Sunday, May 31, 2015

Langston Hughes Rhythms of the World Folkways Records 1955

Langston Hughes Rhythms of the World Folkways Records 1955 CAT# FC 7340

The fact that Folkways Records saw enough importance in Langston Hughes' poetry to record it is a pretty fantastic thing. The Lawrence, KS raised poet's voice is now with us, reading in his soft, but confident voice, some of the very poems that made him famous. This album is based and contains parts of his bock, "The First Book of Rhythms", by Hughes.

As the title implies, it's rhythmic poetry and the recording contains numerous sound effects to provide examples of rhythm. From a Kentucky folk song, to washboard, to just nature sounds, it's all used here to empathize the music in poetry.

The album was designed for children. In fact, this copy was once housed in the Somerset School Library of Overland Park, KS. The school no longer exists, but I imagine the record left the library long before it closed its doors. The idea of school children sitting in a circle around a tiny little record player, listening to Langston Hughes, that's a pretty great thought.

Rhythms of the World

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marcy Tinger Marcy Sings Nursery Rhymes Word 1967

Marcy Tigner Marcy Sings Nursery Rhymes Word 1967 CAT# K-702

There is a full post on the artist behind the ventriloquist doll, Little Marcy or by this LP, simply Marcy. The voice was Marcy Tigner who prior to going to the great Northwest for music fame was a Wichita, Kansas native. Prior to putting out a kajillion weirdo children's religious albums, she actually did a few albums of her own as a trombone player.

All her Little Marcy albums (and there's an insane amount) are equally as creepy and in today are awful confusing. Why was the idea of a ventriloquist doll on record a good thing? Isn't the entertainment value in watching the actual ventriloquist hide their vocals?

Anyway, as far as Little Marcy's deep catalog is concerned, this is the album that gets the hype. Pretty sure it was once featured on David Letterman's Dave's Record Collection bit and it's also the topic of numerous blog posts. It doesn't have the creepy stage banter between the actual Marcy Tigner and her doll as the album is just the doll doing well-known nursery rhymes with basic back musical drops (oddly all of which are copyrighted despite being open to everyone even in 1967). What it does have though is the a rendition of "I Love Little Pussy." Because, as a traditional nursery rhyme, "I Love Little Pussy" already ranks up there with the best dick and fart jokes, but a creepy doll singing it, that's next level stuff.
video

Monday, May 25, 2015

Butterglory Wait For Me Merge 1995

Butterglory Wait For Me Merge 1995 CAT# mrg084

This is both early Merge Records and early Butterglory. It's almost hard to believe that given Merge's current roster with the likes of Arcade Fire, that Butterglory would be on the label if they came out today. The release itself is number 84 on Merge's catalog. It's so simple and a far way away from the label's current glossy looks. The sleeve is just a folded over piece of paper that's screen pressed. The two 7"s included though, they were pressed on virgin vinyl, which in 1995, might have been the only option considering record plants were becoming fewer and fewer, but, let's just call it the early-era of Merge quality.

This release lists Visalia, California as home to Butterglory, so it pre-dates their dominance on the Lawrence Lo-Fi scene (which, never really existed, but you know). The formula was still the same back then for the band. Matt Suggs and Debbie Vander Wall cutting out some clever lo-fi pop tunes with some help from whoever was willing. They sound a lot like Pavement without the unexpected blasts of guitar and feedback. There are other elements, Debbie's plaintive vocals give the tunes a Moe Tucker Velvets feel. And Suggs is a witty songwriter, just at this time, pretty enamored by the lo-fi scene. All four songs are worth owning, even if you're not a completest, the EP is worth picking up if you happen upon it.

And, maybe Merge would still take a chance on Matt and Debbie's lazy brand of pop music. The label has certainly supported Matt Suggs throughout his career. They've also championed their back catalog recently so maybe a Butterglory retrospective is in order soon. (Would also be sweet to have that White Whale LP and Suggs' solo efforts on vinyl).

STUCK

Shyboys Life is Peachy B/W Follow the Leader High Dive Records 2014

Shyboys 45 EP High/Dive Records 2014 CAT# HDR005

If I had the energy to continually get up and flip sides, I would wear this 45 out. More lo-fi, Beach Boys influenced pop from Kansas City's Shyboys.

