Beatles Covers #4: When I'm 64 by Los Norte Americanos

According to Space Age Pop: The Tijuana Brass represents the last brilliant burst of space age pop before it flamed out as schizophrenia took over and America's musical tastes split between the radical disaffection of psychedelic rock and the Silent Majority safety of "The Lawrence Welk Show."

Believe it or not, between 1963 and 1969, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (TJB) racked up sales and airplay of their singles and albums to rival the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. At one point in 1966, they had five of the Top 20 best-selling albums on Billboard's charts, and at various times, held the #1 spot for a total of 26 weeks between 1965 and 1968. "Whipped Cream and Other Delights" stayed on the Top 40 album chart for nearly three years!

So, I guess it shouldn't be surprising that there were a lot of TJB knock offs.  If it's popular, it's going to be imitated.... more often than not, poorly.  This track by Los Norte Americanos not only capitalizes on the success of TJB, but also rides on the coat-tails of The Beatles.   It is sure to disappoint. And it does so spectacularly.

Click the "read more" option below to see some more TJB rip-offs from yesteryear, including one by Colonel Sanders himself.


Actors on Record #3: Jodie Foster Says "Life Is Cool When You've Got a Crush"

In 1977, a 15 year old Jodie Foster recored a few songs for the French jailbait drama Moi, fleur bleue (1977). "La Vie c'est chouette" ("Life Is Cool") is a nice little disco number, albeit a tad sleazy.  I can easily picture Donna Summer moaning to this groove; a spunky little 15 year old - not so much.

Jodie Foster - La Vie C'est Chouette .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Of course, the film itself was pretty sleazy. Foster plays a teen virgin desperate to "pop her cherry" (a quote from the film). The film was never released in America. This is not much of a surprise considering that in the U.S. this on-screen romance is called statutory rape.

I marvel at Foster's films during the years of 1976-77. Freaky Friday, Bugsy Malone, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Moi, fleur bleue, and Taxi Driver - what a variety!

BTW: Foster became fluent in French from her education at an exclusive French speaking private school in L.A.

Album Covers #8: What Now My Love? by Liberace

[image source: lounge legends, where the record is available for download]

When judging an album cover it's important to consider what the designer has to work with.  In this case, we're talking about Liberace, so there's really only a couple options: (A) Liberace dressed like a bedazzled peacock with a cheezy grin or (B) the cheesecake cover that almost all easy listening/instrumental records used.  This designer, however, opted for the rarely used Plan C: try something truly artistic. 


Retrospace Looks at Manufactured Bands

The Now Generation were about as manufactured as they came; the songs as lifeless as can be, and arranged to sound as close to the original hit recordings as possible (see Frank's Vinyl Museum for more on them). They were designed to appeal to kids who didn't know better - a textbook example of all that is bad about manufactured bands.

However, manufactured doesn't necessarily mean bad. The Monkees were manufactured, and although they endured serious criticism during their heyday, time has been kind to the group. Mickey Dolenz had one of the best voices in music, and his experimentations with the moog were years ahead of other bands. Mike Nesmith has also proven himself to be an immensely talented musician, innovator and producer. Peter Tork was actually quite handy with the guitar, and Davy.... well, he played a mean maraca.

"Sugar, Sugar", a number one hit by Andy Kim ("Rock Me Gently"), was meant for the Monkees, but they were trying to shed their bubblegum image. So, it ended up going to another manufactured band - The Archies.

The vocals were performed by Ron Dante, of the Cuff Links (a real group whose arranger happended to be Rupert "Pina Colada" Holmes). Dante later provided lead vocals for another fictional animated group, The Chan Clan, and became the longtime producer for Barry Manilow.

And speaking of television based manufactured bands, one of my favorites is The Hardy Boys. To go along with a Saturday morning cartoon (1969-1971), this band was invented that actually released two albums and toured. It was the first cartoon to feature an African American character. I highly recommend dowloading their two records via Zip Your Rip. Here's their theme song, "Here Come the Hardy Boys".

It wasn't long before seemingly every Saturday morning show had a band - The Groovie Goolies, The Neptunes (from Jabber Jaw), The Banana Splits, etc. Even The Brady Bunch jumped on the bandwagon. I've theorized in a previous post about where this all started - maybe The Partridge Family, maybe The Cowsills, who knows? Regardless, it was a trend that created a lot of prefabricated bands.

