It's been a very radical couple of weeks as I have been taking the car out to many many places, Davenport two weeks ago, Madison last week and this week finishing up a two part visit to Iowa City's very own Sweet Living Antiques And Records, perhaps the last standing of hard to find 45s and LPs, even more so than Record Collector. The Sweet Living owner kind enough to let me stay past regular business hours to sort through a few boxes of scratched up pieces of history, even amused that I would really dig deep into the collection of stuff. I told him I love getting down on the floor and really sort through moldy and scratched up stuff hoping to find things of note. Now it's getting to this stage of the game that the thrift stores have scavengers and collectors out there doing their best to buy up and sell high. A major difference between Sweet Living and Record Collector is that Sweet Living has a bigger inventory, whereas Record Collector is specialty rock and roll and punk. I tend to favor things that look appealing, and if the price is right I'll invest a quarter or fifty cents or more to hear what radio doesn't play. Sweet Living Antiques and me go back to the days of that house on the edge of downtown Iowa City with records stored up two floors and the basement before a tornado destroyed it and he eventually moved out to the edge of town. For a crate digger, Sweet Living still has a nice inventory of 50 cent records, but also a bit more higher priced stuff for four dollars and then the rare stuff up to the front with prices vary from 7 to 40 dollars. Unless a 40 dollar single is pristine and high on the list I don't bother but if I look hard enough I'll come across a fifty cent forty five that will work wonders for me.
Although the Davenport and Madison hunts had some things of note, the Cedar Rapids Goodwill had some classic country to boot it was the Sweet Living stuff that opened up the door back to my growing up years. A couple of the 45s date back to the original 45s that I used to have and somehow can't picture why my mom decided to buy a couple of them. But then, the booze and cigarette joints would sell cheap 45s on the side for 19 cents or a quarter. The early early stuff, of Ben E King, Ray Charles burned into my mind. Some came from my mom's big box of 45s to which I'm sure Aunt Virginia bought her share of stuff. But I do think my mom was more into rock and R and B, whereas the senile sister was into Johnny Mathis or Doris Day. Somehow this weird mix of music figured greatly into my listening habits as well. And over the years and to this day, some of the more big band or pop stuff have surfaced itself into my collection. While kids today are now brought up to rap and nu metal and Bro Job country, most of the influences back then came from the blues or Chuck Berry. And I still think that the early years of rock and roll were the best of times. The A side of the 45 was the hit but the B side would be more of what the band wanted to play, or their identity. I have reached the age that new music today just doesn't speak to me like it once did, so therefore I'd rather seek out stuff from the past that I'm not familiar with or what radio don't play anymore. And despite the odds I still find things. I keep an open mind and if the record looks in good shape I'll take a chance. And Sweet Living Antiques had the variety. I did pass on some stuff, the records were in rough shape or I would talk myself out of Ernie Fields Chattanooga Choo Choo (I do have that on a best of CD) or Sandy Nelson Drums Are My Beat (ditto). Certainly, there's lots of work to be done in sorting through sleeveless 45s but if I came across something not chewed up or in VG plus shape despite no sleeve, then it had the best chance of going home with me. There were plenty of late 80s oldies reissues that looked good, Rhino and Collectibles included. Alas, most of what I have seen for Lloyd Price ABC Paramount singles too far gone but there was a reissue of a Specialty 45 of Ain't It A Shame that was worth 50 cents, and what I call a bargain. And it went home with me and will have a home till the day I pass on. And then I'm sure it will be available at a estate sale.
This edition of the Singles Going Steady come from the cream of the crop, the finds of the past three weeks. Even Record Collector managed to find me a piece of the puzzle of the music that I used to have on record till some got broken, or wore the grooves off and I finally found a replacement. And a couple go way back to before my brother was born, when we were living in Lincoln Illinois and didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out but somehow we had records and those records kept my interest, or simply corrupted my life. I suppose that's not a bad thing.
1. Hallelujah Time-Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve Jazz VK 10302) 1963 One of the earliest forty fives that I have ever known and had in my collection I can't fathom the reason why my mom bought this 45, unless I pointed this out to her and she bought it instead of putting it back. Which shows you the variety that has always a part of my collecting of music. Like the rest of the original 45s this one got used as a frisbee, and taken a magic marker too and the copy got thrown away years ago and I've been searching for it. And finally found a decent copy at Sweet Living Antiques. The Malcolm Dobbs Singers whoever they were do sing on this, after all Peterson is better known as a jazz artist, and this combination of jazz and gospel was the sign of the times. The B side Hymm To Freedom may have something to do with Martin Luther King. I know the majority of y'all don't care but when I do come across a 45 from the past such as Hallelujah Time it is a big deal to me. Especially when it took me a good 40 years to find a replacement copy. Hallelujah indeed.
2. That's Why I Was Born-Janice Harper (Prep F123) 1957 Another Sweet Living find, this 45 I recall from the big box of records that Grandma Ambrose used to have and for all intent purposes, this box of 45s send me down the road of record collecting and whatever I would find. My mom and her sister would spent countless hours at the local Woolworth's for the latest and I tend to think Mom was more into R and B and rock and roll, whereas Aunt Virginia was into Johnny Mathis and Doris Day and probably bought this song. Harper was a pop singer in the style of Gogi Grant or Julie London, although this two minute over the top song reminds me of Here In My Heart by Al Martino. Harper later recorded for RCA but then faded from view. To tell you the truth, I wasn't that fond of it when I first it when I was young and fifty years later I'm still not that fond of it. But hey, it's a promo copy, it might be worth something to you collectors out there.
3. Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil-Jefferson Airplane (RCA Victor 47-9297) 1969 Another strange buy but this time we were living in Webster City and I have no idea where I bought this from (Woolworth's maybe?). Even in a small town, the record department was chock full of decent records and it was the sign of the times. Pretty much I ended up having a lot of the Doors stuff, Jimi Hendrix and The Airplane. I think I like the Marty Balin numbers better than the Grace Slick hits, but the B Side Two Heads is such a big thumb at the nose of RCA trying to coax a followup to White Rabbit or Somebody To Love, that they resorted to the Paul Kanter tribute to Fred Neil, which managed to hit the local top thirty. The original 45 I have got donated somewhere and I couldn't get a decent copy till Record Collector had this for 3 bucks. If I thought about it back then, I could have taken the 45 off the wall at Fuddruckers by the Fiesta Mall. That used to be my favorite Fudd's Burger place till they closed it down around 2005 or 2006. Funny I can remember such trivial crap like that but can't remember where I put my car keys at.
4. Love In The Hot Afternoon-Gene Watson (Capitol 4076) 1975 Life sucked back in 75, I lost both Grandparents, I tried out for little league baseball and sucked at that and then threw my heart away to some girl up in Michigan that I would see one more time before she got married and had three kids before she turned twenty but 1975 was one of the best years for music, even country had some classic numbers such as Gene's ode to having fun with a Bourbon Street lady, probably a hooker har har. Originally released as Resco Records 634, it hit number 1 on the local Texas charts before Capitol picked it up to make it a number 3 chart showing. The signature fiddle at the end is worthwhile. The success of that enabled Capitol to sign Gene up and he would have a few more hits then moved on to MCA, Epic and Warner Brothers.
5. Big Star-Stark & McBrien (RCA Victor PB 10314) 1975 Best known for Isn't It Lonely Together, Fred Stark And Rod McBrien was a soft rock duo that made a few singles for RCA and later Lifesong. Stark sounds a bit like Jim Croce. This didn't chart, the lyrics may have been a bit too depressing for public listening. Nevertheless, Hall And Oates, and England Dan Seals and John Ford Coley had better luck and better songs that would get into the top ten. Stark And McBrien basically on the outside looking in.
6. They're Coming To Take Me Away (Ha Haa)-Napoleon XIV (Warner Brothers WB 7726) 1966 reissued 1973 Jerry Samuels' first single was a recording of Puppy Love on the Vik label in 1956 and wrote songs for the likes of Sammy Davis Jr (The Shelter Of Your Arms A top 20 hit for Sammy in 1964) before putting out this little bizarre chestnut classic under the Napoleon XIV banner before Cousin Brucie called him out. It did hit number 3 on the charts before Warners reissued it in 1973 where I heard the first time on KLWW FM after dark. And despite it all, I never seen a copy of the 1973 single until I came across it at Sweet Living Antiques this weekend. Rhino Records did reissue the whole album and few more oddities on The Second Coming. Which is probably too much for most to listen through.
7. Sally Was A Good Old Girl-Fats Domino (ABC Paramount 10584) 1964 The antique mall has a record store called BDW or BRW (GD it can't never remember that place, fucking memory loss) and they have managed to impress me with their 2 dollar record selection of LPs and 45s, the latter a hit and miss but one of the few interesting ones is this forgotten number 99 chart scraper from Fats. I only met the guy at this place once but he told me of another website that sells records, Adam and Eve Music Shop based out of Iowa City. Link is http://home.earthlink.net/~bwestpha/aevinyl.html
8. Mah Na Mah Na-Piero Umiliani (Ariel AR 500) 1969 A number 55 hit single for Piero and featured in one of those XXX movies, this has actually seen life as a Muppets cover and even Georgio Moroder covered it himself. In some ways this bit of nonsense reminds me of the Pipkins Gimme Dat Ding. Harmless fun back then but given the crap of Bro Job Country we have today, Mah Na Mah Na is Mozart.
9. Midnight Oil-Charlie Blackwell (Warner Brothers 5031) 1959 A mystery man, Blackwell recorded a few sides for Warner Brothers, the only one that made any chart impression was this number 55 chart showing. Hard to tell if Warners was trying to market Blackwell as a teen idol, followup was the teen popper Kath-A-Leen which would have not sound out of place on a Frankie Avalon single. B side None Of Em Glow Like You was barely a minute and a half and sounds like a Fabian throwaway. More about the elusive Blackwell can be found here: http://musicweird.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-mysterious-charlie-blackwell-and.html
10. Got A Match?-The Daddy O's (Cabot CA 122) 1958 Another WTF recording from the 50s, The Daddy O's owed more to Dixieland and The Firehouse Five rather than rockabilly which this song is part rockabilly and part ragtime. It was so popular that it was covered by Russ Conway (Columbia UK DB 4166) , Lou Stein (Mercury 71328) and Frank Gallup (ABC Paramount 9931) . Gallup's version petered out at number 57, and Conway's version was number 30 on the UK (not released in the US) while Lou Stein's version didn't chart. The Daddy's O's version was the highest chart position at number 39 in 1958. Gallup would later frequent the chart with the Kapp issued The Ballad Of Irving. As for the Daddy O's, they were the one hit wonder band, in fact Got A Match was their only single. They certainly were not rock and roll. B Side the awful Have A Cigar! (not related to Pink Floyd in any way) which an expected father passed out cigars in waiting for the birth of his child, which he has to pass out two since he got twins. The fact of the matter, they were more The Four Freshmen than The Rock And Roll Trio. Side note: Gallup's name was misspelled on the ABC single with a u.