Amoeblog

One Album Wonders: The Zodiac

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 17, 2015 11:07am | Post a Comment


Zodiac
 were a studio group who released one album, Cosmic Sounds - Celestial Counterpoint with Words and Music, in May 1967. The members of Zodiac were respected session musicians Bud Shank, Carol Kaye, Cyrus Faryar, Emil RichardsHal Blaine, and Paul Beaver. Each song is devoted to the signs of Chaldean astronomical zodiac. The music was written by Canadian synthesizer pioneer Mort Garson
The spoken word narration was penned by Jacques Wilson and are narrated by Faryar in a voice reminiscent of Jim Morrison's who as part of The Doors, had recorded their debut in 1966 and released it in January 1967 to great acclaim.

The success of The Doors was a primary inspiration for the project. Elektra head Jac Holzman came up with the concept and hired Alex Hassilev, a member of The Limeliters, to produce. Hassilev brought Mort Garson to the project -- the two had just formed a production company together.

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Morton S. "Mort" Garson was born 20 July 1924 in Sain John, Canada and was a Cancer. He moved to New York City where he studied music at the Juilliard School of Music. He worked as an arranger and pianist. After serving in World War II he worked as a session musician. While working on Cosmic Sounds Garson met Robert Moog and as a result featured his Moog synthesizer heavily in the arrangements, played by Paul Beaver. Garson died of renal failure in San Francisco in 2008.

Clifford Everett “Bud” Shank, Jr. was a jazz flutist, saxophonist, and a Gemini. He was born 27 May 1926 in Dayton, Ohio and attended the University of North Carolina between 1944-1946 then moved to California where he studied with Shorty Rogers and played in the bands of Charlie Barnet and Stan Kenton. In the 1960s he primarily worked as a studio musician in Los Angeles. In the 1970s he formed The LA Four. He died on 2 April 2009 in Tucson, Arizona.

Carol Kaye was born Carol Smith on 24 March 1935 in Everett, Washington. She is a bass guitarist and Aries. In the 1950s she played in nightclubs before being paired with Sam Cooke in 1957. As a member of the celebrated Wrecking Crew she was one of the most widely recorded session bassists and has over 10,000 credits. She retired from recording in the 1970s due to arthritis.

Cyrus Faryar was born 26 February 1936 in Tehran and is a Pisces. He was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and after college operated the Greensleeves coffee house, a haven for beatniks. He moved to Southern California in the 1950s. After Dave Guard quit The Kingston Trio, the two briefly played together in The Whiskeyhill Singers. That group quickly disbanded and returned to Hawaii Faryar co-founded the Modern Folk Quartet in 1962. He released two solo records in the 1970s but worked primarily as a session musician and producer.

Emil Richards (né Emilio Joseph Radocchia) was born 2 September 1932 in Hartford, Connecticut and is a Virgo. He began playing xylophone when he was six and later graduated from the Julius Hartt School of Music. He played in various ensembles in New England and New York before settling in Los Angeles in 1959 where we was in demand as a session player.

Hal Blaine (né Harold Simon Belsky) was born 5 February 1929 in Holyoke, Massachusetts and is an Aquarius. He played drums with several bands before finding steady work as a session musician for Capitol Records as a member of the Wrecking Crew. Though mostly uncredited he recorded the drums on more than 40 number one hits.

Paul Beaver was born in Ohio in 1926. He was a session musician especially associated with the Moog synthesizer which he played on releases by The Byrds and The Monkees. In 1966 he co-founded the electronic pop group Beaver & Krause. In the 1970s, with Ruth White, Beaver co-founded the The Electronic Music Association in the 1970s. Beaver died in 1975. 

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The music, as one might expect, is groovy in the extreme. So too is the album art, by Abe Gurvin. The album contains instructions for the the listener, “Must be played in the dark.” The music seems likely to have inspired The Moody Blues’s Days of Future Passed, Louise Huebner's Seduction Through Witchcraft, and the rock musical, Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical. I wonder if the Zodiac Killer owned a copy! 

Garson and Hassilev had planned to do a series of concept albums and they began working on The Sea with Rod McKuen but McKuen left the project and recorded his own version with Anita Kerr and The San Sebastian Strings for Warner Bros. Hassilev produced The Dusk 'Till Dawn Orchestra's Sea Drift, with Garson conducting. Garson and Wilson re-teamed in 1968 for The Wozard Of Iz album, produced by Bernie Krause and released on A&M and a series of twelve follow-up albums; one for each astrological sign. Cosmic Sounds is long out of print on vinyl but was reissued on aluminum compact disc by the Water label in 2002.

