Friday, August 31, 2012

BIG AL'S JOVIAL JUKEBOX #2: "A Thing Called Love," Jerry Reed Song by Sayaka Alessandra

"A Thing Called Love," the great Jerry Reed [1937-2008] composition that was notably recorded in popular versions by Reed, Elvis and Johnny Cash, has long been one of my very favorite songs. 

Well... while cruising the 'net the other day I think I found my new favorite version!  This young Japanese/Italian [!] singer named , practically made me forget all other versions with this interpretation.  You just gotta CHECK IT OUT:

Music and Lyrics by Jerry Reed
Six foot six he stood on the ground
Weighed two hundred and thirty five pounds
But I saw that giant of a man brought down
To his knees by love
He was the kind of man that would gamble on luck
Look you in the eye and never back up
But I saw him cryin' like a little whipped pup
Because of love
Can't see it with your eyes hold it in your hand
But like the wind that covers our land
Strong enough to rule the heart of any man
This thing called love
It can lift you up, it can let you down
Take your world turn it all around
Ever since time nothings ever been found
Stronger than love
Most men are like me they struggle in doubt
They trouble their minds day in and day out
Too busy with livin' to worry about
A word called love
But when I see a mother's tenderness
As she holds her young close to her breast
Than I thank God this world's been blessed
With a word called love
Can't see it with your eyes hold it in your hand
But like the wind it covers our land
Strong enough to rule the heart of any man
This thing called love
It can lift you up, it can let you down
Take your world turn it all around
Ever since time nothings ever been found
Stronger than love
I think ol' Jerry would be proud, don't you?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Here is one in a long line of those great, unprentious Rock and Roll songs about [to lift an old Chuck Berry coinage] "motorvatin'" in one'a them horseless carriages!

Written by Jerry Allison back in 1978, it's a great celebration of, well, cruising.  I just love it... the wailin' saxaphone, the playful lyrics... and especially all the rhymes Allison finds for the title phrase "Cruise In It." [Note also the sly reference to "Peggy Sue," the classic rockabilly song Allison co-wrote with Buddy Holly himself back in 1957!]

I first encountered this great tune on the excellent late '80s CD "T-SHIRT" by THE CRICKETS' [yes, that's the actual members of Buddy's surviving back up band!]  Unfortunately, that fine album has still not been re-released and so it is VERY hard to come by vendors routinely ask as much as 50 Bucks for it-- YIKES! 

Still... if you can ever find  a reasonably priced used copy, grab it up.  It was partly produced by life-long Cricket fan Paul McCartney and every song on it is a joyful classic.

So here, take a listen :

(Jerry Allison)
I paid a hundred dollars down on a '50 model Studebaker
It ain't brand new, but it was owned by an undertaker
Never been driven over fifty-five
Got yer V8 engine, got yer overdrive
And I cruise in it, take off my shoes in it
Don't ever lose in it, I just cruise in it
It had the blackwall tires
I took some paint and put the white ones on
Took off the chrome and got it lookin' just the way I want it
Primered all the spots and then I customised the grill
Don't quite have it finished and I guess I never will
But I can cruise in it, I sing the blues in it
I make the news in it, well I cruise in it
Well, I cruise by the Hi-Dee-Ho and cruise through MacKenzie Park
Gonna cruise by my baby's house, and pick her up right after dark
Well, I took her to the dragstrip, to see if I could qualify
I couldn't 'cause the Fords and Chevys always pass me by
You don't have to go fast to be number one
I go real slow, but still we have a lot of fun
When I cruise in it, kick off my shoes in it
I payed some dues in it, yeah I can cruise in it
I paid a hundred dollars down on a '50 model Studebaker
It ain't brand new, but it was owned by an undertaker
Never been driven over fifty-five
Got yer V8 engine, got yer overdrive
Yeah, I can cruise in it, I get amused in it
I been accused in it, I get enthused in it
When Peggy Sue's in it, light up my fuse in it
Express your views in it, be Howard Hughes in it
Yeah, I can cruise in it, ain't gonna lose in it [fade]
Oh, and here's an image of the mentioned "'50 model Stubaker" for ya, too...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

THE BIG VALLEY: "Fight For The Water Holes" CONCLUSION: "The Showdown!"

No more distrust... got it!

"...and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses." -- Neh. 4:14


THE BIG VALLEY: "Fight For The Water Holes" Part 2: THE AMBUSH!

