I really can’t do better than The Encyclopedia of Sixties Cool in summarizing the career of Yvette Mimieux:
The California Girl: Los Angeles-born Yvette Mimieux began her career wearing a toga and fending off blue-skinned Morlocks opposite Rod Taylor in The Time Machine before settling down as the ultimate beach bunny in Where the Boys Are and then on the Dr. Kildare TV series. When hippie chicks replaced surfer girls in the public imagination, Mimieux updated herself accordingly, recording an LP, Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, in which she read poetry to a raga accompaniment by Indian master musician Ali Akbar Khan. As an empowered woman in the ’70s, Mimieux wrote a TV movie starring herself, and played a wronged woman in the cult classic Jackson County Jail. She still has a knack for doing the right thing at the right time in the right outfit; note her instructional yoga video. To judge from her appearance in a snug unitard, she still looks great in a bikini too.
So this is Yvette’s equivalent of, say, Shatner’s The Transformed Man LP: a chance to “show another side” of one’s creativity at the height of one’s fame. Unlike The Transformed Man it’s of interest beyond its obvious kitsch value.
Ali Akbar Khan was one of the most respected musicians in the Indian Classical tradition, and if you can track down his Signature Series of CDs (or other recordings) it’s worth it. The label this appears on is Connoisseur, his own label, which released a lot of LPs of his music during the sixties, and the Signature CDs repress those LPs. The Baudelaire LP in question is remarkable in that it actually works, unlike Sidney Poitier’s LPs of Plato. The decadence and sensuality of Baudelaire’s lines is accompanied by a music that to a Westerner is also filled with decadence and sensuality.
The new issue of my Roctober Magazine features a huge article on the history and highlights of the truck driving country and western genre that ruled the roads and airwaves in 60s and 70s. To celebrate the release of the magazine we gave away truckdriving music cassettes featuring covers of classics and originals by the Roctober staff. For those of you who missed the party, or who don’t have a cassette player, we are posting the compilation in its entirety here, including the “bonus track,” a rare 70s soul 45 that is all time funkiest trucking tune. Here are the stories of the cover songs and bonus tracks, adapted from the pages of the magazine:
“Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley (#1, 1963)
Dudley is, in death as in life, The King of the Truckdriving Songs. His booming voice and the big, boss guitar sound of his better known songs (provided by Johnny Voit) defined the truckstop sound, which was just coming into being when he cut his breakthrough smash, 1963’s “Six Days on The Road.” The song is the perfect trucker tune; his manly monotone invokes the macho of the road cowboys, yet he’s not too manly to avoid expressing his (universal theme of) longing for home (“my hometown’s coming in sight/If you think I’m happy you’re right!”), plus there’s enough trucker lingo to sound authentic, but not so much as to baffle Beetle drivers (“I just passed a Jimmy and a White”¦I’m a little overweight and my logbooks way behind”). Not to mention some of the only pro-drug lyrics aimed at Republicans in the 60s (“I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide”).
From there, it was on to big rig classics like “Truck Driving Son Of a Gun” (#3, 1965), “There Ain’t No Easy Run” (#10, 1969), and “Thanks For All The Miles,” speaking a language the truckers understood (long before the C.B. craze of the mid-70s and its subsequent novelty hits). Not that Dudley was above doing novelties, check out the almost-Rockabilly “Cowboy Boots” (#3, 1963) or the hilarious “Rolaids, Doan’s Pills, and Preparation H” (which tells you what truck drivers REALLY live on). Dudley had a big, full sound, the kind that, along with Johnny Cash or George Jones, could win over the average rocker who’s just getting his feet wet in the Country pool. He sang in two keys, matter of fact and that’s that. Dudley’s career didn’t begin or end in the truckdriving song era that he helped launch. He was a rockabilly artist for King in the 50s and just two years before his death he released a truck driving reaction to the September 11th attacks called “You Ain’t Gonna Truck with Us” on his album “American Trucker.”
