As good at the organ as he was with balls

Denny McLain
“At the Organ:  The Detroit Tigers Superstar Swings with Today’s Hits”
Capitol records

submitted by: Gary H.

What I like about this record is that the guy actually plays on  it, unlike many other “sports” records that have the star on the cover but other people’s music within.

McClain’s baseball career was short but eventful.  Although he won the Cy Young Award, was named the AL Most Valuable Player, and pitched in the World Series, all in 1968, he suffered from a series of injuries and scandals.  From wikipedia:

“Sports Illustrated reported that a foot injury suffered by McLain late in 1967 had been caused by an organized crime figure stomping on it for McLain’s failure to pay off on a bet. McLain missed six starts because of this injury, coming back to pitch and lose the Tigers’ final game of the season against the California Angels, which cost his team the 1967 pennant. McLain’s story of what caused the injury kept changing: on various occasions, he claimed that he had kicked his locker after a particularly disappointing start; fallen asleep watching television, then wrenched his toes against some furniture when he woke up in the dark; kicked some garbage cans being ‘terrorized’ by squirrels; and fallen into a manhole while being chased by a pack of wild dogs.”  It goes on from there…

Took a wrong turn at Cracker Barrel

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Las Gaitas de Simon

Hugo Blanco y su Conjuto
“Las Gaitas de Simon”
1977, West Side Latino records


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Blanco_%28musician%29

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Billie Jean no es Mi Amante

Texas Thunder
“Mejor Que Nunca”
1985, CARA records

Michael Jackson called, he wants his off-purple Thriller-knockoff wifebeater  jackets back.

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Teen Fad FAIL: The Bump Ball

The Bumpers (aka The Combinations)

The Official Bump Ball© Record
Pickwick/Milton Bradley, 1968

From my Houston Press blog, 3/2009:

Does it have rules?

What makes you think it’s a game?
Is it a game?
Will it break?
It better break eventually!
Is there an object?
What if you tire before it’s done?

Does it come with batteries?
We could charge extra for them.
Is it safe for toddlers?
How can you tell when you’re finished?
How do you make it stop?
Is that a boy’s model?

Is there a larger model for the obese?
What if you tire before it’s done?
What the hell is it?

One imagines this kind of Hudsucker Proxy conversation going on in the Milton Bradley boardroom when the idea for the Bump Ball© was being tossed around. Always on the lookout for the next Hula Hoop, an extruded plastic dingus which sold 100 million units in four months in 1958, Milton Bradley seemed to think they found it in the Bump Ball©.

In 1967, the game company approached the Combinations, a garage band from Easton, Pennsylvania, and asked them to be the sound for what they hoped would be the next new dance and game craze. Dance Instructor to the Stars “Killer Joe” Piro was recruited to write and perform the dance (he’s the guy on the cover).

Listen to “Bump Ball”:

The band was put up in a New York studio with Julie Andrews’ producer and James Brown’s horn section and emerged with one song… the steaming pile of crap that serves as the title track to this record. The song is an awkward mish-mash that sounds like it was recorded by three different bands who couldn’t hear one another. But that didn’t stop Milton Bradley from thinking they had the Next Big Thing on their hands.

The Combinations, aka The Bumpers

“Once upon a time in the way out kingdom of contemporary America,” the back cover eyerollingly states, “a ball was invented. No ordinary ball this one. A big, soft, spongy ball with crazy bumps all over it. The cats at Milton Bradley threw the Bump Ball © into the teen scene – and a whole new bag was born.”

Hopefully a trash bag, if MB manufactured anything close to the number of Bump Ball©s they thought they were going to sell. “A whole new breed of kids latched onto this crazy new dance fad, creating a twisting, laughing, falling group that quickly became the ‘BUMP BALL BOPPERS’ as the mass media dubbed them. They deserted in droves from the flower children to join this new transcendental experience. It was the answer to America’s searching youth. It was Anti-Establishment – and a gas at the same time.”

Uh huh. So what was one supposed to do with the Bump Ball©? Apparently, the idea was to toss the ball in the air and keep it from hitting the ground by pressing it between you and the nearest hot chick while gyrating to the Bump Ball© theme song. A 45 of the song was included with every ball. “It’s time the boys got closer to the girls,” the album cover continues. The concept had everything. Dancing. Sex. Balls. Rock n’ roll. How could the Bump Ball© fail?

It did. Now, I can’t say just how well the Bump Ball© sold. All I can say is, just about the only references to it on the Internets are to this record. Apparently the “mass media,” apart from an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, never even noticed. I did manage to find one authentic Bump Ball© on eBay; a bit tatty but with original box and instruction manual, a steal at $9.99. One. So I’m guessing they didn’t sell 100 million.

One last footnote to the story of the Bump Ball© record. The Combinations, although credited on the 45 single that came with the ball, are not even mentioned on this LP. Instead, the named artist is a nonexistent band called The Bumpers. What’s ultimately ironic is that the rest of this LP, apart from the dismal title track, is actually pretty decent, Beatles-esque ’60s garage pop, the kind record-collector geeks go crazy for.

What must it be like to have your band’s big debut album be packaged as a gimmicky toy promotion, then have your name removed from it altogether? I hope the Combinations at least got some free Bump Ball©s out of the deal.

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Vikings for Jesus

Eric Van Camp
“Grafted In”
Jews For Jesus H-1005
1979

The Jews for Jesus have always confused me ever since I started collecting Christian records.  This cover does nothing to reduce that confusion…

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First and Only use of ‘Sniff’n’ in a Band Name

Sniff’n the Tears
“The Game’s Up”
1980, Atlantic records

From the “Strangest Band Names” file comes these one-hit-wonders from the UK, who had an international hit with “Driver’s Seat” in 1978. Singer Paul Roberts paints the band’s album covers.

Still Sniff’n

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Devil in Disguise

Orion
“Reborn”
Sun-1012, 1979

Jimmy Ellis aka Orion was the most successful Elvis impersonator (who claimed not to be an Elvis impersonator) of all time.

For years Ellis tried to make a career as a country singer, but his voice and manor were so similar to Elvis’ that he was dismissed as an imitator.  His voice and appearance apparently caused enough confusion  that fans thought he might actually be The King himself performing. One of his early singles was titled, “I’m Not Trying To Be Elvis”.

from www.orionjimmyellis.com

After Elvis’ death, he finally stopped resisting the comparisons and developed the “Orion” persona, named after the title character of a book about a rock star who fakes his own death.  Orion’s ultimate coup was getting signed to Sun Records, Elvis’ original label, for his first album. As one might expect, many fans apparently believed that Orion actually was Elvis Presley.

Orion released several albums in the early 80′s and even had a few charting singles.  He then quit the Orion/Elvis charade until the early 1990′s, when he released several more records.  He died in 1998, when he was gunned down in a robbery of his convenience store in Selma, Alabama.

TV interview with Orion: http://youtu.be/niLmJGgtVVI

Official Web Page:  http://www.orionjimmyellis.com/

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Were You There…when Larry buried the body?

Larry Brummett
“Were You There”
Eden Recording

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It’s all about Steve

Whitey Gleason & the Jubilee Quartet
“Spotlight on Steve”
Mid-America #225

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The King is Coming

Bob & Meri Gabriel
“The King is Coming”
Rainbow #R-2157

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