28 February 2006

A virtual postcard

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (TG) -- A warm hello to all from the wilds of the Eureka Springs Free Library! The temperature is a very un-February-like 72, but it's a beautiful day up here in the Ozarks.

Our trip has been beyond wonderful so far, Seraphim did much better at Tunica than I did (more on that later), but thus far I feel as if I've hit the jackpot with this woman at my side.

Literally.

She's seated right here, and she's ready to check her e-mail so I'd best wrap this up.

I'll close with two thoughts:
1) BOLIVAR: I'll be calling you some time tonight. We plan on being in Hot Springs late tomorrow afternoon.

2) I'm counting the minutes 'till tonight, when we dine at Lambert's. I've got my catcher's mitt ready and am so ready for some HOTROLLS!!!

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Having a damned good time, Glad I am here" Gleck

24 February 2006

Arkansas, beware!

...Talmadge & Seraphim Gleck are just three (3) short days from darkening your state's boundaries.

We're leaving Effingham County Friday afternoon for the wilds of Troy. There, it'll be the usual fun 'n' frolic with Tiger. Sunday we'll head toward The Natural State® with a stopover in Tunica, Mississippi ... where has-been '70s & '80s pop stars go to die. We're gonna be one day too late for the K.C. & The Sunshine Band concert.

Drat it. I guess that means I have to wear my dull 'n' dreary white New Balances, and not my-my-my-my-my boogie shoes!

We're very excited about this trip, a vacation we've been planning for about six months -- the last time we saw Bolivar was in the Spring of '01, when he came over to Savannah for a few days; Seraphim and I were mere newlyweds!

And the last time I visited Arkansas was November '99 ... Bolivar was still living in Jonesboro at the time, and my then-just-a-girlfriend-but-what-an-awesome-girlfriend Seraphim came along for the ride.

My hope is to provide some "reports from the field", so don't take your eyes off this blog.

Have a fantastic week, friends..........

And ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Everybody in the car, boat leaves in two minutes! Or perhaps you don't want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?" Gleck

21 February 2006

Another long-distance dedication......

......going out to Bolivar "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm Free at last!" Shagnasty.

It's a late '60s hit single by a beautician from Alabama turned country singer, God rest her soul.
Yessir, Tammy Wynette.

C'mon, sing it. You know the words.

Well, fine, be that way.

Don't I know what it's like to hold the signed and sealed document, upon which parchment is printed words that legally dissolve your marriage. It's a powerful thing to look at. Mixed emotions, to be sure, but above all it represents freedom. Closure. The end of a chapter in your life. And even better, the beginning of another one. The new road has begun for you, Bol; a new era, but with some of the same characters (emphasis on "characters").

Get ready, because in just eight (8) more days, your happy home is about to be invaded by The Seraphim & Talmadge Maggotal Blistery Tour.

Congratulations, my good friend. Paraphrasing Gerald "I didn't see that extra step" Ford: "Your long national nightmare is over."

Cheers ... and ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Wonder how your ex-wife and serial husband #4 are enjoying their luxurious honeymoon at The Green Elf Motor Court?" Gleck

At long last......

......my Illudium PEW-36 MP3 Space Modulator is ready to do battle.

Saturday night, The Great Talmadge Gleck MP3 Conversion Project wrapped up ..... it's DONE! DONE! DONE! 4,807 songs .... and coming in at just a hair below 18 GB. A bit less than I'd imagined. Looking back, I might've gotten a bit 'conservative' about what tracks I chose; I hadn't yet gotten into the "various artists" CDs and LPs, and I didn't want to go over the player's roughly 27-28 GB of available space.

Eh, I suppose 4,807 songs will do for now.

Then Sunday and Monday were spent fighting with the player to get it to accept all of the booty. I'm not sure I'm happy with this player, if truth be known. If it weren't this close to our trip to Arkansas, I'd go ahead and return it to Best Buy and change it out for another model (iPod, maybe?). The player delivers great sound and does very well in shuffle mode .... we shall see how it does for the big trip.

Speaking of trip, it's only THREE DAYS AWAY!

More to come ... I've got some more entries to hack forth.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Ready for some Throwed Rolls" Gleck

08 February 2006

It's too damned hot for covers. I'm throwing this quilt into the fire once and for all.

And finally, we're down to the freezer-burnt food at the bottom of the chest freezer:

TALMADGE'S TOP FIVE "WTFWTT??!!" COVERS!
(again, I'll give you the last three - "Were They Thinking??!!")

1) JAMBALAYA (ON THE BAYOU) / The Carpenters
"Hey! This stuff is made in New York City!"
"NEW YORK CITY??!!"
"Get a rope."

Yes, I KNOW I'm one state off. Deal with it.

