Saturday, February 14, 2015

REVIEWING LIBRARY MOVIES #1: "The Kent Chronicles,Vol. One: THE BASTARD" 1978

"The Kent Chronicles,Vol. One: THE BASTARD" Directed by Lee Katzin, 1978 [Universal DVD Collection]

Well... Since I don't have cable, but do have a DVD player, and since I love things that don't cost money, I have been checking out movies from the local library to watch. This one was a TV movie from 1978 that lasted 189 minutes! Yup, that's over 3 hours, so the cats and I were camped out on the couch for a good long while last night. The film was based, of course, on John Jakes' phenomenally successful first book in his series THE KENT FAMILY CHRONICLES, which was a very hot property at the time. [Those books sold SO WELL you still see them everywhere! Amazon literally sells used copies for a penny, but why would you even pay the shipping when every yard sale seems to have copies for a dime?!]

Now, make no mistake, a guy doesn't sell books the way Jakes did without real talent, and I still remember those books as intelligent and thoughtful historical fiction, just pulpy and lurid enough to be absolutely engrossing.
The first book, about the illegitimate son of a French actress and an English Lord who comes to America just in time for the Big Revolution, was a classic of sorts. The screenplay for the movie version is actually a good adaptation too, and is even somewhat clever in the way it condenses the plot, historical detail, and ideological concerns of its original source material.
Now for the review. This production, which looks like it cost some real money in places, is, however, very "TV" and very "70s"... and no, those are not compliments.

Still, I must say the 3 hours actually went by pretty fast, and even the cats didn't complain.

The title character was played by a guy named Andrew Stevens, who turns in the kind of lackluster yet un-objectionable performance you would expect from a "pretty boy" 70s idol.
Why was it entertaining? Well... The real fun is the supporting cast, and it is both huge and varied. I mean, there are actual GREAT actors... like Patricia Neal, Donald Pleasance and Keenan Wynn, ALL of them so excellent in their assigned roles it seems almost like a jarring mistake to have cast them against the other, run-of-the-mill performers.

Then there are sturdy performances by good folks like Buddy Ebsen, Olivia Hussy [yowza!], Cameron Mitchel, and Harry Morgan.

Then it gets a little wondrously weird: Tom Bosley of HAPPY DAYS is a strangely affecting Ben Franklin, and... let's just say if you haven't seen William Shatner [!] chew the scenery as a verbose Paul Revere [!] , well... you have really missed SOMETHING! Don Johnson and Kim Cattrall are both here, too... caught at the very beginnings of their [storied?] careers.

A word should also be said about the costume design, and that word is this: Whoever was in charge of it was convinced that the 1770s in Europe and America were an epoch where feminine pulchritude and much mighty cleavage ruled the landscape! [Sorry... It just had to be said!]

All in all I give THE BASTARD a thumbs up! [Hey, that was a funny sounding sentence!]

The cats, on the other hand, have not commented.

Mr. Shatner is about to speak... and he WILL have your attention...


Thursday, January 15, 2015

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX #34: "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" by The WE FIVE, 1965

Albie's Note: The WE FIVE from their first album, 1965... a vocal version of the Vince Guaraldi jazz classic "Cast Your Fate To The Wind." I bought this album on scratchy vinyl at a Sierra Vista, AZ. Salvation Army store back in High School, circa 1981... only NOW do I understand this amazing song. Those lyrics just murder me, man!

Amazing vocal from Beverley Bivens. (born April 28, 1946)

Check it out:

Music: Vince Guaraldi
Lyrics: Carel Werber...

A month of nights, a year of days
Octobers drifting into Mays
You set your sail when the tide comes in
Then you just cast your fate to the wind

I shift my course along the breeze
Won't sail upwind on memories
The empty sky is my best friend
And you just cast your fate to the wind

But time has such a way of changing a man throughout the years
And now I'm rearranging my life through all the tears
Alone, alone, alone.....

There never was, there couldn't be
A place in time for men to be
Who'd drink the dark and laugh at day
But their wildest dreams blow away

So now you're old, you're wise, you're smart
You're just a man with half a heart
You wonder how it might have been
Had you not cast your fate to the wind....

Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition, 1963.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

SONGS THAT TELL A STORY #10: "The Four Seasons Of Life" by NARVEL FELTS, 1963

Albie's Note:  According to everything I can find about it out on-line, this ballad was first recorded by Rockabilly legend Narvel "the Marvel" in 1963, but this is the version I have always loved, recorded live for the above album much later, sometime in the '70s, I believe.  I had this old LIVE album on Cassette and this song brings back all kinds of memories of my younger days in the 1980s and my '73 Chevy pick-up.  I especially like this version because of the introduction, where Narvel [born November 11, 1938 and still touring!] tells of "the strange mood" that came over him when he came to write this unusual song about family, life and death, and this intro serves to give the whole thing a certain strange-- almost eerie-- poignancy. 

Hear for yourself:


Deep in the night a baby cries
Little does he understand that before he knows it he'll be a man
In the spring a young man's fancy turns to love
In treetops high he sees the mating of the dove
Then he finds her somehow, somewhere, and with one kiss a love they share
This is the first season of life

In the summer he gives her a wedding band
As hot wind blows they walk together through the sand
Then they have a family, first comes one then two then three
This is the second season of life

Then comes autumn the green leaves turn to gold
Their two daughters have husbands their son takes a wife
Their grandchildren have reached number nine
This is the third season of life

In the winter an old man's hair has turned to snow
His dreams are gone with the cold north wind that blows
For she is gone and he's alone soon he must go where she has gone
This is the last season of life

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
JAMES 4:14

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Albie's Note: The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood is a beautiful poem by the late, GREAT novelist/folk singer/iconoclast and genius Richard Fariña  (March 8, 1937 – April 30, 1966)  which he set musically to the public domain melody of the ancient Irish air My Lagan Love. His widow Mimi Fariña (born Margarita Mimi Baez, April 30, 1945 – July 18, 2001) sang it in 1968 on the final Richard and Mimi Fariña album Memories [a long time fave of Albie's] , two full years after Richard's untimely death in a motorcycle crash.

