Peter Gabriel- ST (Car)

This album was $3.  I got it to play on a Saturday as I try to save the best albums for the weekend.  I originally had a Dean Martin album slated for today but recent events led me to this record.  I had the sample song in my head and realized I had this album in my unposted pile.

This was Peter Gabriel’s first solo album after leaving Genesis.  It was released in 1977 as a self titled album.  Gabriel’s first three albums were untitled so this one became Car, obviously.  Produced by Bob Erzin, the album also featured Tony Levin on bass as well as Steve Hunter and Robert Fripp on guitars. It contained his first single “Solsbury Hill” which was quite autobiographical in describing his departure from Genesis, in perhaps oversimplified terms.

And despite not liking to post popular songs from popular records, that is what I am doing as like Gabriel, I have been in a rut as of late.  Or perhaps another rut in a long series of ruts.  But before I feel too sorry for myself, ruts do present good opportunities to get out and try something new, like Gabriel did.  So here is “Solsbury Hill”.  

Great little album with other good songs such as “Modern Love” and “Here Comes The Flood”.  Satisfactory album.  As far as you humble narrator goes, well don’t feel too badly, I am more than positive that he will bounce back.

Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry w/ Earl Hooker- I Can’t Believe My Eyes

Could Friday come any faster?  This was $3 and purchased to get more blues on this blog.  On a personal note, my phone was dying a slow death so I got a new I-Phone 7s.  Look at this phone.  This thing is huge.  Seriously, why so big, Apple?

Sonny Terry (1911-1986, bn Greensboro, Georgia) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996, Knoxville, Tenn) were two prominent blues artists who frequently performed together.  Both men had to overcome obstacles in their lives.   Terry, who played harmonica, was blinded in two separate childhood incidents, where as the guitarist McGhee, lost a leg to polio at age 4.  Both men had become musicians when they met in 1939.

The duo came together in New York City in 1942.  Terry had been playing with Blind Boy Fuller whereas McGhee was greatly influenced by Fuller’s guitar. Anyway, the duo was a success both on the folk circuit (which included such luminaries as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger) as well as blues circles.  Both artists also performed as a jump blues combo on the side.  Perhaps most casual listeners will connect the duo to their work on Steve Martin’s The Jerk.

Anyway, this album, released on the Bluesway subsidiary of ABC Records in 1973, features the duo along with guitarist Earl Hooker.  Recorded from sessions back in 1969, Hooker had passed by the time of this release.  Hooker was an early proponent of the electric guitar in blues.  Johnny Lee was also his cousin.

Anyway, 10 songs on this album, all written by either McGhee or Terry.  All pretty good.  Overall, this is a good album.  The album also features keyboard work from Ray Johnson, Jimmy Bond on bass, and Panama Francis on drums.

For sample, I could have gone in multiple directions, I think I picked about 6 songs for potential samples.  Well, after some whittling, I went with “Poor Man’s Blues” and “When I Was Drinkin”.

Good little record.  Satisfactory.

Richard Polasek and the Hub City Dutchmen- Polka Time in Texas

This was $1.60 with discount.  Being from Texas, I decided it would be worth checking out.  German and Czech settlers both of free will and of forced resettlement brought polka to Texas which is a great influence to Tejano music among others.

I could not find much info on either Richard Polasek or the Hub City Dutchmen (which are in none of the pictures) other than that the band was paid $10 per member per gig, Polasek’s mother died in 1976, and the last living member of Joe Patek’s Orchestra, Dan Malik, spent time in the band.  Malik would pass away in 2015. I was half tempted to call the number on the back of the album but I am not even sure if the area code(512) is still applicable (it’s not.  Yoakum is 361 country)

So really all I know is that this was from a polka band formed in 1965 from Yoakum, Texas, a town of nearly 6,000 on the border of Lavaca and Dewitt counties.It is the type of hill country in Texas that boasts a high number of German and Czech descendants.  Oddly enough at the time of this record, Lavaca County was known as the Polka Capital of Texas.  Today, that distinction goes to Fredericksburg by way of State Senate Concurrent Resolution No 99, 73rd Legislature, Regular Session (1993).

Not that I was really looking too deep into this anyway.  This record, released sometime on Dutch Records, features 12 polka tunes. Not much to say other than that.  The albums really delivers on what it promises; polka music.

For a sample, I decided to go with something a bit more contemporary, the band’s cover of good ol’ Hank Williams’ “Your Cheating Heart”. I also went with something a bit more traditional, “Helena Polka”.

Not that I am a huge polka fan or able to really discern good polka from bad, but this is what I expected the album to sound like and it is pretty decent.  Satisfactory.

