Friday, March 4, 2016

Week In Review: Davenport 45s, Saloonatics, Jones County Fair

Death never takes a day off.

George Kennedy passed away, he was 91.  One of my all time favorite actors he now joins Paul Newman and Leslie Neilsen in the Great Movie Screen in the sky.  Cool Hand Luke, Police Academy.  He might have been in The Dirty Dozen.  They don't make them like George anymore.

Jerry Maren, the last of The Wizard Of Oz munchkins  passed away from Pancreatic Cancer Sunday  He was 96.

John Thomas, guitarist for Budgie in the 80s passed away in his sleep Thursday Night.  He was 63.

Gayle McCormick, lead singer for Smith and later had a top 40 hit with It's  A Crying Shame (produced by Brian Lambert/Dennis Potter) in 1971 passed away from cancer.  Johnnie King has a tribute page dedicated to her:

The Great Jones County Fair have announced their lineup and it may as well by the Great Jones Ripoff Fair.  I haven't been to many shows at the fair due high priced tickets and rock acts that have one original member and the rest hired hands.  Rock is back, with Boston being the headliners and 38 Special and Dennis Deyoung opening.  This show is the cheapest by far, 30 dollars for the grand stand and 45 dollars if you want to be in front of the stage.  Carrie Underwood comes in on Friday Night and for 65-70 dollars you too can party with the best known American Idol singer.  The wheels fall off Saturday Night for the All American Bro Country Love Fest with Farce The Music's favorite band (not) Florida Georgia Line and Cole (Blows) Swindell providing comedic relief.  Up and coming Bro country Chris Lane opens.  Got 75 dollars to blow?  Here's your chance and you may want to stay off the roads.  The Iowa Patrol might be conducting road checks that night.  They might make a record profit in pulling over half drunken Bubba's in 4X4s in their confederate flags and vote for Donald Trump bumper stickers. 

A lot of band drama going on around the area.  The recently launched Saloonatics, the newest venture with Kevin Simnacher, Kim Bean and Barth Walter played at J A Tap in North Liberty Friday Night and were the host of the weekly Popcorn Jam, but keyboardist Alan Hafner decided that Friday Night's gig was his last and he texted he was done the next day.  To the rescue came Tim Duffy in a temporary role.   For the first time ever, yours truly jammed to electric drums and I must say it was quite a unique experience, although I still feel more at home behind a big bass drum.  But it was fun chatting with Kim about his cymbals (Paiste 2002 and a 404 that almost was out of my reach) and his way of polishing them up.  Black Beauty polish that you can get at any local Auto Zone store.

Nevertheless Kevin managed to get my good side on this version of La Grange, sung by Barth. 

Saloonatics facebook page site: 

(Popcorn Jam Photos and the new Saloonatics update  courtesy of Kevin Simnacher)

Getting out on Saturday Night I caught the tail end of Hostage's set played to a full house at Rumors. The weather was sunny and a record temp of 64 degrees was set.  So I took into a stroll downtown Cedar Rapids and stopped at Ruby's Pizza, one of the best new pizza places in town.  They have strange hours and are closed on Sundays,  but they are open for lunch and has pizza by the slice.  One topping pizza New York Style is 13.49 plus tax, about the same as my Marion favorite pizza joint Naso's.  Overall, Ruby's Pizza are excellent, and even better when you warm them up in the microwave the next day.

The downward slide continues: Iowa lost their third straight game to Ohio State Sunday 68-64 and for the third straight game blowing another lead late and couldn't come back although they had a chance to tie it up, Senior guard Mike Gesell went toward a layup and had it swatted it away.  One more chance  to tie, the Hawks turned the ball over.  It's very likely that the Hawkeyes will not any more games this season, they have blown their chance to at least clinch for a tie of the B1G Ten title due to poor performances the past four games.  Next up: Indiana at home, (Another loss 81-78) Michigan at Ann Arbor on the weekend and chances are Iowa will be playing on a Thursday afternoon and they may be one and done again.  But hey they can still make the NCAA's and be one and done.  The bench scored 10 points, the most they have in five games.  But it's looking like Iowa peaked very early in January on the Michigan State and Purdue sweep.  Don't count on Sparty or Boilermaker Joe to lose a third time.  Baseball season is starting up; The Cubs resigned Dexter Fowler after talks with the Baltimore Orioles fell through.  Oh well, we'll glad to get Dexter back.

