, but here is the proof….a trailer from Cinerama Releasing!

 

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Trailer for the Italian political crime film GANG WAR IN NAPLES (1972), starring Raymond Pellegrin, Fabio Testi, and Jean Seberg….

 

March 12, 2020

“Blues For Brian Epstein,” a poem by Michael Layne Heath

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:03 am

brian epstein

I was in elementary school when Brian Epstein died in 1967, only 32 years old. Epstein had first seen The Beatles perform in November 1961 and passed away in September 1967, so his managerial career (not counting his work at his family’s NEMS store in Liverpool) last justed under six years.

As I got older and read more about Epstein’s life and career, heard the stories of those who knew him, and compared him with his contemporaries, it became VERY clear to me what a unique and special person he was. He was a bit out of his element when he initially approached The Beatles, but they felt that his class difference, along with his enthusiasm, could work to their advantage, and it did. Their previous manager/booking agent/whatever Allan Williams certainly would not have gotten them out of the club scene and had no vision for the future the way Epstein did. Williams could never have even dreamed of coasting on the sea of entitled charm and network of connections that Epstein brought to the table on behalf of the Fab Four. Brian Epstein carved his own path through the forest, and did it in a way different from any of the earlier UK or even US showbiz managers, with a combination of naivete and drive that made it possible. As a child, I’d seen clips of Epstein on TV while he was still alive, so I had a mental picture of him. The more I learned about him, the more the picture became clear that the man was always a gentleman, both in his manner and in his business dealings. He radiated that certain something that Americans admire so about Brits—-an American and a “posh” Englishman can say the same words, but somehow they sound classier and more profound coming out of the mouth of a Brian Epstein, who radiated elegance while seeming “real” and not putting on an act.

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As I learned more about Brian Epstein over the years, it was also clear that he was always, on any number of levels, a bit of a fish out of water—-he must have initially appeared naive and foolish to British entertainment promoters such as Don Arden. He also probably feared rejection and always ‘wondered’ about his acceptance, being both Jewish and gay. This was a complex, admirable, and fascinating man, and it is sad to see how his fears and his self-perception as an outsider led to his decline and his early death.

Poet Michael Layne Heath has been a music writer for over 40 years (he recently compiled the amazing book ‘My Week Beats Your Year: Encounters with Lou Reed’, published by Hat & Beard Press, which I gave a rave review to in a recent issue of UGLY THINGS magazine), and he too “gets” what was special and magical about this man, a powerful force but also a bird with a broken wing. One of the walking wounded, perhaps, but also a strong individual who had learned to grow a thick skin, trying not to show the hurt, trying to insulate himself from that hurt.

KSE published a number of chapbooks of Heath’s poetry, and he was also featured, along with LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL, JIM D. DEUCHARS, A.J. KAUFMANN, and MATT KREFTING in our March 2014 collection of newly written poems in honor of Reed, POLYMORPHOUS URBAN: POEMS FOR LOU REED.

One of the poems Michael submitted for his second KSE chapbook, GREY RAGE (DYED), published in March 2009, was a beautiful meditation on Brian Epstein, the man, called “Blues For Brian Epstein.” It brought me to tears when I first read it. Alas, the chapbook containing it has been out of print for many years and there is no “Selected Poems” collection of Heath’s work presently available (let’s hope THAT changes soon!). Last week, as I was cleaning out an area in my home where I used to keep my old computer and do a lot of the KSE work (formatting poetry chapbooks, etc.), I found my original typed copy of Michael’s Epstein poem, re-read it for the first time in maybe five years, and I was once again moved. Fortunately, the poet has granted me permission to reprint the poem here because I feel that it should always be available. Mike has always been one of my favorite writers, going back to his punkzine days in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and in recent decades, one of my favorite poets. In 2009, I said the following about his work: “As Mike has a lifelong involvement in music, both as a writer-historian and as a musician-songwriter himself, it’s not surprising that there is a musicality of phrase and a wonderful sense of tone and modulation to his verse….Whether writing about sex or longing or poetry readings, or describing the yuppie condo block that now sits where SF’s legendary Winterland once rocked, Michael Layne Heath is an original. He manages to nail the uncertainty and ennui of this curious age in which we live, but he remains positive because the future always has promise, and that next cigarette or the next poem or the next attractive guy met at a watering hole just might bring some kind of salvation…or at least keep one occupied!”

Let’s forget about the poet for a minute, though, and focus on the poem….and then focus on the man who is the subject of the poem, Brian Epstein. Let the poem take you into Epstein’s world–not into his mind (how presumptuous it would be for someone to try to do that!), but into Brian as seen by those who knew him and cared for and about him, those who saw the trajectory of his life at close range, those who lived alongside him. Those who knew….

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brian

BLUES FOR BRIAN EPSTEIN

 

And the week before

Best friends and business associates alike said:

 

There are people who love you

You don’t have to shell out for it

Do not trust tight Levis and unfiltered ciggies

Especially among Midwest Americans

Who in bed call you pardner instead of dude

When they mean ‘I hate weak faggots like you’

Don’t get mile high it is not worth losing a briefcase

Put the keys to the Bentley away

The downers away

The doubt away

You have the vision you know

The ears the instinct

That no one can take away

That owns three houses in three parts of the continent

Any number of queer dudes on either side of the pond

Why pay for it and yeah you think why not

But then there are as many

Even smarter even more discreet

Who care for you and your career.

