Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Messer Chups, The Vibes, Marcel Bontempi and Trash Wax news..

Out on vinyl in August !
Great news on the vinyl front ! lots of really cool releases recently along with a bit of cool older news that some of you may not be aware of. First up is the new album from Surf-billy greats, Messer Chups 'The Incredible Crocotiger' Initially due out this month, it's had the release date pushed back to late August due to the high pressure on the few vinyl pressing plants out there  (More Bee-Gees re-issues anyone ?) although in saying that, the CD edition will probably be out sooner. It's coming out on Autralian label OMNI so if you have the possibility of making a pre-order ? would probably be a good idea considering the speed that their vinyl sells out !

Mr Suave.
At long last, the much anticipated album from Marcel Bontempi is out, and what a beauty the vinyl edition is ! Lovely gatefold sleeve, a full length LP plus a 7", fantastic illustrations of original sleeves and labels and those liner notes ! (Rather pleased with myself there as I wrote them) but with only 500 copies made it won't be around for long and will surely become a much sought after item once it's sold out. Released by Stag-O-Lee and available from the likes of Squoodge, Copasetic, Crypt and your local, cool indie store ! If you have any difficulty getting hold of a copy ? you can always drop me an email or look him up on Facebook.

Inner sleeve of the album.
For those of you who want more of his output, you won't have to wait very long as the Dr Bontempi's Snake Oil Co LP will be out very soon on Squoodge. It's a way cool album of Western Swing and Hillbilly styled 'toons, perfect for your next village fete or hobo hoedown. Dungarees and clod hopper boots are deriguer, Poitin (pronounced 'Pocheen') is optional and if your father is also your uncle, you may like this even more ! In which case you should check your hands for being webbed or additional digits ! Not wanting to give too much away, but some of the songs included may surprise folk as not being 'traditional' hillbilly fare....Prepare to get Dixie Fried !

The Vibes  Voodoo Juju.
Well, what can I say about this baby ?  It's the first release to come about as a direct result of this blog, our very own TRASH WAX label ! The sleeve was designed by Chris 'Sick' Moore of Stay Sick in Brighton fame ! Everyone who pre-ordered (big thanks to you all) will have it on their turntable by 31st May....exactly 30 years after it was originally recorded during their tour of Germany. There are 200 copies on green vinyl and 300 on black vinyl, most of the green vinyl copies have been snapped up but there a few left here so email me if you want a copy, you may be lucky ! The good news is that there is more in the pipeline with an EP of their 1984 John Peel session planned for release as well as another LP.
And we have an online record shop type thing over at discogs where you can find this and a lot of other cool stuff on vinyl (& CD),  Trash, Garage Punk, Rockabilly and Old School Psychobilly, just click on this link :  We will be putting all items for sale up here until the website proper is up and go over and take a look !

Bzzzzzzzz !
Here's a little beauty of a single, The Guitar Slingers 'The Fly With X-Ray Eyes' I love this, guess you could almost say it's inspired by Human Fly, has the same kind of Bzzzz to it ! Though it is far more very early Rev Horton Heat / Olde Skool Psycho than The Cramps. The downside is that it's super limited to just 200 copies on Diablo Records but the track does appear on the latest Guitar Slingers LP Carnival Of Souls which is also just out and on Diablo too and well, yes it's limited to just 300 copies on 3 different colours (100 each) !  I think they're available from Bandcamp for about £15.00.

Add caption
Now ATTENTION !...These guys are really good and I mean very, very good, had the pleasure of catching them live last week playing with The X-Men in Brighton and was totally blown away....I had seen them about a year ago and was impressed at the time but I guess they've been doing some serious practicing since then, super tight would be a good place to start and they play some of the best psycho-rockabilly, that's rockabilly not Nu-Metal or any of that other shite that tries to pass itself off for decent music, no comic book slap-stick, no parody or umpteenth degree humour....just brilliant uptempo Rockabilly with a proper edge to it, anyway I digress. Their new album is out on Western Star now so buy it because you really do need this, unfortunately it's on CD only for the moment but the good news is that we are talking with them to do 'Swamp Devil' as a 7" on Trash Wax. In the meantime get 'Kings Of The Weald Frontier' 14 blistering tracks all for 8 quid (that's £ GBPounds) or thereabouts !

Go and buy some music !  
Here's the link to our little webshop too :

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Munster Raving Loony Party......the lowdown.

