Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bloodstone I Need Time London 1974

Bloodstone I Need Time London 1974 CAT# APS647

After discussing a surprising find featuring the daughter of Bloodstone band member, Charles Love Jr., figured why not highlight another Bloodstone release.

I Need Time followed the Unreal album and for the most part, marches down the same path. Unfortunately, most Bloodstone's work seems to get overlooked. For example, All Music Guide gives this album a measly two albums despite stating it contains, "Some above average funk..." It then goes onto mention the album featured drummer Steve Ferone who would go onto play for Average White Band.

Despite the low marks, All Music is right about having some "above average funk." In fact, the band's output throughout the 70's features some real killers and this album is no different. I mean, they can't compete with the craziness of George Clinton's Funkadelic or his Parilament, but hey, Bloodstone was playing their own instruments. And while Bloodstone can't get as smooth as the Chi-Lites or the O'Jays, their vocal work is on the same level. This album included, the band's catalog is filled with high points and worth exploring.

Perhaps Bloodstone's greatest challenge was not being linked to a specific scene within the soul/funk genre. There wasn't a Kansas City presence on the major labels since jump blues, by the 70's, Bloodstone is really about it. They couldn't latch on to Philly Soul, Chicago Soul, or what was going on down South. You sense the group was grabbing from all scenes in attempt to carve out their niche, which is perhaps the reason they aren't more highly regarded historically.

That's Not How It Goes

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Laverne Harvey Lord I Try Cory Records 1982

Laverne Harvey Lord I Try Cory Records 1982 CAT# C-108

Had some high hopes for this LP. Found it sealed somewhere for a dollar. It would appear to be soulful gospel, it's on a local label that released a really great kid's choir LP, and the ubiquitous cover that turns up on tons of sought after private press releases. The only hold up was the year: 1982. Not a lot of funk or soul going on in 1982, but again, for a dollar, wasn't going to pass up a possible gem.

The LP doesn't live up to the high hopes, but it's not a total loss. Laverne Harvey is a strong, soulful singer.  Had she been surrounded by the right players, this could have been great. Everything is just done up so average with little excitement, putting this into middle of the road territory. Outside of Harvey's pipes, there isn't much going on. A few organ breaks, but, nothing really exciting. Fortunately, it doesn't get all slick and contemporary like it could have in 1982. To the albums benefit, it stays pretty traditional with live instrumentation.

It was recorded at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. I'm not sure of the size of the church, but I'm guessing it's large as the recording also brings this to the middle of the road territory. It goes loud to soft over and over. Even Harvey's vocals get to quiet at times. Again, not a total loss though, it's far better than white gospel and like many regional releases, there are a couple highlights worth exploring.

However, despite the middle of the road gospel. The thing that has to be mentioned is the album was arranged by Charles Love Jr. of Bloodstone Fame. Despite Bloodstone's busy touring and constant travel, Love Jr. seemed to stay grounded to Kansas City. He probably arranged the record primarily because, Laverene Harvey, was his daughter. That said, it's still pretty middle of the road, but man, this should have been amazing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mates of State Team Boo Polyvinyl Records 2003

Mates of State Team Boo Polyvinyl Records 2003 CAT #PRC-065

Of the early Mates of State releases, this sits right below Bring It Back in terms of release year and quality. Mates of State's unabashedly cute brand of indie-pop was just about perfect at this point. The chaotic back and forth husband and wife vocals are thrown at you from all directions. Sung with a naivete that would rival Jonathan Richman the two go back and forth in their song-speak. The sounds blast out of the speaker, the organ riffs, keyboard lines, and steady drums are exciting on the uptempo songs. The only reason it falls short of Bring it Back is the duo had yet to perfect their slow jams on Team Boo. The love jams aren't bad, they're just not perfected like they were on the proceeding LP.

The album also features some names that made Mates of State's sound bigger. They brought along Jim Croslin of the often forgotten indie-pop great, Beulah, along with Jim Eno of Spoon (who Croslin also played with) to produce the album. The two get a big sound out while still not employing guitars. They effectively highlighted the chaotic pop and made more sense of everything. As a whole, Team Boo is a little more accessible to mainstream pop fan than the prior albums. Still, a Jennifer Lopez or Christina Aguilera fan wasn't about to touch this, but a Avril Lavigne fan, maybe.

