Monday, April 27, 2015

James Brown Dead On Heavy Funk 74-76 Polydor 1985

James Brown Dead On Heavy Funk 74-76 Polydor 1985 CAT# 827439-1

If you haven't been reading, which, well, no one has been, I've mentioned a number of times how according to James Brown himself, he resided in KC for a year. After his childhood arrest, apparently he was shipped off to KC to live with his father who worked at possibly the AC Delco plant in North Olathe. Which, since it's James Brown, the Godfather of Funk, makes him local for the purposes of this blog.

This is a solid comp collecting 8 extended Brown funk workouts from the mid-70s. Since it's release in 1985, there's far better comps out there, but considering it's from the 80's, if you possibly find it, it might not be in terrible shape. The major highlight is "Hot (I Need to be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)" which features a guitar riff created by Carlos Alomar and is the same here as it was used in the song "Fame" by David Bowie.

One truth about the awesomeness of James Brown records, when you find them they are almost always beat to shit. They might have a bunch of needle marks, because people were dancing to these records, causing the needle to jump and come down hard. Or they're scratched severely because they were a favorite of DJs who were more focused about getting the next track on rather than properly putting the LP away. So, it usually got thrown into the crate, un-sleeved and then got other records stacked upon it. Or, and possibly worse, the grooves are just worn out. Groove wear fucking sucks. Distorts on highs and lows, always sounds like your needle is just running over salt...It's not surface noise, it's the grooves being worn out. This feature was usually do to a crappy record player or just playing the crap out of the record.

As far as groove wear, I'm going to go with the later. The records are just too damn good and enjoyable. People played the crap out of James Brown. If you see something minty in a used bin, it should be a guaranteed purchase.

James Brown Future Shock t-shirt ad
Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Numbero Presents Lows In the Mid Sixties Volume 54: Kosmic City Part 2 2015

Numbero Presents Lows In the Mid Sixties Volume 54: Kosmic City Part 2 2015 Numero CAT #NBR004

This was released on Record Store Day 2015 by Numero/Numbero. It may be somewhat limited, but there wasn't a huge buzz about so it's still readily available. If you can't find it in a record store among the rest of the RSD leftovers, it can still be purchased online .

I was pretty jazzed on the disc, I was concerned I may not be able to grab a copy due to the local success of things like The Bulbous Creation LP and the Cavern Sound comp also released by Numero. Early research showed that a few local stores didn't even bother to order it. Apparently, so obscure and undocumented that even local stores weren't aware of it.

The backside has an introduction by Johnny Dolan proclaiming Kansas City as a hotbed of unheard garage and claiming the town could have been much hipper had local radio given these obscure singles a chance. And, there is some truth there, despite being covers of your basic Nuggets garage tracks, all things were recorded in the Cavern in Independence, Missouri. It's quality and the tracks could have had much more local appeal especially considering the hits of the era. Even has as solid cover of Hays' Blue Things, "La Do Da Da", as done by the Changing Times out of Platte City.

However, to say KC could have been Hipsville if radio gave this all a chance, though,. I don't know. The real punk stuff featured on numerous other garage rock comps didn't bring much excessive fame or fortune to the countless teen bands that sprang up in every home town, USA. Sure, some towns like Chicago got teen bands charted, but KC didn't have the same market, we've always been a Cowtown first, rock hotbed 2nd or maybe 5th. That said, it's a good garage rock comp featuring a solid, and surprising song selection. The 1st side goes the punk, teen rock, route. The 2nd side is still filled with fuzz, but gets a bit more soulful and folk orientated.

Basically, if someone wants an introduction to teenage punk and garage ravers form the late 60s, they should skip this for the Nuggets or Pebbles series. If garage rock is your thing, you probably already know about this, it's got the deep cuts. It's for those types and the only reason I'd recommend it is because I'm a huge KC-Homer.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Milo Finley Combo The Boogie Twist B/W My Guitar Boogie Milo Unknown Year

Milo Finley Combo The Boogie Twist B/W My Guitar Boogie Milo/Woodland Record Company Unknown Year CAT# ML701/702

Unable to pull up much information on this band or it's players. There is at least one other Milo Finley Trio 7" out there on with same logo and a different color label. It's also tough to gauge whether the large name "Milo" atop the label is the record label or just there for namesake as on the right, the record indicates it was put out by the Woodland Record Co. in Kansas City, MO. A search for each label brings up nothing.