The Munster Raving Loony Party, organised by those lovely chaps Thee Gravemen, was an absolute ball ! It was the 4th consectutive year it's been held and the first time I've attanded....I'll be back next year !

Boris (left), Charley(centre) and Timmy(right).
After having a hassle free flight into Barcelona, where I bumped into Lyn (Shillelagh Sister) Boorer heading home to London, leaving her other half  'Boz' in Spain to play a few Morrisey gigs, grabbed a quick coffee, had a chat and waited for the buddy henceforth known as Boris the sprinkler for reasons that will become all too apparent later, then it was simple enough taking the train to Arc De Bara, picking up Timmy Hoskins (X-Men) and his partner Penny along the way. Having left a rather gloomy Ireland early that morning the blazing sunshine of the Med was a bit of ashock and called for a drink or two....alas, no Guinness BUT the lager was only a euro 50 a pint !

Our ever so charming neighbours, Ana & Fernando.
The chalets were functional but little more than glorified sheds, but hey! we had a couple of The Smoggers for neighbours, who were there as 'Charm Bag' and the pool out the back, so nothing to complain about. The 3rd member of our humble, albeit temporary abode, was already half twatted and getting pinker by the minute, out on the bar's terrace ! Mr Charley Spliff had arrived some hours earlier and with little else to do before the evenings entertainments commenced, had quaffed several litres of the local brew! I hate playing catch up!

Good album !
The Party's festivities kicked off with Mr Leadfoot Tea himself, a rollicking set to put any one-man band to shame ! Next up (I think, bit blurry due to the heat !) were two of St Pauli's finest, 'The Cheating Hearts' with Viva Valli on drums (and stealing Charley's heart into the bargain) and Stu Black coming on like a demented cabaret singer in a rather fetching white 70's suit. They belted out their new single and a whole heap of tracks from their recent album 'Fuck Love'...Rockin' check them out here :

The Rippers.
It was after this fine set that things became a little confusing for me as due to an exceptionally early morning start, the heat and  various other factors, it was decided that we should have a couple of Jagermeisters and Red Bull to ward off the fatigue....unbeknownst to us, there are no measures and the venue had very subdued lighting...hence the virtual half pint servings of Jagermeister !..the next band we caught were Italy's 'The Rippers' who were rather loud or perhaps I was just hyper sensitive ? Anyway they blew up one of their amps !  Don't recall what happened following The Rippers only that I slept somewhat soundly,  'Boris' earned his sobriquet during the night and was on mop detail first thing that morning !

A rather motley crew to say the least.
Friday was Ladies day !  although in saying that, there were a few questionable, strange looking types in dresses and skirts, bearded etc but then so were some of the women (sorry ladies !).  The entertainment started in the early afternoon with a very well attended (but empty) pool party where we were regaled by Ukelele wielding punk outfit 'The Pukes'....a somewhat mind boggling spectacle to the hungover among us !  Although very few of us were prepared for what happened next !  Performance art no less.......a stray German tourist had wandered into our midst, complete with gold cape and Speedos, being still somewhat addled at this point, I was vaguely amused to see him drinking what I thought was washing up liquid or anti-freeze or perhaps it was both ? following an impression of the creature from the black lagoon in the pool wearing what seemed to be an alligator/Mexican wrestling mask, several wig changes later and after painting his face red, it was over and I was still none the wiser.

Las Marlenes.
The band that had the honour of being first up on Friday evening was 'Las Marlenes', those Barcelona based beauties came out, resplendid in green wigs ! making me think of the women in the 70's sci-fi show UFO...a hollerin' and a screamin' their trashy punk went down rather well. These were followed by one of the highlights for me 'Charm Bag' !  This guy & gal rocked ! Imagine if The Cramps were to get it on with The Gories and produce some kind of mutant offspring, it would be called 'Charm Bag'.......Ana knocking out solid, pounding rhythms,while Fernando let rip and tore it up! at times bearing more than a passing resemblance to 'Psychedelic Jungle' era 'Kid Congo'  their version of 'New Kind Of Kick' ended the set with a bang and left me for one, wanting more....highly recommended ! (Get their album which is brilliant as well).....

