item 1 >>> Now Playing…  I Just Can’t Get You Out of My Mind Here’s a wonderful single from 1973 by the 4 Tops…and please see item 4.

item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†! Murder, He Says Long forgotten today by the mainstream, but held in high esteem by music lovers, Betty Hutton was one of the most dynamic and popular entertainers of the 1940s…here she is in November of 1943, at age 22.

item 3 >>> Murder Sez Me…Regarding the TV series Murder, She Wrote, you will often see the origin of the title ascribed to a 1957 Miss Marple mystery written by Agatha Christie. In England, it was called 4.50 from Paddington. That’s a railroad time-table, we’d call it 4:50…but the book was published simultaneously in the US as What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! When made into a movie in 1963, the title was changed to Murder, She Said…and that title was also used for the paperback tie-in edition. Now a quick check of the web was unable to uncover exactly what was in the minds of the TV series creators. The 1963 movie title clearly refers back to Betty Hutton’s early 1940s novelty song “Murder, He Says.” Whether the series creators had the song or the movie or both in mind, I don’t think it unfair to say that it all traces back to the song. To suggest otherwise is just too much of a coincidence, especially since in 1945, a young Fred McMurray starred in a comedy film also called Murder, He Says, unrelated to the song.

item 4 >>> A “Watch This Space” Moment…Every so often, I get a hankering to try to decide definitively what was the first disco record. That feeling is upon me again. Actually, I divide the question in to 2 parts…first, what was the first song of the Disco Era? Van McCoy’s classic “The Hustle” went to #1 on the charts in the Summer of 1975, and that’s generality accepted as the breakthrough record, the moment Disco as a fad went mainstream. All thru 1974, records were released that were then and still are considered true disco, and indeed in 1974 the term was used to describe them. 1973 is the crucial year…the elements of the disco sound were beginning to emerge, and what Uncle Wiki claims is the first national newspaper article about Disco as such was in Rolling Stone in September, 1973. So it’s likely one song from that year will be the recipient of the “First Disco” title…the 4 Tops song on today’s Now Playing is an excellent example. I have 4 or 5 additional candidates in mind…it’s just a question of nit-picking…which was recorded first, which was released first, which hit the charts first, that sort of thing.

item 5 >>> Pre-Disco is Different…But I said I divide the question into 2 parts…the second part is, what was the first “Pre-Disco” record? By that I mean the first record that you could arguably describe as disco, but only accidentally so, because as a trend, Disco Music had yet to develop. Necessarily, since the trend got going in 1973, this song will be pre-1973. And it will be an isolated case…very few performers at that time would have been using that particular style…which within a few years come to dominate the music industry…but pre-1973 was just one of many types…funk, funk-rock, soul, R&B, etc. It’s similar to the question of what was the first Reggae record? For example, if you listen to rockabilly singer Ersel Hickey’s 1957 45 “Bluebirds Over the Mountain”…my gosh, that’s reggae! Which of course wouldn’t exist for another 10 years, so it could’t be…but then what is it?  So I felt this distinction was important, because as I researched the question, many people mentioned Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft” from 1971 and Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” from 1972 as “the first Disco Record.” And that can’t be right, simply because Disco didn’t exist yet! But I could see what they were driving at, and it’s a valid question. And in fact I have pretty much picked my choice…it’s from 1970, but there may be different recorded versions or mixes of it, so it needs some checking. Another space to watch…

