Robert Ashley and his Orchestra- Themes from Italian Films

Can’t quite remember how much I paid for this.  There is no price which would normally indicate $1 but it was in my personal collection and I seem to recall I paid $6 bucks for this some time ago. At the time, my budget was $5 and under so I guess for that reason, it was absorbed into my stash, but now that I am forced to raise the limits, I can put this one on the blog.  I got it for my favorite Italian movie song, “El N. Zumbon” or the song from “Anna”.  Various versions have been posted on this blog.

This album, released by MGM Records, is as the title suggests, a collection of songs from Italian films.  I am not sure if Robert Ashley is the same US composer, known for incorporating electronic techniques in his works or not. In fact I kind of doubt it.  Not sure when this record came out either.  A lot of question marks from this album.

Which I may be more inclined to answer if it were a better album.  I found it too slow paced for my liking.  I felt the version of “Anna” was just flat and had no life to it.  Hence, it is not being used as a sample.  I also wondered why “More” from Mondo Cane was not on here although it may have something to do with the release date of the album.  So for a sample, I took a song from the 1953 film I sette dell’Orsa maggiore , or Hell Raiders Of The Deep.  Here is “Malasierra” penned by P.G. Redi.

The poor version of “Anna” doomed this record for me so meh.

VA- Houston Home Cookin’

This piece of Houston history, for better or for worse cost $6.  Yikes. Hopefully, vinyl can come down in price in 2018.  Obviously I got this for the hometown connection.

This record was brought to you in 1982 by 97 Rock and Sprite.  97 Rock, (now Mix 96.5) was a rock radio station in the 80’s that brought Houston Moby and Matthews.  Sprite, as always has the great Lymon taste and is one of the few things on this album that is still with us today and will be for another ten years or so. The album alludes to a contest that picked the songs with judges from Sound Warehouse, CBS Records, Cardi’s, Pace Concerts, and the Houston Chronicle among others.  I never heard of most of these bands with the exception of Zen Archer, but then again, I was pretty young when this came out.

For a sample, I went with a band called Z Rocks and a song called “The Teacher’s A Punk”.  I thought it the song will be more anti-authority but the premise is that the teacher likes to cut wild after class is over.  Which is guess is ok since this is the 80’s and no students are involved. Not like today. Anyway, Z Rocks was a three piece band, formed in Houston in 1979 and opened for Duran Duran in 1983.

Despite not really wanting to crap on something local, I really did not like this album although it was probably more a statement about the quality of hard rock music at the time.  Anyway, meh.

Command All Stars- Persuasive Percussion Vol 3

Here’s another week with this record, which is a bit too expensive for my blood at $6.  Records everywhere are getting too expensive.  I would say in the last year, used record prices have jumped up between $1 and $2.  Which I guess in the short term is a good thing as it keeps me from coming back from the store with 30 records for $30.  Also, the Half Price Books in Sugar Land slashed their international section dramatically.  Boo.  Anyway, I got this album for the song I am going to post as well as the fact that I have posted Vol 2 prior and the overall high quality of Command recordings.

This record, originally released in 1960 and re-released by Pickwick in 1978, culminates prior Command recordings with an emphasis on percussion.  I am not sure which musicians contributed to this, but the result is pretty much on par with other Command efforts (Discogs list credits here).  As always, credit must also be given to Command’s man in command, Enoch Light.

I got this specifically for the version of “Hawaiian War Chant” which is among one of my favorites.  I also decided to post another fave, “Perdido”.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Earth & Fire – The Best of Earth & Fire

Well, this is the last album from my latest trip to The City of Diamonds, Amsterdam.  Overall, I was really happy with all the records I bought.  I mean, I could have done better with the spoken word album, but other than that, really great music that I would have not been exposed to otherwise, including this effort, which I bought for 2 Euro.  You are probably thinking the same thing I was thinking when I bought this: What happened to Wind?

