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Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Real Nitty Gritty on DJ Roulette this morning

We're spinning hot breakfast platters this morning on DJ Roulette. Tune in at 11:00 ET for The Real Nitty Gritty on WFMU's Rock-n-Soul ICHIBAN! Follow the link for the live stream, playlist and comments:

Friday, May 29, 2020

Mail Call: Letters To/From Vietnam

The Elegants feat. Vito Picone: A Letter From Viet Nam (Dear Donna)
George Morgan: Dear John
June Black: Postmarked Viet Nam
Sammy Masters: The Letter (From South Vietnam)
SSgt. Barry Sadler: Letter From Vietnam
Hank Snow: A Letter From Viet Nam (To Mother)
Connie Francis: A Letter From A Soldier (Dear Mama)
Jimmy & Junior: Letter From Vietnam
Doc & The Medics: Postmarked Home
Mark Dauler: Letter From A Boy In Vietnam
Pompeo Stillo: A Letter To My Mother From Vietnam
Ed Faucett: Letter To Vietnam (Dear Son)
Emanuel Lasky: A Letter From Vietnam
Vin Bruce: Dear Mom (A Letter From Vietnam)
Lowell Fulson: The Letter
Wally White: Letter From Vietnam
Billy Starr: A Letter From Vietnam
Melverine Thomas: A Letter From My Son (pts. 1 & 2)
Russ Jeffers: P.O.W. Letter
Junior Strickland: Letter From Vietnam


Many thanks to Justin Brummer/Vietnam War Song Project

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mover/Groover of the Week!

LET_ME_HEAR_YOU_SAY_YEAH! (listen/download)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mid-week Movie Break: Summer Drive-In Spectacular!

It’s hot! It’s wet! No, it’s not a Blowfly song, it’s summer (more or less)! What do we do in the summer? We pile in the car and head down to the drive-in! Or we used to. I am one of the fortunate ones who is still able to partake in this particularly American pastime, as the Vali-Hi is literally just eight miles up the interstate from me! True, the only films available to see at the drive-in these days are first run features like three hour Marvel Comics pictures or computer animated children’s features, but sometimes it’s worth sitting through a Shrek or an Iron Man 3 just for the experience. 

Not to step on the toes of the mighty Joe Bob Briggs, I thought, in celebration of the summer, I’d do an ode to the drive-in days of yore, much appreciated by Ichibunnies and nostalgia aficionados alike; back when there would be dusk-til-dawn show-o-ramas featuring quickie horror and sci-fi pictures. I’ve chosen a double feature of films that are easily accessible to watch from the comfort of your own home; free of the mosquitos, devoid of the hazard of the idiot in his monster-sized diesel guzzler pulling in to the front row spot ahead of you and blocking the screen, and no need to find D-cells for that old radio to tune in the audio.

Don’t worry, I’ll control myself and keep it brief.

Our first feature takes us out onto the Caribbean Sea and to the sunny beaches of South America. Watch out, there’s a commotion in the ocean, and it ain’t no giant clam! It’s Roger Corman’s 1961 heist/secret agent/comedy/monster picture Creature From The Haunted Sea!  Describing the film won’t do it any favors, and showing a picture of the monster, if you aren’t familiar already, likely won’t entice you to watch it, but subjectively speaking I find it an enjoyable watch.
Renzo and Mary-Belle smooch, unaware of the
creature waiting to strike.

To boil it down, the political coup in Cuba that put Castro into power has run the old guard out. A general, Tostada, and a team of soldiers, make a deal with shady nightclub owner and gangster Renzo Capetto to smuggle the troops and a chunk of the Cuban treasury off of the island. Renzo and his gang of oddball miscreants devise a plan to kill off the Cubans when the boat hits the water, using the guise of a phony sea monster, planning to keep the gold for themselves. Turns out, much to everyone’s chagrin, that there is in fact a real sea monster (of sorts) who has been tailing them, and he’s hungry. Thrown into the mix, our narrator and guide through this oddball madness, is a secret agent, real name XK150. He loses sight of his mission to track Renzo’s path across the water and coordinate his capture by authorities when he falls for Renzo’s gun moll Mary-Belle Monahan.

