Harry Belafonte: A Hole in the Bucket

I grew up listening to my parent's music, as I suppose many people do; and among the things that stuck were Harry Belafonte's Carnegie Hall albums. I could go on and on about Belafonte's voice, and his sense of humor, and his energy, but long familiarity has made it more or less impossible for me to be objective.In any event, here's a track from Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall, one of my favorites as a child. It's a duet with folk-singer Odetta Holmes, and concerns the problem of the … [Read more...]

Of K-Tel Ads and Nat King Cole

I first heard of Nat King Cole when I was a small boy watching cartoons on TV. Or, rather, when I was a small boy wishing that the K-Tel commercial would wind up so that I could back to watching cartoons on TV. You remember those ads? There'd be a crawl of song names going up the screen as snippets of different songs played and the announcer explained how you could get all of these great hits for next to nothing. To this day there are songs that I find instantly recognizable despite never … [Read more...]

Louis Armstrong, Just Because

I've been hearing a lot of Louis Armstrong songs recently; and I wanted to share some of my favorites. These are all classic songs from the "Great American Songbook", but Satchmo's delivery is distinctive and all his own. Give him a few minutes, okay?"A Kiss to Build a Dream On":"La Vie en Rose":With Ella Fitzgerald, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (don't miss this one):They knew how to sing 'em in those days. … [Read more...]

Friday Video: His Cheeseburger!

Because I'm tired and feeling goofy, here's a favorite of mine from back when I used to watch VeggieTales with my little ones, back when I had little ones: Mr. Lunt, singing, "His Cheeseburger". (The VeggieTales guys really were quite funny.) … [Read more...]

April Smith Gets Snarky—And You Can Too!

A few weeks ago I posted a video of April Smith singing a happy, upbeat song called "A Movie Loves a Screen." Since then I've plugged April Smith into Pandora to see what pops out; and among the various bits were two more songs by Smith about relationships that just weren't ever going to work out.In the first, Smith laments that her lover is "Drop Dead Gorgeous", but though he's pretty she needs 'em "quick and witty"; he'll just be a pretty face to her from now on:And the second is … [Read more...]

The Blasters: I’m Shakin!

I first became acquainted with The Blasters when I was in college; they travelled in Los Angeles punk circles, so it seemed to me at the time, but what they played was straight roots rock with panache and flair. I've got the greatest hits album, and every once in a while I'll pull it out and give it a listen. Here are a couple of tracks.First, a live performance of "I'm Shakin'", recorded in 1981, the same year they released their first album:And second, another favorite of mine, … [Read more...]

April Smith: Movie Loves a Screen

Here's another bit of Pandora flotsam: April Smith and the Great Picture Show with "Movie Loves a Screen", a happy, upbeat little song of (apparently) unrequited love. Wikipedia says of them,In a style that has been described as "spaghetti burlesque"[2] and "melodramatic pop", April Smith and her band combine indie pop, folk rock and swing, citing a wide range of influences, from The Beatles, The Doors and Queen to Edgar Allan Poe and Wes Anderson.Give 'em a listen, you might like it. … [Read more...]

Poe and the Carol of the Bells

Just in time for Christmas, here's Trans-Siberian Orchestra with a tune called "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24", which strikes me as a sort of unholy cross between "The Carol of the Bells" and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Bells". I hasten to add, there's no actual Poe here; but I can't listen to this without thinking of the Brazen Bells:Hear the loud alarum bells, Brazen bells! What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells! In the startled ear of night How they … [Read more...]

Lee Press-On and the Nails: Hat Back Boogie

All I know about Lee Press-On and the Nails is that they are a San Francisco area swing band; and it's quite possible that I'm happy knowing no more than that. But they've got a song that I like (Pandora is the culprit, as usual), and here it is: … [Read more...]