Friday, June 6, 2014

Rodd Rivers and the Big Action Sound Sing a Happy Song B/W Any Way You Want It Jay Bird Records (Unknown Year)

Rodd Rivers and the Big Action Sound Sing a Happy Song B/W Any Way You Want It Jay Bird Records (Unknown Year) CAT# JB 1010

Rodd Rivers is not from Kansas, in fact, this guy's name isn't even Rodd Rivers.  His given name was Rodney Keith Eskelin who primarily performed under the name Rodd Keith.  He was born in California and spent most of his musical career recording song poems for various labels.

A few years back, PBS put out a documentary entitled, Off the Charts: The Song Poem Story, which tells the story better than I could.  But, to paraphrase, song poems were a scheme.  These small labels would place adds in the back of comic books, catalogs, and magazines, telling you to send in your songs or poems to be recorded.  The ads indicated talented song writers may earn royalties or find entry into the music business.  People sent their lyrics then the label would send a response indicating the song had been "chosen" and all the author had to do was send back some money to cover recording costs.

In the 60's and 70's the label would put out a 7" or a compilation LP and send the author back a copy of the hastily put together song or songs.  Later, and even today, tapes and CDs.  Obviously, to remain lucrative the label put out a very small amount of a physical copy.  To also save costs, the recordings were done hastily.  Sometimes using the same tracks to records several different songs, it's usually very amateurish and dull, but that is what makes these songs interesting to collectors who seek it out, occasionally, something blows minds.

That's where Rodd Rivers comes in, as a multi-instrumentalist, the label only need hire him to the cut the tracks, he'd pump out a tune and play all instruments, sing the lyrics and collect a check.  Most these song poem labels existed in Nashville and Hollywood, yet, here's this Jay Bird Records from Parsons, Kansas.  Checking the discography and listed ad, it appears many of the tunes were credited to an Al Monday, the same that's credited here.  So, I'm not sure what to make of the label or it's existence as it didn't put out a substantial amount of records.  The music here is on par with the genre, though, just slapped together and hastily recorded.  The B-Side is kind of loose and creepy, the harmonies are bizarre.  Placed it below and apologize about the sound quality, not trying to blow minds here and the record is pretty beat up.

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