Saturday, March 10, 2018

Singles Going Steady-From The Vaults Of KISU 1963

It seems to me that March is one of those idea months for finding 45s of the lost cause.  Granted, I'm not going to take much stock into finding rock and roll 45, unless they are jukebox copies and scratched and played to death.  So I hold my breath and try to find the alternative sort of stuff, you know forgotten Northern Soul songs that Half Price Books have for 49 cents, or selective country or even pop songs.  God knows I have seen a lot of the latter and documented them in the past.  Last year at this time, somebody dumped a bunch of pop 45s at the Salvation Army and I bought about 20 and wrote out the results.  Laughed at most of them and donated them back to the St Vincent De Paul.  It's what we call recycling baby!

Between the good and the bad and the forgettable, lies a diamond in the rough, a single from a forgotten artist that makes you rediscover the music in the grooves. Some pop music has surprised me a bit, most didn't. I have actually liked a couple of Margaret Whiting's London 45s, Wheel Of Hurt but the B Side Nothing Last Forever was much better.  Even in my bargain hunts of 45 hunting, I cannot bring myself to buy Frank Sinatra's 45s or even CDs;  Waterloo's St. Vincent De Paul actually had four CDs in pristine shape including Ring A Ding Ding, but outside of the first Greatest Hits, I wasn't interested.  But I did waste a quarter on a Mantovini's 45 Clair De Lune just to hear what the fuss was all about.  The King of Muzak he was and forever will be, even though he did influenced Brian May.

At 57 years old and with time winding down, I'm have become more obsessed with finding the obscure 45 and longing for the days of when the label sent boxes of records out to radio stations and let the DJ's dictate what to play, instead of Corporate interests and radio playing the same 57 songs over and over.  In reality the 50's through the 80s were a vast goldmine of music to be discovered through vinyl records and of course, those box set of mystery 45s that let me discovered High School USA (Washington DC Area), Piano Nellie, and Ben E King's Let The Water Run Down. Let's face it, I am not going to get wowed by bad rap, oversung R and B and modern rock that doesn't rock.  I really doubt if my girlfriend will be impressed by Tony Roma or Jack Jones, but as long the music keeps me occupied she won't care at all and still love me for the record hoarder collection that I am.

Why continue to collect and hear oldies from artists nobody cares about you ask.  Well, it's a way to remember the ones that made singles that time and radio have forgotten.  Unless you look hard for them on You Tube before that goes away, you won't hear much if at all from a Melody Condos or Donald Hines or Teri Allen. And Grandpa Jones could sing a mean hillbilly number as well.  Who's Len Snider?  Hell I don't know but he made a single called I'll Be Coming Home Tonight.  And it looks unplayed.

The selections of this Singles Going Steady came from Half Price Books but from a Ames radio station called KISU, which is the Iowa State University radio station.   And I think will be a two part SGS blog.  While sorting through the records yesterday, I forgot to pick up a couple 45s since there was a woman wanting to check out the ones that I didn't buy, I think she did buy Alley Cat from Bent Fabric and Garden Party from Rick Nelson but I had both of those 45's and didn't needed them.  What I thought I had Bobby Day's Joe Blon I had Melody Condos instead.  And sad to say that TD Boogie Woogie by The Crusaders, which would have been the find of the day, had a crack in the 45 making it unplayable.  But at least I got a decent 45 record sleeve out of the deal.

On paper (or vinyl) I have some interesting finds. Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote the big hits for the Everly Brothers, had a EP of some of his best known songs.  Joe Melson, songwriting partner to Roy Orbinson had a single for Hickory and Paul Desmond had a 45 of Take Ten, the answer record to Take Five, a song he made famous for Dave Brubeck.  Thankfully that record is not broken or cracked.   In some ways, this blog does give a peek inside of what would going on at KISU in the mid 60s although I'm sure these 45s were stuffed in a box and donated somewhere till somebody picked them up, thought they sucked and got a few cents out of them at HP Books.  I tend to have a good judgement about 90 percent of the time and I do believe these selections are the pick of the litter.  But I do know I have been known to be wrong at time and finding crappy singles and donate them back to charity after the results.   But I make sure I document the good and the bad and reserve judgement till I need to clear space.  And we all know I'll be doing that before my next trip to Madison.

