Making An Unholy Racket For Jesus

Friday, June 30, 2006

:: Onward Christian Soldiers ::

:: Bringing In The Sheaves ::

:: Precious Memories ::

Tony did a piece about Joe Maphis earlier this month. Thanksalot Tony for stealing my thunder. The only reason I'm still doing a piece about Joe Maphis is because this album is completely different than the one Tony gave us. On this one Joe is playing six and twelve stringed instruments, and they're plugged into an amplifier and some kind of crazy looking reverb/echo device (as seen on the cover). The other thing that's way different this time is that Joe is playing for Jesus. There's not much in the way of speed on this record (Jesus hates speed), but there's lots of great sounding double necked Mosrite guitars, and not much else. The guitars are multi-layered, and as promised by the cover photo, drenched in various echo and reverb effects (Jesus loves reverb).

What you get is a Gospel record that doesn't preach. Sure, there are recognizable numbers like Bringing In The Sheaves, and if you want to sing along, that's fine. Just please keep it to yourself. I'd rather simply listen to this masterful musician play.



Thursday, June 29, 2006

:: I Love You Laurie ::

:: Joyce ::

This will probably be the only time I ever intentionally put up a warped record. I have my reasons, you see. Years ago, when I was first making compilations of odd and forgotten 45's for my small circle of friends who appreciated that sort of thing, "I Love You Laurie" was always one of our favorites. I have no doubt that even without the whimsical wooziness, I would have put this on those comps, but there's something magical about the song in this flawed condition that puts it over the edge. I mean, yeah, it made us laugh a lot, but it also sounds somewhat charming; an already (I'm sure tongue-in-cheek) sappy song, spinning retardedly along.

Hell, I already listen to some bands that purposely affect their instrumentation to get that hazy, woozy sound -- Boards of Canada, Freescha and Black Moth Super Rainbow are some of my favorite things to listen to. I don't expect most of you to understand the attraction, but then again maybe you will. I associate the imperfect sound with my childhood, maybe because the records I played as a kid were slightly warped, maybe because the eye of memory often distorts things as it sees fit. If sepia equals old pictures, maybe the wobble of a warped 45 equals old songs, if for no other reason than to stamp them as memories in our subconscious. Of course, all of this is going to sound like bullshit if you are an audiophile with no room in your life for records that don't play as they were intended.

And what about Ken Kaiser? Well, he's a little warped himself. When I first tried to learn more about him, I found very little. It appeared he had a connection with the NY/NJ punk scene in the late 70's, and it seems plausible that Kleen Kut Records was his baby, since they share the same initials. A little more snooping led to me to the discovery that his real name is Ken Highland, and that you can read a lot about him online. He was in the Gizmos, and scads of other strangely named bands, and it seems like he's still doing this thing to this day. But who cares what else he did? He's carved a niche in my music listening life as the guy who put out this 45, and I don't ever want to hear what a kleen kopy of this would sound like.

Tony <--- if there was a wobbly lookin' font available, I'd have used it here.

G. Lynne Lays Down The Law

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

:: Here, There and Everywhere ::

For being one of the prettiest songs that Paul McCartney ever penned, I’ve yet to come across any covers of “Here, There and Everywhere” that capture the bitter-sweet subtlety of the original. I’ve heard a John Denver version that comes close, but it kind of edges into dullness. Claudine Longet did a sugary version, but she lays a thick coat of breathy sweetness over the song’s emotional punch. Jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne gives it a shot here with an exceptionally large voice which, when combined with the muzak-type arrangement, renders it another flaccid Beatles cover
to add to the heap.


David Seville On The Flip Side

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

:: Mediocre ::

:: Almost Good ::

:: Flip Side ::

Phil wrote a piece about Ross Bagdasarian / David Seville last August, so I won't bore you with much history. I will say though, he co-wrote "Come On-A My House", which was a huge hit for Rosemary Clooney in 1951. Well, that impressed the hell out of me anyway.