It isn't often that I get good looking models to be friends with me via Facebook but I was surprised to see a friend request from Ashley Alexiss.  She has graced a few pictures here from time to time. A devilish sweetheart.   (Photo courtesy of Ashley herself via selfie on FB).

Jared Fogle, the dispraise child molester that used to be Subway's pitchman is now finding that prison life isn't so great. By eating fresh and getting all the foot longs that he may nor may not want, the prison population really do not like the man, if he survives that long.  So Fogle is spending much time eating his way back up to 30 pounds will eventually leave prison the weight and then some put back on him.  Vincent Yu sums it up with these observations.

"Oh man...there's almost just too much to say here.!! I mean, of COURSE Jared was gonna gain weight! He's on a diet of high protein at this point. I mean, not to be crude, but he sure is getting his share of 6inchers and foot-longs all day long! And we are not just talking about just sandwiches...we talking about man-sized mannicotti, franks and beans, corn on the cob, fresh hot egg-rolls, beef-popsicles, hairy hot dogs with saurerkraut,

.....he's not just using a Dept of Corrections SPORK--oh no..he's getting force fed by a purple-yogurt slinger, the "single-serving soup dispenser"....the 'tan -banana'

.....don't pick up the soap, Jared! You have a heat-seeking moisture missile on the way!!! (okay, i'll stop here)...for now..."

What's cool?  An officer pulling over a speeding motorist and finds out it's Gladys Knight.  He told her it was his birthday so she sang Happy Birthday to him.  Knight was the passenger in the car.  The driver got a warning.  And for his effort a picture of him and Gladys together.

No shortage of record reviews:

Tom Tomlinson/Jerry Kennedy-Guitar's Greatest Hits Volume 1 + 2 (Jasmine 2016)

In 1961  the late Shelby Singleton decided since guitar instrumentals were the "in" thing to do, he rounded up some of Nashville best session players  (Hank Garland, Harold Bradley Kelso Herston joined Tom Tomlinson and Jerry Kennedy who would take over production duties from Singleton on the Mercury/Smash Nashville  label and had many hits with The Statler Brothers, Tom T Hall, Faron Young and the old devil Jerry Lee Lewis himself) and recorded some of the better known guitar numbers, and polished them up to be more listener friendly.  Of course they don't top the original versions, Link Wray still owns Rumble although Boots Randolph gives it a more sock hop dance-able blast.  In fact, Boots does play through the songs here, and with the Nashville elite (Floyd Cramer, misspelled due to him being on RCA, Bob Moore on bass and the ever reliable Buddy Harman on drums, country's version of Hal Blaine.   What makes Volume 1 memorable is that Tomlinson/Kennedy picked out great songs, this is where the first time I heard Rumble, Guitar Boogie, Sugarfoot Rag and Walk Don't Run before the originals.  Even the old jazz standards like South and Caravan have been modernized to get the teens to dig these songs.  There's a beauty in Cam Mullins (I'm guessing) string arrangements in Golden Wildwood Flower and the playfulness of Caravan. If there's anything wrong with the album, it might be that the total time of record is 25 minutes even for 12 songs, they don't stray pass the two minute mark very often.  It's the Tom And Jerry show but Boots Randolph makes it known he's there, this version of Raunchy lives up to its name.  The record sold well enough for a followup album and Volume 2 dips more into the R and B side, a workable Green Onions and even the hard to play on drums Hide Away to which Harman adopts fairly well.  This time out Kennedy comes up with two originals and Rhythm In Motion Tomlinson cowrites and the three originals make pleasant background music. Volume 2 is more middle of the road and not as interesting.  The Magnificent Seven still a fun song to listen to. A lesser known track on here Mexico, Bob Moore ended up having a number 7 hit in 1961 and redone for this album. Another factor was Boots Randolph didn't play as much and there was more emphasis on Cam Mullins' strings arrangements.  55 years after the fact, these two albums make their CD debut.  Hearing these two albums today, you wonder what the big fuss is all about and copies of the Volume 1 can still be found in thrift stores (volume 2 is a bit harder to find).  But I grew up listening to this album and volume 1 still connects and still worth shelling out the dollars for the CD version.  Back then the major labels were still doing their best promoting rock and roll in safe versions (check out 101 Strings or Living Guitars for their oddball attempts if you dare) and for that matter Guitars' Greatest Hits got it half right.  Volume 1 still gets an A minus in my book, Volume 2 a strong B grade and overall rating of a B plus.  For a budget UK label, the sound quality of the CD is quite impressive.
Grade A-  (CD Version)