Go Girl Go !
The evening had started very well indeed and only got better as Swiss based band, 'The Jackets' took to the stage and oh my, what a presence Jackie (Jacket ?) has! the signature eye make-up (ala Penelope Tree/Souixsie) and  stage antics made them a mesmerising sight to watch. It's always a pain when you have a strong line-up of bands to pick stand out moments but the Jackets were truly a revelation, high energy, rawk and roll...if you haven't already ? Just check their video for 'Wasting My Time'. Catch them at Hipsville !

Wonderful, pure class.
Bringing Friday nights shenanigans to a close was the ever wonderful 'Miss Ludella Black' backed by the miscreant 'Masonics' always a delight and never failing to please...7 Day Fool, we got twice (an encore) and a set list to die for ! What can you say when you have Mickey, Bruce, John and Ludella on stage ? It's the kind of thing that I'd still go along to even if there was no electricity ! Thanks folk then I trundled off to talk drunken bollox with whoever was foolish enough to listen....great evening and with Boris on a last warning due to over indulging on some rather potent brews, we all managed a decent nights sleep, or at least I did.

Leadfoot and Fernando getting slowly roasted.
Saturday dawned and we were gagging for some bacon and eggs but we (I) couldn't make the hob work so Charles and myself went off in search of something less complicated while the world around us slowly came back to life, a quick dip in the pool, a couple of hours lounging on the terrace and then it was back to the day's programme with Leadfoot Tea and Fernando (Smogger) out in front of the bar giving it some, most enjoyable although somewhat warm if you weren't in the shade ! They've a ltd edition 12" mini-LP out too, which you really should own (it's on green vinyl which is kind of pretty, unlike them !).

Big smiles all round.
Fast forward a couple of hours and it was time for that power trio of lasses, Thee Jezebels ! Letty, Lois & Laura (The L'sbelles) gave it some welly making me think of Suzy Quatro (they should cover 'What Way To Die' right up their street) and 'Black Book' was awesome with that driving boogie feel to it, not long enough on stage though !  If you want to see the gig in it's entirety ? Just head on over to the facebook thing and it's there....40 mins well spent ! 'nuf said.

Sound check.
Ladies & Gentlemen, presenting one of the south coast's finest....The X-Men, or something like that was how Mr Bruce Brand introduced them, can't say I disagree in the slightest !
This really is my bag...Maaaahn, loved every moment of it ! Justin's keyboards were deliriously good, Letty (of Thee Jezebels) really got into the whole thing, throwing moves and providing the backing vocals, Debbie's skin bashing, go-go beat keeping the time and Timmy the perfectionist, hardly moving or taking his eyes from his bass provided the throb, all the while Zac's guitar fuzzed and tremoloed (is that even a word ?) along to Mark's, at times croaky, vocals which only added to the trashy as hell sound....perfection ! The best bits....well, all of it to be honest but The Witch was pretty awesome and Leave My House was way up there ! A wonderfully trippy Who do you love ? saw them slip into Naz Nomad territory going through the band members.....pure class.... and for a good few folk I spoke to after, the highlight of the weekend, don't take my word for it, watch the whole gig here :

Burns boys !
There really isn't a lot than can be said about the Masonics which hasn't already been said elsewhere ! Yep we were in awe! Yep it's the nearest thing most folk get to seeing the legendary Milkshakes ! Yep it was everything we expected and more....and Yep, the whole gig is here :

Big thank you to Daz & Lee for putting it all together, muchos gracias to Fernando & Ana, All the folk from the UK, Charleyspliff, Ian for being a charming chap and Boris....who still isn't forgiven.
Special thanks to Steven Tagg-randall for filming and photographing the entire spectacle.

We'll be back next year !

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Nervous Norvus.....The Many Mysteries Of.

I wanted to write a piece on Nervous Norvus as the guy was pretty f.....d up in many ways, but mainly because it's the origin of 'ZORCH' (I think ?) as well as a lot of the hepcat lingo, 'Nervous Baby' and such like. Not only that, the mini album released by Big Beat all those moons ago, kind of left me a little scarred mentally....Anyway, I found this piece originally written by Phil Milstein for American Song & Poem Archive (Yeah,really !) and didn't think I could improve on it....appears that the website is dead now anyway so I've reproduced here....It's an American, formal perspective and doesn't really get the angle I'd be coming from but all the details are there !

