Monday, October 26, 2015

Chris Connor Witchcraft Atlantic 1959

Chris Connor Witchcraft Atlantic 1959 CAT# SD-8032

Kansas City born jazz singer Chris Connor had a pretty impressive career that's largely forgotten. There's still a click of female jazz vocalist enthusiasts (all of whom would be familiar with Connor), but names like June Christy and Julie London tend to be the only ones you still see in print.

This album placed Connor with arranger Richard Wess who surrounded her with a big band and some string arrangements. It's a decent pairing that allowed her to retain her smokey torch style while embracing pop elements that aren't as obvious in her prior work.

Also, let's be honest, the cover is incredible. The font, the early Atlnatic logo and the colors throughout the picture of the eye. It's top-notch and yet another reason things like old LPs are infinitely cooler than CDs.

When Sunny Gets Blue

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bloodstone Natural High London 1972

Bloodstone Natural High London 1972 CAT# XPS 620

Per everyone else, this is Bloodstone's finest moment, the title track, "Natural High," put the band on the map. Unfortunately, the hit tune didn't open the floodgates for future chart toppers, everyone just kept playing the same song.

However, the Kansas City band's entire 70's output is on par with other soul acts. Polished sounds, sweet vocals and harmonies, and taking moments to get a little more funky than some of their contemporaries. This album is no different, definite highlights outside the hit song and some material that could have been more inspired.

The hit though, "Natural High," it is about as close to perfect you can get to in the 70's soul ballad arena. Beautiful harmonies and vocals, seductive backdrop, just an amazing love song.

Natural High

Monday, October 12, 2015

Secret Handshakes The Record Machine/Golden Sound Records 2012

Secret Handshakes The Record Machine/Golden Sound Records 2012 CAT#GSRM001

This was a local Record Store Day release met with little to no fanfare upon it's release in 2012, because let's be honest, independent labels can't do things on Record Store Day, it's for the major labels.

Nevertheless, The Record Machine teamed up with Golden Sound Records to put out this limited and colored vinyl compilation of groups from the labels' rosters. It's got a screened cover and is clever in it's simplicity. It looks and feels limited. Yet, despite the labels attempt to get on the RSD thing in 2012, you can still grab a copy with ease in 2015.

The Record Machine side is filled with the label's breezy indie-pop sounds. The La Guerre track, "23," is stellar and a huge stand out. Another definite highlight is the Akkiles track, "She's Alright," which is sparse, haunting and has addictive phrasing you can't get out of your head, The whole side is worth checking out, just to experience this tiny KC label's cohesive sound and identity.

The Golden Sound Records side isn't as cohesive, but filled with great tunes all the same. The fist track, "Hot Bright Night" by Everyday/Everynight is filled with a lot of directions, but it's grandiose and worth repeated listens. The Caves track, "Liars," has a pretty great groove and power-pop moves. It also features the Baby Teardrops, which is a Matt Dunehoo (of Proudentall) fronted band formed in New York, I mention it because that guy is dedicated and it's good to see him get a song out there now and again.

Overall, great listen and worth owning. I'm sure since it's now 2015, either label would take $10 and send you one if you asked nicely (currently selling for $12 at TRM).

Soundcloud TRM Side

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Marilyn Maye The Lamp Is Low RCA Victor 1966

Marilyn Maye The Lamp Is Low RCA Victor 1966 CAT# LSP-3626

This was the second LP released by Kansas City vocalist Marilyn Maye in 1966. It attempted to drench her in ballads and to that extent, it doesn't work too well. Her voice is a too big for torch songs and ballads. Maye was better suited for uptempo tunes and theater.

What I love about the copy I found is the fact that it shows how proud people were of the Kansas Citian. I picked it up at a thrift store and whoever had it before kept it like a trophy; it's minty. And not because the prior owner couldn't get down with the tunes, but because Marilyn Maye signed the LP. Maye's autograph is personalized on the backside and reads the following:

"Love to you, Marion. Enjoyed spending the afternoon with you. Thank you for all your help and bless you for enjoying my kinda music. Happiness and all that's marvelous - Marilyn Maye."

I don't know who Marion was, but he or she certainly cherished this LP and whatever relationship they had with Maye. Marion even cut out a magazine review for the LP and taped it to the inner sleeve. What's sad is as much as Marion cherised the LP, years later, it was sadly discarded at a thrift store...I'm just happy I found it.

The Lamp is Low