Monday, April 14, 2014

LIGHT IN THE ATTIC presents the CD debut of LEWIS' rare L'Amour! Available May 13, 2014




LEWIS

L'AMOUR

5.13.14

CD

LP



In 1983, a man named Lewis recorded an album named L’Amour, which was released on the unknown label R.A.W. And that’s about all we know.

The record itself is a delicate, whispered album, reflecting the way the artist himself – spectral, movie star-like – almost disappears into the grey of the cover. It should come as no surprise that it failed to shout loudly enough to be noticed, another private press album that sank without trace.

The ingredients are simple: smooth synthesizers, feather-light piano, ethereal, occasionally inaudible vocals and the gentle plucking of acoustic guitars. But the effects are arresting: a spine-tingling, sombre album that echoes Springsteen’s Nebraska or Angelo Badalamenti’s atmospheric soundtracks. Later, Arthur Russell would grasp for something similar on the epochal World Of Echo LP.

L’Amour is a true discovery of the blog age, uncovered in an Edmonton flea-market by collector Jon Murphy, passed on to private press fanatic Aaron Levin, shared on the internet and speculated over by lovers of curious LPs. There’s almost no information about Lewis or the album on the internet. There’s precious little on the sleeve: a dedication to Sports Illustrated supermodel Christie Brinkley, a photo credit for Ed Colver, the noted L.A. punk rock photographer, and credits for engineer Bob Kinsey and synth player Philip Lees. All that was known of Lewis is conjecture: a rumor that he was a con artist who fled after not paying for L’Amour’s photo-shoot and a dubious theory that he was not actually of this earth.

When Light In The Attic looked to release the album, they set out to investigate the mystery. They found some answers, but more intrigue too. Colver was able to fill in some blanks. Firstly, Lewis is a pseudonym. The man the photographer met was named Randall Wulff. He stayed in the Beverley Hills Hilton, drove a white convertible Mercedes and dated a girl who looked like a model. He paid for his photo session with Colver with a $250 check, which bounced.

Eventually, the trail led to Alberta, Canada, where that first LP had been found. Liner notes writer Jack Fleischer along with master detective Markus Armstrong found Randall’s nephew, who remembered Randall as a stockbroker. His vague recollections include a visit to Randall’s apartment, with all-white furniture and that beautiful girlfriend in situ. Crucially, he offered another name – another of Randall’s pseudonyms – which led to a Vancouver studio and the revelation that Lewis had recorded three or four albums of “soft religious music” there. Alas, even the new nom de plume led only to dead ends.

Lewis remains a ghost, a total mystery, but the music will be heard. The album is being pressed for the first time in more than 30 years, and widely distributed for the first time ever. Lewis’s royalties will be placed in escrow until he makes himself known. Perhaps you know Lewis. Perhaps Lewis is you. The only certainty is this: Lewis is about to find a whole bunch of new fans.


TRACKLIST:
1. I Thought The World Of You
2. Cool Night In Paris
3. My Whole Life
4. Even Rainbows Turn Blue
5. Like To See You Again
6. Things Just Happen That Way
7. Summer’s Moon
8. Let’s Fall In Love Tonight
9. Love Showered Me

10. Romance For Two

LIGHT IN THE ATTIC presents DONNIE & JOE EMERSON - Still Dreamin Wild: The Lost Recordings 1974-81! Available June 17th, 2014!


DONNIE & JOE EMERSON

STILL DREAMIN' WILD
The Lost Recordings 1974-81

6.17.14


CD

LP



Some people have to wait for fame; some people wait even longer than most. Donnie and Joe Emerson are in a league of their own.

As teenagers in Fruitland, Washington in the late ‘70s, the farming brothers dreamed of being heard. The synthesizers were sometimes crude and the 8-track recorder had its limitations, but the brothers aimed at nothing short of perfection in their home studio on the farm. They titled their 1979 debut "Dreamin’ Wild", and, as multi-instrumentalist Donnie later admitted, “Joe and I basically lived the dream of the title of the album.” The same goes for their parents who heavily believed in their sons’ musical dreams, taking out a second mortgage on the farm and investing $100,000 in a dream that refused to die. But their privately funded, private press record sank without trace, the family lost most of their 1,600 acre farm, and as Joe focused on the family farming business, Donnie focused on his solo career.

As for "Dreamin’ Wild", things began to change three decades later, when record collector Jack Fleischer bought a copy of the album for $5 at a Spokane thrift shop. Something about the brothers’ smiles, bouffant hair, and matching white jumpsuits gave him a good feeling. Fleischer’s blogging about the album brought it to the attention of cult musician Ariel Pink, who recorded his own version of standout track "Baby." Eventually re-released on Light In The Attic and widely available for the first time, the album chimed louder a lifetime after its conception: Pitchfork described it as a “a godlike symphony to teen hood.” The New York Times flew out to the family farm, while Jimmy Fallon took to Twitter to proclaim his love for the duo.