Toolin' down the highway doin' 79
I'm a twin-pipe papa and I'm feelin' fine
Hey man, dig that -- was that a red stop sign?
[squeeeeeeeal ... kee-RASH!]
Transfusion, transfusion
I'm just a solid mess of contusions
Never never never gonna speed again.
Slip the blood to me, Bud.

A Touch of Rockabilly Psychosis !
The faces of novelty and oldies fans alike instantly ignite into a euphoric glow when confronted with the opening lines from "Transfusion," the ghoulish number by Nervous Norvus that was a huge hit in the summer of 1956. The zippy tale of automotive catastrophes and resultant blood-loss is rivalled only by "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!" as the creepiest record to ever scrape the top of the pop charts. Little has been written about Nervous Norvus since that time, and most of what has been published has been wrong. The fact that brings him to our attention here is that behind the mask of Nervous Norvus lay a song-poem demo recording artist by the name of Jimmy Drake. Using just a crudely-strummed "king-sized uke," the heartbeat-like sound of his foot tapping the base of the mic stand, and his wilted rose of a voice, in the course of a 15-year career Drake recorded countless demos, commissioned by America's most hopeless songwriters. On those that bore any identification at all, he was usually called Singing Jimmy Drake. But the vast majority were made as acetates, hand-cut in quantities of just one or two, whose typewritten labels offered no hint to later yard-sale finders that the singer of this song had once enjoyed a Top 10 smash. 

Drake maintained split musical identities, his Singing Jimmy Drake discs being quickly-made and generally uninspired affairs, while his Nervous Norvus recordings enjoyed the greater bulk of his attention and imagination. As a result, the latter still sound great today. Drake's six Nervous Norvus sides on Dot, released in a meteoric burst during the middle of 1956, form the cornerstones of his legitimate career. Add in some excellent unreleased demos and a small handful of other Nervous Norvus records, and you have one of the richest bodies of novelty work ever made, as inventive, as timelessly fresh and as purely musical as any since Spike Jones. His songs zip and bounce along in jittery rhythms perfectly suited to the "nervous" quality of his delivery; the lyrics cleverly written in accord with conventional craft, yet informed by a unique middle-aged hepcat persona; his cutting-edge sound effects (most of them created by his mentor, radio host Red Blanchard) integrally woven so that music and effects are inseparable. 

Released in 2014.
But the promise of Drake's early success soon faded. His precipitous disappearance from the charts was inevitable, as the public quickly tires of a novelty act. But the quality of his work suffered with his commercial slide; indeed, after 1956 there appear just a few top-notch recordings, and some of those were on songs submitted by other writers. What was probably the key factor in Drake's decline was that he was an alcoholic -- a severe one, according to Blanchard. "One of his songs was about a poor bum standing on the corner," Blanchard said in a recent interview. "'I'm Only A Lonely Wino,' that was. It was about himself, I think."
The early life of James William Drake was a knockabout one. He was born in 1912 in Memphis, and lived for a few years in Ripley, Tennessee, near the Arkansas border. (Other legendary recording artists who spent their early years in Ripley include Peetie Wheatstraw, aka The Devil's Son-In-Law, The High Sheriff Of Hell, and Tina Turner.) A chronic asthma condition led Drake's family to move him to California when he was seven, first to the Bay Area, then soon afterwards settling in Los Angeles. Like everyone else, the Drakes suffered hard through the Depression. In an article published in the Oakland Tribune at the peak of his success, Drake said that his mother bought him a tenor banjo while he was in high school in 1936, but was forced to sell it a year later "along with a great many other family possessions to raise funds for the necessities of life." The inexplicable part of this piece of his chronology is that by 1936, Drake was already 24 years old, an age at which he should have long been out of high school and capable of buying and selling his own musical instruments.
He served a year-long hitch with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program charged with make-work tasks such as forest maintenance, then spent the pre-War years hoboing around the country. He moved back to the Bay Area in 1941, settling, finally, in Oakland, in a modest house on West Grand which he would occupy for the rest of his life.  He got married the following year, although little is known about his wife. A heart condition kept Drake out of the military; he spent the War years working in shipyards instead. At some point after the War he took a job as a truck driver, the occupation that would sustain him until the success of "Transfusion."

