Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The cover for Linda Rich's 'There's More to Living Than I Know So Far' catches your eye with it's 60's pop-art lettering and simplicity. You turn it over, and in the upper right there's a picture of Linda Rich and she looks motherly, old even. Then you read through the back notes and it's all about Jesus and religion, now she looks like a grandma in the photo.
If you search the LP online, though, you'll find that it's sold often as "folk-psych" as well as with the Christian abbreviation, Xian. Once you listen to it, the "folk psych" thing is just hype, it's folk, but as psych as the weakest Moody Blues song. It's certainly religious, but you can figure out why there's a demand for the LP. It's well-done femme folk from the late 60's. Linda Rich's back photo must just be a bad angle, because her voice doesn't sound like an older woman, she sounds youthful. The album is Linda Rich, her guitar, and backing musicians that do their best to bring about a hippie-inspired dream session. If you can get past all the Jesus, it's a pretty solid LP. The reissue label Numero Group even featured the track "Sunlight Shadow" on a recent compilation.
The back cover gives some clues to Linda Rich, she played around colleges for Christian youth groups throughout the Midwest and apparently an awful lot in Colorado. She was from Augusta, Kansas, which is a small town about 30 minutes East of Wichita. Other than that, she did another obscure LP and it appears she was a recent college grad or current student at the time of this release in 1969.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Man, I remember being so excited for this record in 2000. I actually got an advance copy to promote through an indie-promotion company when I was doing "street team" work. The Anniversary was becoming a big deal, locally and nationally. They were touring with the Get Up Kids, the singles they had released up to their debut were frantic emo-pop sing-alongs.
However, when I got the album I remember being completely let down. The album starts out promising with "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" followed by "All Things Ordinary", but after that, I remember thinking the band had run out of ideas. The Rentals formula was wearing thin and in bursts, it worked for the band, but for an entire album, it gets thin. When the album was officially released, I never bothered updating my promo copy which was just a disc in a plain white envelope with a hype-sticker across the back.
Years later, when nostalgia took over, I regretted never buying it on vinyl. When I started looking for it, I would have been lucky to find a copy for $50. Then, just recently, Vagrant started re-releasing a bunch of their back catalog for the label's 20 year anniversary and this was included. I waited too long apparently to get a standard black copy and settled for this blue colored version...and once again, I was disappointed when I first put it on. Not because I felt I bought a bad album, I can now validate the purchase for two great tracks and some solid filler, I got more money than I did in 2000. But, what I was upset about this time was slightly warped vinyl...WTF. Quality control on recent vinyl pressings leaves a lot to be desired, but that's to be expected when everyone is buying records again.
Either way, the album sounds better today than it did back then. Bonus, the warp doesn't affect playback, so it's cool. I'm picking up on all the moments when the Get Up Kids association rubbed off on these guys, the pick slides, the obvious emo infliction, it's nice. But, mostly it's the nostalgia that gets me.
Designing a Nervous Breakdown
Larry Good looks like a bad-ass in his fancy cowboy hat and turquoise jewelry. Truth is, the Kansas City born performer was. Looking at the cover, you'd think it's just some sap from the KC area trying on his country digs, and it is, but Larry Good had a name.
Prior to starting up in rockabilly and country music, Larry Good was Kansas City born baseball player who played in the Chicago Cubs minor league system as an infielder in the early to mid-50s, but he never made the Show. Following his baseball career, he put out a slew of 45s on the Kansas City labels, some of the early rockabilly stuff he did is well-regarded. He continued his music career for over 40 year and apparently, in the 80's he founded Lari-Jon Productions/Records that coincided with a country music television program that aired throughout Nebraska.
The album suffers from dated production, but overall, Larry isn't so bad. He picks out some ass-kicking country to cover, He sticks to traditional country honky-tonk, early country sounds. He jumps into his rockabilly groove on a cover of "White Lightnin'". There's two originals that conclude the LP, they're pretty simple attempts at sing-along bar chants or possibly something he had in mind for the closing of his television program.
This record commemorates the newly opened Shawnee Mission West High School, which opened it's doors to students in the Overland Park area for the 1962-1963 school year. So in that regard, given that it was a newly formed music program, I guess this is good.
However, apparently the West High Story is about religion. The first side is exclusively Christian. The second side only steps away momentarily, but gets back to it in the matter of a couple of songs. It's a pretty boring story and now that Shawnee Mission West has an actual history, there's probably better story to tell. One thing is for sure, when you see the Facebook post demanding G-d be put back in public schools, the who posts those types of rants has never heard this album, it's boring and there's no way you'd want Christianity back in school if it meant going back to this type of music program.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Not sure of the year on this, but it's gotta be sometime in the 80's judging by the scorching cover of 'Fame.'
Also, not exactly sure where The Reflections are actually from, but searching the large lists of names on the back cover would indicate most players resided around Pittsburgh, Kansas. The group is made up a large group of teenagers, some with guitars, a few with keyboards, even some horns, and a single drummer keeping the Reflections in place.
It's basically a high school style music review, but with songs the kids were actually interested in. Which for the area, is country...lots of country. 'Long Haired Country Boy' by Charlie Daniels is probably the highlight as it's way too adult for the kids performing it. Other than that, the attempts at pop songs are fun, the horns are usually heavy in those tracks and the cover of Olivia Newton-John's 'Totally Hot' gets pretty dirty.
The amateurishness of these types of LPs are endearing and The Reflections are strong in that regard.