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Monday, December 5, 2016

Go Johnny Go

Unlike our pals from the UK, most folks in the USA were not familiar with reggae music before the emergence of Bob Marley and Brit punk acts like the Clash that employed the style early on. Of course there were things like Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" and I'm old enough to recall Desmond Dekker's "The Israelites" which was a hit here in the late sixties, but the truth of the matter is I had no idea that those exotic rhythms had their genesis in Jamaica. The same goes for Johnny Nash's huge hit from the early 70's "I Can See Clearly Now". I absolutely loved that song when it came out and flat wore out the 45 of it I bought at the drugstore in Marshall, Illinois.I finally came across a decent copy of the LP for a buck ( I've found them before but they've always been worn out---which speaks well of the entertainment value of this little gem). Along with the aforementioned title track it also contains "Stir It Up", another great tune also associated with the aforementioned Bob Marley. While this is certainly more of a Caribbean/reggae-flavored pop/soul record than a straight-up reggae disc, it's a fine piece of work that I can't believe I've never owned up until now.

And now for this post's portion of Junk Langdon songs: "My Other Side" and "Nosebleeds"

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ian Whitcomb?

Yes friends, my taste for cheap vinyl has superseded all other musical interests I once had including performing (which I never liked much anyway unless I was sporting a snootful) and, surprisingly, writing and recording. It's kind of cool coming full circle and being just a fan again--- but the cheap vinyl thing and the way I approach it is a bit of a mixed blessing. On the upside, I listen to and get enjoyment from a wider variety of music than I ever have and I continue to be more and more willing to give damn near anything a shot. Traditional Hawaiian music? Aloha! Polka? Roll out the barrel motherfucker! The downside is I'm accumulating records at an alarming rate (which might not be so bad if I would clear out a few every now and then) and I find myself enamored with records that, in the grand scheme of things, probably aren't very good. But taste is a subjective matter, no? For instance I find Raging Bull to be an overwrought, unwatchable piece of shit but I will always stop and watch Donavan's Reef in the increasingly unlikely event that I come across it while flipping through the channels (I say all this as a warning to anyone who reads my little spiels and allow them to stir up your curiosity about this or that artist or record. Still, with something like youtube out there one can give something a cursory listen without being out anything but a few minutes).

And with that let us dig into the brilliant Ian Whitcomb and his earth-shattering 1965 LP You Turn Me On!

 I believe it was Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) that, when asked about traveling to the UK and recording with some of the British Invasion lads, stated something to the effect of "Those boys want to play the blues so bad---and that's how they play it---So bad!" Well, I'm here to defend our kippers-and-baked beans eating friends from across the pond. I think what makes their take on the blues more interesting in-and-of-itself is the very fact that it's not "authentic". The original American formula, when it came to white teens appropriating black music, was to cross it with country music---with spectacular results (Sun Records, et al). The Brits seemed to instinctively bring a pop/music hall sort of influence into the mix, which brings us to Mr. Whitcomb here.

This record is one I passed up when I initially ran across it in one of my favorite thrift shops. After seeing it still languishing in the bin upon a return visit, I forked over a buck and took it home for a spin. To my surprise I just love the stupid thing! Now Mr. Whitcomb is in no way even remotely a blues singer---and thank heavens he doesn't try to be. He is accompanied by a band here instead of studio players which I also think is a plus.The band (Bluesville) obviously consider themselves a "blues band" but no one is going to mistake them for the Butterfield Blues Band especially with the kind of material they're working with here--- Sure the guitarist has some Michael Bloomfield-sounding licks in his arsenal but they are delivered in a crude, straightforward manner that makes them pure 1965 pop music. I also find the drummer to be quirky and somewhat unpredictable and the title track has a "96 Tears"-style organ overdub by the keyboard player from Seattle Garage Rock Gods the Sonics! What this thing really reminds me of though is those early Kinks records where the R&B stuff is incredibly "inauthentic" but the goofy music hall tendencies make it (to me) endearing. As a matter of fact I would put "River Of No Return" right up there with anything Ray Davies was cooking up at the time (see paragraph one disclaimer).  Also, if you have time, check out ol' Ian's Wiki page---he has quite a resume.