The 3 songs featured here today are all B sides of Chipmunks hits, and are credited to David Seville. There's an obvious, consistent thread running through all of these mostly instrumental ditties, proving that humor really does belong in music.

One of these records I've had my whole life, or all but the first 2 years of it maybe. I loved "Alvin's Harmonica" and played it to death on my kiddie record player, which looked something like this.

Since I tended to play every record I had over and over, I'd listen to the B sides as well. Therefore "Mediocre" is very familiar to me. Even though I was very young, I think I still got the joke, which explains why Bagdasarian was such a hit with the younguns. You can hear how this record was abused. It's in the grooves, man.

"Almost Good" is the B side of "The Chipmunk Song" and "Flip Side" is the flip side of "Ragtime Cowboy Joe". I acquired those two records just in the last couple of years, and was charmed by Bagdasarian's approach to B side etiquette. I think I used to have a copy of "The Witch Doctor", but probably smeared too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on it, and now I don't remember what the B side was. Ah, such is life.


It Shore Ain't No Vocoder

Friday, June 23, 2006

:: The Spook ::

:: Sleep Walk ::

:: I'm Just A Guitar (Everybody Picks On Me) ::

Another shining example of someone you've probably heard, but never heard of, Pete Drake left behind an impressive body of work, as not only an individual artist and session man, but also as a producer. He started out in a group called Sons of the South, whose ranks included future country heavies Roger Miller and Doug Kershaw. And it was on Miller's record, "Lock, Stock And Teardrops," that his trademark "talking guitar" first appeared. While no one jumped up and took notice right away, it wasn't long before he had a hit with "Forever," and his unique pedal steel sound was the talk of the town. It was so different.

Inspired by his desire to give people with speech loss the ability to talk and craving a new sound, he developed a system with which he could mouth sounds and mimic words while playing his pedal steel. Listening to it today, you would just think it was a vocoder or a talk box (Frampton Comes Alive, baby!), and it worked much the same, but think about what that crazy shit must have sounded like back in the early 60's.

He played for tons of people, from Ernest Tubb to George Harrison (on All Things Must Pass, no less), and certainly has to be regarded as one of the most inventive players to ever come from the country stables. He died in 1988, just shy of his 56th birthday.


Oo-ooh, California

Thursday, June 22, 2006

:: Chris Gillard - New York to California ::

I found this self-released 45 a few weeks ago in the cheap box at Amoeba. Stuffed inside the sleeve was a letter, dated 1978, from the 21-year old Newfoundland artist, Chris Gillard, asking for any help the recipient could provide on furthering his music career. I guess that call was directed towards some L.A. record exec and went unheeded, dashing young Chris’ hopes and dreams. Until now, that is. Chris, 28 years have passed, but I want you to know that I heard your call. And now, through the miracle of internets, your music will be heard by all four of our Record Robot readers! Godspeed, and good luck.


DW And The Dry Well Singers

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

:: Ruby Tuesday ::

:: Story Book Children ::

One of my great joys upon visiting Austin, TX this past March was the discovery Antone's Records, and one of their best features was an entire section of vinyl devoted to artists from Texas. Now you might think this would be mostly country records, and it was, but as I recall, there was everything from Butthole Surfers to Buck Owens (who was born in Texas, but raised in Arizona and of course put Bakersfield, CA on the map). In any case, it was great to browse records grouped together by regional pride, and I found this gem in the mix.

I wasn't much familiar with Don Williams or the Pozo Seco Singers, but I figured what the hey? And I liked what I heard: Straight forward country folk ballads free of frills and delivered with honesty. Reminds me of Texas.

The Pozo Seco Singers were Williams, Lofton Kline and Susan Taylor. They had some hits in the mid to late 60s, and then eventually petered out. Williams seemed reluctant to pursue a solo career, but once he got rolling in the mid-70s, he kept right on going until country became a whole different animal (read: "suck") by the early 90s, so it was time to retire.