 

 

What does it take

Who does it take

But does it take the night watchman

Waking you up at four a.m.

Casting your vision to the phial of Seconal

Your maid, knowing barely

a string of English phrases, asleep

While Avalon and the ghosts of music hall

and Cochran and Holly beckon

after far too late a night over Iowa skies

Hey Brian put on the Motown

It’s Smokey and the Miracles child

Let them have the cars the homes

All you had to do

All you ever did was dream

Of a favorite band

You could hang at the back of the hall and scream for

 

 

So yes Brian

Queer Jew visionary

Rest and rest assured

Yours was not a life wasted if perhaps insecure

You are honored by those

who would have honored you

at least secretively

A cuddle across the miles for awhile

Before trashing Stonewall or the Sorbonne

Which was if you think of it

All the same fight

and remains so

 

 

Meanwhile yes

since you asked I’m the taxman

Your new landlord

Your parents await you

Your admirers occupying more than

one country one tongue

 

 

Oh dear man you’ve done enough for  us

Keep the pennies

 

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Michael Layne Heath

11.9.08, San Francisco

MLH

MLH, reading in San Francisco from the chapbook in which the poem originally appeared

March 11, 2020

MICKIE MOST AND THE PLAYBOYS, “Hear The Most, The Best Of…” (Rock-In-Beat CD, Germany)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:23 am

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One good-sized body of work from the original rock and roll era that’s never been reissued legitimately is the material MICKIE MOST—-the legendary producer of The Animals, Donovan, Herman’s Hermits, The Yardbirds, and many others—-recorded in South Africa in the 1960-62 period. Most (real name Michael Peter Hayes) was of course a Brit, but he was married to a South African lady, Christina, and returned with her there to test the waters, sensing that there might be a shortage of wannabe Elvises and Buddy Hollys and Cliff Richards. It turned out there was, and Most assembled a band, The Playboys (with varying personnel, according to the few online sources dealing with the subject), and beginning in late 1959, he was referred to as “The Human Dynamo” in Johannesburg and throughout South Africa and Rhodesia.

Most and crew recorded 30+ sides there, featured on three albums (HEAR THE MOST, MICKIE MOST, and BIG BEAT BALL), some EP’s,  compilation appearances, and many hit singles. 25 of those South African sides were made available on this grey-market CD on the Rock-In-Beat label from Germany in 1998. Despite Most’s huge influence on the UK music scene (he was viewed as a kind of starmaker and master-producer, and he appeared extensively on British TV in the 70’s in the role of a sage about all-things-pop), he never sought to re-release any of his early recordings (which he could have done easily on his successful early 70’s RAK label) and generally laughed off this period of his career in a self-deprecating way, once referring to these recordings as “awful” but admitting their chart success in Southern Africa and his drawing power and fan base as a live performer. Tracks 1-25 (see below) document this period, and I must say I’m quite excited by this material.

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1              Doesn’t Matter Any More             2:22

2              Johnny B. Goode              2:25

3              I Dig You Baby   1:36

4              That’s What You Do To Me           2:24

5              Think It Over      2:23

6              Paralyzed            2:38

7              You’ve Got Love                2:15

8              Boney Marony  1:58

9              Reeling And Rocking       2:22

10           Tom Dooley        2:56

11           Shake Rattle And Roll      1:58

12           Rave On               2:22

13           Pick A Bale Of Cotton     2:29

14           Sweet Little Sixteen        1:48

15           Greenback Dollar             1:50

16           Down By The Riverside  2:40

17           Heart Beat          2:18

18           Corrine Corrina 2:25

19           What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For           1:58

20           I Shall Not Be Moved      2:15

21           Guitar Boogie Shuffle     1:44

22           The Twist             1:39

23           Whole Lotta Twisting      1:53

24           Blue Moon          2:56

25           Green Corn         2:02

26           The Feminine Look          2:25

27           Money Honey   2:18

28           That’s Alright      2:07

29           Sea Cruise           2:25

30           It’s A Little Bit Hot            1:45

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The S.A. recordings are all cover versions, and while they are taken from a wide variety of sources (R&R, folk, R&B, gospel), there is a consistent sound to the records. Most’s main-man is clearly Buddy Holly, and his band-model the Crickets (including the post-Holly Crickets), and he does about a half-dozen songs related to the Holly/Crickets axis. Most’s own voice is in the same range as Holly’s and he does a similar vocal hiccup on some of the tracks. However, there is none of the Tex-Mex tinge of The Crickets, which is not surprising with Most being a Brit who is working in South Africa, and the musicians do not resemble (and to their credit, do not attempt to imitate) Jerry Allison’s drumming or Holly’s guitar work (only on “Heartbeat” do we hear the signature Holly gtr phrases). One strong element in these recordings is that unlike much of the pre-Beatles rock and roll coming from the UK, these Most sides ARE NOT at all slick, and there are no studio musicians or pizzicato strings or cloying backing vocalists in sight. What you get is a small rocking quartet—-singer/2nd guitarist, lead guitarist, bassist, and drummer—-plowing through the material in what must have been a fairly close approximation of their live act. They also do not attempt carbon copies of the original recordings–the arrangements are changed up and the guitar solos do not ape the solos on the records.