What's also odd, none of the players are mentioned either. The Milo Finley Trio, per the label features all of the following, Clyde Hughart (drums), Charels Shortino (guitar), Leon Hinkle (bass), Tom McDermott (Piano stylist) Milo Finley (violin). What odd, the A-Side is a song credited to Finley and he's not listed as a player. The B-Side is song credited to Shortino and he's not listed as a player. Regardless, names searches do validate most were from the Kansas City area, there's even some evidence Milo Finley has connections to UMKC for sheet music, but there's very little about this 7".

The tunes are pretty interesting. It'd be nice to get a year on this. It's somewhere between Western Swing and Boogie-Woogie without all the piano. It sounds like it should be from the 40's, but the sound is bit too crisp for that and it's not on shellac speed at 78RPM. Neither song features vocals, just short tunes with solid musicianship and fun guitar work.

Shiner Molly McGuire Split Crush B/W Exhaust HitIt! 1994

Shiner Molly McGuire Split Crush B/W Exhaust HitIt! 1994 CAT# HIT-03

Pretty great local 7", featuring two of the finest from KC's post-hardcore scene, Shiner and Molly McGuire. It was pressed on virgin vinyl and serves as an early example of both groups.

Shiner's "Crush" is slow-moving, but has tons of crunchy guitar. It's a bit repetitive in the beginning considering their later work, but it's still got plenty of math-rock charm and takes you all over the place soon enough. Molly McGuire's "Exhaust" opens incredibly with guitars coming in from everywhere. It was early in the band's output and is lot more straightforward than later work, it doesn't try so hard. Just solid in-your-face guitar rock, a bit alterno, but it's cool.

The release was also early-on for the short-lived Chicago HitIt! Records. The sleeve has a great DIY aesthetic as it's just a silk screened onto a cardboard fold-over.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pat Metheny with Charlie Haden & Billy Higgins Rejoicing ECM/Warner Brothers 1983

Pat Metheny with Charlie Haden & Billy Higgins Rejoicing ECM/Warner Brothers 1983 CAT# ECM 1271

Usually after 3 minutes of hearing Pat Metheny noodle around, I've decided I have something better to do. I literally have a closet full of his albums on the account he's local, but I'm not sure I'll ever get it. I mean, I get that he's great at guitar and all, it's just a lot of guitar masturbation all over the place on these LPs.

Pat Metheny is a Kansas Citian, though. I think it's pretty safe to say, he's Kansas City's most accomplished guitar player. I mean the guy made a kajillion albums like this, he's been giving a ton of Grammy's, and been voted best guitarist by guitar magazines over and over. It's pretty impressive. He was born outside of Kansas City in Lee's Summit, Missouri. By age 15, his jazz guitar styling was catching the eye of teachers. After graduation, he briefly attended a school in Florida, but they apparently realized there wasn't much left to teach him and offered him a job. He would wind up taking a teaching job eventually, at one of the most prestigious music schools in the country, Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he was an assistant teacher with legendary vibraphonist, Gary Burton, leading the way. By the late 70's, he'd perform regular with Burton, from there, the guy just started recording and touring. When you look at his body of work, it looks like it must have been non-stop.

But yeah, I kind of kid on Pat Metheny. It's very good music, just not really my cup of tea. I get why people like it, as stated above, he's extremely talented. The ECM releases are great because the label was so focused on quality, typically pressed on virgin vinyl, well sleeved and tastefully designed. This album features Charlie Hayden from Iowa, but took his first paying gig nearby in Springfield, Missouri. Billy Higgins is amazing drummer who played with just about everybody important in the post-bop era.

The Calling from the album, it's most of side 2.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Revolvers She's Out Of Your Life Locket Love 1996

Revolvers She's Out Of Your Life Locket Love 1997 CAT# 001

When the SST band, the Descendants, started singing about girls, I don't think they could have predicted the pile of turd pop-punk bands that would take their formula to the Vans Warped Tour and radio by the 1990s. And despite those bands nods to the repetitiveness and speed of the Ramones, they almost all sucked and whined about high school too much despite the fact they were clearly out of it and had dropped out of college by the time their first album was released.

