Boneyard Media


Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Song ID: Jerry Wallace – “Mandom” (1970)

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

mandomA curious addition to the country pop singer Jerry Wallace’s resume: The biggest selling single of his career was a 1970 Japan-only release that featured Charles Bronson on the sleeve. It was the soundtrack to a commercial for an aftershave called “Mandom,” starring Bronson as an urbane action figure who rewards himself at night by splashing the product all over himself like victory champagne. As he does this, Wallace gives the following lyrics one hundred-and-ten percent: “All the world loves a lover/All the girls in every land-om/And to know the joy of loving/Is to live in the world of Mandom.”

1970 Mandom commercial starring Charles Bronson

Jerry Wallace – “Mandom (Lovers of the World)” (1970)

Steve Karmen’s Who Killed the Jingle?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

karmenjinglebookCuriosity about the Budweiser and Pontiac jingles I’d written about earlier led me toward composer Steve Karmen’s book Who Killed the Jingle?: How a Unique American Art Form Disappeared (2005). I approached this expecting Karmen – who wrote hundreds of ad jingles, many of which you’d instantly recognize – to attempt to explain how the end of his own career equaled the end of good advertising.

In fact, Karmen demonstrates quite convincingly how this was actually the case: his own legal efforts to strengthen the financial future for ad composers in the present, where unique content routinely gets passed over in favor of recycled pop songs, really did have implications for his trade. Karmen was one of the very few jingle writers who has managed to retain his own publishing rights and, therefore, the proud sense of legal ownership for his work normally afforded to pop songwriters, and he advocated for this on behalf of all jingle writers.

In Who Killed the Jingle?, then, Karmen details his failed attempts as Chairman of the now-defunct Society of Advertising Producers, Arrangers and Composers (SAMPAC) to challenge the payment scale adhered to by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). This is the original performance rights organization, formed in 1914, which favored – then as now – the same pop songwriters who invented it, giving themselves sacred protections forbidden to the vermin who wrote for the not yet fully understood media of TV, movies, or radio. For these folks, the quick payout and relinquishment of ownership rights was, and continues to be, a standard expectation.

One of Karmen’s key hardships, apparently, was an inability to rally the troops in a way that inspired them to envision a future in which a classic jingle, like Karmen’s own “When You Say Bud” or “I Love New York,” could bring its writer ongoing financial rewards. What has this situation led to? An advertising world in which the traditional songwriting industry has swallowed up everything. Pre-existing pop songs now sell products, and ad agencies hunt for them with sizzling hot branding irons.

Gone are the days, in Karmen’s words, of “custom-made music and lyrics for advertising.” Because my own father was a regional jingle writer, whose work put food on the table, my own loathing for the current state of advertising perhaps runs a bit high. Maybe the sick feeling I get when I hear a pop song on a commercial is just a psychological response to the devaluation of the jingle writer.

But I do believe, like Karmen, that advertising was a more creative industry before the song-usage practice, which “exhibits nothing more,” as he puts it, “than a profound lack of imagination.” Would I have an easier time with all media if the advertising they feed on were more straight up? Karmen’s book has me thinking that I would, which is a surprising admission, but I think it beats the current, sneak-attack approach, which succeeds only in appearing sneaky. Like Karmen, I feel advertising should “go back” to “what it once was. Honest. And entertaining.”

Song ID: The Beach Boys – “Breakaway” (1969)

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

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This 1969 single written by the unlikely team of Brian Wilson and father Murry (as “Reggie Dunbar”) perhaps should have been a higher charting follow up to “Do It Again” for the Beach Boys (although it did sit rather uncomfortably as part of the 1974 Endless Summer lineup). Why didn’t “Breakaway” do better than its numerologically eye-catching #69 peak position? My theory: the “Breakaway” catchphrase had already been getting tons of airplay with Steve Karmen’s jingle for the 1969 Pontiac.

Beach Boys – “Breakaway” (1969)

Beach Boys – “Celebrate the News” (1969): This was the broody B-side, a Dennis Wilson track that gives the single the yin yang tension familiar to many a Beach Boys observer.

And here’s this:

The Steve Karmen Big Band featuring Jimmy Radcliffe (1968) – “Breakaway Parts I and II”: Side A is Jimmy Radcliffe talking and singing over a troubled, minor key arrangement of Karmen’s theme, while Side B is the major-key instrumental version more familiar from TV and radio ads.

Nick Drake Pink Moon 1999 VW Cabriolet

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

pinkmoon-car

Celebrate Nick Drake’s eternal relationship with the Volkswagen brand with this collector’s model. Hold it up against the starry sky and admire its stark beauty.

