FIRSTS AND WORSTS
This page (though everything is completely true) is inspired by Brooklyn’s Coney Island ‘freak shows’ of the 1950s, supermarket cash register magazines, and today’s reality tv. In other words, it is rated ‘I’ for Immature.
At age 14, I was the youngest band leader in the Catskill Mountains, at Goldblatt’s Hotel in Monticello,New York.
I doubled as life guard though I couldn’t swim, and my two sidemen, Gary (sax) and Monte (drums), each fifteen years old, were also bus boys.
Photo taken some years earlier
Gene Pitney’s 1967 recording of the Bergen-Coburn composition “Flower Girl”, was the first C-side of a 45 single. The original 2 sides, “Animal Crackers” (side A) and “Don’t Mean To Be A Preacher” (side B) were in competition for airplay, so Musicor Records pulled ‘Preacher’ off the record and reissued it with “Animal Crackers” on side A, backed with “Flower Girl” with the same record number, plus a ‘C’, to differentiate from the other two titles. The song was also on the double LP: “The Gene Pitney Story”, and now appears as a bonus cut on this CD.
Norman was the musical director of “Oh! Calcutta!” from June 24, 1969-August 12, 1972; and again from September 1977 through 1982, for a total of 3,424 performances, making him the longest-running musical director of a Broadway show.
This now-famous picture is a reprint of the Clovis Trouille painting – Oh! Calcutta! Calcutta!, whose title is a phonetic spelling of the French phrase - ‘Oh, quel cul t’as’.
THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS
The 1973 "Danny Bonaduce" album. co-produced and arranged by Norman, is now honored on a CD entitled: "Hollywood Hi-Fi; 18 Of The Most Outrageous Celebrity Recordings Ever".
On the new compilation, Danny is somewhere between Raquel Welch and Jayne Mansfield; things could be worse.
In 1973, Norman co-produced a recording for singer-actor Meat Loaf on the title song of an off-Broadway show, “More Than You Deserve”. Meat was appearing in that show with music by Jim Steinman, who later wrote all of Mr. Loaf’s hits. Eight years later, Steinman said this about the recording:
“It was a piece of shit... they wouldn't let me in the studio.”
Jim is a talented musician and composer, and I’m guessing he is an expert on this sort of thing, as he has likely experienced some bad shit in his day. Actually I am proud of this recording and I think it is much better than Meatloaf’s 1981 remake. Our version was never distributed because of the show's early closing.
THE MOST BIZARRE
Steinman said of the flip side: “One of the most bizarre things I've ever heard.”
At least he didn’t call it a piece of shit. Beauty is in the ears of the b-side holder.
Tom Moulton, an innovator in disco music said the following about this 1975 Whitelaw-Bergen song and production:
“For the next song we cut, we went for the 12" format instead of the 10" and the song was "So much for love" by Moment of Truth. That was the birth of the 12" single.
Thanks to Tom, we made the transition from pop/r&b to the new and exciting disco music scene.
In 1975-76 we were lucky to have our song “Extra, Extra (Read All About It)” become a hit in many countries. This version by German band "Mr. Right" did not do well. I’m sure they are nice people but perhaps the record sleeve was ‘scratch and sniff’. (Interesting title on the flip side)
A New York Times review said of the 1979 film “Nocturna” (soundtrack composed and produced by Bergen and Whitelaw): “This inept, obviously low budget, poorly-acted horror-comedy is primarily a showcase for Nai Bonet, a belly-dancer turned actress…”
Well at least they knew it was a comedy. The good news is that I’m one of the few people who ever saw it; and I did enjoy the cinematography and music.
The Best Cover award goes to ‘Caribbean Seduction’ (2002) for combining some outstanding features reminiscent of Bergen’s aforementioned achievements: the sexiness of ‘Oh! Calcutta!’, the sentiment of ‘More Than You Deserve’, and disco’s ‘Giant 45s’, to name a few.
The CD-cup runneth over with what may be the biggest hits in the islands; wow, those honchos (music executives) will do anything to sell a couple of units. But I must give them credit; with 12 different artists they seem to have filled out their roster very nicely. Hey, I didn’t shoot the photo, I just report the facts.
Speaking of covers, the vocal on this version of “Only A Fool…” is credited to Everson Sam, whose name is listed elsewhere as Everton Sam, but why dwell on little things. Alright I’ll stop now so you can make up your own.
Actually I decided to include this CD for only two reasons (no, really):
1 - I thought this page could use a fine example of womanhood to balance out the over-the top masculinity of Bonaduce, Meat Loaf, and, come to think of it,... Nocturna.
2 - Just in case the internet begins to have ‘sweeps weeks’, as in U.S. television, I’m ready.
O.K. I’ll really stop now.