I loved that old album like few others, and always loved this particular poem.   I have long considered Farina the TRUE 'last of the Beats' because in many ways he was the last gasp of that strange sensibility... at once joyous and poetic yet darkly acknowledging of the "American Weirdness."

Here is Mimi's great rendition of one of Richard's true poetic classics. I am no leftie, but Brotherhood is a really good thing to sing about.


Where gentle tides go rolling by
Along the salt-sea strand
The colors blend and roll as one
Together in the sand
And often do the winds entwine
To send their distant call
The quiet joys of brotherhood
When love is lord of all

Where oat and wheat together rise
Along the common ground
The mare and stallion light and dark
Have thunder in their sound
The rainbow sign, the blended flood
Still have my heart enthralled
The quiet joys of brotherhood
When love is lord of all

But men have come to plow the tides
The oat lies on the ground
I hear their fires in the field
They drive the stallion down
The roses bleed, both light and dark
The winds do seldom call
The running sands recall the time
When love was lord of all



Sunday, November 9, 2014

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX #33: "It Ain't Me, Babe, " Sayaka Alessandra sings Bob Dylan, 2010

Albie's Note: I always like to listen to this young gal form Sicily, the amazing Japanese/Italian amateur [recently turned professional]  SAYAKA ALESSANDRA.   Her taste in songs is marvelous, strongly leaning toward the Country/Rockabilly side of the spectrum, but at the same time, full of wonderful surprises too.  

Here, in a video posted back in 2010 she does Bob Dylan's great paean to "bad relationships" in a way that I think might actually top both the TURTLES' and JOHNNY CASH's hit versions from the 60s.

"It Ain't Me, Babe."   Indeed.

Written by Bob Dylan

Go ’way from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Never weak but always strong
To protect you an’ defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Go lightly from the ledge, babe
Go lightly on the ground
I’m not the one you want, babe
I will only let you down
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who will promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes for you
Someone to close his heart
Someone who will die for you an’ more
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Go melt back into the night, babe
Everything inside is made of stone
There’s nothing in here moving
An’ anyway I’m not alone
You say you’re lookin' for someone
Who’ll pick you up each time you fall
To gather flowers constantly
An’ to come each time you call
A lover for your life an’ nothing more
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

See more at Sayaka's Youtube channel:


Saturday, October 18, 2014


Albie's Note:  Here was Red Ryder, the single most popular western comic strip of all time, adapted-- in 1943 AD--  to fit the relatively new novelty called "comic magazines." 

While in some ways it doesn't hold up well [the sidekick Little Beaver is a somewhat uncomfortable stereotype, for example]  I can actually, totally, see the appeal.   Real life ranchman and artist Fred Harman [February 9, 1902 - January 2, 1982] created a wildly unrealistic white hat hero-- then drew him with such virile action and western vigor that it's actually pretty easy to see how the kids loved ol' Double R!

This episode ends kind of abruptly but I think it's because these were reprints from an on-going daily continuity.

In any case, bad guys had best beware... Red-headed Justice is riding hard!

You betchum!


Friday, October 10, 2014

BIG AL's JOVIAL JUKEBOX # 32: "My Own kind Of Hat" by ROSIE FLORES, 1994

Albie's Note: One of all-time favorite albums remains the obscure tribute record Tulare Dust: A Songwriters' Tribute To Merle Haggard from the HIGHTONE record label originally put out in 1994.  This collection of familiar and obscure Haggard songs re-interpreted by alt-rock stalwarts [there was an all-star-country tribute album full of big names the same year but it wasn't nearly as good] contained some truly beautiful music and I really liked Hag being re-interpreted by younger but still respectful artists. 

Also, I always loved this particular song-- a true Libertarian anthem-- originally a top ten country hit found on Hag's great 1979 album SERVING 190 PROOF.  I remember there was a story at the time that the song came from an experience when Merle was at a photo session for an album cover and arrived in a Fedora.  The photographer handed over a Stetson and said to Hag:

"I think the label would rather have me shoot you in a cowboy hat."

To which the Okie philosopher replied "I'll wear my own kind of hat, thank you." 

True or not, it's a great story.... and the song is even greater. 

Here is the version I like best from San Antonio rockabilly legend Rosie Flores.

Wear your own lids, folks!   Amen.

Words and Music by Merle Haggard
Cowboys and outlaws, right guys and southpaws,
Good dogs and all kinds of cats.
Dirt roads and white lines and all kinds of stop signs,
But I stand right here where I'm at,
'Cause I wear My Own Kind Of Hat.

There's two kind of lovers and two kind of brothers,
And two kind of babies to hold.
There's two kind of cherries and two kind of fairies,
And two kind of mothers I'm told, and told

Cowboys and outlaws, right guys and southpaws,
Good dogs and all kinds of cats.
Dirt roads and white lines and all kinds of stop signs,
But I stand right here where I'm at,
'Cause I wear My Own Kind Of Hat.

There's two kind of brothers and two kind of lovers,
And two kind of babies to hold.
There's two kind of cherries and two kind of fairies,
And two kind of mothers I'm told, and told

Cowboys and outlaws, right guys and southpaws,
Good dogs and all kinds of cats.
Dirt roads and white lines and all kinds of stop signs,
But I stand right here where I'm at,
'Cause I wear My Own Kind Of Hat.