This record is some kind of knock-off featuring late period Pozo Seco material, meant to cash in on Williams' early solo success. Regardless of the somewhat cheesy packaging, I dig every track on it, and gosh, I hope you do too!


Hats Off To Dave Doughman.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

:: All The President's Men ::

:: Feeling Transparent ::

:: Painfully Obvious ::

:: A Drinking Town ::

:: Bars Close ::

:: Before The Flood ::

:: Plum Island ::

:: Speedracer's Lament ::

:: Two Blocks From The River ::

:: Smart Aleck's Karma ::

So, The Record Robot is one year old today. We thought about doing something special. Thought about it. But stuff like Superman and Peoria, Illinois, and Illpreparedness put the kibosh on any special ideas we had. But thanks for reading us, and I have to say it feels like it's been about three years already. Pretty much the only special things about today are that the 7" I am writing about has the word Tuesday in its title, and today is Tuesday, and that Kevin over at the mighty fine Pop Zeus blog is also doing a piece on the same band. So it's a banner day for people who like their music free, and have an interest in this particular band.

Swearing At Motorists, or S@M if you dig acronyms that resemble naughty typos, hail from the mythical hamlet of Dayton, Ohio. It used to be, as it is on the 7" I am posting here, the duo of Dave Doughman and Don Thrasher. Don Thrasher used to play a little drums here and there for GBV. Dave Doughman comes from a long line of pizza makers. Or not.

Dave is a friendly guy, and he's got an interesting mind, at least in the ways he expresses himself lyrically. I've seen S@M live a few times, and you never know what you'll get from him, particularly if there's any type of equipment failure. The songs are simple without being dumb, a little depressing yet hopeful enough to not be dour. This 1996 EP, Tuesday's Pretzel Night, was the first thing I ever heard by them, and as I was already quite enamored of another Dayton band who utilized six packs and four tracks in ways I'd always wished I could (GBV), this was 10 slices of imperfected lo-fi heaven. The last time I saw Dave Doughman, I helped him carry about 10 beers.

Tony is Pretzel Knight

Why, It's The Electric Indian

Monday, June 19, 2006

:: Broad Street ::

Today we’ve got another example of a group formed of studio session musicians, this time offering up a sweet helping of Philly funkiness from 1969. The Electric Indian was assembled by sixties soul singer, Len Barry, who at this point co-owned Marmaduke Records with Bernie Binnick, who had owned Swan Records until closing up shop in 1967.

Some of the musicians who made up The Electric Indian were Bobby Eli on guitar, a young Daryl Hall on the piano, and Vince Montana Jr. on vibraharp. Eli and Montana were both integral parts of MFSB (Mothers Fathers Sisters Brothers), the large rhythm section that backed just about every hit out of Gamble & Huff’s Sigma Sound Studios. MFSB became more prominently known for the theme from Soul Train, “T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia),” which shot to the top of both the pop and R&B charts and won them a Grammy. Montana also went on to form the Salsoul Orchestra.

This single was originally released on the Marmaduke label. The A-side, “Keem-O-Sabe,” is a funky dance tune with The Lone Ranger TV theme reoccurring throughout, and it became an unexpected hit. United Artists picked it up and re-released it, as well as an Electric Indian LP. My copy’s A-side is pretty thrashed, and I can’t offer it to you like that. The B-side, “Broad Street,” is the one to want anyway. It didn’t make it to the LP, but it’s a great instrumental funk jam with a lot of horns and a really cool drum breakdown towards the end – a good tune to get your groove on while prepping to go out on a Friday night.

Broad Street is Philly’s main street, by the way, which divides the east and west halves of the city. Rumor has it that it got its name because the trolleys that ran north and south on it were a bit high to step up on. When women got on, their dresses hiked up and showed a little leg, causing men to hang out more on the street for those fine glimpses of luscious ankle. With more men to be found on the street, more prostitutes started to work it, and hence the name changed from 14th Street to Broad Street. Get it? Broads. That’s probably all bullshit, but I’d rather spread rumors than debunk them.