"Life is Peachy" on side A is perfect. It may be lifted or have some borrowed chord progressions, but soaked in all this honesty and lo-fidelity, it doesn't really matter. Things are fast, the drums sound trashy, and the guitars twang. But, those sun-drenched whispered vocals and harmonies, that's the sweet spot. Just makes you want to play it again and again.

The B-Side, "Follow the Leader", isn't on the same level as "Life is Peachy," but it's a solid tune. Slow and drenched in the same type of thing that makes the A-Side great. It's just a bit too long for it's own good, but the length gives it a super-lazy Sunday vibe which is kinda nice.

Life Is Peachy

Dogs? Self-Titled Dogs? Records 1985

Dogs? Self-Titled Dogs? Records  1985 CAT# SRK 15117

This is pretty lame. 5 dudes with fancy hair and glamour shots doing some pomp-rock. Giving it a nod towards new-wave or power-pop would be generous. It's produced well and the sound quality is fantastic for a private LP, the songs are just boring and swamped in 80's trends. The fact that it's only 5 songs is the best part as you don't have to suffer through much.

As a band, they all seem pretty capable. Most of the members did other things around town. Stan Hartman the drummer is notable for being in Parlor Frogs who appeared on a Fresh Sounds Live in Lawrence comp. The link below indicates the singer, Jerry Sumner, was in the marginally cool band Clocks. But, what this appears to be is a bunch of fairly talented locals putting together a cash-in attempt. Super slick production, the handsome photos on the backside, the roller rink panty-dropper tunes... I imagine they put this together with hopes of signing onto a major, doesn't look like it worked, but good on the Dogs? for trying.

Substitute

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Casket Lottery Real Fear No Sleep Records 2012

The Casket Lottery Real Fear No Sleep Records 2012 CAT# NSR063

This was released almost decade after the previous Casket Lottery LP, so in that regard, it can be called a comeback album. Listening to it, it can certainly feel that way. It's not as angry and aggressive as the prior albums. It takes in a much wider array of influences. It's more sophisticated than the prior work. Skill sets have changed and the band explores it.

This all sounds great, but to the kids stuck in early 2000s emo-bubbles, it's just okay. Even though the fans of the band have likely grown-up, that's not what they want out of their high school heroes. At this point, the Casket Lottery are in their 30's, long gone are the teenage problems they screamed about over the course of several albums. They probably have kids now and wives (or divorces) and relationships centered around adult problems, not teenage drama. It's an age where just out of fucking nowhere, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco make all the sense in the world. Punk rock politics seem trivial and you start to realize Fugazi (despite being incredible at any age) isn't the only band that matters.

It all shows on this LP. It's great, just like everything Casket Lottery did, the quality is here. Further, it's improved. The songs are spaced out, the groove is considered and the band attempts to crossover their punk influences into new tricks and influences works to a great extent. But, unfortunately, their fans wanted Moving Mountains Mach 2. So despite never losing their sound, only maturing, this album is doomed to be lesser Casket Lottery by the band's fans. Which is fine, I just hope when they get into Wilco, they give this another chance.

In the Branches

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils Self-Titled A&M 1973

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils Self-Titled A&M 1973 CAT# 0598

There's like a kajillion guys in this band, enough to keep them going long after this debut in some form or another. Pretty sure you can still see them play around town every month.

The group was formed in Springfield, MO, thus the band name, Ozark Mountain Dare Devil. Their Kansas City connection lies in their management, Good Karma Productions, the same that managed Brewer & Shipley, Danny Cox, and a few other locals. Further, they were discovered by Brewer & Shipely while playing the Cowtown Ballroom in KC. So there KC roots are legit.

The music is pretty Springfield, though. It's not bluegrass or hillbilly, but it uses the mountain influences. You'd probably be better off buying a Dillards LP if you want the real stuff. But, the Daredevils blended some old-time sounds into a modern pop format. Their sound played to everyone, they could open for anyone with their brand of stoner-country. Also, worth pointing out, this LP did have the minor-hit, "If You Wanna Get to Heaven," which is a pretty solid good-ol' boy tune.

Black Sky
Daredevils-LIVE. Look at these fuckin' hipsters

Lander Ballard Hightime Free Wind Records 1977

Lander Ballard Hightime Free Wind Records 1977 CAT# LB7701

As far as I can tell, Lander Ballard is still making music, much more in the new country "Merica" tradition down in his home town of Wichita, KS. You can YouTube it and see all the macho country he's doing currently.

