Monday, March 28, 2011

Close Encounters of a Disco Kind

The other day I was jamming out to Evelyn Champagne King  thinking to myself there just weren't enough movie soundtracks turned into totally danceable, groovy, bitch ass disco tunes.  And then low and behold I found this gem at Academy for a buck.  The themes from such classic Sci-fi films as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with a Disco Twist.
They spared no expense creating this wild LP, even going as far as hiring the Wonderball Orchestra, the worlds finest disco band.  And lets not overlook the other songs on this album which go hand in hand with the film scores they choose to market the record.  I mean I never think of the Star Wars theme without immediately thinking of Randy Newman's Short People.  And who doesn't hear the Star Trek theme and not instantly move on to Staying Alive?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jame Bond: Thunderball

The fourth installment in the bond film series (so far I have gone in order) and that is some good fucking art!  Unlike the album covers for the first 4 bond movies (which can be seen in my earlier posts) this one delivers like Dominoes.  Here we have a scene from the film, Sean Connery looking way hotter than he ever did in any of the movies, the fantastic comic book like art, and a song by mother fucking Tom Jones, who wouldn't want that?  Once again the score is by John Barry.

Johnny Cash also recorded a version of Thunderball which wasn't used in the film probably because the film wasn't a western. Wrong tone Johnny boy, that hairy Tom Jones bested you on this one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Praise Him!

Doesn't Amy Grant look like she just dropped off her kids at daycare, swung by Walmart for a 24 pack of double ply, grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A, and then hit the recording studio to lay down some wicked awesome religious pop tunes?  My primary memory of Amy Grant comes from my father who loves all gay friendly music God love him.  So I grew up listening to Celine, Bette, Barbra, Tina Turner, The Supremes, and unfortunately Amy Grant.  The song I most remember is of course Baby, Baby her biggest hit.
Dan says he used to dance around in his underwear to Amy Grant with a baton or a scarf, I can't remember which and he is in the kitchen and not answering my yells for a definitive answer. I imagine he danced to her poppier musc, and not to Track 1 of this album What a Difference You've Made.
The point is this album art is vile and by vile I mean amazing. Who gives a shit what her "music" sounds like, I am living for her uneven smile, Goodwill blouse, and banging hair.  Praise Him!

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Make Your Husband a Sultan

At first glance this appears to be Amy Winehouse, but since this woman still has all her teeth, it turns out to be nothing more than your average run of the mill Turkish belly dancing instructional album.  What sets this aside is the title, How To Make Your Husband a Sultan.  We have come a long way since the misogyny of the early part of the century, but even in 1972 women were expected to make their man want to feel like a Sultan.  I prefer my woman make me feel like a Dictator or at least a Viceroy. 
This is no ordinary belly dancer this is Turkish movie star Ozel Turkbas, a woman so famous she doesn't even have a wikipedia page.  But according to her bio on the album she has been in Turkish show business since the age of 7, starring in many popular Turkish movies.  She was brought to the United States by Italian Director Franco Zefirelli to play the role of la Orientale in his production of Opera Thais, whatever all that means.  While she was here she noticed that Americans weren't listening to "beautiful Turkish dance music" if you can imagine such a thing.  So she hired "the finest American Engineers to record Turkey's best musician's" after all shouldn't the whole world be listening to this crap?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Dark Knight (Part 2)

While cruising around Long Island a few weekends ago with our dear friend Vintage Spinster, dodging pot holes, and thrifting our way back to a Cash and Cari marathon on HGTV, we happened upon a new record store Mr. Cheapo's CD and Record Exchange .  Lots of used CD's, DVD's, VHS, and in the back a ton of records.  Found some awesome stuff which I will share later.  But I thought I would update my Dark Knight Post with a new addition.
Where as my other two Batman albums are just funky 60's music, this is a story like a radio play.  Well several stories all lasting about 10 minutes.  All the usual suspects are here the Joker, the Catwoman, the Riddler, and the Scarecrow.  Though I would have happily substituted the Penguin for the Scarecrow but i always have had an affinity for water foul. And I love the art by Neal Adams, a staple artist of Batman comics through the 70's. Power Records has a whole line of superhero story albums (most of which where at Mr. Cheapo's but I am on a budget so I had to leave all but this behind.)  The album doesn't dumb their material down for kids.  Not only do you see the museum guard dead with "that awful leering grin on his face", but Batman and Robin casually discuss the Joker needing a frontal lobotomy "Oh that Joker really is a menace, Batman - do you think an ice pick job would fix him?"  Yes Robin, an ice pick usually does the trick.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fill Me Up Lord

I wanna start by saying that I love Tammy Faye.  I really do.  For a televangelist she was a trailblazer, she was the first person to bring an HIV positive gay man on television.  This was back in a time when people thought you could get AIDS from sharing a spoon with a homo.  And she, a lady of the church, showed the world that it was ok.  But enough about AIDS, the point is Tammy Faye did it cause she really genuinely loves people, I think maybe all people.   While I don't believe in God, I do believe in the power of Tammy Faye.  I also believe that this album art might be the most amazing album art ever in the history of the world.  Tammy I will Run Toward the Roar if thats what you want me to do! 