The Contours-The Very Best Of The Contours (Motown 1998)

They were the most gritty of the Motown R and B acts, Do You Love Me cemented their legacy once Dirty Dancing used that song in the movie and it went up to number 11 (#3 in 1962), they never did go past number 41 (Can You Do It) on later releases although Shake Sherrie is just as fun, but not as memorable.  I'm not sure what masters were used on the 20th Century Masters that replaced the Very Best Of The Contours but the mono single versions are used.  Technically, musicwise it's a mess, Barry Gordy couldn't figure out how to market The Coutours, they started out close to The Rivingtons  and like the Rivingtons, their straight doo wop song Funny is a clash of personality.  You Get Ugly is the answer record to Jimmy Soul's If You Wanna Be Happy.  The dance craze like Can You Jerk Like Me, the answer to Land Of  A 1,000 Dances.   Later in the 60s, Gordy tried to market them like The Temptations but without a David Ruffin the songs suffered, The Day That She Needed Me is better suited for the Temps or Four Tops, but Smokey Robinson gave them a winner with First I Look At The Purse (later done to greater effect by The J Geils Band).  The Essential Contours might be a better introduction, it has a couple different songs (It would have been nice to hear Baby Hit and Run and Move Mr Man rather than the slow ballads or Funny).  The original LP of Do You Love Me (get the LP version and not the GD 1988 remaster with the Dance mix of Do You Love Me-total shit) in original stereo form is a short classic LP but Barry Gordy never seem to bother much on The Contours.  Thank Grand Funk Railroad and J. Geils Band to let the people know The Contours had a bit more in them than just Do You Love Me.
Grade B+

The Awful Truth (Metal Blade 1989)

The fun of bargain hunts is trying to find oldtime CDs from the late 80s and early 90s and try to draw a bead on them.  Name association, particularly with certain producers will get me to listen to anything of note.  Sam Taylor (King's X) produced these collection of demos from this Houston band that would eventually rename themselves Galactic Cowboys and like King's X were damn good in this sort of progressive metal rock, although The Awful Truth tries to thrash out on songs like Circle or No Good Reason, they kinda fail at that, they are not Anthrax.  David Von Ohlerking does sound a bit like Doug Pinnick and the band's lyrical content as Christian Rock slanted is somewhat like King's X, only harder rocking. When they get their rock going (Higher, Drowning Man) they hold their own. Legend has it, that when Metal Blade signed them, they broke up, leaving Sam Taylor just to polish up the demos.  It's not bad but in I think in the long run, this is more Taylor than the band in establishing that progressive metal rock that Sam Taylor is famous for.  Monty Colvin and Alan Doss would later join the Galactic Cowboys and would get better.
Grade B+

Dick Holiday And The Bamboo Gang-Everybody Knows (Dick Holiday Entertainment Group 1987)

Picture Boz Scaggs leading The News instead of Huey Lewis.  Back in the late 80s, Brad Nye (aka Dick Holiday) lead this Chicago based band around the midwest area for a few years and made a few albums, I was surprised to find this in the dollar section when I was scouring the bargain bins at Ragged Records.  Brad Nye lived a nice rock and roll lifestyle, learning from the pros (Frank Zappa, Toto, Van Halen, Hall And Oates)  and moving to Chicago to form The Bamboo Gang.  The workman like quality of songs like Wake Me Up and Falling showed Nye and company might have been primed for the big time till things came crashing down and Nye walked away, later getting religion and going for more of a Christian sound but also playing in his own band from time to time. Getting back to 30 years ago, this is good time rock and roll, somewhat akin to The Blue Band but while The Blue Band rather do the blues and the novelty, The Bamboo Gang is more interested in rock and roll.  Like Bob Dorr, Nye can write some eye rolling lyrics (Loop D Loop) but the music keeps it from being too much of a farce.  Chalk it up to too many Budweisers.  It's good time party music, Everybody Knows is a nice little classic to be discovered should you find a dollar copy somewhere around the area.
Grade B+