Despite being what could be Roger Corman’s most slap-dash production, Creature From The Haunted Sea has a heavy vein of Naked Gun-esque humor to it. I don’t know if David Zucker was a Corman aficionado or not, but there are certainly parallels to the sight gags and droll humor here. Of interest to note is that Agent XK150 is played by none other than Robert Towne, screenwriter and filmmaker who wrote the screenplays for Chinatown and Shampoo.

You can watch the trailer here and the film here.

But wait, there’s more! For our second feature, let’s vacation to the sweltering small town of Furnace Flats. Crazy recluse Pete Jenson slashes a goat and then himself one night, then smears the blood around a hexagon on the floor of his ramshackle cabin. He’s made a deal with the devil! 

Shortly after, a young man named Nick Richards appears in town. He claims to be Pete’s nephew, settling in town to go through Pete’s, erm, estate. Anyhow he makes himself real friendly to the five or six folks who seem to inhabit the desert town, but they start to get real suspicious of this so-called Nick when they notice he doesn’t seem to sweat a single drop, regardless of how hot the weather gets. Well, things go awry and a series of animal attacks leave the citizens of town rattled and/or dead. Turns out Nick isn’t who he says he is…. The film is a solid little thriller that seems like it could have been an episode of the Boris Karloff series Thriller. Despite some massive plot holes, it’s a great watch that would fit right in on Svengoolie. And if you haven't seen the film, be it known up front that there is no footage of a nude woman astride a centaur anywhere in it.

The film was made in 1958, but was released in 1961 when sold to Roger Corman’s Filmgroup Releasing company. It was put on a double bill with, you guessed it, Creature From The Haunted Sea. Devil’s Partner was directed by Charles R. Rondeau who directed numerous episodes of some of the greatest television shows in tv history, including Batman, Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, Surfside 6 and more. The amazing soundtrack here is composed by frequent Corman collaborator Ronald Stein, and the great news is the tunes are now available to purchase and download through various digital music channels. Take a listen here.

You can watch the trailer here or the film here. Or, if so inclined, can purchase a dvd with all kinds of drive-in ephemera on it from Sinister Cinema here. This isn’t a sponsored nod, I’m simply directing you towards a product that I have personally enjoyed, from a great small business that I have solicited.

I left out a wealth of backstory and personnel bio info to keep things relatively compact here. The main thing is to enjoy the films. If you want to set up an in-home double feature for yourself, with all of the drive-in trappings, here are some intermission reels to add to the fun. Stay safe and don't forget the popcorn!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tassel Twirler Tuesday


YEAH! (listen/download)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mid-Week Movie Break: Head

What needs to be said, really. 

The Monkees hit like gangbusters when the television series appeared in 1966, a formulated situation comedy playing off of the success of Beatlemania and A Hard Day’s Night. The records flew off the shelves, lunch boxes were manufactured, disturbing hand puppets were fabricated! Then the public learned that The Monkees weren’t actually a thing beyond the marketing department of NBC, and that aside from contributing vocals, Peter Tork’s occasional fretwork, and Mike Nesmith composing and producing a few songs, the records were largely the product of Los Angeles studio musicians, not the ragtag Marx Brothers-esque Beatles wannabes on the picture box. And the backlash was hard.

Disturbing hand puppet.

Even after the band started recording their own albums, playing their own instruments, the public opinion had already set and was as hard as concrete. The Monkees television series had become played out as it rolled into its second season and would end on March 25th of that year. So the boys got together with Jack Nicholson and some cannabis and devised a swan song send off, or middle finger, really, to the world. Head was released in November of 1968, eight months after the show had run its initial course (though has lived on in syndication for decades since). It fared poorly at the box office, hardly resembling the goofy antics of the television character personas that the public had come to establish with the foursome. It was picked apart by critics for being nonsensical and having no plot, but if watched carefully, it actually does have fairly obvious agenda. We start with Micky Dolenz jumping off of a bridge; as dark as it may be, the ultimate form of release. From there things spiral outward and inward, cycling around through various vignettes that play off the group’s image, the band’s response to the public perception of the group’s image, and spotlights each band member in their own solo skit, only to have the group repeatedly end up confined in some literal box or another. It plays directly off of the retooled “(Theme From) The Monkees” chanted as a mantra in the film, backed with tinkling barroom piano: Hey, hey, we are The Monkees /You know we love to please / A manufactured image / With no philosophies …You say we’re manufactured / To that we all agree / So make your choice / And we’ll rejoice / In never being free

"He'll never make it through this intense bombardment. Nobody could."
Michael Nesmith warning the viewers what they're in for in Head.