This LP is far better than what you can find online. He put out this LP in 1977 and a second a decade later on his own Free Wind Records label. While I haven't heard the 1987 LP, this is worth searching out and is relatively cheap. It's pretty low-key singer/songwriter stuff that takes moves from Billy Joel and other popular songwriters of the 70's as well as all that slick yacht rock that was going on. It's not as smooth or as polished as the yacht rock hits of the late-70's, it's just got the overriding influences.

If it it has to be categorized, it's hippie-folk. Ballard was into some new-age mysticism (and probably marijuana) and it shows throughout the album. The song "Ch'i (Natural Energy)" kind of speaks for itself. That song actually kind of sucks, but there are some definite highlights. The Joel influenced "Song for an Aging Minstrel" is pretty fun as is "Rock and Roll Man." The rest is uptempo, gentle melodies, that Ballard sings over the top of with a soft set of pipes. For a private LP out of Wichita, production is surprisingly good. Packaging is also top-notch, cover art is kinda cool and there's a nice little lyric book included.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Marilyn Maye Marilyn...the Most Holly Record Co. 1961

Marilyn Maye Marilyn...the Most Holly Record Co. 1961 CAT# H04

This LP appears to be a demo album for both Marilyn Maye and songwirter, Carl Bolte Jr. It would appear Maye was using Bolte's talent to showcase her own and move onto a major label, while Bolte was using Maye's skills as a performer to help him get into the bigs as a songwriter and a producer.

Of course, that's an assumption. For Maye, if that was the goal, it worked. She went onto a very successful career as a singer, recording a number of albums, appearing in movies and in theater, and making a record number of appearances on Johnny Carson.

Mr. Bolte, not as much, but he remained a succesful musician local to Kansas City. Holly Record Co. featured a number of other releases featuring his originals, running form rock n' roll, to children's music, to jazz. He wrote a Kansas City Royals fight song in 1968, one year prior to the Royals inaugural season. He also, as an alumnus, wrote a Mizzou fight song. So, to that extent, Carl Bolte Jr. was able to carve out an impressive musical career within Kansas City and the surrounding areas.

And, maybe he was just looking to make a buck on his own Holly Record Co. Or perhaps, he saw a super-talented young Kansas City singer in Marilyn Maye and just wanted to move her along to the next stage of her career. However, if that were the case, you'd think there'd be some jazz standards thrown into the mix, not a complete album of originals because NO ONE was doing that in 1961. Whether it was his goal to move to Hollywood on the success of this album or not, it's extremely impressive he was able to craft 10 original pieces for Maye and find backing to release it on his own label.

It's a cool album, Bolte's songs are sharp and center around his keyboards and lyrics he penned. They can seem a bit hokey with a lot of call and response between the vocals and the music, but overall, they swing and the campy attitude of the tunes fit Marilyn Maye perfectly. At this point, it's a bit a collector's item. There's a surprisingly large female jazz-vocal collectors scene, primarily in Japan, that will pay a premium for hyper-obscure albums that are quality. A regional debut album from a fairly well-known singer like Marilyn Maye is a no-brainer for those types.

Marilyn...the Most More of the LP


Bob Brookmeyer And Friends Columbia 1965

Bob Brookmeyer And Friends Columbia 1965 CAT #CL 2237

Pretty outstanding list of players for KC trombonist, Bob Brookmeyer. This album was a reunion for Stan Getz and Bob Brookmeyer who had worked together at length for years prior to 1965. It features standards and some Brookmeyer originals.

In 1965, Getz and Brookmeyer were aging and through being cool. What saves the album from standard, boring, white-guy jazz is the young players they brought aboard to fill out the sessions. Namely, a young Herbie Hancock filling out the tunes with some interesting keyboard runs. It also, as the cover indicates, includes Gary Burton, who had done plenty up to this point, but was still young at the time of this release. Hancock and Burton's imagination was allowed to carry the album. Without them, the album would still be top notch, just not as memorable.

Brookmeyer's Jive Hoot

Monday, May 18, 2015

Get Smart! Swimming With Sharks Restless/Fever Records 1986

Get Smart! Swimming With Sharks Restless/Fever Records 1986 CAT# 72111-1

Great band that came out of the Lawrence, KS scene of the 1980's. This album represents their second full length on the Fever Records imprint of independent label, Restless Records. It's also representative of the band after their relocation to Chicago, IL. Still, listening to it, it's straight Lawrence 80's scene.

