R.I.P.: Paul Oliver

[I will try to supplement this later. Too pooped right now.]

A pioneer, no question.

For me, the two most pioneering works were his biography of Bessie Smith, which brought her back from utter obscurity in 1959 and made the case for her as a blues master, at a time when only [male] solo country performers were thought to be the “real thing.”(I did not know the book was not originally his idea. Oh well.) The other was his book Savannah Syncopators, which founded the discussion of links between African and African-American musics. I haven’t picked it up in a very long time and I’m sure it’s dated (not least because we know so much more about African musics now), but like I say, pioneering.

Good interview with lots of little-known scoop.

(Still) R.I.P.: The Pelvis

(Still) R.I.P. The Pelvis

Some people call it the album for only the most devoted Presley fans.

I won’t go that far (these good-is-bad-is-outside-in propositions give me sorassisis), but I will agree with Marcus that it is “perversely listenable.”

And you’ll pry my copy (the only one I ever saw and way more than I could sanely afford at the time) from my cold, dead, peanut-butter stained hands.

R.I.P.: Glen Campbell (A Slight Dissent)

Best album (only one I have): Bobby Gentry and Glen Campbell

Only vocal performance I really treasure: “Wichita Lineman”

And, sorry, Johnny Cash had my country TV show in high school.

Also, N.B.: Number of Campbell listings in John Morthland’s The Best of Country Music: 0

Now, that said, I will let my memorial be a quote from the preternaturally fair-minded Bill C. Malone in his Country Music U.S.A.:

Campbell, from Delight, Arkansas [a plus in itself], finally moved from undeserved obscurity when he made his very popular recording in 1966 of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.” Campbell had spent much of his life as a session musician in Los Angeles, where he contributed to the fame of other people. In the summer of 1968 he became the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers, and he charmed his viewers with an easy, relaxed personality, a supple tenor voice (sharply honed through a short stint with the Beach Boys), and his guitar virtuosity. Campbell’s singing was pop-oriented, and he gravitated toward structurally sophisticated songs such as those written by Jim Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston”), but he maintainrf a down-home atmosphere with his high-pitched country laugh and patter, and through the occasional guest appearance of his charming parents, who were indeed rural and folksy. Campbell’s own show in 1969 was smooth, fast-paced and countrypolitan in mood. Whatever the misgivings some country fans might have had about the style of music heard on the Glen Campbell show, most were probably delighted at the success that one of their own had attained.

 

R.I.P. The Original Soul of Godzilla

Hauro deserves a deep bow from this lifelong moster-movie fan.

BUT

 

According to us hardcores, there are three levels of Old Tech Monsters:

Worst: Lizards and frogs with shit glued onto them.

Meh: Guys in suits, no matter how nifty the suit (James Arness, as “The Thing From Another World” was the best, except I keeping seeing it wearing a cowboy hat since I found out who it was.)

Best: “Dynamation” and its relatives — this required serious art and craft and the payoff could be superb. If you haven’t seen “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” what are you waiting for?

R.I.P. “Fabulous” Flo Steinberg

Charming selection of images with this obit. Always under-credited. I think she was right to quit over the $5 raise issue and that it was a sad testament to the difficulty women face(d?) is the comic book world that she fail to score on her own.

(To be fair, the 1975 timing on Big Apple Comics — I own a copy and “fabulous” is the only word for it — was unfortunate. Underground Comix were going into a death spiral.)

R.I.P.: George A. Romero — Zombie, Oh, Zombie

I saw Night of the Living Dead when it was new and it scared the doo-doo out of me. Hard to imagine this was the first horror movie that wasn’t just creepy or thrilling, but brutal, assaultive, with a rough-newsreel quality that made it feel like a documentary. Plus a horrific, downbeat ending. But my favorite part of the film, which let me know I was crossing into a fresh circle of Hell, is the beginning. There’s no explanation, no setup, no warning when this horrifying guy just appears from behind a tombstone and starts to menace and then WHAM! the brother is killed — a guy you probably expected to be the hero. And then of course we get the modern trapped-in-a-scary-house theme. Fascinating that the film was such an enduring influence that it’s transformed the meaning of “zombie” until almost no one you ask could cite the original Caribbean possessed-person definition.

(Plus, he died listening to Bing Crosby, a pretty up-there choice, I say.)

[PS: Because I have been asked, yes, the Fela Kuti “Zombie” does refer to the original definition. In a very potent way.]