.
Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!


This is
'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. Two "Battles" per month, on the 1st and 15th. Six days later (the 7th and 21st), I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.

Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of 'DOG BITE High Gravity Lager' (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!

[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Monday, December 22, 2014

'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE' COMES TO LIFE!

The following true story is my entry in the 'MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY' Bloghop being hosted by CHERDO and JANIE JUNEBUG. If you click on their names you will be magically transported to a place where you will find links to ALL of the Bloghop participants posting their stories. 

The idea is to write a blog bit about your most memorable Christmas experience. Every Christmas I've had was wonderful, but four in particular were in contention for my attention:

Monday, December 15, 2014

'BATTLE OF THE BANDS: 2014, DEC. 15' (Or, 'THE CANADIAN TENORS VS. SPIRITUS CHAMBER CHOIR')

.
Republican Vs. Democrat, Male Vs. Female, War Vs. Peace, Light Vs. Dark, Good Vs. Evil, Man Vs. Machine, Love Vs. Hate, Dog Vs. Cat, Sun Vs. Moon, Brain Vs. Brawn, Oscar Vs. Grammy, Angel Vs. Demon, Laurel Vs. Hardy, Beer Vs. Wine, TV Vs. Radio, Pitcher Vs. Batter, Paper Vs. Plastic, Reality Vs. Fantasy, Yeshua Vs. Beelzebub, Conservative Vs. Liberal, You Vs. Me, House Vs. Senate, Offense Vs. Defense, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Spy Vs. Spy, Fischer Vs. Spassky, W.C. Fields Vs. Sobriety, Harold Gimpy, Jr. Vs. Sheldon J. Pismire, Rock Vs. Paper Vs. Scissors, Islam Vs. Everything, Singer Vs. Singer, Band Vs. Band...
.
THE BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (‘BOTB’)
.
.
Shoop-Shooby –
Shooby-duh-Dooby-Doop-Dooby-Dooby-Doo-Wah –
Buh-Doo-Wah!
.
Yes, it’s time once again for ‘Battle Of The Bands’ (‘BOTB’)
.
Alright, let’s get on it...
.
EUGENE  MARTONE  VS.  JACK  BUTLER
.
...but first:

So far, I've not had a lot of good luck with my Christmas-themed BOTBs, and it's all FAE's fault! I have always been mad about Christmas music, both the Sacred and the Secular. My BOTB plans, going back to last year, were to present a Secular Christmas song on December 1sts and a Sacred Song on December 15ths, when we're closer to Christmas Day.

Last year, my Sacred song was going to be 'O Holy Night', until I saw that FAE grabbed it up for her 12/01 BOTB. I switched gears, going with the planned Frank Sinatra Vs. Karen Carpenter ('Santa Claus Is Coming To Town') on 12/01 and then using a second Secular song ('Frosty The Snowman' - Jimmy Durante Vs. The Conniff Singers) on 12/15.

This year I planned to use 'MARY, DID YOU KNOW?' on 12/15, but FAE grabbed it up for her 12/01 BOTB. I swear that woman is either psychically reading my mind or reading my mail, but somehow she always manages to beat me to the punch.

'THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREASURY' - 1986 Videocassette
. 
So-ooo-o... thanks to FAE, I've switched my 12/15 BOTB (again this year) to a beautiful Christmas carol that is so little-known I will eat a toxic mistletoe plant and die of the poison if anyone else has also selected it for today's 'Battle Of The Bands' installments! This one's MINE, damn-it! (Bah!) When you can't beat 'em, outrun 'em! In other words, go so far, Far, FAR outside of the mainstream that they can't even follow you there without dropping bread crumbs to retrace their steps back home again, jigiddy-jig.

[FAE, next year I am going to Email my December BOTB song selections to you in November and if you steal one of 'em, Santa-With-A-Chainsaw is gonna come down your chimney cHOp-cHOp-cHOpping and stuff you into 12-Days-Of-Stockings!]
.
GODZILLA  VS.  KING  KONG
.
In 1987 or '88, I was really in the Christmas Spirit and purchased 5 or 6 professionally produced videocassettes that played Christmas songs accompanied by Winter scenes and whatnot (you know, like those 'Fireplace On Your TV Screen' kind of tapes... only I didn't buy one of those).

Over the next few years I came to realize that I only liked two of the tapes I'd purchased, so I discarded the others but have watched the two I like every single year from Then to Now.

