A few of my favorite Holiday sounds

Rather than another rant about the general awfulness of selection on radio stations that go “all Christmas songs” before Halloween, let’s check out some links to favorite aural treats:

Sound Opinions,” NPR’s rock’n’roll talk show, is scheduled for a visit from DJ Andy Cizran, who each year presents a collection of found vinyl Christmas oddities. The show airs Friday, Dec. 21, and a podcast should be posted to the site linked shortly afterward. It’ll also be available on iTunes (eyes right for the link), but go to the website for a link to a full 60 min. mixtape download of “Seance with Santa.”
Chicago Public Radio - APM: Sound Opinions on Demand - APM: Sound Opinions on Demand

My current favorite music show is freeform radio station WFMU’s Saturday show, Fool’s Paradise, a full two hours of early garage rock, schlockabilly, R&B and more Salvation Army finds by artists even I’ve never heard of! This link, when clicked sometime after Dec. 22, will let you stream that day’s Christmas show. Roll over, Brenda Lee, they’ll be rockin’ around more than a Christmas Tree (the Dec. 15 show has an interview and choice rarities by the late Ike Turner).

Speaking of WFMU, their incredible “Beware of the Blog” still has, for your listening pleasure, ripped tracks from both volumes of Rhino Records’ “The Rhino Brothers Present – The Worlds Worst Records,” issued in 1983 or so. As a bonus, there are the four tracks of the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra’s “Some Kazoos” album. Fair Use dictates these links will only be “live” for a brief while, so check ’em out now, even if they aren’t holiday-themed.
Only trouble is, the .mp3’s for Vol. 2 seem to not include “Paralyzed” by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Fear not, for they had already ripped both sides of the original Mercury single here!

And here’s the greatest radio Christmas story since, well, Jean Shepard’sA Christmas Story.” Author David Sedaris reads his “The Santaland Diaries,” about his experiences as an elf at Macy’s Santaland. It repeats often on NPR’s “This American Life,” but here’s a link to the program where it first appeared. The iTunes link at right has the current week’s show (I’m feeling all linky today).
Chicago Public Radio - This American Life - This American Life

And Shep’s story was drawn from several radio reminiscences, so there’s no single radio show to hear the “original” on, but the site above has lotsa podcasts of original radio shows.

As the Beatles said, “Happy Kringle!”

What I Learned Today #2: Herbie Flowers

This comes from the fine radio show “Mint,” which, regrettably, is being pulled from the BBC 6 schedule:

Herbie Flowers is someone you’ve heard, if you’ve heard classic rock at all. He’s a session bass player who started out playing tuba on cruise ship bands in the early 60’s, and began to pick up the jazz bass. During a stopover in New York he discovers the new trend of electric jazz, and starts out with the electric bass, which leads to a career as a session musician. Result: He created the two coolest bass lines of all 70’s rock: David Essex’ “Rock On” and Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” He’s also on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” though I suspect most people don’t associate that song as much with its bass line. And on Jeff Wayne’s double prog LP “War of the Worlds.”

Just as extra filler for this space, we was in the classical pops group Sky, with guitarist John Williams.

Your nugget of stuff you never knew was connected for today.

What I Learned Today #1: Loulie Jean Norman

I want to try and start a little feature that I may be able to update more often than I am now (my Super Bowl rant is still coming, trust me). In the course of wandering the internet, I pick up lots of halfway interesting facts. Some are answers to questions that have been in the back of my mind for years. I call this

What I Learned Today


Back in 1959, the inestimable Spike Jones produced an album called Spike Jones in Stereo–of course there was a mono version titled “Spike Jones in Hi-Fi.” Subtitled “A Spooktacular in Screaming Sound!”, it was a cute riff on monster movies that had become popular on TV at the time. Of course voice artist Paul Frees is there, reprising his rendition of “My Old Flame,” and employing his stock voice cast of monster characters and mad scientists. He’s joined by others in Spike repertoire company, plus Thurl Ravenscroft and a female character referred to only as “Vampira.” Long had I wondered, after first hearing the album back in 1980; could this have been the legendary Vampira, one of the first TV monster movie hosts back in 1955, and later a star of the cult classic “Plan 9 from Outer Space?”

I was finally moved to look it up. The album’s listing on allmusic.com shows the only female vocals are by one Loulie Jean Norman. As I suspected: “Vampira” was just an easy and generic name for a monster-based comedy bit.

But who was Loulie Jean Norman? Of course, she had a Wikipedia entry, where we find she was a coloratura soprano who had dubbed the singing voice of Diahann Carroll in the movie version of “Porgy and Bess,” including the song “Summertime.”

But, and here’s the payoff: she also sang the vocalese in the opening theme for the original series of “Star Trek” back in 1966. Yes, there are lyrics that Gene Roddenberry wrote to get in on the music publishing royalties, but for most of the world, the only words to that theme are Loulie’s “Aaah-AAAAAH-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahh!”

Now you know. Go read a book.