Zorch, Man It's Nervous
In 1950, San Francisco radio station KCBS introduced a nightly half-hour comedy program hosted by former big band trombonist Red Blanchard, a five-year airwaves veteran. This was no deejay show, however -- although he would spin the occasional novelty platter (with Red Ingle & The Natural Seven being a personal favorite), the centerpiece of The Red Blanchard Show was its jokes and sketches, tightly scripted to allow Blanchard to focus on his characters and dialects. The show's target audience was schoolkids and teens, a group of whom would pile into the studio each night to comprise a live audience.
Blanchard's show became a huge hit in the Bay Area, peaking in the summer of 1953. Its popularity prompted him to cut a series of novelty records of his own. Backed by Paul Weston & His Orchestra, Blanchard's biggest hit was a 1955 Columbia release entitled "Captain Hideous," with the title character a kind of clueless Flash Gordon. Its B-side was "Zorch!," whose lyrics demonstrated one of the lynchpins of Blanchard's radio show. Zorch was a mock-jive lingo created by his writers, inspired in part by Slim Gaillard, whose patois Blanchard had absorbed when their bands shared bills in the 1940s:

Um bully bully bully bully bully bully Zorch means it's edgar
Edgar means it's dimph
Dimph means it's in there ...
Zorch, man it's nervous
Nervous, that's the most ...
Zorch, oh it's threatened
Threatened means it's new ...
Zorch, ain't it nervous
Nervous, it's the most
When some cat looks dimph to you

It's difficult to overestimate the influence of Blanchard's show on Jimmy Drake. In 1951 Drake began writing novelty songs of his own, starting with a rather treacly thing called "Little Cowboy." It was followed by "The Heart Mender" and "The Kangaroo Hop," the latter a preliminary version of "The Bullfrog Hop," one of the Dot singles. Virtually every song Drake wrote during this period revolved in some fashion around Blanchard and his show. Was he in the throes of a kind of worship, genuinely stirred to write odes to his radio hero? Or was he simply trying to suck up to the man he saw -- correctly, as it turned out -- as the gatekeeper to his musical career? 

By 1953, the 41-year-old truck-driver was fishing around for a way to get off the roads, and set his sights on a career as a songwriter. His first move was to buy a reel-to-reel tape recorder and a cheap second-hand piano. Next, he signed up for a correspondence course in musical notation. "There were 96 lessons," he said in the Tribune interview. "I learned to read music in the first ten and quit. I haven't looked at the other 86." He then bought his king-sized uke, more properly known as a baritone ukulele.
Also in 1953 Drake wrote "The Bully Bully Man," based on one of Blanchard's characters. The song would eventually be recorded by The Paris Sisters (from San Francisco, and later of Phil Spector/"I Love How You Love Me" fame) and released on the Cavalier label as the flip side to another Blanchard-associated number, "Zorch Boogie" (not to be confused with the aforementioned "Zorch!"). The release date of this record remains unknown, and thus it can't yet be placed chronologically amid "Transfusion" and the other Dot releases. Until such information comes to light, this item must remain apart as an interesting asterisk to Drake's early career.

Drake purchased a half-page ad in a 1953 issue of the amateur tipsheet Songwriter's Review, announcing himself as a songwriter by including the entire lead sheet for "Little Cowboy." The ad had an unintended effect: instead of garnering responses from music industry professionals, it was answered by his fellow amateur songwriters, who offered to pay him to record demos of their material. He accepted, and began supplementing his truck driving income with these demo recordings. He set up a recording studio in his kitchen but, with the tape deck squeezed onto a countertop and hovering half-over the sink, it proved a bit intrusive and was moved into a spare bedroom instead. Capitalizing on some successful song placements, as well as on his low fee structure (one song for $7, two for $11), Drake's demo business grew in prominence within the lower rungs of the songwriting industry. By April 1956 he claimed, in another tipsheet ad, to have recorded some 3000 of the suckers. He was just getting started. 

I Listen To Red In Bed
One of the many connections between Drake's career and Blanchard's is that each, in the summer of his respective peak popularity, was the subject of a feature article in both Time and Life magazines (consolidating their reporting and photography expenses since they were published by the same company). In Blanchard's 1953 Time article, the uncredited reporter wrote, "The jokes are frequently such morbid items as the jingle about a railroad train hitting a girl named Lucy; 'The track was juicy, the juice was Lucy'." Fans of "Transfusion" will recognize its blueprint in those few words. (The article goes on to say, "His fans are currently enrolling in an 'I Listen To Red In Bed' club," a joking reference to the show's 9:30 p.m. starting time. An unreleased Nervous Norvus song is titled after that same phrase.)