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Follow me at ericbrightwell.com


Vive les minets - French Dandyism in the 1960s

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 8, 2014 08:00pm | Post a Comment
As a fan of fashion, youth subculture, and the 1960s, at some point I was bound to be made aware of the French minet subculture. Obviously, since I'm writing about it, that momentous occasion has arrived at some point in my past. I can't remember when or where it occurred (the internet is a safe bet) but in the intervening years I've found very little about this stylish group. Compounding my frustration is the fact that what little that I have uncovered about minets is almost always written or recorded in French -- a language of which a month of skipping class at College les pins Castries did little to improve my command. The French Wikipedia (Wikipédia) is humorously blunt in its entry: un jeune homme vêtu à la mode, équivalent masculin de la minette. Last and least -- most of what has been written about minets in English is by writers discussing within the larger context of mod subculture -- a style tribe about which far too much is artlessly written and rehashed.




With that in mind, however, kindly allow me briefly add to the conversational clutter concerning mod, as its evolution is tied closely to that of the minet. Although today mod is often characterized as a mid-60s, working class subculture fueled by the holy trinity of amphetamines, scooters and soul music, it first appeared in the late 1950s when a largely middle class group of mostly Jewish teenagers with families in the clothing business and for whom the chosen drug was apparently coffee. Modernists, as they then to themselves referred, championed modern jazz over trad jazz (which was championed by the Acker Bilk-listening, bowler-hatted, beer-swilling, baggy sweater-and-duffle coated trads). Sharing their love of modern jazz were the beatniks, but their beardy, black, cultivated scruffiness was rejected in favor of the natty continental style associated with untouchable icons of French cool like Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon

The caffeinated coffee bar scene had sprung up in the London's Soho area and attracted skiffle fans, rock 'n' rollers, beatniks, trads, mods, and more. There were venues like Les Enfants Terrible, Le Macabre, Le Kilt, and La Poubelle which catered to a caffeinated clientele of French au pairs, expats, children of diplomats, students, tourists, and the Francophile Modernists, who adopted the custom of smoking Gauloises, the French cut hair style and Shetland wool cardigans paired with brushed or quilted bluejeans, white socks, and loafers (either tasseled or penny -- with a genuine American cent piece, of course). The English exposed the French, in turn, to a better class of pop music. 



The mod's French cousin first appeared in Paris around 1962, often lurking around Le Drugstore which despite its name, was more akin to a department store. It was supposedly the only place in France where one could keep up with the English music scene through editions of the now defunct weekly, Melody Maker. Perhaps more importantly, it was also open later than other businesses. 



Shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the American Ivy League look which had so distinguished him from his buttoned-up predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, proliferated on the campus of The American University of Paris. Madras or seersucker jackets were paired with pastel sweaters, oxford shirts, blue jeans, and shoes from English manufacturers like Church's and John Lobb. Suits, when worn, were snug and made of Harris Tweed, herringbone cheviot, hound's-tooth, or mohair. That same year Maurice Renoma opened his shop, Renoma, which was likely the first French boutique with the English-and-American-influenced minet aesthetic.



Seize millions de jeunes' mod expose


The Ivy League look was also influential on the mods over in the UK. In 1965, Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française were curious enough about mods to send a production crew to London where they filmed an episode of the series Seize millions de jeune, which aired in May. In October, the same series turned its sites to the minets. 



Seize millions de jeunes' minet expose

For mods, obscurity was prized and finding soul records that no one else had was rewarded with cultural capital. Americanophilia and Angolophila had long been present in French youth subcultures -- going back at least to the zazous of the swing era up to the yé-yés of the late 1950s (who were of course detested by the minets) and snobbery (ironically, since snobbishness is one of the stereotypes most commonly attributed to the French by Anglos) seems to have been less important. Not only did minets embrace mod groups like The Small Faces and The Who, but well-known British Invaders like The Moody Blues, The Pretty ThingsThe Spencer Davis Group, and The Yardbirds.

