Thursday, December 25, 2014

Loman D. Cansler Folksongs of the Midwest Folkways 1973

Loman D. Cansler Folksongs of the Midwest Folkways 1973 CAT# FH 5330

Loman D. Cansler was an archivist, historian and collector. He recorded a number of collections of Midwest folk songs that were focused on Missouri. He collected and found these tunes, recording them for the Folkways label as a way to archive them. His day to day, at least per the booklet supplied with this LP indicates Cansler was in the education field. At the time of this LP's release he was a counselor at North Kansas City High School. Prior to that, he was performing, archiving, and writing articles on Missouri folk music around the St. Louis area.

As a performer, he's pretty simple. The album is just Cansler and mostly just his guitar, some tunes due have minimal accompaniment, an organ or piano show up here and there. His vocals are plain, simple and pleasant. He doesn't embellish the tunes with guitar, he just uses it to establish the melody. The songs selected on the LP deal with religion, hardships, and religion. Typical Midwest stuff. Cansler provides a brief history of each song in the albums booklets as well as the lyrics. Like any old Folkways record, it's educational and presented as archival material. Worth picking it up if you see it.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Bob Brookmeyer Portriat of the Artist Atlantic 1960

Bob Brookmeyer Portriat of the Artist Atlantic 1960 CAT# 1320

Bob Brookmeyer was born in Kansas City, MO and began his career in town. He was renowned as a valve trombonist throughout his career working with many jazz greats throughout his career. However, as this compilation showcases, he was also an accomplished pianist.

As a teen, he attended the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, but began playing professional as a pianist prior to graduation. His jazz stardom came to when he concentrated on valve trombone while a part of a Stan Getz led group that featured Gerry Mulligan.

This album also showcases his skills as an arranger and it should be noted, trombone isn't the typical instrument for a bandleader, although others did do it. Again, though, Brookmeyer wasn't limited to the trombone. He arranged at the piano and let his classical music education work it's way into his jazz arrangements. He's pretty square, but can be as complex as another area jazz great, Stan Kenton.

The music featured here is almost cinematic in scope. He can swing when he wants, but he concentrates on trying to impress. The liner notes present a "Gee Shucks" kind of character, but given the amount of respect Brookmeyer had at this time-he was trying to show off. The first side is entitled, "Blues Suite" and seperated into 4 movements. The second side is more basic, but still pretty cinematic in it's approach. The best moments are when he came up with a melody that gets it's legs from guys like Ellington and Monk. Those are the moments is his work that the listener can connect with and hold on to.

The Dillards Roots and Branches Anthem 1972

The Dillards Roots and Branches Anthem 1972 CAT #ANS 5901

It's a bit of stretch to throw the Dillards into this blog, but the connections to Kansas City are there. The band is from Salem, Missouri which is 4 hours East of Kansas City. However, the Dillard brothers worked extensively with Bonner Springs native and Byrd, Gene Clark. The album Dillard & Clark is a tough one to track down and well worth it if you can find it. Further, mandolin player Dean Webb, was from Independence, MO. Overall, just including them for the association with Clark and the proximity, oh, and they're awesome. If I could, I'd also include John Hartford, but haven't figured out how to get him in here...he's undeniably from St. Louis.

Put out in 1972, Roots and Branches, is a bit more polished than the band's earlier work which was released by Elektra. Their early LPs focused on roots driven bluegrass with great vocal harmonies. After leaving Elektra, the band attempted a more commercial sound on this LP. The harmonies are still there, the roots feel is still there, but there are elements of the laid-back California country-rock scene that was prevalent at the time. Still, this is pretty far away from the Eagles. You'll hear similar harmonies, but you have to remember it was the Dillards who first influenced bands like the Eagles; these guys were just trying to cash in on the scene they helped start.

Highlights on the LP include the fuzzed out lead track, "Redbone Hound." The Shel Silverstien cover of "Last Morning," is light, airy, and rural. The rollicking feel of "Get on the Road" can sound a bit disingenuous, but, it's a nice attempt at putting some more rock into the band's countrified sound. The must-hear moment on the LP though is vocal rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow", with all it's hillbilly harmonies.

Redbone Hound

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pete Eye Self Titled Mary Jane Productions 1978

Pete Eye Self Titled Mary Jane Productions 1978 CAT# SRK-3532

Poor self-titled Pete Eye LP. No one gives a chance. Sure, you're cover is a terrible self-potrait in terribly dated clothing. And after seeing that cover, most people think creepy, white-gospel music or something worse. But, you're not that bad. Sure, there's no "Cissy Strut" like the self-titled Pete Eye Trio LP, but it's the same basic idea...yet, no one cares, no one gives you a chance.

You do however get a bit arrogant and take a lot of heart out of your jazz numbers in favor of technical piano work. That's great, but what's the point in the jazz format, some of us like to dance...and you just keep showing off on the keyboards, over and over. I mean the first song is over 8 minutes of it; nobody has time for that.

Maybe people did give you a chance, after the groovy sounds of the Pete Eye Trio LP, they had to. They just got bored with all the piano masturbation. They went out for a smoke, came back, same piano ramblings going on over a bass and drum duo. Sure, there's moments, but there's no "Cissy Strut." It's just a lot of showing off.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bureman & O'Rourke Strawberry Pickin's Pearce Records 1974

Bureman & O'Rourke Strawberry Pickin's Pearce Records 1974 CAT# 42550

This is a solid LP put out by Pearce and, like most Pearce Recordings, it was done in the Cavern Studios of Independence, MO. The band's later release was discussed here, but this is the more sought after of the two. The LP has sold for hefty amounts thanks to buzz terms like "Rural Folk," "Psych Folk", and "Acid Archives" in which the album is discussed, however, it's a little more basic than all that. It's a well done country rock album, a bit more rural than something like the Eagles, and a bit more mellow than the stuff the Byrds were doing in the 70's. It's value is probably also aided by the Pearce label which collectors have seemed to latch onto.

On the top of the back cover, Bureman & O'Rourke indicate to the listener that the songs featured here are were selected by fans at Putche's Strawberry Patch (clever title now, right?) in Kansas City. It's a collection of some well thought out covers and decent original material. Like other bands that frequented the Strawberry Patch, they do play through some bluegrass at speed, but these guys keep it pretty mellow otherwise. The original song, "Genevieve", is a good example of what the two were capable of. Solid harmonies, haunting melodies, and desire to story tell with their songs.

Other highlights include the cover of "Fox and the Run" as a bluegrass number. The adapted version of "K.T.A." by the group with Kansas towns thrown in throughout is fun. The band's tune "86 Proof" is a spirited attempt at a rock song, it's amusing but falls a bit short. They get all yacth rock with a Kenny Loggins "Love Song," which isn't as bad as it should be, kind of pleasant. Their original tune, "Chanson de L'Oiseau", has some teeth to it and one of their strongest original tunes on the LP, despite the idea of the song being about the middle finger.

Genevieve

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tom Bark Cosmopolitan Redskin Leprechaun Records 1977

Tom Bark Cosmopolitan Redskin Leprechaun Records 1977 CAT# MON 1977 711 x 53

I can find more info about the guys Tom Bark associated than I can find about the actual composer of the album. Apparently, in the early days of rock n' roll Tom Bark was hanging out with the crowd surrounding Larry Emmett & The Sliders, which was an early rock n' roll band in the area. If you couldn't figure it out by the album cover, Tom Bark is Native American as was Larry Emmett. I believe the two formed a somewhat well-known band originally called Colt 45, but later renamed the KC Blues Band in the early 70's. That band stayed together loosely up until recent times.

Stepping away from the KC Blues Band, Tom Bark cut this album in 1977. It sounds very 1977. The production is slick and gives the LP a dated sound. The albums sound is all over the place, which doesn't give Bark much of an identity. He does some modern blues numbers, country tunes, and with KC gunslinger Terry Swope on guitars, he even borders on hard rock/heavy psych for an ending of a tune. 

Bark is best when he focuses on his country rock leanings. The sound doesn't feel forced and the production serves it better. The country waltz of "Wandering Pollyanna" is a highlight. You'd think the label, Leprechaun Records, is a private thing, but they had at least one other release in the 80's and there are possibly other releases out there. The label was located in Kansas City, MO.

