Death and Taxes


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I am forever amazed at the gullibility of people, especially God-fearing folk who – desperate to get into heaven (or their version of it) – plough their life savings into one scam or another, each one fronted by some charlatan claiming to be God’s representative on earth. All convicted felon Jim Bakker had to do was shed a few crocodile tears and he was quickly accepted back into his evangelist family, and he’s hardly the only one.

It seems that claiming to be God’s messenger can help you get away with anything: gold plate-reading Joseph Smith, Jr. was “subjected to approximately thirty criminal actions” during his life according to one source: another reports Smith was arrested at least 42 times. In 1978 Scientology charlatan L. Ron Hubbard was convicted of making false claims about his ability to cure physical illnesses and was sentenced to four years in prison, which he failed to serve. Just look at the sexual abuse endemic in the Catholic Church, or the evil scumbag Fred Phelps - Leader of anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church – who was convicted of disorderly conduct and battery.

In May 2012 Daniel Gaub, the scion of evangelist Kenneth Gaub, was killed in a motorcycle accident. But was it an accident, or did Dan – as many believe - commit suicide in order to avoid a hefty prison sentence and the ruination of his family? Shortly after his death, the FBI raided Gaub’s home in search of evidence to support accusations that he was scamming people with high-risk foreign currency trading, known as “forex”. The agency took computers and boxes of records. Assets, including Gaub’s 70-foot yacht and a collection of cars and motorcycles, were also seized.

Brother Nathaniel (also known as Nathan), who for many years had been Daniel’s partner in the family’s musical act (and later the teen gospel band Eternity/Eternity Express) claimed that he “never saw [his] brother make an unethical business step in his life,” but Jack Baugher, a businessman in Gaub’s hometown of Yakima, stated that “he was committing a crime every time he took money from people… and he took a lot of money from people.” Baugher invested $200,000 in Gaub’s business, and several of those ripped off by Gaub claimed that he deliberately drove into a truck because he was under investigation by the FBI for fraud: local police were investigating claims that Gaub may have defrauded investors, many of them members of Stone Church in Yakima, of millions of dollars.

Nathan Gaub said that the accusations against his brother had sickened his family. “I don’t have a clue as to anything to do with the inside workings of that business, because I was not involved,” he said. “But I am blown away by any accusations of wrongdoing because it's just out of character.” Gaub's claims of non-involvement were, at best, disingenuous: his LinkedIn profile claims that he and Daniel were the co-creators of an "unsurpassed system of forex trading". 

Within months it was announced that the FBI was indeed investigating Daniel Gaub of running a Ponzi scheme that may have netted him and his family as much as $40 million. Although Dan Gaub’s parents were not implicated, it’s interesting to note that Ken Gaub has not filed his tax returns since 2012, the year his son died. His church – which he and his family have run since 1961 - is tax-exempt but still has to file returns annually. If a non-profit religious organisation fails to file for three consecutive years they can have their tax-exempt status revoked. So far this does not appear to have happened to Gaub senior.

Anyway, in happier times Dan, Nathan, Ken and the whole Gaub family played music together and made records. As I’ve already mentioned, in the 70s Nathan and Daniel played in a teen Christian rock band, but before that the brothers, their parents and their little sister Becky played in the Kenneth Gaub family band, which issued at least two albums in the mid 60s. Here are a brace of tracks from their 1964 album, Kenneth Gaub Family Feeling Fine: Jesus Loves Me sung by young Becky Gaub, and How Great Thou Art from Nathan, Dan, and Becky.

Enjoy!

Download Jesus HERE




Download Great HERE

The Crème de la Crème

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André Van der Veken, born in the Belgian city of Ninove on 19 January 1949, has had a long a varied career in the world of pop.

He first recorded under the name Andy Free, issuing a number of 45s in both Belgium and Holland during the first half of the 1970s, including Mama (Philips, 1971) and Ik Kon Mijn Ogen Niet Geloven(I Could Not Believe My Eyes, BASF, 1974). In 1978, as André Van Der Veken, he released his first full-length album Maar Zo Is't (That’s How It Is). He then moved on to a successful career as a songwriter and producer, principally with the group Dance Reaction, who issued three 45s – including the oddly titled Shanks Mare Honey and Honey Puppy Is My Name between 1981 and 1983. He continued to work throughout the 80s and 90s, with duo Leeva and Andy (guess which one he was?), D.J. Arséne, and he co-wrote both sides of the comeback single for the 60s Belgian pop band The Paramounts. In 1996 Dance Reaction’s big Euro hit, Disco Train was remixed and re-released. 

Over the years he has worked with a number of Dutch and Flemish artists, including Jimmy Frey, Jo Vally, Willy Sommers and Laura Lynn, under such names as Dré Van der Veken, André Domien and Remien. But the pseudonym we’re most interested in here is Waylon, which he used for the one-off 1979 single Crème de la Crème/The Sparrow.

Crème de la Crème was the only disc Andy/André issued as Waylon, but what a record it is. A hellish mashup of Sylvester and Boney M, this ridiculously brilliant slice of disco buffoonery was released in Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and Portugal but failed to chart in any of those countries, despite being issued in both 7” and 12” formats, the latter available in both yellow and white vinyl. Over the years it has developed its own cult following, and quite rightly so. It’s a very special record.