My very favorite one is 'THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS TREASURY' from 1986. ["FUN FACT" (as 6-B of the 'A Beer For The Shower' blog likes to say)... my theme song, "Shoop-Shooby – Shooby-duh-Dooby-Doop-Dooby-Dooby-Doo-Wah – Buh-Doo-Wah!", which I have used to lead off every single one of my past BOTB installments is actually my written impersonation of the musical intro leading into the song 'Winter Wonderland' on 'The Family Christmas Treasury' tape I have.]

The second tape that I like almost as much, but not quite, is 1987's 'THE CHRISTMAS CAROL VIDEO' produced by Twin Tower Enterprises in Studio City, California, "Featuring the Choristers & Cathedral Singers of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine." I purchased it at the Wherehouse Records store that used to be on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice (which was vandalized during “the Rodney King riots”), about a 5-minute drive from my house.
.
'THE CHRISTMAS CAROL VIDEO' - 1987
.
Amidst all the standards, I heard the singers performing a carol that I wasn't familiar with. By about year 3 or 4 it had eventually dawned on me how beautiful the melody was and so I finally decided to look at the back of the box to see what it was called:
.
.
'THE HURON CAROL' - Here's what I've found out about it:

"Jean de Brebeuf was one of the "North American Martyrs" - a French Catholic priest who devised these lyrics to teach the Catholic Faith to the Indian population in North America and Canada in the mid 1600s. His lyric sheet can be seen at the Auriesville Shrine in New York along with some of his relics. Brebeuf suffered a violent and torturous martyrdom at the hands of the Iroquois."

"Father Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit Catholic Priest, who spent over 20 years serving his Huron flock not only wrote this beautiful carol but wrote a dictionary of the Huron Language [which] was not a written language. Yes, he used the tune from an old French song."

I was hoping to find the version by the Choristers & Cathedral Singers of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine at YouTube. It includes the tall doofus who decided to start growing a full beard 3 days before the scheduled filming of the video. Brother Nappy and I make fun of him every single December - it's become a genuine part of our Christmas traditions:
.
.
Unfortunately, no one has posted this (really nice) rendition at YouTube, so I'm going with two others that I also like quite well. Alright, NOW let's get on it:


'THE HURON CAROL' sung by The Canadian Tenors


.
And now their competition:

'THE HURON CAROL' - Spiritus Chamber Choir (arr. Bevan)


.
RIDDLER  VS.  BATMAN
.
“You know the gig”... I welcome EVERYONE to vote for their favorite of these songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other. (NOTE: Comment Moderation is activated. All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.) 
.
After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to the blogs of the other 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' participants to see which songs they have chosen and vote there also. (If their ‘BOTB’ blog bits aren’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to their blogs to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.)
.
Voice Your Vote @ ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘DISCCONNECTED’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'BOOK LOVER' by clicking HERE.
@ ‘CREATIVE OUTLET OF STRATPLAYER’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING' by clicking HERE.
@ 'ALEX CAVANAUGH' (when BOTB falls on a Mon., Wed., or Fri.) by clicking HERE.
.
As I've done in the past, I will continue to return to my 'BOTB' blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month to post my own votes and announce the winners in the comment sections.
.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
.
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'SOUND SYSTEM SHOWING-OFF SONGS' (Or, 'TUNES TO TURN UP TO ELEVEN')

In 1978, after my first year of working in Hollyweird, I spent my first tax return refund check on a pretty impressive stereo system to play my hundreds of LPs ("Licorice Pizzas") on. Up to that point, I was just using some cheap, little, portable record player.

I purchased a nice receiver and turntable and speakers that stood about three feet high. Truth be told, this was far too much power for my modest living quarters, but I was a young man addicted to fast, loud Rock 'N' Roll, and I wanted to have that capability to turn it up to eleven and blow my roof into the next county! And that I could do.

Back in those late-1970s/early-'80s years, whenever a friend came over and I wanted to show him or her how great my stereo sounded, I would invariably put on my 'MOONFLOWER' album by Santana and play the song 'SHE'S NOT THERE'.


I felt the song 'She's Not There' had a great range of sonic textures and then really seemed impressive when Carlos Santana would make that electric guitar scream like a wildcat through my 3-feet high speakers.

In 1987 or '88, I made the switch to compact discs and gradually sold off my LPs, replacing some (but not all) of them on CD.

At first, I just played my CDs on a very small, portable, nonimpressive-sounding player. Eventually I purchased one or more "boombox" type CD players and these sufficed for quite a long time, as I was no longer the 15-year-old who needed to hear everything cranked up to eleven.

Then in 2002, I took the plunge and bought a Bose CD player / radio. I thought it sounded fantastic. In fact, I thought it sounded as good as my old stereo system ever did, except for the fact that the speakers couldn't be separated into opposite ends of the room by long wires.