And who can forget Josie & the Pussycats. Their album was a bust, so the real girl group didn't last long, but it did spark the career of a young Cheryl Ladd (who would later replace Farrah Fawcett on Charlie's Angels).

Of course, I couldn't begin to list all manufactured bands; there's been legions of them over the years. However, I think I should bring up the point that the idea of a manufactured band is almost laughable today. Pretty much everything you hear on the top 40 radio was created in a lab - as synthetic as petroleum based plastic.

Mini Skirt Monday #22: In the Yearbook

Burbank H.S. 1968
Once upon a time, mini skirts filled the halls of high schools and colleges across the world. Subsequently, these high hemlines decorated the pages of thousands of yearbooks. Let's take a look at a few pages from our mini skirted past.

The heyday in the U.S. was definitely from 1968-1974, so all of these images are from within that time period. Click the "read more" option to see some more images; click on the images themselves to see full size at source page. No commentary, just yearbook images.... enjoy.


Actors on Record #2: Sissy Spacek Disgusted by Nude Beatle

Sissy Spacek started out as a country music singer under the name Rainbo'.  In 1968 she recorded a song called "John, You Went Too Far This Time" which dealt with her outrage over the cover of the John Lennon & Yoko Ono album Two Virgins, which pictured the two totally naked.

Now I gaze in awe before that picture
My mind retires to the place it was before you came
I love the things you showed me up til now, John
But since that picture, I don't think my love will be the same

I find Spacek's outrage a bit strange, considering she would be completely naked herself in the movie Carrie (1976)!  I'll be the first to admit that the cover for the Two Virgins album isn't among my favorites. I'm not particularly fond of looking at John's twig and berries, and Yoko's not exactly a "looker".  However, I'm not recording a song about how I'm disgusted by it and then following it up by stripping butt naked in a Brian DePalma movie.

I guess, everyone's got the right to change their mind about things.  Anyway, here's the song...

Rainbo - John, You Went Too Far This Time .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine


Beatles Covers #3: Tomorrow Never Knows by Junior Parker

For me, the main ingredient for a cover song is adding something new - preferably something unexpected, but not for the sake of novelty.  When they remade Psycho in 1998 and didn't alter a single thing other than the color, audiences wondered 'what was the point'? I mean, if it's going to be the same thing, I can't see any real reason to remake something. 

Personally, I think Madonna's cover of Don McLean's masterpiece, "American Pie", is the worst cover song ever.  It not only brought nothing new to the song, it took away a good deal. It was like taking Moby Dick and turning it into limerick. Of course, The Brady Bunch had covered "American Pie" decades earlier and just as badly, but with less pretension.

And one more thing: I don't expect a cover version to be better than the original. Sometimes it is - not often, but it happens.  I would argue that Joan Jett's version of "I Love Rock and Roll" is better than the original by The Arrows in 1975. Britney Spears' version of the same song is wretched, and far, far worse than the original.  Not surprisingly, when asked about it, she attributed the song to Pat Benatar!

Anyway, I say all this to bring up the fact that Junior Parker's version of "Tomorrow Never Knows" is an example of a Beatles cover that really brings something new to the table.  His album Love Ain't Nothin' but a Business Goin' On actually contains three Beatles covers, but this is my personal favorite. It's not better than the original, but it's so different, it's almost unfair to compare the two.  The original is a sweeping psyechedelic journey through space and time  Parker's version is a dark and somber look into the void.  A rare occasion where a Beatles cover is arguably as brilliant as the original.  Suffice it to say, Parker had come a long way from "Annie Get Your Yo-Yo".

Fairly recently, the song was used in the soundtrack to Children of Men, which also contained the King Crimson classic, "Court of the Crimson King".  The film wasn't too bad, but this is surely another case of a soundtrack being better than the movie (a la Platoon and I Am Sam)..... I'm rambling - here's the song.


Cinema #7: Cinematic Humiliation

Ever watch a particularly embarrassing scene in a movie and asked yourself, “Why the hell would this actor agree to do this?” That's Barbara Crampton in the picture above. She's about to film a scene in Re-Animator that will be especially wince worthy. She looks like she knows she's just made a poor judgement call. More about this movie later.