Refreshing Innocence

Friday, June 16, 2006

:: Mairzy Doats. ::

:: A Lifetime Lovin' You ::

:: Whence I Make Thee Mine ::

:: I Don't Wanna Be Around You ::

This was one of those records I couldn't not buy, even though I knew nothing about what it was. I figured maybe it was bubble gum, but I was getting Kama Sutra Records mixed up with Buddah Records (an easy mistake). It turned out to just be a pretty good pop/rock record from the mid-60s. This was yet another case of guys who had been around for a while, going by different band names trying to fit in with the times. Pete Anders and Vinnie Poncia were staff producers at Kama Sutra. They wrote, produced and performed their own songs in bands like the Videls ("Mr. Lonely"), the Critters ("Bad Misunderstanding") and the Tradewinds ("Mind Excursion" & "New York's A Lonely Town") before going with the Innocence. None of this made big waves in the pop music world, but they were pretty decent and they made a good run of it. They took one last stab at fame in 1969 at Warner Bros. with The Anders & Poncia Album before finally hanging it up. Poncia went on to produce acts like Kiss and Ringo Starr (ultimately making Kiss sound like Ringo Starr), while Anders went back to using his real name (Andreoli) and kept a low profile.

Meanwhile this is a dog gone ok album. Fer Chrisakes, Charlie - Richard Meltzer loved it. Here's a snip from his liner notes:

"Mairzy Doats is a readymade classic. Mere words reduced to mere sounds regrouped into new mere words which are somehow more poetically evocative than the originals. Here The Innocence speaks with somebody else's speech composed of just a pile of word play. Just playful as a silly kid's song, it has been allowed to crystallize into a monument to nonserious word play. And now, after John Lennon's great books have validated just this type of "game", The Innocence has come to resurrect Mairzy Doats and give Rock an addition so perfect for Rock and so long inevitable."

As usual, I don't know what the fuck he's on about, but yeah, they're pretty good. I'll be damned if "I Don't Wanna Be Around You" doesn't sound like Joe Pernice minus a bit of self loathing, and "A Lifetime of Lovin' You" predicts a certain sort of '70s pop sensibility. If "Mairzy Doats" doesn't make you smile, there's something fuckin' wrong with you, and "Whence I Make Thee Mine" proves once and for all that olde English maketh not hit records. This stuff might catch on yet. Maybe it's not the end of the Innocence (sorry).


Maphis Unleashes The Fury

Thursday, June 15, 2006

:: Bye Bye Blues ::

:: Little Liza Jane ::

Joe Maphis had himself some manual dexterity. The man could play anything stringed with ridiculous velocity and amazing precision, kind of like a runaway player piano. Though he is often remembered as a session man, he did put out some albums with his wife Rose, and a handful of solo albums t'boot. Fans of high octane country pickin', such as Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West, Roy Clark, or even Junior Brown, would do well to seek out Fire On The Strings.

Hi-Fi Holiday For Banjo, featuring his talents on the tenor banjo, came out in 1959. Side one displays his virtuosity just fine, but the numbers don't really allow for him to let loose, and these dusty old standards are just hokey enough that even with some blazing finger work, they don't really grab your attention. (Camptown Races, anyone?)

Side two, however, is full of jaw-dropping, high speed strummin' and a pickin'. Some of it is so fast it kinda sounds like a CD skipping. The irony! I can't seem to find out who backed Joe on this album, but whoever played the piano was one ferocious tinkler. There's something about music this fast, yet so clean and precise, that really kicks my ass. Fuck Yngwie Malmsteen, give me Joe Maphis any day of the week.