Buddy Morrow and his Orchestra- Night Train

This gem was $1.50.  Maybe something about the cover caught my eye, or maybe it was the version of “Night Train” which despite never being able to find a version that even comes close to James Brown’s, does not discourage me from trying.  This record once belonged to one Jimmy Blarbsher, I believe.

Buddy Morrow was a tromboner whom New Haven, Conn.  Born in 1919, he gained fame with big bands led by Eddie Duchin, Artie Shaw, and Tommy Dorsey among others before leading his own band.  He also was in the Tonight Show Orchestra, although for Jack Paar or Johnny Carson, I am unsure (98% sure it was Carson but too lazy to confirm).  Known for his skill in the upper range, Morrow died in 2010.

Morrow’s Spage Age Pop Page

 

“Night Train” was Morrow’s first hit as a band leader and is probably the most third most famous performer of this song after Brown and the original performer, Jimmy Forrest.  Morrow’s blended big-band/R&B version, released in 1952, went to #27 on the charts.  This record, released on Mercury Records in 1959, seems to capitalize on the success of this single. It has a pretty good collection of songs which seem to continue to wander slightly into R&B territory without leaving the big band sound.

For a sample, I went with “One Mint Julep”.

I am in a decent mood this week so satisfactory record although it was slow at times for my tastes.

 

Radioteleviziunea Română Orchestra de Studio- Rascoala

I am not sure what drew me to buy a Romanian opera record when I bought this.  Maybe it was the cover.  Maybe I was on an Opera kick, probably still riding the high of finishing off the 2017 Opera season at the HGO.  Either way, I bought this for $2.40 with discount.

I think part of the thought process of buying this involved taking it to my pal Scott, who used to sing in the chorus for the HGO and getting his thoughts on the album.  However, since taking over Dan Electo’s Guitar Bar and working the booking, plus the fact that I no longer really drink anymore, our schedules are mostly apart and I hardly get a chance to see him anymore.  That being said. if you are in Houston and are looking for music, might I suggest Dan Electros.  I thought about it a bit and thus, would compare the place to my blog, except the music is good ( I make no such guarantees for the records on this blog) and much more timely . They book a real diverse lineup of music and musicians.  Also, they have open mic nights which I participate in time to time.

Link to Dan Electro’s Home Page

Anyway, back to this. From what I am guessing, this is an opera based on the Romanian Peasant Rebellion of 1907. The Rebellion, lambasted by inequalities between landowners and the serf-class, was brought on when a local overseer(or lessor) of a wealthy property which owned 75% of arable land cut back work for the peasants The thought of no work which meant now food sparked a rebellion that started in Moldavia and spread thru the country, destroying property and killing or wounding lessors.  The event led to the overthrow of the ruling conservative parties and a more liberal government.

The history of Peasant rebellions, though, is largely a one sided affair with notable victories generally falling early in history and largely in East Asia.  In this case, the new liberal government called up the army to suppress the peasants and suppress they did.  Although official government figures are 400 casualties, most historians agree the number was more like 11,000 with 10,000 more arrested.  The army for its part, suffered a loss of 10. The government enacted new laws to help the peasants but none of them really effected the landowners so I believe they were mostly useless.  According to the Romanian Wikipage on this, this revolt tarnished Romania’s world reputation as a quiet peaceful nation at the time, although I can’t imagine many people on this side of the globe losing sleep over it.  The rebellion was a subject though of Romanian’s during the inter-war years with books and pieces of art, most notably the book Rascoala (1932) by Livio Rebreanu and the painting, The Uprising,  on the cover of this album by Octav Bancila, which I believe was banned for a period.  It was a series of 12.  Bancila also spent notable time looking for evidence that dispute the government tally of peasant deaths. Finally, there is a statue in Budapest to commemorate the event.

I am not 100% sure what this is or when it was written.  I believe it was written by Gheorge Dumitrescu (1901-1985) , a writer who worked on various mediums.  I am not sure what year this was written, perhaps 1959?  I believe he adapted the opera from Rebreanu’s work.  This work is performed by what I believe is the Radio/ Television Orchestra with the Studio Choir under the conduction of Carol Litvin.  Featured performers include Valentin Loghin, Silvia Voinea, and Cornel Rusu.  Again, I bevel this came out in 1977. (FACT CHECK- 1-Dumitrescu was in fact a composer with much work to his credit  2- This indeed came out in 1959).

I could not find much else out about the work but I found the music extremely interesting both in composition and execution.  I believe these are excerpts from the larger work.  I believe that Scott would judge this to be a good record.  A lot of chorus on it so its got that going for it. For samples, I decided to go with “Tabloul 2-Revelion” which to me sounds like a rural song of peasants gathering.  I also went with the last number “Tabloul 6 -Pirjolul” which Google translates into Pirates.  I am not sure how this song relates to the works but there are a lot of shrieking lines and the drum rolls sound like guns and cannons.

