Paul van Vliet- one man show Noord West

Keeping this week on topic with records I bought last trip to Amsterdam as well as general thoughts on my last vacation.  I bought this one was a bit pricey at 5 euro.  Not sure what drew me other than the dude on the cover and the band on the back. He looked like a swinging version of James Coburn.

So one of the fun activities I did whilst I was abroad was see one of my favorite bands, Gogol Bordello in Amsterdam. I saw them at the Melkweg (who now send me emails for upcoming shows), over in the Leideplein district.  Not terribly far from where I was staying.  A decent sized venue, not big, not small.  Sort of cozy.

The opening band, The Lucky Chops, were awesome.  They were a four piece horn section with a drummer.  Very good indeed. They did some covers as well as perhaps some originals.  I am not truly sure.  But they did rock.  The trombone player seemed to be the leader and he really moved on stage.  The saxophone player alternated between a higher registered sax like Hawkwind as well as a standard sax.  Did I mention how great this band was?

Gogol was good as ever.  This would be the fourth time I seen them.  They always play a lot of numbers off their new album and this show was no different.  However, they also played some of their standard hits as well as a few off  the beaten track songs.  The Lucky Chops provided horns on a good chunk of the numbers.  Real high energy as always. The crowd was into it and a bit on the rough side but no where near as rough as the House of Blues show I saw some years back.  Great time had by all.

Paul van Vliet is a Dutch comedian, born in the Hague in 1935. Coming from a family of visual artists, Vliet learned his trade early and applied to the stage (both in ensembles and solo) , records, and television.  His shows, I believe are among the most popular in the Netherlands.  From here, the broken English on the bio webpage I was looking at started to become tiresome so here are three take aways I got from this: 1) he is an ambassador for UNICEF, 2) plays or at least played hockey in the Dutch Hockey Association, and 3) played Professor Henry Higgins in the 1994 Dutch production in which he was apparently a success.

This album, released in 1973, is from his one man show at the time.  North West, which ran from 1971 to 1973.  Released by Phillips, this double record would go Platinum. About 1/3 of the album is musical.  The other 2/3’s are spoken word (which I always felt was an overtly pretentious way of saying “talkie”).  And here is where I made my big mistake.  Since I speak nor understand much Dutch, it was kind of pointless for me to buy an album that is mostly spoken word.  But here we are.  I did like the musical number which were jazz laced.  Other than that, there is not much else I can say other than the routines did get a bunch of laughs.

Well sample I must so here is “Enn Hand Voor Je Hand (Hand for hand)” and the closing track, “Noord West”.

 

I don’t know how to judge this so I am leaving it blank.  I mean, obviously, this is probably a good album but I have no way of really knowing other than gauging the crowd response.

Original Cast Recording- Beyond The Fringe

Ooooh.  Look at you big spender.  $5 for this.  Looked like a decent purchase at the time.  I knew two of the names on the cover.  Maybe, subconsciously in my mind, I was mapping out this month long salute to Broadway.

Beyond The Fringe, was a British Comedy revue which started in London’s West End and moved to Broadway as well as a US tour.  The revue was written and performed by Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett, and Johnathan Miller.  I believe this is where Moore and Cook met.  Bennett and Miller were pursuing academic interests at time (which they both gave up upon the success of BTF).  Cook, on the other hand, had an agent and negotiated a larger fee for himself.  However, after his agent’s take, he ended up earning less than the other other three.

After a successful run in England, the show opened on Broadway in October of 1962 and ran for 667 shows.  President John Kennedy attended a performance the following year .  Overall, it was a successful production and is generally credited as among the influential pieces in the rise of 60’s British satirical comedy.

For a sample, I went with a two pieces combined.  First is Peter Cook with a monologue about coal mining titled “Sitting On  A Bench.  Next is a piano piece fro Dudley Moore called “The Same To You’ which is a excellent variation on “Colonel Bogey”.  

Good album. Satisfactory.

Rusty Warren- Banned In Boston?

This was $2.  The alliteration in the title probably caught my eye when I purchased this.  There were a couple of Rusty Warren albums on sale at the time of this purchase. I think the Banned in Boston label is what snagged me on this one.

Rusty Warren, born in New York City on 1930, and shortly adopted thereafter to a couple from Milton, Mass, is a comedienne/singer who made her fame singing about sex.  She studied piano at the New England Music Conservatory of Music and was mentored by none other than the Boston Pop’s Arthur Fiedler. Known as the mother of the sexual revolution, she began her comedy career in Phoenix, AZ before taking her act to Las Vegas. She did around 11 records or so.  Her biggest hit was “Knockers Up”. I am not sure what she is doing now.

Warren’s webpage

Pretty comprehensive interview

 

This record is of a comedy show at the Surf Club at the Revere Beach , four miles north of Boston.  For the record, I am not sure if she was actually banned from the city or not (the interview from this link has a story about this). Anyway, the record is her comedy routine augmented by four songs.  Her routines are filed with euphemisms, double entendres, and  innuendo about sex which quite frankly, in the age of Amy Schumer, sounds quite dated. But that is how things were back then so, there you go.

For a sample, I went with the least smutty song on the album, Warren’s version of the folk standard, “Greenback Dollar”.

I liked this album just as much as the Elsa Lanchester album I reviewed two weeks or so ago.  So, meh.  Perhaps this is not fair and I do not mean to discredit the pioneering that Warren did.  However, outdated beating around the bush on issues that are out in the open today really does not do it for me.