God knows, there’s been plenty of awful movie moments; too many to count. However, I’m talkin’ about stuff that makes you feel downright uncomfortable. I’m talking about actors and actresses making bad decisions.

Before I give you my top “what were they thinking?” list, let me spell it out a bit more:

1. Regret and humiliation go hand-in-hand with pornography. However, I’d rather not make this a list of the most degrading and twisted pornos. So, pornos don’t count.

2. I’m not talking about bad career decisions. There's not an actor who hasn’t starred in at least one pathetic flop. We're talking here about isolated movie scenes that make you wince with pain.

Movie: Making the Grade
Actor: Judd Nelson
Scene: The Breakdance

Judd Nelson is a skid row loser who’s posing as a private school preppy. To earn the respect of his peers and win over the ladies, Nelson tells the band to stop playing moldy oldies, and shouts “It’s break time!!!” At which point he (and an obvious body double) perform some wicked breakdancing moves…. and by wicked I mean painfully bad. The scene where Judd Nelson does the robot slowly and turns to catch the eye of a girl is about as embarrassing as it gets.

Movie: The Nude Bomb
Actress: Andrea Howard
Scene: Awkward manhandle by Don Adams

The first theatrical film adaption of the television show, Get Smart, ended up being not a nude bomb (it was rated PG) but a box office bomb. The climactic scene involves Maxwell Smart and his female sidekick, actress Andrea Howard in the Barbara Feldon role.

They’re in a control room and some kind of nerve gas is released causing Howard to lose the ability to move from the waist down(?). Doesn’t sound particularly funny, does it? It gets worse. Maxwell then proceeds to try to carry her to safety, but is unable to do so without slamming her around with her dress pulled up, dragging, dropping her all over the place. This might’ve been okay for a minute or two, but it seems to last for an eternity! No laugh track, no dialogue, no music…. just the uncomfortable soft clatter of Maxwell Smart manhandling Andrea Howard for seemingly ten straight agonizing minutes.

Movie: Re-Animator
Actress: Barbara Crampton
Scene: Severed head sex scene

Re-Animator is actually a great movie. It’s over the top and quite graphic at times, but it doesn't take itself very seriously; so, you're more inclined to view it as campy fun than nihilistic gore like Saw IV or Last House on the Left. That being said, the movie does contain a rather shocking scene - the kind that makes you wonder if you actually just saw that. That couldn't have just happened, could it?

The scene I'm referring to is where a headless mad doctor kidnaps Barbara Crampton, takes her clothes off, then takes his still animated severed head (which was lying in a pan of blood) and puts it between her legs to.... well, I think you can guess the rest.

How in the world did the director get Barbara (who was currently starring on Santa Barbara) to agree to this? Well, you might argue that it was also just good campy fun. True. However, the fact remains: she was naked and had a talking decapitated head put between her legs!

Movie: Doctor Detroit
Actor: Dan Akroyd
Scene: Dance number with James Brown

OK. First off, Akroyd looks like a cross between David Bowie in Labyrinth and Will Ferrell’s impersonation of Harry Carey. Plus, for no apparent reason, he has a metal claw hand (?) and sounds like Truman Capote doing an intoxicated impersonation of Dr. Evil!
Add to that, the movie’s climax has him doing a dance with Fran Drescher, James Brown, Donna Dixon, and the whole audience keeping step. It was like someone’s sick, twisted joke. You cannot convince me that Akroyd was not doing dangerous amounts of coke while filming this movie.

And the winner is....

Movie: Deliverance
Actor: Ned Beatty
Scene: (do I really need to tell you?)

This scene makes my stomach turn just thinking about it. The minute those two hillbillies detain Jon Voight and Ned Beatty, things get rough. The guy with the knife tells Ned to take his "panties" off, and we get to see ol' Ned remove his tighty whities. Then we're treated to an incredibly graphic rape scene, where the hillbilly handles Ned like a hog, smacking him and telling him to squeal.... and, lucky us, we get to see it all. (gag)

Not surprisingly, Ned never really lived this one down. Once you've seen it, you can't really look at him again without being reminded of it. The image will be permanently burned onto your retina. No acting roles, no matter how diverse, will ever erase this from our collective memory. Way to go, Ned.