Disco Ball

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

:: Disco Lucy (I Love Lucy Theme) ::

:: You Don't Even Know Who We Are ::

I was still a wee lad during the disco era and experienced none of its grotesque glory firsthand. I do, however, occasionally get to catch some of the horror that I missed when I reach into my bottomless box of dollar records that are waiting for a listen. Such was the case over the weekend when I popped this “Disco Lucy” single onto the turntable, and luckily for you, I thought I’d share.

Released in 1976 by the Wilton Place Street Band, a group made up of Los Angeles studio musicians, it made it to #24 on the Billboard’s American pop chart. Google doesn’t give up anything on the identity of these studio musicians, but I’ve found that the two female vocalists are Lynda Laurence and her sister, Sandray Tucker, who were members of one of the versions of Stevie Wonder’s backup group, Wonderlove. Lynda was also a member of one of the post-Diana Ross variations of The Supremes, and she’s been touring with something that I hadn’t known existed - FLOS: Former Ladies of The Supremes - over the last twenty years. Good Lord.

After listening to Mike’s post yesterday, I thought I’d include the b-side, “You Don’t Even Know Who We Are,” as it almost sounds like one of those irascible, yet lovable Pipkins was involved on vocals.


Dat Ding

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

:: Here Come De Kins ::

:: My Baby Loves Lovin' ::

When I saw this album, the first thing that flashed across my mind was, "70s one hit wonder!", and that's exactly what it is. I vaguely remembered "Gimme Dat Ding" as a nonsense song that registered as a top 40 hit at a time when I had stopped listening to top 40 radio in favor of FM rawk. Beyond that I knew nothing of it. Listening to the album, I found it, well, unlistenable. Every song features a guy with a Wolfman Jack type voice and another guy who sings in a falsetto voice. Irritating is a good word for it.

When I finally made it to side 2, the song "My Baby Loves Lovin'" rang a bell, but I couldn't place it. Doing research on the Pipkins turned up little info, but when I did a search on "My Baby Loves Lovin'", I found the motherload.

Singers Tony Burrows, Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook were some nice English boys who had a band in the late 50s/early 60s called The Kestrels. They were modestly successful until the British Invasion invaded their own territory and put an end to their sweet, innocent harmony based pop. Greenaway and Cook started writing songs together and hit paydirt with "You've Got Your Troubles" recorded by The Fortunes in 1965. Burrows, in the mean time went from band to band, finding moderate success until ultimately winding up in The Flowerpot Men, who recorded the hit, "Let's Go To San Francisco". By the late 60s though, Burrows had had enough of touring and made himself available for session work, which turned out to be quite lucrative.

Reuniting with Greenaway and Cook, Burrows recorded hit after hit, each with a different band name like The Brotherhood of Man ("United We Stand"), Edison Lighthouse ("Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"), White Plains ("My Baby Loves Lovin'") and The Pipkins. All of these songs were hits around the same time in late 69/early 70, but few people knew they were all by the same guys. People in the industry knew though, and Burrows was subsequently blackballed and relegated to singing commercial jingles.

Greenaway and Cook however continued to write hit songs for other artists such as The Hollies ("Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress"). And speaking of commercial jingles, they co-wrote "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" for Coca-Cola, which they then re-wrote (removing the references to Coke) and had a hit with the New Seekers.

All this goes to show that one hit wonders are not always what they seem. In the Pipkins' case, it's a wonder they had a hit at all, let alone an album's worth of material. I'll spare you the hit, since it's available on many a 70s hit comp, but I give you "Here Come De Kins" by way of introduction to the irascible, yet lovable Pipkins, as well as their version of the Cook-Greenaway hit, "My Baby Loves Lovin'".

I recently saw a copy of this album in a store in the R&B section, which made me laugh a bit. Then again, did the Pipkins invent Rap?