As with mods, the minets also championed American rhythm & blues, rock 'n' roll, and soul acts like Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett -- who were heard in Europe via anti-authoritarian British pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline and Wonderful Radio London (both of which launched offshore in 1964) and the English language Radio Luxembourg. However, whereas most mods seemed only to appreciate mostly black American music and style icons, the minets were embraced the sunshine pop of The Association, the baroque pop of The Left Banke, and the garage rock of The Shadows of Knight. Approval was also granted to rebellious figures like James Dean and -- after he starred in 1966's The Wild Angels -- Peter Fonda


In May 1966, the American magazine, LIFE, ran a piece titled "Face It! -- Revolution in Male Clothes," the sartorially subversive subjects of which profiled men in the UK, the US, and France. Five months later, the first song which acknowledged the existence of the minets topped the French pop charts, Jacques Dutronc's "Les play boys." First Nino Ferrer, then Vignon (né Abdelghafour Mouhsine but sometimes referred to as "Le James Brown marocain"), and Michel Polnareff were among the few French pop singers rated by the minets before the dawn of Dutronc.

Dutronc was employed as a songwriter and artistic director at Disques Vogue, whose previous efforts to exploit subcultures included records by Dylan-inspired hippie, Antoine, modish Les Mods, and beatnik Benjamin. Rising above all silly subcultures was the magnificent Françoise Hardy, who would years later marry Dutronc. Benjamin had recorded the satirical, "Et moi, et moi, et moi," a collaboration between Dutronc and Jacques Lanzmann -- an established novelist, ex-boyfriend of Simone de Beauvoir, and future director of the epic holocaust documentary, ShoahUnsatisfied with the Benjamin's version, Dutronc gave the song a shot and it almost topped the charts. 



Dutronc's second single, "Les play boys," was released in October 1966 and the lyrics humorously acknowledged the minets with the lines:

J'ai pas peur des petits minets
Qui mangent leur ronron au Drugstore
Ils travaill'nt tout comme les castors
Ni avec leurs mains, ni avec leurs pieds


"Les play boys" resided at the top of the charts for six weeks and sold more than half a million copies and Dutronc become one of the few French musicians adopted by the mods. The two subcultures continued to convergently evolve and around 1967 a psychedelic foppishness began to undermine the dignified dandyism of both. Furthermore, the original stylists of both were becoming a bit old for  adolescent scene-dependent soul searching and group-derived displays of non-conformity.

Even as the scene lost its style steam the void left by the departing originals was filled by growing numbers of new, peacockish recruits. Catering to them were new hangouts in and around Saint-Germain-des-Prés including Carette, Le Club Pierre Charron, Le Mimi Pinson, Le New Store, Pub Renault, Le Relais de Chaillot, and Scoss. If maturation and domesticity claimed most of the original minets, more were led away by the events of Mai 68, the cultural effect of which was far more resounding than even the tunes of their 45s. 

The final generation of minets continued to dance dance dance at then-new clubs like Le Roméo Club Paris. When Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson moved to the Le Marais area of Paris in 1971, Courson frequently crossed the Seine with her dope-dealing chum, Count Jean de Breteuil, to hang out with the last minets at places like Brasserie Lipp, Cafe de Flore, and Les Deux Magots. Whilst I wouldn't want to be the first person to suggest that Morrison was inspired by minets, Courson was certainly aware of them and Morrison did seem to trade in his leathers for a preppier look. 


Jim, Alain and Pamela - 28 June, 1971, St Leu d'Esseurent (image credit: Alain Ronay)

The impact of the minet subculture seems to have mostly faded in the 1970s although the Japanese cityboy (シティーボーイ) trend of the late 1970s (associated with the magazine Popeye) similarly embraced a preppy yet anti-authoritarian bohemianism -- as does Free & Easy, which promotes the what they call the "rugged ivy" aesthetic (although few would argue that either are fully-fledged subcultures). In 1998, Franco-Teutonic band Stereo Total released a song "Les Minets" on their album, Juke-Box AlarmThe current preppie-but-not-peppy uniform of the Hipsterjugend - though uninspired in its execution -- is perhaps nevertheless in part inspired by the minets -- although that shouldn't be held against them (and one of their betters should tell those knaves to starch and tuck in their shirts). More clearly aspiring to minet revivalism are so-called Paris Mod Allnighters, with a flyer from one such event pictured here.





The little that I have found about minets which I can share is this short documentary, Les Minets du Champs, which is really just a short interview with former minet Bernard Bacos, who's one of the scene's only chroniclers of which I'm aware (check out his website, Paris 70). There is at least one written work, Christian Eudeline's Anti-yé-yé: Une autre histoire des sixties which I haven't read but has a nicely provocative title. 



Probably the highest profile look back at minet movement was La bande du drugstore, the debut film of writer/director François Armanet which I also haven't seen and has so far only been released on a PAL 2 DVD with French audio and no subtitles. That film also resulted in the release of a soundtrack available on CD, a format for which there are thankfully no region codes and which includes many of the aforementioned bands as well as the Autralian band The Easybeats, Sam & Dave, Cream, Little Esther Phillips, Sonny & Cher, Christophe, The Troggs, and The Full Spirits.




