Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pearl Sisters - It Is Unpleasant

Bae In Soon didn't even consider herself a singer on that fateful night in 1967 when, on a whim, she decided to enter a singing contest hosted by the 8th US Army. But then she won. And if you've ever had the eyes of a hundred handsome soldiers locked on you for seven minutes straight then you understand why she was instantly hooked on the entertainment industry. That very night she convinced her sister Bae In Sook to become her partner and together they formed The Pearl Sisters. The only problem was their complete and utter lack of musical skill. Sure they could sing, but could they write songs or play any instruments? Hellz noou, as they say in Little Korea. But never fear, Pearl Sisters, the Godfather of Korean rock is here!

Shin Jung Hyun was already producing some of Korea's best female artists, including Kim Chu Ja and Park In Su. The moment he heard the sisters' raw talent trapped in such a coarse shell he made it his mission to culture a pearl. Uh, make that two pearls. Within months they were ready to record their debut. The album was a smashing success, selling over 1 million copies, and the Pearl Sisters became fixtures on the Korean music scene.

Sadly, the sisters had a falling-out in the mid-1970s. Bae In Soon quit the music business all together, but luckily her younger sister launched a solo career right at the dawn of the disco era! Her music will be featured in a later post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Romero Family (from left to right: Al, Mary Lou, Cherise, Alfredo, Maxine, Bill, and Flavia) recorded this regional hit back in 1983 at the Rendezvous Studios in Honolulu, and although David Geffen offered to fly the entire family out to Los Angeles to record a follow up, they chose instead to ride off into the Oahu sunset. Lord knows why. But they make it very clear in "I Believe In God" that they don't approve of superstars, organic food, or foreign cars -- so perhaps they just couldn't handle their burgeoning celebrity status and the lifestyle it demanded. Last month I ran into Alfredo Romero, covered in tattoos, pedaling leis in front of the Opportunity Village charity shop on West Oakey Blvd. in Las Vegas.

UPDATE: I received this kind letter from Mary Lou Romero. It appears some of my information was erroneous, and I apologize. The guy I saw in Vegas looked exactly like Alfredo Romero, but it was not him. Here's what Mrs. Romero had to say:

"It's nice to be remembered, but as the Mom of the Romero family, I can assure you that the current news you reported about Alfredo Romero in Vegas and also about The Romero Family being offered a record contract by David Geffen is not true, though we desired very much to receive such an offer.... There are surely many who would like to know what we are really doing now. Thanks again for remembering us, and please, at least consider replacing the info you posted on your site with the following short text:

The Romero Family (from left to right: Alfredo Sr. , Mary Lou, Cherisa, Alfredo Jr., Maxine, Bill, and Flavia) recorded this original hit in 1983 at Rendezvous Studios in Honolulu. Entertaining and bringing the Gospel to tourists for many years in Waikiki, they recorded 2 more albums together (White Dove & White Dove Country) and released a country single they recorded with Buck Owens' Buckaroos at their Bakersfield studio. Alfredo Sr. and Maxine still entertain occasionally in Waikiki, Mary Lou is still recording her music (, Alfredo Jr. is still recording and is a music minister in CA, Cherisa is an aesthetician, and Bill & Flavia Busche are ministers/counselors in their local church in Hawaii."

Monday, March 26, 2007

When Morrey Davidson recorded his first album at the age of 74 he had already been writing songs for over 50 years, many of them published by the nation's top music publishers and performed by leading artists from around the world. His triumph was perhaps the 1927 classic "Get 'Em In A Rumble Seat" performed by the Six Jumping Jacks. But in 1973 Morrey realized his 75th birthday was only months away, so he decided it was high time to interpret his own compositions for a change. He called up his old gang of famed instrumentalists, including Tony Mattola (one of Perry Como's favorite guitarists), Bob McCoy from the Tonight Show Orchestra, and a few stragglers from the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. He even convinced Marty Gold to co-produce the record. Marty was super busy scoring the music for the Lloyd Bridges TV series "Water World", but how could he turn down a friend on his death bed? Mr. Bridges would just have to be patient.