Two tracks with terrible sound quality

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Life and Times No One Loves You Like I Do Hawthorne Street Records 2012

The Life and Times No One Loves You Like I Do Hawthorne Street Records 2012 HSR 035

Another LP by the Life and Times which was initially released as a CD, then released on vinyl. This one, the same year as the initial CD which was done by Slimstyle Records.  Coincidentally, the band released it's newest album, Lost Bees, on CD with Slimstyle Records which was later released on vinyl in the same fashion (I haven't picked it up yet, but it's good from the bits I've heard).

Anyway, No One Loves You Like I Do, is a great album. It sounds a bit more in line with the band members post-hardcore roots than the prior, it's like a really slow moving Shiner album. It's heavy on the slowness and building of songs...in fact, the whole album, every track, builds into the next, there's no dead air, just the next song. It's got it's math aspects, very technical throughout. Kids will call it shoegaze, but to me, that's still a British thing so I prefer the term post-rock.

It's one downfall is the track titles are pretentious. Songs are titled Days 1 through 12, but in different order. Who does The Life and Times think they are?  Emerson, Lake, and Palmer? Captin Beyond? It comes off super prog-rock. And, I'm sure there's a "meaning" to it and if I tried hard enough, I might be able to explain...it's probably about a girl. All is forgiven though as the songs and the kick ass and more than make up for the secret meaning behind song titles (drums are the highlight).

Day Eleven (LIVE)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Edmund Denney with the Pleasant Valley Gang The Melodious Voice Meadowlark Record Co. Unknown Year

Edmund Denney with the Pleasant Valley Gang The Melodious Voice Meadowlark Record Co. Unknown Year No CAT#

Edmund Denney appears to be from Nebraska originally.  He was born blind and attended the Nebraska School for a Blind.  His first spot on the radio was also in Nebraska as part of a talent contest in 1934. This all according to the back cover of this LP. At some point, he made it to Topeka, Kansas, and performed daily on Topeka's WIBW with his Pleasant Valley Gang.

The trio would just fill airtime playing songs from the early morning and later slots throughout the day.  Per the back cover regular shows included, "The Kansas Round Up", "The Dinner Hour", and the "Pleasant Valley Gang". Years ago, this was a common practice in radio, an act would be hired on to fill the out the programming schedule with music. Apparently, Edmund was so beloved in Topeka, the station dubbed him "The Voice of Kansas". Further, the act would frequently play at State Fairs and whoever else may want to see the gang live. They were so successful regionally that they performed on the radio all the way up until the mid-1980's, a time when almost all radio stations moved on from such programs.

The music is pleasant, airy, kind of something you can kind of just hum along to and never get offended by. I wouldn't call Mr. Denney's voice "melodious", but he's got a nice tone, it's again, pleasant. The "Gang" is Denney on vocals and rhythm guitar, Bill Kirk on aaccordion and a Miss Elsa on organ. The sparse accompaniment sometimes gives the music a creepy, carnival feel.  But, mostly, it's easy listening fair with some polka's thrown in. Think Kansas' own version of the variety show done by Lawrence Welk and you're in the ballpark.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Just Another Pop Album The Titan Sampler Titan 1980

Just Another Pop Album The Titan Sampler Titan 1980 CAT# 8001

Years ago, when I was heavily into power pop, I had this LP and cherished it.  I had never came across any of the 45s put out by Titan and was turned onto the label by a good friend from the Love Garden.  At that time, this was pretty easy to come by as rumor had it the Titan guys had boxes of them still untouched.

Then, in a moment of complete un-clarity, I dumped a bunch of my power pop collection. This was included in that sell off. A Canadian bought it for $10, hope they enjoyed the crap out of it. At the time, I figured I could get another if needed or locate the 45s. Of course, when I wanted it back I couldn't find it as the Titan label became somewhat of a 'thing'. I still haven't ever seen one of the 45s...

A month or so ago, a friend sent me a photo of this with a .99 cent price tag. He hooked it up and I'm glad to have it back. Apparently, the Titan guys still have some, but I haven't seen them around (stores and shows ain't my bag anymore) and once I got the box set from the Numero Group, this is almost unnecessary.

All the songs are featured on the amazing package put together by Numero Group.  But, when you have this it feels like you're archiving a piece of history. This failed Kansas City label and it's roster put a lot of hard work into this comp. Great cover, great songs, just something that is fun to have.

J.P. McClain & the Intruders Just Another Pop Song

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Mad-Hatters Self Titled Unknown Year

The Mad-Hatters Self Titled Unknown Year CAT# LP-01

The Mad-Hatters are a female folk duo that somehow managed to get the green light from the Greene County Tuberculosis Society to do an album spreading respiratory disease awareness, specifically, tuberculosis.

Based on the cover and the musicianship, these gals appear to be actual nurses that did music as a hobby. The two rework a number of traditional folk tunes and children's songs to spread awareness on respiratory disease and it's prevention.  To fund research for the diseases, the gals recommend you purchase "Christmas Seals" as the best way to help the cause.

What's tough to figure out is if these girls were performing from venue to venue with a heap of Christmas wrap and a pile of albums to obtain funds for medical research. The Christmas stuff, that makes sense, people buy that. The performances, yeah, that's reasonable. The songs are pleasant enough, the Mad-Hatters knock down each well-known melody down to a minute or two and it's just the two girls signing with one playing guitar, the songs are humorous and it wouldn't appear these girls were taking this too seriously, so yeah, playing a goofy, make-shift performance to get people over to you, that makes sense. But, selling an album? That's where things get strange.

Who threw down money, even for a good cause, two hobbyists singing about emphysema and TB sounds awful. And while the tracks won't offend anybody for being awful (again, kind of pleasant) they aren't good or something you'd want to play again and again. It's obvious some folks watched the performances and said, "You gals should put out an album," but that shit was out of politeness. The Mad-Hatters ran with it and requested the funds apparently. There is 19 songs on this album with titles like, "Chronic Bronchitis", "Pneumonoultramicrospicsilicovolcanokoniosis", "I Had Tuberculosis", and "TB Girls".  Who would buy that?

Needless to say, out of politeness, a few people did. And who knows, maybe the album made some money for research.  It's just strange that stuff like this exists.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Original Boogie Woogie Piano Giants Original Recordings 1938-1941 Columbia 1974

The Original Boogie Woogie Piano Giants Original Recordings 1938-1941 Columbia 1974 CAT #KC 32708

This is compilation featuring Chicago pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis, but it's full of Kansas City's Pete Johnson.  It was released by Columbia as part of a John Hammond blues reissue series. Pretty solid to be thrown up with those names and shows that KC was a big deal. And, to have John Hammond credit Johnson is appropriate as he led the blues revival scene back in the day with his love of the blues.

The compilation has 9 tracks that feature Johnson on the piano. He dominates the LP. A number of tracks feature Big Joe Turner, but Johnson is found here working with the other mentioned names as well as solo on the defining track, "Boogie Woogie." He's clearly defined as one of the primary influences and inventors of the boogie woogie style.

The compilation took the original tracks, possibly from old 78s as you tend to hear surface noise throughout most tracks that sounds as if it was recorded in and original masters if they available. All tracks are presented in original mono and it appears the only hard work came in the transfer. There doesn't seem to be remastering job, just an attempt to get these as close to the original issues as possible. Solid pick up on the cheap due to the quality of the tracks, both Johnson's and others.

Pete Johnson Boogie Woogie

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Republic Tigers Keep Color Atlantic/Chop Shop 2008

The Republic Tigers Keep Color Atlantic/Chop Shop 2008 CAT #477884-1

Man, the inner lyric sheet has a photo of these guys looking like true fashion rockers.  They all have coats on and fantastic hairstyles.  They are gazing at you, super-serious; personally, I just want to laugh.  Like it's serious work playing rock n' roll in a pea-coat while a stylist does your hair.

But yeah, these cuties want you to take them serious.  Their hazy dream-pop sounds are very challenging and very indie-rock. This is smarter than anything else you could have on your shelf. Unless of course you've been paying attention, then you can just shelf this in favor of about millions other albums that give you the same effect.

