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'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

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  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'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.


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

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'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.