Runners Up:
1. Ralph Macchio air guitar in Karate Kid II
2. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Anakin Skywalker delivers this line: ""I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." I would have refused on principle.

I could go on and on, but I'll let you fill in the gaps. Please leave a comment with your suggestion of a wince worthy scene that had you cringing and feeling uncomfortable.


Ads #21: What's a Seat Belt?

I don't think I knew what a seat belt was until I was 15. In fact, I don't know if any cars my family owned even had any. The seat belt situation wasn't any better in the cars of my friends or cousins. My grandparents had some in their old Cadillac, but they were buried in the backseat cushion and probably weren't operational anyway.

Bill Bryson's excellent book The Thunderbolt Kid describes his experience driving across the country sitting on the edge of the open back door of their station wagon! I personally spent many a trip cozy in the back floorboard of our car, or sleeping like a baby in a sleeping bag in the back of a van. Meanwhile, my little brother would be sitting comfortably on my mom's lap in the front seat.

Balanced on top of a moving vehicle, as in the picture above, is a bit extreme. However, I've heard plenty of similar stories of safety belt neglect from people my age. I guess it was a good thing things changed, but it sure is less comfortable and inconvenient with kids. Ignorance is bliss.

And since I've got a disturbingly unsafe Portuguese ad at the top of this post, I may as well put up another equally horrifying example of 1970's Brazilian unsafety in advertising.

Believe it or not, this is not an anti drinking and driving ad - quite the opposite. My Portuguese is bad, but this translates to something like “We are launching another indespensable equipment for the summer - Eaton air conditioning for automobiles”. I guess we are to assume your frosty mug of beer will now stay cool while you drive. Hooray!

[Note: This post was expanded from two earlier posts on Retrospace Zeta found here and here]

Cinema #6: Sequels That Killed a Franchise

To get myself in the mood for October, I recently watched the original Halloween II. Certainly not as great as the first, but still delivers the goods with plenty of chills, tension, and straight up horror. I was stricken by the fact that the Halloween franchise could theoretically have continued and never lost its luster. James Bond movies kept audiences coming back for more, why not Halloween?

Well, the answer is a little movie called Halloween III: Season of the Witch. A total piece o' crap, that (incredibly) had nothing at all to do with parts I and II. It put the kibosh on any hopes of Halloween franchise becoming much of a goldmine. This got me thinking of other potentially lucrative franchises that were cut down in their prime by a pathetic sequel.

Here's the Retrospace top 7 sequels that jumped the shark. Each one has 3-4 quick examples of why the movie sucked.


Why Disco Died: Reason #21

How audacious could disco get? Look no further than "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper" from 1978. It's an incredible piece of space disco which blends science-fiction and sexual innuendo to their tackiest extreme. I don't know how many lines of cocaine it took to write this song, but the end product stands as a perfect example of disco gone wild. This is dance music crazier than a shit house rat.

Take a good long look at these lyrics. Shiza Minelli, they're awful!!
Hey, Captain Strange, won't you be my lover?
You're the best thing that I've ever discovered.
Flash Gordon's left me - he's gone to the stars
And evil Darth Vader has me banished to Mars

Tell me, Captain Strange, do you feel my devotion?
Or are you like a droid, devoid of emotion?
Encounters one and two are not enough for me
What my body needs is close encounter three

Courtesy of WFMU, click here and listen to the song or the media player below.

And check who the singer is. Sweet Lincoln's mullet! It's sung by Sarah Brightman! The best-selling female classical artist of the twenty-first century, the the world's biggest selling soprano of all time!

I find it nothing short of amazing that the same lady who sang "Con te partirĂ²" with Andrea Bocelli, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, also sang the words "Take me, make me feel The Force" to a disco beat.

Brightman was once a member of the dance troupe, Hot Gossip. We in the States had the raunchy Solid Gold Dancers, and in the U.K. they had the slightly less raunchy Pan's People. However, the Brits also had another group of raunchy dancers called Hot Gossip, who put them both to shame. You can go here to download a one hour special called The Very Hot Gossip Show, one of the highest rating shows for Channel 4 that year (big surprise).

