THe Four Lovers

Four Lovers

 

Boreson & Setterberg

Boreson & Setterberg

 

Tony Williams

Tony Williams

 

The Sheppards

The Sheppards

 

Louis Prima & Keely Smith

Louis Prima & Keely Smith


Miriam Makeba 1959

 

Miriam Makeba (1959)

 

Miriam Makeba 2000

Miriam Makeba (2000)

 

Ersel Hickey

Ersel Hickey

 


Big Miller

Big Miller

 

Root Boy Slim

Root Boy Slim


Page 2

    

Artist Index     Songs from Off the Wall     Other Music Links     Page 1     Page 3     Page 4

    

The purpose of this site is to share some musical oddities and rarities, records that I've acquired over the past half century and more. There were so many songs, I needed several pages, so click on Page 1, Page 3 and Page 4 to make sure you access the entire Off the Wall collection.

Click on the artist name below the pictures in the left and right frames to go that artist's section on this page. The artist name and title are at the top of each section. There are additional links to other information about the artist in some sections.

Clicking on the artist name and song title opens a new window. Click on the play button to hear the song; near the top there's an option to download it.

Click on any picture for a larger image. Pictures open in a new window. To view photo in Full Screen mode, press F11 to enter and exit Full Screen mode.

Comments, questions or suggestions via Email are welcome.

--Dick Estel, January 2009

   

Artists

Addrisi Brothers
Boyd Bennett
Boreson & Setterberg
Champ Butler
Four Lovers
Alex Harvey

Tommy Hedden
Ersel Hickey
Don Hosea
Kay Cee Jones
Ernie Kinney

Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds

Miriam Makeba

Big Miller
Mink DeVille
Ken Nordine
Root Boy Slim

Louis Prima & Keely Smith
Ivo Robic
The Settlers
The Sheppards

Tony Williams
Chill Wills
 
Songs from Off the Wall

Anarchist Cartoon

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The Settlers: The Anarchist's Hymn

Do we still have anarchists? Although I think their time has pretty much past, thankfully we can enjoy this little ditty in their honor.

There is virtually no information to be found about this group, and they should not be confused with other, later groups using the same name. They apparently are included on a folk compilation CD, Troubadours of Folk: The '60s Acoustic Explosion, but their listing on All Music Guide erroneously describes them as "garage rock."

This disk is listed as one of many records produced at Norman Petty Studios (of Buddy Holly fame), but there is no information other than the title and record number.

I had the record once, but I sold it, so no pictures are available. 

  

Un Charro 45

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Addrisi Brothres: Un Charro

According to All Music Guide, the Addrisi Brothers are best remembered today for their early-'70s hit "We've Got to Get It on Again," and for writing the Association/Fifth Dimension hit "Never My Love." Don and Dick Addrisi actually date back as a musical team to the 1950s, from whence comes this gem.

The family was initially lured out to California by the prospect of Don and Dick getting parts on The Mickey Mouse Club. That didn't work out, but they were eventually signed to Bob Keane's Del-Fi label, where they recorded a series of singles that veered from Everly Brothers-style rock & roll to somewhat more cloying teen-pop numbers.

The title on this label is actually "Un Jarro," but the subject matter indicates that the Spanish word for cowboy is the correct title.

A CD is available at Amazon.

   

Four Lovers 45

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The Four Lovers: You're the Apple of My Eye

One of the weirder sounding groups of their time, The Four Lovers morphed into The Four Seasons, which in my opinion was not an improvement. The group came together when Frankie Valli joined the the Variety Trio, which became the Variatones, then the Four Lovers when they signed with RCA.

"You're the Apple of My Eye" caught my attention when it was played by Fresno's top "personality" DJ, Al Radka. It reached #62 on the Billboard charts, and has remained a favorite with me. It was their only hit under that group name. For a while I also owned their full-length RCA album, but their work as the Four Seasons never interested me.

There is a Four Lovers CD on sale at Amazon, as well as many by the Four Seasons.

   

Boreson & Setterberg 45

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Boreson & Setterberg: Catch a Pickled Herring

Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg teamed up in 1956 to create a very "off the wall" kiddie show in Seattle, but I came to know them as the perpetrators of this take off on Perry Como's million seller, "Catch a Falling Star." Their version, complete with fake Swedish accent, was one of many satirical musical numbers they recorded. Check out their take on Jimmie Rodgers "Honeycomb," reworked as "The Telephone," here, courtesy of The In Crowd.

A few of their performances are available at top prices from Amazon Associates and on E-Bay.00

  

Champ Butler 45

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Champ Butler: The Joshua Tree

Champ Butler was moderately famous in the 1950s, but I seem to be one of the few alive who remember him. There's virtually no information on the Internet other than a few records and some sheet music for sale.

He had a pleasant though undistinguished "pop singer" voice. I recall a few other tunes that were played on the radio, but the titles do not come to mind. I don't think this one was anything like a hit, but it's different enough to make it worth hearing.

His rendition of "Down Yonder" is on YouTube, although it's one of those home movie entries, with no pictures of Champ.

Some of his CDs and LPs are listed on Amazon.