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If you've got more information on minets, please let me know in the comments and... 



All-Female Bands of the 1960s - Happy Women's History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 3, 2014 08:11pm | Post a Comment
The Carrie Nations - a fictional band from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls


In the first half of the 20th Century there were many popular all-female musical acts. In the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s there were vocal groups like The Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters, and The McGuire Sisters. In the early rock/soul era, the so-called "girl groups" such as The Shirelles, The Teen Queens, The Paris Sisters, and The Chantels all achieved both artistic and popular success. However, none of these groups were proper bands. There were some all-female bands -- that is, groups comprised of female musicians -- but sadly most were viewed by many as little more than curiosities. You can read about them here.

Continue reading...

Shifters and sugarcubes -- Happy Bicycle Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 19, 2013 03:53pm | Post a Comment

Today marks the day that Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered the properties of LSD, on 16 April, 1943, and rode his bike home.

THE DISCOVERY OF LSD


Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)

Albert Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in his Basel laboratory in 1938 working for Sandoz Laboratories whilst studying scilla and ergot in an attempt to purify and synthesize the active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.


Siberian scilla (image source: Digging RI)

He set aside his discovery for five years at which point he accidentally absorbed a quality through his fingertips and reported feeling dizzy, intoxicated, stimulated and seeing kaleidoscopic shapes and colors when he closed his eyes.


HOFMANN'S TRIP AND BIKE RIDE

His curiosity piqued, on 19 April Hofmann intentionally took 250 micrograms. He began tripping and rode his bike home. At first the experience was unpleasant. He 
was convinced that a neighbor was a 
witch who had poisoned him. A doctor visited him and reported nothing unusual except for dilated pupils. Thus reassured, his trip became much more pleasant. He later wrote of the experience:

"... little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ..."


LSD's IMPACT ON CULTURE

In the years that followed, acid (as LSD is commonly known) became used for a variety of scientific and recreational purposes. It was first criminalized in California, on 6 October, 1966. The rest of the US and UK quickly followed. Of course acid had already made its mark. In music, it was the catalyst for psychedelic rock, which had by then spread to both sides of the Atlantic, and its subgenre, acid rock. I don't intend to cram the entire cultural history of LSD on humankind into a blog but I'd like to bring it back to bikes... because this is Bicycle Day, remember? Long before the discovery of acid bicycles were the subjects of popular songs.


THE INVENTION OF AND EARLY SONGS ABOUT BICYCLES


Bicylces were invented in the 18th century. The bike's ancestor, the dandy horse, had been first introduced to the public in Mannheim in 1817. The French term bicyclette had been in use since 1847. In the Anglosphere, the commonly used term was velocipede. London's Daily News first printed the word "bicycle" in 1868 but it didn't completely catch on immediately.


  


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century it was popular to sing about new inventions (see: "The Monsters of Megaphone"). In 1868, Henry Atkins led the pack with "Velocipede Galop." In 1869, he was followed by Carl Faust's "Le Velocipede Galopp," Geo. Cooper & Harry Miller's "The Gay Velocipede," E.H. Sherwood's "The New Velocipede - Galop," S. Low Coach's (John M. Dunfield) "The Unlucky Velocipedist - Galop," Frank Howard's "The Velocipede Song and Chorus," Wm. O. Fiske, "Velocipede (March)," Cha. Koppitz's "Velocipede Galop," G. Operti's "Velocipede Galop," Henry B. Hart's "Velocipede Galop," O.H. Harpel & Henry Atkins's "Velocipede Jimmy," Leander's "Velocipede Johnny," Louis Mösser's "Velocipede March," E. Mack's "Velocipede Polka," (unknown) "Velocipede Song," Leon's "Velocipede Waltz," and (unknown) "Velocipediania."


BICYCLE SONGS AND ADVANCES OF THE 1880s

  

No known songs about bicycles were published in the 1870s but in the 1880s the charts were stormed a mob of bike songs that reflected "bicycle" having taken over "velocipede." W. Diederich's "Bicycle Glide," S. Conant Doster & Harry W. Sawyer's "Mister Tobias Isaias Elias. A Bicycling Song," and E.C. Phelps's "The Sailing Party" were published in 1880. Chas. W. Nathan's "Star Bicycle Galop" was published in 1882. Wm. H.A. Hall's "Bicycle Galop," James C. Bekel's "La Fete des Bicycles, Fantasia Charasteristic," and John Ford's "The Star Rider" and "The Wheelmen's Song," were published in 1883. W.J. Holding's "Knights of the Wheel Schottische," A.S. Andrew & C.D. Blake's "Bicycle Polka," and Conant Foster's "Wheel Songs" were published in 1884. J.J. Sawyer's Bicycle Waltz" and Walter A. Dolane's "Wheelmen Waltzes" were published in 1885. S. White Paine's "Gem of the Track - Bicycle Club Song" was published in 1886. John Young's "Wheelmen's Waltz" was published in 1889.

