Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Paul Clark & Friends Good to Be Home Seed 1975

Paul Clark & Friends Good to Be Home Seed Records 1975 CAT# PSR-004

Have you ever seen the Christian rock episode of South Park where Cartman starts a Christian rock band because he can't gain a following doing a regular rock band? That's pretty much what I think about the contemporary Christian music scene...bunch of fairly talented players who couldn't come up with enough originality in their rock band so they took their ideas, inserted the word "Jesus" and throw it at the kids not allowed to watch MTV in the Bible Belt. Whit that same outlook, I put it on the Jesus Music scene of the 70's, just a bunch of washed up dudes selling their tunes to an audience short on culture.

Part of that is probably still true, but the 70's Jesus Music scene was a bit deeper than today's contemporary scene. Jesus was much cooler in the late-60's and 70's than he is now. The music kind of shows that. There are legitimate hit tunes centering around Jesus from the 70's. Today, Kayne West thinks he's special for "Jesus Walks" (and he is, that beat is insane). But beside Kayne, point is, the 70's Jesus Music scene offers some hidden gems, some of which go for a lot of money. Kansas City had a pretty substantial foot-mark on the scene.

Mainly in Paul Clark, but also Phil Keagy. Paul Clark is native to the area and released a ton of albums, many of which can be found in dollar bins across the metro. Keagy, who is featured on this album, was one of the bigger names in the scene, wasn't native to the KC area, but moved to Shawnee to record much of his output.

As far as their music, it typically sounds genuine, these guys were always super-Christian and making music was only going to be about that. It doesn't sound forced, although, if you're not Christian, the albums can get uncomfortable and preachy. But, the music is good, they're good players, it's well recorded, and it fits in line with everything else in the 70's.

Looking at this specific album, Good To Be Home, it looks like you're in some hippie-folk. However, it's more of a soft-rock affair. Similar to singer/songwriter stuff coming out in the 70's. It's got it's moments,'s just all the Jesus stuff throws me off.


The Casket Lottery Moving Mountains Second Nature 2000

The Casket Lottery Moving Mountains Second Nature 2000 CAT #SN018

The pros will tell you this a typical sophomore album. They'll say it doesn't have the same energy as the debut. Or, the band started experimenting to add an edge to their sound, but hadn't fully developed into themselves. You can even read retrospective reviews that claim the follow-up is the one to own, it's the one that put all the pieces together.

Screw that, in 2000, the start/stop emo dynamic was morphing into garbage like Fall Out Boy. Yet, here's this Kansas City band smacking you in the face. Screaming and crying, even heavy metal gurgling at you that this style still had some moments to offer. The band's experimentation was the use of more progressive and metal influences that they threw into their sound. And it works. It works amazingly well. You could call it a little unbalanced compared to the later albums, but you could just as easily say it also adds an element of surprise to the album listening experience.

The kids know. This is a great LP. Regardless of what the "best" Casket Lottery album is, this stands with all their work on equal footing. There's also a great blurb written by Ed Rose about the recording of the album on the inner-sleeve. It's not legendary bathroom reading like the CD liners to Kill Creek's St. Valentine's Garage (if you have the CD, you understand), but it shows, Ed got it, too.

A Dead Dear

Monday, March 28, 2016

Breakups/Sex Offenders Split 7" Wound Up Records 1995

Breakups/Sex Offenders Split 7" Wound Up Records 1995 No Cat#

This is some mid-90's teen punk from the Kansas City area put out by Wound Up Records. The bands, The Sex Offenders and the Breakups, by appearance appear virtually identical, they took a photo in the same place, they kind of look the same, and they recorded at the same place (Red House Studios).

They do manage to separate themselves from each other with their respective sound. For one, the Sex Offenders feature a female singer that can swear with the best of them. The first track on their side, "40oz", manages to drop the F-bomb over a dozen times in what must be less than a minute long track. The Sex Offenders also take a more hardcore approach to their punk rock than the Breakups. They fall somewhere between the 80's suburban punk scene and DC, they'd probably like to be more DC, but they weren't good enough players.