We then end with the knowledge that not even jumping off a bridge could free Dolenz, as the ocean wasn’t what it had appeared to be either, and part with an image of the boys being carted away in a large aquarium on the back of a studio lot truck.

The question often asked to suss out which side of the line someone stands on when it comes to classic rock from the 1960s seems to be "Beatles or The Stones." I for one prefer The Monkees over either, and with the Memorial Day weekend coming up, maybe take some time to visit (or re-visit) Head.

Watch the trailer here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ichiban Live!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Skin It Back

Les Francais: Palpitations
The Henchmen VI: Is Love Real
Bojoura: Looking For The Land (pt. 2)
Bobbie Dee: I Don't Love You
The Dixie Nightingales: Hush Hush
Sensational Armon Singers: Everybody's Talking About Heaven
Marc Bolan & Gloria Jones: Cry Baby (piano version)
Sister Pat Hall: Sunken Rags
Rozetta Johnson: Who Ae You Gonna Love (Your Woman Or Your Wife)
Freddie Scott: Loving You Is Killing Me
T-Bone Walker: You Don't Know What You're Doing
James Cotton: Baker Shop Boogie
Sonny Boy Williamson (No. 2): Mighty Long Time
Nancy Lee Jordan: Woman
Nico: Sixty/Forty
Tommy Bush: Skin It Back (pts. 1 & 2)
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Theme De Yoyo
Ted Hawkins: The Good And The Bad
Link Davis: Allons A Lafayette
The Silver Caboose: Loving You Is Killing Me
Bojoura: Looking For The Land (pt. 1)
Andy Rose: If You Want Me
Roger Guitar & The Guitar Dusters: Take Back Your Heart

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Mid-Week Movie Break: Black Tight Killers

Biff! Bang! Pow! All we’re missing are the flashing onomatopoeia title cards in this swinging 1966 time capsule of the grooviest aspects of the mid-60’s pop culture mania, for this week’s Mid-Week Movie Break. This week we highlight the tongue-in-cheek spectacle Black Tight Killers, starring Akira Kobayashi and Chieko Matsubara.
Screen grab showcasing some of the oddball club interiors seen in the film.

Sandwiched between the tail end of the Nikkatsu noir movies of the 1960’s, and the first wave of the Pinky Violence exploitation films on the 1970’s, Black Tight Killers (Ore ni Sawaru to Abunaize) is a pop art spectacle well worth the time it takes to seek it out.  For a taste of what’s in store for you, you can watch the trailer here.

Akira Kobayashi 45 on Colombia
Our hero (Kobayashi) is a combat photographer named Hondo. Hondo is enchanted by a young stewardess named Yuriko (Matsubara) during his flight back home from a recent assignment, and she concedes to have dinner with him. The date doesn’t end well, as Yuriko is kidnapped and Hondo is framed for the death of a gangster. The real killers? A group of women in black tights and jackets with knives hidden in their hair brushes; the titular Black Tight Killers! It appears Yuriko is a marked woman, as a coalition of hoods–formed by American mafioso and Japanese yakuza–are after her to get their hands on some gold her father may have stolen and hidden away during WWII. As Hondo tries to clear himself with the police and track down the missing Yuriko, he’s constantly hindered, and helped, by the group of assassins who employ such bizarre weaponry as exploding golf balls, chewing gum bullets to spit into the eyes of their enemies, deadly tape measures, and 45rpm records thrown like throwing stars. And get this, when they aren’t out foiling Hondo or knocking off gangsters, the ladies moonlight as a troupe of go-go dancers in a crazy rock club! What is their part in all of this madness? Watch and find out!