From a British Solid Gold Dancer to a world renowned soprano... pretty impressive, I'd say!

See also: Why disco died: Reasons 1-20I also recommend this page, entirely devoted to this one song


Kid Stuff #10: When Children's Records Went to Hell

If you wonder why my generation (Gen X) is so damn jaded and cynical look no further than children's records.  Way before kids had things like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to keep them entertained (and thirsty for violence), the children of the world actually used to set a record on a turntable and listen for 45 minutes.  Often, these records had a comic or picture book to read along to.

One thing that struck me while paging through the different sites devoted to these old children's records was the striking difference between those produced around the 1950's and those produced just a couple decades later.


The Retrospace Archives

Just a quick note to let you know there is now an archive page for Retrospace.  A link to it will be on the sidebar as well as at the very bottom of the page.  Pretty easy to make, really.

No real purpose for this other than (a) it's a way for me to waste time until the football game tonight and (b) I think it's easier to pick and choose posts to read this way.  When you click on labels, for instance "Foxy Ladies"(link located in the sidebar), you get every single Foxy Lady post.  With the archive page, you can select an individual Foxy Lady post to read.... if that makes sense. 


Beatles Covers #2: Norwegian Wood by The Folkswingers

The Folkswingers album Raga Rock (1966) basically capitalizes on the popularity of psychedelic sitar sounds of the day like Ravi Shankar (an artist from this same label). The cover of "Norwegian Wood" isn't actually half bad IMHO.

The Folkswingers were actually less a band than a studio project. Their most famous member (from their 1963 lineup) was Glen Campbell. However, they are most famous and significant for their indirect role in the birth of folk rock.

As a show of appreciation for the producer's (Jim Dickson) good work on the Folkswingers LP 12 String Guitar!, the company allowed him extra studio time with his other band, The Byrds. This extra studio time has been directly linked to The Byrds' being able to refine their "electric folk rock" sound that would take the world by storm.

As another point of interest, several members of The Folkswingers were members of the Dillards, a highly respected and influential bluegrass group who were regulars on The Andy Griffith Show (as The Darling Boys).

A thanks to Chocoreve for the song. I recommend this site for more on The Dillards.


Opinions and Rants #15: Legalize It

Let me get this disclaimer out of the way first: I am not advocating marijuana use. In fact, if you smoke pot, you're probably going to get busted sooner or later and be out of a job or wind up in prison right along with the sex offenders. You might as well take that college diploma, fill it with your last bit of weed, roll it up and smoke it - 'cause it won't be worth anything once you get caught.

Whew. Now that that's out of the way, let me explain why marijuana should be legalized.

Pot was everywhere in the 1970's - you couldn't walk ten feet back then without catching a whiff. Some of my earliest memories are of people smoking weed - whether it was my hippie neighbors or the teenagers I saw out back at a wedding, it was freaking everywhere! Was there a single person between the ages of 16 and 30 during the 1970's that wasn't getting stoned? Okay, maybe one or two..... so they say.

It is rather interesting that the Baby Boomers took drugs, lots of drugs, during the 1960's and 70's with little to no legal consequence, but once they became older and settled down, the hammer came crashing down on drug use. "Just say no" was the mantra in the 1980's, whereas the hippie generation enjoyed precious little enforcement of recreational marijuana use. How effing convenient.

For those of you who are against legalizing it, I ask you to reflect on the next few points with an open mind.

1. There is no empirical proof that marijuana is addictive. It may be habit forming, but what pleasurable activity isn't habit forming? You enjoy it and therefore want to do it more frequently - to say this is addiction is a huge unfounded leap. And if you just can't let go of your belief that marijuana is addictive - well, so are cigarettes, and they were legal last time I checked.

2. Please, for the love of God, do not fall for the "marijuana is a gateway drug" fallacy. I won't argue that people that do marijuana are much more likely to do coke, heroine and meth - that's a no brainer. But to claim that this proves marijuana is a gateway drug is a hilarious.

Fact: People that are willing to break the law (i.e. buy and use marijuana) are more likely to try hard drugs than people who aren't willing to break the law and jeopardize their livelihood, reputation, and freedom.

