Elvis... From Beyond the Grave

Issued just two years after he died, The Elvis Presley Séance  has to be one of the most bizarre Elvis-related albums of all time – and the most tasteless.

The album, released to coincide with the second anniversary of Presley’s death, features an ‘unedited’ recording of a seance with Elvis Presley that was conducted on 24 July 1979 at a Spiritualist Church in North London, according to the rather vague sleevenotes: the event actually took place in a hall in Watford. The seance was led by Carmen Rogers (a renowned medium, apparently, again according to the sleeve notes), narrated by Stuart Colman, and was attended by Theresa Currie (representative of the official Elvis Presley fan club), two reporters and a photographer from the Sunday People and a handful of others, including Rogers’ and Coleman’s respective spouses. Perhaps unsurprisingly this was not the first Elvis séance album issued: a similar record appeared the previous year in the States: A Séance With Elvis: The King Lives On and Talks to the World From Beyond the Grave

Shadow records pressed 5,000 copies of The Elvis Presley Séance, a large number of which ended up in bargain bins: you can still pick up copies today for under a tenner. 

The Watford séance was featured in an article in The Sunday People the following weekend, an article that Shadow Records used to promote the sales of the album. It didn’t help. It's just so random. Why would the ghost of Elvis suddenly turn up in London, a city he never visited? Unsurprisingly Elvis fails to speak on the album, however Carmen Rogers assures those present that he spoke very clearly to her.

In 2004 the Sydney Morning Herald featured its own list of the 20 “strangest albums ever made” and included the Elvis Presley Seance at number 13. The same list had Marcel Marceau Speaks at number six and Ali and His Gang vs Mr Tooth Decay at number three. that reviewer commented that “Elvis seances are often held on his birthday (January 8) or the anniversary of his death (August 16), and it can only be hoped that they are not all as boring as this one.” How right he was.

Carmen Rogers had previously made the papers when, In March 1976, Reveillemagazine published her account of the most notorious murderer in British history. Carmen called him Charlie the Ripper and described him as “a nondescript sort of man, with a thin face and pasty complexion, deceptively strong in the arms and hands, aged about thirty-four, or thirty-five, and who worked in the fish trade. He was unable to form normal sexual relations with women, hence took out his frustration by killing and mutilating them instead.” The previous year she had been called on to help with regular sightings of a ghostly apparition on a runway at Heathrow Airport. She announced that the ‘ghost’ was of a man called Thomas Alperton who had died in a crash in 1948. Alperton, she claimed, did not know he was dead, but after she made contact with him he did not appear again.

Anyway, here’s the whole damn thing for you. I've not added streaming links as no one in their right mind is going to want to listen to this pap for pleasure, however, if you are as perverse and twisted as I am I guess you may well want to download a copy.

Download Side One HERE

Download Side Two HERE

Good Morning Good Evening

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love advertising records. I’ve featured a few over the years, including the wonderful Trimettes slimming aids disc back in January, and here’s another for you.

Issued in 1964 (I believe, although 45Cat has it listed as 1961), Butlin Holiday by the Trebletones was either sold in gift shops or given away to visitors of Britain’s Butlin’s holiday camps, founded by Billy Butlin in 1936 to provide affordable holidays for ordinary British families. Labelled as “A Butlin Souvenir Disc”, both sides are practically identical: the only difference being the “Good morning…” lyric of the A-side changing to “Good evening…” on the reverse. The song was written by veteran showtunes composer Vivian Ellis.

A band called the Trebletones issued a 45 on Oriole in 1963, one of Britain’s first independent record labels, but to me, this looks like it may have come from Pye's Tranco pressing plant, in Mitcham, Surrey. The big giveaway is the raised circle inside the centre, which you'll also see on Pye releases from 1964 onwards.

It's also possible that it came from another early independent pioneer, Ember, set up in 1960 by Jeffrey Kruger, one-time owner of Soho’s Flamingo Club. He sold the club to the Gunnell brothers to concentrate his efforts of his record company, converting his first record press from an old button making machine, and issued custom discs for a number of companies during the early 1960s. One of Ember’s earliest releases was a second pressing of the hit Angela Jones, originally issued by Joe Meek’s Triumph label. Meek gave Kruger the masters for the disc in the hope of making a few bucks while setting up his new operation, RGM Sound, at his fabled Holloway Road studios.

The thing that makes me doubt that the disc was pressed by Ember is that the vast majority of their pressings from this period have three-prong centres, not four-prong, so for now I'll stick with my assertion that Tranco/Pye pressed this and therefore it cannot have been released before 1964. 

Any thoughts? Your comments, as always, are much appreciated. But for now, here are both sides of Butlin Holiday.


Download Morning HERE

Download Evening HERE

You Bet Your Bippy

Just over a year ago I introduced you, via Bob at Dead Wax, to the amazing Mrs. Lila F. Daniels, also known as Lila Winton Daniels, but recognised professionally as Lillay Deay.

At that time I only had a couple of poor condition MP3s to share with you but, having recently purchased my own copy of her classic 1969 single I May Look Too Old, I can now bring you both sides of this incredible disc in the best quality you will find anywhere on the net: in fact, it seems that until today I May Look Too Oldhas never been made available before.

And what a song it is! Beginning with a salutation to her grandson, Slimy Jim, the amazing I May Look Too Old throws in a reference to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, and has our Lila sounding like Edith Massey’s The Egg Lady as she warbles along to the out of tune guitar. It’s a delight.