But "Dreamin’ Wild" does not tell the full story. In a relatively short span of time – just two and half years – the boys put close to 70 songs down on tape, all recorded at that magical home studio on the farm. A dozen of them are included here on "Still Dreamin' Wild: The Lost Recordings 1979-81" and ready to be enjoyed for the first time ever. With a familiar blend of FM rock, power pop, and new wave, these 12 tracks cover the entirety of that fruitful period, stretching from the second song Donnie ever recorded ("Everybody Knows It") – to tracks documenting his temporary move to L.A. in 1981.

Donnie’s life story is in these songs. Where "Dreamin’ Wild" captures the teenage experience, "Still Dreamin' Wild" tells a broader story, one in which teenage dreams turn to painful yearning. So where the Beach Boys indebted "Ooh Baby Yeah" is inspired by a teenage girlfriend, "Big Money" shows the emergence of a naive political awareness. Later, 1981’s "One True Love" captures the sound of what Donnie described as “the city as imagined from the farm,” and the epic closing track, "Don’t Disguise The Way You Feel" found Donnie after high school, feeling stifled and frustrated in the isolation of the countryside and mourning the loss of his friend and occasional backing vocalist Dwayne. It is, quite simply, heartbreaking.

The long-belated success of "Dreamin’ Wild" has given the Emerson brothers – still close, and still the heart of a loving family – a new lease of life. They’ve finally taken their music on the road, performing at Seattle's Showbox followed by New York’s Mercury Lounge. "Still Dreamin’ Wild" proves that the album wasn’t a fluke, and that Donnie’s songwriting is as consistent as it is rare. All this time later, we finally have the pleasure of hearing the brothers’ music. And the good news? They’ve still got the jumpsuits.

TRACKLIST:
1. Overture
2. Don't Fight
3. Ride The Tide
4. One True Love
5. Somethin's Comin' Down
6. Everybody Knows It
7. Big Money
8. Ooh Baby Yeah
9. Stand By Love
10. Girl With The Rainbow Seeds
11. Since You Been With Me

12. Don't Disguise The Way You Feel

Thursday, April 10, 2014

THE SELECTER/Too Much Pressure: 35th Anniversary reissue on Captain Mod!

THE SELECTER

TOO MUCH PRESSURE
(35th Anniversary Edition in Hardback digibook packaging)

4.29.14

IMPORTCDS     DEEPDISCOUNT



Re-issued to coincide with its 35th Anniversary this is a
deluxe Hard Back CD revamp of the debut album by 2 Tone
Ska legends The Selecter

The album hit #5 in the UK charts at the time as the whole
Ska Revival / 2-Tone movement swept the nation

Features the hit singles ”The Selecter” (#.6), “Too Much
Pressure” (#8), “Three Minute Hero” (#16) and “Missing
Words” (#23)

Packaged in a Hard Back book style CD cover, the booklet
features lyrics to all the songs, a sleeve note by vocalist
Pauline Black and pictures of all the relevant single sleeves
from across the globe




An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with KELIS!




What’s Cooking?

An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with KELIS

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee


     In an industry that usually tends to plas it a little too safe sometimes, Kelis has always been a breath of fresh air.  With a recording career that began back in 1999, Kelis is one of the few artists who has taken chances with her music and continually challenges herself while doing so.  Best known in the U.S. for her 2003 hit “Milkshake,” Kelis has achieved success on a much larger scale internationally, especially in the UK, where she has hit the Top 10 an amazing 10+ times! Though she has been labeled an R&B artist here in her home country, Kelis is much more than that.  Soul and R&B may be the foundations of her sound- however, her musical vision has no limitations.  She’s not afraid to incorporate Pop, Rock, Jazz and other musical elements into her recordings. Kelis has consistently pushed the envelope and in doing so, her music is an ever-evolving hybrid that truly is unique. If all you know is “Milkshake,” then you’ve only experienced the tip of the iceberg.
     As an artist, Kelis understands that in order to create the perfect record, you need all the right ingredients - music, lyrics, production, attitude, heart and soul to name a fewAchieving this perfect balance has always worked in her favor. However, it doesn’t just happen in the studio for Kelis - it also enhances her other career as a certified chef.  Yes, you read that right – Kelis is a CERTIFIED CHEF.  She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and even co-wrote a cookbook in 2006. In October 2013, Kelis debuted her own sauce line at the Las Vegas Food and Wine Festival. She recently taped her own cooking special, Saucy & Sweet, which aired on the Cooking Channel earlier this year. And if that isn’t appetizing enough, Kelis is figuratively bringing her two worlds together and dropping her sixth album, Food, on April 22nd. The album was produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek and features guest appearances from Brazilian Alt-Rock band CSS and singer/songwriter Priscilla Ahn.  While still retaining her Soul and R&B roots, the album is definitely edgier and more Rock oriented than any of her previous long-players.  She not only manages to reinvent herself (again), she does it so successfully that Food stands out as one of the most refreshing, honest albums of her career.  There is a retro vibe to the album, but not exactly what you’d expect - rather than focusing solely on the ‘60s, Food also takes in healthy chunks of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. It is literally a buffet of musical influences that leaves the listener craving more. Kelis and Sitek have made an album that is modern and timeless in equal strokes. In retrospect, it seems that “Milkshake” may have been just an appetizer and now Kelis is just about ready to serve the main course…
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send Kelis a handful of questions and she was gracious enough to answer them while doing a press jaunt in the UK



