The Mariachi Brass featuring Chet Baker- Hats Off

DSCN1218This was a dollar.  It had some descent songs on it.

Last week, I received a good deal of traffic from the Netherlands. I am not sure why. I had this album on the schedule for later in July but decided to move it up to pander to Hollanders as it has a connection to Amsterdam.chet-baker-concertgebouw-amsterdam-1955

Chet Baker, born in Yale Oklahoma in 1929, was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist. He found success in the 1950’s working with such stars as Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. After joining the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952, success came quickly. After Mulligan’s arrest on drug charges, Baker found his own group which continued successfully. In 1956, Chet Baker Sings was released. The album brought him increased notoriety but somewhat alienated traditional jazz fans. He would become the face of the West Coast Cool School of Jazz.

And then came the drugs. In the 60’s, he served more than a year in Italy on drug charges, was deported from West Germany and the UK, and served short time in US jail; for prescription fraud. Furthermore, he ruined his embouchure after getting severely beaten while attempting to buy drugs.chetbaker1

After working odd jobs while his mouth healed, Baker went to New York and became performing and recording again. He would achieve a resurgence of popularity in the 70’s and 80’s. However, from 1978 until his death, Baker would reside and almost exclusively play in Europe.IMG_0700a

Which leads to his death and the Netherlands connection. Chet Baker was found dead in 1988 in the Hotel Prins Hendrik in Amsterdam. He had serious head wounds. Police found heroin and cocaine both in his room and in his body. As there were no signs of a struggle, they ruled the death an accident. The hotel has a plaque outside in Chet’s honor. I have 50+ pictures of public restrooms but no picture of this plaque which I have seen many times. Also, there is no plaque at Schipol where Solomon Burke died.Chetbakermonument

Unfortunately, this album is not among Baker’s best works. It was made as a quick response to the popularity of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The first Mariachi Brass band album , a Taste of Tequila, sold well enough to spawn this and a few others but in the end, it is really quite derivative. Baker plays both the trumpet and the flugelhorn on this album. I was real excited about “Bang Bang” and “These Boots were made for walking” but found them lacking any real punch.  DSCN1219

I went with “On the Street Where You Live” as the sample.

Meh. The Tijuana Brass is better as is Chet Baker’s pure jazz. Check one of these out before you try this.

Silver Convention- Save Me

DSCN1214This was $4.00. I figured it was a good way to get some diversified music on to this page.

Silver Convention was a West German disco band from the 70’s. It was the brainchild of producers/songwriters Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze . It was led on vocals by three female session vocalists, Linda G Thompson, Penny McLean, and Jackie Carter. This was their first album, released after they scored some success on the singles chart. Oddly enough, their first appearance was in Dallas in 1977, in a Braniff airplane hanger. It was for a promotional party for the airline. The vocalists would leave and find moderate success on their own. After some hits and misses, they would release Love in a Sleeper in 1978 with a new producer and new singers. This album would bring success back to the group. However, with disco on the way out, the act’s fate was sealed. Levay went on to work in Hollywood on movies (he was the arranger on Scarface). Kunze, on the other hand became a successful lyricist and librettist in the German Musical theater.

Silver Convention WebPage

This record, released in 1975, would hit number 10 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts. Three singles would hit # 1 on the US Dance Charts. “Fly, Robin, Fly” would go to #1 on the US Pop Charts as well.

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I was surprised when I found out that Silver Convention was German. I always assumed they were from New York or Detroit area. I also always associated German music as being more synthesizer heavy so the lack of it is strange to me on this. As far the album, it is a disco album that is representative of the time. The songs are short on vocal verses and mostly focus on the chorus. Descent songs such as “Save Me” and “Tiger Baby”.  I understand why this was popular at the time, but there is little on this that transcends the era it came out of.DSCN1217

I went with “Fly Robin Fly” as the sample. It was popular at the time and has been used in film soundtracks since.

Meh. I am done with this album. Too much a dated disco album than anything else.

Roy Buchanan- Livestock

DSCN1166This was a dollar.

