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Oscar Brand

Born February 7, 1920, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the lascivious and risque singer, OSCAR BRAND, has airplayed and worked with all the great folk icons (WOODY GUTHRIE, LEADBELLY, PETE SEEGER, DYLAN, et al) since the inaugural soundings of his own WNYC-AM 820 radio show kicked off way back in December 1945; it’s still going strong today as of 2010. Not a housewife’s choice by any stretch of the imagination, Jewish lad Oscar has issued a hundred albums over a sixty year career that has seen him labelled and blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer at a time in the 50s when the “witch hunt” was rife (BURL IVES, PETE SEEGER and JOSH WHITE were also branded).
From the late 40s (from a time that saw him on game-show Draw Me A Laugh), and 50s onwards, Oscar has given his folk-orientated audiences LPs such as ABSOLUTE NONSENSE (1948) {*6} for Riverside Records, the BAWDY SONGS AND BACKROOM BALLADS volumes 1-6 for Audio Fidelity {*5 each} and EVERY INCH A SAILOR (1959) {*6} and over a dozen American Forces-orientated sets for Elektra.
Singing and strumming, many of his coarse songs were augmented by banjo-plucker Dave Sears, the pick of the bunch featuring `Good Ship Venus’ (can’t help thinking punk JELLO BIAFRA), `Bell Bottom Trousers’, `The Cuckoo’s Nest’, `Blinded By Turds’, `The Money Rolls In’, `Old Dan Tucker’ – all recognisable dirges with parental guidance needed.
Never short of political rant, BRAND has also delivered the odd “election-type” album, one of his latest efforts was the run through PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN SONGS: 1789-1996 (1999) {*5}. For the first half of the 80s, Oscar was more child-friendly via BILLY THE KID IN SONG AND STORY (1981), while the 90s unearthed a couple of pet-friendly CDs, I LOVE CATS (1995) {*5} and GET A DOG (1995) {*5}. Not really the force he should’ve been in Britain, limeys can catch a look at the man through movies and documentary films Once Upon A Coffee House (1965), Chords Of Fame (1984) and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005).
Inevitably, at the grand old age of 96, Oscar died of pneumonia on September 30, 2016.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Jun2015-Oct2016

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