    
Louis Prima & Keely Smith

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Louis Prima & Keely Smith Barnacle Bill the Sailor

Louie & Keely are far from obscure, but I'm betting this is not the first song their fans think of. Their best known work was on Capitol, but this is a Columbia EP, and I suspect it pre-dates their popular Las Vegas live albums (many available from Amazon).

If my memory is correct, we used to sing this in elementary school. Of course, Prima & Smith are using a very different set of lyrics. We didn't use the salty lyrics listed on Wikipedia, either.

In any case, it has the same loose approach to performance that marked most of their work together.

 
Click Clack

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Boyd Bennett: Click Clack

Stop me if you've heard this - I once owned the 45 of this song, sold it for pennies, and paid dollars for the vinyl LP to replace it.

Boyd Bennett began performing right after World War II, eventually moving into rockabilly with Boyd Bennett & The Rockets. Before they did this song, they wrote and performed the original version of "Seventeen," a huge hit for the Fontaine Sisters.

"Click Clack" was played on the radio but was a fairly minor hit. I think it's one of the best obscure songs of the era.

Several Bennett CDs are available from Amazon.

 
Francis the Talking Mule 45

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Chill Wills: Francis

If you're old enough to remember the Francis the Talking Mule movies, my sympathies (not because of the movie, but because of your advanced age). There was a whole series of these cornball comedies, featuring multi-talented Donald O'Connor. Character actor Chill Wills voiced the mule, and branched out into the world of music with this disk.

Many of the movies are available on DVD from Amazon, where you'll learn that some of the actors who appeared in the series include Leonard Nimoy, Tony Curtis, and David Janssen.

    
Island of Love

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The Sheppards: Island of Love

Part of the fun about all the new songs coming out when Rock & Roll was new were the many independent labels with unusual names and cool labels. This group was basically a one-hit wonder, this 1959 late model doo wop number being their only successful release. There's a great story about the group here).

A CD of their earlier work was compiled in 1981 and is available from Amazon, and this vinyl 45 is available from several sources (of course, I recommend my own site).

  
Tony Williams LP

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Tony Williams: Macushla

Tony Williams had a bunch of million sellers as lead singer for The Platters, but virtually no success with his solo work.

This album is a salute to the ladies - every title contains a girl's name. Most of them are well known old pop songs ("Peg o' My Heart," "Ramona," "Laura"), but the one I chose is the best and one I've never heard before or since. Never heard the name either; the name popularity index lists no matches.

As for Tony, after leaving the Platters in 1960, he performed for a while as a solo act. He then formed a group called The Platters (as did most of the other original members over the years). He died in 1992, but never attained chart success.

There are many Platters recordings available on Amazon.

  
The Happy Muleteer

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Ivo Robic: The Happy Muleteer

If you could look up "jaunty" in an on-line dictionary, this song would be playing in the background. It's indeed a happy-sounding song, with a great beat, some whip cracking, and subject matter that is clearly off the wall.

Frankly, I like this song better than "Mule Train" or "Mule Skinner Blues."

A famous pop singer in Croatia, Ivo Robic released many recordings, a few of which are available at Amazon. This classic is available on some compilation CDs, and the 45 is listed on my vinyl record yard sale page.

       
Bluebirds Over the Mountain

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Ersel Hickey: Bluebirds Over the Mountain

Ersel Hickey, a native of Brighton, N.Y., started singing in his teens as a solo act and also with R&B groups. His first record, released in the late 1950s, was "Then I'll Be Happy/Baby You're No Good." But he is best known for his 1958 hit "Bluebirds Over The Mountain," which he co-wrote. It was re-recorded by The Beach Boys a decade later.

I don't remember ever hearing anything else by this artist, although he had some success writing songs for other people. However, this "off the wall" wonder is enough to give him a permanent place in rock & roll history.

Amazon offers several of his CDs.

    
The Click Song

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Miriam Makeba: The Click Song

Miriam Makeba is far from obscure; she was an international icon when she passed away in November, 2008. A native of South Africa, she was noted for her opposition to the Apartheid government there throughout her career, and lived in exile until the regime change in the late 1980s.

She released many albums, some of which are available at Amazon, but it was "The Click Song," sung in her native language, that brought her international attention in 1959. This 4-song EP is available here.

    
Cool Water

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Ernie Kinney: Cool Water
Tumbling Tumbleweeds

Ernie Kinney is a former marine, a retired school superintendent, and a square dance caller. I took classes from him and danced to his calling for several years in the 1980s. After the dance, he would often perform a few country standards, including these two, and the Jim Reeves hit "Four Walls."

He had a pleasant voice and recorded many square dance records with "singing calls."

     
Cynthia Marie

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Tommy Hedden: Cynthia Maria

Here's one that truly is obscure; nothing relevant comes up in a Google search, nothing on Amazon, not even the listing I used to have.

Regardless, this is a pleasant pop-rock number, and the label is really cool. I have no idea where or when I acquired this gem, but I had it a long time before finally selling it.

      
John Henry

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Don Hosea: John Henry

I thought this guy would also be impossible to find, but in fact you can buy an MP3 download of a different version of this song and others at Amazon. Otherwise, he's pretty much invisible - no photos and no biographical data.