Richard Carpenter should be forced to take a trip down to Ponchatoula, and visit that town's most famous resident. The Carpenters are truly from "the dark side." They're gonna rot in hell for what they did to Hank Sr.

2) I SAW HIM STANDING THERE / Tiffany
Mrs. Miller rang in the tolling of the death bells for downtown areas .... and 20 years later, TIFFANY did the same thing for the shopping malls that replaced 'em.

I'd rather listen to the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack. Hell, I'd even watch the bleedin' MOVIE rather than have to hear Food Court Diva twist genders (side rant: I truly detest it when 'gender-specific' songs are covered by the wrong sex) on a great early Beatles classic.

3) KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR / Guns 'n' Roses
Just hearing how Axl Rose sings "Door" (doe-oh-WOOOOOOOOAAAH!!!) is the equivalent of a million fingernails cascading down a million chalkboards.

What is it about Bob Dylan that brings out the bad covers like cockroaches out of the crevices of Bolivar Shagnasty's ex-wife's trailer????? Whatever did he do to make anyone mad?? Okay, besides his "getting saved" in the late '70s.........

4) LAST KISS /Pearl Jam
It sounds like a version you'd expect to hear coming from a bar deep in the bowels of a Ramada Inn somewhere in east Texas.

Not that I ever liked the original, mind you ... or a (thankfully!) forgotten 1974 cover version by a group called Wednesday (I think they were playing the lounge at the Super 8 on the other side of the interstate from the Ramada). Wonder if that was Pugsley's sister singing background vocals ... ???

5) LET'S HANG ON / Barry Manilow
A terrible and insulting cover version, which made a brief appearance in the top 40 during the Spring of 1982. Smarmy doesn't even begin to cover it. Oh, Lola, where are you when we need you?

Frankie Valli should've grabbed Barely Manenough's balls, squeezed tight, and made him sing it properly. I mean, if you're gonna take on The Four Seasons, ya gotta have the balls for it. Literally. Or, should that be LACK of balls?

And then Barry could've gone on to tackle the grand poo bah of falsetto hits: "Two Faces Have I" by Lou Christie.

And there you have it. The hits keep on coming.......................

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Ready for some real music, thankyouverymuch" Gleck

I need the covers back, please. I'm getting sleepy...

Previously on 5FOR, your blogmaster listed his ten (10) favorite cover songs.

Tonight we continue, as promised, with the other half .... you've been warned .....

First, my top five list of most outrageous remakes, which I shall christen:

COCK-EYED COVERS!

1) HONEY / The Smothers Brothers
You know the 1968 hit by Dothan, Alabama musical lightweight Bobby Goldsboro. You wish you could forget it. Or you wish you could stick your hands through your monitor and strangle ol' Tal for reminding you this terrible, terrible song existed.

But I have the antidote, although it's nowhere to be found on record. You might remember The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, back in the late '60s on CBS. Tom and Dick pushed the envelope with their brand of subversive comedy -- even getting themselves canceled early in 1969 (and replaced with .... [gulp!] ... Hee Haw).

Pardon my digression; on an episode in September 1968, the brothers air a skit which completely, totally and mercilessly desecrates "Honey." It takes place at this small dwelling that's come to be known as "The Honey House." The house, where "Honey" died, is now open as a tourist trap, and the husband of "Honey" (played by Tom) is now giving guided tours as he sings the ballad.

I wish this episode could be released on a DVD .... 'till then, I'm afraid, this is one of those "traded copies." (If you want a copy, shoot me an e-mail and we'll talk about it......)

2) LOUIE, LOUIE / The Sandpipers
This foursome was among the charter artists on Herb Alpert's A&M Records roster. Their stock-in-trade was Spanish-flavoured middle-of-the-road music, not unlike fellow A&M'ers Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (later '77, '88, '99, '00, '11, '22, etc., etc.) -- but just lusher. Very, very lusher.

Lusher. Is that even a word?

Well, it is in Rincon, Georgia!

Ahem. Anyhoo, The Sandpipers were best-known for their top ten sleeper single "Guantanamera", a/k/a "One Ton Tomato" or (as Seraphim called it) "One Ton of Maalox." Ah, but there had to be a follow-up single in the chute. So, perhaps inspired by the ingestion of bulk amounts of pharmaceuticals, they set out to remake the party anthem "Louie, Louie."

Did they ever. Turned it into something so lush that back in college I could've played it on KASU's Mantovani showcase program Dinner By Sunset without Mr. Rasberry batting an eye.

Remember the controversy over the unintelligible lyrics on the 1963 original by The Kingsmen? Some began thinking, "Well I cannot understand what they're saying, so it must be obscene!" I think the governor of Indiana actually tried to have the song banned from his state! Some suggested that satan-glorifying lyrics could be heard if one slowed the 45 down to 33-1/3 (this, mind you, years before "Stairway to Heaven" was recorded!).