Though he was far from a one trick pony (his half-century career yielded well over thirty LPs, most of non-big rig c&w), between 1963 and 2001 he recorded at least 75 songs about trucks, one for every year he lived. When he rode off into the sunset in 2003 naturally, I expected to hear tales of truckers hanging their little flags at half-mast after Dudley made his last run, but, when I asked my friend, Pope, who’s a trucker himself, he just said, “Nahh, these younger guys don’t know anything about that.” But, we remember Dave Dudley, the real patron saint of truck drivers everywhere.
“The Girl on the Billboard,” Del Reeves (#5, 1968)
Franklin Delano Reeves had a long career, which hit its groove in 1961 with his first chart record “Be Quiet Mind” (#9, 1961). He hit the top of the country charts with the truckdriving tune “The Girl on the Billboard” in 1965. This ridiculous ditty in which Reeve’s trucking persona obsesses over a sexy billbnoard he keeps seeing as he hammers down the highways (“You’ll find tiny pieces of my heart scattered every which a way/Shattered by the girl wearing nothing but a smile/And a towel in the picture on the billboard in the field near the big old highway,” followed by the timeless lyric, “A doo da doo doo doo doo da doo doo doo dee da dee dee doo”) adapts the Johnny Cash “chicka-boom” rhythm that the Man in Black so often used to simulate train sounds to both overtly suggest the rhythm of the road and perhaps covertly bring to mind the sound of the song’s self-declared “double-clutching weasel” protagonist pumping his own piston as he stares at the title character. That song, and many of his signature tunes (including “Women Do Funny Things to Me,” #9, 1965, “The Belles of the Southern Belle,” #4, 1965, and “Philadelphia Fillies,” #9, 1971) were lighthearted, girl-happy novelty ditties, to go along with a career in which his comic persona (doing impressions at the Grand Ole Opry, hosting a zany TV variety show, appearing in a Burt Reynolds’ movie) outshone his music.
However, his finest moment as a recording artist was a truckdriving song that seemed more about sublimely expressing the sincere joys of the life of the road than it was in getting giggles. In “Looking At The world Through A Windshield” a second generation trucker comes to understand his father’s lifestyle as he starts, “looking at the world through a windshield” and seeing, “everything in a little bit different light.” With this song’s swelling chorus, as rousing as a German drinking song, and the fantastic rhythmic phonics of the lyrics (“I’ve pushed this rig through sleet and rain/And I’ve driven through the rough terrain/Of the Rockies to the docks of old L.A./On down that old Pacific shore/Swing north and head for Baltimore/Or some place ’bout two thousand miles away”) songwriters Jerry Chesnut and Mike Hoyer composed one of the most convincing tributes to trucking. Though he died on New Years Day 2007 Reeves continues to impact popular culture. Without his support Billy Ray Cyrus would never have made it, and if that didn’t happen we’d have no Hannah Montana today. And when Hannah covers “Girl on the Billboard” the circle will close. (unless it already did, due to the out of court settlement”¦but that’s another story).
Here’s “Looking at the World” live on TV, and here’s “Looking at the World” through 60s home movies of driving:
“Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around)” by The Willis Brothers (#9, 1964)
There are plenty of trucking songs about despair, death and destruction (and even ghosts) on the highway, including King of Bluegrass Jimmy Martin’s poignant classic “Widowmaker,” the tale of Billy Mack, a trucker who will never see his beloved Wanda Ann again because he drove his rig into oblivion rather than plow into a stalled busload of kids, honoring that “one life for ten has always been the diesel driver’s code.” But to my knowledge there are only two about trucking chaos in the Northeast. The more serious of the pair is “A Tombstone Every Mile,” by the eye-patched “Baron of Country Music” Dick Curless, the tale of a “stretch of road up north in Maine that’s never, ever, ever, seen a smile/If they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods there’d be a tombstone every mile.”
A far more light-hearted turn on the theme of truckin’ gone bad in New England is presented by the Willis Brothers, the Grand Ole’ Opry members whose long career (from the early 30s to mid 90s) is validated by history because they backed up Hank Williams on some key early records, and is validated by Billboard by this, their sole Top 10 hit. This goofy novelty tune is this tale of a rookie trucker reduced to tears by the narrow, congested, tangled, one-way city streets of Boston. Perhaps this is an allegory about a collective Southern inferiority complex/sense of marginalization in the long wake of Civil War defeat. Or maybe it just sucks to drive in Boston.
