Monday, July 18, 2005

Clay 'n Shellac!

This posting will have to do for a few weeks (Summertime R&R and whatnot), so for something a little different we've lovingly dragged out some of the brittle 78s from the depths of the repository for your listening pleasure (the label images are the links to the mp3s)....

First up is
Schnickelfritz (Freddie Fisher) and "America's Most Unsophisticated Band":

Hobo Jack Turner puts us in the mood for a little low-rent summer travel with this clever ditty:


This is one of the Fats Waller recordings not available for for listening on the mighty Red Hot Jazz site (which perhaps makes this an Internet Exclusive!):


We always have time for a little German Boogie-Woogie (mit Khatchaturian piano riff!):


And Last 'n Least - Jambalaya as Hank himself could never ever have imagined it:


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Original Stars! Original Hits!

Egghead Jazz!

EmArcy was apparently Mercury Records' answer to Verve- a sort of subsidiary highbrow jazz label. This disc, Jazz of Two Decades (the two decades in question being the 1940s and 50s), seems to be one of a series of an anthology. The sleeve has no information about the music within, but rather a number of brief but dense essays about jazz styles written by
Leonard Feather. All the listening is Excellent- best scat singing by Sarah Vaughan we've ever heard, and this piece by trumpeter Clark Terry uses a simple rhythmic soundbed to showcase growling reeds and mewling brass:
Sarah Vaughan - Shulie A Bop
Clark Terry - Swahili


Soul Groove!

This late-60s disc showcases artists from Capitol's R&B stable. Bettye Swann (her surname mispelled "Swan" on this album), has unfortunately disappeared from the public eye- the most info we could find was here; discography and more audio samples here. King Curtis' take on Watermelon Man is a strong contender, despite what seems to be some serious technical malfunctions in the production of this recording (or did they mean for the organ to sound like it was being played somewhere down the hall?)
Bettye Swann - Willie & Laura Mae Jones
King Curtis - Watermelon Man



Not Available In Stores!

Ktel Records! Marketed through hilarious low-budget TV ads (see gobs of them here), these discs were lathed and pressed so as to squeeze the maximum amount of music onto the least amount of vinyl possible. Now they present a curious mix of classic musical touchstones (The Who's I Can See For Miles & The Box Tops' The Letter) with hilariously quaint pop ephemera (the audio examples below):
The Cufflinks - Tracy (earworm warning!)
Stairsteps - O-o-o-h Child

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Captured by the Cover....

We'll often buy a record just because it has a cool picture on the sleeve (hey, when you're talking about $1 or less, we're gambling fools). Most times disappointment results when the stylus hits the groove, but here are a couple of notable exceptions:
Cuatro!

No, we don't think the kids actually play on the album. And since the liner notes are entirely in Spanish, and everybody here who is able to translate is sleeping in today and wouldn't take kindly to being woken up right now, we'll have to find out more about Maso Rivera, legendary master of the Puerto Rican Cuatro (a sort of mandolin as far as we can tell) from the handy internet.
And in this case listening is far far better than reading:
Maso Rivera - Valle del Turabo
Maso Rivera - Mi Regreso


Madness!

Way Lurid Cover! A hip primitive lounge groove by Don Ralke!
Bongo Madness - Session Grande
Bongo Madness - Belleza y Diablo

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Virtuosi

The Devil's Harmonica!

We don't seem to be able to google up much on "Shakey" Jake Harris; a pity, because this is some of the finest blues harp our ears have ever delighted in. Behold the stone cold stripped down bo diddley beat of Let Me Be Your Lover Man! Hear Harris trade licks with John Mayall in What a Fool!
Jake Harris - Let Me Be Your Lover Man
Jake Harris - What a Fool


String Wizard!

Back in the day, someone we knew referred to George Benson as being the the Hendrix of the 70s. A bit snarky, but if that was the case, certainly Chet Atkins was a contender for the title of Hendrix of the 50s. Though the picture on the record sleeve looks a bit staged, the liner notes (penned by none other than David Halberstam- then a a young reporter for the Nashville Tenneseean!) refers to Atkins' workshop:
The workshop itself resembles a small scale Cape Canaveral. In it is approximately $8000 worth of electronic and electrical equipment, much of it built by Atkins itself: a small maze of mixing panels, a three-channel stereo tape recorder, a one-channel recorder, a jack panel, a voltmeter, an audio generator, a distortion meter.
Chet Atkins - Lullaby of Birdland
Chet Atkins - Hot Mocking Bird



Laughter!

Imagine comedy that requires imagination and intelligence to appreciate. Jonathan Winters had a bolder side to his work that he kept somewhat hidden but well-nourished during his later years of commercial success. This early Verve LP puts him up there with Shelley Berman and a young Lenny Bruce as someone who was not afraid to venture further than one would think in pursuit of a laugh:
Jonathan Winters - Introduction/Commercials

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tropical Vacation

Let us take a trip to where balmy breezes gently rattle the fronds of the coconut palms that shade us from glare of the bright tropical sun....