Fact: People that know how to acquire marijuana are more likely to know how to acquire hard drugs. The relationship between between marijuana and hard drugs is clear, but to claim it acts as a "gateway" is logically fallacious.

3. Alcohol is way the hell more dangerous and incapacitating than marijuana - yet booze is totally legit. Fact: I would feel much safer on the road if I knew pot was legal, but booze was not. How many violent acts, domestic and otherwise, are attributable to alcohol? Countless. How many can be attributed to pot? I'll bet the answer is zero - it has the opposite effect by relaxing the person. In fact, it's a peacemaker: people that were fighting are often brought closer together (haven't you seen The Breakfast Club?).

4. Legalizing marijuana would be an economic blessing for the U.S.: Billions of dollars in the U.S. are flushed down the toilet every year for (1) the numerous law enforcement agencies resources, (2) court costs, and (3) incarceration. How ridiculous is it that a guy busted with a quarter bag is sharing a cell with a sex offender or murderer? One is a serious threat to society, the other just wanted to get high and harm no one.

5. Legalizing marijuana would be an economic blessing for the U.S.: Billions would be generated for the government via taxes. I'm sure the government would tax marijuana like it does tobacco, and here's the numbers for that: (A) Federal excise taxes - $7,307,440,000, (B) State and local excise taxes - $15,087,691,000 (C) State cigarette sales taxes - $4,764,730,000, (D) Tobacco settlement payments - $7,200,000,000. Not exactly small change!

6. Legalizing marijuana would be an economic blessing for private industry. I think it goes without saying that companies that produce marijuana for legal use would be rolling in the dough (pardon my pun). That's jobs in production, distribution, marketing, and retail. Where's the problem?

And please don't tell me about the health risks. With millions of people in the U.S. smoking 20+ cigarettes a day, and millions more who are morbidly obese, please don't make me laugh worrying about people smoking a couple doobies a day. Trust me, no one is going to smoke 20+ joints a day on a regular basis (unless your name happens to be Tommy Chong).

I can't help but think that marijuana had a lot to do with the great music and movies that came out of the 1970's - not to mention the freewheelin' attitude and outrageous fashions. So, Obama, if you're reading this - after you get this whole health care thing ironed out, maybe think about lettin' some folks get high?


Ads #20: Whose Picture Is It, Anyway?

As I was posting this picture on Retrospace Zeta, it got me thinking about things. Not about how unintentionally gay this advertisement is, but about whose pictures are these, anyway? I mean the intranets are full of billions of images being passed around. There seems to be some marginal attempt at obtaining permission from original sources, but it's usually just at the big sites like IMDb where they're likely to get sued. A lot of blogs have some pitiful disclaimer (check out the bottom of my sidebar), but it would never hold up in any real legal action. And, honestly, it's just damn near impossible to determine who these images belong to - especially in the case of vintage photos. Let's take a look at the image above, and try to trace it backwards...

1. I'm posting it here on Retrospace
2. I posted on my Tumblr blog Retrospace Zeta, where it was reblogged at least 5 times as of this writing.
3. I swiped it from a site called Vintage 123
4. Vintage 123 took it from a September 1971 issue of McCall’s magazine

So, who does this ad belong to? McCalls? Very doubtful.

The ad would be owned by the company that produced the product and commissioned the ad - Canada Dry. However, it's not as simple as that, and so it doesn't stop there.

It is highly unlikely that Canada Dry copyrighted the advertisement. Any legal action would come from trademark infringement. Fortunately, the risk of monetary liability for re-publishing the Canada Dry trademark is exceedingly low - almost nonexistent. And even if the ad was copyright-protected the risk of legal action is still negligible. And why is that?

The Nominative Use Doctrine saves our blogging butts. It states that if "the user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder", we bloggers are squeaky clean!

I apologize if this was a boring post, but I just wanted to know if I was going to get sued any time soon. It's a relief to find that posting these vintage pictures is legit. Whew! However, I should mention that, while Canada Dry may actually be glad to have their brand name reprinted over and over again, the greedy bastards at the record companies are not so cozy with the idea. Sharing music is still kind of a risky practice. Damn you, Metallica!