Well, I went this year specifically for The Light Festival.  This year was a bit subdued.  I think the poor weather knocked a few of the installations out of commission.  Also, the poor weather kept me from hitting all the exhibits.  But I did see a good chunk of the show.  And overall, it was still interesting.  A red band lit the exhibit’s path over the canals by Chinese artist Al Weiwei, which made navigation a bit easier this year.  And there were some smaller exhibitions off by the Nautical Museum.  Other than that, just another trip to the Dam.  My main complaint (other than the weather) is that it had to end.

On to this, Earth & Fire were a Dutch progressive rock band (or beat band) formed by the Koerts Twins in 1968.  The two had been performing for some time in the 60’s and eventually formed this venture.  After some initial success, and a slot opening for Golden Earing, vocalist Jerney Kaagman joined the band and their first album became a success.  They were huge in the Netherlands and in Germany but never really gained fame in the US or England.  With changing tastes, the band changed personnel in the late 70’s, disbanding in 1983 with a few reunions following thereafter.

I must say I really, really liked this album.  Plus (and this is me being selfish), it is in English.  Very good progressive rock. Great vocals as well as good music.  Very guitar driven at the beginning but the music seemed to move more towards keyboards as tit got later in the 70’s.

Oddly enough, like yesterday’s post, the band’s most successful single, “Weekend” came out right after the release of this album.   It should be noted that it sounds nothing like the songs on this album.  This album, by the way, came out in 1979.

I could have used the whole album as samples, but decided to try and show some restraint.  Therefore, I am going with “Memories”, “Wild and Exciting”, and “Seasons”.

I truly thought this album was going to be crap.  I mean real crap.  So I was really blown away when I heard this.  Most definitely a top rated record.

Boudewijn de Groot- Dubbel, twee

Getting close to wrapping up this week of Dutch records, with another “dubbelalbum” that I got for 6 Euro.  This thing just screamed Dutch music and for that reason alone I got it.  Not for the subtle reference to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Well,  it would not have been a trip to Amsterdam without some time spent at my favorite park in town and probably the world, Vondelpark.  I made three trips out there during my last stay, two months ago.  As stated in the last posts, the weather was pretty poor.  One day was covered with snow, one day was slightly rainy, and the third day was quite nice but the grass and lesser traveled paths were pretty muddy due to the earlier weather.  But still a good time had each day.  I sat at my favorite bench and listened to last months songs on my I-pod as well as walked all around the park.  Other than that, nothing radically new here.  The pictures I took probably look the same as last years.

I can also say the same for my second favorite park, Oosterpark.  I was there one day this trip and took the same pictures of the same statue of the boy on the goat.  When I went, the snow from a few days before was melting, sort of making a snowman graveyard if you will. Anyway, as always, I enjoyed my time in this park as well although really nothing new from last trip either.

During the last two trips, I have taken a liking to going to the zoo but perhaps I am just getting old.

The Doug Henning doppelganger on the cover of today’s post, Boudewijn de Groot (1944) is a Dutch singer/songwriter who like yesterday’s subject, was born in the Dutch East Indes. Unlike yesterday’s subject, de Groot was born in captivity in a Japanese camp.  His mother would die a year later.  He and his family returned to the Netherlands in 1946.  Starting his career as a protest singer, he had a significant amount of hits in the late 60’s.  He sung about nuclear war, Vietnam, and LBJ, which seems strange to me for a Dutch singer to sing about, in Dutch no doubt.

Oddly enough, his one of his biggest hits “Jimmy” came out after the release of this record. in 1973 (much like tomorrow;s subject).  He has some sporadic success in the years that followed and is still alive at the time of this writing.

As stated above, this record was released in 1971 and was a greatest hits compilation of his impressive work from the 60’s.  As stated at the time, he was regarded as a protest singer and some critics both positively and negatively, compared him to George Harrison (although I would say his early stuff is closer to Phil Ochs).  Anyway, these songs are pretty well put together.  It should be noted that none of the songs I posted are overtly political but after glancing at a few titles, I can see some evidence of some protest work.  I probably should have written more on the subject but I am in the middle of doing ten things while writing this post so I will just say that I really enjoyed this album.

