The blooper album posted above from K-TEL records was another early purchase of mine via the phone, using my parents credit card with no permission. For some reason I didn't fear the arrival of the records and whatever questions might arise as a result of their presence (to say nothing of the presence of the charge on their Amex). Perhaps my parents never noticed? Or is it possible that they found my activities somehow admirably independent? I'll never know. The bloopers are now so transparently false, so poorly staged, that it's a wonder anyone fell for them who wasn't twelve years old. Anyway, dig the scam they're running in the below Super-Duper Blooper offering.

That's right friends. The bloopers are so raw, so uncensored, that they don't even give you a taste of them on the commercial. Imagine? Even at age 12 (or thereabouts) it struck me as ludicrous to buy something without some idea of what was on it. And if the record was, indeed, filled with vile and filthy language, where would I be able to listen to it? The only stereo in our house was the previously mentioned (last post) funeral casket-sized Magnavox Home Stereo Console that was beached in our living room. Instead, I bought this one:

And was I sorry I did. Don't think I even made it to the second side.

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When I was a kid, commercials advertising records were one of my favorite things to tape-record off the TV. (The others included the Carl Stalling credits music for Warner Brothers Cartoons and announcements for upcoming movies on local stations. Hmmm). K-TEL was usually the record company hawking the records but there were others too numerous to mention. Alas, I can't think of their names or I'd mention them. Anyway, above is a Nat King Cole tribute set that I remember buying without telling my parents when I was about 10. Did I use their credit card? Can't really remember that detail either. And below, dig the Goofy Greats KTEL set (I love that they offered a cassette tape instead of the album for a modest one dollar extra). I just found these ads on Youtube and I've been transported to the mid-seventies, watching TV after school, washing down a box of powdered doughnuts with a half-gallon of milk and eagerly awaiting my mail-order records which I would then play on our funeral-casket sized Magnavox home stereo/FM radio/record-storage living room 'console'.

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Harry Richman was nightclub glory incarnate in the mad twenties and, if he's remembered at all today, it's for being the tuxed-out gent who introduced Irving Berlin's 'Putting On The Ritz' in the 1930 movie of the same name. Above I've posted the song as performed in the movie. It's as catastrophic a bit of early-talkie musical staging as you'll ever see--apparently in the 20's it wasn't really expected that dancers would perform the same steps as each other, much less stand in anything resembling an organized formation. The set is nightmarish, the costumes surreal and the entire thing a massive acid-tripish misconception. The song is repeated some eight times without so much as a key change or a modestly different orchestration. Richman, like Texas Guinan (see earlier posts this week) is, from this distance, an un-rehabilitatable cultural relic. He was also something of a dreadful fellow. According to "Nightclub City",  the scholarly but entertaining book about New York night life of the 20s and 30s that I've been reading this past week (which has provoked this spate of club-centric posts), Richman was a violent, serial sexual predator who was sued on several occasions by women for inflicting physical harm on them. Even he admits as much in his autobiography. If the above clip of the disastrous production number doesn't make you sick, the below quote from his autobiography will:

"My anger at women was always beyond love, beyond everything else". (After a woman struck him in the face with flowers he'd sent her, and during ensuing sexual relations he)..."kept at her until her nose was bleeding and her face was brilliant red...My arm was so tired from beating her I was ready to give up." Jesus! The woman may have been the dancer Ellen Franks, who sued Richman in 1929 for inflicting injury. I like the bit about the arm being tired--that's what the take-away apparently was for Richman, not the assault and battery, sexual self-disgust, psychopathic sadism etc. On that charming note...

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Continuing this journey through old 1920s/early30's nightclub-land, above I've posted a song from the first all-talking feature, Warner Brothers 'Lights Of New York'. The picture quality is poor but you get to see a genuine nightclub performer of the era doing his shtick, giving you some idea of what the vibe in a 20s-era club was like. The performers name is Harry Downing. And for once the internet has completely failed to come to my aid, remaining peevishly silent on the life and career of the singer who, though short in stature, has proven to have longevity career-wise due to his appearence in this film.

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Here's a weirdie. This appears to be a not-staged-for-camera capturing of a live event in 1931 in which Texas Guinan (who I posted about at the end of last week) introduces a genuine 'fan dancer'. The young lady (who may be the legendary Sally Rand) goes into her act--and quite successfully although from the rather high angle that the camera is positioned at you do wind up seeing some skin. While the fan dance is enjoyable and the Guinan intro fascinatingly shrill as always (why was she so famous in her day?), it's the music that really makes this one for me. The band members--who sit on the stage behind the dancer--are all clearly drunk, providing some of the worst accompaniment you will ever hear. A cat can wash dishes with more finesse then these guys can play music. But it's clear from the general sloppiness of the entire occasion that nobody watching particularly cared. The smell of bootleg hooch will seep through your computer screen as you watch this curiously haunting little piece of vaudeville excavation. By the way, for a longish but wildly engrossing essay I wrote awhile back about Guinan and the movie 'Broadway Through A Keyhole' (based on events in her life) click here.

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