The Breakups take a much more traditional punk approach, almost falling back on a really early Social Distortion sound. They're certainly punk damaged, but the underlying sound is still basic rock n' roll, just speed up and simplified. They aren't trying to break down the walls like the Sex Offenders.

NH band on Wound Up, the Tunnel Rats
But, the key to both bands is that they represent an honest attempt at punk rock. There were two teenage scenes in KC; the snotty suburban kids that took their cues from popular acts like Green Day and the short lived ska-revival and on the opposite side, the suburban kids that desperately wanted to be gutter punks that found Bad Religion and went backwards in time to get to the good stuff. They waved the DIY flag and had their parents never bought them a Honda, they would've liked Crass more. These kids represented that better side. In fact, the Sex Offenders were so punk rock, they went out of their way to give some, "No Thanx To" on their side of the lyric sheet by calling out the lamest teen punk bands in the 90s KC scene, the Gadgets.

The label, Wound Up Records, attempted to make a go at it in the mid-90's releasing multiple 7"s and a
cassette comp. They even attempted to get a roster with out-of-towners (featured to the side, but not discussed, because they're not local...).

The Sex Offenders 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

21st Century Sound Movement S/T Gear Fab Records 1968/2012

21st Century Sound Movement S/T Gear Fab Records 1968/2012 CAT# GF262A

This is a bootleg of a mega-rare Kansas City garage record. The original 1968 album was put out by these Kansas City kids when they booked time with Damon Records and paid for some albums to be pressed. Damon Records was a custom label, which would mean the group likely only bought 50 to 100 copies and who knows if they got them all sleeved, they likely used many of them as demo to provide to booking agents and labels.

The label, Gear Fab Records, stated no one had a clue who these kids were, but since 2012 when this was released, they've been featured on a number of high-profile Numero Group comps. Members of the group played around in this band and others, the 21st Century Sound Movement also release a couple 45s if memory serves, one of which is tacked onto this bootleg.

The bootleg is true to the original as far as the packaging, the photo is the same, the non-descriptive backside that doesn't list members, even the label smacked on the colored vinyl is authentic to the original.

The photo is interesting, the statues are actually part of the William Volker Fountain in Kansas City that you can see in Brush Creek. They moved it in the 1990's from Theis Park, which as you can see in the photo, is in front of the Nelson Atkins. Today, the Atkins is thought of as the place with the shuttle cocks out front, but at one time, it had the Volker Fountain featured in the band's photo.

In terms of gargae rock, The 21st Century Sound Movement are pretty good. Which translates to an acquired taste in everybody's else's world. They are little weak on their pop-psych, vocals aren't great and they sound wimpy, but when they break out the guitars, it's a fuzzed out trip. Their heavy versions of "The House on of the Rising Sun" and Hendrix's "Fire" are pretty fun. There's a 7 minute cover of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", which in all it's amateurishness, is another highlight. The album was all covers apparently and the only original featured here on the bootleg was on the band's 45. Overall, the rarity, as with loads of garage rock, makes the band better than they actually were. There's solid moments, but its not like we're talking about the long lost 13th Floor Elevators here, were talking about some KC kids that bashed out some interesting covers.

The Original LP

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Outpost Family Band A Little Outpost of Heaven Outpost Records 1984

The Outpost Family Band A Little Outpost of Heaven Outpost Records 1984 CAT# NR15302

The Outpost Family Band is a legitimate family band that is still playing bluegrass throughout Kansas. On this 1985 LP, the band was made up of 5 players with additional add-ons from their family members. The wives might sing or play here or there and a number of tracks feature youngsters taking lead vocals. They play country styled gospel and traditional bluegrass.

It sounds like a gimmick and it probably should be, but the band sounds honest and real. They are from Winfield, KS, home of one of the nation's biggest bluegrass festivals, so they can't get all Ozarks, MO on people, it isn't a tourist town. This LP is a pleasant mixture of gospel tunes, traditionals and some decent originals. You can't crap on pleasant, it's a good album.

The liners do give some insight to the members who were very active throughout the 80's in the Kansas and area bluegrass and traditional stringed music scenes. Winning numerous awards throughout Kansas and nearby states.