In 1955 Blanchard left KCBS for a morning show on KPOP in Los Angeles, this one a regular record-spinning gig. It was some months before Drake was able to learn of his idol's new whereabouts. Once he did, he sent Blanchard a demo tape of a new song he'd written. In the wake of its success, Drake would give varying accounts of the inspiration for "Transfusion." To the Oakland Tribune, he said the idea was sparked by an article he'd read in the Oakland Tribune, about a bad car accident. To Time, he gave an account that sounded more like something out of a Chuck Berry song: "I was driving, see, cool like down the freeway. A young kid in a twin pipe job come up on me fast on the right. He was a goner. He cockeyed near cooled me, man. So I said, 'Jimmy, let's write a song about this cool cat.' I don't even know the name of the guy. But I got even. Man, I got even!"
Jimmy Drake aspired strictly to songwriting success, and had no inclination to be a performer himself. Rather, he hoped that Blanchard would record his own version of "Transfusion." But Blanchard was so struck by the uniqueness of Drake's voice that he could hear no one but Drake doing it. "He had that very unusual voice," Blanchard said. "So, egad, there was nothing I could do with those demo records except put 'em on the air, instead of trying to sing 'em myself."
Ah, there was but one thing Blanchard thought to add to Drake's demo, one extra shot of hot sauce that became "Transfusion"'s defining touch. Working on a whim, he pulled a 78 from the Standard Sound Effects series out of KPOP's record library, cued it to "Auto Skids And Crashes," and played the brief track repeatedly to punctuate each mini-tale of wreckless driving that form the song's verses. "That was just a natural to add the crashes," says Blanchard. "It's almost like there was a pause there just right for it." He added the effect on the fly, manually cueing and recueing while Drake's demo played from another tape deck. "I did the whole thing in one afternoon."
Blanchard put the pastiched "Transfusion" on the air, where it was an immediate hit with his listeners. Before long, Randy Wood, president of Dot Records, called to see if the recording was still available for release. After making the deal, "I gave him the tape I had," says Blanchard, "and that's what they made the record out of, just that demo tape with the sound effects added." 

Wouldn't mind getting me one these !
Suddenly finding himself a performing artist, Drake chose to shield his identity behind a character name, and so arrived at one of his masterstrokes. "I invented Nervous," he told Time. "I'm the cat that invented that." The name held alternate meanings for him. Most immediately, it was adapted from Blanchard's Zorch tongue, where it meant "wonderful" or, more precisely, "cool." But it could also be taken literally, as Drake was a pathologically timid man. "One time," Blanchard said, "he came over to my program, and he was hiding behind the door. He was afraid to even walk in the studio, he was so bashful." His shyness would soon hasten the downfall of his career.

The Norvus part Drake came up with on his own. "He just thought of a word to be alliterative with Nervous," says Blanchard. And so Nervous Norvus it was -- double-meaning, alliterative, and vastly cool.
Dot released "Transfusion" in May 1956, flipped with another brilliant novelty, the jaunty and equally hep "Dig" (Dot 15470). The record was unlike anything America had ever heard, and the country responded by making it an out-of-the-box sensation, reportedly snapping up a half-million copies within two weeks of its release, and going on to double that number before its run was through. Drake would earn the bulk of the artist royalties, of course, but Blanchard's share of one cent per copy was overshadowed by an unexpected third party -- the creators of the sound effects. "It turned out to be one of these commercial sound effect records. They recognized their crash and we had to pay them three cents a record." Blanchard, by the way, says he was paid royalties on sales of only 300,000 copies; most likely, his royalty statements were underreported while the press claims of a million copies were exaggerated. 

Turning Down The "Really Big Shew"
Although it only hit #8 on Billboard, "Transfusion" remained on the chart for 14 weeks, and became a much bigger cultural phenomenon than the raw numbers can quite depict. At its height, "Transfusion" was popular enough and gory enough to be deemed a threat to the public order by both ABC and NBC radio networks, and it was banned from their airwaves. The song was big enough that it begat several cover versions, including a faithful knock-off by Scatman Crothers and a square harmony take by the 4 Jokers. (Both use the exact same crash effect as on the original, although it's unknown whether they got dunned for it, too.) And it was big enough that the producers of The Ed Sullivan Show invited Drake to lip-sync to it on the Sunday night variety staple. To most performers, an offer to appear on Sullivan's "really big shew" was a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity. But, according to Blanchard, "he chickened out. He was afraid to go -- he wouldn't appear in public." Although the hitmaking part of his career was certainly doomed anyway, with that decision Jimmy Drake virtually plunged the fork into it.

