Frank’s Faves on Fridays

October 15, 2010

Freddy Cannon – “Palisades Park (1962)

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I hadn’t heard of either the artist or the song before, and I have to tell you the first three things that happened to me with this song:

a) Before playing the track, I saw the name ‘Freddy Cannon’ and thought “That’s a fabulous name. ‘Freddy Cannon’. Oh, yeah. Anyone called ‘Freddy Cannon’ is alright by me.”
b) The second thing is when I pressed “play”. The song started and I instantly wanted an ice-cream.
c) The third thing – and this happened a split-second after wanting an ice-cream – is that I started laughing so hard at what I heard that I had to stop the song. I had listened to four seconds of it.

It took a while, but I composed myself (i.e., stopped laughing) and started the song again. This time, I wasn’t laughing. Instead, I was marvelling at the song – and loving every bit of it. The beat, the lyrics, the sound effects, even the thieving of the “Entry of the Gladiators” tune for the organ at the start – all of it was great. I can sum up “Palisades Park” in just six words: Love It, Love It, Love It. Or, putting it another way: Pure Enjoyment.

Del Shannon – “Handy Man (1964)

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One splendid Neil Sedaka song. (I know that Neil Sedaka didn’t write “Handy Man”, but he might as well have, because it sounds exactly like a Neil Sedaka song.) Here come some stream-of-consciousness responses as I listen to the song:

1. I like the raunchy guitar that starts the song.
2. Del Shannon has always had a great falsetto. I adore that falsetto.
3. The rhythm section is relatively quiet throughout the song. I hadn’t noticed that before. (Some of the drums pop out of the mix occasionally, but it all sounds pretty sedate to me.)
4. I really like the way Del sings. His vocal inflections are wonderfully unique. I hadn’t noticed that before, either. Some of the things he does (that “whoo” at 0:15, and “say-yay” at 0:49, for example) are just magnificent. I’ve listened to the song six times now, and the last three times were just to hear the way Del sings.
5. That’s a horrible sound in the solo. I have no idea what made that sound, but I’ll be very happy if I never hear it again.
6. I’d forgotten that James Taylor also recorded “Handy Man”.

I think I’ve heard “Handy Man” enough now. (Six times in a row may be a bit much, but I was revelling in Del’s singing and got carried away.) Time for the next track.

Piero Umiliani – “Mah Nà Mah Nà (1968)

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I’m familiar with this, the original version of what became strongly associated with The Muppet Show. It was highlighted on a popular Australian TV music quiz show called Spicks And Specks. The tune was featured in an episode where the quizmaster asked a question about where “Mah Nà Mah Nà” originally came from. He gave three possible answers for the contestants, one of which was the correct one: “a soft-porn film from Italy.” (The contestants didn’t guess correctly. Ah, well.) I think “Mah Nà Mah Nà” is an excellent little ditty. And I love the little casual references by the vocalist to other tunes. The main tune is now stuck in my brain, and won’t go away. “Mah nà mah nà, do do, do do-do, mah nà mah nà, do do-do, do…” etc. I think it’s time for me to listen to the next song.

The Music Explosion – “Little Bit O’Soul (1967)

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I like the groove and the main riff. I’d describe it as “Bubblegum Soul”. The main riff reminds me of “Summertime Blues“, especially The Who’s version.

Excuse me. I have to interrupt myself to satisfy an urge to buy a CD.

OK. I’ve just bought a CD (Jeremy Messersmith – The Reluctant Graveyard). Back to the songs…

I like “Little Bit O’Soul” but I’m puzzled by the lyrics. The singer mentions fishing at the beginning of the song (“When you’re feeling low and your fish won’t bite…”), so I’m now wondering if he’s not singing about his friend gettin’ some “soul” but actually offering him/her a specific fish. He also sings, quite a few times – “You need a little bit of soul…” for various reasons (e.g., his friend’s in a mess, or, even worse, he/she is broken in two) and I keep thinking that he’s suggesting the answer to all his friend’s problems is a meal of that particular fish. By the way, there’s some great bass drum work at 2:10. And the drummer’s fills throughout the song are fantastic.

Anyway, it’s an enjoyable bit of Bubblegum Soul. Or Soul Bubblegum. Either way, I liked it.

Bonus Instrumental:

Simon & Garfunkel – “Anji (1966)

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A nice guitar piece. It sounds like it’d be fun to learn and play. It’s a good little show-off piece for a folk guitarist. I went a-lookin’ for more information about “Anji” and found out that it’s not a Paul Simon composition – it was written by British folk guitarist Davey Graham, and originally recorded by him in 1961. Paul Simon recorded his version in 1965. It’s time for me to hear the original…

[Non-Frank suggestion]
Davey Graham -“Anji (1961)

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