Saturday, December 24, 2016

S. Frank Frazier Singing Christmas Carols Voice of Psalm Music Unknown Year

S. Frank Frazier Singing Christmas Carols Voice of Psalm Music Unknown Year CAT #D1026

I don't celebrate the Christmas holiday, but I can dig some soulful gospel renditions of holiday classics. S. Frank Frazier was a Kansas City native doing his thing at the Metropolitan Spiritual Church in KCK. By 1971, he started Voice of Psalm Music and  put out a number of Gospel LPs.

As this is a Christmas LP, I can't say I recommend it...but, there are some originals and again, the tunes here bring a lot of soul. Based on the back cover, you'd think this album is going to be amazing, but again, Christmas songs, no matter how many times you rearrange them, you gotta be one of those people that just loves the holiday to find a lot of value in it.

I have another S. Frank Frazier LP I'm hoping I can blow doors off with. Apparently in 1961, Frazier recorded a blues single that charted and sold well. So, the guy has some secular cred. Additionally, the players and his voice are top-notch on this record, So, I'm expecting big things from additional LPs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Kansas Point of Know Return Half-Speed Mastered CBS 1977/1980

Kansas Point of Know Return Half-Speed Mastered CBS 1977/1980 CAT #HZ 44929

I've discussed this LP before, it's Kansas' masterpiece, there most well thought out LP and it's got the hits.

This version differs in that it's a CBS Half-Speed Remaster that came out in 1980. In the 70's, Mobil Fidelity Sound Lab began to remaster titles at half speed and make limited runs on high quality vinyl. Better known as MoFi, the records sound great and are considered audiophile releases, sold at a premium and still command a significant amount today. They started a trend and the majors attempted to latch onto audiophile trend. Obvisouly, someone thought enough of Kansas to press up some audiophile copies.

Problem is that while an album like 'Point of Know Return' deserves an audiophile pressing, CBS' process wasn't anywhere as good as the MoFi releases. There are some Half-Speed CBS records that aren't any better, possibly worst than the original pressing. This pressing isn't terrible, but it's not great either. It's really bright and thin, which brings out a lot of keyboards well, but other areas suffer. It's generally panned as a terrible audiophile press, but I would still argue it's listenable (there's a CBS Self-Titled Boston LP that is absolute garbage and this isn't on that level of suckitude).

Surprisingly, despite that most experts will say stay away from this and most other CBS Half-Speed pressings, a copy still demands a premium over a clean original. Apparently the thought of having something marked audiophile outweighs the quality to some people.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ozark Mountain Daredevils Men From Earth A&M Records 1976

Ozark Mountain Daredevils Men From Earth A&M Records 1976 CAT #SP-4601

Although they continued several more years past this release, this LP marks the end of a pretty good run for the Springfield, MO band that made a huge impression on Kansas City in their early days. This effort wasn't as consistent as their prior releases, but it's the same odd blend of old-time bluegrass, smooth pop, and country rock that sometimes goes song to song and other times within a single track.

There's a crazy story about founding member, Randle Chowning getting into a fight with his bandmates in Europe and quitting the band around the time of this LPs release. Apparently, a band sound mix pissed Chowning off, so he turned it to 11. After the show, he argued with band members and held a grudge all the way back home and ended up leaving the band. Despite that, he's listed as a sideman in the credits for 'Sideman From Earth', obviously appearing on some of the album tracks. Also interesting, the album was recorded EVERYWHERE. In Nashville, as well at the legendary Caribou Ranch in Colorado, and surprisingly at American Artist Studio in Springfield, Missouri, the same studio that drummed up business releasing a bunch of local custom and private press records in the area.

Again, 'Men from Earth' is a bit more uneven than the prior LPs, maybe due to the all the different recording locations. But, it's not a miss by any means, it has its share of enjoyable tracks, just lacking an obvious hit.

Fly Away Home

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Music Department of Shawnee Mission North in Concert 1966-67 Century Records 1967

Music Department of Shawnee Mission North in Concert 1966-67 Century Records 1967 CAT # CL 4-5600

Not much to this LP, not even the typical Beatles cover that was all the rage with high school choirs. Really only reason to pick it up is to archive it.

It's the Shawnee Mission North music program recorded in concert. The girl's choir is kind of entertaining, but yeah, nothing special. Typical selections for a high school program and it all ends up sounding like church music.