I just get caught up on the "Buzz" that surrounded this band when "Buildings & Mountains" was being played on the radio.  The local station acted like it was hard to believe a band with Kansas City roots was really doing it. Like we just don't have the chops and didn't have anything going on in the 90's or help to define the emo scene in the 2000s.

Admidtly, the swirling keyboards and slow bass lines are "dreamy".  The tunes are catchy and throw in a lot of ideas that stream together well.  It's far better than other alterno-rockers disguised as indie-rockers such as the Killers or We Are Scientists or any band that heard Interpol and decided they could look cuter doing it.  And, it's better than all the garbage that blasted alternative radio in the wake of the Get Up Kids "Something to Write Home About" album.  I'd take this over handsome boy cry-alongs as sung by Fall Out Boy any day.  And, while the dream pop the Republic Tigers push isn't completely their own, its not as overplayed as the previously mentioned alternative scenes, so it makes for an occasional spin or good track on a mix tape.

ROCK VIDEO!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Alfred Packer Memorial String Band Live in Concert Friends for Lunch Private 1984

The Alfred Packer Memorial String Band Live in Concert Friends for Lunch Private 1984 No CAT#

Today, these guys would be considered hipsters.  Lawrence, KS, in 1984 with civil war uniforms and old time attire, I imagine they blended into the weirdness just fine, but likely got noticed around the town by the squares.

The album was recorded live at Ramona Studios in Lawrence, Kansas.  Apparently, not just live as in single takes on the tracks, but as in live in a studio in front of an audience you can hear between tracks.  I imagine this was done as the band realized they were a "live" band.  They play old-timey and bluegrass tunes.  Their original tracks are in the same vein and filled with a lot of humor, but I imagine some of the appeal was their performance and stage personas.  Unfortunately, despite attempts to recreate that on LP, everything falls kind of flat on the album.

The band's namesake, Alfred Packer, was a convicted cannibal and murder in the United States.  Despite his grotesque crimes, history has placed him as the center of jokes.  To which the Alfred Packer Memorial String Band play up on their back cover by stating they go through the story of Packer during live shows.  The albums name, "Friends for Lunch", is a jab at Packer's cannibalism.

With all the jokes and character costumes, they just come off as the cooler, hipper version of some sort of Ozark old-time band.  Granted, the Alfred Packer Memorial String Band is far more entertaining than their Ozark counterparts, the whole package puts them on the same level.  Like they're saying, "Here's our free-state take on your hillbilly country."  And, admidtly, they do understand the old-time music stems from Irish and Scottish immigrants, whereas that whole thing goes right over the head of any family band from the Ozarks (or even Springfield).  Further, I'm assuming their live shows feel much more genuine than some tourist attraction.  The band still performs and it appears the "shtick" is a little toned down now-a-days, but they still tell the jokes.

Also interesting, this LP is completely private.  No claimed label, no catalog number, just honesty and something the band did to sell to fans at shows.  To boot, they put the record on virgin vinyl, that's pretty hip.

Their Song "Alfred Packer" recorded live in 2013

Bill Freeman "Live Spiritbound" NIM Records 1977

Bill Freeman "Live Spiritbound" NIM Records 1977 CAT# 74-27

You'd think a 70's gospel album with a stock photo for a cover from 1977 would be awful, but Bill Freeman has soul.  The first track, "I Want to Be Ready/Everytime I Feel the Spirit" sounds like it was recorded in a basement, but man, crazy organ runs all throughout.  Just intense organ riffs with moog and synths thrown in, some of it distorted, it's an experience.  Based on the first track, Bill Freeman was filled with some sorta crazy God-love.

Then you flip to the back cover and Bill Freeman just looks crazy.  Something about his photo makes it look as if he's wearing make-up (maybe he is), it's kind of creepy.  He's also got some weird-ass fur vest, a saber-tooth necklace, and rings on his fingers.  He doesn't look scary, just crazy, but, maybe we can chalk most of it up to the late-70's.

The notes indicate the album was recorded live at the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Kansas where Bill's father was the pastor.  It was released under the NMI lable out of Kansas City, which did release a handful of local releases, most of which are not religious but center around soul, funk and later disco.  Personally, my favorite part of the back notes is that Bill thanks the Ebony Club.  I have no idea what the Ebony Club of Kansas City was about, but it sounds awesome.

The remainder of the album (sorry, but not sorry for the pun) is a spirited affair.  While the first track features no vocals and is the "warm-up", the remainder are reworked gospel tunes.  The tracks are worth checking out for the moog running throughout along with some pretty great vocals.  I assume Freeman sings in a soulful falsetto, but there's a chorus with talented female singers and a male baritone that takes some front end work.  It's very motivated and again, the organ runs, synths and moog make it worth checking out.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Marilyn Maye The Second of Maye Live From the Living Room RCA/Victor 1966

Marilyn Maye The Second of Maye Live From the Living Room RCA/Victor 1966 CAT# LSP 3546

The back cover to this LP reads; "You don't need a big orchestra behind you-When you're Marilyn Maye." To extent, it's right, she does have a booming voice. This a live LP (I'm sure with tons of overdub) recorded with a quintet fronted by Sammy Tucker.

It's a cool record, her voice is way out front and seems "live" enough.  It's also very 1966.  Not space-age, bachelor-pad 1966.  It's what you'd expect from female jazz vocal of the era.  Very cocktail hour, almost lounge, but still holding onto jazz just enough to not go pop.

Also, if you're wondering, it's her second album for RCA/Victor.  But, you probably figured that out from the clever title.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brewer & Shipley Tarkio Kama Sutra 1970

Brewer & Shipley Tarkio Kama Sutra 1970 CAT# KSBS 2024

Should probably be mentioned again since it's been a while since I've discussed Brewer & Shipley, but neither Brewer nor Shipley are from KC or the surrounding area.  However, they were managed by Good Karma Production out of Kansas City and like many of the acts managed by them, the act relocated to Kansas City.  So for a time, Brewer & Shipley called Kansas City their home.

And, judging by classic rock radio-play to this day, Kansas City adored the guys while they were a big deal.  Even today, you're bound to hear the hit from this album, "One Toke Over the Line" come across the airwaves at least once in a day.  As it was somewhat of a surprise hit, the band has since been regulated to "one-hit wonder" status and it'd be surprising if any other classic radio station outside of KC is still blasting the song more than once a month.  In fact, the band was so beloved in KC, that in 1989 a local radio station urged the two to reunite.  Of course, they obliged.  That was then followed by a tour and an album in 1995 that no one cared about.

As for the big hit, "One Toke Over the Line," it was actually banned by many radio stations for it's obvious reference to marijuana.  As far as hits go, it's a good representation of the band.  It's laid back, kinda country, kinda folkie, at times a bit later-era hippie, nothing over-bearing or loud, but it's got some soul to it. They are an enjoyable duo based in traditional roots based music, it makes sense they were able to sustain a career on a major label.  They kind of sound like a lite-rock version of the Band with their roots driven approach and unexpected harmonies, but I stress the "lite", the Band's sound punches Brewer & Shipley in the balls.

Outside the hit, there are some other highlights, the rootsy "the Light", the humorous "Oh Mommy",  the rollicking "Don't Want to Die in Georgia," and the title track "Tarkio Road" along with "50 States of Freedom" are pleasant enough. Also of note, the LP credits Grateful Dead front-man Jerry Garcia for some pedal guitar, making the album a part of any dead Dead Head's collections worldwide.  It also features backing vocals by another Good Karma managed artist and KC transplant, Danny Cox.

Live clip of the Boys rocking nice duds and singing their hit.
Don't Want To Die In Georgia

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Stan Kenton Artistry in Rhythm Capitol 1947

Stan Kenton Artistry in Rhythm Capitol 1947 CAT #H167

There's a bunch of Kenton comps that go by this title and there's even an album previously discussed, New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm.  It's all because this is widely considered his signature album during his big band period.

It's an enjoyable collection of music.  If someone just threw it on and listened to it today, I'm not sure they'd call it jazz.  It sounds much more like a soundtrack score.  The stuff Kenton was doing wasn't really for dancing, he was trying to advance the art form and usually comes off pretty pompous in liner notes.

The best moments and the ones I think people can grab onto easier now-a-days are the tracks featuring a cool-toned June Christy, "Willow Weep For Me" and "Ain't No Misery in Me."

