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.


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 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'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