Tuesday, June 07, 2005
pic courtesy Marv Goldberg's R+B Notebooks
glisten: skimming the surface noise
The Five Jones Boys - My Gal Mezzanine
The Five Jones Boys - "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch"
The Five Jones Boys are best remembered as the performers of the legendary "Mr. Ghost Goes to Town," a Dr. Demento Halloween favorite that's been covered dozens of times since its original release in '37. The Boys were a group of Illinois singers that came to Los Angeles and managed to parlay their talent into stardom, performing in a few films as background color and musical guests. In addition to their movie work, The Five Jones Boys released a handful of extremely difficult to find sides and radio transcripts before they broke up and reformed as new vocal groups with different lineups.
The two songs posted here appeared on a single disc, released by Variety Records and have not, to the best of my knowledge, been released as digital media. The first of these tracks, 'My Gal Mezzanine' is a straight cover of the song by female jazz vocalist Cleo Brown; Cab Calloway would popularize 'Mezzanine' in 1937. The title for "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch" hails from the adulterated Aesop fable The Milkmaid and Her Pail; I couldn't say where this lovely arrangement hails from, tho'.
The real draw on this music is the beautiful sound of the human orchestra, a technique popularized some years prior to the Jones Boys by The Mills Brothers. Human orchestra was, once upon a time, the performance of the human voice to emulate strings and horns; you'll find beautiful proof of this on 'Mezzanine', where five voices meet to make an upright bass, muted trumpets and trombones. The performance of human orchestra material has somehow altered over the years to specialize in percussion, which is to say it finds a cousin in beatboxing.
For more information on the story of the Five Jones Boys, read this winding history of the ups and downs of the members of the Five Jones Boys as they become the Red Caps.
Listen to these two selections by the 'Jones Boys Sing Band', a group that included the whole of the Five Jones Boys with a vocal band called the Four Blackbirds.
'Sleepy Time in Hawaii' is an interesting curiosity for its dense and beautiful human orchestration, but 'Pickin' a Rib' is one of my all-time favorites. The live version of the track posted at the Group Harmony site is one that I'm unfamilar with, but it's awful smokin'!
Read the lyrics to versions of "My Gal Mezzanine" by Brown (which the Jones Boys take emulates pretty precisely) and by Calloway.
Watch this performance by Kenny "The Human Orchestra" Muhammad, beatboxing with the New York Philharmonic.
Oldie but a goodie. I used to leave this on in the background while I surfed for HOURS; watching him emote with the mic like an opera tenor is a serious trip.
RIP: Oscar Brown, Jr.
Oscar Brown, Jr. - "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)"
I've been remiss in marking the passage of one of my favorite artists, the irascible, multifaceted and brilliant Oscar Brown, Jr.
Having already written extensively on the man in the recent past (click here to read), I'll simply strongly recommend that you find yourself a copy of Sin and Soul to introduce yourself to the man's best work.
The track I'm dropping here isn't Oscar's finest material, but there's something sweetly mournful about it that fits the occasion. God speed, Oscar; we should've done better by you.
Don't believe in UFOs? Don't tell Prophet Yahweh. He'll get all Area 54 on yo' ass.
If you're looking for a perfect card for a person who appreciates perfect cards, consider picking up a one-of-a-kind vintage photograph at Snapatorium. Makes a nice crown for a present, I can tell ya.
More UK singles reviews by yours truly over at Stylus.
Spoiler: I like Saint Etienne and M83, not so much Audioslave and Jamiroquai.
NOT our sponsor.
If you want to tell the world about your love for Leslie Feist, but you don't feel like writing a 2,100 word essay, perhaps you should consider the Feist digital e-card? Plays a handful of songs of the album and tells them about her tour dates.
I'd love it if somebody could give me the gist of this Italian audioblog essay.
Here's three words I've been longing to say: GABBA IS BACK!
Now with a funky points based commentary system that allows YOU THE READER to contribute tracks after you've listened to enough songs. Truly innovative, exciting and GABBA!
I'm so happy to have this back; Gabba was an early formative influence and remains one of my favorite sites to find new tunes.
The sheer breadth and depth of Kiddie Matinee floors me; check out this in-depth look at The Ghost and Mr. Chicken!
The two greatest animated pictures ever.