From the Collection: Stalker from the Stars

Those unfamiliar with Marvel comic book history would find the Hulk prose novel Stalker From the Stars reminiscent of cold war SF cinema but the book is really a blend of a 1950s Atlas/Timely alien invasion story (inspired of course by real world fears and concerns) featuring an un-evolved 1970s Hulk. This had precedent at the time as several Marvel heroes had come up against old villains from Marvel’s SF and Horror books of the past. While the dialog of SHIELD agent Clay Quartermain made me want to travel to the Fictionverse just to beat him up overall the book is not a bad read for a young adult novel.

Front and back covers of Stalker from the Stars (1978).

Don’t you wish your martian was science-fiction like me

Click the picture to bring Mars closer to Earth!

Found in my copy of a 1964 Whitman Publishing edition of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, the inscription reads:

“Christmas 1965”

Dear Dick,
I hope your mom doesn’t shoot me, but I know you like science-fiction like me. I loved this one and I believe you are old enough for it now. Happy dreams.

Love, Pat

This edition has illustrations by Shannon Stirnweis throughout the book but most are rather generic scenes of people in Victorian era clothing standing or sitting around. The one standout illustration is the fatal first contact scene between the Martian invader and the Deputation team of Ogilvy, Stent and Henderson. I also dig the cover art and groovy SF typeset.

Take me to…Teen Street!

As part of the Disney marketing machine supporting the film In Search of the Castaways starring Maurice Chevalier and Hayley Mills, 1962 also saw the release of the elder and younger star hosting a concept album called Teen Street. Featuring a romance theme the idea behind Teen Street was that teenagers are not only the same all over the world but similar from one generation to the next. The album is a bit myopic culturally and has the standard Disney idealization of what life is like.
The album showcases established recording stars like Disney-staple Annette Funicello and relatively unknown performers getting some exposure that is surely low-risk to the studio. Billy Storm and Gary Shortall both have some good entries to the album. Annette Funicello and the Sylte Sisters add no surprises with entries pretty typical for the young teen market sought by Disney. One song listeners may take exception with is The Wildest as sung by Shortall (22:02). While not his fault the tune sounds so derivative of Dion’s The Wanderer that lawyers for the Laurie label must have been high-fiving each other for months after the release, assuming Gary U.S. Bonds didn’t have his people all over it first. Pushover by Storm and Rovin’ Eyes by Shortall are good listens and I recommend them.

Disappointingly for most fans, Maurice and Hayley do not sing on this album. The soundtrack to Castaways would have been doing well enough at the time and Teen Street was undoubtedly using combined star power to promote sales. They serve only as hosts with Maurice doing most of the talking, introducing the songs in something of a cohesive narrative about young people finding love. The album is mostly referenced for the fun cover featuring Maurice and Hayley dancing on a cartoon street.

You can listen to the entire album as one file here: Teen Street

Here is the track list:

Side One
Teen Street – Group Vocal
Walkin’ and Talkin’ – Annette
Pushover – Billy Storm
Double Feature Movie – Sylte Sisters
Rovin’ Eyes – Gary Shortall
Cinderella Jones – Sylte Sisters

Side Two
Double Date – Billy Storm
Two Against the World – Annette
The Wildest – Gary Shortall
Good Girl – Billy Storm
Teenage Wedding – Annette
To Be Continued – Sylte Sisters

Swingin’

For those seeking old books and LP records there are better places to browse than in San Diego.

One reason is the relatively young and transient population. Farther inland and on the other coast there are generations of collected belongings sitting in basements, attics and garages. Eventually one family member or other will dispose of the Grandparent’s old furniture, books and music to the delight of treasure hunters of the region. In Southern California however, a lot of what is donated to thrift stores is late 1970s and 1980s music and tchotchkes. I’ve even discovered several decades worth of macaroni-adorned picture frames at one Salvation Army store.

The other reason San Diego is a poor resource for keen gear is the economy. Most of the used book stores have shuttered and the usual places one could find groovy LP’s, the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, have either combined all their resources into one store or done away with LP’s altogether. While reducing the number of places the records are displayed makes sense for the business it hurts the shopper seeking cool stuff because multiple destinations meant that a browser could get lucky if his timing was right. All the LP’s kept in one place means one faces constant competition has to be really lucky with the timing to score some choice items.

Recently I found a couple of Jonah Jones Quartet albums, Swingin on Broadway and Swingin’ at the Cinema notable among the internet primarily for the pretty women on the cover. Of the JJQ discography these two albums are probably the easiest to find. I found multiple copies of each when browsing and purchased the two best of the lot. Oh, yeah…I agree that those stretch pants and curves, especially on the blond on the Cinema LP, are something else. The album art is pretty typical of the 1950s. Back then nearly anyone producing lounge-type music put an attractive woman on the cover because no one would buy an album featuring John Wilson and the Howard-Johnsons Off State Route 12 Experience on the sleeve. Sex always sold, don’t get me wrong, but the producers of the lounge era LP escalated cheesecake and enticement into an art form rarely seen since. These particular albums are probably getting more attention now than before as the “Mad Men” style of fashion seems to be all the rage still. Too bad there are no model credits for the albums, at least none that I can find.
The music is good but not original other than the application of the JJQ style as they are covers of tunes already popular in the era. They are fun to hear as “lost” music and I’m really partial to their treatment of A Gal In Calico from the Cinema album. I think the Jonah Jones Quartet packed enough talent for a dozen musicians.

From the collection: Swingin’ on Broadway (1957) and Swingin’ at the Cinema (1958).