This man is from Indiana:
This man I just saw perform in Indiana:
This man is from Indiana:
This man I just saw perform in Indiana:
The Heavy Boxes have largely built our meager fan base, if you can call it that, via YouTube. Our filmed performance of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights,” in particular, has circulated around friends, friends of friends, and among a small crowd of primarily British Kate-loving strangers. However, despite even being featured in the Internet’s most popular blog about the Brontë sisters, our videos remain more of a contained rash than a globally viral phenomenon. So back in November, we hatched a plan to see if we could get slightly closer to being web celebs.
Melanie and I were listening to “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, second only to the sublime “Teenage Dream” as the best song on Katy Perry's most recent album. It’s once again produced by the unstoppable Dr. Luke, along with his mentor, Max Martin, the man behind all of the boy band and teen princess hits of the late ‘90s. We knew it was just too good to not be released as a single, so looking ahead at the calendar, we predicted it would drop in late May or early June in an attempt to make it the summer jam of 2011. When it did show up on the radio, we were going to be prepared. The Heavy Boxes spent some time in the studio arranging a cover of the song, out-popping Katy Perry by reharmonizing the chords slightly and playing it like a ‘70s-AM-radio-soft-rock hit, along the lines of the Bay City Rollers or Pilot. While the original song's sax solo provided by Tower of Power/SNL's Lenny Pickett is good, we were going to blow it out of the water with the skronkiest free jazz freakout courtesy of one of Stuart's horn player friends. Then, after perfecting it over the next 5 months perfecting it, we’d bring in our film crew to shoot a nice high quality video of us recording it. It was going to be all edited and ready to be uploaded as soon as summer hit so we could piggyback on the inevitable success of Katy Perry’s original.
Then…we got busy. And it never materialized. Just as we expected, Katy’s single came out in early June, and now sits at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (her previous single, “E.T.”, is directly below it at #5). So here I remain, still wallowing in obscurity, with only you, Dear Reader, to keep me company. Perhaps someday I will upload the demo recording we made of the arrangement, so you can get all misty-eyed the way you do when you see the footage of Josef von Sternberg’s unfinished I, Claudius or Orson Welles’ Don Quixote and ponder what might have been.
In other news, Melanie and I are going to the Katy Perry concert at the Allstate Arena next week! AND IT'S ON A FRIDAY NIGHT!!!! You know what that means...
I have been a very bad boy in updating this puppy. Sigh. All that changes today! Regular posts! I promise!
As today is Father's Day (oughtn't it be Fathers' Day?), let's start with an early '60s teen pop tribute to dads. Here are two rather unsettling paeans to papa:
Paul Petersen - My Dad
Paul Petersen was best known as the one of the two children, along with Shelly Fabares, on The Donna Reed Show. For the third season of the show, the producers forced Petersen and Fabares to record music that would be incorporated into the show. Fabares ended up with a #1 hit with "Johnny Angel," while Petersen released the sublimely ridiculous single "She Can't Find Her Keys." I've slowly been collecting all of Petersen's LPs, including this 1963 Colpix record that includes his biggest hit, "My Dad," a backhanded compliment about loving your father despite his mediocrity.
Marcie Blane - Who's Going to Take My Daddy's Place?
In 1962 Marcie Blane scored a huge success with her first single, the excellent "Bobby's Girl" about her desperate unrequited love for a boy. After that hit, poor Marcie never really got to sing a happy song. Either she was feeling sorry for herself and her loneliness ("Why Can't I Get a Guy"), getting her heart broken ("Little Miss Fool"), feeling scared about her new boyfriend's unwanted sexual advances ("What Does a Girl Do?"), getting taunted by other girls for dating a player ("Told You So"), or discovering her boyfriend has freely offered her up to all his friends ("You Gave My Number to Billy".) Even when she finally gets to date Bobby in "Bobby Did," the followup single to her hit, she is quickly dumped by him! In her 1963 b-side "Who's Going to Take My Daddy's Place", she muses about finding a strong boyfriend to serve the same function as her father in her life: "I need someone to scold me whenever I am bad!" It's sure to make you tap your feet, and sure to make you queasy.
I posted the other day about the 1966 film Georgy Girl and its classic title song. The film was also adapted into a notoriously unsuccessful Broadway musical called simply Georgy (it ran for a total of four performances in 1970). The brilliant yet terrifying iTunes shuffle just reminded me of the musical by playing a song from it covered by The Free Design, a great sunshine pop vocal group from the '60s and '70s who have seen a considerable revival of interest in the past ten years. It's the only song I've ever heard from the musical, but I love it!
The Free Design - Howdjadoo (Fly Me Down) [from Georgy] [mp3]
The screening of Georgy Girl in my British New Wave series at Doc Films this quarter has been cursed with audio problems. The failure of an amp in the cinema forced us to cancel the initial screening. Last night, our make-up screening caused a moment of panic when we started playing the first reel and discovered that the soundtrack was physically missing from the print. We weren't sure if it was missing from just a portion of the reel, or if the whole first 20 minutes would have to be projected silently. Fortunately, as we let it run, we found that only the opening credits sequence (and later the closing credits) were silent.
This means, however, that we missed out on hearing the hit title song by The Seekers, a folk-pop group from Australia that were hugely popular for a while in the '60s. They coincided and were sometimes associated with the British Invasion, but sound more like an updated but less politically conscious version of The Weavers, along the lines of similar American groups like We Five and The Stone Poneys. "Georgy Girl" was their biggest hit in America, peaking at #2 on February 4, 1967, with "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees keeping it from the top. The music was written by Tom Springfield, brother of Dusty, and the lyrics were actually by the actor Jim Dale, best known for the Carry On films and for his really remarkable work on the Harry Potter audiobooks. Since it wasn't in the screening last night, here it is now:
The Seekers - Georgy Girl [mp3]
One of my favorite subgenres of teen pop/teen movies of the '50s and '60s are the feeble attempts to force kids into adopting new crazes. In trying to mimic the success of "The Twist" and "The Loco-Motion," most of the pop songs had accompanying dances. The songs are always kind of pushy, because instead of simply introducing the new dance, they instead declare that the dances are already the next big thing that all the kids are doing. It's interesting also how much the songs must have depended on television appearances to ensure their popularity (though I guess I don't actually know what the "Loco-Motion" dance is). The teen films tended to exploit familiar fads (surfing, dragracing etc.), while also branching out to new ones. The Frankie & Annette Beach Party series was really good at this: Beach Blanket Bingo was all about skydiving, Muscle Beach Party had bodybuilding, and Pajama Party was about, uhh, pajamas.
There are countless examples of these, but I've been recently introduced to a couple really bizarre ones that I like a lot. One is the 1957 film Bop Girl Goes Calypso, which is about how a scientist with some fancy machine is "proving" that rock 'n' roll is on the way out, predicting that calypso will be the big new craze! There were a few films that came out at this time all with the same hypothesis, including Calypso Heat Wave which features Maya Angelou(!)
And in the music realm, how about this great song performed by Eddie Hodges, the child star best known as Huck Finn in the 1960 adaptation directed by Michael Curtiz? "Mugmates" suggests that what "everyone does" now to indicate they are going steady, instead of giving someone their pin, is simply have... matching coffee mugs.
Eddie Hodges - Mugmates [mp3]
In which Evan hums and talks about hums.