 

Rich Little- Rich Little’s Broadway

dscn5546This was one dollar.  For that price, I thought I would give it a try.  I have been sitting on it for about a year, however. I want to say this is the first comedy album I have posted. 78b800b8bbbe3003a393e8b94ed043c5

Before I bought this record, I did not known Rich Little was Canadian.  Well, he is.  Born in Ottawa in 1938. Little started in his teens with impressions of Canadian politicians. But moving away from miming John Diefenbaker and Charlotte Whitton, Little honed his trade with better known subjects and found himself in nightclubs by age 17. He soon found fame in the US performing shows and appearing on television.  He is a master of many voices but his material has never really gone blue, for better or for worse. In 2007, Little was invited to speak at the White House Press Corespondents Dinner. This was the year after the Stephen Colbert debacle.  Although George Bush Jr was amused, Little’s act was panned as being outdated and mostly of dead people (which is the same critique of this album).

When I think of Little, I think of the somewhat awful HBO special he did that used to run constantly when I was a kid.  (Yes, this and Dream On are what HBO had before The Soprano’s and Game Of Thrones.  Seriously).  And look children, a laugh track. On a side note, one of the funniest things I saw was on the old Dana Carvey Show in the 1990’s.  He did a sketch of Rich Little’s Easter Special, where Carvey imitated Little imitating Little’s standard routines.  Kind of meta-impressions if you will. There were some videos of this floating around Youtube but they are all gone. The show was really ahead of its time until it wasn’t. I would not say in launched careers but quite a few people started on the show including Colbert and Steve Carell.

As far as this album, it was his first release in the US.  It should tell you something that I do now know 45% of the people spoofed on this album (and I watch Turner Classic Movies for crying out loud).  But here they are, an early take on some of Little’s classic impressions from John Wayne and Liberace talking about manhood to Humphrey Bogart belting out Broadway tunes.  As Broadway is the theme, there are a number of show tunes on the album as well.dscn5547

For a sample, I went with Little’s impression of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster singing “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun. Again, not to belabor a point, and I guess that was comedy back then, but I feel there is so much more you can do.  Looking back again at Dana Carvey, his impression of the duo is funny because it tells a story (abet an adult one).

Anyway, here this is.  Meh. Sorry. I really wanted to so more with this post but I am short timing it this month due to upcoming vacation. Where will I be?  I could be in your part of the hemisphere.

Orson Wells- The Begatting Of A President

dscn5530Well, after a year and a half of incessant campaigning (actually more than that if you consider the non-stop campaign cycle of today), Election Day is upon us.  I bought this record for use for today, although quite frankly, I have been staring at it at the Half Price Books in Montrose for over a year,  After I keep seeing a record, eventually, I break and buy it.  Getting marked down to a dollar helped. Also, I am a big Orson Wells fan although I am unsure what this record brings to the table.

Say what you want about Donald Trump, but at least he provides a sort of truth in advertising: he has an obnoxious style that reflects his obnoxious policies. What makes someone like Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama) particularly insidious is that they come packaged in a respectable format, yet espouse despicable policies.

For the most part, I do my best to keep this blog apolitical and in light of what has been one of the nastiest, most polarizing, and at the same time, vastly  meaningless campaigns of my life time, I would still much like to keep it so.  So I will make my comment brief and to the point as possible. We are thrusting headfirst into the 21st century on the backs of 19th century institutions, namely the two party system.  Instead of voting for the better of two evils, why not form new parties with possibly less or perhaps no evil?  I am ending this here. Please note that this paragraph was originally three times as long.orson-welles

Back to records, as stated above, I am a huge Orson Wells fan.  His movies are classics.  From Citizen Kane, to The Lady From Shanghi, to his Shakespearean works including Chimes at Midnight, to Touch of Evil, Wells had a sense and style all his own.  There is an inherent violence in his movies.  It comes from the use of quick, jagged edits, tilted camera angles, and use of shadows in the black and white. To a lesser extent, the use and development of compelling characters, even if the role is small or one dimensional, also stands out in my mind.

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Wells webpage

Wells made this record for Mediarts in 1969.  Written by Myron Roberts, Lincoln Haynes, and Sasha Gilien, the album tells the story of the 1968 election thru a biblical overtone.  It shows the fall of LBJ and the Democrats, the rise of Richard Nixon and the Republicans, and the murders of both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. It was originally produced as a comedy album but the joke is less funny now. It was also at the time supposed to a satire on Richard Nixon but again, overtime, it seems to become more non-partisan.  President Lyndon Johnson.

On that point, again venturing back into the political area I swore to avoid, this is another reflection of where we are as a nation.  When people ask me who won the debates, I usually respond, if you like Clinton, than she was the clear winner and if you prefer Trump, the debates were his.  It is all really predetermined in ones mind and the results are arbitrary.  I see this on this album. If you are a Republican, you will find the material on democrats to be funny and vice versa and I do not feel that that was the original intent.  Also, on a separate note, political discourse between the time this was made and the present has rapidly disintegrated so the subtly of the jokes on this album is mostly lost today.nixon-1968-republican-convention-1200

Anyway, this was the best selling record of Mediarts catalog.  It has also been featured on various record blogs with mixed reviews.  Again, some it just seems corny today.  Other parts, particularity the subtle moments just seem outdated.  As for Wells, this record may or may not have led to troubles with the IRS during Nixon’s reign.

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Link to another blog with complete record

For a sample, I wanted to make sure I was bi-partisan, presenting a piece for both parties.  Therefore, here is “The Pacification of Goliath” whereas LBJ loses the support of his party and decides not to seek re-election as well as “The Raising of Richard” where the Republican Party is looking to capitalize on the Democrats’ situation.

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As far as the record goes, meh.  I do not find it that funny.  In contrast, the joke does get old after awhile.  Too many bad puns and corny biblical allusions. It is, however, an interesting snap shot of the times.