Nice little pick up for the price and really good music.  Satisfactory.

 

Don Gibson- I Love You So Much It Hurts

This was one dollar.  Bought it for the songs on it, most notably ” Born To Lose”, “Sweet Dreams”, and “The Streets Of Laredo”. I also think when I bought it, I was confusing folk singer and reporter Bob Gibson(a major influence on Phil Ochs) with Don Gibson of this album. 

Well,  Don Gibson,”The Poet of Sadness”, was born in 1928 in Shelby, NC. He was a talented song writer as well as country performer.  As a performer, he had a slew of hits from the late 50’s to early 70’s. As a songwriter, he is best known for writing “I Can’t Stop Loving You” which was a hit for many people, including Ray Charles, who almost made it his signature tune, behind “Georgia”. Don would die of natural causes in 2003.  They names a Theater/Venue after him in his home town.

Link to the Don Gibson Theater

This album, released in 1969 on RCA Camden, was pretty well into his career when it came out.  It contains Gibson’s version of “Sweet Dreams” which was an earlier hit for Patsy Cline.  It also has a bunch of other good numbers.  Decent album.

For a sample, I went not with one of Gibson’s originals, but with his interpretation of a country standard, covered by everyone; “Born To Lose” , written by Ted Daffan. Born in Beauregaurd Parrish, LA, Daffan spent some time in Texas, working at in instrument repair shop in Houston in the 1930’s.  Just throwing in some local color.  I probably highlighted this fact the last time I posed a Daffan number.  What can I say? I like to spotlight Houston.

Good Album.  Satisfactory.

The Byrds- Mr Tambourine Man

Here comes Saturday which means quick post.  This was $5.  I got it at the first Hilton record show I went to.  Due to too huge a backlog, I do not go to record shows anymore.  So sad.  Anyway, I was on a Byrds kick when I got this. What I week it has been for spell check.

This was the seminal California band, the Byrds’ first album, based on the strength of the single, their rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man”.  Featuring original members Mike and Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hilman, and Jim McGuinn, It was released in 1965 and was the first real US challenge to the British Invasion at the time.

Good little album.  It features other Dylan songs “Spanish Harlem Incident”, “Chimes of Freedom”,  and “All I Really Want To Do”.  It also features folk classic “Bells of Rhymney” which incidentally, McGuinn performed earlier on Judy Collins album (featured on this blog).

Anyway, I went with Gene Clark’s “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”, which was covered on Tom Petty’s first solo album.  Petty was greatly influenced by the Byrds and I believe that is the reason he played a Rickenbacker,  McGuinn, himself was influenced by seeing George Harrison play on in A Hard Day’s Night.

Anyway, great little album.  Top Rated.

Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri- An Evening with Belafonte/ Mouskouri

This record was one I see a lot of when I go looking for records.  That usually means in must have been a popular record when it came out .  So when I finally found it for a dollar, I knew it would not go any lower so I jumped on it.

I knew a lot about Harry Belafonte but virtually nothing about the other singer, Nana Mouskouri.  Well, Mouskouri, whose name I am know hating to type out, is one of the most famous international singers of all time.

Born in Chania on the Greek isle of Crete in 1934, Mouskouri has released over 200 albums as well as singles in multiple languages.  She has also been parodied by such luminaries as Benny Hill, Ronnie Barker, and SCTV’s Andrea Martin. She retired to Switzerland in 2008.  She also gave up her pension after the Greek financial crisis of 2010.  Perhaps this led her to return to show business the following year. I believe she is sporadically active here and there.

According to the liner notes, Belafonte saw Mouskouri while working in Athens in 1960 and helped her gain fame across the ocean in the US of A.  Mouskouri’s career at the time was taking off in Europe ( Wikipedia credits Quincy Jones in 1962) Anyway, their first performance together was in 1964.  The two would tour together thru 1965 and 1966. Wikipedia also states that Belafonte convinced Mouskouri to remove her trademark black rimmed glasses during her performance.  When she tried it, she hated it so much that she nearly quit the tour.  As a result, Belafonte relented.

This record, released by RCA Victor in 1966, features the pair of singers, singing songs in Mouskouri’s native tongue, Greek.  Ten songs, four solos by each singer and two duets. All the songs have song writing credits so I do not know if these were just songs that were popular in Greece at the time.  Despite Belafonte being the bigger star at the time, this album is all Mouskouri. Belafonte’s singing is slightly subdued on this effort. This is a little less fair to Belafonte as he is singing in a foreign tongue. I also believe Belafonte was being respectful, allowing Mouskouri more of the spotlight.

