Selected Short Subjects

I have been tempted, and sometimes even encouraged by others, to create additional sections in the Popular Culture Excavation Site.  Truth is, it's not likely to happen, as I've already bitten off more than I can chew.  Still, there are many other neglected areas of popular culture that should be elevated to a higher level of visibility.  Consequently, here are a few capsule treatments of subjects that I would love to develop further were there not other promises to keep.

Jubilee Gospel Quartets

Jubilee Quartets, usually performing a capella or with minimal accompaniment, ranged from local, seldom recorded groups, to popular performers like the Golden Gate Quartet, seen here.  At its best, the harmonies and rhythm, not to mention the range and novelty of the material, are unsurpassed by any other form of "roots" music.  Many such groups emerged from the Birmingham, Alabama, area and those who seek out this remarkable and infectious music from the '20s and '30s will be amply rewarded.

Oscar Aleman

Aleman's career proceeded in the shadow of heralded jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in the '30s and '40s.  Yet this marvelous artist from Argentina (1909-1980) recorded hundreds of sides, many showing South American influence and nearly all displaying a creative and engaging element unique to this performer.  Do yourself a favor and buy his double-CD "Swing Guitar Masterpieces" without further delay.  Buy It Now

Johnny Lee

Best known for his portrayal of "lawyer" Algonquin J. Calhoun on the Amos 'n' Andy television show, Lee was also the voice of Br'er Rabbit in the seemingly-shelved Walt Disney film "Song of the South."  He also appeared in a number of other motion pictures.  Who knows what else this wonderful performer may have done?  Mr. Lee is one of many black character actors who dwell in undeserved obscurity.  Indeed, a page devoted to Eddie "Rochester" Anderson would be a worthy effort as well.

Karrin Allyson

Why this woman is not a major star, I'll never understand.  Easily the equal of highly promoted jazz vocalists like Dianna Krall and Jane Monheit, Miss Allyson is a pure delight, whether experienced in stereo or in person.  Visit her own web site and buy all her CDs, starting with "Daydream," the wonderful "From Paris to Rio," and the 2002 Grammy-nominated "Ballads, Remembering John Coltrane."  Trust me, you'll be bragging to everyone about the great new singer you've discovered.  Buy It Now

Will Elder

Best known for his renderings of the curvaceous innocent "Little Annie Fanny" in Playboy magazine and his wondrously exact lampoons of famous comic strips in the old "MAD" comic book, Elder also contributed to the well-remembered "EC" horror and science fiction comics in the 1950s.  The complexity and wry humor of his parodies are in a class by themselves and, although he is well known and admired within comic art fandom, his work is worthy of far broader recognition.  Start your discovery at Mr. Elder's own web page.

Eddie Seacrist

Eddie Seacrist and the Rolling Rockets were among the many local rockabilly groups that emerged in the 1950's following the success of Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Gene Vincent.  Eddie (whose name is found in several spellings) was very popular in the Charleston, West Virginia, area, recorded a few sides, including "Shakin' With A Flavor," for the KRC label, and was a "discovery" of Lloyd Price.  He was a very exciting performer who exemplifies the very sort of forgotten figure to whom this site is devoted.  Who will be the first to send me a picture of him?

Merci Montello

My absolute favorite late '60s pinup girl, Miss Montello appeared in, and on the cover of, numerous men's magazines, as well as in respected figure study publications and commercial ads.  Yet, her name will not be found in the several listings of top 100, 300, or even 1000, glamour girls of the era.  A serious oversight, as you can see.  Pictures of Merci were often credited under similar (and dissimilar) names and she appeared in several "soft-core" movies, notably the remarkable "Space Thing."

Wild Bill Davis

If anyone deserves the title "Pioneer of the Jazz Organ," this is the man.  Bill Davis developed his skills on the instrument with Louis Jordan, later forming groups of his own.  He inspired Jimmy Smith and every other artist who plies his trade on the Hammond.  Davis (1918-1995) was an exceptionally exciting artist as witnessed by his long-out-of-print "Wild Bill Davis at Birdland." His famous "one more time" arrangement of "April in Paris" became a smash for Count Basie.  Collaboration CDs with Johnny Hodges are probably the easiest to find.

While I will be pleased to receive email with respect to any of these subjects (and may even find time to respond in kind), further development of these subjects within this site is unlikely.  I do encourage others to do so, as each of them is worthy of discovery and recognition.

This site is a mostly commercial-free zone.  But, should you experience an impulsive desire to purchase a recording several  Buy It Now  links to CDNow have been included for your convenience.

Return to the main menu page.

This page created and maintained by Jim Lowe
First appearance: July 15, 2002
Last updated: July 15, 2002

© 2002 by James R. Lowe, who reserves all rights to the content of this page not successfully claimed by others.