Sunday, March 31, 2019

St. James Infirmary

Dean Jones
Joe Leahy Orchestra

St. James Infirmary

88 Brand Records

Dean Carroll Jones (1931-2015)

After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Dean Jones got a job acting in a melodrama at Knott's Berry Farm. He was spotted by veteran composer Vernon Duke, who was planning a musical. The musical project fell through, but Duke enabled Jones an audition with Arthur Freed, the famous producer of MGM feature film musicals such as "Singin' In the Rain." It did not go as planned. "He's an actor, not singer!" Arthur Freed exclaimed.  Still, the studio signed Jones, and in his first credited role, he found himself acting opposite James Cagney in the 1956 drama "These Wilder Years." 

Dean had mostly small roles of a far grittier nature than his later Disney fare. "I played drug addicts, pimps, hard-cased killers, ex-cons and angry young men," he told The Times in 1995.

Beginning with 1965's "That Darn Cat!," Dean became closely identified with Disney family fare. In addition to the "Love Bug" and "The Ugly Dachshund," he was the leading man in "Monekys, Go Home," "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit," "The Million Dollar Duck," "The Shaggy D.A.," "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" and other Disney feature films.

But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was leading an off-screen life contrary to his wholesome image. He had numerous affairs and was drinking heavily. "I had thought if I became a star I'd be happy," he said in a 1976 L.A.Times interview. "I had thought if I had a fairly large amount of money I'd be happy. I thought if I had a house on a hill I'd be happy. I thought if I had a Ferrari I'd be happy. One goal after another was accomplished. And with no fulfillment." Jones was able to keep his torment largely separated from his work life. Even the head of the studio was fooled. "I remember having lunch with Walt one day, and he told me, 'Dean, you're a perfect fit for these pictures. You're such a good family man!'" Jone's told the Pantagraph. "I wasn't a good family man," Jones said. "I was showing up at home smelling of perfume that wasn't my wife's.".

........More on Dean Jones at IMDb   

Friday, March 29, 2019

Walkin’ the Dog

The "Yes It Is"
Studio City Records SC 1046

Walkin’ the Dog

Little Boy

From Duluth, Minnesota on Lake Superior, the Yes It Is do a cover of Rufus Thomas’ “Walkin’ the Dog”, backed with a melancholy folk number, “Little Boy”, written by Mike Settle.

They have a second 45 on Studio City “Lovely Love” / “That Summer”.  One of the "Yes It Is" was named Nolan Craig Killebrew (1948-2018)

Acknowledgments : Garagehangover

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Jayne Mansfield Story

The Opposable Thumb

The Jayne Mansfield Story
Starring Loni Anderson & Arnold Schwartzenegger

Transitional Records

The Opposable Thumb is John Schnall, an animator from New Jersey, who was involved with a  project at WFMU called Midnight Matinee, for over ten years. It was a radio show, mixed live, using samples from primarily film and television. There are tons of mp3s available at his website, if you'd like to learn more about the project, which ran until 1998 at the popular free-form New Jersey station.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Impeachment Blues

Ray Weems & All Stars
Green Mountain Express 103

The Impeachment Blues

Words and music by Charles Cruce & Ernest H. Wells.© on June 21, 1974 by Ray Weems Music. Obscure Huntsville, Alabama label.  A previous release (#101) was by Glenn Shell (Mr. Hobo b/w Charleston West Virginia) also published by Ray Weems, who possibly  owned the label.

I'm Not A Crook
A Poignant Portrait from all of his Most Memorable Speeches
Albatross Records

Friday, March 22, 2019

Sarah! Sarah!

Martha Davis

Born 14 December 1917, Wichita, Kansas
Died 6 April 1960, Mount Vernon, New York

MARTHA DAVIS (By Dave Penny)

At the mid point of the 20th Century, the success of the jolly fat lady at the piano was a universal phenomenon. To name a few: Julia Lee, Nellie Lutcher, Rose Murphy, Winifred Atwell and even Mrs Mills.and, one more, Martha Davis.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, on 14th December 1917, and raised in Chicago, Martha Davis attended the famous Du Sable High School, and counted Dorothy Donegan and Nat Cole among her class mates. She met Fats Waller in the 1930s, who allegedly taught her some of his piano skills, and by the mid 1930s she was frequenting the lively Windy City jazz clubs and sitting in at all-night jam sessions. At one such in 1939, she met and subsequently married a Mississippi-born (17th October 1917) bass player named Calvin Ponder, but as he would enjoy a lucrative career with, notably, Earl Hines' big band, the couple did not work together regularly until 1948. By this time, the couple had moved to California and Martha had made her impressive recording debut on the tiny West Coast independent, Urban Records and had even enjoyed a substantial movie role in the Monogram Films featurette, Smart Politics, alongside Gene Krupa's Orchestra.

