Tuesday, March 31, 2015
First, a couple of interesting things on this band. It's generally held, especially here, that Granmax formed in Kansas City. Their manager and producer for this album is long time Kansas City concert promoter, Chris Fritz. He and Granmax recorded the album at Liberty Sound. However, there is some information on the web that cites the band is from Omaha, Nebraska. Maybe there are some roots there, but I think it's safe to say Granmax was a KC band.
Another interesting nugget, there is possibly two pressings of this LP or at least multiple covers.. Chris Fritz produced this LP in 1976 and released it under the label name, Pacific Records. Later, Chris Fritz would start the label, Panama Records (the same that scored a somewhat national success with the band Missouri). There appears to be some copies of this LP that get tagged a Panama Records release with the catalog number, PRS 1001. That number does not appear on this copy and it's not a super common record floating around, so it's unlikely that I'll uncover anymore info in that regard. Both the issues listed as Pacific Records and Panama Records appear the same, both white vinyl, both with the same black label on the vinyl. I assume it's two separate covers or possibly just a sticker placed on some copies Chris Fritz had lying around after Panama Records was created.
As far as the music, can't knock Chris Fritz as a talent scout, he was onto something here. A Ninth Alive is adept and intelligent hard rock. For about $20, this LP can be had and if you're a 70's metal fan, I can't imagine this would disappoint. It's not juvenile like your Aerosmiths and AC/DCs, it's got progressive rock tendencies and tries to sound important. But, it's loud power trio (although, tons keyboards sprinkled throughout with no credit given). There is tons of Jimmy Page worship and riffing, they can't get as technical as 70's prog. rock, but they're just as heavy if not more so. They released a second LP for Panama Records entitled Kiss Heaven Goodbye which is worth an absurd amount. If it's better than this LP, it's probably worth every bit of the $200 price tag it fetches.
Three Songs from the LP, A Ninth Alive
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Once, while working at KJHK 90.7, I received a call from a student writing a paper on the Rock Chalk Revue. If you're not familiar with Rock Chalk Revue, it's an annual musical theater/skit program that takes place at the University of Kansas. It was started and run by the Greek organizations on campus. A fraternity and a sorority team up, write a 15 minute act with corny jokes and music, then try out to get into the big show. Several teams are picked, they compete do their programs on campus at the large theater and a bunch of Greeks come to support it. Apparently, for a brief time, the Greeks hired out Audio House to record the skits and press a record. Likely only purchased by the Greeks that were a part of the program. The student that called me was looking for a particular year in which a LP was pressed.
What was interesting about her request is that she explained the Greek domination of the program, which I was aware of as my girlfriend was in a sorority. The reason she wanted a certain year is that apparently, one year enough students complained that about the practice of only allowing Greek organizations to enter the contest. At the student's request, there was apparently one year that non-Greek organizations were allowed to enter the contest. According to the student, art students entered the contest, were allowed to take part in the big show and blew everyone away and won. The following year, the Greek Counsel changed the rules back and never allowed non-Greek organizations to enter the contest again.
It's an interesting story and would probably make for a good record. Unfortunately, this is not that record. I wish I knew the year that did happen as I'd keep my eye out despite, never seeing these things in the first place. This record is a waste of time. Greek humor is cheap. Many of the gags were visual and don't translate to recording. The music is borrowed from musicals and pop tunes with jokes and rewritten lyrics. It does showcase some amateur talent by the Greeks, but, yeah, pretty amateur. And, I don't want to take away from their creativity...or dedication to the skit. This would require a lot of time and effort to put together, requiring marginally talented sorority and fraternity members to be lead by a house member with a goal. But, yeah, frat boys are going to be frat boys and a lot of the jokes are just cheap and land on the side of crude rather than edgy.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Col. Saunders All Star Hotlick Amipholean Conservatory Stationary Marching Band The Levee Presents RIM Music 1967
Kansas City's The Levee is still around, going strong and featuring live music. The bar opened in 1965 and apparently, in the early days was popular enough to feature this house band and put out an album 1968. Or maybe the band just played there occasionally and wanted to put this out on their own. Either way, the 1968 date is questionable, from the album appearance, Col. Saunders All Star Hotlick band is a bunch of jokesters. The back liner notes are attributed to the Billy Shears, as in the "One and only..." The name and the idea of a stationary marching band, all jokes. Also questionable is the photo which shows a menu featuring a pitcher of beer costing $1.75, which would seem more 1970's.
However, a couple of the players were releasing music in the late 1960's, it's documented that George Winn the tuba player released a 7" in the mid-60's, so maybe the date isn't that off. The All Star Hotlick band would have been rather hip for 1968. You'd costumes and jazz wouldn't be cool, but it became an vogue thing in the 1970's to dress in attire and do an old-time style show. This KC group of players had a pretty hip idea for the late-60's. In fact, they're so hip, they put a jab in at white English blues players with a one minute yelp of screaming, "Blues get off my face!" So yeah, these guys were hipsters, too cool for even the cool English stuff.
The music is interesting, it's an updated take on dixieland jazz, done up to sing-a-long within a smokey bar. The banjo player and vocalist, Bobby Schad, has the affliction of the old time down pat. The band never leaves character and there are genuine highlights despite that no one needs another version of "The Lonely Bull" that was made famous by Herb Albert. The tune, "Georgy Girl," is pleasant, upbeat and worth a couple spins, the rockus intro of "Robert E. Lee (Down on the Levee)" gets your attention. "Dixie Yankee Doodle" is actually a rendtion of "Dixieland," which isn't needed, but it's easy to forget as Northern of a city Kansas City can be, it's still in the 'Southern' state of Missouri, but the song does actually morph into it's namesake which is fun. Finally, the band does "Havah Nagilah", which if you're Jewish is pretty great and if you're not Jewish, you probably heard it and like it.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Fairly certain that although this album was recorded in St. Louis, MO, Jody Wisecup is a Kansas City guy. He performed primarily with Mitch and Mike O'Roark in the area as their banjo player. Sure he gigged around with some other guys, but his name shows up on almost all the O'Roark releases.
I assume this LP was scratched out while performing at a festival in or around St. Louis. Maybe it was the only way the O'Roark brothers could convince Jody Wisecup to go, in exchange for his time on stage, they'd help him track out an album. Unfortunately, it's not a terribly exciting LP and does appear hurried based on song selection. With the exception of one song, it's all covers with no vocals. Sure, it has Natural Energy, but no high energy like other regional bluegrass albums. In comparison, it's pretty tame.
It is a competent set of songs and it's not like it's un-listenable. The only question is, was anyone ever going to listen to it again? There's nothing here that hasn't been done before, so there's really nothing you'd need to come back for. But, again, solid players, talented group of guys, just, meh.