The song here is a comedy version of the old classic, and a bit on the ghoulish side, definitely meeting the definition of "off the wall."

   
Poor Jenny

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Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds:
Poor Jenny & When Will I Be Loved

There's nothing obscure about these two well-known British rockers, although they would no doubt admit to being a bit "off the wall." You can tell from their many recordings that they admire and were influenced by the stars of early rock & roll, and this 4-song EP is their tribute to the Everly Brothers. Besides the two selections here, they perform "Take a Message to Mary" and "Crying in the Rain."

Of course, there are lots of CDs available here and here at Amazon, and a bunch of vinyl LPs here.

  
Small Town

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Kay Cee Jones: Small Town

This is another truly obscure item, with no photos or biographical information. I did find two places selling this record, including my page and this one.

The lyrics, a commentary on small-town gossip, are clever and well worth a careful listen.

 
Alex Harvey LP

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The Sensational Alex Harvey Band:
River of Love

Tomahawk Kid

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was clearly "off the wall" in its time. Alex was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1935. The lyrics of his songs tell about his childhood on the dark streets in the worker's parts of town. 

He had as many as 36 different jobs, and started his own group, the legendary "Big Soul Band," mostly playing the songs of Bo Diddley. "When I was 20, I didn't want to listen to any white singer except Hank Williams, because I thought only the black people in the south of the USA could play the original blues."

Back in the 60's, Alex appeared in cabarets and night clubs wearing a dinner jacket. He then joined the orchestra of the musical "Hair" where he worked for 5 years.

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was founded in 1972. The group first started as support for such teenage idol bands like "Slade."

Despite his early death at age 47 in 1982, Harvey made a unique impact on the 70s rock scene.

CDs are available at Amazon.

  
Big Miller Lp

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Big Miller: About My Baby
The Monterey Story

Clarence "Big" Miller's nickname could refer to his size or his voice. I was fortunate to hear that voice boom out over the fairgrounds at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1962. Miller had appeared to great acclaim the previous year, and subsequently produced this album, which I bought at the festival.

Perhaps his most defining career moment came in the '50s with his participation in the Jon Hendricks revue entitled The Evolution of the Blues. Miller's size, vocal power, and intense stage presence combined to drive home the legend of the blues shouters, men who could sing over an entire big band without using a microphone. The success of this show led to a recording contract with Columbia, for whom the artist cut several albums. A pair of these were reissued on a CD package in 2000 (available from Amazon).

The singer also doubled on trombone, sometimes playing in a big band section, and later using this instrument for special solo features. Miller also had a sideline movie career, including a cameo in the star-packed comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

 
Mink DeVille LP

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Mink DeVille: Just to Walk that Little Girl Home
Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl

I saw this rootsy New York City group when they opened for Styx, a truly horrible mismatch. Being somewhat "off the wall" myself, I enjoyed the early R&B sounds of Mink DeVille much more than the headliner, and was embarrassed when the audience harassed and disrespected front man Willy DeVille with cries for "Styx!"

Willy was born in 1950, and fronted this band for nine years, going solo in 1985. He continued to write and work with various musical combinations, and was still performing with a trio in NYC in December 2008.

CDs and a DVD can be found at Amazon. This Wikipedia article covers all facets of his life.

     
Root Boy Slim LP

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Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band:
Boogie Till You Puke

In Jail in Jacksonville

A friend of mine bought this album for the title back in the 1980s and abandoned it at my house when he moved to another state. I've probably played it once since then, and don't plan to play it again.

Root Boy Slim has a presence on the web where you can buy his CDs and read his biography, which reveals that he was born Foster Mackenzie III. Successful bar appearances in Washington D.C. lead to a Warner Brothers contract. He continued to write and perform until his death in 1993. The biography concludes, "His disturbing public and private personas became the stuff of urban legend in the process."

CDs are also available on Amazon.

   

Word Jazz LP

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Ken Nordine: What Time Is It
The Vidiot

The voice over man for a thousand commercials, Ken Nordine released the album Word Jazz in about 1958. Although I don't think it met with great acclaim, it drew enough interest that CDs are still available at Amazon.

"Word jazz" was not much more than free association verbalization, with a soft jazz accompaniment, reminiscent of the Beats of that time.

Ken was born in Chicago in 1920, did thousands of commercials, movie trailers and other similar work. He was still performing as recently as 2007.

There's a tribute by Tom Waits that is well worth seeking out here.

        

Off the Wall Page 1          Off the Wall Page 3          Off the Wall Page 4
Addrisi Brothers

Addrisi Brothers

 

Champ Butler

Champ Butler

 

Boyd Bennett

Boyd Bennett

 

Chill Wills

Chill Wills

 

Donald O'Connor & Francis the Talking Mule

Donald & Francis

 

Ivo Robic

Ivo Robic

 

Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds

Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds

 

Ernie Kinney

Ernie Kinney

 

Alex Harvey

Alex Harvey

 

Mink DeVille

Mink DeVille

 

Ken Nordine

Ken Nordine

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Updated July 15, 2017