In 1948 Martha and Calvin recorded together for Ben Pollack's Hollywood-based Jewel Records, and it was to be her most successful year chart-wise, with a cover of Dick Haymes' pop hit Little White Lies reaching #11 on the Billboard R&B listing in July. This was followed by her duets with Louis Jordan - Daddy-O c/w You're On The Right Track, Baby, the former of which climbed to #7 later in the year. The patronage of Jordan provided an entrée with Decca Records, and Martha recorded six tracks for the label in December 1947. Surprisingly, she would not record again until 1951 when Bob Thiele signed her to Coral Records, although Herman Lubinsky reissued the 1948 Jewel sides in 1950 when he purchased the recording masters from Pollack.

Martha and Calvin's nightclub act, Martha Davis & Spouse, became hugely popular in the early to mid 1950s, and several of their joyous performances were filmed by Snader Telescriptions for the company's video jukeboxes. They also broadcast over AFRS from their L.A. home and were much in demand for a series of network TV Shows, particularly Garry Moore's CBS show. The Snader film footage was later used for inclusion in the variety films Rhythm & Blues Revue, Rock 'n' Roll Revue and Basin Street Revue during 1955/56, and videos of the performances such as Vippety Vippety Vop, Martha's Boogie and Goodbye have been doing the rounds among rock 'n' roll collectors for decades.

Surprisingly, despite their raised profile in the mid 1950s, the couple's commercial recording career was put on hold between 1951 and 1957 until they resumed recording for the brand new ABC Paramount label, with whom they cut two LPs, including a tribute to Martha's mentor, Fats Waller. Sadly, there is little to report after this; Variety reported that Martha died from cancer on 6th April 1960 in Mount Vernon, New York - where the couple stayed during their long residencies at the Blue Angel cafe - while "spouse" Calvin passed away back at home in Los Angeles a decade later, on 26th December 1970.

Recommended listening:

The Chronological Martha Davis (Classics 5123) - This CD features Martha's entire recorded output except for her late 1950s LPs for ABC Paramount and, strangely, her biggest hit "Little White Lies", since a satisfactory copy could not be found for dubbing.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Since I Met You Baby

June Mason Spencer and Harvey Russell

Since I Met You Baby

Recorded at the Columbia Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. June Mason Spencer, on this Jade label owned by Harvey Russell, is unknown to me.

Harvey Russell

Singing Cop - was all you needed to say in 1960s Akron. Harvey Russell was a cop, and a singer, and in the polarized world of the mid-late 60s, a cop who sang rock-n-roll.  See buckeyebeat

Harvey had started singing in local pop vocal groups including the Wonders (who recorded a 45 on Reserve). In the early 60s he continued to sing 'solo'. He had a local hit with "Out of My Teens" on the Vicki label.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Call Off The Wedding

Nancy Oxley, her husband Ralph, sons Jimmy, David and Joey Oxley, daughter Donya and her husband Clay Claxton formed Country Touch who has performed country music favorites and original songs around Tennessee for a number of years.  All seven in the group grew up in Lavergne, Tennessee and later moved to Lebanon. But they still considered Lavergne their home.

Nancy Oxley passed away in May 2002

Custom recording from 1974, mastered by Nashville Record Productions. NRP became the first independent mastering studio in Nashville (competing with Columbia and RCA), and was a huge success with independent labels.

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Peggy Anne Ellis
with Milt Kaye Orchestra and chorus
Wr. Shelley-Kaye
Pub. by Spiral Record Corp. (ASCAP)
Journal #3552


Born LaBlanche Pafford Metz in Georgia circa 1925, Peggy Anne Ellis was a Broadway actress, chanteuse, radio personality. She made a name for herself with radio audience as a "blues singer" when she was only six years old.  She performed in two Broadway musicals : Best Foot Forward (1942) and Billion Dollar Baby (1946) before recording for Signature/Hi Tone, Charles (1952-1953), Journal (1958) and Cue-P (1958).

