Birthday Elf unmasked!

One of the annoying things about being a parent is that, for years, Santa gets the credit for the best presents at Christmas. Same with Easter. If you grew up in rural Australia, where rabbits are loathed as a destructive environmental pest, letting the praise for the chocolate eggs go to a magical bunny is galling.

TipToeLabelSo, thank goodness that the creature on this record never caught on. Tip Toe the Birthday Elf. Yes, tune into the lyrics. The song is called “Happy Birthday to You”, but it is not the familiar version. Rather it is about another non-existent wretch trying to steal a parent’s thunder. His toe nails glow, or something, and he brings presents.

On the B-side, we meet this Tip Toe, who talks in a high squeaky voice, which at times morphs into a “mouse stampede” sound effect, said to be “Elf Talk”.

Planet Vinyl’s investigative unit can now reveal the shocking truth. “Elf Talk” is phoney! If you slow down Tiptoe’s supposed native tongue, it turns out to be some random dialogue from a radio play, a western, which features a horse which has gone lame having stepped in a “gopher hole”. And one of the voices seems to be that of Gene Autry. Have a listen.

So, dear Tip Toe you have been exposed as a sham. And the hole which crippled the horse? Probably dug by the Easter Bunny.

  • Artist: “Peter Piper” (Stephen Gale)
  • A side: Happy Birthday to You
  • B side: Birthday Party with Tip Toe
  • Format: 10”, 78 rpm, shellac, mono
  • Label: Philips
  • Made in: unknown
  • Catalogue: B 21418 H
  • Year: unknown [early 1950s?]

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs

 

 

 

 

Pacific Rim

Allegations are flying that Planet Vinyl has sold out. A puerile head of state, who shall remain nameless, has Tweeted: “So-called ‘obscure’ music blog writes about ROLLING STONES in failed attempt to boost LOSER ratings. Sad.” Well, Sir, normal service has been resumed.

I had never heard of Rim D. Paul, but one of his records came my way. And, wow! Yes, it is derivative. There is some Wilson Pickett there, and a lot of James Brown. But, who cares? The band rocks, and Rim gives a stellar vocal performance.

0638Rim, I learned, is a legend in New Zealand, a pioneer of Maori music breaking into the mainstream. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Like the indigenous peoples of my own country, and indeed pretty much every colonial-settler society, the Maori have had a rough road. But they are resilient, proud, adaptable, and a people with an amazing feel for music. Listen, just listen, to a Maori choir. A whole community singing together, weaving in Maori tradition, mission hymns, and the popular music of the world.

Rim Paul was a bridge builder. Back in the 1960s he led groups, such as the Quin Tikis, bringing Maori musical talent into the mainstream – first in New Zealand and later in Australia as well. He also worked with or led the Howard Morrison Quartet and the Maori National Choir, exploring an extraordinary variety of musical styles.

Wanting to learn more, I found an interview Rim did with Radio New Zealand a few years ago. He talks of his long, varied career, his journey exploring and recovering his Maori identity, the struggle to make a living as a musician. He shows an undiminished voice and love for music, not to mention a dignity and grace which the odd world leader could learn from.

  • Artist: Rim D. Paul
  • Single Title: All God’s Children Got Soul
  • Side A “All God’s Children Got Soul”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Philips
  • Catalogue: BF-454
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1969

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs

 

The Deadly Hume

Highway 31 runs between Australia’s two biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney. The Hume Highway, it is also called, and there is not a lot of love out there for it. It used to be both boring and dangerous, especially on the New South Wales side of the border.  There was even a rock band named after it: The Deadly Hume. These days it is well-made dual-carriageway the whole distance: still boring, but safer.

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Only 800-odd Ks to Sydney …  some locals have added welcoming bullet holes to the sign.

Back in 1969, though, it was still possible to conjure some romance from Highway 31, and this is what Johnny Chester did. I recently sold some of Chester’s records to a man in Western Australia. Not knowing much about the artist, I asked about the buyer’s interest. It was a lovely reply:

I have known him all of my life but not so much in recent years since we moved over here to WA (used to live in Vic). He’s a great guy (very modest), his career started out back in the late 50s. He sang rock & roll back then which then morphed into the pop scene in the early ’60s. He toured Oz with the Beatles when they came out. In the late 60s he got into country music. He’s in his 70s now. I picked up some of his old sheet music just for a keepsake. Then of course I started to think about getting some of his old 45’s and here we are today!

