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Category Archives: Gruesome

Gruesome Twosome: The Mann-Weil Edition

Dusty Springfield: “Make the Man Love Me”
ABC-Dunhill recording session, 1974 | BUY

Doris Day: “Oo-Wee Baby”
Columbia Records UK single, 1964 | BUY

Gerry Goffin/Carole King may have been the most innovative and Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich were most attuned to teenaged trendiness, but it’s Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who have proven to be the most durable of the Brill Building’s power songwriting couples. The duo have 40-plus years of huge hits to prove it, but here I’m sharing a couple of their more overlooked songs. Cher sung the winsome ballad “Make the Man Love Me” on her Dark Lady LP, but listeners would have to wait nearly 30 years for Dusty Springfield’s subtler version to surface (recorded for her stillborn ABC-Dunhill LP Longing). “Oo-Wee Baby” was more typical Mann-Weil, only instead of a faceless girl group we have a frisky-sounding Doris Day singing the praises of her imperfect guy (gee, I wish Doris recorded more of this kind of stuff). Barry and Cynthia’s official site has a lot more info on this incredible duo.

By the way, I will be retiring Gruesome Twosome after a year with this post. I might double-post album reviews here with my Rate Your Music account.

Gruesome Twosome: Girl Power Edition

The Pixies Three: “Welcome to the Party”
LP: Party With The Pixies Three, 1964 | BUY

The Breakaways: “That’s How It Goes”
Pye Records U.K. single, 1964 | BUY

Let’s break out the fun with a couple of Girl Group gems. No shrinking violets, the Pixies Three bring loads of spontinaety and charm to this opener for their lone LP, a concept album on the subject of parties. I love how the track goes through various popular dances of the day; makes me want to Monkey with the best of ’em. The Breakaways were best known for backing some of ’60s England’s biggest recording acts, but the thundering “That’s How It Goes” gave them an excellent chance to shine on their own. Producer Tony Hatch furnishes the gals with a raucous (and eerily correct) recreation of the Phil Spector sound. More about the Breakaways’ incredible career here. Thanks to Patrick for the Pixies Three.

Gruesome Twosome: Feelin’ Mellow Edition

Lani Hall: “Love Song”
LP: Sun Down Lady, 1972

Nanette Natal: “Knowing You”
LP: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 1969

Today I’m digging the kind of music that comes across like a cup of warm coffee on a Sunday morning — mellow, yet invigorating. Lani Hall’s “Love Song” was recorded shortly after the singer left Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, and based on this tune it was apparent that she desired to sound as little like her former band as possible. Producer Herb Albert (soon to marry Ms. Hall) was going after an easygoing L.A. vibe here, with a little bit of funkiness and a haunting quality in the lady’s voice. I don’t know much about Nanette Natal, but apparently early in her career she made a splash as a teen folk prodigy in the Janis Ian vein. “Knowing You” is quite an extraordinary song, starting out introspective and quiet before it launches into a simmering groovy ’60s vibe. Both of these are short-but-sweet overlooked gems, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Gruesome Twosome: Country Cuties Edition

Lynn Anderson: “I’ve Been Everywhere”
LP: Uptown Country Girl, 1970 | BUY

Skeeter Davis: “There’s a Fool Born Every Minute”
RCA Victor records single, 1968 | BUY

Hey there y’all : today’s selections come through the courtesy of two of my favorite country singers. For a time it appeared that Lynn Anderson had it all — beauty pageant looks, talented songwriter ma (Liz), and she was a champion equestrian to boot! The tongue-twisting “I’ve Been Everywhere” dates from Lynn’s late ’60s tenure with Chart Records. Later on she’d move on to huge crossover success with “Rose Garden,” but I kind of like the rowdy, sexy image she projected on her earlier stuff. Pert Skeeter Davis might accurately be interpreted as a countrified Lesley Gore; most of her music consists of winsome vocals double-tracked over cushiony, Girl Group-ish productions (thanks to Nashville legend Chet Atkins). Her 1968 hit “There’s a Fool Born Every Minute” is no exception, an interesting contrast of downbeat lyrics and perky instrumentation. A new Skeeter CD comp, The Pop Hits Collection Vol. 2, has just been released on Taragon Records.

Gruesome Twosome: Secondhand Boogie Edition

Marlena Shaw: “Touch Me in the Morning”
LP: Take a Bite, 1980 | BUY

Ralph Carter: “When You’re Young and In Love”
LP: Young and In Love, 1975

Last month we caught Broadway Damage, a strained gay romantic comedy which only succeeded on the “gay” part. In its defense, the film did have a nice soundtrack — of which I’m sharing two cuts here. Both happen to be danceable remakes of earlier songs. Jazz singer Marlena Shaw took lots of flak for succumbing to the disco bug, but her commanding prescence on “Touch Me In The Morning” revealed that she carried much more authority than the typical dance dolly. Producer-songwriter Van McCoy teamed up with Good Times star Ralph Carter by dusting off and discofying an earlier hit of his, Ruby & The Romantics’ “When You’re Young and In Love” (the tune had also scored with the Marvelettes’ 1967 cover). Though Carter was only a preteen at the time, he’d had a couple of Broadway musicals on his resume and belts out the number as if trying to reach the folks in the cheap seats. Definitely a good match of song and singer.

Gruesome Twosome: Brazilian Hot Wax Edition

Quarteto Forma: “Rua Cheia”
Odeon Brazil single, c.1970 | BUY

Dóris Monteiro: “É Isso Aí”
LP: Dóris, 1971 | BUY

Late summer puts me in a mood for funky old Brazilian music, like the two songs here. Quarteto Forma was a breezy boy-girl vocal group which at their best recalled a Brazilian Fifth Dimension. Drink in their lovely harmonies on the Marcos Valle composition “Rua Cheia”. Dóris Monteiro’s sexy, full-bodied voice has graced many records over a long career. I’m particularly fond of “É Isso Aí” since it uses that instrument that sounds like a straw moving through a cup cover (what the heck is that called?). Thanks to Ion for the Quarteto Forma.