After playing the songs on The World's Worst Records Radio Show and discussing them with listeners and fellow presenters there I decided to track down Dré Van der Veken, and was honoured when he kindly agreed to talk about the single with me.

The biggest surprise was the discovery that Waylon, the young man who appears on the sleeve of the 45, does not actually sing on the disc. “We only had the song and a nice boy who could not sing,” Dré admits. “So, I was required - poor me! - to perform the song myself. It was a laugh, believe me. We thought that the record would never make it to the market.”  

When asked about the voice he used on the disc, Dré candidly admitted that “I think it was a combination of wine and too much time in the studio. Things like that happened a lot, although those times are over now. Showbiz has changed; there’s no more money for crazy things and I am getting older. Although I’m still a little crazy!

“There was never going to be a follow up to the Waylon single: it was a joke. The real Waylon went off and married his boyfriend.”

In 2013 Dré released his second full-length album, Tussen Hoogtes en Laagtes (Between the Highs and Lows), which he describes as an “active creation between man and machine ... and my cat Johnny”. The album was “recorded in the bedroom, where I operate all the keys and synths myself, sometimes just with two fingers… It had to sound the way I heard it in my head and maybe I succeeded. The arrangements and sounds, perhaps not flawless, are primarily a bed for the lyrics. These are rather dark in nature, although I do not consider myself a pessimist but rather a pessimistic optimist and bon vivant.”

He's nonplussed about the curiosity that surrounds Crème de la Crème. “I'm surprised people are still interested in the Waylon thing,” he admits. “Copies now sell for more than 30 euro, and I never saw a penny of it,” he laughs. “Maybe I have to open a bottle of wine (or more than one), compose a follow-up and find someone who can’t sing again… what you think?”

Check out both songs below. My huge thanks to Dré Van der Veken for taking the time to talk to me. You can check out his more recent music, as well as tracks from his 1978 album Maar Zo Is't, at his website: www.drevanderveken.com

Download Creme HERE




Download Sparrow HERE


The Sad Story of the Ponderosa Twins

Family groups often go through the mill, and often at the hands of their overbearing parents or management (or both), but if you thought the Jacksons had it bad with their horrific father wait until you hear about trials and tribulations of the Ponderosa Twins Plus One.

Formed in Ohio in 1970, the confusingly-named Ponderosa Twins Plus One – who, as far as I am aware had absolutely nothing to do with Bonanza - actually consisted of five members (just like a certain Jackson Five), two sets of identical twins Alfred and Alvin Pelham, and Keith and Kirk Gardner – who had been performing as the Ponderosa Twins for around a year or so - along with their chum Ricky Spicer, who joined in 1970. All five attended the Patrick Henry Jr. High School on the east side of Cleveland.

PT+1 came to the attention of Bobby Massey of soul act The O’Jays. Accompanied by Massey, they recorded three singles for Chuck Brown’s Horoscope Records. At this point, Brown took over their management. Their debut, a cover of Sam Cooke’s You Send Me peaked at number 23 on Billboard’s Soul chart. In 1971, the group released their album, 2 + 2 + 1 = Ponderosa Twins Plus One. It’s not a bad album at all: even Billboard reckoned that even if the group were something of “a Johnny-come-lately in the bubblegum soul sound” they were still “out of sight”.

Bound became their second single, with the label altering its name to Astroscope, and this peaked at number 47 on the Soul chart. Although they played many shows and supported a number of big-name acts, after 1973’s non-album single Tomorrow’s Train/Come Back Sunshine,  the band would make no further recordings. They disbanded in 1975: in a court deposition singer Ricky Spicer would later state that the principal reason for their parting ways was that they were broke: “The Group toured for months, sometimes performing twice in a single day. Although the Group was promised payments for their performances, Mr. Brown and Saru [his company] failed to make any payments to Ricky or the other members of the Group for any performances. In 1975, the group fell apart due to the lack of royalties and no revenue from their live shows.”

Ricky Spicer went on to work with stars including Gladys Knight and James Brown. Sadly his cohorts were not so lucky. One of the Pelham twins suffered from mental health issues, and one of the Gardner twins has been incarcerated in an Ohio penitentiary since 1980 for various offenses. Disillusioned, Ricky Spicer eventually left the music industry became a construction worker. Alvin and Alfred are now both deceased.

The band would have been forgotten for good had it not been for their track, Bound being sampled by rapper Kanye West in his 2013 song Bound 2, which featured on his huge international hit Yeezus. Ricky Spicer filed a lawsuit against West, as well as Roc-A-Fella Records, The Island Def Jam Music Group, Rhino Entertainment and Universal Music Group, citing copyright infringement. The following year Spicer sued Vogue magazine and its publisher Condé Nast, after Bound 2 was used in a promotional video for the magazine’s April edition, which featured West and his wife Kim Kardashian. According to court papers, at the time both Keith and Kirk were incarcerated, but Ricky had power of attorney to act on behalf of the Gardner twins and for the families of the late Pelham twins. The court case against West was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2016.

Here are a couple of tracks from 2 + 2 + 1 = Ponderosa Twins Plus One, Turn Around You Fool and Take Me Back

Enjoy!

Download Turn HERE



Download Take HERE