Ain't No Misery in Me

Marilyn Maye The Happiest Sound in Town RCA/Victor 1968

Marilyn Maye The Happiest Sound in Town RCA/Victor 1968 CAT# LSP-4054

Found this at a garage sale down the street.  Boxes of easy listening and Christmas records.  There may have been a few Beatles LPs before I got there, there probably was a few things like Gerry and the Pacemakers, but overall, there was nothing cool.  There was this, though.  Not considered a cool record to anyone, but seeing how she's local, it was my lone purchase.

Should be easy to buy a record for a dollar at a garage sale, but, no.  You have to talk about why you are purchasing the record, and field the question, "Do you still have a record player?"  Or, "What do you do with all these old records?"  Since Marilyn Maye is from KC and proud about it, this purchase took a considerable amount of time.

First the homeowner selling the record got excited and stated, "Oh, Marilyn Maye, I know her!"  That was genuinely interesting so I replied thinking there was maybe a family relation.  No, instead I got, "Well, she's local, I don't know her, but..."  Oh good, you don't know her, can I have my change, now?  "But, my brother's girlfriend used to have a brother that dated her years ago.  She's still around though, we always go see her perform at the community college."  Wow, terribly interesting, but, to her benefit, she was right, Marilyn Maye does perform at the Johnson County Community College from time to time...she should kept the record and asked her to sign at the next one she went to.

The album is enjoyable.  It does get over-the-top Hollywood at times, but the bulk of the first side and some of the second are based in a much more traditional vocal jazz approach.  Plus, she puts a ton of pzazz in her rendition of the classic tune, "Kansas City."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bulbous Creation You Won't Remember Dying Numero Group 2014

Bulbous Creation You Won't Remember Dying Numero Group 2014 CAT# NUM1227

A now legendary story surrounds this release and the first thing to point out when telling it is that this album was never actually "released."

It seems the tunes are primarily the brainchild of Prairie Village, KS native Paul Parkinson.  He returned home from tour in Vietnam, put together this band and they cut an album's worth of dark, boogie-rock in Independence, Missouri's Cavern Studios circa 1970.  The band didn't stay together long enough to put out any sort of private release.  Further, they probably didn't hand out many demos of the group's sound.

Despite the fact that band would have only played a handful of shows and demos were probably limited to a few friends of the band, the gloom and doom of the recordings got heard.  Those that did hear even snippets of the groups work were likely overwhelmed by not only all the dark, satanic references, but the band's adept psych rock arrangement.  The songs were recorded in the Cavern, so there's a echo and basement feel to everything.  The tunes go from the morose, war-damaged opener, "End of the Page", to basic blues-rock based psych and stoner jams.  It occasionally borders on Sabbath inspired proto-metal, but the real surprise is the lyrical themes and content: 1970's suburban Kansas is not the place you'd expect to find a group tackling topics like death and drug use, but this band went one-step further titling a song "Satan."  It's all very war-damaged and serves as a reminder to what these young guys like this were dealing with when coming back from Vietnam.

In 1995, 8 of the Bulbous Creation songs were issued on Rockadelic Records (same label that issued a Wizards of Kansas posthumous release of Cavern recorded tracks).  It was unauthorized release and doesn't sound that great, but it represented Bulbous Creation's first release 20 years after it recorded the material.

The Rockadelic become somewhat of a collector's LP as it soon went out of print and word spread on the band.  In 2001 Paul Parkinson passed away.  It's reported that while going through his belongings, his brother found a complete copy of the Bulbous Creation LP, previously, the Rockadelic material was thought to be it, but 2 additional tracks were unearthed.  So there you have it, 10 songs, representing a single band's short-lived existence, now released officially 44 years after it was initially recorded; that's legendary.

Check out the tunes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Light Orchestra Raised Spirits City Light Records 1983

The Light Orchestra Raised Spirits City Light Records 1983 CAT # SRK 13429

This is actually pretty good.  The cover is pretty lame.  Then you flip to the back you see a collection of vocal jazz covers from some Kansas City locals, that doesn't help.  Then you realize it's from the 80's and it should be the third strike.

If you're brave enough to listen, you'll find it's an enjoyable take on classic-era Swing.  It does have a hokey, let's remember the KC Jazz greats thing about it, but hey, Laverne Barker plays bass for the band and he's got a legitimate resume.  The production isn't awash in 80's studio effect, it sounds live and classic.  The highlight of the album is the rough, raspy, vocals of drummer David Base.  Who, upon first listen, I wouldn't have guessed he was a skinny, white dude.  His expressive voice and it's texture when combined with the sometimes theatrical arrangements of the tracks can put the album in Tom Waits type territory with out all the cryptic poetry.

The players on this LP, especially David Basse, can be found on a handful of 80's era KC Jazz.  Apparently there was a short lived scene for this type of thing.  It'd be interesting to know how successful they were around town and how the albums fared concerning sales.

Goodbye Porkpie Hat

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Exceptions Simply Us Private Unknown Year

The Exceptions Simply Us Private Unknown Year CAT# NR5232

Guessing by the sepia toned cover this came out in the late-70's, the sounds are about right.  There's an absurd amount of similar private albums nationwide for this type of thing.  Regionally successful bar bands, that were proficient players who just never found a specific style.  Regardless, they'd put out a collection of original material for fans and hoping someone would take notice.  The Exceptions fit this bill and hailed from Topeka, Kansas.

Virtually no one noticed.  These 70's variety private albums all seem to suffer from the same thing; no focus.  Sure, there are moments of cool guitar riffs, promises of some of some drum breaks, but it's mixed throughout and moves away too quickly.  Between wishy-washy piano-laced ballads, the Exceptions occasionally find a sun-laced 70's vibe with some bottom to it, but it stays really pop-based and never gets dirty.  There's also some out-place prog-influenced keyboards throughout, but again, it's just thrown in and doesn't ever find it's place.

The band has another release which still occasionally grabs a fair amount on eBay and such.  This one, not so much.  The band apparently still plays in Topeka as a variety review band, makes sense.  They are proficient enough to tackle all genres, just couldn't find one of their own based on this LP.

A Much Older Version of the Exceptions

Monday, October 27, 2014

Four of a Kind The Magical Sounds Of Private 1981

Four of a Kind The Magical Sounds Of Private 1981 CAT# 111081X

Fuck, yes!  I'm sure that was what everyone was saying in 1981 when Four of a Kind finally dropped a private press polka album on Kansas City.  The polka scene was likely hungry for some new blood and these four young Kansas Citians must have fit the bill.  And when I say young, I mean young, no one on the in the group is older than the age of 17.  Surely, in 1981, these 4 guys had to be pretty cool?  Chicks dig an accordion and hanging with grandma and grandpa at a bingo hall for a polka concert, right?

Private press, Kansas City, polka should speak for itself, but I have no clue whether this is good or bad.   It sounds dance-able to me and there's a lot of waltzes.  Again, I'm not the guy to ask whether or not it's good, but they are young, so that's impressive.  They do "Beer Barrel" polka, so if you're looking for yet another rendition, here's an album you may need.  The vocal tracks are interesting as they are rooted in ethnic tradition and not just thrown in as something to dance to.  However, I'm really just here to let you know this exists.

I assume the kids were from the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City as it is still the primary spot for Slavic heritage in town.  While not necessarily a Slavic music, Polka has it's roots in Central Europe and I would have to imagine, if there was a scene for this, it was Strawberry Hill.  I'm certain though, aftter the guys dropped this LP, Strawberry Hill blew up.  Both girls and and A&R reps form all the majors had to banging at these guys' doors to try and find some of that magic.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Appleseed Cast Illumination Ritual Graveface Records 2013

Appleseed Cast Illumination Ritual Graveface Records 2013 CAT# GRAVE090

The 7th LP by the Appleseed Cast and I believe the first to be without founding member, Aaron Pillar.  I'm not sure why Pillar parted ways, but it ultimately leaves singer and guitarist, Chris Crisci, to be the only founding member left in the band.

The music doesn't suffer at all.  It's one of the band's most inspired LPs.  Based in long, transitional, instrumentals that focus energy into a boiling point.  When Crisci starts singing, the tune is almost over, but every time, it's worth the wait to get there.  It's certainly something you have to enjoy in full, there's no single stand out track, nothing you can skip to for a quick fix...well, except maybe the plastic-funk found at the beginning of side 2 on "Branches on the Arrow Peak Revelation," but other than that, it's an album experience.