104153-original-RoyBuchananRoy Buchanan has been called the greatest Unknown Guitarist.  Born in Ozark, Arkansas in 1939, he would work as both a sideman and a solo artist, scoring two gold records and two Billboard charting albums.  A master of the telecaster, he pioneered his own guitar tone as well as his work with “chicken picking”, pinch harmonics and double stops.  He also used effects minimally as compared to his peers,  getting his sound from more basic means.  Although huge success eluded him, he is generally regarded well among other guitar players.  Tragically, he was found hung in a prison cell in Virginia in 1988.  He was 42.  After controlling his drinking habit for some time, he was arrested for public intoxication.  Although ruled a suicide, his family has expressed doubts.

Roy Buchannan Web Page

An Excellent Guitar Player Article

There are three interesting Zelig-esque stories about Buchanan that have him involved with some of the biggest names in rock royalty, depending on who you believe. First, during one of his early gig’s, playing with Ronnie Hawkins, Ronnie enlisted Buchanan to instruct a young guitarist and take him under his wing.  That guitarist would be Robbie Robertson, later of The Band.  Secondly,  according to Buchanan, the guitarist would challenge Jimi Hendrix to a “pick-off” competition which Hendrix would refuse.  This claim is somewhat dubious but not completely impossible.  Although the two had respect for each other, Buchanan was dismayed at the sight of Hendrix achieving the same sound with effects that Buchanan had painstakedly gained thru his hands.  Finally,  again according to Buchanan, the guitarist was asked to join the Rolling Stones at one point but refused.  Again,  there is not a whole lot of collaboration but it is not impossible either. In the end, Buchanan did not want gross fame and the pitfalls it brought, which is ironic considering the way he died.

This album is a live one form 1975 .  Recorded mostly in New York City, this album was done to finish out Buchanan’s contract with Polydor before moving to Atlantic.  The songs are okay and showcase Buchanan’s playing to a point.  However, it also greatly come off for what it is, an attempt to put out a record to oblige a contract.  That being said,  this album greatly influenced Jeff Beck’s work at the time from what I am told.DSCN1167

For a sample, I was stuck between a few songs.  I wanted to do “Roy’s Bluz” but I really do not like doing songs over 4 minutes on this web page.  I then was leaning towards “I’m a Ram” but in the end, decided to go with “Hot Cha”, an instrumental made famous by Junior Walker.  In this version, Buchanan trades licks with keyboardist Malcom Lukens.

Meh.  The album is good and all at times.  Again,  the guitar sound on “Roy’s Bluz” is mesmerizing.  However, I got what I could after a few listens.

Johnny Bond- Famous Hot Rodders I Have Known

DSCN1160The Half Price Books in Pearland has records for 25 cents.  Most of them are pretty bad.  This one is not.  I should have just stuck it under my shirt because I practically stole it at a quarter.johnny-bond-4-sized

Johnny Bond, born in Enville, Oaklahoma in 1915, was a popular country entertainer of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  He would have seven top ten hits including “Divorce Me C.O.D”, “Ten Little Bottles”, and his version of “Hot Rod Lincoln”. Apparently, his songs had a diversified catalog to include drinking, cars, and women.  A member of the Country Hall of Fame as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Bond would die of a stroke in 1978 at age 63.

Johnny’s CMT Bio

This album, released in 1966, builds on the success he had with “Hot Rod Lincoln”, which Bond had done before in 1960.  This song was written by Charlie Ryan who first released it in 1955.  This rockabilly version would not chart.  However, a scond version released by Ryan in 1959 would get up to # 14 in the country/ 33 in the pop chart.  Johnny’s version would change the engine from 12 to 8 cylinders.  He would take this up to # 26 on the pop charts.  Other notable cover include Commander Cody’s 1971 version as well as All’s 1989 take.  Commander Cody would take the song to its highest charting position at # 9. Below is Ryan’s second take at it.

A Complete History of Hot Rod Lincoln

My only criticism of the album, is that most of the songs sound like “Hot Rod Lincoln”.  And perhaps that is not a bad thing.  I mean the album cover kind of says it all so you know what you are getting into.  Other than that, the songs are pretty good.  “Fireball”, “Fastback” and “Ben Dewberry’s Final Run”  stood out as my favorites along with “The Great Figure Eight Race”.  Basically, these are songs about cars, races, and death.  The only exception to the car theme would be “The Wreck of the Old 97”.  DSCN1161

I chose “The Great Figure 8 Race” as the sample.  This song talks about the perils of the Figure 8 race and describes the singers exploits in one such competition.  There is a twist at the end of the song.  I like it.  Again, it is some what derivative of “Hot Rod Lincoln” but different enough to enjoy.th

This is a satisfactory record for me.  A little more differentiation in the music would have been good, but overall, the album delivers on what it promised.  And it was only a quarter.