This is Johnny Chester’s take on the Deadly Hume, a sort-of up-tempo Australian version of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, in which a man leaves his lover and puts miles and place names between them. No great pretension, but it rocks along, features some nice guitar, and is good fun.

  • Artist: Johnny Chester
  • Single Title: I Just Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye
  • Side B “Highway 31”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Philips
  • Catalogue: BF-456
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1969

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs

The Iron Chef deception

There are crushing moments when illusions, fondly nurtured for years, are shattered.

  • Santa Claus isn’t real.
  • No Viking ever had horns on his helmet.
  • Chairman Kaga, the poncy Japanese playboy who used his personal fortune to create Kitchen Stadium and named his men the Iron Chefs, did not exist.
takeshi

The man crunching the capsicum is an actor. Still in therapy over this.

Not quite as devastating, because I have only just discovered his music, but it was still disappointing to learn that Chaquito, Rey del Cha-Cha-Cha (Chaquito, King of Cha-Cha-Cha), the band leader who produced this stunning Latin-swing EP, was an Englishman by name of  John Gregory.

When Swinging Cha-Cha came out, in 1958, Gregory had already been an important musician for a decade, though rather behind the scenes. He was staff arranger for Philips, providing the backing arrangements for the labels stars, including Cleo Laine.

Given the opportunity to put out his own dance records, he adopted a stage name (one of several – he was also known as Nino Rico). You could forgive a bandleader who had done twenty years of backroom arranging for becoming cynical and weary. Instead, as Chaquito, Rey del Cha-Cha-Cha, Gregory draws on his experience performing and in the studio, and produces as lively a Latin dance sound as you could wish to hear.7058 invert

This track, “Midnight Cha-cha”, features a trumpet solo from “Stan Rodriguez”. I have not been able to find out any more about him, except that he played on lots of Chaquito recordings, but one would not be astonished if he had really been born in Blackpool, as Stanley Rodgers.

But none of that matters. Imagine: it is 1958, and someone cranks up the radiogram.

Inauthentic? Yup, but there is more to life than authenticity. Just ask Chairman Kaga.

  • Artist: Chaquito, Rey del Cha-Cha-Cha
  • EP Title: Swinging Cha-Cha
  • Side 2, Track 1: “Midnight Cha-Cha”
  • Format: 7” EP 45 rpm
  • Label: Fontana TFE 17045
  • Manufactured in: Great Britain
  • Year: 1958

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs

What it says on the tin

In all of music, is there a more romantic instrument than the cello?

Rhetorical question. ‘Course not.

1063 sleeveIf you want to hook someone on classical music, take them to see a good cellist play. Or even just play a recording, and you could do worse than this, one of the most demanding cello pieces ever written. It is the work of the Czech composer Anton Dvorak, who travelled to the United States in the 1890s. He lived and worked there for several years, writing the New World Symphony for which is he is mostly remembered. But he did a lot besides, and though I have only just discovered it I rank this work, which was first performed in 1896, as a masterpiece.

Like a lot of classical music, it has a less-than-catchy title: “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B Minor”. You get what it says on the tin, but the marketing could be better. Anyway, it is a lovely piece, dramatic and beautiful in turns. The section I have chosen is the second movement which, after a brief burst is slower, quieter and more reflective than the rest of the Concerto.1063 sticker

As part of my Planet Vinyl experience I have been learning the meaning of those strange Italian expressions which appear on the liner notes of classical records. I always found them intimidating. But, much like Italian cooking, they are actually pretty forgiving, relaxed. This movement is adagio ma non troppo. Adagio literally means “at ease” but is usually translated as “slowly”. Ma non troppo is a beautiful, very Italian, phrase: “but not too much”.

The record is a 10-inch LP, from about the early-1960s. It was bought in Geelong, from a shop called Dicksons’. The original owner played it quite a bit, and so there is some surface noise. Sadly, it will never be played again. I dropped it, you see, and 1960s vinyl can be brittle … 1063 chip

But the music shines through. Playing slowly, but not too much, is Tibor de Machula on cello. Just lovely.

  • Artist: Tibor de Machula (cello); Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rudolf Moralt.
  • LP Title: Anton Dvorak: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B Minor
  • Side 1, Track 2: Second movement, adagio ma non troppo.
  • Format: 10” LP 33⅓ rpm
  • Label: Philips G 05338 R
  • Manufactured in: Holland
  • Year: no date (early 1960s?)

Many of the records featured on this blog (not this one, wot has a big chip in it) are for sale via Discogs