There's a bunch of stuff about science, numbers, and nature on the back cover.  Illumination Ritual is either some metaphysical explanation of the world or just some New Age philosophy...I don't know, get's pretentious, but I'm sure somebody "gets it" and it makes the album even more epic for them.  I'm more into the sounds, don't need some guy's take on scientific mysticism to enjoy the music.

Branches on the Arrow Peak Revelation

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Life And Times The Magician Hawthorne Street Records 2008

The Life And Times The Magician Hawthorne Street Records 2006 CAT# HSR026

This 5 song EP was initially released in 2006 on CD and later released by Hawthorne Street Records in 2008 in this vinyl version.  The band is centered around Allen Epley of Shiner fame, but also features Christ Metcalf on drums who was a part of the same KC post-hardcore scene as Epley.  To round out the three piece, Eric Abert plays bass in the three piece.

To compare the EP to Shiner is obvious, it has certain elements and the obvious player.  The math-i-ness is prevalent, still very challenging and complicated music.  The strained out vocals are there.  The bursts of distorted guitar are there as well.  However, it's much more subdued than Epley's work in Shiner.  It's not as loud and angry, it draws out post-rock soundscapes similar to what Appleseed Cast transformed themselves into after being emo for several years.  There's also a prevalent need to call it shoegazer, but I wouldn't say Epley was diving deep into the British 90's scene, probably just channeling his love for the same bands that influenced the likes of My Bloody Valentine.  However, shoegazer can serve as a valid reference point.

Most importantly, it's really good.  Begging the question, why is this band hanging out in relative obscurity?  The Life and Times recently released a new album and yet, little to no fanfare surrounding it.  Isn't even being done up for a vinyl release.  Granted, I don't keep to up to date with new music that much, however, I have an affinity for the post-rock scene and everybody is all hoped up about the new Whirr LP (it is pretty good), yet, very few of those people even know this band exists.

Hush

Monday, October 6, 2014

Stan Kenton Presents: Capitol 1950

Stan Kenton Presents Capitol 1950 CAT# L248

Wichita born Stan Kenton tried a lot of things, some of which stuck in jazz for decades.  This LP however represents one of his attempts at innovation that did not catch on. Regardless, it is a fairly interesting listen and a good attempt at something new.

The album saw Kenton putting together an amazing set of players, some tunes even feature names of the band, "Maynard Ferguson," "Shelly Manne," "June Christy," and "Art Pepper" are all track names and players on the LP.  Throughout the tracks, Kenton took highly sophisticated jazz structure and merged it with classical movements and ideas.

The release isn't as challenging as some of his later work and experiments, it's fairly pleasant and easy to listen to.  It's easy to see why the classical/jazz merger didn't stick with others or even Kenton, it sounds forced and segmented.  Still, it's interesting hearing something tip toeing around Stravinsky before it goes full out jazz band.

"Maynard Ferguson"

Marilyn Maye Meet marvelous Marilyn Maye RCA/Victor 1965

Marilyn Maye Meet marvelous Marilyn Maye RCA/Victor 1965 CAT# LPM-3997

This is Marilyn Maye's debut for RCA.  TV personality and the guy who discovered Maye pens the back cover and gushes on and on about her greatness.  The LP actually boosts some talented arrangers drawing both from Don Costa and Manny Albam, but all in all, just really pop vocal tracks with a singer that has a background more in theater than jazz.

The theatrical value of her voice and the arrangements on this LP give it a very big showbiz sound.  Highlights include the uptempo "Get Me To the Church on Time," the simple bass line vocal pairing of "Washington Square" until it gets full-blown, her rendition of "Take Five" is fun, outside of that, many ballads, nothing that stands out too much or has become the definitive version of a song.

I Love You Today

Monday, September 29, 2014

Topper At Last Scott Records 1977

Topper At Last Scott Records 1977

Man, Rudy Passonno is quickly becoming a legend in my book.  As a producer, everything I he touched out of his small recording studio in Liberty, Missouri sounds professional and is worth searching out (at least, everything I've heard).  Second, his keyboard work is phenomenal.  He just swirls around tunes and jumps in at the right moments with bringing absolute absurdity and brilliance.

This album usually gets classified as prog, likely for the previously mentioned Passonno keyboard flourishes all over it.  However, it isn't like an unheard version of the band Kansas.  Topper isn't challenging the Brits, they just have moments that fit in the genre.  It's just as rooted in jazz, blues, and rock n' roll as anything else you'd hear from the same era.

Telling you though, just when you think the band is going all standard bar-band, there's some insane out of place Mellotron moment that finds it's way in and makes the track.  I mean, the lyrics are awful and again, most things with the exception of few stand alone moments are pretty typical, but the keyboards come in and just kick everyone's ass.

At one time, the album was bringing high dollars in the collectors market.  It's tapered down in the last few years, the music is out there on YouTube and traded mixes.  The people who really want the LP have it, the ones who still do can now grab it for a reasonable price.  Either way, it's worth checking out, worth buying jsut for the craziness of "Phaze 1" and "Phaze 2" on the second side...you'll also love the lifting of "Stairway to Heaven" on Topper's "Smile for the Clown"...and hey, don't crap on Topper for lifting the Zep; Page was the just as great of thief as he was a guitarist.

Smile for the Clown
HYPE THE CD!


Pete Eye Trio S/T Cavern Custom Recordings 1976

Pete Eye Trio S/T Cavern Custom Recordings 1976 CAT# 41287

First, this is sought after, namely for the first track, Pete Eye's workout of "Sissy Strut."  While $50 may seem like a lot for something so obscure and unassuming, the guys forking over money for it are spot on with this this tune.  It's epic, challenges even the Meters.  Eye's work on the keyboard is funky and light, the stand up bass keeps the song rooted in jazz, and the drums are tight, no huge breaks, but tight and well done.

From that track, the album does what Pete Eye was known for.  He was a well studied piano player, showcasing most his skills surrounded by jazz arrangements.  While the rest of the LP isn't as awesome as "Sissy Strut", it does show that Eye is a great piano player. Many tracks see Eye just showing off in almost a classical sense.  Then there are more funk driven moments.  He throws down on the organ, "Good Bait," gets bluesy on "Back at the Chicken Shack."  The final three tracks "Sumthin You Got" is soulful, with vocals who I assume are Eye's.  He's not an amazing singer, but gets his point across.  The band does a workout of "Them Changes" which was made famous by Buddy Miles, the vocals lessen the tune, but still an enjoyable rendition.  The Trio dips into rock n' roll on "Pete Eye's Boogie" which sounds a bit hooky, but the organ riffs are spectacular.  Finally, all the tracks, show off the skills of his supporting artists, John Hatton on bass and Barry Gould on drums.

Eye was actually born Byron Floyd Eye in Indianapolis, Indiana.  His family would move to Kansas City and Eye graduated from Central High School in KCMO.  He served overseas in Korea as part of the US Navy, but after his service returned home to Kansas City to live and play in the historic jazz scene.  He was well known player around town, but was sought after just as much as technician and tuner of the instrument.  He sadly passed away in 2010.

Sissy Strut

Thursday, September 25, 2014

E.L. Overton I Am Here For You b/w Angel Neco Records 1984

E.L. Overton I Am Here For You b/w Angel Neco Records 1984 CAT# NC 1001

This little 7" has a lot going on and there's a lot to say about it.  Most of it, I'd like to save for related releases, however, those releases are so rare I might not have the chance.  This is also extremely rare.  Currently this little private press piece of Kansas City soul is bringing in $200 to $300 in top condition.  Someone is asking close to $1000 for it on discogs.com.  There's a growing disco/boogie collectors market and this fits in on the tail end of the scene, it's decent, but I think most the value stems from it's perceived rarity.  Neco Records, was just E.L. Overton's custom label, so it's likely there was only between 500-1000 copies to begin with.

It also has the benefit of being produced and co-written by Keith Montgomery.  Keith Montgomery and fellow musician, Eugene Smiley started K City Records in the late 70's in Kansas City.  A third songwriter, Albert White, was part of the K City team as well.  The small outfit wrote and produced a number of songs with Kansas City soul musicians and cut a few records on their K City label.  Those 45s are well-regarded in the modern boogie genre and sought after for their obscurity.