In 2007, I had a handyman working at my house for a couple weeks, doing some painting, cabinet refurbishing, etc. One day he noticed my Bose unit sitting on a shelf. He said he'd often thought of looking into getting one and asked me what I thought of the sound. So I told Mr. Handyman I would play something for him so he could decide on the sound quality for himself.

Well, I no longer owned Santana's 'Moonflower' album (nor was I interested in owning it again). But I did have a copy of the 'ENDLESS SUMMER II' movie soundtrack by Gary Hoey on compact disc. (Hoey? Who he?) By the way, it's a super-cool movie, too!


I put the Gary Hoey soundtrack album into the player. Although I truly dig every track on that disc, my very favorite is 'SURFDOGGIN'' because of the tremendous dexterity and cleanness of Hoey's playing, and the hybrid musical concoction he had created. To this day I don't know exactly how to describe 'Surfdoggin'', other than to say it strikes me as a sort of cross between Bluegrass and Surf Guitar. It's fabulous!

However, wanting to give Mr. Handyman a good taste of how loud the Bose can play without degrading into music-destroying distortion, and wanting him to hear the crispness of the slicin' 'n' dicin' guitar and the inescapable brain-pounding drums throughout, I put on the first track, 'RIPTIDE', and turned it up to eleven eighty.

Cats died, babies cried, women screamed, and manly men ducked for cover!

I'm pretty sure Mr. Handyman purchased a Bose CD player of his own shortly afterwards, because while 'RIPTIDE' was playing he just looked at me wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open.

Sadly, I did not feel I got my money's worth out of the Bose player because after owning it for only 5 to 6 years, the CD player stopped working, and I just don't listen to radio much.

I was not inclined to purchase another Bose player again, despite the excellent sound from such a small desktop unit. But last month I learned that Bose was offering new CD players for a little over half-price on a trade-in of an older unit, working or not. So I decided to give Bose one more chance, and I have a silver front-loading model sitting atop one of my bookcases now.

I am a huge fan of Western films. In fact, I've seen well over 200 of them, and as you might guess, the Western is my very favorite of all movie genres.

Without question, amongst my Top Ten Favorite Western Movies Of All Time is the sprawling Sergio Leone classic 'ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST', the best "Spaghetti" Western ever made, and I don't give a Hoot Gibson who says differently. In my opinion, even the music was the best that Ennio Morricone ever composed for a Western (even though this movie is more of an American-made "Spaghetti" Western).


'ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST' ('OUATITW') includes that fantabulous crane shot early in the film - a shot that you may have seen parodied a number of times in a number of places, even if you were not aware of the original. I seem to recall seeing it mimicked in cartoon format once on an episode of 'The Simpsons'. But the real deal can be seen HERE.

I own the 'OUATITW' soundtrack also and play it far more often than one might expect. It's loaded with highly interesting musical compositions and snippets of soundscapes that really evoke a sense of the dusty, dangerous, wild West.


I recall one particular road trip I made to Las Vegas when I had the 'OUATITW' soundtrack playing in my car and glancing to my left, I saw a train rumbling through the dusty, desolate Arizona desert. It was the perfect music for that image; a flawless example of what I call "Congrutiating".


A few days after acquiring my new Bose compact disc player, I got the idea to find out how one of my very favorite instrumentals from the 'ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST' soundtrack would sound through the Bose "Wave" sound system. So I put the disc in, forwarded it to Track #2, 'AS A JUDGMENT', and cranked that bad boy up to about 63. HOKEY-SMOKE & HOO-WEE! You wanna yak about "Heavy Metal"? This is IT!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbrHzKyFQ-E

If you're looking for a great Western movie, you could do a lot worse - I mean, a LOT worse! - than 'ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST'. And if you're looking for a truly memorable music-listening experience, you couldn't do much better than 'AS A JUDGMENT' as heard through one of the new Bose CD players!

By the way, this was definitely NOT an advertisement - paid or otherwise - for Bose products. I'm waiting to see how long this new unit lasts before I recommend Bose again to anyone else. But I just wanted to inform ya about a cool movie and its cool soundtrack, and to let you know why I seem to be suffering from hearing loss.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Monday, December 1, 2014

'BATTLE OF THE BANDS: 2014, DECEMBER 1' (Or, 'LEROY ANDERSON VS. GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA')

