However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Roger Ruskin Spear ► Bonzo Dog Band

It wasn't all that long ago that I celebrated the birth of Dennis Cowan, a founding member of The Bonzo Dog Dada Band. Today let's all press our trousers for Roger Ruskin Spear, another founding Bonzo. Music/Not Music called Spear "The Forgotten Bonzo" just 12 days ago. Not for me. While Spear never achieved the later fame of Neil Innes, for me Roger Ruskin Spear was the one who put the Dada in The Bonzo Dog Dada Band, those off-the-wall tangents into clothing and other fashion accoutrements that's clearly a Spear obsession. Ironically, while he played many instruments -- tenor saxophone, trumpet, xylophone, bells, clarinet, guitar, oboe, accordion, glockenspiel, as well as sang -- he is still best know for playing The Theremin Leg, most notably on the recording "Noises For The Leg."

Here Roger Ruskin Spear plays the dress form to piano accompaniment on Strauss' Blue Danube:

I was fortunate to see The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band live once at, of all things, The First Annual Detroit Rock and Roll Revival, in May of 1969, my last summer in 'Merka. That's where I first heard Bonzo Dog Band and was amazed at the performance they put on. Check out that line-up: Among the other band that performed that weekend were MC5, Chuck Berry, Sun Ra, Dr. John, Johnny Winter, Stooges, Amboy Dukes, SRC, The Frost, The Rationals, Teegarden & Van Winkle, Lyman Woodard, Up, Wilson Mower Pursuit, Grand Funk Railroad, Third Power, New York Rock & Roll Ensemble, David Peel & The Lower East Side, Red White & Blues Band, Sky, The Train, Savage Grace, James Gang, Caste, Gold Brothers, Dutch Elm, Plain Brown Wrapper, Brownsville Station.

When I moved to Canada, I took with me my love of the Bonzos with me. However, I found that most of the people I tried to turn on to The Bonzos already knew who they were, from the British/Monty Python influence.

Bonzo Dog Band performing at the First Annual Detroit Roch and Roll Revival. Photo by Alan Gotkin.
Because people always get the various Bonzos confused, here's a handy introduction:

Amazingly, I find that Roger Ruskin Spear still has a few dates on his calendar, even tho' Neil Innes has him retired, with Three Bonzos and a Piano.

I will go on record again: Bonzo Dog Band is the most influential band no one knows. 

Let's end with a Roger Ruskin Spear Jukebox:

As always CRANK IT UP!!!

Today's Fox Snark ► Gretchen Carlson

HEY!!! Look who got the memo.

Let's see how long it lasts.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy Birthday ► Mel Kaminsky

Dateline June 28, 1926 - Melvin Kaminski is born in Brooklyn, New York. It will be many years before he changes his name to Mel Brooks and makes the world laugh. Born only in 1926? Feels like Mel Brooks is as old as The Bible.

I'm not sure I believe that birth year. Mel Brooks has offered proof over and over he is at least a 2,000 Year Old Man.

Deep down inside, Mel Brooks wants to be known as a song and dance man. Over the years he's given us some terrific Musical numbers.

No one in Pop Culture, including Glenn Beck, has made more references to Nazis.

Brooks has also mined Rap more than once, with equally fun results.

And, this is why people call me Hedley Lamarr:

However, my favourite Mel Brooks movie is the little known The Twelve Chairs, which was released in 1970 between The Producers and Blazing Saddles. Here is the whole movie:

Happy Birthday, Mel!!! Thanks!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Musical Appreciation ► Georgie Fame

I first heard Georgie Fame as did many other 'Merkins, as the singer of "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967. It was one of those out-of-the-box hits that always appealed to me. I was unaware of his earlier hits "Yeh Yeh," which knocked The Beatles off the #1 on the British charts, and "Getaway." Nor did the name Georgie Fame register with me. Therefore, I was surprised many years later when my boss at Island Records Canada handed me a record to promote. One of the tracks was "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" and I knew every note and nuance, even if I didn't know the name Georgie Fame. I later learned this was a compilation LP by Georgie Fame. (I'm not sure how that came about. My assumption, which could be wrong, is that Island Records licensed the tracks for markets other than Great Britain.) However, I soon learned "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" was not representative of the music Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (a name that didn't appear on the sleeve, if memory serves) had been making. I immediately became a fan, precisely because his music is so hard to pigeon-hole, playing Jazz, Ska, R&B, Rock and Roll, Pop, and Standards.

This clip shows a nice bit of Georgie Fame's history, along with Bonnie & Clyde's.

Georgie Fame performing his earlier hit "Yeh Yeh" live for a Swinging Sixties tee vee show:

Georgie Fame & Alan Price performing one of their best known songs: Rosetta:

Let's not forget that Georgie Fame was such a huge fan of Ska, that he started performing it in the '60s, which only helped popularize the genre throughout the British Colonies. That's why he can hold his own with Prince Buster and Suggs from Madness, (along with getting his own shout-out:

Presenting a Georgie Fame Jukebox, which includes a few renditions of a song all about him, while you read a short little bio of Georgie Fame:

As always, CRANK IT UP!!!

