Wednesday, March 20, 2019

MINNIE THE MOOCHER - "Call and Response" (1932 - 1980)

Call and Response, that's what they call it. One person says something, and another person or a whole crowd of people repeat the same word or phrase. It's a tradition notably originating in Africa, then used by the slaves as they toiled in the fields, and as the gospel in black churches.
When I was in the Army in basic training, call and response was used as a means of cadence while we were running, and the most popular verse was "Bo Diddley."
The song  titled "Minnie The Moocher" was written by Cab Calloway and Irving Mills, and was recorded in 1932. It is a classic and fun example of call and response, and that's why we're here!

 Cabell Calloway was an amazing and original American jazz singer, dancer, and bandleader!
Cab calls out the lead lines, and his band does the response!

God's gift to the world,
Cab Calloway was born on Christmas Day in 1907 and passed on November 18, 1994!
He might not still be around, but he left us this short from 1942 to enjoy forever!
Cab Calloway - "Minnie The Moocher"

 Cab Calloway first recorded "Minnie The Moocher" in 1931, and this Betty Boop cartoon featured the song in 1932!

I always thought it would have been funnier if Betty Boop's friend Bimbo was a dumb blonde instead of a dog, but alas, I'm not in charge!

 This version of "Minnie The Moocher" has always baffled me! It starts off with Betty not wanting to eat her dinner. She gets upset with her parents for yelling at her, so she runs away, and Bimbo joins her!

 Betty and Bimbo end up in this haunted cave full of ghostly characters doing a version of "Minnie The Moocher!" It's straight out of left field! The music and vocals are still by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, but instead of Cab, we've got a walrus ghost calling out the lines.....

 ..........And a number of other strange ghosts doing the response!

 The walrus mimics Cab's dancing maneuvers to a T......

 .......And more weird ghosts respond to each verse!

You just really need to watch it!
Betty Boop - "Minnie The Moocher" 

 My actual first encounter with the song "Minnie The Moocher" was not Cab Calloway's version, but this 78 that my parent's had, by actor, crooner, and comedian Danny Kaye!

 Cab Calloway's version of "Minnie The Moocher" was basically already a novelty tune, but in 1942, Danny Kaye's version took it to a different level, adding verses in fake Chinese and what I'm guessing is Russian gibberish etc. The ending of "Minnie The Moocher" always ends with an extra long line, and once again, Danny Kaye took it to the limit with a very long last verse that is basically unrepeatable!
Here's the place where you can check it out yourself on the Internet Archive!

In the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers," they brilliantly bring back the then 73 year old Cab Calloway for yet another version of "Minnie The Moocher," and he nails it one more time!

 "The Blues Brothers" is not really one of my favourite movies, but I give them a Helluva lot of credit for this killer version of "Minnie The Moocher," and also the scene that features James Brown as the preacher!

 When all the useless politicians are forgotten, I can only hope that the memory of Cab Calloway lingers on forever! It's an olde adage but true, they just don't make 'em like this anymore!

 In this version the call and response is between Cab Calloway and the audience!

 "Minnie The Moocher" was based on another song titled "Willie The Weeper" that is credited to Walter Melrose, Grant Rymal, Marty Bloom in 1904. Both songs are full of drug references!
Cab Calloway - "Blues Brothers" - Minnie The Moocher"
 Many, many versions of "Willie The Weeper," and "Minnie The Moocher" have been recorded over the years! Here's just a handful!
 Dave Von Ronk, Bobby Darin, The Kaleidoscope, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and The Hillbilly Goats!

Monday, March 18, 2019

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE / The Satanic Piano - 1985

Today's little story goes like this... A struggling composer, Pete Bancroft, is contacted by the very strange Wilson Farber, who has invented a synthesizer that can read minds and may be able to help Bancroft in his career... Well, maybe yes, maybe no!

It stars Michael (CLEOPATRA JONES) Warren as Pete Bancroft, Lisa (married/divorced Lenny Kravitz) Bonet as Justine Bancroft, Philip (CATCH 22) Roth as Wilson Farber and Felice (BULLITT) Orlandi as Tony...

Here's Pete Bancroft, composer, he's in a slump and is poised to lose his fortune as a result...

Then, he gets a mysterious call from a Wilson Farber, he tells Pete he has a musical instrument that will solve all his financial and credibility problems!.. What the Hell?!

But, after Farber hangs up, he reveals a dirty little secret about the magical instrument.

Pete agrees to meet with Farber, the inventor lays out a deal that Pete cannot resist, he can use it at no cost, it's simply a gift to help him reach his full potential. The trick is, the machine will play whatever his mind can conceive, a true magical instrument, all he has to do is think!

Well, Pete loves it, he effortlessly composes music in his mind... A weird looking thing.

But, wouldn't you know it?!.. Farber has taken the instrument back along with Pete's daughter, Justine! Farber thinks her mind music is superior to dad's. Problem is, the instrument sucks the life force out of its victim, and, they die!

Pete tries to stop the maniac but Farber's stronger than he looks!

Not sure how to stop the transference, Pete punches the screen (VIRUS MAN), and when he pulls it out of the thing, it's all bloody and stripped of flesh... In other words, it really hoits!

Farber's working his magic, until...

Pete grabs Justine as Farber's machine goes haywire and 'splodes in his face!

And, who knows why, but, Pete's, I guess, real hand, is stuck in the freakin' machine!.. Whatever... Okay, we're back on Wednesday with a hump day post just for you!..

Saturday, March 16, 2019

GENTLEMEN BRONCOS - "Title Cards" (2009)

 Tonight's Saturday Night Special has one thing going for it, so I'm just going to put the spotlight on that one element!!

I guess I'm just too olde to appreciate films like "Gentlemen Broncos" any more, but I'll tell you one thing, this movie has one of the best opening title sequences of any film I've seen lately, so in order to accentuate the positive, that's what I've got for you!

 "Gentlemen Broncos" is a story about a young Science Fiction author who gets his work ripped off by a famous writer, and then gets accused of plagiarism!

 So it's a stroke of genius to use pseudo covers of 1960's paperback books during the opening title sequences!

 Now I know a lot of you out there don't know what a book is, and for that I am extremely sorry that none of this makes sense!

There were many publishers of science fiction paperback books in the 60's, and each one of these fake covers is an homage to one or another!

Two of the more successful companies were Bantam and Ballantine!

I read many a novel published by Ace and Avon Books!

A lot of extremely cool books were published by Pyramid and/or Berkley Medallion!

Two more big publishers in the 60's were Dell and Crest!

I think what this movie is missing more than anything is counterbalance!

There's not one normal person, and it's like everybody in the whole universe is too weird to even shop at Walmart!

The husband and wife team of Jared and Jerusha Hess are responsible for most of this mess!

Jared and Jerusha Hess also wrote "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Nacho Libra" so it's not like they aren't talented, this thing just tries too hard!

I like this last cover the best, and I could have only hoped that "Gentlemen Broncos" would have been this good, but plain and simple, in my book, it just wasn't!
You are entitled to your own opinion!

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