Get Smart! pal'd around with the likes of the Embarrassment, the Micronotz, and other like college bands in Lawrence. Clever, choppy, dance-rock, not too far off from what groups like Pylon were doing in another college scene in Georgia and like Pylon, Get Smart! featured female vocals as well.

This album is basically stripped down new-wave. No synth, more guitar, but dance-able. It's punk at it's heart, but Get Smart! is a bit past the hardcore kids that were rolling through towns in the 80s. They served the college scene well.

Gold to Rust

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kansas City Jazz Spectrum Kaycee Jazz 1978

Kansas City Jazz Spectrum Kaycee Jazz 1978 CAT #KC-7801

The players here kind of flooded the scene with a number of Kansas City Jazz releases. The big draw featured here is Pat Metheny's brother, Mike Metheny on flugelhorn. Other than that, it's just another from a batch of LPs that are scattered throughout KC featuring these artists.

Overall, this isn't as cheesy or soaked in lounge as it looks. The players attempt to recreate a KC Jazz scene that had died decades prior and was only a matter of pride and history by 1978. The first track is "Perdido" which was made famous by Duke Ellington, but the Kansas City Jazz Spectrum is doing it as a nod to Charlie Parker. The track does showcase each player as competent and isn't drenched in late 70's lounge sound, it could be mistaken for period by a casual listener.

The remainder of the LP features a more covers, some of which are restaurant friendly, others are a bit cooler such as "Stella By Starlight" which was a popular track performed by Miles Davis. There are originals, a vocal track written and performed by Carol Cox Comer which is clever. Mike Ning (who I believe was a transplant to KC) attempts a bit of Cool Jazz on "Grable's Able (Milt Abel)". And the saxophonist, Bill Perkins, contributed a tune called "Lost Moments," which attempts to get almost Kenton-like in sophistication, but mind you, can't reach that level.

Other points are awarded to the cover collage, which does seem a bit hokey, but has great references to KC. And the label name, Kaycee Jazz, is kind of fun.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Smoke Risin' J. Bridge Records 1976

Smoke Risin' J. Bridge Records 1976 CAT# 7544

This will likely be my top find of the year as I've been searching for this at a reasonable price for the past two years. Finding it for $1 at a Goodwill in Olathe, KS, that's perfect for my budget. I was searching through a pretty solid collection of beat up soul albums at the Goodwill flipping past some Earth, Wind & Fire I didn't need, some O'Jays had it been in better condition I wouldn't have minded owning, and some Donald Byrd LPs I did need despite a few scuffs. Then, this shows up, still in shrink and looking super-clean. There was a lady looking at the opposite side of the record bin and she looked up at me when I said out loud, "Oh man, I can't believe this is here!" I then had to explain myself somewhat embarrassed the rarity behind the record and that I've been trying to track this down for a couple years now. She didn't care much. She had a few Disney LPs and a Carperntars album in her stack, so naturally I said, "There's some really great Earth, Wind & Fire LPs in here if you need some."

This album is a throwback and when you put up to all things 1976, it's not surprising that the group didn't bust out of Kansas City. The LP is very rooted in the popular 60's and early 70's sound of Motown. It four male vocalists surrounded by lush strings, brass, and some modestly funky guitar, bass and drums. The primary songwriter was Elmer Overton (he also produced the record along with Les Mathews) and it's pretty clear Overton was heavily influenced by the likes of the Impressions and the Temptations. It's not disco enough for 1976 dance floors and wasn't funky enough to catch on to the live scenes.

However, despite the album being a few years too late, it sounds fucking great now. Overton's tunes recall the greatest bits of the Motown catalog and some of these tracks could burn down a Northern Soul dance floor and probably have. That kind of sentimental, uptempo, dance number that the likes of Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson perfected for Motown, Overton gets close. Even the over-the-top, drenched in string ballads work for this guy, mostly because of the falsetto and the rest of the vocals in Smoke have the talent to carry it out and make it interesting.

Also, the amount of energy that went into this release is impressive. There's a complete string, horn and reed section along with your standard band backing. So 4 male vocalists and an impressive 16 member studio cast. Not to mention, a full production team. This was put out on J. Bridge Records, which only put out one other release, a single from the same band. So it's a basically a private press and the money that was put into this release is probably what killed any chance of the label continuing. But man, what a way to go out...dare I say in a blaze (get it, Smoke?).