Song IDs: The Benson & Hedges Jingle Singles

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

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A 1966-67 TV ad campaign for Benson & Hedges 100’s focused on the extra long cigarettes’ disadvantages, making for situational giggles. The commercial was popular enough for the alluring musical backdrop to get some airplay on its own. Written by Mitch Leigh, the same man who scored the Man of La Mancha musical, the genuine as-heard-on-television article made enough noise in Cleveland to chart locally and to get listed in a 2/11/67 issue of Billboard as a potential breakout hit. This record was credited to The Answer on the red Columbia label, and the arrangers are listed as “Music Makers,” aka Leigh’s own production house. (Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles erroneously cites Bill Dean and John Campbell as the songwriters.) Another arrangement of this song, by Phil Bodner’s studio assembly the Brass Ring, entered the charts a week earlier on the Dunhill label with the hyphenated title “The Dis-Advantages of You” (and an arrangement of the “Dating Game” theme on side B). Peaking at #36, it outpaced the original as a full-blown Top 40 hit.

The Answer – “The Disadvantages of You” (1967)
The Brass Ring – “The Dis-Advantages of You” (1967)

Johnny Mann Singers – “Cinnamint Shuffle” (1966)

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

There’s a whole category of hit singles that charted because of their involvement in TV ads, like the Johnny Mann Singers’ “Cinnamint Shuffle,” from 1966. “Cinnamint” was a flavor of Clark’s chewing gum (along with “Teaberry”) and commercials for both of these featured consumers popping a stick of it into their mouths and dancing a two-second shuffle before carrying on with their business.

The ad campaign’s song was a familiar one: “Mexican Shuffle,” written by Sol Lake, which was a keynote track on Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’s South of the Border LP, a Billboard Top Ten hit in 1964 (the “Mexican Shuffle” single hit #88). The Johnny Mann Singers’ 1966 version of the song, sporting the new title of “Cinnamint Shuffle (Mexican Shuffle),” managed to squeak into Billboard‘s “bubbling under” chart, peaking at #126. (Johnny Mann was the musical director for the Joey Bishop Show, incidentally.)

Armchair carbon dating: I’m not thinking the ad in the YouTube clip above is from 1961, as listed at the beginning. That would be a full three years before Herb Alpert’s version. Also, the car at :13 is looking like a ’66 Buick Riviera and the art at :32 looks a tad countercultural.

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Johnny Mann Singers – “Cinnamint Shuffle (Mexican Shuffle)” (1966)

Bonus: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass – “Mexican Shuffle” (live)

1964 Bonanza view masters

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

bonanaza1 bonanzafinger

Bird count: 4.

Bic Banana Ink Crayons TV Ad Circa 1975

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Starring Charles Nelson Reilly. I was glad to incorporate this into my Banana Megamix mashup.

Song ID: Shocking Blue – “Acka Raga” (1968)

Monday, May 6th, 2013

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None of the official “best of” comps for the Dutch group Shocking Blue do justice to their facility with the three minute pop song. You have to go digging through all of their album cuts and B-sides and construct your own playlist. “Acka Raga” is a post-pyschedelic sitar instrumental, a cover of a track from the Joe Harriott-John Mayer Double Quartet’s 1967 Indo-Jazz Fusion LP. In 1999, a techno group called Mint Royale covered the song and retitled it, but hilariously claimed writer credits, giving Harriott-Mayer liner note honors for the “sample.” They even had the song placed in the Alias TV show and the Vanilla Sky film soundtrack. How did the licensing for this go down, I wonder?

Shocking Blue – “Acka Raga” (1968)

Joe Harriott-John Mayer Double Quartet – “Acka Raga” (1967)

Mint Royale – “From Rusholme with Love” (1999)

Song ID: Radio Birdman – “Aloha Steve and Danno” (1978)

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

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Maybe I’ll construct a “Praise the (Jack) Lord” tribute compilation to Hawaii Five-O someday. If I do, this one by Aussie legends Radio Birdman’s a shoo in because I’ve experienced the “night is dark and empty when you’re not on TV” bit. I also appreciate how this record came out while the show was still running, albeit during its crappy last few seasons.

Radio Birdman – “Aloha Steve and Danno”

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McGarrett’s on the line to Danno
We gotta pick up this guy
Put out an APB
Not much time to tell you why

Governor says it’s top priority
Washington says so too
Tell Chin to get here fast
5-0 is on the move

Steve I want to say thank you
For all you’ve done for me
My night is dark and empty
When you’re not on TV

There’s an agent in the field
I want to have him tailed
He’s been staying at the Hilton
Yeah should be staying in jail

He’s working for the KGB
And here’s his dossier
Those Reds won’t be happy
Till this guy gets his way

Steve I want to say thank you
For all you’ve done for me
My night is dark and empty
When you’re not on TV

Dark spectre of espionage
Hangs over fair Hawaii
McGarrett’s one cool guy
The guilty will not go free

Steve and Danno they made the scene
The agent had done his deed
Caught with a stiff and a silenced gun
Said Book him Danno Murder One

Steve I want to say thank you
For all you’ve done for me
My night is dark and empty
When you’re not on TV

posted by Kim Simpson