Hear the original:
“Soul Dog Pt. 1” by Soul Dog (R&B #65, 1976)
“Soul Dog” is a funky CB-novelty song using Blaxploitation soundtrack wah wah and sassy soul sister backup vocals to tell the tale of b-a-a-a-d black trucker who is doing 95 miles an hour through the South, where a redneck highway patrolman (who keeps calling Soul Dog “boy”) is outfoxed by the speedy trucker. Soul Dog eventually gets up to 250 miles an hour, and his woman is near orgasmic as she urges him to “whip it, Soul Dog, bring it on home.” “Soul Dog” was portrayed by Sweet Charles Sherrell, best known for playing bass (and some keys) for James Brown from 1968 through the early 80s (he also co-wrote some songs including “Get Up Offa That Thing”), and for his 1974 solo album on Brown’s People label. Songwriter Willie Johnson composed the tune and Sherrell produced and did the vocals on what stands as the all-time funkiest CB record, good buddies.
- Road Hog by Johnny Sampson
- Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around) by Japanese Master Track
- Angel of the Rest Stop by The Slow Poisoner
- Girl on the Billboard by High A-Wake-A-Fi
- Ridin’ High by Velcro Lewis Band
- Comin Home by Slink Moss
- Six Days on the Road by Gentleman John Battles
- Trucker Song by F. R. Forster
- Harley Girls by Short Punks in Love
- Truck Stop by Gary Pig Gold
- Orlando Run by Ken Burke
- Roll Truck Roll by Slink Moss
- Soul Dog by Sweet Charles
I recorded these two unknown tracks on tape decades ago from a local college radio station, WCBN-FM, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve saved them this whole time, never figuring out who or when these were originally made. They both consist of well-arranged samples from different sources – old sci-fi movies, Janis Joplin screaming, an old radio or TV ad, opera music, etc… This is the kind of sampling I fell in love with early in my days of discovering non-mainstream music: No cheesy dance or hip hop beats, just pure dada-esque collage that keeps you hooked and wanting to listen to it again and again. If you can identify the artist or provide any information – please do!
(How has Dinosaur Gardens managed to avoid all references to the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop until this post? Surprising…)
So much has been written and said already about the infamous and influential BBC Radiophonic Workshop that I start this post at a loss. I mean, they deserve the praise — their legendary status is well-deserved — but with so many articles and other dissections of their career and influence, I think I’ll take the easy way out and stick to a short obituary of their accomplishments.
If you know only one thing of their work, it would be the theme to Doctor Who, the venerable BBC sci-fi television series. They also did the sound effects. And incidental music. In fact, they were a BBC department that produced all manners of strange noises and sound effects (and theme songs) for over 200 other BBC shows. In doing so, they paved a superhighway of innovation that led electronic music growth for decades, from studio engineering to electronic composition to sound collage to synthesizer technology.
I came across this album in a dilapidated Leeds (UK) record shop for just a couple quid and have held onto it for dear life — BBC Radiophonic Workshop on vinyl doesn’t sell cheap. The standout track for me is easily Vespucci, a funky saunter with a very sampleable cool synth melody. The abstract cover from this 1973 release looks quite a bit like a CD exploding, perhaps another ahead-of-their-time move from these old-timers. And finally, this great closing line from the liner notes:
“The specially created stereo is not an attempt at realism, but is used as a sound object in its own right.”
- Scene & Heard
- Just Love
- Fourth Dimension
- Colour Radio
- Take Another Look
- The Space Between
The international struggles of our world may lead to… (ka-boom) NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST!
Nothing lends itself better to a fear-based advertising campaign than your family’s radioactive death. So when the Mort Kridel Advertising Agency was asked to create a radio ad campaign for Survive-All Fallout Shelters, they did their PR-darnedest to scare the Wonder Bread crap out of nuclear families everywhere. Tense horn stabs and canned explosions bracket sales pitches like:
Radioactive fallout, that deadly by-product of a nuclear attack, will kill literally millions of unprotected families in the event of an atomic attack. Is YOUR family protected? Do YOU have a fallout shelter?