Toward the end of decade there were key advances in the bicycle industry and the music industry. Edison Phonograph Company formed in 1887 and in 1888 commercially introduced wax cylinders to the music-buying public. Also in 1887, John Dunlop developed the first practical pneumatic tire for his son's tricycle, tested it, and patented his invention in 1888. 


THE GOLDEN AGE OF BICYCLES AND THE SONGS THAT FOLLOWED 

A series of advances beginning with the introduction of the pneumatic tire in 1888 ushered in the Golden Age of Bicycles, the 1890s. There were also new music formats. Piano rolls were introduced in 1896. 

  

Chas. F. Escher, Jr’s “Wheelmen's March” was published in 1890. R.S. Peniston’s “Wheeling, A Bicycle Parade” and Chas. Brighton’s “A Job Lot. Comic Song” were published in 1891. Frank R. Gillis’s “Washington Cyclist's Military March,” Harry Dacre’s “Daisy Bell,” and Gerald Deane’s “Queen of the Wheel” were published in 1892. Walter I. Dolbeare’s “Massachusetts Bicycle Club,” Robert S. Gebhart’s “The Dayton Bicycle Club,” T.H. Rollinson’s “The Silent Steed - Galop Brillante,” Ch. Eustace’s “Véloce-Galop,” Oscar H. Gerber’s “Mercury March,” J.W. Alexander’s “The Bicycle Waltz,” Harry Wunderlich’s “Wheelmen's March,” Lucien Durand’s “Women En Bicyclette,” and Chas. K. Harris’s “Katie Rides a Wheel” were all published in 1893. J.A. Wallace’s “The Pretty Bicycle Girl,” Alice Irene Fairlie’s “East Orange Cyclers,” Anthony Lohmann’s “League Meet March,” Arnold Somylo’s “Pretty Girls in Bloomers,” O. Schrage & W. Potstock’s “The Bloomers,” Emmet Duffy’s “Mulrooney on a Bike,” Harry Dacre’s “Dorothe!,” Mildred McNeal & Hattie Thickens’s “Let Us Ride Together,” Roland Burke Hennessy’s “Ye Merry Cycle Song,” M.H. Bryant & Amy P. Foster’s “She Rides a Bike,” and Wm. Hogan’s “The Bicycle Girl” were published in 1894. M.A. Althouse’s “Penn Wheelmen March Two Step,” John Lloyd Whitney’s “The Century Run March,” A. Robarge’s “The Pittsfield Wheelmen,” M. Florence’s “Bloomer March - Two Step,” Samuel H. Speck’s “Hannah Go Hide Your Bloomers,” George J. Becker’s “The March of the Bloomers,” J.F. Davis’s “A Corker - Bicycle Song,” Margaret Rogers Knapp’s “Cycling Song,” R.W. Young’s “The Pike Belt March and Two Step,” Theo A. Metz’s “Get Your Lamps Lit,” F.E. Hutchings’s “The New Cycle Path March and Two-Step,” Charles Smith Tarbox’s “The United States Wheel March,” Harry J. Ballou’s “Climbing on My Golden Wheel,” David Reed, Jr.’s “Ridin' on de Golden Bike,” Gussie Davis’s “Since Hannah's Done Learned to Ride a Wheel,” O.A. Hoffmann’s “Have You a Wheel,” George Evans’s “Johannah, Is Your Heart Still,” Ward Sprague’s “Sparking on a Wheel,” Melvin Ward & Herman Perlêt’s “Sweetheart I Love None but You,” M. Stuart & Percy Gaunt’s “Spin 'Round,” Jess Danzig & Frank P. Banta’s “Wheeling, Wheeling or Love A-Wheel,” W. Murdoch Lind & George Rosey’s “You Don't Have to Marry the Girl,” Fred J. Hamill’s “A Romance of A Wheel,” Ray Brian’s “Keating Wheel March,” F.R. Gadd’s “On the Wheel - Mazurka-Waltz,” C.E. Stewart (Stuart)’s “The Bicycle Craze,” Frank R. Seltzer’s “The New Columbia March,” Alexander Crerar & A.H. Houghton’s “The Wheel,” Jas. L. Post & R.W. Edwards’s “Angel Grace and