item 6 >>> Gem-o-Logical…Ever ask yourself what field you might have gotten into, if you hadn’t chosen the career you did? Oddly enough, if I hadn’t gotten into radio, I could see myself as a jeweler. I was always fascinated as a child with jewels and gemstones, no doubt thanks to those glittering Cadillac ads,  2 seen here from 1953 and 1960. Of course today, the jewelry industry has succumbed to the mindlessly overblown BS mentality that has infected the entire world of marketing (can mentality be mindless?…can a wristwatch be timeless?) I mean, I just happened upon an ad for Tanzanite (who?) jewelry, describing it as “one of the world’s rarest and most popular gems.” Huh? That’s a cute trick…like printing up a million copies of a book and claiming it contains “secrets.” Well, not any more it doesn’t! I see 2 trends: one is the popularity of such oddball minerals, which 50 years ago either weren’t marketed, or hadn’t even been discovered yet…and the other is the switch from natural,”in-the-ground” gems to lab-created versions. I’m guessing both have to do with depleted supplies of traditional types, and an effort to keep the prices affordable. But one of the benefits is that the public at large has started to come around to my way of thinking…

item 7 >>> A Rainbow on Your Fingers…Because back in the day, you had diamonds, which were in a class by themselves…and they were colorless. Sure, there were colored diamonds, but they were prohibitively expensive, exhibited in museums and used to encrust scepters.  After that, you had the Big Three: Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald. And being the geek that I was, I understood that it was really just the Big Two: Corundum and Beryl. Hey, nice green stone…is it an Emerald or a Green Sapphire? Yup, that was me. And sure enough, today the Big Two or Three are readily available in all their varied hues, either under special code-names or completely out of the closet. Check last Sunday’s sales fliers, and I’ll bet you’ll see an ad for Valentine jewelry containing Pink Sapphires…back in the day, that would have made no sense…blue gems that are pink? Here’s a quick rundown…

item 8  >>> Use Brown, Go to Hell… Oh geez, another thing to look up…what’s this, #5,677?…Trouble is, I’ll find it, print it out, then promptly misplace it. But from the 2nd thru 8th grades, I went to what we called a “sister school,” and in art class the nuns always told us never to use the brown paint…the other colors in our paint boxes could be worn down to the bare metal, but the brown on the end next to the black had to remain untouched. Why? Anybody know? What got me thinking about it was this: at this late stage in the game, I’m probably never wear a gemstone ring…but if I were to, my favorite is the Smokey Quartz…brown is such an unusual color for precious stones. Kind of like brown cars. Oh, and I hate break it to you, but there’s no such thing as a “Smokey Topaz.” Topaz and Quartz are 2 completely different minerals, and some in the jewelry biz just seem to think Topaz sounds cooler…

item 9 >>>  But Speaking of Hell, Damn!…It’s hard to appreciate today what a powerful word “damn” was back in the day, at least at my house. Maybe you grew up in a family of cussers, and God bless, but the worst my Dad ever said was Criminy Dutch! and when you heard that, you knew it was time to head for the hills. “Hell,” “damn,” even something as simple as “honest to God” was enough to get you skinned alive. The odd thing is, instead of inheriting my parents’ aversion to such words, I found them enormously attractive…couldn’t wait to use them, among others! But society in general mirrored that aversion, using “damn” very infrequently, and then, it seemed to me, with naughty relish. But then overuse might have made it less special when it was used, no? I think they call that “judicious.” But take movies…just a handful really…The Damned Don’t Cry!, Damn the Defiant!, The Young and the Damned, No Tears For the Damned, the creepy Village of the Damned and its sequel Children of the Damned, Island of the Burning Damned, and let’s not forget Damn Yankees! One I particularly recommend is a British film from 1963, sort of a biker/horror picture, a snapshot of youth about to explode into the Swinging Mod Generation. You’ll find it called both The Damned and These Are the Damned. But you know, it’s a fortunate thing that as a kid I didn’t hear that joke: What did the fish say when he ran into a concrete wall? Dam! …or else I probably would have spent that Summer in a wheelchair…

item 10 >>>  Reminds me of another joke…This preacher is carrying on about eternal damnation, predicting Weeping, and Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth. An old guy in the back comments: “I haven’t got any teeth!” Without skipping a beat, the preacher pronounces: “TEETH…will be provided!”

Wicked Ballsy

OK, some pretty sparkly things…Beryls right, Corundums left…

shameless lab-created plugonites…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com

Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…twc-rr blows…

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