Frankie Laine- Hellbent for Leather!

DSCN1162This was 80 cents with discount.  Had a good array of western tunes on it.

Despite the cover, and the track record of songs for Western movies, this genre is but a little segment in Frankie Laine’s career.  Born in the west side of Chicago in 1913,  Laine started singing in dance clubs and would work his way up to fame.  He started out with big band/ crooner numbers.  In the 40’s, he would move to a jazzier style.  As time progressed, he would further evolve into gospel, ballads, blues, pop, and western.  This would lead to a string of hit singles in the 50’s and 60’s. Although he did not sing the original, his version of “High Noon” became a smash hit and lead to a second career of sorts singing themes to Western movies.  This would lead to such songs as “Rawhide” (where the title of this album comes from), “The 3:10 to Yuma” and “Gunfight at O.K. Corral”.  His career would slow down in the 80’s due to health but he continued to record and release albums up until his death in 2007. He was 93.1953-frankie-laine-answer-me-1353313411-view-0

Frankie’s Webpage

Back to the movie themes, when Mel Brooks was making Blazing Saddles, he put a notice out that he was looking for a Frankie Laine-type to sing the theme song.  Laine said to himself, ” I’m a Frankie Laine-type” and went to Brooks to offer his services. According to Brooks, -“‘Frankie sang his heart out… and we didn’t have the heart to tell him it was a spoof — we just said, ‘Oh, great!’ He never heard the whip cracks; we put those in later. We got so lucky with his serious interpretation of the song.” DSCN1163

This album was among the last four he did for Colombia Records, ( where he had a very lucrative contract at the time).  Released in 1961, it was arranged by a young John Williams (of Star Wars fame).  On it he re-recorded some of his biggest theme hits.  He also recorded some new standards as well.  It is a bit difficult to classify this album as it is not country.  It is kind of western but not in a traditional sense but I think that is what makes it interesting.  Also driving the album is Laine’s voice which made him stand out from the pack of popular singers at the time.

A Brief Interview with Frankie discussing Contemporary Singers

I went with “Bowie Knife” as the sample because of its driving narrative.  You can feel the life and death struggle between these two gamblers in this knife fight.

Satisfactory Record for me.

The Cuban Group- Cuban Music in Jam Session

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This was a dollar.  Why not?  With restrictions lifting, there seems to be a lot of focus now on Cuban culture.

Lonely Planet Guide to Cuba

On that note, I am kicking myself for not taking advantage of a Canadian passport and visiting Cuba before the easing of the travel ban.  Not that I ever had a real strong urge before.  I prefer traveling latitudinal rather than longitudinal.  Also prefer cities rather to tropical climates.  Also,  I like going to Amsterdam.  But that being said, I kind of wish I ventured to the forbidden island before the flood gates open.

This album is a collection of songs done in very interesting arrangements.  As one would expect, there are a good amount of horns and percussion.  Whole lotta guiro. There is also a good amount of keyboards and guitars as well.  Some vocal call outs are present.  There are a lot of nifty songs on this album and there is some variety as well.  Although I am not an expert on Cuban music, it would seem these musicians are taking risky liberties with these songs.  In their case, these risks paid off.  DSCN1165

I was unable (or lazy-take your pick) to find out much about the musicians on the album, who I am assuming are The Cuban Group.  Did not feel much like translating either today.

For a sample, I felt “El Niche”  really ties in everything the album is trying to do well.  Good track with good instrumentation and vocals.  Also, I included “Ay Mama Ines”  because I like how the musicians mashed up Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto with this folk song.

Satisfactory Record.

Some Russian Folk Song Album

DSCN0996

 

This record was originally $2 but the guy at Half-Priced Books gave it to me at a dollar as there was no way of really knowing what it was. He asked me if I knew. I said no but at two dollars, I was willing to roll the dice. We both agreed that it was probably Russian Folk Music.