The Sandpipers' cover is how the original version sounds if slowed down to 16 RPM (remember those OLD record players that had the 16 speed on 'em???)

3) YESTERDAY ONCE MORE / The Shaggs
These two sentences, from their first LP's liner notes, say it all:
"The Shaggs love you, and love to perform for you.  You may
love their music or you may not, but whatever you feel,
at last you know you can listen to artists who are real."
If you're familiar with The Shaggs -- Helen, Betty and Dot Wiggin -- I need say no more. If among the blissfully unaware, I invite you to lose said bliss and check out the trio's website. Dearfolk, this is power pop at its purest!

I was first turned on to the group while in college (if Mom & Dad only knew all the corrupting influences I picked up while in Jonesboro, Ark., they'd be demanding some of their money back!). Back in those glorious mid '80s days, Jone'burr had two record stores in town -- Record Exchange (the used store, run by the uber-illustrious Franklin Chestnut) and Hot Dog (the "regular", i.e. new, store). Kenny, the owner/manager of Hot Dog, would often put The Shaggs on the turntable at about 8:55 p.m., as a way of flushing the customers out of the store so he could close promptly at 9 and get home at a decent hour. The look on the faces of unsuspecting patrons was priceless.

Okay, most of The Shaggs' tunes were their own. But on their CD reissue, there is to be found a real gem in the form of a cover of The Carpenters' 1973 hit song "Yesterday Once More."

Aside from the sheer glee I felt knowing that one of my ex-wife's favorite artistes were tweaked by three girls that made her stomach turn, I felt even greater glee that The Carpenters were delivered something they themselves doled out amply during the '70s: insulting covers! ("Please Mr. Postman", "Ticket To Ride", "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)", "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft", et al).

Say what you will about The Shaggs, just know that they're "better than The Beatles" -- at least according to no less than the late Frank Zappa.

4) TURNING JAPANESE / "Tom Munroe"
Another one a little difficult to track down at your friendly neighborhood used-record store. It's from a "video LP" entitled On a New Wavelength. Tom Munroe is, in actuality, Rick Moranis -- and this was from an old SCTV skit, one of several known as The Gerry Todd Show. Gerry Todd (also played by Moranis) was a "video DJ" at a "video station", where he sat at a console switcher, with a bank of video monitors behind him, doing what amounted to a video radio station, complete with 'video jingles.' A spooky case of life imitating art, as the Gerry Todd concept was first done a couple years before the creation of something called MTV.

This skit featured "Tom Munroe" in a video for this 1980 punk-pop hit by The Vapors. Moranis and SCTV morphed "Turning Japanese" into a truly hilarious piece of lounge'y MOR. Both "Tom" and "Gerry" pronounced the song as "Turning Jap-ah-NEES!!!" (later in that sketch, they also bestowed the same treatment to The Police hit "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.")

5) DOWNTOWN / Mrs. Elva Miller
So. Was this a parody of Petula Clark's #1 hit from 1965? Or was it done straight? Mrs. Elva Miller, for those wondering, was a tone-deaf dimunitive woman who sang "Downtown" in a quasi-operatic, off-key style. Her version squeaked into the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966, and I managed to find myself a rare copy of the Capitol 45 in the musty record bin at the Jonesboro Salvation Army.

So was this real, or meant to be a joke? A straight answer has yet to be found. You could say that Mrs. Miller was the Andy Kaufman of her day (hmmm, wonder how a Mrs. Miller treatment of REM's "Man On the Moon" would sound?).

And the song? I think I find the good Missus' version more listenable than Pet's original for some twisted reason.

I think this release coincided a little too closely with the rise of shopping malls.

*********

So there you are. To-wuk amongst yourselves...

And coming up, I shall wrap up this interesting journey into the world of the remake macabre with my list of the five worst covers. Stay tuned.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "GERRRRRYYYY TOOOOODD!!" Gleck

02 February 2006

My turn to hog the covers!

For starters, since this is my version of a blog post originally done by Nettiemac, would this qualify as a "cover post"?

You all knew there was no way I was going to let this one get away without putting my two tarnished Lincoln pieces into the mix. This will be in three (3) parts: first, my top ten remakes that, in my opinion (this IS my blog, after all!), either matched or outright topped the original. Second will be my top five list of the weirest and funniest covers, and I'll save the worst for last - the five WTFWTT??!! covers (I'll spot you the last three: Were They Thinking)

Whoooookay, here we go with our first list, which I call:

THEY DID MORE THAN COVER THE SONG,
THEY ALSO COVERED THE SONG
!


1) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS / Elton John
The first two songs on the list are Beatles remakes ... and while I claim the Fabsters as my so-called "favorite group", these are far from desecrations of the Lennon/McCartney songbook. This one, for instance. You know what? I like Elton's version WAY better than I do the original! But don't flame me here - Mr. Dwight gave this song instant credibility in the form of "reggae guitarist Dr. Winston O'Boogie." That's right, gang, John Lennon helped out.