Anway, for samples, I went with Mouskouri’s “Dream” and the duo’s “Irene”.

Good stuff.  Satisfactory.

Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra- Saturday Night Fiedler

This record, normally $6, was bought during Half Price Book’s Memorial Day Sale so with discount, it came out to $4.80.  Call it inflation, but I have realized an increase in second hand records over the last year.  So I am in the ethical quandary of either raising my spending limit to $6 or lying about the prices of records.  Anyway, I got this on the suggestion of sorts from my friend Scott.

Yes, my friend Scott told me about this record as this as well as the Ethel Merman disco album (posted on this blog in 2014 I believe), were in his father’s record collection.  So when I found a copy, I took it up to legendary Houston spot Dan Electro’s, (where Scott is also a co-owner) and we gave the record a spin.  It was insisted by Scott that we listen to both sides.

This led to a pretty decent conversation regarding pop orchestras, in which I theorized that pop performance, for the most part will get scant attention and effort from classical symphonies that perform them.  This is based on articles I have read for this blog from conductors of orchestras focused solely on pops.  Oddly enough, I ran into a woman later than night whose mother was in the Houston Symphony.  She confirmed what I had thought, that pops was just something they were contractually obligated to play and that is where it ends (although I had 10 minutes of what may have been the second most asinine conversation of recent times to get this answer).

As Scott would say, this was probably Arthur Fiedler’s ultimate album.  The liner notes were written on June 9, 1979.  A month later Fiedler wound die of cardiac arrest.  He had been in failing health for some time.  Part of me wonders if he would have liked something more traditional to end his career with.  The other part of me thinks that this is probably as good as any way for the most famous pop conductor to go out on.

Anyway, this record, recorded live at Symphony Hall in Boston Mass, features long standing pops conductor Fiedler and his Boston Pops with their take on the disco craze of the time.  Fiedler always did have a knock for translating current popular music in the orchestrated form. This record came out while the genre of disco was in decline.  But here it is, regardless.  Side one contains a medley of songs from the disco high watermark moment, the movie Saturday Night Fever. The second side contained a disco-esque arrangement of to Bach classic’s, “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” and “Air for the G String”.  Interesting stuff.

For a sample, I went with the latter, which I think Scott really liked anyway, simply titled “Bachmania”.

I do not like posting Fiedler’s record due to the high amount of auto correct I get on his last name but decent enough album.  Satisfactory.

VA- Round Up

Yesterday marked the passing of a legend of Pop/Country music, Glen Campbell.  Campbell had been suffering from Alzheimer’s since 2011 and finally succumbed to the disease at age 81.

Obit from New York Times

Obit from Rolling Stone

An interesting perspective from Collaborator Jim Webb

 

Campbell, born outside of Little Rock, Ark, in 193, picked up guitar at age 4 and was performing on radio by age 6.  He really cut his teeth in Los Angeles as a session musician and , what I find fascinating, he never learned to read music.  Despite this, his natural ability led him to become a member of “The Wrecking Crew” and by his count, appear on 586 recordings in 1963 alone.  His session work with the Beach Boys landed him a spot with the band when Brian Wilson stepped back from touring.

And finally, after putting out albums under his own name in the early 60’s, found success in 1967 with his version of “Gentle On My Mind”.  Of course bigger hits followed including a massively successful run of Jim Webb tunes which led to massive fame, tv shows, movies, record sales, marriages, divorces, alcoholism, drug addiction, recovery, and redemption. You know, the whole cycle.

How much appeal did Campbell have?  Well reading outside the attached articles, two things.  First, the massive amount of his records I see when I shop for used records.  This means that he sold a lot of albums. Second, the high number of appearances on country compilation albums, this being one of them (personally, I am not a great fan of country-pop, hence I do not have any of his albums.).  I had about 10 compilations to choose from with Campbell on them.

This collection, released by Capitol Records in 1969, features Campbell along with Bobbie Gentry, Al Martino, The Letterman, and Tennessee Ernie Ford.  Th e album features two songs from Campbell as well as one duet with Gentry from the album I featured on thus blog two years ago (for the record, it is “Little Green Apples” which I feel ranks among the worst songs ever written).  As further proof as Campbell’s legacy, the album features two songs of Webb’s, popularized by Campbell, “By the Time I get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman”.  This was $1.  I probably bought it for Gentry’s cover of “Son of a Preacherman”, which is somewhat decent. Anyway, from this album, here is Campbell with Rod McKuen’s “The World I Used To Know”.

Rest In Peace Mr Campbell.