SPAZ:  Food is just about ready to drop. How are you feeling about the lead up to this album and the reaction you’ve received to it so far?
KELIS:  I’m excited to release my album. It’s been 4 years since my last album so it’s definitely time.

SPAZ:  The album has a very deep-rooted retro vibe yet it still manages to sound fresh and vibrant. Was it difficult to balance where you were coming from, musically, and where you wanted the album to go?
KELIS:  The album was very organic and natural. The album title came from me just cooking in the kitchen. Food was the nourishment behind the album. So, we decided to leave the title as Food.

SPAZ:  As a whole, Food seems to usher in a whole new musical world for Kelis. On the album, you don’t turn your back on your past but you are most certainly moving forward as an artist. What inspires you to make this journey instead of just taking the easy route and recording “Milkshake” parts 2, 3, 4 and 5?
KELIS:  Life, love and being a mother are the main influences behind my album. Food is about those life experiences.

SPAZ:  “Jerk Ribs” is the first single, but the album is filled with some amazing – and often haunting – melodies. At this point, are there any personal standouts on the album that you are particularly proud of?
KELIS: “Jerk Ribs” are a staple of mine and probably what I’m most well known for cooking. I’m really proud of the entire album and excited to share that with my fans.

SPAZ:  While the album may seem a little darker on the surface, the songs and
performances are far from one dimensional. The album feels powerful and anthemic at times. What kind of reaction are you hoping the listeners have while listening to the album?
KELIS:  I wouldn’t say the album is dark – it’s about life experiences. The ups and downs are a very natural part of life. I’m hoping that fans can relate to that.

SPAZ:  Did you go into the studio with finished ideas or was the album created organically?
KELIS:  The album was created organically. Dave played a huge part of giving me just enough space to figure out the ideas behind the music.

SPAZ:  Your cover of Labi Sifre’s “Bless The Telephone” is quite lovely. How did you first discover this song and decide on covering it? Most people in the U.S. only know him through Madness’ cover of “It Must Be Love” or, to a far lesser extent, Olivia Newton John’s rendition of “Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying”…
KELIS:  The first time I heard “Bless the Telephone” I was blown away by its dynamic simplicity. I fell in love and wanted to sing it out loud for this generation to fall in love with too.



SPAZ:  What was the inspiration for the album’s title and ultimate lyrical direction? Being a chef yourself, did you just combine your favorite hobbies?
KELIS:  The title Food was very natural. I enjoy cooking for friends and family. And while in the studio with Dave, there would be a ton of musician friends and everyone would be hungry. So, naturally I would just cook family style meals. A lot of my inspiration behind the album was just the process of making it.

SPAZ:  Your performances on the album are perhaps the most passionate you’ve ever recorded. Would you say that this is your most personal album to date?
KELIS:  No. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I always have. It’s just another corner, or layer.

SPAZ:  You are generally labeled an “R&B” artist, yet you have never adhered to one style of music on your albums. Is it frustrating to be pigeonholed under one genre when you obviously are capable of moving beyond those restrictive boundaries?
KELIS:  I don’t mind.  I don’t assume that the label is some mass assumption that I am somehow incapable of anything else. It’s how people relate and digest.

SPAZ:  You’ve been a recording artist for 15 years. How do you compare the recording of Food to the experience you had with your 1999 debut, Kaleidoscope?
KELIS:  I don’t really think about my different bodies off work in those terms. I’m the common denominator so for me, it’s just doing what it takes until I’m satisfied.

SPAZ:  The ‘album’ has recently been called a dying art form. Now that you are releasing proof to the contrary, what is your reaction to these statements by the skeptics?
KELIS:  LOL. Are these skeptics 15?