Here are the many casual poses of Tammy Faye.  From right to left 
1. The Jessica Hahn
2. Baby's Sleeping
3. What's That Lord?
4. The Power of Prayer  
5. Ahoy  
6. Look Ma No Hands. 
And let's not overlook the many poses of mighty Mufasa behind her.  Run Towards the Roar is a win, win album. It definitely begs the question who thought of this layout?  Was it Tammy Faye herself?  Was it a message from God, or did some ad executives at a meeting say "Maybe we should get a pith helmet, and a taxidermy lion." 
There is something about the way Tammy is dominating that can of paint that really makes me believe she has in fact had enough.
Sadly this isn't the disco super hit Enough is Enough by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.   But Tammy's version is a razzmatazz up tempo extravaganza for the Lord, complete with a Kenny G. style saxophone solo.

Here she sings the classic Lean on Me with her daughter Tammy Sue, pay special attention to the spoken word section.
I would never call Tammy Faye a singer (or a makeup artist) but she has the kind of voice you might remember hearing at church on a Sunday morning from the lady sitting behind you.  She can carry a tune, and she does it with feeling but I wouldn't put on a Tammy Faye album for an enjoyable listening experience.  Lets be honest you own a Tammy Faye record because she is fabulous, and album after album she has the best dang cover art.
For In the Upper Room she couldn't decide which wig was better so for the front cover she chose a long sassafras coif doo, and a short Tammy Faye means business doo on the back.  These shots aren't out of focus, Tammy had the good sense to be photographed through a thin layer of petroleum jelly to soften her look, like Lucille Ball in Mame.  

I love His Eye is on the Sparrow so I couldn't resist sharing it with all of you.
People have a pre-conceived notion about Tammy Faye, it's hard not to she makes a vivid first impression.  But tear off those massacre caked lashes and remove the 2 feet of makeup (a girl after my own heart) and you had a wonderful person who didn't judge others (well maybe Jessica Hahn a little bit) and found a way to forgive the many people in her life who screwed her over.  If you have never seen the documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye I highly recommend netflixing it now.  And I couldn't do a blog post without mentioning my connection to Tammy, the short lived talk show Jim J. and Tammy Faye.  I didn't miss one episode!

Her life was a roller coaster of up's and downs, just like anyone's life i supose, but her's was always in the public view.  Her battles with cancer, her very public divorce, and even more public loss of her TV network, she never lost her faith, she never lost her spirit, and she never lost her Loreal mascare. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

La Cage Aux Foul (A Non-Vinyl Post)

Be sure to check out Michael Musto's Blog.  I was able to catch Jeffery Tambor in the Broadway revival of La Cage so he asked if i would write a small summation of what I saw, and I did.  Check it out, and seriously if you don't read his column, La Dolce Musto or his blog Daily Musto you really should.  It's always funny, and it's one of the few things left in this town that is pure New York.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/dailymusto/2011/03/drag_queen_says.php#more

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bump it With a Trumpet

I have always had a fascination with the seedy underbelly of the entertainment business. I am not talking about "actors" locking floozies into closets I mean the classy underbelly like porn, and hookers, and strippers!  So it's no surprise that Gypsy Rose Lee, first lady of the burlesque world, has for years been an object of my interest and adoration.  Like many of you I discovered Miss Rose Lee because of the genius musical Gypsy but we'll get to that later.
Every collector has a "Holy Grail" and Thats Me All Over is something I have had my eye out for since I saw it on the wall at Bleeker St. Records for $75.00.  Way out of my price range,  nonetheless I have kept mine, and several other people's eyes peeled for this amazing, wonderful, awesome looking LP.  So scoring this beauty on good old ebay for $6.99 plus shipping was, to say the least, a great drunk buy (yes I end up on ebay a lot after a few drinks.)  In fact when  woke up I was sure I had dreamed the whole thing.

I thought the song I Haven't a Thing to Wear was a great example of Gypsy Rose Lee's style...plus I think the album art was based off this diddy. I wish I had enough leisure time to take calls in the tub, or just a tub.
I love this kind of album because it has preserved a time that has long since passed, a romantic period in history where being a stripper was a high prestige job that paid amazingly well.  In her memoir she talks about her house on East 63rd Street in Manhattan "It has 26 rooms, a marble floor in the drawing room, a pool in the patio, an elevator and 7 baths scattered about".  Not bad for a lady who took her clothes off for a living.
But stripping in Gypsy Rose Lee's time wasn't done on a pole to shitty rap music, it truly was an art form.  A strip tease (tease being the operative word) was just that, a hint with a little innuendo, a shake of the hips and viol la, curtain comes down.

No one got there tits out, or rubbed their pussy on someone else's lap.  It was all done with elaborate costumes, often with a clever spoke/sung song culminating in the exposing of a leg or by flashing the side of a boob.  Thank goodness the people at youtube have a video of Gypsy in the act of taking it all off so you can understand what I mean.