However, despite the MXPXs and NOFXs all around, a solid form of the genre existed all over in teenage garages. Kansas City's Revolvers were that type of band. Despite their obvious moves, when it's recorded in someone's house and done by kids still in their teenage years, it's some of the most honest music out there. The obvious sing-along chorus' carry weight and meaning. The repetitive guitar lines are exhilarating. The songs about teenage heartbreak make you want to cry. And most importantly, the tunes meant something to everyone of their friends and fans attending the shows in shit places like Gee Coffee and someone's basement. The kids were living the experiences with the band. This band meant something to a lot of kids. So despite it's obvious flaws, it's great music and it's a shame this record is almost all but forgotten.

Revolvers Live
Riot on the Plaza Write Up

Brewer and Shipley Weeds Kama Sutra 1969

Brewer and Shipley Weeds Kama Sutra 1969 CAT# KSBS 2016

Man, if there's anything writing a blog about random ass music can teach you, it's don't sleep on anything. Outside of the one hit, I never bothered to listen to Brewer & Shipley. But, these Kansas City transplants did some solid work. Surrounded themselves with great talent and wrote some pretty great folk rock.

Weeds isn't a masterpiece, but it's probably more overlooked than it should be. Their tunes are clever and smart. The first track mentions how you get stoned and listen to Music From the Big Pink by the Band. There's a clever cover of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower", albeit a bit too expected for the type of sound these guys were laying down. They're apparently huge stoners and it shows in their albums as they weren't afraid to experiment with their sound. It's also apparent as members of the Grateful Dead appear on the album as well as the likes of Mike Bloomfield.

Overall, it's quality stoner, country-rock. In the ballpark with Grateful Dead albums like Workingman's and American Beauty. Promise you, none of the 10 minute drum solos, those two Dead albums are pretty low-key affairs.

Lady Like You

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Black Calvin Postcard B/W Be With You HC 1994

Black Calvin Postcard B/W Be With You HC 1994 No CAT #

Black Calvin is another local much like Zoom, great band, but almost completely unheard of outside Kansas City and Lawrence. The was a three piece featuring Craig Comstock who is still very much active today in local music. He also started up the HC label the band released for and managed to release a Black Calvin 10", a split 7" and a local hardcore comp before giving the label up.

Black Calvin played a brand of post-hardcore that wasn't too far removed from other locals of the early to mid-90's. They were a lot more lo-fi and punk rock about it. The first track, "Postcard", is a 5 minute punk-rock, sludgefest. The B-side, "Be With You", picks things up, but stays just as noisy and discordant with crazy guitar lines and shifting tempos.

The tunes were recorded in Lawrence, KS by Ed Rose. So despite the band's lo-fi aesthetics, they still valued qaulity, so much so, the 7" was pressed onto virgin vinyl.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

KSNT 27 Topeka Presents Taking Pride in Topeka Impact Broadcasting 1990

KSNT 27 Topeka Presents Taking Pride in Topeka Impact Broadcasting 1990

This is terrible. It's found in countless terrible record collections near and around Topeka, KS. Similar albums are found throughout the entire US. Impact Broadcasting was a Nashville, TN company that went all over the US peddling these albums to Chamber of Commerce leaders or whoever would listen. Odd thing, Topeka agreed to it in 1990, a time when vinyl was considered on the decline.

"Fuck yeah! That's Topeka!" - Said No One Ever
It's a very flashy package and for that, good job Impact Broadcasting. It's a glossy gatefold cover, with photos of area attractions and placed sponsorship spots throughout. Taking Pride in Topeka was sponsored by Pizza Hut, T.J. Maxx, Kansas Expocentre, Highland Park Bank & Trust, JM Bauersfeld's, Fairlawn Plaza, KTPK Country 107, and obviously TV station, KSNT 27 Topeka who agreed to present this pile of shit.

The actual record features narration by politician, Ron Harbaugh, who attempts to tell the story of Topeka. His narration embellishes; a lot. It literally makes you think of the story of Blaine, MO as told by the actors in Waiting for Guffman. Then, the music comes on. Canned production music which Nashville exceled at. The players or female singer don't even get credited as it's pretty apparent, the same tunes were just recycled (seriously, only the first track actually mentions Topeka) on other titles such as Taking Pride in Mid-Missouri, Taking Pride in San Antonio, or Taking Pride in Whatever Town, USA, that fell for the same scheme. I wonder if the town wasn't interested, the salesman then opened up his jacket and asked if anybody wanted to buy a watch.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ida McBeth Now, Here It Is Me Muzik Unknown Year

Ida did her best to make this a one of kind item,
but Glenda is a bitch and gave this to Goodwill.
Ida McBeth Now, Here It Is Me Muzik Unknown Year CAT #St-10042

This album, based on cover and back sleeve photos, came out in the mid-80s. Looking at a lot of big hair and Miami Vice fashion on the backside. The music is drenched in slick 80's production as well, but, it's surprisingly in touch with KC jazz roots.