1)   You Were On My Mind-Ian & Sylvia (Vanguard VRS-35025)  1964

Of course We Five did a version of this with a few years later (Chet Powers alterated the lyrics a bit but melody still remains strangley familair)  but the duo of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker did score a Canadian hit this lively folk number.  B side Someday Soon, would be a minor hit for Judy Collins and is only 2 minutes long.  I like this version better than Judy's.

2)   High Is Better Than Low-Melodye Condos (RCA 47-8234)  1963

What I thought I had the Bobby Day single, turned out to be this one instead and by the time I raced back to Half Price Books, that record was long gone.   Condos has a Doris Day styled vocal to this dated pop song that nobody bought but it's only a minute forty five. More of positive Connie Francis style I guess, but not exactly memorable.  B side Lonely People Do Foolish Things would have worked better for Brenda Lee or Lesley Gore, or Connie Francis for that matter.

3)   Can't Run To Daddy Anymore-Teri Allen (ABC Paramount 10482)  1963

Unlike Melodye Condons, Teri Allen benefited from better production and songwriting from Paul Vance which sounds like  He's A Rebel.  Perhaps the Wrecking Crew might had a hand in playing the music.  B side Her Or Me, with the screaming MAKE UP YOUR MIND opening intro line grabs your attention.  Kinda a minor Lesley Gore vibe.Make up your mind?  I'll pass.

4)   I'll Be Coming Home Tonight-Len Snider (All Boy 45-8507)  1963

Turning our attention to the lesser known teen idols nobody heard about comes from Len Snider which adds a bit of British backback to Len's Bobby Vee vocals. Or is it Bobby Rydell?  B Side Everybody Knows is a more of teen ballad, somewhat like Dion.   But a good chance you'll never hear it, unless somebody posts it on You Tube.

5)   TD's Boogie Woogie-The Crusaders (Cameo 285) 1964

A shame this record had a crack in it, but it's a teen version of the old boogie woogie number Pinetop Perkins played back in the 1920s. No relation to the Jazz Crusaders of Put It Where You Want It fame.  B side At The Club is a jazzier number but basically background music regardless.

6)   Trouble Is My Name-Donald Himes (Hi-2068)  1963

Early soul music from the folks at Hi Records and one can detect the genius of Willie Mitchell and the Hi Rhythm Section although this would be the only single that Donald put out. One of those actual one hit wonder would have happened if the label would have promote this better but this does sound like a one take demo.  B side You Had To Pay is more straight lined blues, something that Bobby Bland would have done.  I do know Willie Mitchell has his fingers all over the production.  A Northern Soul classic before it's time.

7)   Your Goose Is Cooked-Little Rose Evans (Tahoe Records 45-2357) 1963

Did you ever by a record simply of the fact of the title make you want to check it out?  Case in point this hard charged R and B number complete with a mumbling bass vocal as the hook. A call and response between Little Rose and the chorus shouting back the title line. The other side Minutes and Hours probably was destined as the plug side.  A bit more polished the Goose Is Cooked but not as much fun although I still get a kick out of hearing Mr. Bass mumbling along.  Ray Ellis on the arrangements.

8)    Reassure Me-Eddie Bo (Cinderella 1203)  1963

From New Orleans Eddie Bo recorded for a variety of labels (Chess, Ric, Ace) and this was one of two singles that he recorded for the NOLA based Cinderella label to which London Records picked up distribution.  Best known for Check Your Bucket that Duke And The Drivers covered later.  Reassure Me owes a bit to Professor Longhair but with a soul beat and Chris Kenner too.  The guesswork is that The Meters might have been the backing band.  B side Shake Rattle And Soul is more of the same NOLA R and B.  But it doesn't really excite me that much.