I'm So Glad You Came Along

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dactyls S/T 7" Blanket Records 2008

Dactyls S/T 7" Blanket Records 2008 NO CAT#

Dig this 7", a lot. The Dactyls are/were a Lawrence band formed in 2001. They sound like mid-90's North Carolina. Just crunchy, guitar driven indie rock, recorded as best they could, probably in a basement. At the time of the release of this 7", the band was still pretty active doing shows in Lawrence and KC. Even did a tour releasing a split 7" for the road. However, I don't think they're around anymore.

The 7" is a pretty homespun package. But, the sleeve is hand numbered indicating the band only pressed 300 copies. The sleeve has screen pressed artwork and the vinyl is quality, don't know the gram weight on a 7", but if it was a 12", it'd be 180 gram vinyl. Also cool, the band provided a CDR of the tunes to you know, listen to in your car or on a CD Walkmen.

The tunes are great. Again, very much a product of the North Carolina in the 90's. But, that's a scene that should still exist. Apparently, Dan Benson formerly of Vitreous Humor once sat behind the drums for these guys, which, yeah, considering what Vitreous Humor sounded like, he fits in perfectly. However, he's not featured on this release.

Bandcamp Page, new stuff up until 2012, except the album was recorded in 2010

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Uncouth! KC United B/W Gudbuy T' Jane Too Much Rock 2015

The Uncouth! KC United B/W Gudbuy T' Jane Too Much Rock 2015 CAT# TMR-SS-04

I was stalking the Too Much Rock for a considerable amount of time trying to get more info on the next release, because it's one thing I actually like. Totally punk rock, dude just makes records for a band to do whatever with. After a while, I gave up, thinking the idea of basically giving away 7"s isn't a sound business plan and Too Much Rock had gave up after 3 releases.

I stole this pic from the band's Facebook page...jerkmove.
An updated review to follow once I have the release.
But, just when I go to sleep on it, Sid Sowder woke me up to advise about release #4. The featured band is the Uncouth! who've been playing their working class Oi! around town for the last few years. They look pretty mean; like soccer hooligans. They play pretty mean, too. The band's own cut is titled "KC United," which you know, is another unity song, this one calling for KC's punks and skins (the working class skins and not the neo-Nazi variety). The flip side is a cover of "Gudbuy T'Jane" by Slade. It's not as pretty as Slade, though. However, listening to it knocks out a front teeth and they kept the hooks, y'know, cause punks like chanting a chorus.

I've been listening to the tracks and it's good, but I haven't got my hands on the vinyl. It's street date is set for May 15th and a release party will be held at Mills Records. 500 are pressed and ready, 100 will be random colors, the other 400 standard black.

                                                                         ***UPDATED***

Got my own copy of this from Too Much Rock and glad to have it. Much better fidelity than the internet stream I was enjoying last week. It appears most of the colored variants are being sold at Teenage Heart Distro, but again, release party as far as I know is set for May 15th, 2015 at Mills Records.

I'm really digging the cover of Slade's "Gudbye T'Jane," the "KC United" track is fine (a little obvious, again, every punk scene needs a Unity song), but I love that this band has the chops to do some guitar solos, yet manage to keep things punk rock. You can tell by the photo, these aren't kids kicking around in boots, these guys won't get carded for the cigarettes they're smoking.

The Uncouth! on Facebook

The Get Up Kids Woodson B/W Second Place Doghouse 1997

The Get Up Kids Woodson B/W Second Place Doghouse CAT #DOG-045

The fans now refer to this early release as 'All Stars' or the 'Woodson EP', however I believe it's just a self-titled 7". The artwork appears on a CD EP that also featured two extra tracks that are found on the 'Love Teller' 7".

On CD is the way the tunes first came to me. I had the early 7", but was in my senior year of high school when this was released. This was a big deal, the band's first release for a record label that wasn't their own. Friends of the band had been waiting forever for the real-deal. I remember the day it came out, I was working at Schnucks on Murlen in Olathe, Kansas, as an after school job. My friend Donald busted into the backroom with it screaming at me, "It's here! I got your copy!"

As soon as we could, Donald and I ran out to a car to put it in the CD player. It was so fucking great... There wasn't any pre-conceived notions of what emo should sound like, what the Get Up Kids were or should be, there was no expectations other than we wanted to hear what our friends had done.

It didn't disappoint. And I still won't take my blinders off for it. It's still fucking great. I could listen to it everyday for the rest of my life. It's that good.

Second Place