Born on June 26, 1943 in Leigh, Lancashire, where his father played in an amateur dance band and where music was a intregal part of home life. Early training on the piano led to a love of some of the early rockers like Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Soon he was performing with his own band "The Dominoes." As the story on the official web site goes:
In July 1959, at a summer holiday camp, Clive was spotted by Rory Blackwell, the resident rock and roll bandleader. Blackwell offered the young singer/pianist a full time job and the teenager happily left his job at the weaving mill. Rory and the Blackjacks departed for London, their hometown, when the summer season ended prematurely and Clive went with them. The promise of lucrative work in the music business didn’t materialize, however, and the band broke up. The determined young man from Leigh opted to stay on in London, but for a time it proved rough going. He tried unsuccessfully to make his way back home, and eventually he had the good fortune of finding “lodging” at The Essex Arms pub in London’s Dockland, where the kindly landlord provided him a room where he could sleep.

In October of that year, the Marty Wilde Show was performing at the Lewisham Gaumont and Rory Blackwell arranged for Clive to audition “live” for impresario Larry Parnes. After walking on stage, without any rehearsal, he sang Jerry Lee Lewis’ High School Confidential and was promptly hired as a backing pianist for the Parnes “stable” of singers. As with all the other young talent Parnes had taken on (such as Billy Fury and Johnny Gentle), he renamed Clive Powell “Georgie Fame,” and the name has stuck to this day. By the age of 16, Georgie had toured Britain extensively, playing alongside Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Tony Sheridan, Freddie Canon, Jerry Keller, Dickie Pride, Joe Brown and many more. During this time, Billy Fury selected four musicians, including Fame, for his personal backing group and the “Blue Flames” were born. At the end of 1961, after a disagreement, the band and Fury parted company.
I was also unaware Fame's earlier work with Alan Price. Price was already well-known in the world of Pop music. He had hired a young Eric Burton to sing with his "Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo" in 1962, which by 1964 had become The Animals, mining old Blues songs. Price's arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" was a worldwide hit. Skipping ahead some 7 years, as the Alan Price web site tells us:
He then began a partnership with fellow-blues keyboardist and old chum, Georgie Fame, which gave birth to a hit single, Rosetta (which reached No. 11 in 1971), a highly-rated album (Price And Fame Together), their own television series (The Price Of Fame), and regular appearances on many others.

It was during one of the duo’s road tours that Malcolm MacDowell and Lindsay Anderson approached Alan about composing the music for the legendary cult film, O Lucky Man (in which he also appeared as himself). The phenomenal success of this project earned Price a BAFTA award, an Oscar nomination, and yielded his first US chart album.
Georgie Fame has been performing his own brand of music for more than 50 years. I feel lucky I got see him in a club on Jarvis Street in Toronto years later. Happy Birthday, George. You brought me many years of terrific music.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Irony ► Malicious Virus Spoils Birthday Celebrations in Oceania

Dateline June 25, 1903 - Future, and futurist, English writer George Orwell is born as Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bihar, India. Today "Orwellian" is an adjective everyone knows. That Big Brother is watching over us was his concept, as was the idea of "Thoughcrime" and "thoughtpolice," words now used daily.

However, we only know Orwell as a novelist. In his lifetime he was best known as a journalist and Socialist. According to the WickiWackyWoo:
During most of his career, Orwell was best known for his journalism, in essays, reviews, columns in newspapers and magazines and in his books of reportage: Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a period of poverty in these cities), The Road to Wigan Pier (describing the living conditions of the poor in northern England, and the class divide generally) and Homage to Catalonia. According to Irving Howe, Orwell was "the best English essayist since Hazlitt, perhaps since Dr Johnson."[86]
Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The former is often thought to reflect degeneration in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism; the latter, life under totalitarian rule. Nineteen Eighty-Four is often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; both are powerful dystopian novels warning of a future world where the state machine exerts complete control over social life. In 1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 were honoured with the Prometheus Award for their contributions to dystopian literature. In 2011 he received it again for Animal Farm.
Here's the supreme irony:

Maybe we already live in a dystopian society and we just don't recognize it yet. I would have preferred to quote from the official George Orwell site. However, it's been infected by malware. Clicking on it garners this message:

Warning - visiting this web site may harm your computer!

However, let's forget all that unpleasantness and watch this wonderful BBC drama of 1984, broadcast in 1950, just two years after the novel was published. The more things change, the more they stay the same:

And, if you've never seen the animated Animal Farm from 1954, here's a treat for you:

Finally, the late Christopher Hitchen at the 2002 Hay Festival, on his book "Why Orwell Matters."

Remember: Some animals are more equal than others. Just ask today's GOP.