For a sample, I was torn between about ten songs, but ultimately went with one of his bigger known tunes, “Picknick” which starts with that noted Harrison influence.  Next I went with “Ken ke dat land” (Do You Know That Country).  From there, I submit “Zonder vrienden kan ik niet” (You Can Not Do Without Friends).  Finally, I went with de Groot’s cover of the Kink’s “Well Respected Man”.

I did not think I would really like this album when I bought it.  I thought it would be typical 1970’s Euro-pop.  Instead, I was greatly impressed by this record.  Satisfactory.

Liesbeth List- Liesbeth’s Beste

Hey, more of the records I bought in Amsterdam last trip with this one, or two I should say.  A “Dubbelalbum”, I bought this for 5 Euro.  Seemed like a decent purchase.

I have been going to Amsterdam for the good part of 12 years now and there are not too many places close to town that I have not been or at least mistakenly wandered into.  So it was pretty cool that I went to two new places.  First, I took a walk around Westerpark, a huge park on the North West side of town.  I had been on the outskirts of it many times, by Willemsbrug road but stopped as it looked like a place a slightly drunk tourist should not wander into.  Well, this time I finally broke that invisible boundary and ventured forth.  It is a huge park and probably quite nice in the summer.  However, the day I went, it was covered with snow.  That was still pretty cool.  It reminded me of childhood winters spent wandering in Saskatoon.  Not a whole lot of signs in English so I am guessing this is a heavily local area.  There also were what looked like a couple of cool businesses/ restaurants/ cafes in the park which again would probably be open in better weather. I also ventured for the first time to North Amsterdam, which requires a ferry from behind Central Station.  I had heard a lot of great things about this area.  I also talked to a few folks who worked in town and lived in that area and they spoke highly of it.  It was a nice enough day when I went but alas, I went to early as most things up there were closed.  Oh well, perhaps next time.

Liesbeth List is a Dutch singer/actress/ TV personality born in 1941 in the Dutch East Indies.  In 1942, when the Japanese occupied the area, her father was sent to the coal mines as she and her mother were sent to a camp.  The life there was very hard and shortly after their release and reunion with her father, her mother committed suicide.  List and her father returned to Holland and her father remarried.  However, List and her step mother clashed repeatedly.  In 1948, during a trip to Vlieland, her step mother found a hotel owner who was looking to adopt a daughter. She was adopted by the couple and took their surname, List.

Intrigued by music, art and fashion, she moved to the big city, Amsterdam and bada bing bada boom, found her self on tv singing chansons. She started by collaborating with other singers and would eventually develop into a solo act.  She continued what looks like a pretty good run of success up into the late 1970’s with sporadic activity in the decades that followed.  She is still alive today and from what I can tell, still somewhat active although I could not translate her web page for some reason.

This album, a greatest hits compilation from 1973 is a collection of ballads and chansons marked by List’s beautiful vocal.  Pretty good stuff, most of it is solo performances but there are some duets such as “Pastorale” with Rames Shaffy, one of her early collaborators.  Most of the songs are in Dutch I believe but there are a few in English and French.  Really good double record.

For a sample, I wanted to go with a couple of songs that I really liked.  Well, I liked a lot of songs, but these are the ones that I went with.  First, there is “Amsterdam” which sounds like a beautiful song about the city, but in actuality, it is about drunken sailors on leave. It is a tune by Jacques Brel and the lyrics follow Brel’s version somewhat but are a little more grittier.  Next , I went with “Victoria”.  Third, here is “Vivre Pour Vivre”, which I believe is in French and translates to “Live For Living”.  I have heard other French artists do this song and I believe the opening was sampled by Cibo Matto.  Finally, if you want something in English, here is “Now You Want To Be Loved”.

Great little album.  Satisfactory.

VA-16 Hollandse Hits

Hey.  Still doing records I bought last trip to Amsterdam which was last December.  This one was a dollar, I mean, a Euro.  I like these hits compilations as they expose me to a lot of different songs in one convenient package.