the Crimson Rim,” Joseph Louis MacEvoy’s “Mary Belle,” William Mulligan & Roy L. Burtch’s “Rosie Steel,” George A. Watts’s “The Bicycle Belle March,” Nettie M. Wagner & J. Carroll Chandler’s “The Bicycle Girl,” Fraser Grant & Geo. J. Southwick’s “The Cycling Maid or The Maid's the Thing,” Frank P. Banta’s “Wheelman's Patrol,” and Harrison E. Ruhe’s “Allen Wheelmen March and Two Step” were published in 1895. W.J. McIntyre’s “Brooklyn Bicycle Club March,” Theodore E. Brun’s “Cyclopia March,” C.E. Vandersloot’s “L.A.W. Waltzes,” W.L. Metz’s “Mercury Wheelmen March,” Olaf E. Pedersen’s “Turner Wheel Club March Two-Step,” S.G. Kiesling’s “The Black Diamond,” Grace L. Catlin’s “The Cycling Club March,” L.B. Smith’s “What Will the Girls Do Next?,” Leonard B. Marshall’s “Bicycle Song,” T.W. Connor’s “At My Time O’ Life,” Mrs. Harold A. Lee’s “Bicycle Parade March – Two-Step,” Henry Vaughn & Paul Rodney’s “Cycling Song,” Brandon Thomas & Edgar Thornton’s “The Wheel Galop” and “Speed the Wheel,” Billy Vassar & Will H. Friday’s “Under the Trees On The Cycle,” Cornelius Higgins’s “M'kinley and Hobart's Bicycle,” Chas. Quinn’s “Happy Little Coons,” Bruce M. Priddy’s “Cycler’s March,” T.J. Donoghue & Geo. E. Schaller’s “Give Me the Girl That Rides the Wheel,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Little Zulu Lu, A Congo Elopement,” Frank Dun’s “Making Love on a Wheel,” E.T. Paull’s “New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-Step,”  Adam Craig & John Quinn’s “Wheeling Together,” August Argauer’s “Wiener Volks Radfahrer,” J.M. Cody’s “Ben Hur March,” Fred W. Edgecomb’s “Frontenac Two-Step,” Tho. W. Jaquith & Otto Funk’s “He’s Got a Wheel,” Fred L. Moreland’s “The Cycle King,” Mrs. Geo. S. Hall’s “The Patee Bicycle March – (TwoStep),” Michl. F. Hayes & Mary Agnes Hayes’s “The Scorcher,” Walter B. Rogers’s “The Yellow Fever – Two-Step,” J.J. Alexander’s “Upa Tree March,” C. Ormsbee-Gregory’s “Bicycle Galop,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Julienne,” Jas. S. Burdett/Geo. W. Day & Wm. H. Nelson’s “Mary Ann O’Grady and Her Bike,” Geo. K. Barrett & John Quinn’s “My Silent Steed,” Willie Younge & Eugene Barnett’s “Rhoda Rode a Roaster,” Lena R. Hulett’s “The Bicycle Girl,” T.P. Brooke’s “The Cycle Queen – Two Step for the Piano,” Eben E. Rexford & Bertram Harriot’s “The Cycler’s Song – ‘My Wheel for a Comrade’,” John J. McIntyre & Francis M. Paine’s “When You Teach a Pretty Girl to Ride a Bike,” and F. A. Wood & Joseph Knecht’s “When You’re Riding a Bike” were published in 1896. George J. Becker’s “Chain and Sprocket Club March,” M.A. Althouse’s “Electric Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” Abe Wilsky’s “Fairhill Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” L.O. De Witt’s “The Hobo – March and Two-Step,” Theo. J. Tinnette’s “Wheelmen’s Parade March,” Ramonda A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “When the Boys and Girls go Wheeling,” Frederick J. Strachan’s “Winthrop Cycle Club – March and Two Step,” Myrtle R. Davis’s “Bicycle Race,” Eduard Holst’s “Bicycle Race Galop,” George Maywood’s “The Cyclists National Grand March and Two-Step,” F.A. Mills’s “The Pacers Two Step,” Harry B. Parker’s “White Flyer