Amoeblog

A look at the Lyon's Eye -- Jeff Regan, Investigator

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 18, 2014 04:12pm | Post a Comment

Jeff Regan, Investigator is a fine, hardboiled detective/radio noir series from the 1940s. Today it's perhaps best-remembered as Jack Webb's last role before Dragnet. After his departure, it continued with Frank Graham filling Webb's formidable (gum)shoes until his untimely death. 




*****

Jack WebbJeff Regan, Investigator debuted on CBS with the title Joe Canto, Private Eye on 10 July, 1948 with Barton Yarborough starring as Canto. The first episode, "Doctor, Lawyer and Indian Chief" was rerun a week after its initial airing with the new title of Jeff Regan, Private Eye. During its short run it would variously be referred to in print as Jeff Regan, Jeff Regan Det., and Jeff Regan Detective in addition to its proper title. Webb took over the role of Regan in the second episode, "The Prodigal Daughter" after which Yarborough continued to occasionally appear as Canto. 

Webb and his roommate/creative partner, Richard L. Breen, had made names for themselves on the west coast and within radio circles with Pat Novak...for Hire (1946) produced by San Francisco's KGO. After quitting that show and relocating to Los Angeles, the two created its near clone, Johnny Madero, Pier 23 (1947) which aired nationally, on the Mutual Network. However, Johnny Madero was a summer replacement series and did not continue after its short season. After freelancing for a spell, Webb was approached by CBS about creating a new series, which led to the creation of Jeff Regan.

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This one's about the Blues, Pete Kelly's Blues

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 12, 2014 01:40pm | Post a Comment

Today Jack Webb is best remembered for his portrayal of Detective Sergeant Joe Friday on the radio and television series Dragnet. Friday – a stiff, slouching, robotic cop who chain smokes as he rails against drug abuse – embodies for many folks the definition of a hypocrite and a square. However, the real Webb was also quite the hepcat, an amateur jazz musician with a massive collection of records. In addition to playing hard-boiled detectives, he also used radio to attack social injustices (on One out of Seven) and, with Pete Kelly's Blues, indulge his lifelong love of jazz and Chandler-esque noir.
 

Pete Kelly's Blues lobby card
Pete Kelly's Blues lobby card

Pete Kelly's Blues began as an unsponsored replacement series for The Halls of Ivy after a 13 February audition. It debuted on NBC on 4 July, 1951 and aired on Wednesday nights in most markets (Saturdays in others). It was created by Richard L. Breen, who'd previously worked with Webb on the wonderful and not-at-all dissimilar radio noir series, Pat Novak, for Hire, which Webb had left in 1947. Throughout the series' short run, Webb continued to star on both the radio version of Dragnet, which ran from 1949 until 1957, and the television version, which began a few months after Pete Kelly's Blues and continued to air until in its first run until 1959).

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Breadbaskets and head gaskets -- Exploring Glassell Park

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 5, 2014 03:42pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION

Glassell Park neighborhood sign

This entry of California Fool's Gold is about the Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, a working class neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles. Glassell Park's neighbors are the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock to the east, Mount Washington to the southeast, Cypress Park to the south, Elysian Valley to the southwest, Atwater Village to the west, and the Glendale neighborhoods of Adams Hill, Somerset, and Tropico to the north. 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northeast Los Angeles Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Glassell Park
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's maps (prints available from 1650 Gallery)

Sometime around the 1970s, a distinct Northeast Los Angeles began to emerge. Back then, the NELA 13 gang coined an acronym that their members couldn't have known would turn into a hip branding tool used to market luxury (yet freeway-adjacent) townhomes promising "modern living" in the form of a private dog park and two-car garages. Elsewhere in the neighborhood today, incongruous McMansions are improbably squeezed into tiny lots formerly occupied by tasteful Craftsman homes. 

Still, perhaps more than any other neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles (barring Cypress Park), Glassell Park feels largely untouched by the obliterating force of gentrification. Instead it remains a mostly quiet neighborhood (aside from the roosters and heavy rail) of quiet charms -- many of which you'll almost assuredly never discover if you only travel by automobile.

Even More One Album Wonders

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 28, 2014 12:11pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. During that period, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album -- Perfect for completists on a budget! Here's Part III of a look at some of my favorite "one album wonders."



MARGO GURYAN - TAKE A PICTURE (1968)

Margo Guryan - Take a Picture
Margo Guryan was born in Far Rockaway, New York in 1937. Her first credit as a recorded songwriter was for a Chris Connor single in 1958. Over the years, many artists have recorded her compositions although “Sunday Mornin’” and “Think of Rain” are probably her most-recorded songs.

More One Album Wonders

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 21, 2014 10:00am | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. In that era, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album. Here's Part II of a look at some of my favorite "one album wonders."



MICHAELANGELO - ONE VOICE MANY (1971)

Michaelangelo - One Voice Many


Michaelangelo were a Greenwich Village-based psychedelic folk-rock group led by Angel Petersen (but credited simply as “Angel”) who wrote the group's music and played electric autoharp -- an instrument popularized within the folk-rock scene by Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian. Rounding out the band were Michael John HackettRobert Gorman, and Steve Bohn. After attracting interest from producer Rachel Elkind and composer Wendy Carlos, what proved to be Michaelangelo's solitary album, One Voice Many, was released by Columbia. It incorporates a variety of influences that give the band a unique sound but one that might appeal to fans of Pidgeon and Renaissance (and not just because both used autoharps as well). Apparently the excellent album was poorly promoted which accounted for its poor sales and the group's subsequent disbandment. However, it clearly found its way to some fans over the years, as in 1992 the band Golden Smog included a cover of their song, 
"Son (We've Kept the Room Just the Way You Left It)" as the lead track on their EP, On Golden Smog. In 2009 it was released on CD by Rev-Ola.
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