9)  Hot Biscuits And Gravy-Marvin & Johnny (Felsted 45-8681)  1963

Another soul biscuits jammer, Marvin And Johnny recorded sides for Speciality (Day In And Day Out) and Modern (Ko Ko Mo) and Aladdin before doing this one off single for Felsted about the joys of hot biscuits and gravy.  Thank you guys, you just made me hungry on that one. B Side I'm Tired Of Being Alone is doo wop blues soul and the better side.

10)   My Little Lady-Grandpa Jones (Monument 820)  1963

He was more than the novelty act on Hee Haw, Jones had some very good country sides for RCA, King and Monument and he does a cool take on the Jimmie Rogers number, with a little help from Nashville's finest musicians, most notably the ones who played on the RCA recordings of other artists. You can tell by that polished and echoes sound (Floyd Cramer, Jerry Reed, Murray Harman, Anita Kerr).  Grandpa Jones needs a good overview album for his accomplishments to country music.  B side  Away Out On The Mountain continues that Nashville sound complete with Jones' Yodel.  They don't make em like that anymore.

11)   Stay Away From Her-Joe Melson (Hickory 45-1229)  1963

Melson is better known for co writing songs with Roy Orbinson but he did strike out on his own.  This was his final single on Hickory. A more bouncy and uptempo number I gather this fell under too rock for country department since it didn't take off.   B side His Girl sounds eerily like Only The Lonely if Buddy Holly would have sang it.

12)   Take Ten-Paul Desmond (RCA 47-8264)  1963

Perhaps the find of the batches of 45, was Paul's update on Take Five.   And one of the reason I continue to search of the obscure and elusive 45s that time has forgotten.  Desmond has one of the coolest sax sound in the jazz era, which would perfectly in Dave Brubeck and at times on his own,  Even his old Columbia producer George Advirian on board too. B side Embarcadero  is more of a bossa nova type of jazz that Desmond and Jim Hall trade leads.  Tastefully done.

Part 2

13)   Tommy Makes Girls Cry-Kelly Garrett (Ava C-137)  1963

More of the pleasant but forgettable Lesley Gore vibe.  Less interesting on the B side Baby It Hurts.

14)   Dreamy Moon-Boots and Idaho (RCA 47-8211)   1963

WOW, this is hillbilly music, even for RCA standards, this is much rougher than the smooth sounds they got out of Jim Reeves and the others.  This song inspired me to Google Boots Faye and it turns out she recorded two singles for Capitol with Idaho Call, her singing partner and husband.  Originally on Callfrye, RCA picked it up in 1963.  A honky tonk hillbilly waltz with an accordion for lead instrument this is the oddball single find of the day. B side Tip Toes shows off Boots' guitar playing skills. She was actually quite good.

15)   What Do They Know-Carol Montgomery (Sound 7 Stage 45-2512)  1963

More girl pop, to which Ray Stevens produced under the Ahab Productions banner. Carol was married to Bob Montgomery (Buddy Holly) and they did a few singles for Warner Brothers under Bob And Carol.  One of two singles she released on her own name with Bob writing the songs. She was also a in demand background singer (Elvis, Jimmy Buffet, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton).  B side Wish I Didn't Love Him is a fun little girl pop romp, which is over and done in under two minutes.

16)    A Week In The Country-Ernest Ashworth (Hickory 45-1237) 1963

While 1963 may have not been a ideal year for Rock n Roll, country was doing quite well, even for the minor artists.  Usually Hickory Records could be relied upon putting out good to great music, after all they had access to the Acuff-Rose Publishing Company but on this song Ashworth records something from Baker Knight and 4 Star Publishing.  Baker Knight wrote a few hits for Ricky Nelson at that time but Week In The Country didn't do much on the charts, although it might have skirted the bottom reaches of the top 100.  B side Heartbreak Avenue is a country weeper which sounds like Big Al Downing is playing piano or Floyd Cramer.  Whoever is playing piano has that perfect honky tonk tone.

17)   A Statue In Windows-Lorry Peters (Hickory 45-1228) 1963

Lorry made two singles for Hickory, this one was written by Boudleaux Bryant (Bye Bye Love) and is a country weeper.  B side she tackles What About Me, which is written by Don Gibson and is the better song.  Sounds a lot like Let's Think About Living.