So I went to an Ajax FC game whilst I was there.  I have done this before, I think back in 2005.  It was a Champions League game against Sparta Prague, I believe.  Nigel de Jong was the young up and comer for Ajax.  Anyway, back to the present or at least barely distant past, I went to what was my first Dutch Eredivsie (league) game , Ajax vs Excelsior (Rotterdam).  Pretty good game. Ajax was first place in the table at the time.  Great seats.  Right in the corner. I was a bit worried about the weather but the stadium had a roof so that was not an issue.  Ajax won 3-1 but due to not wanting to fight the crowd home, I left in the 80th minute.

Anyway, here is this, a collection of Dutch pop/schlager hits from 1980.  Or at least the record came out in 1980.  It is from Telstar Records who put a record like this every year since sometime in the 60’s maybe.  Featuring such performers as The New Four Will Tura, Bobby Prins, and De Wuko’s, I was not disappointed with this purchase.

For a sample, I went with “Brief Uit De Hondehemel”  which Google translates as “Letter From The Dog’s Sky”.  Not sure how accurate that is.  Anyway, it was done by one Jan Boezerden, a Dutch singer from Steenbergen, born in 1933.  He had consistent hits thru the 60’s to the early 90’s. 

I also went with “Cowboy Jimmy” for obvious reasons, by truck driver turned singer Henk Wijngaard.

Pretty good album.  Satisfactory.


Paul van Vliet- one man show Noord West

Keeping this week on topic with records I bought last trip to Amsterdam as well as general thoughts on my last vacation.  I bought this one was a bit pricey at 5 euro.  Not sure what drew me other than the dude on the cover and the band on the back. He looked like a swinging version of James Coburn.

So one of the fun activities I did whilst I was abroad was see one of my favorite bands, Gogol Bordello in Amsterdam. I saw them at the Melkweg (who now send me emails for upcoming shows), over in the Leideplein district.  Not terribly far from where I was staying.  A decent sized venue, not big, not small.  Sort of cozy.

The opening band, The Lucky Chops, were awesome.  They were a four piece horn section with a drummer.  Very good indeed. They did some covers as well as perhaps some originals.  I am not truly sure.  But they did rock.  The trombone player seemed to be the leader and he really moved on stage.  The saxophone player alternated between a higher registered sax like Hawkwind as well as a standard sax.  Did I mention how great this band was?

Gogol was good as ever.  This would be the fourth time I seen them.  They always play a lot of numbers off their new album and this show was no different.  However, they also played some of their standard hits as well as a few off  the beaten track songs.  The Lucky Chops provided horns on a good chunk of the numbers.  Real high energy as always. The crowd was into it and a bit on the rough side but no where near as rough as the House of Blues show I saw some years back.  Great time had by all.

Paul van Vliet is a Dutch comedian, born in the Hague in 1935. Coming from a family of visual artists, Vliet learned his trade early and applied to the stage (both in ensembles and solo) , records, and television.  His shows, I believe are among the most popular in the Netherlands.  From here, the broken English on the bio webpage I was looking at started to become tiresome so here are three take aways I got from this: 1) he is an ambassador for UNICEF, 2) plays or at least played hockey in the Dutch Hockey Association, and 3) played Professor Henry Higgins in the 1994 Dutch production in which he was apparently a success.

This album, released in 1973, is from his one man show at the time.  North West, which ran from 1971 to 1973.  Released by Phillips, this double record would go Platinum. About 1/3 of the album is musical.  The other 2/3’s are spoken word (which I always felt was an overtly pretentious way of saying “talkie”).  And here is where I made my big mistake.  Since I speak nor understand much Dutch, it was kind of pointless for me to buy an album that is mostly spoken word.  But here we are.  I did like the musical number which were jazz laced.  Other than that, there is not much else I can say other than the routines did get a bunch of laughs.

Well sample I must so here is “Enn Hand Voor Je Hand (Hand for hand)” and the closing track, “Noord West”.