My Blue In Heaven LP

Sunday, June 11, 2006

:: Sometimes ::

:: The Big Beat ::

:: It's Saturday ::

:: Julie Cries ::

Certain music reminds me of very distinct times in my life. Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right," specifically the bitchin' vibes solo, reminds me of going through the Toy National Bank drive-thru with my mom in grandpa's old New Yorker, and how I was fascinated by the way the little cannister would get sucked back and forth between our car and the teller behind the glass. Actually, I am still kind of fascinated by that. The sappy soul strains of Ambrosia's "Biggest Part of Me" remind me of the summer vacation before 5th grade, when my mom would leave me money for lunch when she left for work, and trying to purchase the cheapest thing possible at the Sunshine Market so that I'd still have enough left over to get a Dilly Bar at the Dairy Queen.

Anyway, Blue In Heaven's first LP, All The God's Men, reminds me of my sophomore year of high school. I went to boarding school, since I was such a bad boy, and since there are bad boys all over the world, we had students from all over the world. I discovered quite a few bands through the Thai kids (hi Kanokchai, Pong and Au!,) who had seemingly endless supplies of bootleg cassettes, chock full of 12" remixes and whatever else fit on them. It was on these that I heard my first Aztec Camera, Colourfield, Style Council, Smiths and Cure. I can't be totally sure that I first heard Blue In Heaven on one of those tapes, but I had to mention Thai bootleg cassettes at some point, and this seemed as good a time as any. The real point here is that I had a high-speed dubbed cassette of this album that I wore out during high school and beyond, and listening to it reminds me of a certain sunny spring afternoon on the parade field, yours truly decked out in ugly plaid madras shorts, hoping that Jennifer Hall couldn't tell I had totally popped a boner after I let her tackle and pin me to the ground. At some point, I couldn't stand it anymore and got this puppy on Ebay.

Hailing from Ireland, this band was sort of a minor player in the 80's new wave/modern rock scene. They probably opened for a lot of big names in the UK, and while I have the feeling they weren't very highly regarded, I sure love them. Many of the songs are bass-driven, and while I can certainly hear a lot of their influences, I think the combinations are interesting enough to overcome that. I definitely liked singer Shane O'Neill's sneered and sometimes sarcastic vocals, and sitting atop all the sinister guitar and bass drone, it was right up my alley. This album was produced by the late great Martin Hannett, a man behind the console on many a postpunk classic. I'm either giving you a lost gem that you wished you'd heard back then, or another band that exemplifies what you didn't like about the 80's, you decide.


Otis, My Man!

Friday, June 09, 2006

:: Otis & the Shooters - Tuff Enuff ::

:: Otis Redding - Gamma Lama ::

:: Little Joe Curtis - Your Mini Skirt ::

I was waiting tables at a diner in the early nineties and there was a little transistor radio that played the oldies station back in the kitchen. I was back there one night munching on fries when one of the waitresses started to sway softly, exclaiming that the song that was playing was “the most beautiful song in the world.” One of the cooks replied, “If you’re a woman, it is.” The song was “These Arms of Mine,” sung by Otis Redding, and it was the first time I’d heard anything by him that wasn’t “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.” I didn’t let on at the time, but that song and Redding’s voice moved me. You know, deep down inside where I’m soft and tender like a woman. The man’s music still continues to turn me to a puddle, and really, he opened the door for me to start investigating ‘60’s soul music and discover all the other greats, guys like Solomon Burke, Billy Stewart, James Carr, and countless others. But Otis is always tops for me; he was just so damn, uh, soulful. Check out this video clip from his appearance on British TV show, Ready Steady Go! and revel in that soulfulness.

Before he was picked up by Stax in 1962, Redding had appeared on three singles between 1960 and 1961. Two of these singles, along with their b-sides, are included on this album put out in 1968 by budget label, Somerset Records, to capitalize on his death. (Somerset, by the way, are the folks responsible for all those 101 Strings albums in every dusty dollar bin.) The singles included are “She’s Alright/Tuff Enough” (credited as The Shooters, Trans World, 1960) and “Getting’ Hip/Gamma Lama” (Alshire, 1961). The a-sides were included on Rhino’s fantastic1993 box-set, The Definitive Otis Redding, but I don’t think those b-sides are available anywhere on cd, so I’m putting them up here. The “She’s Alright/Tuff Enough” single was recorded with the band that Redding joined in 1960, Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers, though I’m not clear why they were called The Shooters for the release. “Gamma Lama” is Otis doing a bit of a Little Richard impersonation, and is basically an alternate version of “Shout Bamalama,” which he recorded and released in 1961 on the Confederate label under the Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers name.