Further, going back to the late-70's, there was a local vocal group called Smoke in Kansas City.  The group cut two 45s and a full-length LP.  The sound was pure 70's soul, sounds vintage compared to the K City stuff.  One of the group's songwriters, Elmer Overton, is in fact the E.L. Overton featured here.  I can't say there's a lot of information out there on the web stating the same, but collectors are a crafty bunch and I think they've figured it out, likely increasing the value for this 45 even more.

The track people are after, "I Am Here For You," is better than average production for a limited budget.  The beat, solid.  The background vocals, well done.  The feel and groove, better than average mid-80's boogie.  However, E.L. Overton's vocals just don't match.  He's bordering on a baritone and this production screams for somebody up near falsetto.  It detracts from an otherwise great track, I bet people would shit themselves to get a hold of an instrumental version of it.

The B-side, "Angel," doesn't need to exist.  Sappy, sentimental, same low-end vocals.  Just doesn't go anywhere and isn't by any means a  heart-stirring or heart-warming ballad; comes off more as a bad pick up attempt.  Production though, on point.

I Am Here For You

Coalesce Salt And Passage Second Nature 2007

Coalesce Salt And Passage Second Nature 2007 CAT# SN069

Just two brutal tracks from Kansas City's finest.  Both tracks just punch you in the face and get all math-y simultaneously.  By this time in the band's history, they were comfortable to explore things on a more sonic level.  Rather than just kick your teeth in, the band and long-time producer Ed Rose, were playing around with sounds and harmonies.  Buried vocal tracks, cleaning up the insane guitar lines that spill across the band's tracks, and getting super technical behind the drums.

For a simple 7" release, Dan Askew's Second Nature label pulled out all stops on the packaging.  Most the vinyl came in color variants.  It's sleeved in 7" size gatefold.  And the print on the sleeve is well-designed and thought out.  Amazing product.

Salt and Passage EP

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hospital Ships/Heartscape Landbreak Split A Mary of Quito b/w Seed Song Graveface 2012

Hospital Ships/Heartscape Landbreak Split A Mary of Quito b/w Seed Song Graveface 2012 Grave076 Charity Series #4

This is the 4th release in the Graveface charity series.  The label releases 7"s in which the proceeds go to fund various charities, which is kind of cool.  Just as cool is that Graveface featured two Lawrence, KS bands on this one.

It's a good pairing, low-key, bedroom indie-pop.  I keep grabbing bits of the Hospital Ships and wishing I'd throw down on the full length albums.  "A Mary of Quito" is a delicate pop gem, it floats around effortlessly in dreamy soundscapes and Jordan Greiger's cracking vocals.  "Seed Song" by Heartscape Landbreak has a bit more teeth, but same lo-key feel.  Acoustic guitar intro, vocals that feel they could break in half, all very pleasant especially when harmonies are added.  They end their tune with a sweeping ending, y'know, just to keep you on your toes.

Marilyn Maye A Taste of "Sherry!" RCA 1967

Marilyn Maye A Taste of "Sherry!" RCA 1967 CAT# LPM-3778

Marilyn Maye McLaughlin was born in Wichita, KS, but would begin her singing career in Topeka as child performer in local talent shows.  After her parent's divorced, she spent some time in Des Moines, Iowa, gaining some attention as  teen on radio.  She would later move to Chicago, but quickly come back home to Kansas City.

Performing throughout the Midwest she was discovered by the first show of the Tonight Show, Steve Allen. The relationship landed her a recording contract with RCA and in her prime, she was somewhat of a regular on the Tonight Show appearing 76 times.

This album is typical of her jazz vocal style that is heavily laced with pop.  She's no June Christy or even Julie London.  Rather, she's far more routed in the theater and cabaret traditions than jazz.  She's got a clear, brassy voice, that's suited for the grandiose arrangements that usually surround her.  There's some fun moments on this LP, which represents her early work, "Java" is pretty goofy, "Sherry!" is surprisingly quirky, and her cover of "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin" works well.

Marilyn Maye - Java

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cavern Sound Local Customs Compilation Numero Group 2014

Cavern Sound Local Customs Compilation Numero Group 2014 CAT #b054

The Numero Group, despite their location in Chicago, is quickly becoming my favorite local record abel.  First, the Eccentric Soul comp for the Forte Label, the Titan box set, several 45s (that I have yet to pick up), and now this amazing collection of fuzzed out, acid drenched, rockers from the Kansas City area all of which were recorded at the Cavern in Independence, Missouri.  Granted, not all tracks are garage rockers, but of the 24 tracks, most are.

I've discussed the Cavern before, it's an actual cave in Independence that was turned into a recording studio.  A number of regional labels used the facility to record their groups, Pearce being the main one featured here along with several other labels and few private press items.  It's a cool story, no doubt, but reading Numero Groups extensive liners you'd think the thing was on legendary status.  I think it's more of a fond memory here in KC, but, that's cool, let all the out of towners think our 60's weren't square, we were just a bunch of hippies and stoners recording shit in a cave.

It's an insanely well packaged set, an extensive booklet with notes on all the bands, heavyweight packaging with info on the Cavern on the inside, and two 180 gram discs to enjoy.  As stated, mostly covers on what is now termed garage-rock, from the pop end to the acid psych end of it, but there's a few oddballs in there that don't fit any billing.  Each selected track is worth paying attention to and I've gave my rundown below:

Pretty-Mustache in Your Face  This band is rad enough to lead the set off and also have a double 7" released by Numero.  The original 7" features a crazy label with the center hole as the mouth of a face drawn around it.  It's a legend around town, but does show up from time to time.  The group was highly psychedelic in the vein of 13th Floor Elevators, which given the vast array of teen bands in the 60's isn't surprising, but for dudes from Kansas City, pretty far out.  The song is a scorcher.

Fraight-One Girl  Hey, something from Manhattan, KS, how about that.  Thinking about it, it would have been pretty long trek from Manhattan to Independence as the K7 highway didn't even exist at the time, you had to back road the trip until you reached KC.  The band was probably hot-shit at K-State, but I would think that's like be being the best ice skater from Australia.  Not that big of deal.  Decent harmonies, but stuck in a swamp of 60s pop sounds.

American Sound Ltd.-Aunt Marie  The founder of this band was from Granby, Missouri before gigging in KC, then getting shipped off to war.  Upon his return to KC, he founded this band.  This track is pumped full of blue-eyed soul and horns.  It's a killer track, with a sweet vocal on the chorus.  It's similar to the Chicago's and Blood, Sweat, and Tears of the world but this is such an undeniable dance track, it's a killer.

The Classmen-Doin' Me Right  The drummer of this band looks like he's 12 years old in the photo, but the singer has some definite age to him.  This was a family band of brothers from Independence, MO and dad controlled the show.  It's a nice little blue-eyed, soul ballad.  The singers baritone (or attempt at it) clashes well with the boys in the back shouting out a falsetto chorus.

Jaded-Lovin' You's Blues  Folky-psych sounds from a group of Kansas City Insurance employees.  It's got some tripped out effects on a flute and a dark subject matter, surprising that these guys thought people would be into something this dark around KC.

Larry Sands & The Sound Affair-You'll Know the Words  Kansas City based band, this is a spaced out attempt at country rock, falling in the middle and leaning towards neither.  That's not a bad thing as it just kind of floats in space with light whispered vocals and guitar effects floating all over.

Sheriff-I Don't Really Love You  Cool, upbeat pop sounds.  Singer has a nice Midwestern twang he brings to his vocals.  This could have easily been a hit in any state, just a good pop song.

Tide-I Wish it Had Ended That Way  Lawrence, KS band with a gritty rock sound and a very clumsy chorus.  It's a decent track, but could have had a bigger bottom and maybe some more stoner rock tossed in.

Bulbous Creation-The End of the Page  Extremely dark, psych folk from a Prairie Village,KS Vietnam vet.  Numero Group is re-releasing the sole album by this band...it's so un-Prairie Village I'll have to save my breath and talk about it when I grab a copy.  Very interesting story as the album wasn't released until the group's creative force, Paul Parkinson, was found dead in his home.  His brother found the acetate of his Cavern recordings and was smart enough to let people hear it.