SPAZ: What’s next for Kelis?
KELIS:  My Cooking Channel special just aired called Saucy & Sweet. I’m releasing my sauce line called Feast. Summer Festivals. Touring.

SPAZ:  What is currently spinning on your CD player?
KELIS:  I’ve been listening to a lot of Jamie Woon, Josef Salvat, and Bill Withers.

Thanks to Kelis
Special thanks to Steve Dixon



KELIS

FOOD

4.22.14

 CD
IMPORTCDS     DEEPDISCOUNT

LP
IMPORTCDS     DEEPDISCOUNT






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

JACK WHITE/Lazaretto: Available June 10, 2014!




JACK WHITE

LAZARETTO

6.10.14

(Columbia Records; New York, NY; April 1, 2014) – Jack White presents his new album Lazaretto, to be released June 10 on Third Man Records/Columbia. Lazaretto inhabits an exciting place in White's expansive discography as the follow-up to 2012's Gold-certified international #1 Blunderbuss, and will be preceded by first single and title track "Lazaretto," to be released later this month. While we await the debut of that first official single, listeners can experience a first taste of new music from the album and watch the video for new instrumental track "High Ball Stepper" below...


The aforementioned Blunderbuss was the first U.S. #1 album of Jack's storied career, also debuting at #1 in the UK, Canada, and, naturally, Switzerland. Blunderbuss was supported by an ambitious world tour featuring two backing bands, the all-male Buzzards and all-female Peacocks, notched up five GRAMMY nominations including Album of the Year, and dominated Best of 2012 lists, including being named MOJO's #1 album of 2012.

In celebration of the new album and their 20th Vault package, Third Man has unveiled their most unique Vault package yet.

The LP for Third Man Records' Vault package #20 will be the ONLY limited version of Lazaretto to be released. Pressed on split-color blue-and-white vinyl and coupled with exclusive album art, this alternate presentation of the album is both insightful and deserving. Also exclusive to the Vault is a fold-out poster accompanying the album, featuring a classic National Archives photo that serves as a recurrent image throughout the album art.

Unlike the lightning bolt and inverted lightning bolt pressings Third Man did for Jack White's Blunderbuss, this alternate art and colored vinyl will be the only time ANY variation on Lazaretto will be made. Once subscriptions are closed and records are pressed... that's it. Don't sleep. Get in now or regret it later.

The 7-inch includes two early demos of songs that appear on Lazaretto in their completed form. Both "Alone in My Home" and "Entitlement" are solo recordings by Jack White, done while he was in Mexico. Pressed on lustrous blue vinyl and housed in the standard felt-weave, die-cut Third Man Vault 7-inch sleeve, both tracks offer a unique glimpse into the creative process and evolution of a song from its original germination to its final delivery.

The bonus item is a lavish 40-page hard bound companion piece book full of lyrics, exclusive musical notations, photos and art from Lazaretto. This is the perfect accompaniment to the listening experience and insight into both the album creation method and some of the inspiration (visual and otherwise) behind it.

In addition to these items, Vault package #20 will also include a linen, letter-pressed postcard with the same eye-popping color separations as evidenced in classic chromatic postcards popular in the first half of the 20th century. Stamps not included.

Subscriptions are open through April 30th, so don't delay and visit www.thirdmanrecords.com/vault to sign up today. 


Monday, March 31, 2014

MICHAEL JACKSON/XScape: Available May 13th, 2014!


LONG AWAITED NEW MUSIC FROM MICHAEL JACKSON

OUT ON EPIC RECORDS MAY 13

EPIC CHIEF L.A. REID TEAMS UP WITH TOP PRODUCERS TO “CONTEMPORIZE” SONGS FROM ICONIC ARTIST’S ARCHIVE

March 31, 2014 — New York, NY — On May 13, Epic Records, in conjunction with the Estate of Michael Jackson, will release XSCAPE, an album of new music by the internationally beloved music icon and King of Pop, Michael Jackson.  The project features eight new tracks, which the world will be hearing for the very first time on the new album.  For the ultimate fan experience, XSCAPE will also be available in a Deluxe Edition, which includes all of the sourced Michael Jackson recordings in their original form. The XSCAPE standard and Deluxe Edition’s are available for pre-order beginning April 1 on iTunes.com/MichaelJackson and elsewhere, and available at all retailers worldwide on May 13. 

XSCAPE is executive produced by Epic Records Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid, who, after an initial mining of Jackson’s archives by the Estate, was granted unlimited access to the treasures representing four decades of material on which Jackson had completed his vocals.

Reid curated the final list of recordings to deliver to the producers, who retooled the production to add a fresh, contemporary sound that retains Jackson’s essence and integrity.  It’s a process Reid calls “contemporizing.” The album’s lead producer, Timbaland was one of a handful of producers Reid believed had the gravitas, depth and range to creatively engage with Jackson’s work. Additional producers include global hitmakers Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, Jerome “Jroc” Harmon and John McClain.