It was obviously a much more...how would you say, subdued art form.  The video is from side two Psychology of a Strip-Tease Dancer (if you look on the art from the back cover you will recognize the costume).  The record reflects the period to a tee right down to the warning in the bottom corner on the cover.
I can barely grasp the notion that someone would want to play this on the radio, whether they were allowed to or not, a thought that makes me think I was born in the wrong era.  In the other corner they have printed Gypsy's autograph almost like a tramp stamp of approval.
She sings Flings a song from the Broadway Musical A New Girl in Town which I did in college, not quite the beltastic number Nicole Floyd and Lauren Verfenstein sang out in on stage at Marymount Manhattan College but it was exactly what I expected from Gypsy.  

She speaks the lyrics with a sly lilt in her voice like she is in on the joke, and the best part is she totally was.
As I said before I have been on the hunt for Thats Me All Over for years and I found it on Ebay for $6.99 (plus shipping) a literal steal.  Well it turns out February was not only Black History month, but it was also Gypsy Rose Lee month for me.  The same week I Found my "Holy Grail" I stumbled upon a second record that I didn't even know existed called An Evening With Gypsy Rose Lee.  Also on Ebay and also for only $6.99 (plus shipping).
After some research I found this was originally released in 1962 as Gypsy Rose Lee Remembers Burlesque. Here Lee shares tales of life in the world of the strip teaser.  

I am spellbound listening to this rich history.  So I decided to include the whole thing in 2 tracks.  

I recommend drawing a hot bath, lay a towel soaked in rose water across your eyes, pour yourself a Gin Ricky and let Gypsy tell you about life in Burlesque. 
Here is another visual example of what made her so...Gypsy.  From the 1958 movie Screaming Mimi Gypsy performs Put the Blame on Mame.

Unless you live under a fucking rock (or you are a straight person)you know Gypsy Rose Lee's Life was turned into a musical aptly titled Gypsy.  I won't go into a whole history of Gypsy: A Musical Fable because if you don't know the show you should be fed to Chowsey, Mama Rose's Yorkie! I will say that the writers changed the focus of the story from Gypsy to her mother with thrilling effects.  I decided this post was already so out of control I would just go whole hog and share all of my vinyl Gypsy material at once.
I shall start with my Favorite Gypsy recording as well as my favorite Mama Rose, Angela Lansbury (I hope LuPone doesn't hunt me down and kill me).  No you aren't seeing double for whatever reason the producers decided to re-record some of Lansbury's tracks for the U.S Release of the album.  The one on the right with the red RCA is the American distributor, and the one on the right with the white RCA is the London distributor.  I won't lie I have listened to both and the only difference I could really find was at the end of Some People on the London release Angela takes the final note up (as it's written in the score), and it is amazing.  Here have a listen.


I also love the cover art from the 1962 movie starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood, although I don't like the movie at all.  Both of the lead actresses are amazing in other films but here they were miscast and the pacing is dreadful.  There is no drive to any of the music in the film, no sound of urgency.  It all sounds kinda flat.  Like a fart you thought had promise of being explosive, but ends up being nothing more than a small toot. (And Karl Malden's nose should get under the title billing, seriously it's epic.)
The Original Broadway Cast of Gypsy starring Ethel Merman. The workhorse who was notorious for her brassy belt, moody disposition, and inability to act, is electric on this recording. Her Rose's Turn makes me pee, and the way she sweetly belt's Small World is so touching in her Merman way.
And then there's the Tyne Daly revival (with awful album art).  Not a singer, but a great actress.  Her Rose was very classic, and she did this crazy ball change at the end of Some People that was so vaudevillian, she might as well have yuck, yuck, yucked off the stage.  Anyone??  Rodemann??  You know....
Annie Ross recorded a jazz version of the Gypsy score in 1959.  And I must say it is a wonderful departure from the usual brassiness of the Broadway sound.  The jazzed up Overture is a delight.
Here is another jazz version of Gypsy this time without vocals.  Presented by the Jack Sterling Quartet.

Being a fan of both showtunes and jazz this is a perfect combination.  Plus I want that fur... 
Sandra Church who played Gypsy in the Original Broadway Cast recorded an album of famous burlesque songs during her run in the famous Broadway musical.

Including an amped up version of Let Me Entertain You (Gypsy's anthem from the show) and Zip from Pal Joey, a song which begins with the singer talking about interviewing Miss Gypsy Rose Lee, and proceeding into a strip tease. 

As you can see Gypsy Rose Lee inspired a great deal of amazing music.  An Author, a mother, a musician, and an avid stamp collector Gypsy Rose Lee was an icon.  Trying to describe what Gypsy was (a "high-class" stripper), H. L. Mencken coined the term ecdysiast.  Whatever you want to call her she brilliantly used humor, wit, and intellegance to transform a vulgar performance style into something special and wonderful.

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