Next:  "The Showdown!"


THE BIG VALLEY: "Fight For The Water Holes, Part 1" Dell Comics 1965

Albie's Note:  Back in the late '60s, Dell Comics-- once the most popular comics house in all of American Publishing History-- was reduced (through a chain of now-famous circumstances that you can read all about on various web-sites) to mainly putting out forgettable adaptations of various then-current TV shows. 

THE BIG VALLEY, my all-time fave TV western, was given the Dell Treatment in a quick, six-issue run that began-- as the show itself did-- in 1965.  

Jon K., of the great blog COMICS READING LIBRARY, is to be given full credit for these scans from the first issue, which I actually reckoned to be a pretty darn decent four-color adaptation of this greatest of all the TV  "Empire Westerns." 

The story is simple, but compelling, and does a great job conveying the original dramatic crux of the series (bastard son Heath Barkley's journey to filial acceptance.)

Likewise, the artwork is simple but wonderful, ably rendering the likenesses of The Original Actors (especially LINDA EVANS and LEE MAJORS.)

Here is PART ONE:

To Be Continued...

Saturday, August 18, 2012


128 pages. A Fawcett Crest Book, 1966
[Originally published 1963 by World Publishing Company.]

I bought this little book a while ago because I thought it might be interesting. Although clearly non-fiction and only marginally about the American Frontier, I found it in Tucson at Bookman's Used Books in the "G" section of the Western Paperbacks selling for a scant 2 dollars.  I am now very glad I vested those bucks because this was a great little read.

Harry Golden [1902-1981], a once popular Jewish columnist, publisher and author, says in his preface that he wrote FORGOTTEN PIONEER-- this quaint tribute to the traveling peddlers of America's past-- to "remind us that the human story remains the same way today as is was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow."  Indeed, the appeal of the book is as much in it's human interest as in the historical information it so charmingly imparts.

Golden tells about the different types of peddlers [pack, trunk, wagon, wholesale, etc.] who first immigrated to America through the great "Ellis Island wave" of the 1800s.  That approximately 75 to 80 percent of these established peddlers were Jewish is a matter of great pride to the author, and this is really where a lot of the charm of the book rests.  Golden not only loves these men as a rich part of his own heritage, but they fascinate him as Great Unsung Heroes of the economic history of our nation.

I have long believed [especially since falling under the influence of Christian Libertarian thinkers like Laurence Vance and others] that the greatest force for peace and well-being in our world [besides the Religion of Jesus Christ] is unmolested Free Enterprise and the maintenance of a Free Market Economy.  I now count this great little book as a powerful testimony to that secondary "gospel."

Golden writes in his preface:
"The pack peddler practiced free enterprise in its purest form. He had no help from anyone, except perhaps an initial loan from a relative who had proceeded to America--a loan of forty dollars at the most. The peddler went to the supply house, filled his pack with forty dollars' worth of merchandise, and then he was completely on his own... it is a story that belongs in the history of the American mercantile and industrial complex."
These men not only carved a trade, but innovated, introducing such items as buckled belts, "blue jeans," and sturdy, flathead "shaker brooms" to their fellow pioneers.  More importantly, their relations with the Native American population grandly support the thesis that free enterprise DOES truly foster Peace:

"Army commanders of frontier outposts used the peddler to negotiate with hostile Indians. The peddler was one of the few white at home in the Indian Camp. The Indians recognized his non-fighting status; he was bringing merchandise, and furthermore, he was not a settler. He was not after their land or displacing them in any way. The peddler was merely passing through."
Golden was a life-long Liberal Democrat, but his sincere love of Commerce and American Freedom, so readily seen in this book, made him COMPLETELY palatable to me... [and yes, you may consider that statement, coming from me, to be the rendering of great compliment. :) ]

Golden's last chapter is of great interest to any of my fellow students of Frontier History.

Entitled "One Man's Name," it tells the story of Levi Strauss, a peddler among the Sourdoughs of the California Gold Rush who one day literally invented demin workpants in a desperate flash of inspiration.  Golden tells this story in better form than than I've ever encountered it before, and this re-telling alone makes this book worth finding.