While I've had little  interest in writing and recording of late I have built up a little stockpile of stuff from this year and I'm seeing fit to post a couple of those here. First another clumsy instrumental dubbed "Funeral In Memphis" HERE and another crappy original called "How To Act" HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Shave And A Haircut, Hold The Shave

" Whadda' ya' think Floyd---Flat Top or Mullet?"
                                                    Listen or Download HERE

  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my first big-time rock show was headlined by 70' British Bloozemeisters Foghat---Y'know the "Slow Ride" fellows, right? AND get this---they had 60'-70's siren Britt Eckland along with them since the drummer had managed to hook up with her somehow (come to think of it the drummer kinda' resembled Rod Stewart with a big ol' Village People mustache)---Bet she just LOVED Terre Haute! Okay, the point is that I ran across one of their LPs in my vinyl hunt last week and saw fit to lay out a clam for old time's sake---and while certainly not an essential piece of wax, I found myself enjoying it far more than I expected to.However, consider the source--- I 'm ashamed to admit I didn't "get" the cover (see pic below) for a couple of days. "What's with the chunk of granite and the funny lookin' bagel?" Sheesh---

And finally, I found this (see below) in remarkably good shape. I have some of this material elsewhere but it's just amazing, amazing music and I love the cover.It also features Earl Hines who checks in with  some pretty impressive ivory tickling, but Louie is the show and if anybody has ever MASTERED an instrument, it's this guy. Unmatchable---is that a word? 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Vinyl, Vinyl, and MORE Vinyl---

My cheap vinyl roll continues! Here's some of my latest haul--all a buck apiece, and all near mint: (be forewarned I have only given a cursory listen to the ones I have listened to at all)

Thirty Years Of Bluegrass--This is a two-record compilation on a sketchy cut-rate label but the sound is pretty decent and the song/artist selection is interesting. As much "old timey" music as Bluegrass, this has some great stuff on it. "Rank Stranger" by the Stanley Bros. was worth the buck all by itself.

Stonewall Jackson-The Great Old Songs-- Stonewall is a solid purveyor of traditional C&W and this is a collection of story songs that he calls 'country folk songs'. Some may think this stuff is too cornball but, like Nick Cave, I beg to differ. I admit that I've been sort of disinterested in the rootsy, twangy stuff recently but in the last couple of months I've been diggin' it again and, being a bit of a contrarian, the fact that Country and "bar band" Rock 'n Roll are the most unhip musics going right now only convinces me that they are invaluable.

Buck Owens-Tall Dark Stranger--I definitely put Buck on the Mount Rushmore of C&W and this record is as solid as you would expect. What strikes me about this one is what I detect to be a Beatles(!) influence on some of the arrangements.

The Best Of Hank Thompson--Hank has a penchant for songs with a goofier lyrical bent like "Humpty Dumpty Heart" and "Rub A Dub Dub".

Jerry Reed-Georgia Sunshine--Known to the general populace for his TV and film appearances as well as novelty hits like "Amos Moses" and "When You're Hot You're Hot", Reed is a first class picker who could hold his own with guys like Chet Atkins. This record is an interesting blend of all his talents including his songwriting---he wrote six of the ten tunes here including the aforementioned "Amos Moses".

The other three Country discs I found but have not yet spun are Skeeter Davis-Foggy Mountain Top, Johnny Paycheck-She's All I've Got, and Roy Acuff-Waiting For My Call To Glory.

Lulu-To Sir With Love--Moving on to my non-C&W acquisitions we have this one from 60's songbird Lulu. I mentioned a while back that I had picked up her Muscle Shoals record and now I find this one featuring her all-time classic 60's hit as well as some other very groovy stuff, all produced by then-ubiquitous pop meister Mickie Most. You may find his production dated but I find it rather charming.

Sam Cooke--This eponymous collection on the Camden/RCA label doesn't contain any of his big hits--- which is fine with me since I have them elsewhere. What it does contain are examples of his seemingly effortless ability to wrap his vocal chords around a tune and make you believe and feel every word.

Aerosmith-Rocks--First big concert I ever attended was about 1974 at Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana and if I recall the line-up was Foghat headlining, REO Speedwagon in the middle, and opening the show was a little-known (at the time) group of Stones wannabes from Boston. They were easily the best band on the bill and I was beyond impressed when Steven Tyler came out into the audience during REO's set. My buddy Paul Remblinger even chatted with him a bit and I remember he was drinking a Heineken which I had never heard of at that point. As for Rocks, if you like Aerosmith you'll like this record. Plenty of their brand of sleazy Cock Rock with just enough variety to keep it interesting.