“Modern music and artistry would look and sound completely different if not for the groundbreaking contributions Michael Jackson gifted to the world,” remarked L.A. Reid. “Michael left behind some musical performances that we take great pride in presenting through the vision of music producers that he either worked directly with or expressed strong desire to work with. We are extremely proud and honored to present this music to the world.”

The title of this album honors Michael’s album naming process.  He always chose a song from the album to name his projects and, beginning with THRILLER, used only one word titles, each with an edgy quality to them.   This is true of the new project.    Written by Michael Jackson and Jerkins, and produced by Jackson and Jerkins, “Xscape” has further significance in that it is the one track on the album that was ‘contemporized’ by the producer who recorded it originally in the studio with Michael. 

John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson said, “Michael was always on the cutting edge and was constantly reaching out to new producers, looking for new sounds.  He was always relevant and current. These tracks, in many ways, capture that spirit.   We thank L.A. Reid for his vision.”   

XSCAPE is a long awaited collection of exciting new music that will thrill the legions of fans of one of the world’s most revered and best-selling artists, as well as attract a whole new generation discovering his artistry for the first time. In conjunction with the release of XSCAPE, Epic / Sony Music will launch an unprecedented global campaign with the One Sony sister companies, Sony Corporation, Sony Mobile Communications, and Sony Network Entertainment International drawing from all of Sony’s strengths and consumer reach.

"Michael has long been a treasured member of the larger Sony family," said Kazuo Hirai, President and CEO, Sony Corporation. "Starting with the release of ‘Off The Wall’ in 1979, Sony Music Entertainment has since released all of Michael’s recordings. We are thrilled and privileged to be collaborating as One Sony to celebrate Michael’s latest legacy, and bringing his fans an exclusive experience through our upcoming initiatives with our products and services."

More news about Michael Jackson’s upcoming album will be revealed in the coming weeks. Keep visiting www.michaeljackson.com for new details.

  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An EXCLUSIVE interview with CAROL BURNETT!




A Conversation with the Queen:

An EXCLUSIVE interview 
with 
CAROL BURNETT

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee


     Alongside Lucille BallSid CaesarJohnny Carson, and a small handful of others, Carol Burnett is one of the most beloved TV stars of all time. In a nutshell, she is TV Royalty. With a career that reaches back into the ’50s and continues to this very day, Burnett has become a legend on the small screen and in the hearts of her fans and critics alike.  She may not have created the variety show, but she redefined it by tearing up the instruction manual and creating a new blueprint for the way it should be done.  The Carol Burnett Show (TCBS), which ran from 1967-1978, set the standard bar so high that no other variety show came close to duplicating its success. From the opening Q&A that Carol held with the audience, to the musical guests, sketches, movie and commercial parodies and her closing theme song (“I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together”), TCBS was pure entertainment that didn’t aim at the lowest common denominator to get laughs or ratings. It featured just the right balance of humor and heart – never too hokey (but often over the top) and full of absolute joy.  The show may have been named after her, but she brought together an amazing cast of actors and comedians to work alongside her.  Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway played key roles in the success of the show alongside semi-regulars like Steve Lawrence and Betty White. They were a repertory company more than just a star and her sidekicks. While Carol is considered an ‘Icon’, she’ll be the first to tell you that there is no ‘I’ in ‘Icon’… but there is a Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, and Tim!  Burnett’s popularity is not only defined by what she has done as an entertainer, but how she has connected to and enriched the lives of millions of fans, many of whom weren’t even born by the time the show went off the air.

     It’s been 36 years since the last episode of The Carol Burnett Show aired.  Since that time, the show has been syndicated (although in truncated form), released on VHS and DVD and many of the sketches remain popular on YouTube. In recent years, Time/Life has released a series of DVD sets – Carol’s FavoritesThis Time Together and One More Time - that feature many of Carol’s favorite episodes in their entirety (sans commercials).  In 2013, they released the glorious 22 DVD box set, The Ultimate Collection, which contains the three previously released titles along with four additional DVDs of exclusive bonus features.  And now, Time/Life is releasing a 6 DVD set entitled Carol’s Crack-Ups, another marvelous collection of original episodes from her ground-breaking show. Carol’s Crack-Ups is wall-to-wall funny.  Though the hairstyles and some of the fashions may reveal the era that these episodes were filmed in, the humor is absolutely timeless.  Whether you saw these shows when they first aired or you watch them for the first time on Carol’s Crack-Ups, they still feel fresh and wildly imaginative.  The humor is smart, sharp but never mean-spirited and that is what makes it so special.  With TCBS, it was never about pushing the limits, it was about making people laugh and feel good.  Imagine that!

