Amoeblog

Happy Birthday Virgina O'Brien

Posted by Whitmore, April 18, 2010 09:23pm | Post a Comment
virginia o'brien
So here is my annual tribute to one of my all time favorite comedic actresses and peculiar lady of song, Virginia O’Brien. Today is her birthday, though she passed away back in 2001. She was also a popular singer in the 1940’s, though never a big star. Often co-starring with Red Skelton in several MGM musicals/comedies, she is best known for her deadpan expression as she sang, a gimmick she stumbled upon by accident at the Los Angeles Assistance League Playhouse's virginai o'brienopening night performance of a musical comedy revue called Meet the People.
 
Some of her films include The Big Store (1941) with the Marx Brothers, Ship Ahoy (1942), Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), and Merton of the Movies (1947), all with Red Skelton. Then there are Thousands Cheer (1943), The Harvey Girls (1946) with Judy Garland, Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Francis in the Navy (1955) and Gus (1976).

After a guest appearance in 1948’s short film Musical Merry-Go-Round, O'Brien was dropped from her MGM contract, a victim of the old Hollywood studio star system fading.

Here are some of Ms O’Brien’s great musical numbers.



Happy 90th birthday Ken Nordine!!

Posted by Whitmore, April 13, 2010 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Ken Nordine
Ken Nordine
You may not know it, but you do know Ken Nordine, and you know him well. His deep resonant, baritone voice, gritty in a perfect kind of way, has sliced through television and radio ads for decades now. But you should know him for his "word jazz." He recorded his first Word Jazz album back in 1957, backed by the Chico Hamilton band. Nordine’s pieces play in the common -- words, bopping and shifting, wit pedaling to and fro in between the everyday bits of everyday life nimbly budging the predictable out of the way. Colorful is the perfect adjective, absurd is another word that should have a turn here too. Mundane is not in his vocabulary.

Anyway, today the legendary wordsmith is 90 years old -- Happy Birthday, Ken Nordine!






The Vinyl Confidential, 3.4 – The Odd Order of Oblong Boxes

Posted by Whitmore, April 12, 2010 05:29pm | Post a Comment
"All I saw was the seven inch record lying there on the floor under the vibrating glare of the florescent lights, split in half like a fortune cookie, except this platter’s fortune would read doom and troubled kismet; “you’ve seen better days,” it’d say.
 
Pissed, I flopped around the room like a huge puppet entangled in strings, cursing, spitting guttural yaps till my own ears grew tired of the clamor. I had wheeled my office chair across the small hovel of a room, felt the rear end mysteriously fishtail, looked down and there it was, splattered across the speckled black and blue tile, long gouges furrowed into the vinyl, Ruby Andrews'Just Loving You” sadistically dismembered. A few minutes earlier she had been lapping curves on the turntable, how was I supposed to know she was spinning on stolen time? Her love had been so good to me ...
 
I thought about every other goddamned record I would’ve loved to have snapped in half. This was a pitiful shame. The urge to apologize to all the DJ’s in all the clubs who would crap their knickers for a chance to spin her crept into my brain. How do you explain the mangled demise of such a rare and expensive beautiful thing? The stink of stupidity hung around me like some cheap truckstop aftershave.
 
I let the record lie there for a while as I priced some inexpensive pop vocal records. And just before heading home for the day, as I shut the computer down, the stereo, clicking off the lights, I finally tossed the halves into the bin. Again her melody spun in my head over and over in a dizzying parade of nostalgia. And as I slammed the office door shut, I thought I heard a thin voice say, "Thanks, for listening, mister."

Digging through the Record Stacks 3 -- O'Hegarty, “Body in the Bag”

Posted by Whitmore, April 6, 2010 09:52pm | Post a Comment
o'hegarty Body in the bag 
O'Hegarty – “Body in the Bag” / “What a Mouth” (Verve-Folkways 1966)
 
Every record geek’s collection benefits from owning a few sides of twisted little English ditties, if only to help explain our twisted little lives. And this seven inch is as ridiculous and perverse a record you could ever hope to find. Most any vinyl fiend, jonesing for some new weirdness, would love to slip a needle on this disc. Anyway, one thing you should know, I’m not a big fan of pets, just not ... at all ... but if push comes to shove and to preserve harmony in the mostly cat loving Whitmore homestead, I too am more cat people than a dog people (it’s the poop question), so dear cat family, be warned, “Body in the Bag” yanks out several merry and morbid feline jokes, driven along by an acutely cheery organ and a happy jaunt on the sunny side of the street as the singer retells the tale of how he tries to rid himself of a dead cat. The original lyrics start like this:
 
“I met a strange man on the street today
He shoved a bag into my hands and quickly ran away,
I really must admit that it took me by surprise
What a charming fellow to leave me such a prize.
But when I took a look inside
I couldn’t believe my eyes,
He left me with a body in a bag
So on I went with a body in the bag
A body in the bag, ta ra ra.”
 
The song was written by Charles O'Hegarty and recorded in New York City on July 5, 1966. And as you may consistently find with many of the great singles of yore, the superior side, the desired side, like “Body in the Bag,” was originally relegated to B side status. The plug side, “What a Mouth,” is a nice song, a funny song, sure enough, but it ain’t no “Body.” Over the years I believe O'Hegarty wrote several different versions of “Body in the Bag,” as I keep on coming across different sets of lyrics, but no need for you music lover to fear -- it is always a snappy song about a dead cat ... ta ra ra ... ta ra ra.
 
Throughout O'Hegarty’s career he was mostly known as a singer of the traditional seafarer’s ballads and shanties and a gifted creator of weird tales, blessed with the ability to spontaneously craft a little song at the drop of a hat as fast as a cat. In a career that spanned decades, he was also a member of the band The Starboard List, who put out two albums for Adelphi Records and occasionally he was a contributor to the ground-breaking humor magazine National Lampoon during its heyday in the 1970’s.
 
Unfortunately I just read some sad news today; Charles O'Hegarty died earlier this year in the Hackney at Homerton Hospital in London, England of a heart condition on Friday, January 29th. He was 72. Rest in peace, O'Hegarty.

Alex Chilton Dead at 59

Posted by Whitmore, March 17, 2010 11:30pm | Post a Comment

alex chilton
Alex Chilton (December 28, 1950 - March 17, 2010).
Legendary music icon known for his work in the 1960’s with the chart topping Box Tops and his ground breaking band Big Star is dead from an apparent heart attack in a New Orleans hospital. He was 59.

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