18)   I Had To Run Away-Jimmy Elledge  (RCA 47-8241)  1963

His biggest hit was a cover of Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away but Elledge had more of pop shine than actual country, his vocals are more like Narvel Felts and Chet Atkins actually steered him more towards pop than country. There's Nothing Left For Me is a torch ballad.  The next to last RCA single Jimmy would issue, he would move over to Hickory Records for more of the same. Singles nobody bought.

19)   As Long As There's A Sunday-Justin Tubb  (Groove 58-0024)  1963

The son of Ernest Tubb, Justin made recordings for Decca and later Groove/RCA,  This song is the template of the Nashville Sound of the 1960s for RCA, Anita Kerr backing singers and Chet Atkins polished productions made it a first rate song.  Again, like most of these 1963 singles that I've been playing, none made the charts and if they did they didn't chart too high. B side When Love Goes Wrong was written by Dottie West.  Just for the record I do enjoy the RCA Nashville Sound at that time.

20)   Day Dreamin-Norm West (Hi 45-2073)  1964

Back to the early soul of the Memphis sound, West was a journeyman soul singer that made two singles for Hi Records and with Willie Mitchell producing. Minor Northern soul ballad.  B side Angel Of My Dreams, more of the same, or rather less.

21)  You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming-Betty O'Brien (ABC Paramount 45-10461)  1963

Popcorn soul as they call it. One of two singles Betty recorded for ABC.  Not exactly impressed with this song.  B side I Don't Feel A Thing is rocking R and blues. Probably would have better as a A side.

22)  I Don't Stand A Chance-Rosco Gordon (ABC-Paramount 45-10501)  1963

As we close this Singles Going Steady blog about the finds of the month, I think this is the first time I ever had most of the songs come from the same year. Which goes to show that 1963 wasn't exactly a memorable year but at least we didn't have to contend with Broken Wings or Sweet Chile O Mine, but thank your lucky stars The British Invasion turned things around. Rosco Gordon recorded for many labels, best known hit was Just A Little Bit for Vee Jay in the 1950s.  But on his final ABC single he goes more a more soulful strut with a bit of Motown thrown in to appease the kiddies. Which still didn't sell.  B side That's What You Did, Rosco duets with Barbara Gordon, who adds a bit of something extra but not enough to remember this song after you played it.

23)  She's No Lady-Lyle Lovett (Curb/MCA 53246)  1988  #17 country

Lyle has been a outside country legend  since he broke in 1986 but I find him to be acquired taste although I did like the easy swing of She's No Lady but the B side Pontiac is boring the hell out of me as I write this.

24)  If I Were A Carpenter-Johnny Cash & June Carter (Columbia 4-45064)  #36 1970

They were perfect together.  B side is Cause I Love You

Monday, March 5, 2018

Russ Solomon RIP

The guy who founded Tower Records, passed away from a heart attack watching the Oscars Sunday.  He was 92.

Even though Tower Records wasn't close by, I went to the stores when I was out in Seattle, Las Vegas and Phoenix. They might have been pricey but I can't think of any other stores that had the complete Status Quo remasters as Tower Records did.

Van McLain, was the de facto leader of Shooting Star, a Kansas City based band that made a few albums for Virgin Records in the 1980s but one of those bands that simply were forgotten in the age of classic rock.  Run For Your Life was a cult best selling album that I usually bought and sold to the folks at Relics Records.  Virgin Records at that time, did distribution deals, and Shooting Star was assigned to Epic, to which their second album was done under the infamous 5.98 emerging artists series.  Their first album was produced by Gus Dudgeron (Elton John) and Shooting Star was like a more lighter Journey or Styx.   I really wasn't that into that band, but in my last trip out to Arizona, the Goodwill Casa Grande store had about 10 copies of their first album on CD (as well as Burning) and I picked it up and played it once.  Since I still have that copy, I play it in tribute to Van who died complications from the Nile Virus.on Saturday.