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When I first heard these sessions, I was reminded of the late 50’s/early 60’s New Zealand R&R sides included on the ROCK FROM THE OTHER SIDE compilation LP”s (there were five) issued in the 1980’s on the Dutch Collector-White Label’s “Down South” subsidiary. I owned volume 1 (see pic) back in the day and played the grooves off of it. These were raw and rocking sides, but they were a bit “off” compared with American or even British R&R. However, after a few plays, I began to appreciate the novelty and freshness of the bands’ approaches to the music and could feel the excitement that the New Zealand audiences must have experienced with their homegrown R&R groups. They were locals, they were approachable, and you could see them at your local club and buy their records on local labels. And they really did not sound like their American models.

bobby vee early

Mickie Most and His Playboys also reminded me of the pre-Liberty recordings of Bobby Vee and The Shadows, especially the Suzie Baby-era sides recorded at Kay-Bank Studios in Minneapolis. Most’s band has the same treble-heavy sound, twangy and reverbed guitar, and dynamic vocals free of any direct blues/R&B influence (the boys being from the Upper Midwest) heard on Vee’s early local recordings. Of course, there is not the rich, deep, bank-vault reverb of Kay-Bank that’s so thick you can slice it….a sound echoed (no pun intended) in other Upper Midwest recordings, such as the records made by James Kirchstein at Cuca Records in Wisconsin. If I did not know what these Most recordings were (and you deleted the local references to the Transvaal and the Free State), I might well place the sessions as coming from the US Midwest, and speculate that the singer had been an exchange student in the UK for a year or two and picked up an accent on some words.

mickie 3

If you like pre-Beatles local rock and roll bands doing a repertoire of cover versions and want to hear 25 tracks of spontaneous, exciting rockers with enthusiastic vocals and twangy guitar, delivered with a warts-and-all honesty, that’s what you get here. If you are the kind of person who enjoys small-label rockers from the post-Elvis, pre-Beatles era and look forward to the hundredth cover of a Chuck Berry standard (after all, that’s how a band proves themselves—-didn’t Greg Shaw once say that he could never accept a band who could not do a decent version of “Louie Louie”?), I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t enjoy these Mickie Most South African recordings.

mickie 4

Wait, you may ask…..aren’t there 30 tracks on this CD? Yes, the final five are sides Most made in the UK after his return, circa 1963-64 (see pic of “The Feminine Look”). All of them are first-rate British Beat records which would fit well on a BEATFREAK compilation. “Money Honey” and “Sea Cruise” could easily have been part of Most’s 1959-62 South African repertoire (maybe they were), and hearing the 63-64 UK beat recordings of the songs immediately after 25 of the earlier records, it becomes crystal clear what elements were added to basic post-Elvis rock and roll to turn it into 63-64 era Beat. You can hear this transformation also by listening to the Beatles’ Hamburg recordings, both studio and live, and then their EMI sessions. Most’s vocals on the British recordings are much more carefully recorded than on the S.A. sessions, where you are basically getting a live-in-the-studio experience, and it’s clear the man could have had a revived career as a singer/frontman in Britain had he not had such success as a producer. However, as the producer who found “House Of The Rising Sun” for The Animals and who became a virtual industry in 60’s British pop music, he surely recognized he could make a much bigger impact behind the microphone instead of in front of it, which he did.

feminine look

Going back to the 20’s and 30’s, there were a number of artists who found success as producers/publishers/A&R people and left the performing aspect behind, people such as Irving Mills and Ed Kirkeby (even Clarence Williams), and then in the 50’s and 60’s, people such as Ray Rush, Felton Jarvis, and Ray Ruff (or even Ozzie Nelson’s pivotal role in his son Rick’s early musical career). Who better to prepare and give advice to young up-and-coming performers than someone who has been there themselves.

mickie 5

Some of Most’s South African sides can be found on You Tube, and there is also another CD on the French “LCD” label (home of the Nowhere Men UK beat compilations) that includes 20+ tracks (though fewer than on this one).

mickie 6

If you want to see Mickie Most at the height of his production fame, circa 1968, acting like the rock star he clearly enjoyed being (those teenagers in Johannesburg gave him a taste of something he did not want to lose) and opining about all aspects of record-making, take 40 minutes to watch this BBC documentary (link below). It will give you a very clear picture of Most’s larger-than-life persona. It’s a shame there is no film footage (that I know of) of Most performing in Southern Africa circa 1959-62. He could have been worked into a club scene in a film the way that Bill Haley was in Mexico or Dean Reed was in Argentina. Oh well….just look at the picture at the top of this post of Most posing in front of a huge poster advertising his band and their upcoming live shows, play one of his rockers (I’ll post a You Tube link at the bottom here), and it’s not hard to imagine him on stage. First, though, here is Mickie in 1968, pop-production guru:

It’s a shame that with his power and connections Most never chose to acquire the tapes of his South African recordings, remaster them, and put out a selection on his RAK label. Britain has always had a dedicated roots-rock and 60’s beat following after the end of that era–they still do today–and surely that audience would have loved these sessions. Maybe he was embarrassed by them, feeling that in an age of sophistication they were sloppy and primitive; maybe he did not want to deal with the fallout from having worked in Apartheid-era South Africa. In any event, they ARE out there for you to hear…with a little searching.

mickie 7

mickie 9

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mickie 11

February 23, 2020

FADING YELLOW, Volume 17 (Flower Machine CD, Sweden)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:12 am

fading 1

FADING YELLOW, VOLUME 17: 20 TIMELESS GEMS OF U.S. POP-PSYCH & OTHER DELIGHTS (CD, Flower Machine Records, Sweden, released December 2019)