2) WE CAN WORK IT OUT / Stevie Wonder
I like The Beatles' original a lot. But I love Stevie's 1971 remake. He took this song and, by gawd, made it his own. Ooooh, the funky keyboard intro alone makes it a classic. And at the end, you'll probably agree with me: SW's version is a pop/funk masterpiece.

3) WOODSTOCK / Matthews' Southern Comfort
It came from the pen of Joni Mitchell, but the best-known version is the one recorded by Crosby Stills Nash & Young and becoming a smash in 1970. The following year, a country-flavored pop group led by Ian Matthews (remember the 1978 light-disco'ey pop song "Shake It"? That's him) took the song back into the top 40, going as high as #24. I dare say this is my favorite version of the standard.

And honorable mention must go to Joni Mitchell for covering herself -- on her 2002 record Travelogue, she turned her classic into a slow thing of beauty, a lush rendition that never fails to bring me to tears. The album has its detractors, but one must give Joni credit for not succumbing to the "remake the old classics on MTV Unplugged, and release an album of it faster than you can say Eric Clapton." I love it, and if you don't, I'll gladly like it for you.

4) THE MIGHTY QUINN (QUINN THE ESKIMO) / Manfred Mann
File this one under Nettiemac's comparison of "All Along the Watchtower"; to borrow her phrase, I can't make a cerebral embrace of Dylan's version ... it sounds, well, weak; especially after many plays of Manfred Mann's bubblegummy remake. It did quite well for itself in 1968, thank you.

5) ALL I REALLY WANT TO DO / The Byrds
More Dylan Downloading: I can't say I'm that fond of their cover of BD's "Mr. Tambourine Man", but listening to the original version of this, that yodel Dylan does with Dooo--OOOOH makes the puppy come across as a parody. And probably funnier to listen to than Sebastian Cabot's immortal-but-wish-it-could-die-already recitation of this and other Bob Dylan standards.

Face it, "All" was meant to be heard with the Byrds' trademark guitar sound and harmony.

6) (I'M A) ROAD RUNNER/SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED / Peter Frampton
From his I'm In You record (1977). "Signed Sealed Delivered" was a hit single, and a fantastic cover of the 1971 Stevie Wonder original. But stations like WLS/Chicago played "Road Runner", another Motown remake, which appears immediately before SSD, and made it a natural 'twin spin', a la "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions." And since WLS was a big part of my nighttime radio listening at that point (three words: John Records Landecker!), it's the way I always hear it in my mind.

7) (I KNOW) I'M LOSING YOU / Rare Earth
One of the few white acts to be signed to MOTOWN, these guys were unsung rock gods. As I came of age and discovered top-40 (age 4-5, much younger than your average bear), Rare Earth was crankin' out the hits: "Get Ready", "Hey Big Brother", "Born to Wander", "I Just Want to Celebrate" (my favorite RE song), and .... this, where this Detroit rock band turns the Temptations' angst into scorching anger. The opening by itself earns it a place on my list: YOUR LOVE IS FADIN-FADIN-FADIN-FADING....

8) (I KNOW) I'M LOSING YOU / The Faces (Rod Stewart)
Rare Earth's version (above) nudges this one, but barely. Today, Rod the Mod has turned into Golden Throats From Hell, with his recent album of cover tunes, where he murders some of the greatest adult standards ever written. Back in 1970, however, Rod put his heart and soul into remakes; emphasis on "soul" because this has soul. Almost as much as The Temps. Almost.

9) THAT'S ALL RIGHT MAMA/AMAZING GRACE / Rod Stewart
Also appearing on the same album (Every Picture Tells a Story) is the Rodster's take on Elvis himselvis. And it's followed by a beautiful coda of "Amazing Grace." If you don't think Rod Stewart has a heart, listen to this. Wow.

While "Maggie May" has been burnt to a crisp on classic rock radio, Every Picture is otherwise one of those every-song-is-a-classic LPs, where there's not a single wasted note within the grooves.

10) JAILHOUSE ROCK / The Residents
A nice segue to go into the next segment, The Residents are an anonymous Bay Area band that have been around since the '60s, making beyond-the-lunatic-fringe albums. One, called The King And I, is a disc full of weeeeeeird covers of Elvis classics. But not this one. It's from Residue of The Residents, a 1984 album full of outtakes ... stuff which didn't make the cut for even their warped sensibilities! I love this version, though -- the music completely makes the song.

Next time: my take on the funniest covers of all time ... and those not-so-funny.

Meanwhile, you can have the covers back. I'm awake now.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Pat, you moron, it ain't ISN'T THAT A SHAME!!" Gleck