Each Civil defense approved, basement-type, Do-It-Yourself fallout shelter includes: A complete fully-stocked first aid kit! Extra strength saran and rayon bunks! A radiation meter and individual dosimeters!
Civil defense approved, FHA approved, no money down, five years to pay!
Economical… but Priceless!
These are ripped from the original LP that would have gone to radio stations from the ad agency. There are 6 long versions and 3 shortened versions, each fairly different. Since it was promotional there was no record cover, but a scan of the record’s label is included. No year is evident, but since the zip code is two digits, it’s presumably pre-1963, and I would guess late 1950’s.
- Maximum Protection (General)
- Maximum Protection (Steel and Concrete)
- DYS (short)
- Maximum Protection (Steel and Concrete) (short)
- Maximum Protection (General) (short)
- Survive-All Shelters Radio Ads LP Label
Trojan Records was founded in 1967 by Jamaican-English producer Lee Gopthal as something of a sister label to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records. It became one of the best-known and successful reggae labels, but it also bought out several independent Jamaican labels and ended up with a pretty good ska and rock-steady back catalog. In 1972, it went through these archives and put out a fantastic (if somewhat inaccurately-named) compilation, The Trojan Story.
Although the liner notes were somewhat sparse and the sound rough, you couldn’t want a better overview of 1960s Jamaican music. The first tracks, from 1961, are embryonic ska in which you can hear the R & B influence; it takes us through the height of ska to its migration to rock-steady, and then winding up with early reggae (it even includes what could be called the “original” rock-steady and reggae songs: Alton Ellis’s “Rock Steady” and The Maytals’ “Do the Reggay”, respectively).
The three-disk box was only in print for a short time, and was reissued briefly in 1980 (in 1976, Trojan released a different compilation and also called it The Trojan Story, ensuring eternal confusion). In 1988, it was released on a 2-CD set, which also quickly went out of print; copies today sell for $50–75.
I’ve had the LP set for some time, but I was trying to track down a copy of the CD for the last few years. I finally found a reasonably priced copy, and the sound was awful. It’s one of the worst mastering jobs I’ve ever heard. They didn’t go back to the original masters, but clearly just copied the LP, and didn’t even do a very good job of that. The copy I made off my LP sounded much better. So that’s what we have here. Be sure to at least check out “Housewives’ Choice” and “The Great Wuga Wuga”. Also Jimmy Cliff when he was just 14!
- Laurel Aitken and the Carib Beats – Bartender 
- Derrick Morgan – Fat Man 
- Eric “Humpty Dumpty” Morris and the Drumbago All Stars – Humpty Dumpty 
- Jimmy Cliff – Miss Jamaica 
- Derrick and Patsy – Housewives’ Choice 
- Jackie Edwards – Tell Me Darling 
- Kentrick Patrick – Don’t Stay Out Too Late 
- The Stranger and The Duke Reid Band – Rough and Tough 
- Kentrick Patrick – Man to Man 
- Stranger Cole – Unos-Dos-Tres 
- The Skatalites – Confucius 
- The Mellow Larks – Time to Pray (Alleluia) 
- The Blues Busters – Soon You’ll Be Gone 
- Lord Tanamo – I’m in the Mood for Ska 
- The Riots – Yeah Yeah 
- Don Drummond – Man in the Street 
- Baba Brooks and His Band – One-Eyed Giant 
- Honeyboy Martin and the Voices with Tommy McCook and the Supersonics – Dreader Than Dread 
- Owen Gray – Darling Patricia 
- Joe White and Chuck with the Baba Brooks Band – Every Night 
- The Astronauts – Syncopate 
- The Clarendonians – Rules of Life 
- Slim Smith – The New Boss 
- Winston and George – Keep the Pressure On 
- Roy Shirley – Musical Train 
- The Techniques – Oh Babe 
- Sir Lord Comic – The Great Wuga Wuga 
- Dandy – Rudy, a Message to You 
- The Ethiopians – Train to Skaville 
- The Three Tops – It’s Raining 
- The Ethiopians – The Whip 
- Desmond Dekker and the Aces – Pretty Africa 
- Alton Ellis – Rock Steady 
- Baba Brooks and His Band – King Size 
- Evan & Jerry with The Carib Beats – Rock Steady Train 
- Sugar Simone – King Without a Throne 
- Phyllis Dillon with Tommy McCook and The Supersonics – Perfidia 
- Derrick Morgan – Do the Beng Beng 
- Lynn Taitt – Way of Life 
- The Tennors – I’ve Got to Get You Off My Mind 
- Lee “King” Perry – People Funny Boy 
- The Supersonics – Second Fiddle 
- The Maytals – Do the Reggay 
- The Slickers – Nana 
- The Pioneers – Mama Look 
- The Maytals – Pressure Drop 
- The Maytones – Black and White 
- The Charmers – Rasta Never Fails 
Carl Stalling was a silent-movie organist in Kansas in the 1910s and early 1920s who later went to work for his friend Walt Disney, composing soundtracks for his new cartoons. His involvement in one of the most important cartoons of all time, Skeleton Dance, was crucial; it was entirely set to Stalling’s music.