1              –The Avant-Garde*        Yellow Beads

2              –Alan Lorber      Congress Alley

3              –The Poppy Family          I’ll See You There

4              –J.C. Cole*          I Found Me Today

5              –The Rooftop Singers     Kites

6              –A Small World                 I See You

7              –Space                  Radio Song

8              –James, John & Francois                Carolina

9              –The Fifth Estate              Love Is All A Game

10           –The Celtics        Looking For You

11           –The Hobbits     Artificial Face

12           –The Surprise Package   The Other Me

13           –The Magpies                    The Ballad Of Samuel Oscar Beasley

14           –The Looking Glass          Love Is Not Everything

15           –The Marshmellow Highway       I Don’t Wanna Live This Way

16           –Bucky Wilkin    I Wanna Be Free

17           –Sound Carnival                I Wish I Could Tell You

18           –The Swiss Movement                   Inside Of Me

19           –The In-Keepers               The Cobwebs Thread Of Autumn

20           –Salt And Pepper             In The Morning

falling 2

I was not aware that Volume 17 of FADING YELLOW had been released until Mike Stax sent out his Excel spreadsheet of who was reviewing what for the next issue of UGLY THINGS, and I saw that someone else was reviewing FY 17 (I reviewed FY 16 for UT in late 2018). Thankfully, Suzy Shaw at Bomp Records was stocking it, and I’ve been playing my newly acquired copy multiple times over the last week. If you’re not familiar with the series, let me quote from the first paragraph of my UT review of FY 16:

  Curating compilations is truly a complex art–a quality compiler with a consistent aesthetic and a knowledge of deep tracks that others have overlooked can create a masterwork from songs that, taken individually, might not blow anyone away. Through sixteen volumes, the Fading Yellow (the name taken from a Mike Batt song on the first volume) series has staked out a unique territory–not really psychedelic, though with some trippy elements; not really sunshine pop, though with some elements from that genre too. There tends to be a moody, melancholy feel to the best tracks on these albums, and even when the series moves too far into the 1970’s and some of the pieces sound like groups such as America or England Dan & John Ford Coley, those tracks tend to complement the overall atmosphere of the album and provide a change of pace among the trippier tracks that helps create a varied mosaic of sound that’s instantly recognizable as a Fading Yellow comp. The albums can transport you to a place where you are looking upon a field of flowers illuminated by moonlight at 2 a.m., with a mellow wine buzz….assuming that’s what you want!

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Fortunately, Volume 17 DOES NOT veer into the 70’s soft-rock mentioned above–it’s a solid collection of little-known also-ran pop-sike sides from both major labels and small local labels, nicely programmed into a seamless set that will satisify any lover of the SOFT SOUNDS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE compilation series or any listener to Steve Stanley’s NOW SOUNDS internet radio show. Each collector who curates these kind of compilations has a slightly different focus and slightly different taste, so FADING YELLOW is not the same as SOFT SOUNDS. There is less of the kitschy material found on SOFT SOUNDS (though the Alan Lorber track here on FY 17 certainly qualifies), but SOFT SOUNDS would never present some of the 70’s material FY does (for which I’m glad). It’s a trade-up and neither is “better” than the other–best to enjoy both, as so many of the records will be unfamiliar to the majority of listeners. Very little of what’s on FY 17 has been reissued….the amazing snarling 60’s bubble-punk anthem “Artificial Face” from the second LP by Jimmy Curtiss’ THE HOBBITS (the only album track here, I’m the proud owner of a mono copy of the LP, everything else is from 45’s) was re-issued on a Spanish comp named after it, ARTIFICIAL FACES, a number of years ago, but most everything else is not on reissues I own. From the flowers-in-her-hair and yellow love beads San Francisco-from-a-distance as seen by a sensitive-folkie vibe of “Yellow Beads” by The Avant-Garde (of Naturally Stoned fame), featuring Chuck Woolery (of game show and reality show fame), to a single from San Antonio’s THE SWISS MOVEMENT that could give the late 1967 Hollies a run for their money, the album has 20 diverse songs that will evoke patchouli incense, nehru jackets, images of fields of poppies in a psychedlic-tinged 1968 deodorant commercial, and the kind of hippies found in a Dragnet episode or an Up With People rally. The Turtles or the post-Peter Tork Monkees would be proud to claim the majority of the tracks here, unless Orpheus or The Association would be a better fit.

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I love these compilations, both as a collector myself (great tracks I’ve never heard) and as someone who enjoys the unique atmosphere these records create. In fact, ATMOSPHERE is the operative word for any FY comp. Each track is atmospheric, and placed alongside 19 other selections, it’s a beautiful juxtaposition of images and moods to take you back to a 1968 or 1970 that never existed, but was a beautiful dream/fantasy for but a brief moment in time. All for the cost of a CD.

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If you’re in the US, try Bomp Records mailorder. If you’re in Europe, try some of the local Ebay sites. This is a Swedish release, so finding it in Europe should not be much of a problem. These are limited to 500 copies, so don’t delay….most of the earlier volumes are out of print. Can’t wait for Volume 18. Hope it does not take another two years….