     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to chat with Carol Burnett about these recent DVD sets and so much more…    


Stephen SPAZ Schnee:  Time Life has released the separate DVD packages, the Ultimate DVD box set, and now you’ve got the Carol’s Crack-Ups just about to come out. How are you feeling about the reaction to everything so far?
CAROL BURNETT:  Well, it’s been amazing, absolutely amazing.  With the first batch, 4 million people bought them.  It’s just amazing. You know, I was of course very pleased and a little surprised because the show was quite a few years ago, but what it has shown to be is that what’s funny is funny. 

SPAZ:  In revisiting the TV show, have noticed that, although they tend to be rooted to a particular time, the absolute essence of the sketches are timeless.  Are you surprised how relevant a lot of these sketches still are 40 years later?
CAROL:   Well, I think one of the reasons is that we were never that up on stuff that was happening right then.  So that it plays today because what we have is just a timeless thing because we weren’t politically involved, you know.  A couple of times we did some takeoffs on what was going on in the White House and stuff, but it was not the main thing that we did.  You know, I’m a clown…I started out as a clown and so you know with the cast we had… Harvey was a consummate comedic actor.  He could do everything.  He prided himself on being a really fine, fine actor.  Tim is, you know, on another planet. (laughs)  And then Vicki morphed into being able to do all kinds of characters even though we first hired her to play my kid sister in kind of an episode of Carol and Sis that we did for a long time.  And then my love, one of my loves was growing up and seeing all the old movies.  And so this way, I just wanted to do a lot of takeoffs and send-ups of classic movies.  Some of them, people wouldn’t even remember, but they were funny in their own right.  You know, what we used to call a mother pleaser - (laughs)  Mothers would get it, but then the kids got it too, but not on the same level as the mother because she could refer to growing up with these movies too.  But what’s wonderful is that I’m getting fan mail because a lot of our sketches are on YouTube.  And so I’m getting mail from 10-year-olds, teenagers, kids in their 20s, you know, saying well gosh, you know, we wish television was like that again today.  And I (laughing) got the cutest letter from a 10-year-old just yesterday and I’m going to give her a call because she left her phone number.  So, I’m going to give her a call and thank her for her nice letter and stuff, but it’s really amazing so that’s when I said, I guess funny is funny.
SPAZ:  What I find interesting is you said that you hired Vicki to play your kid sister…
CAROL:   (Chuckling) And she became my mother….
SPAZ:  I remember distinctly, probably when I was about 8 or 9, asking my parents if Vicki Lawrence was your little sister. When I found out that she wasn’t, it was like wow!  (Carol laughs). You have a lot of episodes to choose from.  What were the criteria that you put into choosing which episodes got released in these sets.
CAROL:  Well, you know I don’t have a field trap of a memory, but there are certain ones that did stand out for me. And then I have what we call a Bible that has a list of all the shows, and I have all the shows too in the collection.  So, if something was niggling at me – like, there was a sketch I did with Roddy McDowell that was about such and such and I can look it up in the Bible and then go and get that number of show and play it to see if it held up the way I thought it did.  I did a lot of that and then some of it is about how funny Tim was, and some of the guests, I mean Steve Martin and Betty White – those really stood out for me.



SPAZ:  I think it is just fantastic that you had these musical guests that that you integrated into the sketches.  It’s not like a Saturday Night Live thing where they’re just sort of in the background. 
CAROL:  Right.  In fact, one of my favorite guests was Steve Lawrence because he was so funny.  Aside from having a great set of pipes (laughing), he was just a great comedic actor and so, some of my favorite movie takeoffs were with Steve.  We did The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, African Queen… and Steve was in all of those.  Funny, when we went into syndication they cut the show down to just the sketches, none of the musical stuff was in it, so it was only a half hour in syndication and Steve and Eydie (Gorme) were at an airport one time, and we were in re-runs, and these teenagers ran up to him and they said, “Oh, you’re that funny guy on the Burnett show.”  They had no idea he was a singer. 