Dirty Tricks-Night Man (Polydor 1976)

Lotsa heavy guitar riffs, just like the old days of Free and some of it rocks damn hard. (Black Diamond, Wait Till Saturday), but the band was cursed by Kenny Stewart, who sounds like Glenn Hughes.  The kind of vocalist I can take or leave.  Stewart tends to get hokey when he attempts to go Robert Plant and on Too Much Wine, he grates on the nerves.  And the ballads are awful too.  Saving grace: a classic Hipgnosis cover art.
Grade B-

Michael Murphy (Epic 1974)

The cosmic cowboy takes his act from A&M to Epic. And out of all the Michael Martin Murphy albums, this one has disappeared off the map. None of the songs made it to any best ofs and the album has yet to be issued on CD but in all fairness this is a fairly nice country rock album. Murphy could never really do rock and roll very well, and when he did (Renegade) his vocals fail him.  Nobody Is Gonna Tell Me How To Play My Music is a grand statement and it leads off the record.  Murphy has a sense of humor, Holy Roller is fun to hear and the two co writes with Boomer Castleman (Fort Worth I Love You, and You Can Only Say So Much) are the album's highlights. Observer, does hint of the balladry that Murphy would get a hit later with Wildfire, Observer is a bit underdeveloped and Murphy still can't rock and roll.  But what he can do best is straight country such as Ace In The Hole and Good Ole Natural Habits.  I don't understand why this album has been forgotten, it's as good as Geronimo's Cadillac but without the major hits.  It's better than Blue Sky Night Thunder though.
Grade B

Sheryl Crow-Feels Like Home (Old Green Barn/Warner Brothers 2013)

I  think I finally figured why I cannot tolerate Crow.  She tends to oversing to the point of being a don't yell at me singer.  When I think I'm going to get into her songs such as Easy or the overwrought Waterproof Mascara she comes up with a screech that makes me want to cringe.  Also there's a unwritten rule is that anybody rock and roll has to have her on a song or two, she's on a latest Willie Nelson album.   I shouldn't hate her, she does have a liberal mind, and she once in a while can do wonders, she managed to produced a Stevie Nicks album years ago that really was quite good.  So when she decided to "go country" if I could find a used copy 2 dollars or less I would take a listen. Imagine that, somebody donated a new copy to Goodwill.  Feels Like Home is really no more country than the last three or four albums that she dropped to A&M before a change of labels bought her to Nashville, in fact take away the faux paus steel guitars or cheeseball string arrangements that sinks Give It To Me and it's still a contemporary soft rock album.  Crow does try to throw in country cliche of the time and rhyme (Easy name checks Jack Johnson-how country is that but at least she didn't lower herself of Hank or Johnny name checking).  If she has to based her life on the Brad Paisley-Chris Dubois co-write of Waterproof Mascara, a song about a son with a deadbeat dad and looking for someone to teach him how to fish or drive a car (or maybe take up guitar and start a punk band and piss his single mom off), then the poor boy will be fatherless for the rest of his years. Crow finally finds her groove on the second side and gives her the best song of the album with Crazy Isn't Original (which would work better in these days and time thanks to Adolf Trump) and followup Nobody's Business, the key is that Crow does not oversing and actually follows the melody throughout both of the 2 lead off songs on side 2.  Crow is savvy enough to enlist Chris Singleton on the ballad Homesick, borrows Brandy Clark's Homecoming Queen to make it listenable and taps Al Anderson again for a Everyday Is A Winding Road type song with Best Of Times, and concludes the album with a better single mom song than Waterproof Mascara, Stay At Home Mother (although the Riding in the backseat/Sippin on a Pepsi opening line is crungeworthy but the song rebounds) but Kacey Musgraves have done these type of songs and a much better job.  Crow simply adopts to sound poor white trash but not as convincing as Musgraves or Brandy Clark.  Overall, Feel Like Home is uneven at times, Crow's vocal theatrics gets her into trouble and on my shit list.  Honestly Feels Like Home is really no different than Saturday Night Music Club or The Globe Sessions, the latter perhaps the best of her music career.  The Nashville sessions guys are top notch and the songs are skillfully played and polished for that failed country career that never took off as planned.  Justin Niebank is one the best Nashville sound guys out there. So in the end, I can say Feels Like Home is her best since The Globe Sessions.  Don't let her bullshit you, she's still a soft rock and roller than country star.  We'll see where the next album takes her music adventures.
Grade B