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February 22, 2020

upcoming Bill Shute reviews for Ugly Things #53 and update on other writings

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:38 pm
Tags: ,

I just submitted the last of my reviews for Ugly Things magazine #53, which should be out in a few months. Here’s what you can expect from me:

EDDIE AND THE SHOWMEN, SQUAD CAR: THE EDDIE BERTRAND STORY (CD, Oldays, Japan), a tribute to the great South Bay surf guitar pioneer, with the complete singles from Eddie & The Showmen, Eddie’s tracks with his earlier band The Bel-airs, along with tracks from other South Bay surf instrumental bands of the era, some with Bertrand connections. Packaged in one of those cardboard mini-LP sleeves the Japanese labels do so well….

Eddie-And-The-Showmen-Squad-Car-Eddie-Bertrand-Story-Japan

ALEXIS KORNER, THE COMPLETE WARNER BROS. RECORDINGS (2-cd, Wounded Bird), includes the career-spanning 2-LP compilation BOOTLEG HIM! and the 1973 ACCIDENTALLY BORNE IN NEW ORLEANS, from the British Blues master

korner warner

MICHAEL NESMITH WITH RED RHODES, COSMIC PARTNERS: THE McCABES TAPES (CD/LP, 7A, UK), a sublime and intimate live set from McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA, from 1973….Nesmith and steel guitarist Red Rhodes were riding on the crest of the wave of their amazing duo album PRETTY MUCH YOUR STANDARD RANCH STASH when they stopped in at McCabes, a place where both men felt very comfortable and at home, and kept the audience spellbound for hour of hypnotic, mind-bending “cosmic cowboy” music….I hesitate to call this “country rock” since Nesmith (one-time San Antonio resident and student at San Antonio College, I’m proud to say!) has always been a genre unto himself…

nesmith cosmic

ELVIS PRESLEY, THE ‘ELVIS IS BACK’ SESSIONS (4-CD box, Follow That Dream/RCA, Denmark) The complete surviving recordings, with every take in the order recorded, of the four days of sessions Elvis did in March and April 1960 upon his release from military service in the Army, the 12 songs from the album ELVIS IS BACK and 6 songs used for 45 rpm singles, among The King’s finest-ever recordings….

ELVIS IS BACK FTD

ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: GETTING IT TOGETHER IN THE COUNTRY, 1968-1974 (3-cd box, Grapefruit UK)… Compiler David Wells has done an amazing job pulling together a wide variety of music from British and Irish bands moving into a “rural rock” vein in the post-psychedelic era, under the influence of the Clarence White-era Byrds, John Wesley Harding-era Dylan, and The Band….one of those compilations which will cause us to re-evaluate a lot of music we have listened to for years but did not fully contextualize…

ACROSS-THE-GREAT-DIVIDE-Box

IT’S THE BEST STUFF YET! (2-cd set, Frog, UK)…Disc One contains a rich harvest of Piedmont Blues (from Virginia down through Georgia) from the acoustic-blues era, including some private recordings and an X-rated acetate of Josh White doing a version of “Darktown Strutters Ball” unlike any you’ve previously heard, but the real revelation here is Disc Two, the complete, hour-long 1956 Atlanta session from BLIND WILLIE MCTELL, from start to end with all the songs and the talk, in the order it as recorded. Excerpts were included on the Prestige-Bluesville LP LAST SESSION, but here we have everything, and it’s like having McTell himself in your living room talking and playing. A must-own collection!

it's the best stuff

NORMAN PETTY STUDIOS: THE VAULT SERIES VOLUME 7, 1953-59 (CD, Nor-Va-Jak)… Another first-rate excavation into the meticulously-kept vaults of Clovis, New Mexico, producer NORMAN PETTY, featuring a wide variety of 1950’s artists mostly from West Texas and New Mexico, including Roy Orbison, Peanuts Wilson, Sonny Curtis, Alvis “Eddie” Edwards, Bob Church (Terry Noland’s brother), Don Guess, Jimmy Bowen, and some tracks with Buddy Holly on guitar. These albums go out of print quickly and then are available only as downloads. Volume 8 is already out for a few months, so get Volume 7 ASAP.

petty 7

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Nice to get all those off to UT editor-publisher MIKE STAX, with whom I’ve worked for nearly 35 years!

At Chris Stigliano’s inimitable BLOG TO COMM (the online version of the old BLACK TO COMM punk-zine), my column continues to run every-other Tuesday with comments on film, music, comics, books, old-time radio, vintage television, and the occasional pseudo-autobiographical narrative piece. I provide a link to each of these on the KSE Facebook page (and on my own personal FB page) when it appears at BTC, and as I type this on a Saturday morning in late February, Chris has material in the can from me to get through the next 3 1/2 months. I get regular feedback from readers on the BTC pieces, which is very much appreciated. My most recent piece there is a write-up on the 1942 Monogram film RUBBER RACKETEERS, starring Ricardo Cortez, at his suave and sinister best. Here is a link to that:

Rubber Racketeers BTC, Bill Shute

I’m also working on an introductory essay for a new book collecting early 70’s magazine articles from one of my favorite film directors and prose writers….I’ll provide more specifics on this when the project is officially announced. The kind of people who read this blog or BTC will probably find this book to be one of the most essential of the year when it’s eventually issued.

My job keeps me busy well beyond work hours, alas, so I’ve not put much up here on the blog recently (I need to finish some of the 12-15 half-completed blog posts sitting in my draft box when I have time). As with most employers nowadays, mine is requiring more of me each year, seeing how much the camel’s back will take before it breaks. Also, now being 61, I undoubtedly require more effort to do the same tasks I did five years ago. Add those elements together, and you can see the end result.