But he is best known, of course, for his work with Warner Brothers, with whom he started in 1936. Every WB cartoon for the next 22 years featured Stalling’s music, making him one the most-recognized composers in history (though certainly not the best-known). With Warner Brothers, Stalling could pull any composition from their massive music publishing subsidiary, and mash it up for his own needs. His rapidly-changing tempos and instrumentations along with his proto–sound collage would make him an unknowing avant-garde pioneer.
Stalling’s work wasn’t generally appreciated until 1990, when producer Hal Wilner put together the CD The Carl Stalling Project. After searching for a long time through Warner Brothers’ archives, Wilner managed to find the original music tapes of most of the cartoons, without the overdubbed voices. The CD he put together was a fantastic overview of Stalling’s career, with a combination of entire cartoon soundtracks in addition to collected cues from various decades.
The Carl Stalling Project has additional significance for me; it was the first CD I ever bought. I went to my favorite record store in 1990 to pick it up: “What do you mean, it’s only available on CD?”, I still remember asking the clerk. I couldn’t believe they would issue something on CD but not on LP. I bought it anyway, although I wouldn’t have a player for it for another year; any time I went to a friend’s house with a CD player, I would bring it along.
As it happens, it wasn’t only available on CD; it was also sold on cassette. And the cassette had a bonus track, oddly enough: the music from the 1956 cartoon Stupor Duck. Cassettes have a slightly longer running time than CDs but this is still the only time I know of this happening.
While the CD is still available, record companies haven’t sold pre-recorded cassettes in years. So this long out-of-print track is presented below. If you like it, be sure to buy a copy of the CD. And if you already have MP3s of the CD on your hard drive, go ahead and add this; you’ll have to renumber the tracks to make room. This is the new track #11, and it goes between “Medley: Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals” and “Carl Stalling with Milt Franklyn in Session”.
Probably the posting request I’ve gotten the most is for Detroit ska band Gangster Fun’s second release, Time Flies When You’re Gangster Fun (I posted their first album last year). This seems to be the most popular of their albums among their too-small fanbase; I prefer their third album, Pure Sound, Pure Hogwash, Pure Amphetamines, but all their albums were great. Like their first album, this was produced by slightly famous producer Mike E. Clark.
It’s arguable (or at least has been argued by one person, to me) that this is the last true Gangster Fun album, and that the second two were really more solo albums by chief songwriter/guitarist David Minnick (by the way, “Minnimal Stress” below is a pun on Minnick’s name, not a misspelling). I suppose that would make Pure Sound… their Pet Sounds, and this their Sunflower. Well, whatever.
I’m a sucker for ska covers of popular songs, so my favorite tracks on here are “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book and a version of the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination”. Of the original compositions, “I’d Buy a Gun” is the best, and quite catchy; I often hear my girlfriend singing “Life would be so groovy/If I owned an Uzi” around the apartment. Not totally sure how to take that.