But the dénouement still remained. "Ape Call" was the follow-up, released in June, right on the heels of "Transfusion." Its storyline surrealistically mingles extinct species with contemporary jungle creatures, all looking for just one thing. The yells of a horny Tarzan, unleashed by Blanchard himself (keeping those extra royalty pennies in the family this time), made clear what that thing was. Once again, Drake was able to take his basic sound, combine it with threads gleaned from Blanchard's show (one line, for instance, begins, "When they dug a nervous chick ..."), and produce an ingenious two-and-a-half minutes of novelty music. Backed with the chilling hillbilly tale "The Wild Dogs Of Kentucky" (mislabeled in the singular), featuring the looped yelps of Drake as a mad hound, "Ape Call" peaked at #24 during its 10-week Billboard run (Dot 15485). In one of his ads, Drake boasted sales of a half-million copies. 

Looks like something Mr Bontempi would cover !
In September Dot released its third and final Nervous Norvus single, "The Fang" b/w "Bullfrog Hop" (Dot 15500). The top side, about a jive-boppin' Martian teen fallen to Earth, employed spaceship sound effects on the intro and outro that anticipated industrial music by a few decades (and Joe Meek's "Telstar" by a few years). The record might be Drake's most invigorating concoction, yet the durn thing failed to chart at all, and with that the Nervous Norvus part of Jimmy Drake's music career was all but over.

With the success of "Transfusion," Drake was able to quit his trucking job and turn to making music full-time. His demo orders continued to roll in, but they would have to wait, as he spent the latter half of 1956 traveling frequently between Oakland and Hollywood, where Dot had recently relocated from their own Tennessee origins. Soon enough, of course, he would return to grinding out cheap demos for amateur songwriters. Alas, if only they had been half as good as his Nervous Norvus recordings. Most, instead, are meager, joyless affairs, with no sound effects, no embellishments, and none of the verve, wit and imagination that sparked his best stuff.
In a 1959 ad promoting his demo service in Vellez Music News, Drake wrote that he "dramatizes novelty numbers with amazing little touches of pure showmanship." But most of those touches he reserved for Nervous Norvus, and thus the few post-Dot records he made under that name are of far greater interest to us than those he did as Singing Jimmy Drake. "Stoneage Woo," "I Like Girls," and "Does A Chinese Chicken Have A Pigtail" (the latter mislabeled minus the "Chicken," thus accentuating the ethnic slur), recorded for a couple of barely-existent San Francisco labels, are up to the standards of Drake's best work. Another excellent track, "Noon Balloon To Rangoon," was apparently intended as his fourth single for Dot, but was never released and is known today only by the fact that Dr. Demento has played an acetate of it on his own comedy radio show. Another of Drake's demos, "Kibble Kobble (The Flying Saucer Song)," commissioned by the Vellez label of Lomita, California (affiliated with the aforementioned magazine), is especially strong. It is highlighted by a ghostly vocal, Drake's best on any record.
Details of Drake's waning years are murky, and at present can be but speculated about. It is not known, for instance, for how long he continued his demo business, but a clue is that by the early '60s his once-frequent ads in the tipsheets had gradually wound to a halt. Rumors then began circulating that depicted a pathetic soul, who'd never had a girlfriend, let alone a wife; who'd never lived apart from his mother; who took his own life when he found his mother dead. The few shreds of documentation that exist contradict these stories, but corroborate with one more, that Drake drank himself to death. On July 24, 1968, Jimmy Drake died, age 56, in an Alameda County hospital, of cirrhosis of the liver. His body was donated to the University of California Anatomy Department.
In his interview in Time magazine back when things were still swell, Nervous Norvus, aka Jimmy Drake, had spoken of his songwriting method. The words seem equally suitable as his epitaph: "All I do is just take it easy. I sit in my own backyard, and I got dark glasses on. ... I take it cool, and there's nobody irritating me in my own backyard." 

Thanks to Mr Milstein wherever you may be ?

Stay Zorch Daddy-O !!!