Outa Sight

:: Outa Space ::

:: Avon Calling ::

:: Pert'n n'er But Not Plum ::

:: Josh'n Me ::

:: Request For Discharge ::

I buy records without rhyme or reason. I may have bought this because the cover reminded me vaguely of something else. Turns out Beck scanned part of this cover art for his Stereopathetic Soul Manure album. Something about the name Toby Rean and The Common People, "Outa Space" appealed to me too, plus the fact that the record was still sealed. When I listened to it, I realized the title song was a cover of the Billy Preston instrumental hit from the early 70s. It's a "white man funk" reading, to say the least.

The rest of the record is completely different though; a straight ahead country record, to be exact. Not a bad country record either. I like the fact that it sounds like it was recorded on a shoestring budget, as most things on the Crown label were. Kind of adds to it's charm, you know? But just who were Toby Rean and The Common People? Turns out I wasn't the only one who wanted to know.

A quick Google search led me to a message board on a site concerning itself with Bakersfield music. A woman named Amber who identified herself as Toby Rean's great niece was asking for information about her great uncle. She said that relatives had told her he used to play drums for Buck and Merle at such fabled Bakersfield haunts as the Blackboard and the Rainbow Gardens, but she knew little else and was wondering if anyone had any additional info. I wrote to her and asked if she was able to glean anything else about her great uncle Toby, and offered her a digitized version of the LP. During the course of my research, I found a site with a picture of Toby Rean's grave marker, so I asked Amber if she knew how he died at the age of 40. She replied that she would love a CD copy of the album, as she only owned it on 8-track(!). She didn't have much additional info, but said that he died of a brain tumor only a few years after this album was recorded. Apparently Toby and the CP used to entertain the troops - travelling to Asia as well as doing local USO shows. She says his records are considered collectible in Japan. How cool is that?

Anyway, I've been holding out writing this article while I wait for Amber get back to me with all kinds of interesting, personal information, but so far I haven't heard anything. Maybe I'll have an update someday, but in the mean time, let's go back to Bakersfield in the early 70s for a little local flavor. All of the songs featured here, with the exception of "Outa Space" of course, were written by Mr. Rean himself. "Avon Calling" is the classic country duet, but unfortunately no credit is given to the female voice (Amber's great Aunt, perhaps?). "Josh'n Me" and "Purt'n N'er But Not Plum" are good examples of the kind of country/novelty songs that were such a hit on Hee Haw at the time. And I'd love to know if Toby and the band ever performed "Request For Discharge" at their USO shows, because this is some pretty grim stuff, to say the least.

I love stumbling across something like this, and the fact that I haven't been able to learn much about the guy who made the record somehow makes it even better. It's a piece of someone's life, lived long ago in a place that seems far away, but really it wasn't that long ago, and it was pretty close to home when it comes right down to it. Did you know Toby Rean?

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Thursday, December 28, 2006 1:54:00 PM

Haven't found a 'still sealed' Crown album yet, but I got a Diplomat (worse than Crown, if that's possible LOL) that's still sealed. "Ballad Of The Green Berets" by The Lomesome Valley Singers

..... bbb    

Friday, January 05, 2007 7:45:00 PM

dude, that is some great stuff.

Man, that Request For Discharge really gets to me.

A great article in the latest Economist magazine about country music, and how it tackles themes that mainstream rock won't or can't touch.    

Saturday, April 28, 2007 5:05:00 AM

As a Bakersfield country music historian, I have ran across the name of Toby Ream. At one time he lived in Lancaster, Calif., and ran a pest conrol route while traveling to places like LA and gigs at Cal's Corral and other spots. He was the drummer for Lawton Jiles in early 1950s near Bakersfield. You can find Lawton Jiles on the Internet to contact. Bryce M.    