Two-Step,” W.H. Hodgins’s “Olive Waltzes,” Raymond A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “Before She Went Back Home Again,” T.W. Connor’s “I’m Going to Ride a Bicycle,” Thomas W. Russell & Roy L. Burtch’s “Mike’s Got Wheels in His Head,” Matthews and Bulger’s “Willie’s Misfit Pants,” Ludwig André’s “Vorwärts - Voran! - Bicycle-Galop,” H.H. Godfrey’s “On Wings of Steel,” G.E. Conterno’s “The Bike Intermezzo,” D.W. Reeves’s “The Cycler’s March,” F. Ibach’s “The Neverout March – Two-Step,” J.S. Duss’s “Up To Date,” Jos. B. Carey’s “Melissy,” Chas. K. Champlin’s “My Little May,” Frank Banta’s “The Chaser – Two-Step,” Frederick Solomon’s “The Kid That Knows It All,” Harry LeRoy’s “When Riding Out with Nellie On My Bike,” Glendron Mfg. Co.’s “Glendron Bicycle Two-Step,” Geo. Maywood’s “King Klondike,” Fred Neddermeyer’s “The Columbus Bicycle March,” S.B. Alexander & Summit L. Hecht’s “The Roof-Garden Cycle Party,” Geo. L. Magill’s “Windsor Wheel Waltzes,” C.G. Cotes & Felix McGlennon’s “A Nice Situation for a Girl,” J.M. Richards’s “Bicycle Episode or The Pleasures of Wheeling ,” A. Tregina’s “Camille the Queen of the Wheel,” Nellie Burt’s “Dora Brown,” W.H. Gardner & Otto Langey’s “Queen of the Bicycle Girls,” George Rosey’s “Rosey’s Scorcher,” Raymond A Brown & Charles Coleman’s “The Jolly Girl from Gay Paree,” David Reed Jr. & George Rosey’s “The Pretty Little Scorcher,” and Jos. W. Stern & Co.’s “The Scorcher (March and TwoStep)” were published in 1897. A.R. Cunha’s “Bay City March – (Two-Step),” Frederick T. Strachan’s “Berkeley Cycle Club Two-Step,” Herbert F. Estes’s “C.B.C. March,” Harry E. Jeroy’s “The A.W.C. March,” John G. Schuler’s “The Crackajack March,” J.J. Scull’s “The Lebanon Bicycle Club – March Two Step,” James E. Hough’s “Off to the Races March and TwoStep,” Ludwig Mendelssohn’s “ Radelin (Bicycling),” Albert Hall & Orlando Powell’s “Dear Old Uncle Charlie,” Carl Howard & George Everard’s “I Knew,” D. Frank Tully’s “Coasting in the Moonlight,” Paul Webster Eaton & Minnie Boyd Upperman’s “Lily Crow,” Edmund Braham’s “The Winner – Two Step or Cake Walk for Piano,” Harry F. Sanders’s “Side by Side Two Step,” Gendron Mfg. Co.’s “Lizzy Hogan on Gendron Wheel,” Harry D. Laycock’s “While Riding My Wheel,” Frank Abbott & Henry Norman’s “Mary Ellen Simpkins’ Bike,” Harry B. Marshall’s “Rosie and Mamie,” L.E. West’s “The Cyclone March and TwoStep,” Theo A. Metz’s “The Scorcher – Galop Brilliante” and Manuel Klein’s “White Heather Two-Step” were published in 1898. Anth. J. Dick’s “The Cycle Race March,” Adam Geibel’s “Bicycle Waltz,” Lydia Avery & Jessie L. Gaynor’s “My Bicycle,” Samuel Speck’s “An Easy Mark Two Step,” Wallace Moody & Lee B. Grabbe’s “The Wench That Rides a Wheel,” John P. Harrington & Orlando Powell’s “We All Went Following On,” T.H. Ervin’s “American Wheelmen's March Two-Step,” George Wm. Needham’s “Good Roads Two Step March,” Harry Clay Tacy’s “L.A.W. March and Two-Step,” F.T. McGrath’s “A Breeze from Blackville - Cake Walk and Two Step,” W. Hedemann-Gade’s “I Mot - Och Medvind,” Ellis Brooks’s “A Florida Cracker,” and Arthur J. Lamb & Geo. Schleiffarth’s “When the Band Plays in the Park” were all published in 1899 -- to name but a few.