Mulligan-Think Before You Leave  This band actually is from Tennessee, story indicates they were kicked out of their studio by Elvis Presley and told to drive to Missouri for a session?  In actuality, not that far, but still, really?  This can't be true.  Not a bad rock sound soaked in Nashville country-soul.

Montaris-7 And 7 Is  This was a Plattsburg, MO band that plow through Love's 7 And 7 Is.  Considering Love wasn't a huge hit almost everywhere outside of San Francisco, CA, these dudes had to be the coolest guys in Plattsurg back in their day.

Stone Wall-Living Today  Not to be confused with the obscure garage rockers from Indiana, these kids were from Shawnee Mission and the surrounding Kansas City area.  Pretty fantastic track with huge high and lows.  Great guitar work, pretty killer mid-tempo garage rock.

Morningstar-Little By Little  Before becoming an unoriginal, major-label, pomp-rock band Morningstar could do some garage rave-ups.  Female vocals with wound up sound, it's the best thing the band ever did.  Granted, only one member from this line-up makes it to crap-Morningstar, but the band's history just got a million times cooler for me.

Baxters' Chat-Love's Other Other Side  Great name for a band from Baxter Springs, KS, eh?  The bands teenage dance garage was released on two singles by the Pearce label, this song isn't killer, but it's got a nice pop-psych sound.

Burlington Express-One Day Girl (Twenty Four)  Decent garage pop out of Topeka, Kansas.  The band photo shows some shaggy hair kids, but they were trying to go at the mod scene (they are dressed spiffy).  Of note, the band once opened for the Who and featured Greg Gucker who later performed in a band called White Clover who later gave way Kansas.  However, Gucker didn't make the cut and was never featured on a Kansas LP to my knowledge.

The Reaction-In My Grave  This is pure garage rock greatness.  Amateur-hour, stagnated guitar solos, organ riffs, and drum banging, it's perfect.  Their band photo doesn't make them look half as cool as this song, but these were Jr. High kids from Rolla, MO, what do you expect?

21st Century Sound Movement-Feelin' Down  Great band name for sure, these dudes were from the Hickman Mills area of KC.  Pretty psychedlized scorcher with some nifty fuzz guitar thrown in.

The Dantes-Any Number Can Win There's a band photo in the extended liners to this comp and these guys look young...but, the liners also indicate some of the members had graduated from KU.  The band was formed at Shawnee Mission High, so from the Kansas side and do some somewhat psychedelic raving, but nothing shocking.

Larry Sands & the Sound Affair-If I Didn't Want to See You Anymore  Pretty wimpy folk-pysch with an out of place heavy bottom that includes a dark organ and some nice vocal harmonies.

Fraight-William Jones  This is dark and moody, a bit boring, but interesting given the time period.  It's slow, but not in a ballad style, just kind of a creepy tune with drawn out lyrics and harmonies.

The Classmen-Any Old Time   It's decent enough garage pop, nothing that really jumps out on the tune.  It's pleasant enough for pop radio and has a lo-fi aesthetic to it.

Jaded-The King Was  Tons of effects and wah-wah guitar.  Heavy into the pyschedelic scene as well.  As with the other tune featured by the band, it was never released officially, only acetates were cut.

The Dantes-She's Part of Me  Yawn, 60's ballad style stuff.  The band's panty dropper and slow dance original.  Does have a nice soul inspired moment though with some blue-eyed yearning.

A.J. Rowe-Smoke My Pipe (The Sign Ain't Right)  Kind of mystery man, but this is pretty awesome.  Sparse, lo-fi, funk work out with off-the-wall lyrics and attitude.  The 7" it was featured on is out there, approximately 1000 exist and was funded and put out by Rowe himself.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bob Marriott Just Pickin Marriott Productions 1984

Bob Marriott Just Pickin Marriott Productions 1984 No Cat #

So, looking at this cover, what does Bob have his guitar plugged into?  The chickens, a log, the barn?  Who thought that photo fit the mood in the first place?  Who rocks his Gibson in the barnyard?  That said, this is better than most private press album covers.  And, considering the backside indicates Mr. Marriott was living in Osawatomie, Kansas, I imagine you got to look country in those parts if you want your neighbors to listen.

Not for certain when this came out, not surprisingly, there isn't a lot of information out there on this Bob Marriott release, but, I'm going to guess early 80's.  You don't get many clues from the backside, only that it was recorded at Westgate Studios in Lenexa, Kansas and as previously mentioned, Bob was living in Osawatomie.

Here's the kicker, though, the whole package looks pretty country and awful, but it's certainly not country, and awful is just one guy's opinion.  Way back in the 60's it appears Bob Marriott used to perform as Bob Marriott and The Continentals and released a few 45s with singer, Chuck Vallant.  The 45s were put out by Jayco and played locally, possibly regionally, and the band gigged in surrounding areas.  The 45s now get sold as "Northern Soul," but are better termed R&B, or just rock n' roll.  They've been bootlegged and are quite sought after.  Further, they're pretty solid little rockers, well worth grabbing if you spot one.  Again, this is only assumption, but given this albums song selection and the Jayco releases style, I think it's reasonable to conclude.  In the albums outro, Marriott also thanks the Continentals along with a host or early rockers and soul stars.

So, it looks what you have here is Marriott using his Gibson and running through some 60's surf, rockabilly and old rock n' roll for ol' times sake.  Just doing instrumental workouts with very few tracks crossing over the 2 minute mark.  The production is a bit too slick which is what has me thinking this came out in the 80's. Oddly, the album features Rudy Passonno on keyboards, who, during the late 70s and early 80s was involved in everything local apparently.

It's a cool little album.  Just one man's last hurrah, you know?  I don't think he expected this to hit big or get airplay, the album just feels like he put this together as a gift to himself and his friends.  One last recording session before he hung it up for good (although, I'm betting he'll still play for anybody who asks).


Monday, September 8, 2014

Split Lip Rayfield Old No. Six B/W How Many Biscuts Can You Eat Bloodshot 2003

Split Lip Rayfield Old No. Six B/W How Many Biscuts Can You Eat Bloodshot 2003 CAT# BS 107

This Wichita band is legendary for the live shows and their constant touring, yet, if you want the tunes on vinyl, this is it.  Out of 7 full length albums none of which were pressed on vinyl, just this lone 7".

In Kansas and everywhere, it seemed as if this band was always in your town playing.  When I was in college, I'm pretty sure they packed the Bottleneck at least once a month.  And, they did that everywhere they were welcome.  If they could pack a club, they'd be there all the time with their raucous brand of bluegrass and alt. country.  Unfortunately, in 2007 one of the band's founders, Kirk Rundstrom, passed away.  So it would seem they don't gig as much as they once did, but don't be fooled, the band is still out there and playing and recording new tracks.

It's important to mention how important this band is to country/bluegrass scene in Kansas.  They've been called the founders of the "Stage 5" sound.  Stage 5 is an "unofficial" stage found at Winfield, Kansas' Walnut Bluegrass festival in which the artists that play it often have a less traditional bluegrass sound.  It was likely the only place Split Lip Rayfield fit while performing at the festival.  This band managed to blow down doors while playing traditional stringed instruments and the sound is found on this 7" just like all the band's output.  Highly recommended.

LIVE VERSION of Old No. Six

Bloodstone Unreal London 1973

Bloodstone Unreal London 1973 CAT# XPS634

Kansas City's Bloodstone is on point on this album.  Typically speaking, people really only spend time with their hit and album of the same, Natural High.  However, their material throughout the 70's is all worthwhile.

This album is pretty slick and smooth, definitely a 70's soul album.  The band is usually credited as bringing a bit of rock into the soul sound, but for the first side, not much of that is  found.  The title track, "Unreal" is a highlight and penned by Charles Love of the band.  Most the tunes here are in fact, penned by the group.  The album picks up the pace on the final track of Side 1, "Everybody Needs Love," which leads into a more uptempo Side 2.  The second side starts with the Beatles, "Something," and followed up with same smoothness but a lot more emphasis on the guitar, bass, and funk (see the song sequence of "Let Me Ride" into "The Traffic Cop," it's perfect).  They let loose a little more on Side 2 for sure and show the rock aspect to their music more clearly.

