Blue Seduction, compiled by Gustavo Turner


photo by Gustavo Turner

BY A WATERFALL is one of the many wonderful songs the Bonzo Dog Band taught us. Back when everyone wanted to “blow their minds” (sic) with power blues trios, Viv Stanshall buttoned up his overcoat and out the ass back in jass. The clip for Dick Powell’s version has some great Busby Berkeley choreography, but I like the Rudy Vallee’s arrangement much better.

LUNA MALINCONICA is the hit Italian 30s version of “Blue Moon.” Carlo Buti had a lot of hit songs in Italy in the 30s, which means that he spent decades later being blacklisted as a “Fascist entertainer.” I can’t hear anything Fascistic about his great interpretation of the Rodgers and Hart standard, though.

JUST BECAUSE was covered by Elvis at Sun Records. His version is great, but there’s something truly special about the original by the Shelton Brothers and the way they say “purty” and “sandy claws.”

CURSE OF AN ACHING HEART is Fats Waller’s version of a really ancient Tin Pan Alley song from the ragtime era. Fats Waller never made a bad record in his life and this one is no exception. Sinatra did it much later. The tune sounds like the perfect followup to “Just Because,” doesn’t it?

ARIZONA YODELER by the DeZurik Sisters was played to me by my friend Dario Castanheira, who’s an uncanny digger of the special and unusual. He has a whole collection of yodeling songs prompted by his encounter with this one, so beware the hypnotic power of the DeZurik Sisters!

TRUCKIN’ is a song I found in a harrowing documentary about a 1930s Hollywood rape called “Girl 27.” Before that, I thought “truckin’” was just a jazz-era euphemism for “fuckin’” used by bluesmen and revived in the 1960s by R. Crumb’s caricature and the Grateful Dead. I had no idea it was a dance craze involving little finger gestures popularized by the awesome Ina Ray Hutton and her all-girl Melodears. Look up Ina Ray Hutton–amazing life and amazing music. Someone should make a movie about her with Kate Hudson.

LET’S HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE is a semi-obscure Irving Berlin song from the Depression era. I’ve only heard two versions of it: one from the 1980s by cabaret archivist Michael Feinstein and this one, from Fred Waring, the guy who invented the cocktail blender, and his Pennsylvanians.

YOU’SE A VIPER was very popular in compilations of weed-related jazz songs that came out on LP in the 60s and 70s and on CD in the 1990s. There are many versions of this (I think Fats Waller wrote it), but the one I like the best is by Stuff Smith. The man could make even a demented “knock knock” joke swing (an once he did). There are no bad Stuff Smith records and people who know much more than I do about jazz violin rate him as a visionary.

BEYOND THE BLUE HORIZON is a timeless song that I first encountered in the much later Lou Christie version. Michael Nesmith has another really good early-1970s update. Jeanette MacDonald’s original version has a slow intro that’s too long for my taste–this Martha Tilton version–done for the US Army during World War II–is much more my speed. Coleman Hawkins and the Trumpet Kings also do it great.

JAMBALAYA is from a 78 by 1950s Japanese chantuse Chiemi Eri (or Eri Chiemi depending who you ask). Chiemi at the time specialized in English-Japanese hybrids of American pop hits. Her “Tennessee Waltz” and “Come On-A My House” are riveting as well, the latter bringing to mind Sparks’ “Kimono My House” for obvious reasons. Frank Nagai did a similar act, and his version of bass-vocal showcase “Sixteen Tons” is worth checking out. There’s a good compilation of this kind of stuff called “Seishun Pops ‘50s-’60s,” though Chiemi Eri’s albums and 78s are unfortunately very, very hard to come by.


Gustavo Turner lives in Los Angeles.