SPAZ:  I think that the ‘60s and ‘70s, in my opinion, were really responsive to people from the previous generation – like Steve and Eydie obviously were from the 60s and I think they went back to the 50s, right?
CAROL:  They went back to the late 50s when they both started on the old Steve Allen Tonight Show.
SPAZ:  I always found that it was great – even into the 70s - because TCBS would get Steve Lawrence involved…an artist from a seemingly different generation.  Elsewhere, you’d see Fred Astaire in The Towering Inferno, Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure, Roddy McDowell in all the Planet Of The Apes movies…  You’d see these veteran performers and they were still going strong yet, when the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s rolled around, it didn’t seem that Hollywood was so kind to performers from previous decades… Even somebody from the ‘80s or the ‘90s really can’t get a lot of work in today – 2014.
CAROL:  Well, they get it on Broadway you know, but, it isn’t that youth-oriented, so to speak.  Look at Angela Lansbury – she is in Australia at the moment doing Driving Miss Daisy.  She is 86, 87-years-old, and still a viable star.   Thank God for Betty White.  She is a phenomenon.  But, I don’t know…back in the day (chuckles)…I’m an old codger… back in the day when we had our show on Saturday night, we had a lineup like you couldn’t believe.  It started with All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and us.  And that was the lineup on Saturday night.
SPAZ:   Best night on television….ever. 
CAROL:  And the thing is – the writing was so good.  And the writing now, it’s so rare when its that good.  It just doesn’t happen anymore.  I’ve been quoted as saying, and I’ll say it again, that some of these sitcoms, they make me think some teenagers in a locker room sat down and wrote them.  What’s funny about all the scatological humor and all of the …..it’s so easy and cheap.




SPAZ:  A lot of the sketches run longer than 5 minutes.  Now, in my opinion, the magic behind that is the fact that they are slow burners that just sort of continue to build and build and build instead of the other way around.
CAROL:  Right.  Well, when we, at one point, back in the day, there were nine variety shows.  There was us and Flip Wilson, and Laugh-InDean Martin and down the hall was, across from us was the Smothers Brothers, Sonny and Cher and on and on…and lots of times the writers of all of these shows, they would leave say our show, which we wrote a lot of stuff in long form….and they would go over and work on Laugh-In, but then a lot of the Laugh-In writers would want to come over and work with us so that they could flex their writing muscles…..without doing jokes.  I remember years ago I was at a Kennedy Center Honors at the State Department dinner and I was sitting next to Larry Gelbart, who was one of the top comedy writers at the time – He’s right up there with Neil Simon…and even then I said, Larry, what is it with the sitcoms now-a-days? It’s like setup, setup, joke, laugh track.   And he said, “Carol, the reason is that a lot of these writers, comedy writers, never played stickball in the street.”  They’re writing about life once removed.  They were raised on television.  So it’s not like they’re writing about what they really know, it’s what they’ve saw on the tube.  But, you look at like what Norman Lear created – he played stickball in the street.  You know, he created wonderful characters without having to stoop an easy joke.

SPAZ:  It’s like the TV shows really don’t build a solid foundation for the humor to work.  It’s kind of like instead of the shows being Carol Burnett-like, they’re more Laugh-In-like.  Just the quick joke and move on…
CAROL:  Yeah, but I mean, Laugh-In, for what it was - was brilliant and that worked.  And, also again, it didn’t stoop to any kind of base humor.  And I’m not a prude, believe me.  I just find that it’s just too easy.  I’m so sick of penis jokes, you know? Oh, come off it!   

SPAZ:  Now, I believe that the show is remembered because it was very obvious that everyone in the cast found such joy and happiness in what they were doing, and that really came across. And still all these years later you watch it and that joy just jumps out of the screen along with the joke.  Do you think that that sort of connection with the audience and the audience being able to relate to that has helped the show last this long?
CAROL:  Definitely.  You know, the camera doesn’t lie.  But what I would like to stress is we did a lot of things where we cracked up.  We never did it on purpose… never!  I mean, Harvey used to get so mad at himself because again, he was a consummate comedic actor.  But, Tim was just out to get him all the time… And Tim would throw stuff at him that had never been said in rehearsal.  But that was not our entire show.  That was a part of it at the time but if you look at the whole body of work and everything, the crackups weren’t that often. I was looking at a sketch - because I’m going to write about our show and what we did and how we did it - and I was looking at sketch called The Kidnapping, and the first, I would say, five minutes of the sketch it’s very serious.  You have no idea where it’s going and there were no laughs, and that was on purpose, and then it builds and builds and builds until it got hysterical. It’s about a woman who is asked to talk to the news camera about the fact that her husband has been kidnapped so she’s very, very torn at the beginning and Harvey is interviewing her, and then she finishes with a plea to the kidnappers to please bring her husband home and so he said that’s very good Mrs. So-and-so and then the guy says the sound wasn’t good so she has to do it again. And then it wasn’t as good and so Harvey says cut, cut…you know Mrs. So-and-so, before when you were talking about it, you really felt it, and this time it was just kind of, you were just trying to remember what you had said.  Could we try it again?  Well, she winds up being this ham actress and over the top and not too many shows, I don’t think, would take that time.


SPAZ:  Several times in various interviews, a lot was said about the work schedule - the Monday script read-through up to the Friday taping.  How long from the taping to the time it aired?
CAROL:  A week.  We would tape on Friday… we’d tape two shows – a dress rehearsal and an air.  We’d tape it with audiences and then we would edit it over the weekend and then it would air the following Saturday.  