Take all of the best camp elements of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., James Bond and Batman, throw in some Takeshi Terauchi surf guitar and Japanese Group Sounds 45s, some secret agent jazz, a little skin (though no visible nudity), go-go dancing film breaks, blend well, then you have the crazy concoction that is Black Tight Killers. Want more proof of the candy colored madness that awaits you? Watch this dream sequence from the film (not the original music, though)! It’s like The’s got their own girl gang flick!

The Black Tight Killers in a masked go-go dance frenzy
The film was directed by Yasuharu Hasebe, who went on to direct Alleycat Rock: Female Boss, about warring female biker gangs, and a number of the aforementioned Pinky Violence films. Lead actor Akira Kobayashi did some film and television work through the early 1970s, was a popular crooner for a while, including the title tracks to a number of his films, then became a professional golfer. Actress Chieko Matsubara was spotted at a beauty contest and has since starred in over 115 films, including the classic Tokyo Drifter which came out the same year as our feature, and is still working today. She also apparently did some crooning of her own, as suggested by the sleeve pictured below. She released some singles in he late 60s on Columbia. The amazing soundtrack is provided by prolific film and television composer Naozumi Yamamoto, and as far as I can tell, is not available in any format, which is a damn shame.
Note the Goldfinger-esque gold-painted dancers. This is a plot point in how
the crooks intend to do away with Yuriko.
Chieko Matsubara 45 for Colombia Records.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Make with the Shake :: Tonight at 8pm

Feeling cooped up? Squawk along at home with a brand new episode of Make with the Shakewith DJ Pat K, live at 8pm eastern! Wet your beak with the finest selections of vintage soul, garage, r&b, and surf! Do the funky quarantined chicken, only on Ichiban! Click here for the livestream, chat, playlist, and archive!


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Mid-Week Movie Break: The Adventures Of The Masked Phantom

“Maybe he’s got something on his chin he can’t erase/ and that’s why he wears that silly mask upon his face.…” Yes, the anthem our cloaked cowpoke The Masked Phantom is saddled with (joke intended) is more mockery than tribute, but fun all the same. This week’s Mid-Week Movie Break features a caped cowboy avenger lodged firmly somewhere between The Lone Ranger and The Shadow, and the only starring vehicle for one-time stunt pilot Monte ‘Alamo’ Rawlins, an aw-shucks John Wayne wannabe playing the part of a drifter named “Alamo” and the titular hero.

 The plot involves some nefarious goings-on at an ore mine owned and operated by young Stan Barton and his grandma Mary. Stan’s an upstanding, virtuous character, but his silent partner Robert Murdock, a shady business man from “back East”, has secretly taken control of the outfit, laundering stolen gold from his friends back home and mixing it with the ore mined from the Barton excavation site. The feds are on the track of the crooks, and with Murdock being a “silent” partner, all roads lead to Stan for the frame-up. Barton intends to hit the road and leave Stan holding the bag, but then fate lends a hand by having Alamo and his sidekick Boots The Wonder Dog (also billed as Boots The Human Dog) wander into the valley to intervene. Alamo steps in during a shootout between Stan and Murdock’s hired hands after the reveal of Murdock’s misdeeds. Stan and Alamo lose each other in the proceeding fracas, but Alamo makes his way to the Barton ranch where a surly Granny tells him of the legend of The Masked Phantom, a do-gooder who would throw a knife with a death’s head carved into the handle, bringing justice to a lawless valley years back. Alamo decides to take up the mantle of The Phantom to try and take down Murdock’s gang, believing that criminals are “a superstitious lot” (seems I’ve heard that somewhere before). With the help of crooning cowhand Tooney and gyrating goofball Dumpy, Alamo goes on a knife-throwing rampage to right all wrongs before trotting off into the sunset again. This was clearly staged as the hopeful first entry in a series of films for Alamo and his roving pals Dumpy and Tooney, but alas it wasn’t to be.

George Douglas as Sheriff Dubbitt (right) in Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman
Monte 'Alamo' Rawlins (left) and Tooney (Art Davis, billed as Larry Mason)
with Boots the Wonder Dog, who's just retrieved the Phantom's knife.

