Four Tops- Reach Out

So why wouldn’t you buy this album? Seriously?  It was only $4.  Well this is my last post from Amsterdam, despite being written in Houston weeks earlier.  Hopefully, I will get home by the next post.  More about this vacation in January.

Truth be told, this is not the original record I had planned for this month.  I originally had an early Aretha Franklin album picked.  However, when I pulled out the record and found out it was not Franklin, my heart dropped.  This was the second such incident this month as I went thru the same thing with Doris Day’s movie version of The Pajama Game. Next month, I plan to dedicate a week to these mis-labeled records.

Well, if I had to get a replacement, this would be a mighty fine substitute from the vocal quartet from Detroit.  Released in 1967, this was I believe their most successful album going #11 in the US and #6 in the UK. It also spawned six Top 20 singles including the #1 title track.  It was the last Four Tops record to feature Motown’s production/song writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  On top of their contributions, the album also features (2) songs from the Monkees as well as one from The Association.

For a sample, I went with “Walk Away Renee” as was suggested by my neighbor. This was a tough call as I also really liked “7 Rooms Of Gloom” as well as about the rest of this album.

Great record. And in decent condition as well.  Top Rated.

Louis Prima- A Tribute to Louis Prima

This record was $2.00 with discount.  Why not?  Louis Prima was a stud, in many ways.  Still trying to finish out to month and year.  With it technically still being November while I am writing this, I should point out that despite being in the American League, we are still proud of our local baseball team, the Houston Astros for winning the World Series.  Although I am still not happy about them moving out of the National League, there is not a better group of guys in sports than our Astros.  They held the parade a few weeks ago downtown. The rumor I heard in my apartment elevator was that 700,000 people were in attendance.  Either way, it made it tough for me getting home from work with all roads by my apartment jammed.

As noted above, Louis Prima was a stud.  Born in New Orleans in 1911, Prima mixed his Italian roots with New Orleans’ jazz to form something new and original.  His own musical styles also evolved over time, starting with a New Orleans-style jazz band in the 1920’s, a swing combo in the 1930’s, a big band in the 40’s, a jump blues band in the 50’s, and finally a Las Vegas lounge act in the 60’s. Unlike other artists such as Frank Sinatra, Prima openly embraced the new rock and roll which was rising in the 1950’s.  Prima was also married five times, inlcuding a stint to singer Keely Smith, with whom Prima had a successful act.  Prima died of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1978.  He was 67.

This record was a collection of some of his biggest hits, both solo and with Smith, including, “Just A Gigalo”, “Sing, Sing, Sing” and :Felicia No Capricia”.  Pretty good album.,  Really jumping.

For a sample, I had various options but decided to go with the “Bourbon Street Blues” as well as “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” which features the talents of Keely Smith.

Top rated album.

The Beach Boys- Beach Boys Concert

If you are expecting to read a lot on this post, please note that it is the end of the week as well as the end of the month (in theory) for the blog.  So I would put those expectations aside.  On the plus side, I have gotten way ahead in writing these.  You can say getting caught up is my opioid.  Anyway, I got this for ONE DOLLAR!!!! ONE DOLLAR!!!! I thought it was going to be all scratched up but it was in great shape.  It even still had the insert pages which seem to get torn out on records like this.

This record was The Beach Boys first Live record (seventh overall). It was also (fun fact) the first and only Beach Boy’s record to hit #1.  I found this a hard fact to believe but it is true.  Released in 1964 and recorded from two concerts at Sacramento’s Civic Memorial Auditorium (in 1963 and 1964), this is the only live Beach Boys’ record to feature the complete original line up, as Brian Wilson would stay studio bound around the second half of the sixties.

Really good little record with a lot of energy.  Wikipedia suggests that there were a lot of overdubs and edits but I find it irrelevant.  It is a good mix of early Beach Boys hits as well as popular songs of the day including covers by The Rippington’s, Jan & Dean, Dion, Dick Dale, and Chuck Berry.

For samples, living in Texas, I obviously went with “Long Tall Texan” which reminds me of the stage show at The Texas Tumbleweed restaurant I used to go to as a kid (which apparently is greatly defunct). I also liked “Monster Mash” an already novelty number made even more so by Mike Love. Finally, I went with “I Get Around” just so you can hear all the teenage girls in the audience lose their collective lunch.

Still can not believe thsi was only one dollar.  Top Rated.  Good bye week.  Good bye Month.

Ian & Sylvia- Four Strong Winds

Being that good Canadian that I am, I totally snagged this for a dollar.

Ian and Sylvia (who were on my blog when I was between jobs and had the time to write books on the subject) really broke thru the Canada and US market with this album, the couple’s 2nd, brought to you by those folk stalwarts at Vanguard Records.  Man, that is one long run on sentence. Released in 1964, the title track, composed by  Ian Tyson, also was a major hit both in Canada and among the folk world.

Perhaps I should state more but you can look at the earlier post for more information.  As far as this album went, I felt there was a large influence of American traditional music on it.  The album features guitar from John Herald.  I am so close to finishing up this month, this is really where we are going to leave it.  If you want to learn more, Google it.

For samples, I went with the French ” V la L’Bon Vent” as well as “The Royal Canal” which was the basis from Brendan Behan’s ‘Auld Triangle” which has been on this blog several times.

Top Rated Record.  One more post and this month is done.