.
Republican Vs. Democrat, Male Vs. Female, War Vs. Peace, Light Vs. Dark, Good Vs. Evil, Man Vs. Machine, Love Vs. Hate, Dog Vs. Cat, Sun Vs. Moon, Brain Vs. Brawn, Oscar Vs. Grammy, Angel Vs. Demon, Laurel Vs. Hardy, Beer Vs. Wine, TV Vs. Radio, Pitcher Vs. Batter, Paper Vs. Plastic, Reality Vs. Fantasy, Yeshua Vs. Beelzebub, Conservative Vs. Liberal, You Vs. Me, House Vs. Senate, Offense Vs. Defense, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Spy Vs. Spy, Fischer Vs. Spassky, W.C. Fields Vs. Sobriety, Harold Gimpy, Jr. Vs. Sheldon J. Pismire, Rock Vs. Paper Vs. Scissors, Islam Vs. Everything, Singer Vs. Singer, Band Vs. Band...
.
THE BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (‘BOTB’)
.
.
Shoop-Shooby –
Shooby-duh-Dooby-Doop-Dooby-Dooby-Doo-Wah –
Buh-Doo-Wah!
.
Yes, it’s time once again for ‘Battle Of The Bands’ (‘BOTB’)
.
Alright, let’s get on it...
.
EUGENE  MARTONE  VS.  JACK  BUTLER

"Many of [LEROY ANDERSON'S musical compositions] have become part of the musical fabric of American life. Most everyone knows one or more of his tunes, though they may not know the name of the composer [*It's Leroy Anderson, remember?*] or even the title of the composition." For instance, there's BLUE TANGO, the first instrumental piece ever to sell over one million copies. And THE SYNCOPATED CLOCK, used as the theme for "The Late Show" on WCBS-TV in New York for over 25 years.


Anderson was incredibly imaginative and he composed each piece almost completely in his head. He stated, "When I'm making something up I never play a melody on the piano, because your fingers are used to falling into familiar patterns. You don't give your imagination free rein that way. In other words, your fingers are holding you back."


I find his brief musical pieces to be very evocative. For instance, when I hear 'SUMMER SKIES', in my mind I seem to see images of Lee Remick romping in a bathing suit at the beach as if in a black and white montage from some classic movie of the 1950s. Or when I hear 'THE WALTZING CAT', I always seem to imagine a cat waltzing in my mind. 'THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING' always makes me think of the first day of Spring and 'FORGOTTEN DREAMS' always reminds me of... hmmm... I forget. But anyway, 'SLEIGH RIDE' takes me for a ride in a sleigh in my wintry mind.

And just how imaginative WAS Leroy Anderson? Get this! He composed 'Sleigh Ride' (originally an instrumental) during a 1948 July heat wave in Woodbury, Connecticut! OK? Uh-huh. That's what I'M talkin' 'bout! So, what else ya wanna know? 

'SLEIGH RIDE' – LEROY ANDERSON 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrUNdPT9yUo
.
GODZILLA  VS.  KING  KONG
And now for the competition...


The Glenn Miller Orchestra is a jazz big band originally formed by Glenn Miller. It was arranged around a clarinet and tenor saxophone playing melody, while three other saxophones played the harmony. Miller had already formed one band before this in 1936, but dissolved it as he considered it too similar to other bands of the era. …

The new band became very popular and recorded a number of chart successes — among these were the ever-popular "Moonlight Serenade", "In the Mood", "Tuxedo Junction", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "A String of Pearls", "At Last", and "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo."
After the disappearance (and presumed death) of Miller in 1944, the band was reconstituted under the direction of Tex Beneke, its lead tenor saxophonist, singer, and one of Miller's longtime close friends. A few years later, the Miller estate, having parted ways with Beneke, hired Ray McKinley, principal drummer in Miller's Army Air Force band, to organize a new "ghost band" in 1956.

Hollywood contributed to the band's popularity and that of its founder and original members with the 1953 release of 'The Glenn Miller Story' on the big screen. The band garnered award nominations and box office success, as well as top hit status for its soundtrack album in 1954. The Glenn Miller Orchestra has recorded and performed under various leaders, from 1956 to this day.
  
'SLEIGH RIDE' – THE GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA 



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u4NttRRfxo
.
RIDDLER  VS.  BATMAN
.
Alright now, “you know the gig”... I welcome EVERYONE to vote for their favorite of these songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other. (NOTE: Comment Moderation is activated. All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.) 
.
After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to the blogs of the other 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' participants to see which songs they have chosen and vote there also. (If their ‘BOTB’ blog bits aren’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to their blogs to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.)
.
Voice Your Vote @ ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘DISCCONNECTED’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'BOOK LOVER' by clicking HERE.
@ ‘CREATIVE OUTLET OF STRATPLAYER’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING' by clicking HERE.
@ 'ALEX CAVANAUGH' by clicking HERE.
.
As I've done in the past, I will continue to return to my 'BOTB' blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month to post my own votes and announce the winners in the comment sections.
.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
.
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.