Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Terrible covers of hits, plus originals by Dorothy and William Beasley, Bobby Russell, and Bergen White
A very interesting Modern Sound (Hit Records) LP, in that the majority of selections were penned specifically for Hit Records by Hit Records people--producer William Beasley (as K. Richards) and one Dorothy J. Beasley (as J. Norris), and, under their real names, Bobby Russell and Bergen White. I'd almost assumed that I Want Candy was a Hit Records original, too, since it's so blatantly unoriginal, but it's a cover of an actual hit for the Strangeloves, whose strange story is told here. The other actual fakes (I never pictured myself using such a phrase) include the Bacharach-David What's New Pussycat (a wonderfully atrocious copy of Tom Jones), and a really, really bad imitation of Billy Joe Royal's Down in the Boondocks. which I remember from its endless play as an oldie on AM radio. Meanwhile, I Like It Like That is about as anemic a copy of the high-energy Dave Clark Five as anyone can imagine--the Jalopy Five (who concocted that name?) sounds like a half-asleep Kingsmen (Louie Louie) ordered into the studio after two tours in a single day and five minutes of sleep. I almost expect the musicians to pass out, dropping their instruments as they fall. Would have made for a much more memorable track. And Down in the Boondocks can't be that hard to competently cover--good grief. But too hard, apparently, for the Hit Records/Modern Sound folks. Were they just bent on not even trying on these? And I just realized I already mentioned Boondocks and how bad it is, but it rates two mentions--it's that much of a boondoggle (he wrote, stretching for a pun).
Five funny-lousy hit covers, with What's New Pussycat an all-time fake-hit misfire (and therefore worth the price of the 99-cent purchase many times over), but the originals, by producer William Beasley and wife (?) Dorothy J. Beasley, plus Bobby (Little Green Apples) Russel and Bergen (For Women Only) White, are pleasant and fairly fun. I didn't say memorable--just worth a listen. They start with the well produced and halfway decent (but, for me, impossible to keep in memory) You Were Gone, not to be confused with the infinitely better Buckinghams B-side called You Are Gone. Tower Suite is the weirdest of the bunch, being a halfway cool instrumental concocted to serve, in its 45 rpm form, as the flip of Theme from Peyton Place. To me, the title had the sound of something real--maybe a forgotten 1965 instrumental. Maybe a lost portion of Gordon Jenkins' Manhattan Tower. So I expected to find a "real" Tower Suite, but nope--just this one. A pleasant instrumental that's cool because it's missing any point, so I dig it. Big Windy City is a fairly good White-Russell original with a blatantly Roy Orbison sound (its slow, broken melody and melancholy lyrics)--though Roy would have been presented with more layers of echo and louder tympani, and things would have ended on a dramatic high note. The singer sounds like he's about to start laughing at one point, and he could have been excused. Expert hack work--I like it. Bergen White's You Make the Decisions has a "We need a song--quick! We've only got ten minutes" type of sound, and I feel sorry for the guy so hooked on his love that he doesn't dare assert his own will, lest she leave him. Dude, she's not worth it. I wonder if this was tongue-in-cheek to an extent. It's certainly a rush job, but of course competent. Bobby Russell's Anything does nothing for me, however, and I wonder if Joanne Kay (Sorry, I mean Key--can't read my own writing) was really named Joanne Key. She gets two credits at Discogs, so we'll never know. Broken Hearted, Sad and Blue can be forgiven its omission of the Oxford comma because it's catchy, it really moves, and it has very nice stereo separation. The Buddy Holly hiccups are incredibly out of place, but I don't mind--I could handle an entire LP of rocking country stuff like this. The single credits J. Norris (Dorothy J. Beasley) alone as composer, but the Library of Congress (thanks, cyberspace) credits both Beasleys--producer William and sister? wife? Dorothy J. (If anyone knows the relationship, please let me know.) In the same Copyright Entries book, this title is listed two places above Eric Siday's Bromo Seltzer Theme.
Er, enjoy. And I forgot to include the scans in the zip file, so I'm redoing that now. If you didn't get them, please re-download. Apologies.
DOWNLOAD: Down in the Boondocks (Modern Sound MS 1012)
(Performer credits taken from single issues)
Down in the Boondocks (Billy Joe Royal cover)--Ed Hardin
I Like It Like That (Dave Clark Five cover)--Jalopy Five
You Were Gone (Bobby Russell)--John Preston
Tower Suite (J. Norris-K. Richards, aka Dorothy J. Beasley-William Beasley)--William Randolph and the Music City Orch. and Chorus
Big Windy City (Bergen White-Bobby Russell)--Fred Hess
What's New Pussycat (Burt Bacharach-Hal David)--Bobby Brooks
I Want Candy (Strangeloves cover)--The Roamers
You Make the Decisions (Bergen White)--The Chellows
Anything (Bobby Russell)--Joanne Key
Broken Hearted, Sad and Blue (J. Norris, aka Dorothy J. Beasley)--Ed Hardin