Georgia Satellites--Haven't listened to the rest but it's got "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" on it which is a fab little bar-band corker in my opinion---

Lastly I picked up some 90's hardcore and post-punk. Manchurian Candidates-Between Reality and Shadow and Strychnine-Dead Rats & Oakland Dogs are enjoyable slabs of screeching guitars, pounding drums and screaming, mostly unintelligible vocals while F-Minus is similar with the added twist of   male and female lead vocalists. Dirt Bike Annie-Show Us Your Demons is more polished and melodic Pop-Punk also with male and female vocals. Most interesting of this lot in my opinion is Milemarker-future isms which is harder to get a handle on---sort of a mixture of dissonant guitars and electronics and garbled vocals, sort of in a Fall-like vein. Quite interesting, looking forward to spinning it again.

And of course, some more doggerel from yours truly. On this first one I managed to approximate horrible tape hiss in a digital format---not on purpose mind you. (sigh)---go HERE for "The Change". The other one is called "Blue For Days and can be found HERE

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Persimmon Jam Tastes Like Chicken Spit

Here's a neat little compilation record I bought entirely for the cover---I thought the vinyl may be a little sketchy but it actually sounds pretty decent.Of course I knew I would dig the Dylan, Cash, and Flatt & Scruggs cuts but the rest is worth a listen as well---even the Pete Seeger track didn't put me off too badly although I'm in no hurry to hear it again. While I respect Mr. Seeger, his skills represent all that I loathe about the "Great Folk Scare" as Martin Mull calls it.

---And here is your ration of ear wax melter for today my children---firstly a piano-laden pop ditty entitled "Tell Me Your Name" HERE and another inscrutable instro-mental dubbed "Hippo Surrounded By Flies" HERE 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Get You Away

                                                        Download/Listen HERE

And, for nor reason at all, here's an action pic (circa mid-60's) of Rich Guasco's stunningly beautiful "Pure Hell" Ford Bantam roadster, seen here employing a supercharged, fuel injected small block Chevrolet mounted ridiculously high off the ground to improve weight transfer.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Kosmic Vinyl

Back toward the end of my 15 minutes of fame when I was looking to record a follow-up to Mood Elevator I ended up recording Buzz Me In with a fellow known as Kosmo Vinyl producing. I'm sure it was my boy Clay Harper that hooked me up with Kosmo since Clay had recorded a series of 7 inchers with him, one of which I did the artwork for. Any of you that have read the comments section for this blog may recognize the name---Unlike most of the people I met during that period, I have managed to keep in contact with him and am honored he takes the time to post here occasionally.

I won't bother going in to any more detail about Kosmo myself  but suffice to say he's an intriguing personality with an interesting resume and a seemingly endless supply of fascinating anecdotes and stories. HERE is the Wikipedia thumbnail sketch of his life for the uninitiated--- 

   I will tell you that I had the pleasure of hosting Mr.Vinyl for approximately 30 hours this past week--- What would bring the fabulous Mr. Kosmo Vinyl to lil' ol' Athens, GA you ask?

  Despite having a computer and an email account, Kosmo is still big on sending old school postcards (y'know, through the U.S. mail)---and not just any postcards. You see Kosmo is an artist that makes his own postcards. His primary interest is collage and if you visit his blog HERE you can see the fabulous pieces he's been doing related to English football. Anyway, at some point a while back he suggested we have a sort of back-and-forth conversation using this medium, he with his collages and me with my pen and ink cartoony stuff. This we did (and continue to do) and then Kosmo had another idea---

Which brings us back to why Kosmo was in town. We were meeting with the folks at the Lyndon House which is a very nice gallery and arts center here in Athens and the reason for the meeting was to make plans and discuss our upcoming show entitled "To and Fro" . You see Kosmo suggested we take some of the better efforts from our postcard exchange and see if some gallery might consider letting us have a show. To our surprise and delight the people at the Lydon House liked the idea and gave us the green light. Cool huh?

  Anyone that is considering checking it out has almost a year to think about it since one has to set these things up wwaaayyyy in advance---however we do have dates. The work will be up and available for viewing on June 3rd, 2017. There will be a 'reception' for our show and the other exhibits (it's a fairly large gallery and has several shows going on simultaneously) on June 15th. Finally, on June 17th there will be a 'Q and A' session featuring Kosmo that should be very cool indeed.  

Plan ahead!

And of course I've put up another tune to listen/download/ignore HERE, this time a cover of a Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis song (via Bobsy Palmer natch)---