Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Favorite Time-Life Pitchmen

Infomercials like the ones listed below are becoming a lost art. I mean, there's still a lot of them but they aren't good. You know Billy Mays still makes commercials? He's working more than Tupac. Here's a few of my favorites from the company that brought us Time-Life: Easy Favorites To Have Bowel Movements By...

Bobby Goldsboro- Pop Memories Of The '60s-You thought being in 2010 meant we could escape him. We were wrong. For this installment Goldsboro and Co. cart out a real load of corn, in such a staggering concentration, it’s enough to classified as germ warfare.

Goldsboro cuts a bland figure, in a boring ol’ shirt, pleated slacks and that thatch of fur on his dome that’s raised questions since Harry Truman was still with us. Keeping with the kind of known guy/boring lady, Sue Sherman (or something like it) is his guest host. She’s too young to have a horse in this race, what does she know about this music besides the fact she was probably conceived to "Winchester Catherdal."

Grade ***

Odd Fact: Bobby Goldsboro actually co-produced some early Bobby Womack albums.

What Me Remembering That Fact Means: I'm going to die alone.

Cuba Gooding Sr.-Sweet Soul of the '70s- This is instructive, fans get to see that Cuba Jr.’s innate silliness wasn’t acquired, it was genetic. Gooding proves an enthusiastic host,selling records that were hits when I was in short pants. In his commercial, Time-Life: '70s Songs That People Screwed To, I'm willing to bet I have everything on it. Not boasting, just saying. Again, we have a young lady on Cuba's left that doesn't have a doggone thing to do with the music featured. Didn't we go to high school together? Gimme back my Luther Vandross tape cassette!

Grade ***1/2

Billy Dee Williams- The Motown Collection- Look it’s Lando Calrissian, Luke Stern, or whoever he played in Mahogany. In this Time-Life favorite, despite his hosting skills, it's almost like Billy is playing a variation of the Berry Gordy he played in The Jacksons: An American Dream. He’s basically Billy Dee ‘Berry” Gordy. As haughty as he seems in this 30 minute torture session, you’d think Billy Dee was in the studio with the Temptations when they recorded “My Girl.” He wasn’t. He just heard it on the radio like everyone else. This is pure Billy Dee. The hand gestures, the exaggerated vocal inflections and sadly he unleashed a sad, old-timey dance step on the initiated. All a nation can do is cry.

Grade ****

Nice livingroom, heh heh...

Peabo Bryson- Classic Soul Ballads-This is a case of a singer who could possibly still be recording something or other. Instead, he’s on a couch in a fake living room set selling dusty 45’s like a neighborhood record shop. Sadly this commercial isn't available for viewing. In fact many of us wonder if it happened at all, like Skylab. It did and this commercial worked too well. After setting the mood of romantic ‘70s and ‘80s R&B ballads, the only thing left to do is turn off the lights, do a few perfunctory grunts and groans and make it back home by 9:45.

Sad Facts: That's really Peabo's end table!

Grade ***1/2

Tony Orlando-Romancing the '70s- Look it's Lionel Richie and Joy Philbin. No not quite, it's Tony Orlando and some hosting lady. I'm not even going to pretend that I don't like this commercial or this set. It's a staggering collection of 156 light-rock, pop, soft R&B classics. It's got everything from Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right" to stuff from James Taylor on it. The folks from Time-Life must have felt good about this, the commercial is great with clips of Helen Reddy, Captain and Tennille and that creature from space named Lobo who visited our planet from 1972 to 1978. Cheers!

Grade *****
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