The Adventures Of The Masked Phantom is a 1939 low budget oater from the days of quickie b-westerns, produced by B.F. Zeidman Productions Ltd, who made a slew of quick exploitation pictures between 1922 and 1939. There are plot holes you could build a U-Store-It in, but the momentum here is pulp adventure fun, so leave reason under the sofa and enjoy the ride. I say that The Masked Phantom is lodged somewhere between The Lone Ranger and The Shadow because like The Lone Ranger, our hero wears a mask and dispenses some six-gun justice on dastardly evildoers, but his main offensive seems to be playing on the fear of the legend of The Phantom itself. The legend goes if you see the knife of The Phantom, you have twelve hours to live, so a good deal of Alamo’s time using the guise of our cloaked character seems to be dedicated to throwing knives at crowded boardwalks and cackling loudly to spook Murdock and his goons. 

Betty Burgess - photo from Univ. of Washington archives.
As stated above, Monte Rawlins was a stunt pilot from Washington who eventually made his way to Hollywood to try his hand at acting. He did some aerial stunt work and played a couple uncredited bit parts as cowhands until cast here in his lone starring role. Shorty after The Adventures Of The Masked Phantom he joined the Marine Corps during WWII, then became a sound engineer for poverty row production house Monogram Pictures and Disney Studios. Our crooning cowhand Tooney was played by b-western stalwart Art Davis who played largely uncredited roles in films like Border G-Man and Code Of The Cactus. Sadly, despite a majority of his roles being musical, I’ve yet to find evidence that he actually recorded any music. If anyone can provide anything that suggests otherwise, I’d be greatly interested in hearing it. Our comic relief Dumpy is played by bit part actor and skilled dancer Sonny Lamont; you can see him hot footin’ it in MGM’s A Letter for Evie with Marsha Hunt and John Carroll, as well as in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. Baddie Murdock is played by actor George Douglas, the member of the cast list who has the most credits to his name, including parts in Ichiban friendly favorites like Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (as Sheriff Dubbitt) and The Colossus Of New York. Stan is played by Matty Kemp, actor and producer who later became the caretaker of the estate of actress Mary Pickford. Stan’s hardly utilized love interest Carol is played by actress Betty Burgess, whose white bra is seen burning through her sweater the entire picture. You’d think someone would’ve pointed that out to her, but with a sweater so tight that it looks like you’d need a potato peeler to remove it, maybe there just wasn’t time for a wardrobe change. The picture was directed by Charles Abbott, who directed only one other picture, another b-western called The Fighting Texan, two years prior. My favorite character, Granny, played by Dot Karroll in her only film role, sings a song called “A Rip Snortin’ Two Gun Gal” while firing off a pair of pistols in the living room. That wasn’t pressed to 78 either, unfortunately, but that same year Patsy Montana and the Prairie Ramblers recorded a version for Okeh, and you now have the privilege of hearing it here.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Real Nitty Gritty is up on DJ Roulette this morning!

Brand new episode of The Real Nitty Gritty is up next at 11:00 AM ET on WFMU's Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban! Savage R&B, frantic freakbeat, gruesome garage, gutbucket blues, greasy rockabilly, sweaty soul, & sleazy instrotrash platters spun for your enjoyment. Follow the link for the live stream, playlist and comments:

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Little Records With The Big G

Greg Cartwright
Don't miss out on our latest Ichiban show, Little Records With Big G!  Every Saturday night from 8 - 10 PM.  He's the "geezer with the pleasers" for sure.  Seen hear DJ'ing an Ichiban party in 2015.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Floyd McClellan meets Mad Jak Otruba

Floyd McClellan:
I Am An Ex-Convict From A Florida Chain Gang

Mad Jak Otruba & The Screamin’ Shambles:
The Break Of Day
House Of The Rising Mouse
Sick To My Stomach Blues
Suck Me
Sado-Masochistic Woman
Try To Remember
The Boogie Man
Try To Rev-member
Little Queenie
Big Fat Car
Gonna Slice You Baby