From 1947 to 1971 Peggy Anne Ellis was married to Art Fleming, the quizmaster of NBC's "Jeopardy". 

She died in 2014 in Englewood, New Jersey.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I'll Go Crazy

Bob Hollicker
, a six-year old young toddler threw a fit one day  Mother Charlotte decided to write song lyrics based on his actions. Father Joseph wrote the music. Their song (and dance)  titled "The Temper Tantrum" were introduced in May 1965 at the Forum, a Boston discotheque.   It received exposure on Boston radio and TV stations and in the local press. Alan Ross of Decca Records secured tape of music and film of the dance and sent it to New York. 

The next day the Boston press and radio-TV carried the message that this was the dance to do in Boston and the surrounding areas. “The Tonight Show” heard about the excitement generated by the dance and showed a film clip of the steps of the “tantrum” to a national viewing audience. At the same time it was brought to the attention of A&R staffer Dick Jacobs, who immediately flew to Boston to record “Temper Tantrum” with The Warlocks, the musical group that first introduced the dance.

The Decca record was cut, mastered and shipped all in the period of three days to keep pace with the national excitement being generated by the fad.  Charlotte Holicker made a guest appearance on “The Mike Douglas Show” to tell the story of the dance to the show’s vast syndicated audience. 

I've not be able to found a video of the original dance.  However, a similar dance also called The Tantrum was featured in "The Cool Ones," a 1967 spoof movie of '60s teenage music TV shows like Shindig! and Hullabaloo.  You can watch it here

At DeadWax, we are not going along with the crowd and we prefer the flip side, a cover of James Brown. The top side is available on YT anyway...

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ape Man

Ape Man

Rather obscure Memphis artist despite the release of at least five singles issued between 1962 and 1966. James V. Yancey (his name) switched to record production after his singing career was over. At Sun Studios, he recorded Li'l Smokey Miller in early 1966 (Black Gold#500) and later Len Barrow for his own Yanden label (3494 Obion Road, Memphis).  One Judd Wood seems to have been one of his regular partners in songwriting.

Zone 1500   (1962) (as James Yancey)
I Need Some One / Uncle Bum

Penthouse  (1963)
Painting The Town Blue / Hat's Off To You Mister

Wildfire   (1965)
Best Friend You Ever Had / Stop The Music

Black Gold  (1966)
Ape Man / Lions Den
Express 712 (196x)
Cotton Patch / Loneliness Finds Me
I cannot find a date for the 45 on Express, a tiny but long-lasting label owned by Bob Taylor, the singing truckdriver.

Black Gold Records and Black Gold Productions were operated by Tom Phillips, brother of the Sun Records owner.


Dean Hudson and His Scholars

Lyrics by Dean Hudson

A special release on the Valley's Meadowlark label which has exactly the same design than Valley, except it has the bird added on the left.  The Valley Meadowlark label wasn't used again until a release by The Hoopers in 1958. 

Valley Publishers, owned by Jack Comer, a man whose imagination and knack for promotion, was pushed  to one of the top publishers in the country and western field. Comer’s firm startled the trade in mid-1953 by coming up with the hit “Crying In The Chapel” [Darrell Glenn, Valley#105] less than a month after the Valley firm was founded.

When he was a barefoot newsboy on Knoxville’s Gay Street, Jack Comer used to pick up a few nickels and dimes by dancing the Charleston in front of a certain theatre. The theatre owner ran him away repeatedly, but Jack always came back, with a bigger audience. The movie man gave up the idea of running the boy off, so put him to work inside—on the stage, dancing the Charleston. 

Few years later, the theater man, Jack’s childhood benefactor, worked for Comer at Deane Hill Country Club. The Country Club was another of Jack’s brainstorms which grew like Topsy until it became one of the largest in the South.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Rocking Ghost

J. Hawk Willis

Rocking Ghost
Arranged by Mark Perlman and penned by Kyle J. Wolf

CSC Music Productions
12503 Crenshaw Blvd., Hawthorne, Ca. 90250
Was J. Hawk Willis the inspiration for Wesley Willis (no relation)? "Out of this world" recording on a label once located (or not far located) where is today the headquarters of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).  (Dear Elon, our ambition is mashi-mashi as yours : a Japanese robot company is trying to get Elon Musk's attention with a billboard next to the SpaceX office)

The label had few releases with various addresses (Hawthorne, Inglewood or Los Angeles) : Flying Free, Godfathers Strivers, The Gifted Four.