A Little Outpost of Heaven

Monday, March 21, 2016

Marilyn Maye Step to the Rear RCA 1967

Marilyn Maye Step to the Rear RCA 1967 CAT# LSP 3897

Accidentally bought two copies of this LP, but to my surprise, I ended up with two different variants. One of which would appear to be an original 1967 black label RCA, the other, a later pressing on an orange RCA label. The later pressing would speak volumes to the Kansas City singers popularity, I mean, if they had to repress LPS, apparently there was once a substantial market for the singer.

The differences between these two are minimal, but as you can see in the photo, the original has a green backdrop while the other has a blueish color used in the backdrop. What's also odd is the label on the repress reads, "Make Mine Marilyn Maye" rather than the title, 'Step to the Rear.' The track listing and everything else is the same. Even the stampers in the dead wax read the same. Makes you wonder if perhaps RCA was initially going to repackage the LP as a budget title in a separate cover to capitalize on some television appearance or jump in popularity for the singer, but at the last second, just decided to use the same cover with a slight alteration.

It's not a bad album, in her show tunes style, she covers some hits of the day. "Ode to Billy Joe" is well, groovy. There's also this over-the-top, sultry, version of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny", which is kind of fun.

Step to the Rear

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ottawa University Quartet S/T Audio House 1975

Ottawa University Quartet S/T Audio House 1975 CAT# AHS 176F75

Picking this up, I was thinking it's either going to be either really great or just really boring. The year, 1975 is about right for some killer Gospel sides. However, looking at it, there was no mention of instrumentation, which had me thinking this might not be that great. Unfortunately, it lands on the boring side, it's just the four voices accompanied by a piano, there isn't enough here, although they are good signers. There is a vocal work out on "Do You Know The Way to Jesus?" with some clever harmonies. The first track on Side 2, "I Kept on Serching [Searching] till I Found the King of Kings" gets soulful with just the minimal accompaniment. Other than that, it's really just a lot of Andre Couch covers.

The Ottawa University Quartet put this out on the Audio House label. Ottawa University is about 30 minutes outside of Lawrence, KS and not none for being hip, but hey, they're close enough to Lawrence. This group of singers actually only features one local from Kansas City, KS, two of the singers are from St. Louis and another from Pennsylvania. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blubird S/T Private 1982

Nice headband, bro

Blubird S/T Private 1982 CAT# BB101

Internet research indicates these guys are from the Hays, Kansas area. Apparently, the two main songwriters, Tony Pfiefer and Fulton Calvery, were in a 50's retro-rock band called Jimmy Dee and the Destinations (I actually have an album, just haven't gotten to it) in the late-70's and early 80's. By 1982, they left the Destinations to form this band, Blubird. In addition to putting out a private press LP, they apparently made there way throughout Kansas in places like Manhattan to play to the K-State crowd. Following this band, it appears a whole bunch of Pfiefer's started a band called the Heat that made an appearance on Star Search. There may be some of those Pfiefer's on outside of Tony on this record, but I just got photos and songwriter credits.

Mullet City was apparently Hays, KS, 1982
The cover of this is just awful...the bad 80's graphics, the terrible clothes, and seriously, all 4 guys are rocking a variation on a mullet. It certainly stinks of Western, Kansas. Outside of the look, there isn't many clues as to what the Blubird were all about. Maybe there was a lyric sheet at one point, but there's nothing indicating who or where these guys are from.

The cover is also a good lead into their sound. Not a skinny-tie, new-wave, thing, but more in the vein of Loverboy power-pop. That could mean really awful things and in parts, like a cover of "Mony Mony", it is. But, for the most part, it's not that bad. It's pleasant middle-of-the-road power-pop teetering on some AOR influences.

On albums like this the hope is for one really killer track. Unfortunately, it's not here. Some of the more power-pop tracks get dangerously close, but the band is too reliant on the AOR pomp of influences like Journey and Foreigner. Again, it's not terrible, it's just nothing stand out and far too typical for rock music in the 80's.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lander Ballard Late Night Flight Free Wind Records 1987

Lander Ballard Late Night Flight Free Wind Records 1987 CAT# LB8703

This is the second Lander Ballard LP that came out a decade after his initial private LP, Hightime. He's from Wichita and research on the internet indicates he's still out there with his guitar playing for anybody that will listen.