Fortunately, I continue to plug away at my 2019-2020 book-length poem TOMORROW WON’T BRING THE RAIN, which I hope to complete and edit during my two week writing vacation in June, split between Evangeline Downs racetrack in Opelousas, Louisiana, and a cabin on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, east of Breaux Bridge, LA. This 48-page work is about 70% completed presently. My notebook is always in my pocket, and the work’s structure/format/unifying tropes and image patterns were set before I began the “writing.” An analogy I would give to help people understand how I work would be a film-maker shooting all the footage–master shots, close-ups, two-shots, second-unit sequences, location shooting, etc.–and then going into the editing room for a month or two and creating the finished work. In a sense, that’s what I did during the June writing vacations for the previous two book-length poems, RIVERSIDE FUGUE (2018-2019) and AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN (2017-2018).

Speaking of poetry, I’ve been spending much of my free time in a number of variorum editions (combining all variant versions of texts in one book) of Wordsworth’s poetry, from the wonderful CORNELL WORDSWORTH series. I’ve been a lifelong reader of the two major versions of THE PRELUDE, but in the last few years, I’ve been studying the lesser-known texts of William Wordsworth, both early and late, and attempting to get a handle on the logic behind his many revisions of his poetry. People generally write off these revisions as being inferior (as, say, W. H. Auden’s later revisions of his earlier work), but Wordsworth was such a devoted re-writer (and often he would not publish ANY of the versions!) and produced such a large quantity of versions of his large quantity of works that a true knowledge of WW’s work requires a jump into the deep end of the pool of variants forms of the works. I’m not sure how many would follow me into such dense (and by today’s standards off-putting) works as THE ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS, but as a poet I find his method and his variant “finished works” fascinating and an inspiration.

All of the recent Bill Shute KSE poetry paperbacks are available here:

Bill Shute author page

Check them out! All are under $10 each and in handsome perfect-bound editions, each page carefully composed in the open-field format, with stanzas inspired by the late-period William Carlos Williams “stairstep” line, though I’ve been doing this long enough that my work does not really resemble anyone else’s, love it or hate it or avoid it.

The British collection (with original art by David Payne) from A Series of Lizards Press, APPROACHING THE APPARENT, sold out a few months after its release, and the shared poetry book with Michael Casey CULTURE OF COMPLIANCE is available from The Ruminant Press, though they are down to their last few copies. If you are a local here in San Antonio and would like a copy of that, just ask me when I see you as I have a few extras left.

As always, thanks for your interest in my various projects–past, present, and future.

 

January 30, 2020

SPIRITUAL JAZZ 10: PRESTIGE (Jazzman UK, CD)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:33 pm

SPIRITUAL JAZZ, VOLUME 10: MODAL, ESOTERIC AND DEEP JAZZ FROM PRESTIGE RECORDS (Jazzman Records, UK, CD….released 29 November 2019)

  • 1. Ahmed Abdul-Malik – Song Of Delilah
  • 2. Roy Haynes – Dorian
  • 3. Latin Jazz Quintet – Rip A Dip
  • 4. Roy Haynes – Modette
  • 5. Walt Dickerson – Death & Taxes
  • 6. Yusef Lateef – Love Theme From Spartacus
  • 7. Moondog – Organ Rounds
  • 8. Ahmed Abdul-Malik – Summertime
  • 9. Mal Waldron – Warm Canto
  • 10. Idris Muhammad – Peace
  • 11. Gary Bartz – I’ve Known Rivers

 

I haven’t taken the plunge with any of Jazzman’s previous 9 volumes of “Spiritual Jazz”—-they’ve been on my “wait for the price to go down on these” list—-but as a fan of Prestige Records since my boyhood days of finding Prestige LP’s at used record stores in the early 70’s, I had to grab this one immediately, and I’m glad I did. Now I’m going to more aggressively search for the previous volumes….

Most of us probably associate the term SPIRITUAL JAZZ with labels such as Black Jazz or Strata East, and it’s a relatively broad term, which could refer to overtly spiritual music in the vein of Alice Coltrane, to more primal works such as those of Pharaoh Sanders, to anything with an Afro-Centric or Eastern vibe. The Art Ensemble of Chicago could be called by the term, and even some of the grungy, small-label funk 45’s from the 68-73 period (the kind of thing collected on old “Soul Patrol” albums….after all, some of those had the subtitle “the undisputed Black Mind Power”) could be put into that arena, although not “jazz” by the usual standard. In hindsight, that was a significant movement, allowing the 60’s-inspired cultural exploration of African roots and the Black aesthetic to flower in new and exciting ways that were often rooted in community activism, multi-cultural education, etc. (although we tend to think of Afro-centric things as Spiritual Jazz, the Jazzman series wisely includes volumes from European and Japanese artists too, showing the movement can take root and inspire people anywhere, and also, if something like PAUL HORN IN INDIA can’t be included as Spiritual Jazz, what can?).