As far as Little Joe Curtis, whose six songs fill up the rest of the LP, I can’t really find any info on him. It appears that Somerset used him as just that: filler. I’m putting up one of his songs just in case you’re interested, but his offerings are not very special, and that’s putting it nicely.


Mike's Mike Post Post

Thursday, June 08, 2006

:: The A-Team ::

:: Beat It ::

:: Footloose ::

I'm no TV fan, generally speaking. Jesus knows, I'm too busy listening to records and writing Robot articles to keep up with Lost or American Idol. I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid, but that was in the '60s, and by the time I was about 13 I seemed to loose interest, probably because I discovered Grand Funk or something along those lines. So no, I never watched Hill Street Blues, Magnum P.I., Hunter, The Rockford Files (well ok, I saw it a few times because my Dad always watched cop shows), L.A. Law or The God Damned A-Team, which means I'm not all that familiar with Mike Post.

Being a child of '60s television, I grew up loving certain TV themes. Stuff like Mission Impossible, Mannix (Lalo Schifrin - fuck yeah!), Bonanza, Get Smart, F Troop, Peter Gunn, Outer Limits, I Spy, Andy Williams Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres, Addams Family (Vic Mizzy - fuck yeah!), Dragnet, Perry Mason, Highway Patrol... need I go on? Because I can go on and on. Part of the reason I checked out of the TV scene in the '70s was because production values went south and the art of the theme song seemed to vanish into thin air. Gone were the memorable melodies you'd look forward to hearing every week and in their place were meandering, seemingly pointless ditties that stuck with you like weenies on Teflon. Well, except for Three's Company, of course.

So here we are in the '80s and Mike Post is an Emmy winning phenomenon and I don't get it, nor do I give a shit. But I figure 20 some odd years later, some of this stuff might sound pretty funny, especially when Mikey does his instrumental take on some of the pop hits of the day. Yep, pretty funny alrighty. Excuse me while I go shoot myself in the head. This is the end of Mike's post.

Mike's Ghost


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

:: Possum Dixon - Sister ::

:: Black Angel's Death Song - Twelve Stations To Go. ::

Here's a little slice of early 90's Los Angeles rock history for ya. Now, I am probably one of the last people who should be writing about Possum Dixon, as I can only remember owning their self-titled CD, after rescuing it from a Wherehouse bargain bin in Santa Rosa. Those were the days of $3 CD's and Red Dog for me, and I am sad to report that I can remember the taste of Red Dog ($3.99 for a twelve pack -- bottles!), but not too much about Possum Dixon. Basically, they were a group of regular joes with day jobs who gigged their way into a major label deal, a nice little rock n' roll success story.

This split 7", diplomatically titled a "Double A Side," features the Dixon on one side, and a band called Black Angel's Death Song on the other. All I can tell you about Black Angel's Death Song is that I know where they probably got their name, and that if they went just by their acronym they would've been filed next to Big Audio Dynamite at your local Tower Records.

I don't remember Possum Dixon sounding like this, but this was early on for them, when bands tend to sound a little rougher and tougher. I dig the raw and discordant sound of "Sister." BADS' tune sounds just about how I'd have guessed a band with their name might sound, and that's not a bad thing by any stretch. I apologize for the sound quality -- I can't tell if this is just a crap pressing, if my copy is wonky, or if something more sinister is afoot.