Born in 1896, Lila Daniels began her writing career in 1959 with a song called The Christmas Star. In 1966 she penned the patriotic Lady of Liberty, and in 1967 she registered copyright in four songs, AppreciationOur Beautiful Lady and Los Angeles, as well as Dancing Prancing Reindeer, the latter of which was recorded and released in 1969 (backed by Christmas Star) by the Daniels Singers, later amended to the Daniel Singers, presumably to avoid confusion with another Daniels Singers, a gospel troupe, or it could simply have been a typo. Christmas was a recurring theme for Lila. In 1969 she penned Twinkle, Twinkle Christmas Star, the Joys of Christmas and Is Santa the Man in the Moon, a waltz which was recorded, along with her later composition Santa Clause Sweetheart, by Dick Kent for song-poem titans MSR.

Other songs I’ve found credited to Lila/Lillay include the 1968 compositions I’ve Hurt All I Can Hurt, Lonely So Lonely and Blue, Sweet Little Flower, Our Beautiful Flag is Crying, Peace Love and Charity and Since You, Sweetheart, Said You’d Be Mine; 1969 also brought the wonderfully-titled The Angels of Mercy (On Flight 303), as well as Little Tommy Doubted. 1970 was an exceptionally busy year, with Lila penning the songs He Is No Angel, Love Means More, Don’t Start What You Can’t Finish, A Lifetime of Heartaches, Stay Buttoned Up, I Had To Have a Transplant (what a title!) and the salacious Sex, Sex, Sex. After a quiet couple of years she resurfaced in 1974, composing the music for the songs Have a Happy Birthday and the Happy Birthday Clown, to words written by Daisy Blackwood.

Lila and her husband William hailed from Houston, Texas and had two sons, Robert and Dan. It appears that, in her 60s, she and her husband retired to California, as it was there that she set up her own record label: the few discs known to exist were issued by her own Timely Records, based in Tujunga, in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. Timely released at least three 45s, Our Beautiful Flag is Crying (backed, I assume, by Peace, Love and Charity as both were copyrighted at the same time), Dancing Prancing Reindeer/Christmas Star and I May Look Too Old, backed with the amazing He’s A Devil (credited on the accompanying picture sleeve as You’re a Devil).


Download Old HERE

Download Devil HERE

Looking... Talking... Looking again

A very recent purchase this, it only arrived on Wednesday, but it’s one I needed to share with you ASAP.

Released by VEL records of Chicago in 1975, the two sides of Lavon Lambeth’s 7”, Looking At Myselfand Talking To Her, are in fact short extracts from longer tracks of the same name. Those two longer versions make up the entire contents of his album Man and His Awareness, issued that same year.

Over the piano tinkling of Vince Willis (aka Vincent Jerome Willis), Lavon Emmett Lambeth – who studied for a BA in History at The University of Michigan in the late 1950s – invites you inside his deeply troubled mind. Lavon is part poet, part self-help guru of seduction. Very much in the style of Barry White, on this disc he bravely discusses how his sexual shenanigans and physical prowess still leave him doubting his desirability, something that he assumes many of his listeners can empathise with.

Very much the New Age man, in the same year that Man and His Awareness was issued, Lavon also published a book (or booklet, more likely) called Man to Woman, Love and the Zodiac.

Lavon appears to have begun his songwriting career in 1969. That year he and his friend, Chicago-based producer and arranger Nate Vincent, wrote the songs Love is Where You Find It, I’ll Always be Around, Remember Me My Love, Help This Girl and Nothing In This World – but I’m much more intrigued by a brace of songs he wrote with Vince Willis the year before Looking at Myself came out. In 1974 the pair came up with The Guy I’ve Always Wanted to Marry and So Much Love to Give. I’ve no idea if these songs were ever recorded, but I’d be fascinated to find out if they were, and if the singer was Lavon himself. It would put a whole different spin on today’s selection!

I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more about Lavon – he certainly does not appear to have recorded or released anything outside of this one album and its associated 7” – but, as always, if any of you know anything, please do get in touch.


Download Looking HERE

Download Talking HERE

Mel Torment

I believe that there is a special place in hell for crooners, jazzers and the terminally unhip with the temerity to attempt ‘smooth’ covers of pop and rock songs, especially those from the flower power or psychedelia years. Last week’s post, with the Lettermen butchering the Doors, is a prime example.

As is this.

One track each today from the brace of lounge albums Mel Tormé released on Capitol in 1969 and 1970, A Time For Us and Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head. For some peculiar reason the singer John Lennon used to call Mel Torment would not issue a studio album of new material again for eight years, I wonder why?

In all fairness, most of the covers on the first of the two albums are reasonably palatable. I had intended to include his version of the Turtles Happy Together, but I found myself quite enjoying that. Instead, from A Time For Us I’ve chosen Mel’s version of the Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home, a recording that although poppy enough, drains all of the emotion and longing form the original. From Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head comes the criminally awful Sunshine Superman, Donovan’s summer of ‘66 US Number One.

By the way, here in the UK the two albums were mashed together. Both US releases feature 10 tracks apiece: A Time For Us was not issued here, but both of today's tracks appear on the UK-only 14-track version of Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head.

There’s nothing wrong with The Velvet Fog’s vocals: he’s a consummate performer and there’s a campy, lounge-y charm to these albums. I can’t fault the band either, it’s red hot. It’s just the choice of material. I feel exactly the same about opera singers attempting pop songs: just because you can sing doesn’t mean you should sing… as anyone who has heard Pavarotti duet with Barry White (or Brian May, for that matter) will attest.


Download Leaving HERE

Download Sunshine HERE