Prestige certainly released a number of albums in that vein, and tracks from two of them end this album, one by drummer IDRIS MUHAMMAD, and one by saxophonist GARY BARTZ’s NTU TROOP (I remember both of those artists getting a good amount of airplay when I was involved in jazz radio in the mid-to-late 70’s). However, what makes this album quite special and unique is that the other 8 tracks are all earlier material, mostly from the 1950’s. In a way, it could be called ROOTS OF SPIRITUAL JAZZ, and the way it surveys “exotic” tracks from the 1950’s, moves into the early 60’s with MAL WALDRON (always a man who followed his own unique aesthetic that did not fit into any established category), and then fully blossoms in the early 70’s with MUHAMMAD and BARTZ truly shows the evolution of this kind of “deep” jazz.

Before I start dropping the term “modal” around, perhaps I should provide a link to a short tutorial about the modal approach:

Basically, this collection goes back to the 1950’s and looks at artists such as Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Yusef Lateef who were early exponents of Middle Eastern/African/Islamic elements in jazz (and at the time, I’d imagine people would have viewed this kind of jazz as a cousin to Exotica) as well as folks like drummer Roy Haynes (always ahead of the curve) or vibist Walt Dickerson or pianist-composer Mal Waldron who anticipate modal jazz, throw in a few left-field entries that foreshadow later movements in jazz, and wind up in the early 70’s with what most of us would think of as “Spiritual Jazz.” It’s a wonderful trip full of not-too-common tracks from Prestige, and I highly recommend this volume….in fact, come payday, I think I’ll be picking up a few of the other volumes in this series.

I also have to compliment the wonderfully insightful liner notes of Francis Gooding (Jazzman Records has always set a high standard for the depth and diversity of their compilations as well as first-rate documentation/notes). As someone who prefers Prestige Records to Blue Note (not that I don’t love Blue Note), I appreciate Gooding making that case better than I could. Prestige was a low-budget, spontaneous, jam-oriented label, and in that was its uniqueness and greatness. When I started the KSE label, Prestige’s Bob Weinstock was a hero and model to me (although I do not have his skills in options trading and investments….if only I did!).

If this review makes the album sound at all appealing to you, then you should probably find a copy ASAP. It has a wonderful flow, the sound quality is sparkling, and notes are informative and get you making valuable connections, and any collection that champions PRESTIGE RECORDS is something I want to get behind.

January 22, 2020

the Ultimate 1970’s crime TV show guest-star list

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:05 pm

Some people may have too much time on their hands, but spend that time you and I don’t have doing things that make life a little more entertaining (or should I say “slightly less brutal”?) for the rest of us. One such person is whoever took the time to edit together the “guest star announcements” from the opening credits of EVERY episode of the classic 1970’s crime TV show CANNON, starring WILLIAM CONRAD….that’s 120 episodes!

I’ve always loved the convention of the hard-boiled narrative recitation of a show’s title and cast while those titles and names are appearing on-screen during the opening credits. Warner Brothers TV did a great job of that in their late 50’s/early 60’s shows such as 77 SUNSET STRIP, HAWAIIAN EYE, BOURBON STREET BEAT, etc. This convention was continued on by the various programs produced by Quinn Martin, one of the most successful being the 1971-1976 CANNON. Any fan of 70’s crime TV knows that one of the highlights of that Golden Age of television was the quality of the “guest stars” because they had such a rich well of talent to draw from. I can just imagine my late mother catching the first two minutes of a show like Cannon, and on seeing that someone like Bradford Dillman or Jim Davis or Barry Sullivan or Sherree North was guest-starring, she’d make a point to watch it. I responded the same way.

Therefore, watching a non-stop 26 minute flow of guest star announcements, each with its own footage of the guest star looking like a star, is on some level the ultimate 70’s crime TV show high. I actually put down what I was doing earlier today and watched this straight through. After all, if I hear the name RAY DANTON or DANE CLARK or CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY or VERA MILES or ANDREW PRINE or BEVERLY GARLAND or MURRAY HAMILTON or THALMUS RASULALA or CHRISTOPHER STONE or LUKE ASKEW or FRED BEIR or JAY SILVERHEELS, it’s going to stake a claim on the next 55 minutes of my life. Producer Quinn Martin understood that.

cannon

So… if you are ready, here it is… bask in the greatness of 70’s crime television and its rich bounty of quality guest stars….and not just the big names. I’m always ready for a character role from a Ramon Bieri or Noam Pitlik, and that kind of person gets special billing too.  Enjoy!

 

cannon - 9-11-71 (2)

January 20, 2020

The Song, Not The Singer, in the 1920’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:24 am

In the popular music world pre-Bing Crosby (and still true to some extent until the rise of Frank Sinatra in the 1940’s), people bought records to get the songs they enjoyed so they could hear them when they wanted to in the comfort and privacy of their homes. The singer of the song was not that important unless the record buyer was buying the disc because  they were a fan of the singer—-in which case, they’d enjoy that singer performing anything. In most cases, though, it was the song that was being sold, and any competent vocalist could sing it, and with the bewildering array of pseudonyms on records in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, particularly on budget labels, who could ever know the actual performers anyway. Also, with budget labels, or the budget and dime-store subsidiaries of major labels (such as Columbia’s “Harmony” label, the source of 3 tracks found on the album discussed here), the people in department stores (not music stores) picking up a record of a favorite song for 30 or 35 cents with leftover change from some other purchase would not especially care who was singing it, if it was competently performed. This led to an odd occurrence I’ve heard a few dozen times over the years on 20’s Dance Band records….the phenomenon of songs written for a female singer performed by a male singer who did not bother to change to pronoun, singing it as originally written. Although some might have gotten a laugh out of the irony of that back in the day, I’d bet 95% of listeners wouldn’t have cared. After all, records were not an outlet for singers doing autobiographical baring-of-the-soul on disc; in a way, they were like someone in a music store doing a “demonstration” of a song so someone would buy the sheet music of it. Would they change the pronoun? Of course not, it’s a product they are selling. They are not expressing their true feelings in song.