After 40 years of rocking Chicago. The Loop has been sold to a Christian Broadcast Company for 21 and a half million dollars, which means the rock will stop sometime in the future.  Well Corporate Classic Rock has been in the shitter for about 20 years anyway and with Corporations not interested in breaking new acts and just focusing on the Pink Floyd/Zeppelin/Guns N Roses overplayed songs it basically had to end.  Gone are the days of Album rock stations promoting the new music but if there's a chance they'll find a way to celebrate older albums, such as Dark Side Of The Moon released 45 years ago last week.  But then again, the world needs another Christian Contemporary Station right?

Tom Waits now owns the Elektra/Asylum masters to his albums and will be reissuing them via Anti-Epitaph.  Which means they'll be in glorious digipack.

Anyway, since you're all here.  I have reviewed a few cds along the way.  Here goes.

Moonshine Sorrow-While You're Drinking (self released 2016)

Let's face it, there will always be a band that plays three chord Rolling Stone inspired songs and song about drinking and fucking and paying for it the next day.  As long as I'm alive I'll be happy to hear what they have to say.  In the grand style of the bar bands of our lifetime (The Brains lost Tom Gray, gained Dan Baird and became the Georgia Satellites, Blackberry Smoke even Uncle Tupelo) my favorites were the most simple and to the point.  The Randy Cliffs made the best bar rock album of this century and if you look hard enough in Madison you can still find a dollar copy of Trixie's Trailer Sales.  Closer to home, Waterloo for that matter, we have Moonshine Sorrow, a band that had two different personalities, one is the legendary Rush Cleveland who writes all but two songs on this EP, the best song Walking In Waterloo is about as true as it gets if you live in that hell hole (I did about five decades ago) and Wild N Crazy to which pass the bucket rhymes with Fuck it!. Cleveland has a voice that echoes Jerry Lee Lewis, which does stick out like a sore thumb in the hard country bar rock of M.S.  The other is Jason Surratt who echoes Brian Henneman from The Bottle Rockets and gives us  Feed Me, Fuck Me, Buy Me Weed, a concert favorite and my favorite track Houser South a little story about a guy who can't get laid but is ready to kick your ass if need be.  Knowing that, he's probably a regular at Spicoli's in Cedar Falls.  In some ways, While You're Drinking mirrors Trixie's Trailer Sales from The Cliffs, sloppy drums, sloppy guitar leads but a whole rock and roll attitude that is missing from most new bands that get touted on Pitchfork.  It may not be pretty but it does sound pretty to me.

The Pipettes-We Are The Pipettes (Cherrytree/Interscope 2007)

British pop girl rock that has a charm of its own at times, and with a Ramones like 16 songs at 39 minutes, most past by without much melody of forethought and the recording is loudness overblown.  The favorite is ABC 123 and XTC to boot.  A shame they didn't go more into this direction.

Bette Midler Sings The Peggy Lee Songbook (Columbia 2005)

One of those albums that Sony Music decided to copy protect the CD, but Bette has been the subject of a few thrift store finds, basically on the strength of her It's The Girls album from a few years ago.  I love Bette for her sassy and spunk on Big Spender and Fever and the Barry Manilow cameo is camp fun too.  But it's those ballads that turn this record from great to good. Mr. Wonderful ends things on a blah note, but for tribute albums she makes Peggy Lee proud.  I'll see about her Rosemary Cooney tibute album in the future.  In other words another uneven Bette album.

Jim And Jessie-Dixie Hoedown: The Complete Starday Recordings (Starday/King 2002)

A stop gap along the way for the McReynolds boys but still a important document.  Hard Hearted was the best known hit single but the secular songs have a certain amount of charm to them, the title track a hard driving instrumental. Jim and Jesse only did three recording sessions for Starday, two in 1958 and the 1959 session was all gospel material and all of it is worth hearing once.   Even for 14 songs the album barely clocks over a half hour.  Jim and Jesse had a good backing band featuring Vassar Clements on fiddle, Bobby Thompson on banjo and Don Mchan on bass and backing vocals. Once their tenure at Starday ended, they would move on to Epic Records and their glory years featuring Diesel On My Tail, to which Sony Music left off their best of.  No accounting for major label taste it seems.  This compilation, thrown out by the indifferent Highland Music company, managed to put some thought into this and provided liner notes and recording sessions.  The CD is hard to find but worth a listen