Baby Songs

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

:: Jump My Baby ::

:: My Baby's Gone ::

I’ve been slowly sifting through a box of blues records that someone gave me a little while back. I rarely listen to the blues, but there’s some really good stuff in this box and my needle has been dropping on some of them repeatedly of late – Otis Rush, Otis Spann, Buddy Guy, and some decent blues harmonica records from Little Walter Jacobs. I planned to post some of the best songs I’ve found on them, but a quick check on the internet shows that all of them have been released on CD and are readily available, so forget it.

Anyway, I was playing records from this little blues box over the weekend and I put this James Harman Band album on for the first time. Honestly, I thought they might be a comedy-type band, what with the “Those Dangerous Gentlemens” title, alongside the cheesy shot of the band looking anything but dangerous. Turns out it contains some pretty decent blues-rock, and James Harman is a Los Angeles area singer and harmonica player who’s been playing the blues in bars since the sixties. He started up the James Harman Band in 1977 and they continue to play in pubs up and down the West Coast today, although they’ve gone through many incarnations over the years. This first album, released in 1987 on Rhino Records, features Kid Ramos, who went on to join the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1995. Two songs also feature a second guitarist, Hollywood Fats (Michael Mann), who passed away before the album was released at the age of 32. You can hear his lead guitar on “Jump My Baby.” The song that really hits is “My Baby’s Gone,” written by Dennis Linde, the man who penned Elvis’ last number one hit, “Burning Love” back in 1972.



Monday, June 05, 2006

:: Rock The Nation ::

As they say, the dollar bins are full of dashed rock & roll dreams, and my guess is that Dick Coulson & Letter O's are among them. I have not been able to scrounge much info about these guys, except that they were apparently from Detroit and this 5 song mini-LP, release by Polydor in the early 80s was their big shot. It was not a bad shot, but it missed.

Producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon) executive produced this sucker, which probably made Dick and the boys feel even more hopeful that their future as rock gods was assured. The songs were decent, cookie cutter, post-classic rock - somewhere in between new wave and Bryan Adams style early 80s pop. Lord knows a lot of this kind of stuff was doing brisk business in 1983, but a national following for Letter O was not in the cards, which makes the lyrics to "Rock The Nation" somewhat ironic.

Hindsight is easy, so let's indulge, shall we? Perhaps Dick Coulson & Letter O was not the best possible band name. Even without Dick, Letter O is not so good. Next, take a look at the guys on the cover. It's easy to tell which one's Dick, and he's the coolest looking of the bunch. The other guys give new meaning to the term, "regular guys", although the one on the left does his best to emphasize the muscles in his arms (nice 'stash too!), and the guy on the right (not Dick, but the balding guy with the blue sweater) has a nice package.

Dorkiness aside, these guys may have simply been one of too many bands that sounded like this back then, and it makes me wonder, where are they now? 23 years on, I hope they all found happiness and meaning in life. And baggier pants.


Singin' Siblings

Thursday, June 01, 2006

:: 1-45 ::

Nino Tempo and April Stevens are a brother and sister pop act (born Antonio and Carol Lo Tiempo) who I knew from the wonderfully over-the-top 1959 lounge classic "Teach Me Tiger," a song that practically forces a cocktail into your hand and makes you lay on a tacky yet expensive rug made from an animal not from this continent's hide. If you want to read about their history, go to their site, where they'll fill you in from the very early days up to almost current times, like how much an old King EP went for on Ebay recently.

You can't really hear April on this 1964 recording, which is a shame since she purrs so nice. This number was the flipside of the oft-covered Hoagie Carmichael standard "Stardust," and was written and sung by Nino, with sis presumably somewhere amongst the background vocals. As far as gimmick songs go, this one sure goes the full mile -- you may never see the number 145 the same way again. It plays like a late 50's pop country tune, telling a tale and finishing off with a twist at the end. They don't write 'em like this any more, and that's probably okay. Note that on the label, the song is listed as having a playing time of 1:45 + 1:00. WE GET IT.

Tony The Tiger