Sons Of Texas-Baptized In The Rio Grande (Razor & Tie 2015)

Southern rock today is much different than the era of Skynyrd or Charlie Daniels or even ZZ Top. Today's southern rockers tend to add more metal to their music or become descendants from Pantera. Sometimes it works (Texas Hippie Coalition, Black Stone Cherry), sometimes it doesn't (many various nameless bands that have come and gone).  Sons Of Texas is based from McAllen and a year ago released Bapitzed In The Rio Grande and right off the bat, they showed their Pantera in Never Bury The Hatchet.  SOT is no different than your average Five Finger Death Punch, unlike FFDP, SOT has a bit of blues in their tunes and even hints of THC, the title track shows they have that Southern Metal sound and it's their best song.  In fact Side 1 does contain the better moments up to the grungy Nothing King.  Producer Josh Wilbur ( Lamb Of God) has a hand in co writing the songs and getting a definite metal sound.  However the metal onslaught gets a bit blogged down on side 2 and the lone ballad September is awful, SOT is better off doing the hard rock.   For second generation keepers of the flame that is Pantera or Hell Yeah,  Sons Of Texas  aren't bad.  But after awhile Mike Morales's bellows tend to get a bit tiresome, we have heard that one before time and time again.  They're not exactly original, but if they can maintain the inspiration that became Baptized In The Rio Grande  (the single)  Sons Of Texas might be a household name if they can find a more hands off producer and a more original sound. After all they are better and a bit more believable than F.F.D.P.
Grade C+

Singles Going Steady Medley: Davenport Scrapings (Photo credit: Mark Lee Goodale)

Turkish Holiday/Things I Saw Happening At The Fountain On The Plaza When I Was Visiting Rome or Amore-Buck Owens (Capitol 2330)  1968

A rare single that shows Buck playing Spanish guitar  The B Side is the second longest title of a song since Ray Stevens Jeremiah Peabody (edited down due to space considerations) Pills. I don't recall country radio playing this song though.  Amazingly, this 45 laid around the Salvation Army for a few months, a jukebox copy but plays very nice.  Back then Buck can do almost anything that came to mind since he consistently hit the top ten country charts.  This was not one of them.

Up To Maggie Jones-The Mills Brothers (Dot 45-17295) 1969
Color It Cool-Billy Vaughan (Dot 45-17314)   1970

Elevator music both songs. Up To Maggie Jones co-written by Bobby Russell of Honey fame and arranged by George Tipton (Nilsson).  Mills Brothers recorded for Decca for many years and then spent a long time at Dot Records.  Back then major labels did give these forgotten pop vocalists lots of records that sold for the old folks and most can be found on the cheap at thrift stores.  This song sounds better suited for Dean Martin.  Billy Vaughn, for many years redid songs for the muzak crowd, once in a while masquerading as somewhat rocking (Swinging Safari, Mr. Moto) but Color It Cool is another attempt for Vaughn to showed he could jazz it up for the young generation.  That didn't work either.   Dot Records would later become more of a country label and both The Mills Brothers and Billy Vaughn  would follow ex head of that label Randy Wood to Ranwood.  Both of these records even without record sleeves are in VG plus condition.  Wonder why.

