Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nostalgia Digest

Just found this new magazine for oldie lovers like me: Nostalgia Digest.

I haven't read an issue yet, but I'm ordering them from = $3.60/issue
Nostalgia Digest Subscription = $3.75(4x a year)

Friday, September 10, 2010

What's a 'Scopitone'?

What is a Scopitone?
Better yet, how do you say it?

Scopitone, pronounced like scope-E-tone, was the precursor to music videos. The machine worked like a jukebox in that for a quarter you could hear your favorite songs. But on top of the machine was a small screen where you could watch a film version of the song as well. Inside the machine were 16mm reels of the hottest hits of the day.

It all started in France in the late fifties when superstars such as Johnny Hallyday and Serge Gainsbourg created the first song films. Soon the fad spread to Germany, England, and by the mid sixties, it was catching on in the US. The intent was to place these machines inside bars, on military bases and other risque places.

The formula for making one of these US Scopitones was easy: hit song + cute girls + vaguely interested artist = Good times! Watch an example of my fave one:

After watching a handful of these, I began to realize they were all about one thing: ASS! If the song sucks, doesn't matter. If one girl or group of girls shakes their butt, it takes your mind off the music. Even if it's a song about heartbreak or animals, or something completely non-related to girls or dancing, they're dancing! I guess the bosses figured the guys would keep paying a quarter just to see some tail.

Anywho, the BIG stars of the day such as Neil Sedaka, Dick & DeeDee, Debbie Reynolds, Vic Damone, Bobby Vee, Nancy Sinatra and countless others performed their hits in front of cheesy backdrops with cheesy dancers, but made it fun! The so-called "stories" they tried to exhibit in these things are so silly and often don't have anything to do with the song. I guess if you make a song that's hard to illustrate on screen, you're pretty much screwed. When in doubt, just go with girls, I guess.

Now for the sad news: Scopitones quickly faded towards the end of the 60's and are now rarely heard of or even seen. But, thanks to our friends on YouTube, we are now able to see these masterpieces after all these years. Coupled with mechanical problems, ties to the mafia and overall disinterest, the machines were fazed out and forgotten. Now they're highly collectible and mostly found in France, but if you're lucky you could see one at a garage sale in LA.

Okay, so maybe I can't go watch Scopitones at my nearest dive bar, but for an introductory price of FREE, I can watch all the song films I want. YouTube has an amazing collection of these babies and they're just hilarious to watch. Colors are vivid, sound is great and the selection is endless. Elvis imitator with spaghetti legs? See Vince Taylor in "Peppermint Twist". Scary older woman in spider web? Check out Joi Lansing in "Web of Love". Oh the fun!

Click here to watch my Scopitone Best of the Best Playlist on YouTube.

Plus, check out these Scopitone Links:
  • Scopitone Archive

  • Scopitone on NPR


  • - Huge Collection

  • Scopitone Article
  • Monday, May 31, 2010

    Happy Memorial Day 2010

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Best Cover Songs of the 60's

    If you follow American Idol each week like I do, you'll remember Simon saying that he wanted the contestants to redo songs with their own style. He didn't want them to completely butcher the original, but instead do an interesting take on it. Also, take a look at the hit show Glee. Each week you have several covers of famous songs done by the cast. And go figure, some of their remakes are now outselling the originals!

    A great site to check out who really made that song is Second Hand Songs. I go there a lot to fact check. They have an extensive list of who has covered the song, and who was the original artist.

    This got me thinking about writing my top 6 favorite covers of the 60's. There were lots of them as people tried to cash in on other people's success. (i.e. The Beatles) So, I know you may or may not agree with my picks, but here's what I think are the cream of the crop:

    1. All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix, 1968 (Bob Dylan, 1967)

    (Not sung by Bob Dylan. Couldn't find a video available.)

    2. You Keep Me Hanging On - Vanilla Fudge, 1967 (The Supremes, 1966)

    3. Telstar - Ventures, 1963 (The Tornados, 1962)

    4. Light My Fire - Jose Feliciano, 1968 (The Doors, 1967)

    5. Please Mr. Postman - The Beatles, 1963 (The Marvelettes, 1961)

    6. With A Little Help From My Friends - Joe Cocker, 1968 (The Beatles, 1967)

    And some terribly awful attempts...
  • Beatle Barkers: Seriously? You made a record of dogs barking to the Beatles? Oh. My. God.

  • Tommy Sands & Annette Funicello - Let's Get Together: I'm sorry, I like Annette and all, but the Hailey Mills version was the best. Tommy Sands with his "ye ye yeahhh" makes me sick each time I hear it. No wonder his career ended. (Or was that due to ol' blue eyes cutting off his cash & fame?)