Cash Box (April 3, 1976 issue) tells us a bit about CSC Records :
Another new and exciting company is also trying to get a foothold in the market. The label is CSC and their first big release is "To Make Me Happy" (#103) by the Godfather Strivers. Most of the group are originally from Kentucky but have relocated in L A. Some of the members used to be in the Mint Juleps and Nightlighters, which later became New Birth. The principals of CSC Music Productions are William Campbell, John Murphy Jr., Frenchell DeGrate and Douglas Moore. The name of their publishing firm is Four Buddies and their offices are located at 12503 Crenshaw Bivd. in Hawthorne. CA.
William (Bill) Campbell will be still active in the eighties with HSR/Ham-Sem/Hamito-Semitica Records, Four Buddies (ASCAP publisher) and Billdia Music (BMI)
Dear Elon, our ambition is mashi-mashi as yours

Saturday, March 2, 2019

I Found Salvation in my Death Cell

Spoken word (evangelical rants) by Leslie Douglas Ashley. Recorded in prison on death row circa 1963.

"Leslie Elaine Perez, formerly Leslie Douglas Ashley, has seen her fair share of troubles. She first made headlines back in 1961 during a lurid Houston sex-torch murder, when, as a young male transvestite, he and his teenaged prostitute girlfriend, Carolyn Lima, shot Fred A. Tones after a three-way sexual encounter went bad. Panic-stricken, they burned his body, then led police on a three-week chase through Mardi Gras in New Orleans all the way to Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan before they were captured."

"Their Houston trial was a circus. Spectators fought over gallery seats to hear X-rated testimony. News headlines blazoned "Gun-Torch Murderers" and "Beatnik Killers." Houston, a city steeped in Bible Belt tradition, with a hefty appetite for sin, reveled in this wicked story." "The judge would not allow the defense lawyer to enter evidence discovered about the victim - a religious family man, but a Jekyll-Hyde type with a second identity and an arrest record. The defense case collapsed. Leslie and Carolyn were sentenced to death by an electric current."

"A new legal team learned the D.A. hid psychiatric reports supporting an insanity plea. A last-minute reprieve saved Leslie and Carolyn on the eve of their execution. At her retrial, Carolyn blamed everything on Leslie. Carolyn was sentenced to five years; Leslie was sent to a mental institution. He soon escaped and made the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List." After six months at large, he was captured working as Bobo the Clown in a traveling carnival."

"Leslie was convicted again but sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was released after five years of chopping cotton in Texas prison farms. Once free, Leslie got the sex-change operation he had always wanted. His mother, Sylvia, paid for it." "When Leslie Douglas Ashley became Leslie Elaine Perez, in the eighties, she also became a political activist. Before her sordid past was revealed, she earned enough votes to make a runoff for the chairmanship of the Harris County Democratic Party in Houston in 1990.

She has since been active in the AIDS awareness campaign and has also participated in demonstrations against capital punishment." "For the past thirty years the media has fed off Leslie's bizarre life and has persecuted her as a social aberration, but Robert Bentley, for the first time, gives her whole, uncensored story in Dangerous Games." "Leslie, a survivor, mixes in her life the macabre and slapstick humor. And her down-home sweetness makes her one of the most charming killers you'll ever read about."--
Book summary
Dangerous Games: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer on Death Row who Changed His Sex and Won Her Freedom
Robert L. Bentley; Carol Publishing Group, 1993

This page has a detailed story with newspapers clips and illustration, and including the audio file

Friday, March 1, 2019

Sonya And The Capris

Sonya And The Capris
Scarlet Records Inc.

Extra Extra

Private Party

Label owned by Noel Ball, Nashville's first and most flamboyant rock n roll disk jockey. Noel Ball produced the two following singles in 1961 on Sonya at the FAME Studios in Muscle Schoals and issued on the Dot label (Noel also was the head of the Southern Division of Dot Records) :
16235 - Sonya - Little Red Rooster / We Kiss In A Shadow - 1961
16356 - Sonya - For Your Love / Seventeen Years One Dark Night - 1962
Sonya who? Her last name remains unknown and no info has be found.  Unknown as well are the  Capris apparently unrelated to the many other recorded Capris.

Note the early Buzz Cason song composition ("Extra Extra") published by Conmay Music, probably a printing error for Conmar (a Bill Connor-Kenny Marlowe joint venture)