Music historian and general brainiac George Gimarc knows a good thing when he hears it; he also knows a very, very bad thing when he hears it. Gimarc and co-author Pat Reeder have collected some of the worst of the very, very bad in Hollywood Hi-Fi: Over 100 of the Most Outrageous Celebrity Recordings Ever!
One of the dangers of success is that it inspires confidence, paving the way for greater disaster, an effect apparently magnified a thousandfold in the entertainment industry, where the prattlings of a flunky might inspire one to delusional heights like Bette Davis' amazing "Two's Company," a Broadway number so bad as to approach the surreal. Almost everybody in Hollywood, it seems, has had to sing at some time or another. In chronicling their tales, Gimarc and Reeder have produced the perfect bathroom book: short yet fact-packed capsules each roughly a page long, full of the misadventures of Dennis "Chicken Mash" Weaver, Dwayne Hickman, and Telly Savalas.
The 128-page book comes with a CD, so you don't have to imagine Robert Mitchum singing calypso--dude, he's doing it, right there on your own stereo! Thrill to the Addams Family's Ted Cassidy doing "The Lurch," and note the difficulty inherent in trying to make a giant, slow-moving and monosyllabic cadaver a pop star. Cringe at the piteous spectacle of Jerry Mathers, burned out in the Beav's last season and whining his way through "Wind Up Toy." Why does she treat you like a wind-up toy, Beav?
"Part of it's just that collector mentality, of having to have every bug in the forest on a needle," Gimarc--author of the definitive Punk Diary, 1970-1979--admits with a touch of guilty-boy pride. "The other part is it shows that stars can make mistakes, too: They're human." That's a perception Gimarc finds is allowed less and less. "(Truly bad) celebrity records are particularly rare these days. Everything today has been worked out, been through so many rewrites and audience surveys that even Shaquille O'Neal can sound competent."
Sons of Sam
J. Bone Cro and company are metamorphosing into Jaloppy even as you read this. The band just finished recording the last four tracks for its double CD release, breaking down its small studio and taking it to Memphis, where a friend had a warehouse that was four doors down from the legendary Sun Studios. According to Cro, there was indeed a Sun Effect.
"Everything went right the first time," Cro marvels (obviously a guy with some recording experience). "It was the first time we even broke down our ministudio, but everything went fine. There was just this weird vibe."
Jaloppy will be more a name change and a slight change in attitude than anything else. "Jaloppy's taking over from J. Bone Cro," the prolific lo-fi guy explains. "It's the same members, it's just more of a collective. I think it's better to have a name than to be 'somebody's band.' Now, the other guys can be in Jaloppy, their band, not 'J. Bone Cro's band.'"
The sound? "Most pop music is like a sports car," Cro sagely observes. "We're like the Beverly Hillbillies' truck."
The Rev. beset by pirates
Those who labor in the fields of The Reverend Horton Heat are dismayed to learn of a recent bootleg that's been making the rounds, according to Heat manager Scott Weiss. The album, titled Aiming to Please: Live in Dixie, has gotten mixed reviews in the Rev.'s camp. "The cover and the title are really great," Weiss admits, "but the sound is very, very poor...We urge our fans not to buy it."
Juno Spectre is starting over after a year, writing new songs and working with a new guitarist that has "really changed our sound," according to band member Jerri Parkhurst...
Jibe's eponymous second album--its first studio release--is out. Recorded at Crystal Clear Sound, the album is reportedly selling well...
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The Old 97's have signed to Elektra...
Dallas jazz bassist John Adams will celebrate the release of his debut album, Jump Shot, at Strictly Tabu August 1 at 8:30 p.m. The next day 13-year-old Jennifer Pena, Tejano's answer to LeAnn Rimes, will perform with her band, Los Jetz, at Tejano Rodeo; proceeds are to benefit the nonprofit, multicultural "theatre of inclusion" that is Teatro Dallas. Managed by Abraham Quintanilla Jr.--Selena's dad--Pena jump-started her career in 1995 with a spooky evocation of the murdered singer at her memorial service at the Astrodome in Houston, and more than a few eerie echoes still surround her...
The Calways' new demo--not surprisingly titled '96 Summer Demo--is just out. The six-song cassette is available at Calways shows and CD World...
Code 4 has added Los Angeles guitarist Benjamin Hoffman, late of L.A. industro-rock band Discipline, replacing Lance Swenson; Hoffman is expected to play a major role in the band's songwriting chores. Catch him in his new slot August 2 when the band opens for Def Leppard and Tripping Daisy.
Street Beat welcomes information, tips, and the Revolution of the Proletariat at Matt_Weitz@dallasobserver.com.