Also of interest to me was the recounting of the Jewish Peddler's invariably warm reception among Evangelical Christians:
"... the important reason for the peddler's happiness in the South--the Bible Belt--was his religion. The Anglo-Calvinist culture was fundamentalist in its Protestantism, with heavy emphasis on the Books of the Old Testament. In small towns and rural communities where probably no one had ever seen a Jew before, the peddler was the living witness of Biblical Truth, and many people were particularly happy to have him as a lodger for the night... the southern farmers listened to them with respect and looked forward to their coming."
I think I would have gotten along well with these farmers AND their esteemed guests!

One more thing I should mention is that this old paperback was full of wonderful sketches by artist Leonard Vosburgh, which really serve to enhance the reading experience.

All in all, I highly recommend FORGOTTEN PIONEER.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

HYMN TIME #9: "Come Ye Sinners, Poor And Needy"

This fine old Hymn, also sometimes titled "I WILL ARISE AND GO TO JESUS," has been called "the greatest of all the popular camp meeting songs." It was used commonly as a powerful "invitation hymn" to call sinners to the "mourner's bench" at the end of many an out-of-doors Gospel Sermon.  The moving lyrics are actually based on the unforgettable statement of the Prodigal Son in Jesus' great parable, uttered by that profligate when at last he came to himself in the mire of the hog-pen:

"I will arise and go to my father,
and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee..."
LUKE 15:18

The poem itself dates back to 1759 when it first appeared in print form attributed to English Hymnist and Minister Joseph Hart.  The most familiar tune, however-- beautifully and simply entitled "Rest­or­a­tion," by William Walker-- was first joined with Hart's poem in Walker's  landmark 1835 collection  South­ern Har­mo­ny and Mu­sic­al Com­pan­ion   (New York: Hast­ings House. 1835)

Here is a pretty fine version of the song by someone named Martha Bassett. I found it was actually kind of hard to find a modern recorded version that did not alter the beautiful old melody, but then I stumbled onto this lady's traditional treatment which I thought was exceptional.  ENJOY:

I really like that verse that says:
"Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him."
That's the truth, friends. The Father will take you just as you are.  Put your trust not in yourself, but in the completed work of Christ on your behalf and you will be adopted forever! 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Joe Kubert passed away yesterday.  The Golden Age through Silver Age Comics legend was almost 86.

Sadly, a lot of the old timers are leaving us now... so many I don't always take time on my blog to note it... but KUBERT?   Well, lemme tell ya...  I just have to stop and say something about this guy!

Truth is, the very FIRST comics artist I knew by name was Joe Kubert.  His rugged, distinctive style first shouted out to young Albie in about the year 1974 [I was 10]. 

My family was visiting my older brother Chris when he was going to the U of A up in Tucson and his roommate at the time-- Tom Piper, I still remember-- one day generously told my sister Judy and I that we could help ourselves to the whole stack of comics on their coffee table since he had already read them.  [Joy of JOYS!] 

Not to be overly dramatic about it... but that couple dozen comics were to be a treasure trove that would literally affect my life in several distinct ways...  no foolin'!  Among these comics-- which revealed Tom to be a definite "DC man"-- were at least 5 or 6 of the DC Tarzan comics adapted and drawn by Joe, and I can honestly say I fell in life-long LOVE with "Sequential Graphic Fiction"  [aka "Comic Books"] then and there!

Much later, in about 1981, my Dad and I were watching some show on PBS-- if memory serves it was a re-run of the surreal 1950s Ernie Kovacs TV show [gotta love Public Television-- sometimes anyway :) ]--  when a little 5 minute documentary aired that featured a '70s era Kubert talking about his life and work!

Now mind you... I have never seen that clip again-- [and some fellow geeks have sworn I was imagining it]-- but it was basically epochal for me--the first seeing-- in the flesh-- of a  true hero of mine whose work I had admired for literally YEARS!  Even my Father-- no fan of "funny books," I assure you-- was impressed at my excitement and the fact that I knew so much about this acclaimed immigrant Jewish cartoonist!

Of course, Joe will always be mainly remembered for the drawing of  such titles as SGT ROCK and HAWKMAN, but his literally thousands of pages of art [and script, often] included a few of my all time favorite graphic creations: the great  "White Indian" western FIREHAIR, the adventure comic VIKING PRINCE,  and the indescribable '70s inner-city super-hero RAGMAN.

Whatever the man touched was not just distinctive, but legendary!   I assure you, there will NEVER be another JOE KUBERT!

I borrowed this link from Alberto's blog... a great interview that really takes you into Joe's craft and method: