4/28/17

the batman files - disc 1 (Leaping Fox)

Not long after this blog began, I made a compilation of Batman material that has since been removed, "out of print," if you will.  It was more of a sampler, a little bit of everything that was out there (novelty songs, audio, theme songs, video game themes, spoken word, etc.), and the historian in me always wanted to replace it with a more comprehensive version.

NINE YEARS later, which is hard to believe, the result is completed at last. This project is a three-disc set, and is intended to be more of a complete look, a dossier or archive of what exists, music-wise.  

Before we get started, let's discuss what this project is NOT.  Incredibly, there is more audio material to collect featuring Batman than any other super hero, and one of the main reasons for this is the year 1966, when a worldwide phenomenon took place.  When I began to gather all of the sources, and was trying to figure out how to best present them, I realized there are really five categories of material

1)  Theme songs to the many Batman shows and films over the years (as usual, we are going to ignore the more modern, lesser endeavors).  This is called "bat-history."

2) General songs and instrumentals about Batman.  "bat-songs," naturally.

3) "Bat-Mania" records, which were issued during the worldwide excitement for the 1966 launch of the ABC-TV show.  These include cash-in attempts by no-names, cash-in attempts by big names, and even singles issued by the show's stars themselves.  Everyone was jumping on the band, uh, bat-wagon. As the largest section, there are 40 tracks in all, under the title "bat-mania 1966."

4) Included in the above topic is a sub-category, covers of the theme song to the 1966 show.  Luckily, we have recently addressed this section, or else this project would be five discs instead.

5) Lastly, "spoken word" audio.  Book-and-record adventures, the various and wonderful Power Records releases, and OTR (Old Time Radio)-type stuff were excluded.  Which brings up the following point:


One last note:  Also during the bat-splosion of 1966, several complete, Batman-themed LP's were issued.  Since these albums are 100% Batman material, it made no sense to cherry-pick tracks from them, and instead focus this collection on singles and freestanding tracks.  A complete list of these albums is in the liner notes to discs 2 & 3.


Now that that is all out of the way.........please enjoy.

4/26/17

Spark-E-Godzilla (Imperial Toys, 1985)

Imperial produced a smattering of Godzilla items, both during the time of GODZILLA 1985, as well as through the 1990's.  The "Spark-E-Godzilla" was a toy that did just what it said:  you revved it up, like a toy car with a "friction motor," and sparks shot out of his mouth.  Sparking toys were not uncommon in the mid-1980's and the prior decades--I recall having a toy gun from the circus that was in the shape of a cannon.  When you revved it up, copious amounts of long sparks shot forth from the opening.  Even as a child, I wondered why this was okay.

At some point, parents and watchdog groups became nervous about children's toys that could potentially destroy any home with a gas leak, and items like this slowly disappeared, at least from toy aisles that were geared toward small children.  (A quick search of Amazon yields only two sparking toys; one is a party favor, and the other, a sparking "Futurama" gun.  A similar search at ToysRUs yielded nothing, but their site was acting wonky.)
I always wondered if Imperial somehow licensed the sparking Godzilla toy that Takara has made for years (along with sparking Gigan, Ghidorah, and other Godzilla foes, which are often bootlegged), because they look so much alike.  There's no clue on the package concerning this, but my eyes tell me differently:

4/20/17

Glenn Turner - Reaching For The Stars (Koscot, circa 1969)

From what I've read, this is a pretty rare record, as in "hard to find" rare, not exactly "super-valuable" rare...I thought the name of this album was MR. ENTHUSIASM, because that's where the attention is directed on the cover, beneath the (crayon?) starburst thing.  Nope, it's "Reaching For the Stars," because that's what he's doing, on the cover, there, reaching.  For a star.
One thing I can say about it:  absolutely NO expense was spent on its recording.  Somebody set up a reel-to-reel in the back of an auditorium or community center, and just let it go.  They got what they got.  And what they got is pretty amazingly, ear-bleedingly bad, in terms of sound quality.  I equalized and did everything I could to improve it, and didn't help it much.
Koscot (like Epcot) was an "Interplanetary" company, sort of like L. Ron Hubbard's endeavors.  No, that was a joke.  I assume the "Interplanetary" here was inserted from a 1960's, forward-thinking, space-race type of mindset.  Today, earth, tomorrow the stars.  Hey! We can reach for them! I'm starting to put it all together now.

The problem was, and I'm only reporting here on my gut instincts: it sounded like another pyramid scheme.  I'm only passing along the facts, but when Koscot ran its course, Turner began other similar companies, and eventually served jail time.  There are two ways you could tell this story.  You could say he was a man who overcame disability (a speech impediment) to raise himself up into a successful entrepreneur, or you could say he ran pyramid schemes, as well as running afoul of the feds, who eventually jailed him.  You are encouraged to do your own research (and have a 3-page, double-spaced report on my desk Monday morning).

Another thing about Koscot.  What was the product? Oh, it was mink oil.  (Have you ever tried to oil a mink? I apologize.) Take a look at this charming photo from the back cover:
Nevermind that everything is orange.  There is a dead weasel wrapped around some products, and I'm supposed to want to sell them.  If that photo doesn't make you think about skin care, then...just wow.  

No high-pressure sales pitches are included on the album; instead it's mostly an upbeat pep talk.  And don't we all need that from time to time?

LINK:  Reaching For The Stars

4/7/17

Gil Trythall - Switched On Nashville - Country Moog (1972)

Here's another Moog delicacy, out of print, otherwise I'll remove it...
I preferred our last Moog entry, but I have to say, this is another cool album cover.  All the sources I can find list 1972, which seems a tad late to me, but whatever.
There are bits of cheating, too, as one track features an early "talk box" that Frampton and Joe Walsh would later make famous.  We are apparently supposed to think that is Moog magic? "Rest assured no words were spoken," say the liner notes.  Hmmmph.
You have probably heard the "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" that begins this album; it's been on some compilations. This is a limited-time upload, so enjoy!

LINK:  SWITCHED ON NASHVILLE