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Friday, February 14, 2014

Everyone Is Gay

Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino have exploded onto the pop scene, and very quickly. As the act A Great Big World they have been very visible. For example, their song "This Is the New Year" got great exposure by being performed by the cast of Glee last season, but that was just the beginning. They were working on their debut album, to be called "Is There Anybody Out There?" and their version of the single "Say Something" was released early. The folks who rep Christina Aguilera got her to hear it and she loved it. Much to her credit, instead of easily grabbing it for herself, she wanted to do a duet with the act, which happened on the show "The Voice," they say...the rest is history. It went platinum.

But I want to back up. I first heard of them back in June of 2012 when I stumbled upon a various artists benefit comp called "The Gayest Compilation Ever Made." I mean, how could I resist? 

They were billed as Ian & Chad then and the album folks, at the site Everyone Is Gay, requested a very gay song. They came up with...the song "Everyone Is Gay," and it's gay for days. Here's the video...well, actually there are two versions, the original from the comp and the more polished one on the new CD, I'll give you both.

And, the new one:

How's the rest of the album? I like it a lot, it's VERY pop. You can hear full versions of almost all of it on their youtube channel, and find them at their website. And for the record Ian is straight and Chad is gay. Their career will be interesting to watch.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Downton Abbey: The Inspiration of the Jack Ross Character

I am one of those totally addicted to "Downton Abbey," and as a fan of old music I could not help noticing the direct inspiration of the character Jack Ross to cabaret legend Leslie "Hutch" Hutchinson.

Leslie Hutchinson was one of most famous cabaret singers in the world in the 1920's and 1930's, and was a toast of society both in the U.S. and England. He was also known for his scandals and his bisexual affairs with high profile people including Ivor Novello, Tallulah Bankhead, Edwina Mountbatten (of the Royal Family), and Cole Porter, and he recorded a number of Cole Porter's songs.

This Youtube clip shows an apt Cole Porter song choice, "Just a Gigilo," from 1929.

Hutch and his affairs with celebrities of both sexes were the fodder of English tabloids, which must have been working over time trying to keep up with him. It is difficult to read about him without a mention of his reportedly huge, er, endowment. In fact, that's what google thinks as well. If you type in the name Leslie Hutchinson one of the first search prompts that show up is "well endowed." 

Another search result, "gigolo," leads you to the fact that in the UK in 2008 a documentary was produced with the title "High Society's Favourite Gigolo."

And searching in Youtube will get you a lot more to sample. I like his singing style, and have a couple of the many CD collections now available, with him doing many of the classics of our best composers.

But, if you want more scandal, check out this UK article, entitled "The scandalous truth about Downton Abbey's royal gigolo Jack Ross."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Young Jessie's Transphobic 45 RPM Record


Okay, you're wondering....who the hell is Young Jessie? (You may also be wondering why you might care, but hey, this is a queer music history blog). Obe Jessie is the real name for an artist who got a lot more attention, and a long career, as Young Jessie. Go to Youtube and search that name and you'll find pages of songs. In the 1950's he was with the well-respected group The Flairs, and stepped in briefly as a member of the Coasters around 1957 ("Searchin'" and "Young Blood"). Just after that he had his main claim to fame for his song "Mary Lou," covered with much success by Ronnie Hawkins, in 1959, and others.

But then what? Well, not too much until the 1980's when his records began being reissued in Europe and there was demand for his performances there. However the focus of this blog entry is a song he released in 1972 that is quite transphobic. Produced by Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, it appears it was Young Jessie's last single release, and is only widely available now (as a download) as it was part of a compilation CD of Williams' productions.

And, as you can see, it was not released as by Young Jessie, but under his real name, Obe Jessie. I wonder what prompted that change? When you have a "name" in show business, why use another unless you were unsure of the material or knew it was an outspoken release. And that description fits for this one.

Above is the 45, and below a sample of the lyrics...

"Somebody please tell me what kind of world are we living in 
where boys want to be girls, good God, and woman, she want to be men....
who's the blame?" 

It continues on that path, and you can hear it...

As Young Jessie he's still performing. Below is a poster with cool retro artwork for a November 2013 show in London.