The Hightime LP bordered between hippie folk and singer/songwriter influences. 10 years later, it seems the major change was cocaine. Seriously, the hippie, marijuana, mysticism from his first LP is replaced with a space ship on the cover, studio effects, maniac screams and maniac tempos...It's got to be cocaine, right?

I struggle to categorize this, due to the cocaine thing, late-era yacht rock isn't the worst bucket I could throw it in. However, it's not as slick or as smooth. It's got all the space references, but it's too buried in pop sounds to really take advantage of  space influences, it's just in the lyrics. The only thing making it worth having is that if you can compare it the hippie styles of his first LP. There's no real strong highlight on this album, but it's decent...cover is kind of cool, too.

Scartaglen The Middle Path Castle Island 1986

Scartaglen The Middle Path Castle Island 1986 CAT #CIR001

It's nearly St. Patrick's Day, so I suppose it's a good time to discuss the only Celtic local release I've come across and, with the exception of this band's other two albums, maybe the only local Kansas City Celtic album I'll ever see.

Scartaglen was a Celtic band formed in Kansas City in 1982. They disbanded over a decade later, but this album, The Middle Path, appears to be their final release and was put out on their own Castle Island label in 1986. Information is out there on the band online, so apparently, in terms of Celtic music, the band had to have some sort of following. It certainly sounds traditional and employs all the correct stringed and wind instruments. Not being an expert or having much of reference for this type of thing, I'd have to say it's pretty good. Like if I choose a Celtic radio station on Pandora, this sounds like the type of thing you'd hear.

It's a well-done release, has the fashionable DMM mastering of the time, pressed on virgin vinyl, and the jacket and lyric sheet are well done, so there was money behind it. Further, getting a copy today is more expensive than expected, Discogs shows you'll typically have to pay over $10. Review of sites like Popsike and Collectorsfrenzy show prices on some of the LPS over $20. So, I'm going to trust the prices and assume this is pretty good for what it is.

City Light Orchestra "Tain't What Cha Do City Light Records 1985

City Light Orchestra "Tain't What Cha Do City Light Records 1985 CAT# CL102

I thought I had discussed multiple City Light Orchestra releases by this point, but apparently, only just one (Light Orchestra). Looking at that release, appears they were using the moniker the Light Orchestra, but by this release, changed to City Light Records.

Like the prior, this is surprisingly good. I dig the vocalist, David Basse, who has a rough delivery. He's not a perfect singer, but his gimmick works. He's likely trying to channel some Louis Armstrong, but sometimes he has enough gravel in his voice to remind you of a cleaned up Tom Waits.

The album does suffer from some stylized production typical of the 1980's. When it goes that direction, it's loses it's appeal, becomes more about style than it does jazz. Oddly, the group traveled to Cerrillos, New Mexico to record the album, for a Kansas City based jazz group, but whatever floats their boat. Also, the cover would never give anyone the idea this is a jazz LP, cover makes you think terrible new-wave.

David Basse, still making the rounds, apparently

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Stan Kenton Kenton with Voices Capitol 1957

Stan Kenton Kenton with Voices Capitol 1957 CAT #T810

I think this is my last Kenton record until someone just dumps them on my lap. Which, judging by the water stains on this LP, I think someone did just give me this...I hope I didn't buy it (although, the vinyl is pretty nice).

I've been through multiple Kenton releases and I'm at the point where I'm pretty sure I don't need to hear anymore. This sat on my 'To Be Listened To' shelf for months before I finally put it on. And, like all the Kenton LPs I've heard, it's about ten times better than I though it would be. He's just an artist that's really easy to listen to. Sure, he's square, but he excelled at taking sophisticated musical ideas and making them sound natural.