Rather than be corny and cliche, the covered songs are rework themselves into a classic jump blues style with a few torch numbers to showcase Ida's softer side. Her voice is strong and can fill a room with ease. The blues numbers are the albums strong point as their nod to history is surprising as based on the cover, you'd expect some sort of slick, 80's female pop-soul LP.

The production is credited to Ida McBeth. She exposed herself to the music scene at an early age moving to Los Angeles and singing in clubs. Apparently there's a 70's album she recorded, but there's no indication on her website that it was ever released. Either way, competent performances from all players and Ida's voice makes it a worthwhile listen. Nothing mind blowing, but strong for a local release. Today, she can still be found recording and performing locally.

Performing recently on the Plaza

Monday, April 6, 2015

Merrill Staton Choir Kansas' First 100 Years in Song Columbia 1961

Merrill Staton Choir Kansas' First 100 Years in Song Columbia 1961 CAT #XTV 68571

The only real attraction to this LP is the cover. The iconic John Brown painting right there on the front. Talk all you want about Kansas' Old West history, but John Brown would kill you for the right reason. He was a bad-ass and not be crossed.

As for the music and the Merrill Staton Choir, it's okay. Vocal renditions of songs that are historically linked to Kansas. The state song, "Home on the Range", is obviously here. The rest is a little less known. It's all vocal choral work. It gets a bit Broadway at times, there is some instrumentation here and there, but there's probably very few that are interested in this type of thing anymore.

It's hard to place the actual choir. Initially, it appeared as this was a Columbia Records Special release and the Merrill Staton Choir was a canned group of studio singers pumping out these type of albums for all state centennials. A quick major-label cash grab type of thing. However, the Merrill Staton Choir has a discography, often covering Western music. It does appear there is some connection to Kansas here. The choir recorded for Epic and Columbia and apparently was based somewhere in the state.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Manilla Road Invasion Cult Metal Classics 2005 (Reissue)

Manilla Road Invasion Cult Metal Classics 2005 (Reissue) CAT# CultMetal019

If you mention the name Manilla Road to a random person in Kansas and probably this band's home city of Wichita, it's probably fair to assume less than 1% you talk to will have any idea who Manilla Road is. Mention the band's name in Power Metal circles and you're sure to get a number of opinions. Many of which would cite the band as one the finest examples in the genre.

However, before this gets all metal, this was Manilla Road's first release. It was originally released in 1980 on the band's own label, Roadster. This vinyl reissue was put out in Europe in 2005 on Cult Classics, but apparently there is an additional version that was released in 2004 on the label Iron Glory. Perhaps a situation in which Iron Glory has the CD reissue and didn't have interest in vinyl so passed it along to Cult Metal...either way, Cult Metal is a label in Greece and indicative of the band's primary fan base, power metal is apparently big in the European countries...that's the rumor, anyway.

But again, don't want to get too attached to metal. This release, Invasion, is heavy, but much more in line with proto-metal and progressive rock. The band came into their Power Metal years on the release Crystal Logic, which is few years later. While that era gets the most recognition, this is pretty great too. In Wichita, these guys were secluded, had no intention of fame or fortune, just clearly wanted to play LOUD music. It's dark, menacing and filled with guitars. The sound, at least on this version, the sound quality is pretty poor and comes across like it was recorded in a damp basement. Maybe it was or maybe it was just the limitations of the bands equipment.

One thing is clear, the group's primary Mark Shelton is brilliant. Nothing about this album carries any pretense...sure, maybe a band like Iron Maiden was knocking around all this fantasy lyric stuff at the same time, but c'mon, those guys still wanted to be "cool." Nothing about Manilla Road is trying to be cool. In fact, it seems as if they wanted the opposite. They'll play loud, fast, and sing about swords and death and if someone buys it, great, if not, they're still going to kick around their ideas.

Manilla Road The Dream Goes On