Amageddon- ST

Happy Saturday.  This record was $5.  I bought it, despite already having a copy which I bought for $10, because I really wanted to post it and at the time, I was really sticking to my journalistic guns of keeping records at $5 or less.  Such idealism.  Anyway, it was my pal Hugh who first turned me on to this record.  He played the first track and made me guess who the lead singer was.  This is also one of the records I found laying around my apartment on Christmas last year when I had company over the night before and I woke up to a place in massive disarray.

Keith Relf, born in Richmond, Surrey, UK in 1943, had one of the more interesting careers in music, if not one of the more underappreciated.  As the lead singer of the Yardbirds, his efforts were overshadowed by his more famous band mates, namely, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.  After the group’s demise, Relf first took up with his sister and Yardbird Jim McCarty in the acoustic group Renaissance (a version of which has been posted on this blog).  However, after producing other artists, he formed this super group of sorts in 1974 with Martin Pugh and Louis Cennamo of Steamhammer as well as Bobby Caldwell of Captain Beyond.

Armegeddon released on album (this one) and played two shows before disbanding.  Relf, who was working on reforming his version of Renaissance, would die of accidental electrocution in 1976.  He was 33 years old at the time.  This record would be his last recording.

But here we are with this, which is a hard driving rock and roll album that is really comparable to anything his ex-Yardbird band mates were doing at the time.  The album was a critical success, but since there was no tour behind it, it really did not sell.  So, it has been relegated to a special place in the annals  of the history of 70’s rock.

For a sample, I went with one of the shorter songs, “Paths and Planes and Future Gains”.  It should be noted that the opening song posted above, “Buzzard” is my favorite song on the album.

Great album.  Top Rated.

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.

Jerry Lee Lewis-Rockin’ Rhythm & Blues

Woo hoo!! Saturday.  Let’s fly thru this.  This was $2.  Too many good songs to pass up.  Also after 2-1/2 years of doing this blog, I still hate typing the word rhythm.  I mis-spell it every time. Anyway, you can not go wrong with ending the week with Jerry Lee Lewis.

This record, released by Sun in 1969 was a repackaging of songs recorded earlier with Sam Phillips.  At the time, The Killer was going thru his county period (which I felt was even better than his rock and roll days). He was very hot during this period and the new owner of Sun, Shelby Singleton, wanted to capitalize on this so they put out a series of compilation records like this.

A lot of good rock and roll/ rockabilly songs on here. Most of these songs weer made famous by others including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Ray Charles.  Also, I kind of do take offense for taking songwriting credits for “C.C. Rider”.  But other than that, every song is pretty much a classic.  So I went with “Little Queenie”.

Top Rated Record.

Isaac Hayes- The Isaac Hayes Movement

Happy Saturday.  This gem was only $1.

This was Isaac Hayes’ third album, released in 1970, fresh off the heels of the massive success of Hot Buttered Soul.  I did not want to write about HBS but since I already have a copy and find it very unlikely that I would find one for under $5, I might as well note it here that after dismal sales of his first album, Hayes was prepared to go back behind the scenes, writing and producing.  The label’s executive, Al Bell, had different plans.

As Stax had lost its entire back catalog following a split with Atlantic, Bell was tasked with building the catalog back up and pressed Hayes to make another record.  Hayes insisted on creative control. which he received, and as a result, a massive and heavily influential record was born.

This was the follow up album, which was also a hit, reaching #1 on the Soul charts.  The album features only four songs , heavily arranged and orchestrated with the signature sound Hayes crafted on the previous album.

For a sample, I went with “Something” despite being 12 minutes in length.  It should be noted that “Something” is the most covered Beatles’ song after “Yesterday”.

Great album. Top Rated.

Ray Charles- Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music

I like having big records on Saturdays and perhaps there has been none bigger than this.  Plus I paid just a dollar for it.  I might as well have stolen in it.  I thought at this price, it would be in pretty rough shape but it actually plays pretty well.  

This was a monumental album for Ray Charles. It was his 18th album and his fifth for ABC-Paramount.  With four charting singles, it brought Charles more fame from mainstream artists.  Those close to Charles did not see the wisdom of putting out an album of country standards, but Charles masterfully translated country and western tunes into R&B flavored arrangements.    

As common place today as taking the country genre and adapting it to big band arrangements, this was a radical idea both musically and socially in the early 1960’s.  Most thought the record would flop but Charles saw the similarities between the two styles and crossed them over in a way that paid its respects to both camps.

Released in 1962, the album was a critical and commercial hit. Most critics consider this Charles’ best album.  The record spent 14 weeks at #1 on the Pop Charts.  “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, in turn , became a #1 single as well.

For a sample, I could have gone with any song but decided to go with Hank William’s “Hey Good Lookin”. Top Rated Record.

Michel Legrand and his Orchestra- Strings On Fire

This gem was only $1.00.  Michel Legrand is the genius behind the music of Demy’s musical films as well as The Thomas Crown Affairs‘ theme “The Windmill’s of You Mind” which just happened to be on TV 5 mins ago while writing this.

Legrand has been on this blog before so less burden of writing on this on.  He is still alive as of the time of this writing.  Not much to say over things I have posted in the post from Legrand. Weekend is coming, so keeping this brief.

This was released by Columbia Records in 1962.  It is a good collection of standards with an emphasis on the strings.  Highlights include “Perfida”, “El Choclo”, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, and “All or Nothing At All”.  The arrangements are pretty swanky.  Good album.

For samples, I went with two songs that I normally post, “Jezebel”, and “Temptation”. But truth be told, I could have put any song on this post.  The album is just that good.

Great little album.  Top Rated.