CYCLING SONGS IN THE AUTOMOBILE AGE

Happy (belated) birthday, Joe Orton

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 2, 2013 05:14pm | Post a Comment

Yesterday, had he not died in 1967, would've been the 79th birthday of my favorite, English, comic playwright, Joe Orton (provided he didn't pass away for some other reason in the intermediate years).


Saffron Lane council estate being built in 1927

John Kingsley "Joe" Orton was born 1 January in Leicester to William A Orton and Elsie M Orton (nėe Bentley). Joe's father worked as a gardener for the Leicester County Borough Council whilst his mom was in footwear until tuberculosis (and the subsequent removal of a lung) led to an early retirement. When Joe was two his family moved from Clarendon Park to the Saffron Lane council estate where the family was soon rounded out by the addition of Douglas, Marilyn, and Leonie.

After several serious bouts of asthma, Orton left school and took a position as a junior clerk making £3 a week in 1947. Over the next couple of years he developed an interest in improving his physical state and in theater. In pursuit of the former he took up body building, in pursuit of the former he joined several dramatic societies and local, amateur productions. He also wished to continue his education and began attending Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London on scholarship in 1951.

At school Orton met a well-off aspiring writer, Kenneth Halliwell. The two fell in love and moved in together, sharing a flat in West Hampstead flat with two other students. After graduation, Orton worked for a stint as an assistant stage manager in Ipswich whilst Halliwell's work to him to Llandudno, Wales. When they both returned to London, they collaborated on several novels in imitation of Ronald Firbank. In 1957, when their last collaboration, The last days of Sodom was just as unpublished as their previous works, they decided to work solo. Orton wrote his first play, He wrote his first play, Fred and Madge, and his last novel, The vision of Gombold Proval, in 1959.



The couple lived off Halliwell's shrinking inheritance, unemployment and occasionally worked proper jobs to afford a small flat in Islington (N1, Noel Road, 25). During this period they also borrowed books from the local library and altered the dust jacket art and blurbs on more than 70. They were caught in 1962 and the incident was reported in the Daily Mirror in an article titled, hilariously, "Gorilla in the roses." Their sentence was a fine of £262 and a six month stint in prison. Ironically, today some of the book covers (some of which are very much in the vein of subversive surrealist collage) are exhibited in the Islington Museum



Orton's was wit was darkened and honed by his harsh treatment for his and Halliwell's prank and when he was released his writing had an increased sense of urgency. In 1963, the BBC paid him for The ruffian on the stair, which was broadcast the following August. By then, Entertaining Mr. Sloane had premiered to a mixture of rave reviews and moral outrage -- some of which was fanned by Orton, who would sometimes write letters to publications under the guise of the easily-scandalized alter egos, including Edna Welthorpe.

His next play, Loot, was rushed into production to capitalize on Orton's growing fame and received mixed reviews (and re-workings). What the butler saw followed, along with other plays, and even a screenplay for a Beatles film, titled Up against it. Some works, such as The good and faithful servant and Funeral games aired as teleplays on ITV.

As Orton was celebrated for and propelled by his success, Halliwell plunged into deep depression, which was likely exacerbated by his glaring and total lack thereof. There was also word that Orton had found a new boyfriend and was planning on leaving Halliwell. On August 1967, Kenneth Halliwell beat Orton to death with nine hammer blows to the head before fatally overdosing on 22 pentobarbital tablets washed down with the syrupy juice of canned grapefruit. Halliwell left a note that his actions would be explained by reading Orton's diary. Their bodies were discovered by a chauffeur, who'd come around to take Orton to a meeting with Richard Lester, director of The Beatles' films. Orton was cremated and at the service, the great Harold Pinter read the eulogy and a recording of "A day in the life" played.




In 1978, John Lahr wrote a biography of Joe Orton titled Prick up your ears. In 1987 it was adapted into a great Stephen Frears-directed film starring Gary Oldman as Orton and Alfred Molina as Halliwell. The phrase, "prick up your ears," had originally been conceived by Orton as "prick up your erse" as an unpublishable title. In the Adam & the Ants song, "The Magnificent Five," Ant sang "Long ago in London town/A man called Ant sat deeply sighing/He was wondering/Which side of the fence he was on/Prick up your ears." In the 1990s, someone once remarked that Pulp's Jarvis Cocker was a mix of Joe Orton and Alan Bennett.



Great film, mildly unpleasant trailer for the US release on VHS

Although Orton's humor is sometimes compared to that of Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde, the two authors' tones are recognizably different enough to warrant the existence of both "Wildean" and "Ortonesque" as non-interchangeable terms.  


Orton Square, Leicester with the Curve Theatre and Athena (source: Steve Cadman)

In Leicester, a former industrial area has been redeveloped as a cultural quarter. The pedestrian concourse in front of the Curve Theatre opened as "Orton Square" in 2008.


Orton and Halliwell's former residence, marked by a circular plaque between the windows


*****

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