fred rich

I’ve commented on this phenomenon to family and friends before, and they’ve gotten a laugh out of some of the songs, but I mention it today because as I am pulling out of my flu and trying to get caught up with the backlog of work my job requires before I return  tomorrow, I thought I’d put on a CD of snappy 1920’s Dance Band 78’s, so I dug out this 25 year old collection of 1929-1930 sessions under the baton of Columbia head of recording Fred Rich, many of which feature vocals by that great Texan SMITH BALLEW (1902-1984). He and his brother had both been involved, in differing degrees, with the seminal 1920’s Texas jazz group JIMMIE’S  JOYS (there is a fine Jazz Oracle CD documenting their body of work, circa 1923-1928–see pic at bottom). Also, Mary Anne will be a happy to learn that Ballew was a UT man!

smith-ballew-2f025c69-821b-456d-9d1f-46fb29198cc-resize-750

So you get to hear the male vocal group The Rollickers sing about how “He’s So Unusual” (their man, that is) and Smith Ballew croon the Gershwin classic “I Got Rhythm” with its original woman wanting “my man” lyrics. Ballew does a tidy, swinging and satisfying version of the tune, and I wouldn’t have noticed it myself except that I’d wanted to comment on this phenomenon at some point, and hearing two (I think there was even a third on this album!) examples at once set me off.

I’m surprised no one has done a collection of this kind of thing–all you’d need is a dozen or so examples and it would make an entertaining compilation that many would enjoy, albeit on a campy level.

And since I’ve been including You Tube links in so many of my recent posts, why not another….. here’s that hot version of “I Got Rhythm,” sung by Smith Ballew, and featuring such great jazz players in the band as Joe Venuti (amazing here!), Eddie Lang, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, and Tony Parenti! Recorded 29 October 1930.

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Smith Ballew eventually moved into films and has 18 credits as an actor on the IMDB. He was also in the unreleased 1930’s footage that was eventually cobbled together with other old and new footage into the 1949 mind-bending patchwork film GUN CARGO (in which he sings a song!).

He eventually retired to his home state and passed away here in Texas in 1984. I always enjoy his work on record and on the screen. He should be better remembered today, but alas, the 1920’s, when he first made his mark, are now 100 years distant.

jimmie

January 19, 2020

Eddie Muller’s TCM NOIR ALLEY intros and outros

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:30 am

noir 1

I’ve been down with the flu recently, which is always worse than just a cold and winds up being somewhat debilitating. In the first few days of it, I could hardly get  up out of the upright chair (to keep myself from coughing, as I would have done if I’d been in bed) where I was resting, and I could not stand my usual accompaniment of music or BBC World Service news, and I certainly could not read anything. My head was like a tightly-tied knot which had been dipped in water after tying and allowed to dry and tighten even further. After a few days of the worst, I was still unable to do any real “work,” but my mind hungered for something to chew on. I was able to enjoy some of the wonderful audio-book adaptations of Erle Stanley Gardner’s PERRY MASON novels, read solo by Alexander Cendese, and I also stumbled across an online collection of the introductory and post-film comments by TCM’s “Czar of Noir,” EDDIE MULLER on his weekly NOIR ALLEY show.

noir 3

Muller’s NOIR ALLEY is one of those rare things that comes along on occasion which everyone, no matter what perspective they come from or what agenda they bring to film, agrees is first-rate and not to be missed. Muller himself is a long-time Noir scholar and preservationist and champion, and TCM was lucky to get him. Although I’ve seen a number of the films he’s presented, I’ve only been able to watch a few of his presentations of them, which are always insightful and full of accurately researched details—-in some cases, he’d interviewed various cast and crew members himself.

While the glory days of Film Noir might be, say, 1945-1953, one can go back at least five years earlier and forward another five years and find fascinating works worthy of study and enjoyment.

I’m thankful that someone took the time to record these intros and outros off the air (literally, you can see the camera moving sometimes as it photographs the TV screen and there’s a slight tinge of room tone to the sound, though not enough to matter). Yesterday, I listened to SIX HOURS of them, so I thought it was worth sharing the link, as I’m not sure how long these will be up.

These commentaries are gold to any film lover, even if you have not seen or don’t plan on seeing all the films discussed. They can also help you to decide which films you want to seek out. Mary Anne and I have been fortunate to see, in the last 8 years or so, both DETOUR (1945, screened in Austin), and CRY DANGER (1951, screened in Houston, from a restoration assisted by Muller’s Film Noir Foundation) from 35mm prints on the big screen, the way they should be seen. It’s encouraging to see repertory film groups and art-film societies giving these films the respect they deserve, and for a genre-film person such as yours truly, seeing Columbia and Monogram and RKO and Eagle-Lion programmers being given first-class treatment is satisfying, though what’s really satisfying are the films themselves, and we have Mr. Muller to thank for making so many of them accessible to us.

Here’s the link to more of these commentaries than you’d have time to listen to in a week. You’ll want to subscribe to the channel….and thanks to whatever anonymous soul took the time to record and upload these!

Muller intros and outros

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