Gotta Get a Problem

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Season To Risk Self Titled Big Money Inc./Red Decibel/Columbia 1993

Season To Risk Self Titled Red Decibel/Columbia 1992, 1993 CAT# BMI 040

Re-listening and looking back, this LP hasn't aged well. From the ironic artwork to the trendy metal production styles, it just reeks of the early 90's. But, sometimes nostalgia is great. The memories that surround this moment in Kansas City music history for outweigh it's dated style.

The album is a bruiser, though. It's aggressive and mean. It's angry and loud. It's been stated here before, but at the end of the day, it's a shame this brand of post-hardcore with heavy metal aspects didn't beat out bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit to dominate the teenage aggression scene. Season to Risk is far more intelligent and were far better musicians. They just came on the scene a bit too early, the kids that would have been prime for this hadn't gotten to age where they would now how to handle this.

The album doesn't lack highlights. "Mine Eyes" was a solid single. The final song on the LP, "Reminder," is a great example of the band's aggressive style. "Why See Straight" is also a bruiser. The song "Scorched" has some nifty guitar work and is a fantastic take on noise rock. The rest comes in moments, there are times when they stay in places that contemporaries like Failure, Handsome and even the legendary Jesus Lizard perfected, but Season to Risk end up getting too heavy metal. They use a megaphone to sing through a lot which is a nice 90's effect, but it does wear thin. Overall, it's worth it for the memories, if you heard it as a teenager, you'll want to grab a skateboard or go jump stairs on in-line skates, whatever your extreme sport was in the early 90's.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Grand Poo-Bah Beaner Band It Must Be A Breakdown Rising Star Records 1976

The Grand Poo-Bah Beaner Band It Must Be A Breakdown Rising Star Records 1976 CAT# RS 3301/D-1027

Can't be too sure where these guys are from, but all indications support that the Grand Poo-Bah Beaner Band was from Salina, Kansas, as they seemed to be playing shows there in the late-70's per the Salina Journal. However, they may have just had a following in Salina and could just as easily be from KC or nearby. The album was recorded in Independence, Missouri, at Shapple Wood studios, a studio that would become Chapman and engineers had ties to the now legendary Cavern Studios.

Regardless of where the Grand Poo-Bah Beaner Band is from, this is a fantastic piece of local bluegrass. Fast-paced and tons of energy. It fits alongside other Missouri artists such as the Dillards and John Hartford. Unlike those artists, however, the Grand Poo-Bah Bearner Band wasn't much for original songs as only one song by the guitarist is found on the album. It appears the group was just doing this for the joy of playing, not concerned with taking outside of their locale.

That said, it's a solid selection of traditional songs and progressive covers. They bluegrass up "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead which may seem surprising at first, but considering Jerry Garcia was heavily involved in traditional music isn't that much of a stretch. They do a Dillard's tune and a solid cover of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." They even cover the New Grass Revival with "Cold Sailor". They go to the roots with the Carter Family's "Foggy Mountaintop" and Bill Monroe's "Fire On the Mountain." They stay traditional with other covers like "House of the Rising Sun" and "Reuben's Ridge."

All the covers won't make this a collector's album by any means...nevermind, no one cares about bluegrass. But overall, it's worth a listen due to the quality and musicianship.

Beth Scalet It's A Living... Wakarusa Records 1981

Beth Scalet It's A Living... Wakarusa Records 1981 CAT# WR 5181

Two things that are great about this LP that don't have much to do with the actual tunes: First, love the label, Wakarusa Records, can't be much more Lawrence, KS than that. By all indications, Wakarusa is a private label for Scalet. Second, the LP is pressed on virgin vinyl and was mastered at half-speed, nice on the audiophile aspect.

As far as the tunes, Beth Scalet is a good songwriter. There isn't anything that jumps out and screams put me on mix tape, but she's got a bluesy voice, she's a proficient musician and grabs from a wide range of influences to base her folk tunes. You hear a lot of 70's blues and country rock making their influence heard on the LP. This was her first collection of songs and would serve as a promising debut.

She played locally throughout the 70's in Kansas City and Lawrence. Her bio indicates she's originally from Ottawa, KS, but not a lot going on there if you want to get yourself heard. Her folk-based originals gathered her local attention and did allow her to open for some major artists in the area.

It is a bit surprising that all that came out of Beth's performances was this private-press release and a cassette release years later. After hearing it, you'd think a major label would have loved to a give a strong female songwriter a chance, albeit her folk based tunes were a bit out of season by 1981. Honestly, Scalet's sound is very similar to Melissa Etheridge and came out 7 years prior to Etheridge's debut. It makes you wonder if Etheridge was one of the spectators at one of Beth Scalet's early coffeehouse or big-time opening act shows.