Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Gloom.

Welcome back to the S&P after the holiday weekend.

I sure hope you all had a fine few days and took time to remember those who have left us after giving so much. It's good to do that as often as we can.

It's also good to note the passing of time, to pause and recognize as seasons change that we too will follow those we've loved to the Great Unknown (P.S. It's one of the reasons there is such a thing as Hallowe'en!).

But hopefully, we won't follow right away. Not for now.

For now, we begin the yearly move toward hot days, sultry nights, parties, sleepovers, campouts and cookouts and all the other -outs that come with having the right weather to be out.

Oh it's not official yet, but the unofficial start is always after Memorial Day.

For all intents and purposes, it is SUMMER.

As ever, the Skull & Pumpkin welcomes a new month with a few new tunes in the jukebox, and you'll notice right away that even if we're still weeks from the Solstice, the S&P feels pretty confident that we can start celebrating Summer now.

First new tune is the wistful A Summer Song, a 1964 Billboard hit for the charming Brit duo Chad & Jeremy. I've always loved the strings in this song, the flute-like tone of their combined voices, and the simplicity of the piece. A '60s classic, and perfect for June.

Next up, a great, breezy June sort of number from an album that has been featured here before -- from the 1955 motion picture soundtrack of Pete Kelly's Blues comes Breezin' Along With The Breeze. Warm swing from a great band, featuring an intro by Jack Webb (who essayed the titular Kelly). The 'Matty' to whom he refers is the great swing clarinetist Matty Matlock, a member of the Pete Kelly Big 7 band, headed by my late father, Dick Cathcart on trumpet.

That's not my dad, it's Jack Webb miming to my dad's recordings. To the right,
Lee Marvin exacts the same favor from Matty Matlock.

And as long as we're talking about breezes, heat, and Summer lazing, why not perk things up with a bit of acoustic swing from a great little duo from the Ozarks? 

From their 1993 album Tea & Honey comes Don (Matt) & Scott (Thompson) working up Matt's fun composition Sittin' In The Shade. A neat little tune, evoking simple Summer pleasures and reminding us of the life to be enjoyed beyond your A/C and your television when the sun is high and hot. That ol' porch was built for a reason, as our elders well knew.

Then, I felt a change of pace might be needed. Or even if it isn't needed, I just love this song.

Memories of the sea, of past friendships and lost longings and the utter clarity of cleansing one's soul come to mind in the beautiful and haunting Life & Soul, one of the finer cuts from The Sundays' 1992 album Blind. Harriet Wheeler's unique vocal talents, lent a heart-warming charm by her Londoner accent. A real put-on-the-headphones-and-close-your-eyes tune.
Here... dive below... 

Of course, I don't wish to end on such a mellow note.

I love the deep, dark stuff (we are a Hallowe'en pub!) but we have to have some fun, and it has to be about monsters, and it has to be about the summery sea we've been contemplating... OH!

The Monster Surfer is a goofy, catchy and addicting little piece of mid-20th-Century American Monsterkid love, recorded in 1964 by Frank N. Stein & The Abominable Surfmen (how's that for a name!?).

I have no picture for this one (other than the above album cover), because listening to it again, I am a little dumbfounded regarding this Monster Surfer's appearance. I mean, he speaks like Lugosi's Dracula, but talks about his fur and electrodes, so there's some werewolf and Frankenstein Monster mixed in? Plus he has acne? Man, they were really trying to cover the bases and get in good with the teen crowd. Funny stuff, worth more than one listen, especially as the Monster and the gang begin laughing near the end of the tune.

Summer, you are welcome, even if you haven't completely arrived just yet. 

Summer is warm, cleansing, working, thinking time. 

And for most of us Autumn People, it means it's time to really start making Hallowe'en.

Happy June, gloomy or otherwise! Enjoy the music, everyone.

Hey! - is that the Hallowe'enith radio beginning to buzz and crackle over there?...



  1. When a thumbnail version of your pumpkin photo appeared in my blog reader, it looked like the pumpkin was resting in snow. Comforted, I thought, "Oh look, someone else is experiencing unseasonably cold weather." Alas, the pumpkin was on the beach.

    Enjoy the beginning of summer as I contemplate whether it's warm enough to plant pumpkin seeds. :/

  2. I love the photo of the pumpkin at the beach!