Greater Corinthian Nondenominational Church of Kansas City, Missouri Close to Thee HSE of America 1980

Greater Corinthian Nondenominational Church of Kansas City, Missouri Close to Thee HSE of America 1980 CAT #HSE 1543

This LP is hot fire. The title and opening track 'Close to Thee' starts funky with a rootsy choir, the lead male takes over taking a standard approach, then, I can't tell if it's the same guy or someone pairing with him, but this insane falsetto voice starts and owns the song. The next track, 'Sanctified, Justified, Glorified' is uptempo gospel, maybe a little too fast for the church's own sake as everyone has a hard time keeping up, but it makes the song real and live. It also continues for over 10 minutes. Third and final track on the 1st side, 'Plenty Good Room', slows things down considerably, but there's still plenty of fire pouring through it's grooves.

The second side starts hot with female led track, 'By and By'. After that, the album finishes with a winding gospel jam that is followed by an exit prayer, exploding in gospel music in the last minute.

As the title states, the church was located in Kansas City. The record was put out by the Nashville, TN gospel lable, HSE of America. Don't know much about the players, but they're great. Solid LP.

Sanctified, Justified, Glorified

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Linda Rich There's More to Living Than I Know So Far Inter-Varsity Records 1969

Linda Rich There's More to Living Than I Know So Far Inter-Varsity Records 1969 CAT #LPS-03498

The cover for Linda Rich's 'There's More to Living Than I Know So Far' catches your eye with it's 60's pop-art lettering and simplicity. You turn it over, and in the upper right there's a picture of Linda Rich and she looks motherly, old even. Then you read through the back notes and it's all about Jesus and religion, now she looks like a grandma in the photo.

If you search the LP online, though, you'll find that it's sold often as "folk-psych" as well as with the Christian abbreviation, Xian. Once you listen to it, the "folk psych" thing is just hype, it's folk, but as psych as the weakest Moody Blues song. It's certainly religious, but you can figure out why there's a demand for the LP. It's well-done femme folk from the late 60's. Linda Rich's back photo must just be a bad angle, because her voice doesn't sound like an older woman, she sounds youthful. The album is Linda Rich, her guitar, and backing musicians that do their best to bring about a hippie-inspired dream session. If you can get past all the Jesus, it's a pretty solid LP. The reissue label Numero Group even featured the track "Sunlight Shadow" on a recent compilation.

The back cover gives some clues to Linda Rich, she played around colleges for Christian youth groups throughout the Midwest and apparently an awful lot in Colorado. She was from Augusta, Kansas, which is a small town about 30 minutes East of Wichita. Other than that, she did another obscure LP and it appears she was a recent college grad or current student at the time of this release in 1969.

Sunlight, Shadow

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Anniversary Designing a Nervous Breakdown Vagrant/Heroes & Villians/BMG 2000/2016 Reissue

The Anniversary Designing a Nervous Breakdown Vagrant/Heroes & Villains/BMG 2000/2016 Reissue CAT #VR4401

Man, I remember being so excited for this record in 2000. I actually got an advance copy to promote through an indie-promotion company when I was doing "street team" work. The Anniversary was becoming a big deal, locally and nationally. They were touring with the Get Up Kids, the singles they had released up to their debut were frantic emo-pop sing-alongs.

However, when I got the album I remember being completely let down. The album starts out promising with "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" followed by "All Things Ordinary", but after that, I remember thinking the band had run out of ideas. The Rentals formula was wearing thin and in bursts, it worked for the band, but for an entire album, it gets thin. When the album was officially released, I never bothered updating my promo copy which was just a disc in a plain white envelope with a hype-sticker across the back.

Years later, when nostalgia took over, I regretted never buying it on vinyl. When I started looking for it, I would have been lucky to find a copy for $50. Then, just recently, Vagrant started re-releasing a bunch of their back catalog for the label's 20 year anniversary and this was included. I waited too long apparently to get a standard black copy and settled for this blue colored version...and once again, I was disappointed when I first put it on. Not because I felt I bought a bad album, I can now validate the purchase for two great tracks and some solid filler, I got more money than I did in 2000. But, what I was upset about this time was slightly warped vinyl...WTF. Quality control on recent vinyl pressings leaves a lot to be desired, but that's to be expected when everyone is buying records again.

Either way, the album sounds better today than it did back then. Bonus, the warp doesn't affect playback, so it's cool. I'm picking up on all the moments when the Get Up Kids association rubbed off on these guys, the pick slides, the obvious emo infliction, it's nice. But, mostly it's the nostalgia that gets me.

Designing a Nervous Breakdown