Carrie Underwood-Storyteller (19/Arista 2015)

If you have been a follower for my record review and top ten consortium, you know my love and hatred of the all time best selling American Idol.  Yes she can sing but what she does is oversing and throughout her decade of being a part of Nashville music scene she has battled Miranda Lambert head to head on country albums, for myself Miranda always wins of the fact that she doesn't oversing. On the recommendation of Robert Christgau, I decided to listen to her last album.  And just as I figured, she oversings on the majority of the songs.  But Storyteller is her best album to these battered ears but in the age of Nashville Music the songs tend to borrow way too much of the Mumford and Sons arrangements and overuse of the worthless Chris DeStefano, HOWEVER, was responsible for the two most memorable numbers of this album, the failed single Smoke Break and Clock Don't Stop.  She is getting better on the revenge numbers, Church Bells, a interesting story about a woman marrying a rich oil dude, who beats her up and she gets back by poisoning the dude.   To be honest, Storyteller is coming of age Carrie, who managed to find some decent numbers, and of course this record beats anything she released beforehand, including her best of.  I'll take Christgau's word that she's beginning to relax and not oversing but in my case she still has a long way to go before I decide on taking another chance with her again.   Nevertheless, for the first time ever in her record career, she made a better record than Miranda's 2 CD album, which still hasn't wowed me.  And probably never will.

I think we have had this talk before about Dark Side Of The Moon, my opinion will not waver.  I'll never look at The Great Gig In The Sky as anything but fast forward to the next song but some people love it.  In this day and age I can tolerate it better than Daniel Powter's Bad Day or Mr Mr. Broken Wings or A ha's Take On Me or Sweet Child O Mine or anything FGL puts out.  Another opinion on why Dark Side Of The Moon continues to sell, 45 years after the fact and still used copies aren't that easy to find.  I have never owned that on any format but perhaps a day will come when I will succumb to that and buy it for a dollar at St Vincent De Paul

Music from  my youth:  John Cale-Guts (Antilles 1976)

Originally on Island, it was a small summery of John's tenure with that label, but not a greatest hits since Cale never had any.  But a good mix tape so to speak.  Again Robert Christgau had issues with two songs, Mary Lou and Helen Of Troy but for myself I liked them a lot and still do.  As well as the title track which might be most insane thing Cale ever wrote.  Cale has been an acquired taste even on the good days. I do have the 2 CD Complete Island albums that Polygram Island issued years ago but don't play it as much (if at all) than Guts.  Life after Island, Cale became more of a cult artist that fell in terms of overrated, the only album that worked for me was the 1985 John Cale Comes Alive, which also welcomed him back to Island (via the ZE sub-label), and his take on Hallelujah, and his version remains the best, even more than Jeff Buckley's version and his 1990 album with Brian Eno, Wrong Way Up, after that, meh.  Phil Collins plays drums on Fear Is A Man's Best Friend along with the likes of Chris Spedding, and the rhythm section that backed up Linda and Richard Thompson  at that time.  Not a bad track on this album, the deadpan Pablo Picasso is more smart ass than Jonathon Richman's version, and Heartbreak Hotel, is the book of Revelation coming true before your eyes and ears.  Instead of Guts, Island should have named this  Dirty Ass Rock And Roll.  Which nails the spirit of this album.

Mud Bowl Memories:  Cleveland 24  New York 7 (12/9/56)  Yankee Stadium

A tale of one dynasty ending and another beginning, Cleveland dominated the early and mid 50s in making to the title game, but in 1956, the New York Giants with Frank Gifford, Charlie Connerly and Kyle Rote would win the division title and a blow out of the Chicago Bears and the infamous sneaker game but on this rain and snow mudfest, the Browns upset the Giants on two Tommy O'Conner touchdowns and throwing a TD pass to Fred Morrison who wore number 32 at that time.  The next year, Jim Brown would be the next and last Brown to wear number 32 but that's a different story for another time.