Saturday, October 06, 2007 12:48:00 PM

I knew Toby in Oxnard, Ca. in the early 70's. He was playing at the local NCO's club in Port Hueneme. He packed em in. We became friends and saw a lot of each other. His band was country music at its greatest. I have a picture of him and his band if you would like a copy.    

Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:45:00 PM

I am Toby Rean's neice, and another one of his neices is sitting her with me. Some of the comments are not correct. Toby worked for a pest control here in Bakersfield for many years. His two oldest children were born here in Bakersfield. He played many at many clubs here in town, he even played on the Cousin Herb show, which was a country music TV show every evening here in Bakersfield. Yes he did play with Merle and Buck. He played at the Seabee base in Port Huneme, CA for many years and also at a club called the Stallion Club. They had a benefit foe him there when he got cancer and Merle called him there.

The female singer is not realated to us. Her name is Wilma (Willie). She is still in contact with us. Leon the base player is living in Port Hueneme, CA and Frankie Hardcastle is in Arkansas. This sure brings back some very fond memories.

When Toby played on the TV show here I would get to go and watch them. I loved the fact that they powdered his head so that it wouldn't glow on TV.......LOL finally they let him start wearing his cowboy hat. Love those kind of memories.

Please feel free to contact me via email at any time for more information. blondienca51@yahoo.com


Sunday, August 22, 2010 6:04:00 PM

Hey Mike! I remember emailing you and telling you thanks for sending me the cd of Toby's record and asking if there was any other info that you needed. I came across your blog just now from a few years ago and it seems that you did not get it?

Anyway thank you again for sending me the cd, it meant a lot to our family. My aunt (blondienca51@yahoo.com) is the one to talk to if you need questions answered rather than me because I wasn't alive when he was, but she got to experience watching him play:)

I hope you are doing well. Take care :)


Saturday, January 15, 2011 11:47:00 AM

Hey Mike can that cd you sent amber be copied? I've been trying to figure out how to get that done. By the way I am the twin to blondinca and I too live in Bakersfield. She gave you the right info about Toby. He lite up many an eye everytime he performed no matter where it was. By the way I don't think anyone told you that he was the drummer on the record titled Old Rivers sung by Walter Brennen. We still hear this every once in a while on the old country station here in Bakersfield. Man does that ever bring back memories. I was so in hopes that some of his music would make radio but due to his untimely death at 40 that pretty well squished that from ever happening. Thanks for the "MEMORIES" and sorry for being so long with this comment.
grandmaoso bakersfield    

Saturday, January 15, 2011 11:36:00 PM

Sure wish we could get in contact with Mike about this. I've waited for a long time for him to contact me.    

Sunday, January 16, 2011 11:54:00 AM

Dear anon,

Please feel free to post an email address and I'll see if there is some way I can help you out.

Robot Mike    

Sunday, January 16, 2011 4:53:00 PM

HI Mike! This is Toby's niece that contacted you first about Toby. My niece Amber gave you my email address also. My email is as follows: blondienca51@yahoo.com
my twin sister cotacted you after myself. Her email is as follows: grandmaoso3xs@yahoo.com.
Thank you so much for answering us. Pat Carter    

Friday, July 05, 2013 9:42:00 PM

Any info you want to know about Toby and the CP, I'm your gal! My mom is the female singer on this album! If you would like to contact me, email me at kalifdee@comcast.net. I live with mom and help take care of her and I've just read her this review on her album and all the reviews! Oh, if Pat and Pam see this, mom say hi!!!
Love to hear from you Mike and we can give you all the good stories about Uncle Toby and the album!

Sunday, October 20, 2013 1:19:00 AM

Hi. Found this site cause I was searching for a description of this album. Sounds interesting. I have whole runs of Crown, Diplomat, Somerset etc. budget albums, if they contain interesting R&R or soul or (sometimes) country. This is one I'd keep if it was on vinyl but what I found today wasn a 8-track copy. Perfect condition. If somebody wants an 8-track CHEAP drop me a line. RJPAXON@AOL.COM. thanks!    

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