A Long Time A Long Way To Go-Runt (Todd Rundgren)  (Bearsville X31004)  1971 #92

This charted on the KCRG super 30 at around number 25 for a week or two. Todd managed to score a couple of top ten local hits with We Gotta Get You A Woman and Be Nice To Me and even today it's hard to fathom this even made the chart.  It sounded unfinished, an afterthought even after Be Nice To Me did do fairly well here but only number 71 on the Billboard top 100.  It didn't help that Bearsville was distributed via a label specializing in  manufacturing   8 tracks and later went out of business. Warner Brothers then picked them up and Todd continued to perfect his craft and become one of the more successful do it yourself musicians out there.  And a great producer too.

Keep Them For A Hobby-Carolyn Chipman And The Beachcomers (Bett Coe A-104)  1963

A rare rockabilly single from Chipman who sounded a lot like Wanda Jackson and she had the pleasure of having the Jordanaires singing backup. Further research turns up that Bettie Colebaugh who wrote this song and B side Over All Over started up Bett Coe Records.  Colebaugh came from Moline Illinois and this label was based out of Chicago.  Further research also showed that Bett Coe Records wasn't in business too long, 1963.  Colebaugh was that rare woman owning her own record label.  Not sure what happened to either Colebaugh or Chipman after this single went unnoticed.

Baby Talk-Jan And Dean (Dore 522)  1959 #10

I recall K-Tel issuing The Dore Years from Jan And Dean and most of them were forgettable girl ballads.  Didn't like it much but I have a fondness for this top ten hit and B side Jeanette Get Your Hair Done, very early golden age of rock and roll with lots of echo and lots of sax, and lots more of echo.   Produced by the tandem of Herb Alpert and Lou Alder, still learning the ropes of management.

Stardust-Billy Ward And The Dominoes (Liberty 55071) 1957  #12

They go back to King Records and Clyde McPlatter and Jackie Wilson but by the time they got to Liberty Records both of those guys went on to solo careers.  At this time, The Dominoes became The Platters knockoffs and this was their highest charting song on Liberty.  B Side Lucinda is a calypso song, not exactly memorable either.  But the harmonies are kinda nice.  I'm really amazed how nice this record sounds. Vanessa who owned this record had it in a sleeve, the record did get played, but perhaps Vanessa was a audiophile who must have changed her needles a lot.  Wherever she's at, I salute her!

(I Wanna) Love My Life Away-Gene Pitney (Musicor MU-1002) 1961 #39

The first of many top forty hits from the late great Gene Pitney, although I'm surprised about the low billboard chart showing, it did hit top ten on the local charts.  I tend to find Gene a acquired taste of times, I love this song and It Hurts To Be In Love but I didn't care much for Town Without Pity, or the ballads.  B side I Laughed So Hard I Cried is kinda blah.

Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water-Linda Ronstadt (Capitol 2110) 1968 #93

Followup to Distant Drum but this stalled at number 93 and dropped out a week later. It shows the vocal power of Linda although the song is no big deal. Less said about B side Carnival Bear the better.  It's more suited for Judy Collins.

Truck Driver's Queen-Charlie Moore & Bill Napier (King K-5782)  1963

King Records was legendary for two things.  Rhythm and Blues and hillbilly music.  The label that gave us James Brown also provided great hard country and Moore & Napier was part of the King artists.  As a teenager, I was into the FM album rock and the now stale component known as classic rock but I had interest enough to seek out budget priced various artists that Gusto Records through out.  It was Gusto, a small Nashville independent corporation that brought King Records in the early 1970s and did issue 8 track mix tapes of the hits of forgotten hillbilly artists. The 8 track in question was 16 Greatest Original Bluegrass Hits  (later reissued on CD via Hollywood/Gusto HCD-132) and for a cheapo put together album, it's worth hearing.  Moore & Napier recorded a few singles on King mostly bluegrass in the style of Flatt & Scruggs.  While 45 Cat has the other side In A World Of Broken Hearts as the plug, Truck Driver's Queen did get played on the radio and was worthy enough for inclusion to be on the Bluegrass collection.  Moore & Napier are best known for their truck driving songs, to which King/Gusto threw together a 8 song EP CD, their other album still in print are gospel songs.  But in reality, they never did top Truck Driver's Queen, their first 45.

Finally Joey Feek went to heaven today after battling cancer.  She was 40.  Thoughts and prayers to Rory Feek and family.

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