Haole Chic!


First up is A Musical Portrait of Hawaii by Hal Aloma ("King of the Steel Guitar" according to the folks at Columbia Records circa 1950) and his Hawaiians. Nothing too authentic here, but this sort of Smeck-style guitar work never fails to delight. The chorus of rhythmic grunts on the track "Tahiti" keeps us coming back, as does the especially jazzy rendition of the old haole chestnut "My Little Grass Shack":

Hal Aloma and his Hawaiians - Tahiti
Hal Aloma and his Hawaiians - My Little Grass Shack






Radioactive!

Tops Records (A Division of Precision Radiation Instruments, Inc!) provides us with an artifact from the 50s Mambo Craze (another piece of evidence thaqt the 50s were the true psychedelic era); dig that radioactive pink number on the corn-fed blond on the cover! Roll over Hoagy- here's a version of Stardust unlike any other:
Cha-Cha-Cha and Mambo - Stardust Mambo




Navy Steel!

Dream Along with the U.S. Navy Steel Drum Band (featuring The Pandemoniacs, led by the heroic Admiral Dan) brings a fresh repertoire along with a touch of military precision to the steel drum ouvre. Imagine the Bridge On the River Kwai set in Trinidad, or John Philip Sousa dressed in shorts and sandals....
The U.S. Navy Steel Drum Band - Col. Bogey Merengue
The U.S. Navy Steel Drum Band - Stars and Stripes Forever




Blinder than Blake!

Not that Blind Blake- an entirely different Blind Blake, playing amazing banjo in the lounge of the Royal Victorian Hotel in Nassau accompanied by his own calypso orchestra. Another example of exotic 1950s brilliance:
Blind Blake - The John B. Sail
Blind Blake - Hold 'im Joe/Wheel and Turn Me/Jump in the Line




Be Safe!

Just because you're away from home is no reason to take liberties with your Health and Safety! Don't do Tricks you think you know 'cos you saw them at the show!!!
Frank Luther -
When You Ride a Bicycle/Milk Makes Muscles/I Like Bread

Monday, June 13, 2005

Psych-O-Delic!

Lotsa Years After
In the locked display at St. Vinnie's in Seaside we saw a short stack of "collectible" LPs priced at $8 each - Dylan, Elvis, Beatles, etc. Hardly rare; they pressed more of these than about anything else after all. And there in the 75-cent bin was a true rarity- Ten Years After's first album from 1967! If you've seen the Woodstock movie, you'll remember their transcendent performance. We've been devoted listeners of theirs (especially the SSSSh and Stonedhenge albums) since early childhood and used to piss people off by declaring Alvin Lee the Best Guitarist of the 60s (fighting words!), so this was a Special Treat.

From the liner notes, written by John Gee, Manager of London's Marquee Club:

About their music there is no mystery whatsoever. It is the kind of music that only an old-fashioned square wouldn’t dig. It is simple and compelling. It is direct and full of guts. It is firmly entrenched in the Blues with a strong jazz basis. It is all these things but it is the genuine feel about the music, above everything else, that distinguishes this group from other similar groups — and the feeling that communicates to every audience they play for.

Ten Years After - I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
Ten Years After - Adventures of a Young Organ
Ten Years After - Don't Want You Woman




And The Fish?


A few years ago, Country Joe Mcdonald was the Grand Marshal of our town's 4th of July parade- how cool is that? Another Woodstock Alumn (best remembered for the "Fish" cheer & the Fixin' to Die Rag). This find from the same St. Vinnie's haul has an amusing little tune about LBJ that still applies ("Gonna send you back to Texas/Make you work on your ranch"). Complex, snakey, and dark tunes to remind us that all was not Sunshine, Lollipops, & Rainbows....

Country Joe and the Fish - Superbird
Country Joe and the Fish - Death Sound





Blues?

Last & Least from this latest batch is The Blues Project- an early outing for Al Kooper. Here lives the original version of I Can't Keep From Crying (posted up above in Ten Years After flavor)- we won't bother to encode or upload that particular track though; too much gratuitious 60s organ solo screeeech. One we'll give you is a piece called Flute Thing - sampled by the Beasties a generation later, because they know Quality.

The Blues Project - Flute Thing
The Blues Project - Caress Me Baby





Inexplicable Cover!


This gorgeous thing turned up at the Salvation Army. No- they're not really twins. Just cheesy trick photography to illustrate the cheesier recording techniques employed in the creation of this monstrosity. Norman Nelson (a funny name- sort of cobbled together from two first names, neither of which seems particularly distinguished) possesses a high reedy singing voice- when he does duets with himself the result is a sonic synergy that could strip the finish off of old funiture. And no again- you get no samples. You're a masochist just for asking.....