I don’t know how to judge this so I am leaving it blank.  I mean, obviously, this is probably a good album but I have no way of really knowing other than gauging the crowd response.

Rocco Granata- Z’n Gouden Hits

All this week, we will be showcasing records I bought during my last vacation to Amsterdam, which now seems like a decade ago.  We are starting with this one that I bought for a dollar.  I got all my records in one swoop at a stall at the Waterlooplein Swap Meet


So I went to Amsterdam, last year, one year ahead of schedule as I normally go every to years.  I also normally go during Thanksgiving but this year I went during December, mainly to see the Festival of Lights.  Weather was pretty bad  It snowed three days, and rained two, basically leaving a lot of slush on the ground.  The long underwear my aunt gave me last year for Christmas made all the difference in the world.  Also, I did not realize it at the time, but it was wonderful to get away from the US news cycle for a week.  I strongly recommend to anyone here to go abroad for this reason alone. But all in all, it was a good vacation.  Did a lot of the things I normally do; go to the zoo, hang out at Vondelpark and Oosterpark, the bars, and what not.

It is very odd but I seem to take the same pictures every trip so if you go back to the posts from December 2016, the pictures are basically the same. It has been about 12 years since I first went and I did a bit of reflecting on the subject.

There are a handful of people who have been working at the same bars during this period.  Most everyone who was working last year were still at the same bars as well.  The guy of Dam Square however, how shakes his change box to music from a wind up box was not there this year.  He had been there every year prior.  I did a few new things this trip which I will document in this week’s posts.  I stayed back at the Grand Kranspoly Hotel, as I did last year.  Overall, good time.

So there is this record that I bought by one Rocco Granata. Born in Figline Vegliaturo, in Southern Italy in 1938, Granata’s family immigrated to Belgium when he was ten. Choosing a career in music over coal mining, he played accordion and toured Belgium with his band.

Rocco’s Webpage

His 1959 B side single, “Marina” became a smash hit in Belgium, Germany, and other parts of the world , including the US.  Granata was able to parlay the single’s success into a pretty good career and world wide success.  A movie , titled Marina, was made in 2013 detailing his early life, showing the many struggles he and his family went thru before he was famous, ending with his appearance at Carnegie Hall (although it is noted they made his father a lot more strict in the movie for dramatic effect or so I am told).

This is a greatest hits album from Negram Records, released in the Netherlands in 1971.  The same copy with a different cover was released that same year in Belgium.  Real typical Italian type crooning or schlager if you will.  This seems to be a mix of various languages on here and that would be reflective of his international appeal.  With the exception of a few tracks (most notably “Marina”, not as much accordion on here as I would have thought at least in a dominant sense, but  then again, subtlety is a lost art. Overall pretty good album.

For a sample, I went with “Te quiero”.  which is Spanish for I Love You.

Pretty decent album and I got into the whole growing up with adversity backstory so satisfactory.

VA- Taken From The Top

Here is another pricey record I picked up for $6.  Look at the people and songs on this and you can see why I could not pass this up.  This record is a compilation of live performances by such luminaries as Al Hirt, Lena Horne, Ann Margret, Freddy Jones, and Louis Armstrong among others.

Although it would seem easy, blogging on compilation albums like this can be tough as there are so many highlights.  I mean so many highlights.  This album was released by RCA Victor and the songs come from mostly from previously released live albums. (oddly enough the Al Hirt tune is from the album I posted earlier this week). This compilation came out in 1962. Really good stuff.

Well I tried my best to pare down my choices and overwhelming came up with this number which combines two of my favorite posts from the last two months: Louis Prima with Keely Smith doing their version of “Five Foot Two”.  Also , since I know my mom reads this, here is an excellent version of Della Reese singing “You Came A Long Way From St Louis.” Reese passed away last year at age 86. It should also be noted that Smith, who was also Prima’s fourth wife, passed last year at age 89 as well.  Man, did I do a lousy job keeping up with obituaries at the end of 2017.

Della Reese.

Really good album. Any of these songs were good enough to sample. Satisfactory.