Kenton With Voices sounds a product of it's time in many places, you know, like grandma and grandpa music with a mix of some torch songs. Then, out of nowhere, there's these songs that just come out of left-field with space-age, bachelor pad sounds and exotica drum work. Those parts are worth listening in addition to the classier torch songs.


Mike the Mic Untouchable Plus: Queen of Seduction No Label Unknown Year

Mike the Mic Untouchable Plus: Queen of Seduction No Label Unknown Year NO CAT#

If you see random hip-hop out of Kansas City for a dollar, you're going to buy it, right? I mean, KC isn't much of a hip-hop town, sure, there is a scene and we have Tech N9ne, but it's not a genre we're known for. So if you see it, you got to buy just out of curiosity.

There's nothing out there on this 12", so it's hard to know just how rare it is. A friend of mine found a perfect copy that he's trying to sell on eBay and that's about all you can find online. From the looks and the sound, it's late-80's hip-hop. It's pretty typical with Mike's constant bragging about being an "MC from KC" as well as some business about how ladies love him, etc. It's filled with insane amount of samples that if it were a commercial release, even in the late-80's wouldn't be possible, let alone something you could do today.

For what it is, it's fun. The first side features a radio mix and a party mix of "Untouchable." The party mix drops a lot of Mike's rap in favor of turntable scratches and studio effects. The flip side features a radio mix and long mix of a slow jam called, "Queen of Seduction." The track is a weird amateur mix of LL Cool J "I Need Love" and Late 80's to early 90's Slow Jamz. It'll make you think this may have been released in the 90's, but who knows. Either way, the attempt at the soul/hip-hop hybrid is kind of entertaining if you're into all things amateur.

Sound clip my friend trying to sell a copy made...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Leatherwoods Happy Ain't Comin Home B/W Something Ain't Right Bus Stop Label 1992

The Leatherwoods Happy Ain't Comin Home B/W Something Ain't Right Bus Stop Label 1992 CAT# BUS015

This 7" was released 4 years after the initial Todd Newman and the Leatherwoods 7". The main track, "Happy Ain't Comin Home" is featured on the CD release, Topeka Oratorio, which was released at the same year.

It's a marked improvement over the Leatherwoods initial release. It's stripped down version of Todd Newman's vision and if Tim O'Reagan wasn't contributing to the duo, this would be called singer-songwriter. For the better, the power-pop moves are stripped away. It may be by choice, but also probably in large part to the fact the Leatherwoods were just a duo. It's a better sound for Newman and also showcases the reason O'Reagan is now a member of the Jayhawks.

The duo had officially left Topeka and Lawrence, KS behind at this point for Minneapolis, MN. The CD Topeka Oratorio, is found on Minnesota blogs as a genuine nugget of the town's sound (a lot of that because it features legendary Replacements frontman, Paul Westerberg, playing under the name, Pablo Louserama). The 7" is worth seeking out. Of note, the same label that released Jon Harrison's The What Gives.

As stated, O'Reagan keeps busy in the highly recommended and acclaimed band, The Jayhawks. Todd Newman remains constant with music. He's released a grip of CDs since this, some of which were recorded back home in Kansas with Ed Rose.

Full 7", The Leatherwoods

Dewayne Bowman and the I.R.S. and Krissi Victims of the Pretty Things in Life B/W I'm Sorry Antique 1976

Dewayne Bowman and the I.R.S. and Krissi Victims of the Pretty Things in Life B/W I'm Sorry Antique 1976 CAT# UR 4323

I had every reason to believe this would just suck. From the idiotic band name to the absurd song titles and due to the association with the producer that did THIS. So, not just suck, but be this shit-tastic garbage pile of country cliches. I had all these great, mean-spirited things to say, but that was before I listened to it.

And well, it's not terrible. It's not good, either. Overall, I could see a bunch of drunk old guys in Pittsburgh, KS bar hearing this and saying it was pretty good. Dewayne Bowman has this big, booming country voice. It's a little over the top, but again, it's not the worse thing you'll hear all day. He is covered in a honky-tonk/country backdrop which, yeah, gets a bit cliche. He doesn't write, depends on two covers for this release. It's forgettable, but again, it's not terrible.

Meh, It's pretty bad