The results were astonishing. You can hardly tell that Morrey doesn't know a note of music (as revealed on the back of the lp). And the stamped red lettering on the cover says it all: "At 75 he sings like 25". Hear it and you'll believe it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Prince Nico Mbarga's band Rocafal Jazz headlined for years at the Naza Hotel in Onitsha, Nigeria, blending Ibo and Zairian guitar-playing with the upbeat Panco dance rhythm of Eastern Nigeria. Upon the massive success of their single "Sweet Mother", which sold 13 million copies and remains one of the most popular African songs of all-time, Nico ditched the hotel in pursuit of his ultimate fantasy. In other words, he did what anyone would do in his situation -- he high-tailed it to England to become a glam-rock god! As for the Naza Hotel, sadly I was unable to verify its continued existence. But if you are honeymooning in the area I recommend the Benjay Guest Inn or the Ginkay Suites on Ozalla Road.

"Though diminutive in appearance and unassuming in manner, Nico's musical verve is truly gigantic" -- Dan Kahn

Aki Special

Free Education In Nigeria


(from the album Aki Special released in 1977 by the Rogers All Stars label in Nigeria)

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Boy singers are a rare commodity in our society. Rarer still is the boy who has both voice and discipline. Ricky Tanner, a genuine fun-loving boy, possesses a serenely beautiful voice and a man-sized character to support it" -- Jerold Ottley, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

When Ricky Tanner embarked on his solo career at the tender age of twelve he had already performed with all the greats: The Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and even the Choir at the Utah State Fair (who supposedly perform on a giant ferris wheel). But as much as he loved these collaborations it was finally time to strike out on his own. River of Song was recorded in a whirlwind session in 1977 in Studio C at Bonneville Productions. Ricky worked tirelessly, taking time off only to fulfill his duties as Priesthood Chorister at the Church of Latter Day Saints, and to pursue his candidacy for Eagle Scout.

A Man's Gotta Be

River Song

The Wells Fargo Wagon

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who is Al Harrington? Ask this question to any long-time Hawaii resident and you will get many different answers. Some will recall his academic achievements at Hawaii's famous Punahou school. Others will proudly remember that he was Hawaii's first All-American football player and that the Baltimore Colts tried to draft him in 1952. Or perhaps they will recall his starring role as Detective Ben Kokua on the hit television series Hawaii Five-O.

But most Hawaiians will tell you he was the extraordinary entertainer who had long-running revues at the Sheraton Polynesian Palace and Ala Moana Hotel, dazzling audiences with his witty stage banter and expressive songs. He was able to capture the essence of these shows on I Love This Land, his 1975 lp for Maui Records.

"Al Harrington is a beautiful man. His ruggedly handsome face surely qualifies him for stardom."

And who are we to argue with the liner notes? Good looks aside, however, his warm renditions of Hawaiian songs make it clear he really does 'love this land', while other songs showcase his vast repertoire of mating calls and occasional funky jive talk.

Al Harrington - Love Calls

Al Harrington - Minoi Koni Au

Friday, March 16, 2007

Who knew Evansville was such a hotbed of musical talent back in the day? As young Hoosier lads Timmy Thomas and the Pyle Brothers probably swam in the same limestone quarries. On second thought they probably didn't, considering race relations in southern Indiana in the 1950s and 60s. But Thomas would find a more tolerant atmosphere at Indiana University in Bloomington where he studied jazz under Donald Byrd and Woody Herman. He also did a little modeling to pay for books:

That's Timmy in what appears to be the Shillito's Department Store catalog circa 1971. After graduating he built a solid reputation as an organ player and accompanist for Byrd and Cannonball Adderley. Then in 1972 he struck gold with his debut lp Why Can't We Live Together? on the Glades label in Miami. The 1975 follow-up You're The Song I've Always Wanted To Sing was much less successful but contained all the Timmy Thomas Trademarks, including expressive organ, sparse production, and a charmingly simple drum machine.

You're The Song I've Always Wanted To Sing

I've Got To See You Tonight (featuring Little Beaver on guitar)

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