Overall, solid album and one of the band's best.  And...the cover.  It's got a rainbow with the band on horseback, if only they were mounting unicorns, it'd be perfect.

Let Me Ride
Unreal

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Garry Mac and the Mac Truque Truqued Up Alive in Concert Capitol 1969

Garry Mac and the Mac Truque Truqued Up Alive in Concert Capitol 1969 CAT# ST 275

This album is an interesting Kansas City nugget.  Five white Kansas City teens cranking out sweaty, blue-eyed soul and funk.  And when I say funk, I'm serious, James Brown, Isaac Hayes, they dug a lot deeper than Motown.  The band played around locally in clubs and venues, obviously banging out numerous soul sides with enough energy to gain the attention of the majors.  Capitol's signing of the band was an obvious response to the popularity of acts like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and other sweaty frat rockers.  If there's a good comparison for Garry Mac, it is Mitch Ryder.  That said, the Mac Truque is made to sound like the Detroit Wheels-lite.

The album claims to be "live", but it's pretty apparent upon listening there's quite a few edits.  There's some clear "crowd" applause placement, but overall, the actual tunes do sound live due to the rawness of them.  The backside claims that the band were all multi-instrumentalist, changing from brass, to guitars throughout the show.  Problem with the "live" aspect is that there'd have to be more guys on the stage at certain points in the album.  It was a definite album gimmick (also, likely cost effective for Capitol) and it didn't appear to benefit this KC band, the rawness of it may have been lost on the mainstream and the crowd applause throughout wasn't going to help get radio play.

What Capitol should have done is take these kids down to Nashville and blast out these covers with some pros.  Could have sounded raw and slick simultaneously, then the band could have performed live, switching all their instruments as their gimmick.  I mean it wasn't like the Detroit Wheels were the only players on those Mitch Ryder albums, Capital could have made this band but clearly failed.

Of course, this was 1969 and maybe Capitol gave up long before releasing the album.  Sweaty, white-guy, soul work outs had run their course by 1969 and perhaps Capitol sat on the band too long after signing them.  I'm just picturing an A&R guy finally going to a record executive and saying, "Hey, man, what are we doing with the Mac Truque."  To which the exec. said, "Hmmm, forgot about them.  That music is 'out'.  Tell you what, take some live recordings, get them to a producer, put in some over-dubs and crowd effects and see what happens.  I don't want to put a bunch of money into it, if it hits it hits, otherwise send them packing."  Well, obviously, it never hit or went anywhere and Garry Mac faded into relative obscurity.

Thus, it's now regulated to a Kansas City nugget.  A few collectors out there are interested in this type of thing for sure, but outside of that, pretty obscure.  The band's highlights are their workouts of James Brown covers.  If there's a white guy who can screech like Brown but still come off blue-eyed, it's Garry Mac...weird right?  They blast through "Cold Sweat," "I Got the Feelin", and "Licking Stick".  Another definite highlight is Isaac Hayes' "I Want to Thank You."  Granted, these are odd covers for a group of white guys to be doing...but, they are able to pull it off without any sort of disaster.

The band, or members, or at least Garry Mac are still performing as a high dollar wedding act.  Apparently putting out an album for Capitol in the late-60's still holds some weight in the wedding circuit.  They gained an additonal 5 minutes of fame when they were booked to play a wedding in Omaha, NE for Warren Buffet's granddaughter.  That's a pretty big ticket, but it's newsworthy because Bono (yes, that Bono) joined the band to sing "Stand By Me."  The story goes that right after the performance, Bono disappeared and never offered to chat or sign anything for the band.  That final part of the story is because Bono is a huge dickhead, but whatever, I'm sure the band members would keep it classy and never say such a thing.

Honky Tonk
Bono and the Wedding Band


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

David M. Dawkins & Rudy Passanno Mama Mama DMD Records 1979

David M. Dawkins & Rudy Passonno Mama Mama DMD Records 1979 CAT# DMD7901

The absolute joy of dropping the needle on a private press album...just not knowing what to expect and something comes on and just grabs you, it's hard to explain, but the fact that there's such a small amount of albums in existence, the sense of enjoyment you get from it is elevated.  And granted, there's the times when the album is pure crap and didn't deserve any sort of press, but the rare times when the music is good...it's like unearthing an ancient secret.  There's also the mystery, where did this person go?  Who bought the record?  As the record eventually disappeared from the few stores that carried it, was there anyone still listening?  Did the ones that sold just get thrown away or traded in only to end up in a vinyl recycle bin at some point?  How many were pressed and how many still exist today?  All the sudden you don't just have a secret, but you have to archive it.  You have to hold onto to it, just so it won't die and disappear forever.

Most these artists you can track down, especially if it's something local to you.  The guys are usually still playing somewhere for someone.  There's also the occasional eBay sale of a few that peak your interest and can also lead to some info (this one does sell between $30-$50).  But, according to this, Dawkins is somewhat of a mystery man.  Granted, the music or back story are nowhere as compelling as others, like the Lewis album from Canada, but all the same, there's nothing out there on Dawkins.  He's disappeared from any sort of scene, but here it is, this album he left behind that a few of us can still appreciate.

His partner, Rudy Passonno, was pretty busy musician/producer in KC.  A track of his has been discussed here, he also worked on a well known private press release by a band called Topper, further, he ran a studio outside of KC that had it's moment in the 70's.

Reading through the linked interview, he's also one hell of a guy.  He indicated to the blogger, Dawkins didn't have the money to record at Liberty Recordings where Passonno was recording.  The cost was $1000 for recording and a pressing of 1000 LPS, but rather than turn Dawkins away, Passonno claims he recorded the tracks at his own home for Dawkins, all that had to be paid for was the tapes and vinyl.  That's a solid dude.

I imagine some of that deal had to do with the strengths of Dawkins' tracks.  Dawkins put together a collection of originals, they are above average 70's, singer-songwriter stuff.  They're not naked or strange, there's some sadness there, but mostly basic 70's AM pop sounds filtered through a songwriter on on the folk side of things.

Where the record stands apart from the millions of other singer songwriter releases is Passonno's work on the LP.  Dawkins' pleasant, soulfoul voice and acoustic guitar are met by Passonno and his 70's electronics and keyboards.  Passonno programmed the drums on synths, same with the bass lines.  Then to give the album a full fell he dumps a Hammon C3 organ, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, a bunch synths and something called a Poymoog (I'm assuming it was a Polymoog, which would mean several linked Moogs).

Again, the tunes are pretty standard, but all the unexpected keyboards add so much weight.  Not creepy or weird like it may sound, it's a really full sounding, pleasant album.  It's all just so unexpected.

Believing Is Not Easy

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Pedaljets Today Today Twilight Records 1988

The Pedaljets Today Today Twilight Records 1988 CAT#TR017 Promo Copy

Man, fantastic band with a fantastic record.  I revisited this after listening to the most recent Pedaljets release and am really surprised this LP never found it's way into my personal rotation at any given time.  I remember it being a lot more angry, but it's pure pop.  All solid, crunchy, 80's punk...very similar to the scene that was happening in Minnesota with the Replacements and Husker Du.

I mean seriously, if you want all the emotion and hooks of the Replacements, but would rather have the tightly wound pop-punk of Husker Du as the back drop, this is your album.  The Mats got a little too sloppy, the Husker Du got a bit too wound up, this is a perfect compromise.  So much so, it's kind of the Pedaljets' downfall as it became too easy to say they were riding coattails.

Reading the promo material that I got along with the record, it indicates the history of the band dates back to 1983 when founder, Mike Allmayer, was a DJ at the legendary KJHK 90.7 at Kansas University calling out for musicians with the same interests.  Once he was able to establish the band, it appears they relocated to KC gigging locally, then after the release of 7" in 1987, they started to tour nationally.

This album, for obvious reasons and warranted comparisons, got them zine famous (the next LP would be as close as the band got to a "breakthrough").  All the cool kids were digging on it and band was touring nationally, gigging with previously mentioned Minnesota scensters.  It's a fantastic album, unfortunately, it doesn't get the kind of later-day, underground, punk rock praises as other locals like the Embarrassment or the Micronotz, but it's certainly deserving of it.