SPAZ:  I know syndication was obviously an option back then, but did you ever think that 35 years later you’d still be talking about the show?
CAROL:  (Laughing)  Nooo!  I mean, I would be talking about it if I went out to dinner with Tim Conway. You know, reminiscing or whatever, saying wasn’t that funny when…   Well, I go out on the road a lot and I do 90 minutes of questions and answers.  I go to theaters and venues around the country and I get a cross section now, as I say, I’m getting kids in the audience.    Not just people with blue hair and I think it’s because of YouTube. 

SPAZ:  I know whenever I’m feeling down, I go to YouTube and type in Carol Burnett Show or Don Rickles.
CAROL: (chuckling) Right, right!  A couple of months ago I was doing a Q & A in Texas and this little boy in the second row waved his hand. It’s all impromptu.  I have no idea who is going to ask what.  I just say raise your hand and I’ll call on you.  And so this little boy raised his hand and I said, “Hi there.”  And I said, “First, what’s your name?”  And he said, “Andrew.”  I said, “Well,  how old are you Andrew?”  And he said, “I’m 9.”  And I said, “And you know who I am?”  And he said, “Surprisingly, yes.”  (laughs).

SPAZ:    Well, you know, I guess Carol Burnett is just one of those traditions.  You pass it down generation to generation.
CAROL:    Well, I’m grateful for that. 

SPAZ:  But do you feel that the fact that all of you worked together attributed to the strength and the longevity?
CAROL:  I definitely feel that because there were times when Harvey and I would just be supporting Tim.  And there would be times when we’d be supporting Harvey or Vicki and then there were times when they’d be supporting me. And that’s a true rep company.  It did have my name on it, but there were lots of times in a sketch where I played the straight man.


SPAZ:  Now, the show remains one of the most loved TV series in history, variety or otherwise. Are you proud of not only your legacy, but the legacy of the show itself? 
CAROL:  Absolutely!  Absolutely!  I think it was one of the most unusual shows and I’m not saying because it was my show.  But when you look at what went into it….when you look at the fact that we had a 28 piece orchestra, which is unheard of today except for Dancing With the Stars, but no variety show has that anymore…the costumes – Bob Mackie did ALL the costumes.  Everything you saw on any of us…he designed upwards of 60 costumes a week.  Beautifully executed…but that, the orchestra, the guest stars, you know – 12 dancers, and we had singers, and it was like doing  a Broadway musical comedy revue a week.   And to have an audience there.   We also did it as much like a live show as we could in that studio.  The writers used to laugh about it because they’d say there were very few times they had to drive home with the headlights on. It was so organized and we would tape maybe an hour and 15 minute show…it would go over because of Q&A, and we’d do all of that,  including the numbers and costume changes, and we’d be out of there in a little over two hours.  That’s very unusual, but we all came from live television and so sometimes some of our shows you see a boom mike come in by accident (laughs), but we never stopped.

SPAZ: If they were going to put on a Carol Burnett-type variety show today, do you think there is anybody out there that might  be able to pull this off? 
CAROL:  Yes!  I thought way back when Bette Midler was given a sitcom by CBS, I thought she should do a variety show.  Martin Short could do it.  Kristen Chenoweth. who has this beautiful voice and is very funny. The talent is there.  The networks can’t put that kind of money into it anymore.  It is just prohibitive.  You couldn’t do our show today.
SPAZ:  On a personal note, from day one, you always reminded me of my mom and my aunts.  
CAROL:  Oh, that’s lovely.

SPAZ:  And it’s really funny that even nowadays, it’s like when something you do on TV, I almost see one of my aunts in what you do. Of if they do something, it might remind me of a Carol Burnett-type thing   
CAROL:  Oh my gosh.  That’s very flattering. 

SPAZ:  I kept on thinking, now that I’m going to have the opportunity, what could I say to Carol Burnett and basically it whittles down to two words and that’s “Thank You.”
CAROL:  Oh, wow Steve.  Well, let me whittle mine down – thank you!  That’s so nice. 

SPAZ:  I just appreciate the joy you’ve brought to my life, my family’s life, and everybody around me. You have done that for so many people.
CAROL:  Oh thank you darling. 

SPAZ:  And please remember that.
CAROL:  I will, and you give my love to your folks, okay?

SPAZ:  I definitely will.  Thank you for your time and I look forward to coming over this weekend and going swimming.
CAROL:  (Laughs.)  Great!  Take care.


Thanks to Carol Burnett
Special thanks to Jeff Peisch, Thomas Hemesath, Julia Lake, Angie Horejsi, and Dana House