Wednesday, September 3, 2014
David M. Dawkins & Rudy Passanno Mama Mama DMD Records 1979
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