  • Mrs. Miller - When I first heard this lady, I couldn't believe myself. Be sure to get her CD, Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits. Yikes!

  • Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    What the hell was Georgy Girl about?!?!

    Just watched Georgy Girl from 1966 and I'm just not too sure what I saw. One moment she's teaching kids to be silly, then she's dancing and singing like a mental patient, finally she's macking with a married James Mason, who's like 40 years older! I don't know what that was. If I do find out one day, I'll be sure to let you know. Honestly though, I had never heard of this movie. Heard the song about a million times and just absolutely love it, but I didn't know there was a movie.

    Also, just wanted to say RIP Lynn Redgrave, who just died recently due to cancer. She was the 22 year old star of the movie. She's sister to Vanessa Redgrave and aunt to Natasha Richardson, who also just passed.

    Rent the movie, try not to get lost and tell me what you think. ;)

    Here's my fave scene and probably the most memorable from the film:

    Other 'Georgy Girl' versions that don't even come close:

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Lightnin' Strikes Video

    Just found this on YouTube and thought I'd pass it along. Watch for the little snippet of Lou Christie in the video. Oh, and don't forget to sing along as well. :P

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Enlightnin'ment: All About Lou Christie

    Over the past couple of weeks, I've just been enthralled by Lou Christie. Yeah, I'd heard of him before when I was introduced to such songs as "Two Faces Have I", "Lightnin' Strikes" and "The Gypsy Cried". I liked how high his voice got on all of the reminded me of Frankie Valli a lot. On YouTube, I came across this old music video for "I'm Gonna Make You Mine", which I'll admit I had heard before, somewhere, but it wasn't that familiar to me. So I watched it, didn't think much of it and went on with my life. Next day, I found myself humming the stupid song!

    So I watched it some more and more. Present day, and I'm hooked. I just love the simplicity of the "music video". The video quality is very poor. They're dancing in front of a hotel pool, not moving from their spots. He's wearing tight pants, obviously lip-synching really awfully, and there's a crazy lady over to the far left of the screen. Who she is, I don't know. Someone posted on the YouTube page an apparent funny story about her, but I could never find it. (Anyone, if you find it, send it my way!)

    This second video is a promo for the song made by the record company. It's also poorly made, but Lou isn't too bad to look at. First off, the setting of the video: a scrap yard? Thinking of the lyrics, what does a scrap yard have to do with anything? Secondly, Lou's lip synching is out of synch, several times. But oh well, just go with it.

    So the latest thing I'm obsessed with about him is his dirty song "Rhapsody in the Rain". I heard it on the XM 60's channel the other day and since then I've looked all over the place trying to download it. (iTunes only carries the live version where Lou talks about the controversy of the song.) Thank you library!

    So, what's the controversy you say?
  • According to Christie, the original lyrics were changed from: "We were makin' out in the rain" to "We fell in love in the rain" and "In this car, we went too far" to "Our love came like a falling star."

  • The Catholic Church helped get this banned on many radio stations, which only made people want to hear it more (You'd think they'd have learned after banning Gary U.S. Bonds' "Quarter To Three"). It's mild by today's standards, but a hot topic back when you didn't sing about "Makin' love in the storm" with a teenage girl.

  • Christie (in Goldmine magazine): "I had priests and nuns calling to complain. Even Time magazine did an article on it, saying I was corrupting the youth."

  • The music was based on Tchaikovsky's "Romeo And Juliet."

  • Another interesting note about this song is that The Tammys, who did the background vocals on this and most Lou Christie songs, had a sexually suggestive song of their own in 1964, two years prior to this song, called Egyptian Shumba, which had lines like "Lets lie on the Nile, and dance Egyptian-style.

  • Released in the spring of 1966, "Rhapsody In The Rain" told of a teenager's regret over his sexual experience in the back seat of a car during a rainstorm as the windshield wipers made a rhythmic sound of "together, together". Later after the romance ends, the wipers seem to say "never, never". Many radio stations banned the song, and MGM insisted on a re-recorded version that toned down the lyrical content. Despite the edited version, many stations instead played two older songs re-released by other labels Christie had once recorded for: "Outside the Gates of Heaven" (on Co & Ce Records, a successor to C&C) peaked at #45, while "Big Time" (on Colpix Records) managed to hit #95. All three singles hit the U.S. charts within three weeks of one another, in March 1966. Whether it was the controversial lyrics or competition from the other singles released simultaneously, "Rhapsody" only managed to hit #16 in the U.S. and #37 in the UK.

  • Okay, so you wanna hear it?

    *~*Sunday Girl*~* - Music, movies, memories and more. - Maintained By Suzie-Q (2009-2011)