Which it was. And quite descent folk music at that. I know nothing about this record (other than it was released in 1976) or who recorded it as everything on it is in Cyrillic. It does contain a good selection of folk tunes including Katrusha and Kalinka. There are other songs which I have heard before but do not know the names. But they are quite standard Russian folk songs.DSCN0998

This album is in great shape and still has the sleeve. Only 30% of the American albums I buy can claim this.

I posted an instrumental version of Kalinka before but I am doing it again, as it is the most famous Russian folk song and the vocals are very impressive. To make up for this double dipping, I am posting another example as well. Both feature bird whistles, which I assume is a prominent feature of Russian folk Music.

I will give this my Top Rating as it greatly delivers to me both great Russian folk music, an economic value, and a story about its purchase.

Judy Collins- The Judy Collins Concert

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This was a dollar and had a lot of good songs on it.

cb7fcfa932I was heavily tempted to play “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” last month during the Baltimore riots.  My aim of this site was to keep it devoid of overtly political material so I struggled with this until it became irrelevant.  However, tragedy is never too far away in this day and age, and again, the idea of playing this song came up again with the South Carolina killings.  Again,  I am resisting the urge to post this.  As I am always interested in how information disseminated before the internet,  I was struck by how quick this went from Bob Dylan’s mouth to Judy Collins live show. p3_0054_Layer_50Judy’s Webpage

This album comes early in Judy Collins’ career during what would have been her pure folk period. It was her fourth and her first one live. It was recorded and released in 1964.  It is a good mix of folk tunes both traditional and contemporary.  Along with the Dylan tune listed above, there are songs by Tom Paxton and Billy Edd Wheeler.  Except for “Hey Nelly, Nelly”, none of the songs were previously recorded by Collins.  The album is quite good and presents a good cross section of what has happening in folk music at the time. Of course,  like everything, it all really comes down to one source for me.

Do they still use Laugh tracks today?  I feel like an anthropologist hearing it in the above clip.  Regardless, Collins would later move from guitar based folk songs into more diverse and complex arrangements leaning more into pop while not completely leaving her folk roots. Many accolades later, Judy still performs a handful of shows here and there.  A slightly short and not real complete bio on my part I know, but that is not what I aim to do here.  There is a link above to her webpage if you want something more complete.

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There are a number of good folk songs on this album and after some thought, I decided to go with “Wild Rippling Water”.  This tune is a cowboy version of “The Nightingale”, an Irish tune I posted last month from the Brothers Clancy.

This is a satisfactory record for me.  It is Monday so I am keeping it brief.

 

Echo and the Bunnymen- Ocean Rain

DSCN1155This was $5.00 .  I knew this album already but thought it was a great chance to post something modern that people would like as well as lighten the critical listening load for myself. If by chance, you are unfamiliar with this record, the album cover is pretty beat.  It was not designed that way.DSCN1156

Echo’s Webpage

This album, released in 1984,  was the band’s fourth. Many consider it to be the band’s landmark release.  So I was surprised to see the number of mixed reviews it got upon its release. For example, Rolling Stone described the album as “too often a monochromatic dirge of banal existential imagery cloaked around the mere skeleton of a musical idea”. Man, I thought I used too many words.  Anyway, 120 Minutes did not feel the same way, giving “The Killing Moon” video a good amount of play.   “Silver” and “Seven Seas” also were big hits for the band.  This album was a commercial success despite mixed reviews. In 2008, the band would play a series of concerts, performing the album in whole with a 16 piece orchestra.

It is Saturday.  I am not going too much further into this.  Here is “The Killing Moon” .  Easy way out?  Maybe but if you don’t like it, I have a Mitch Miller album I could have put in its place. So there.

Jeannie Hoffman- The Folk Type Swinger

DSCN1153This was $3.00.  I knew of this album from the Website Spaceage Pop (link below).

Not much is known about Jeannie other than what I pulled off the Spaceage Pop web page as well as the liner notes and a few articles on the net.  Originally from Portland Oregon, she studied at Juliard where I believe she decided to work in jazz.  She moved to San Fransico and played nationally on the night club circuit.  I believe this is the only major label album she put out.  She would later partner with jazz bassist David Friesen for a series of albums as well as a 35 year run of Christmas concerts in the Pacific Northwest.  She would die of a stroke I think in 2007.  Friesen had these words to say about her:

“There’ll never be another Jeannie Hoffman, she was a unique individual. Jeannie Hoffman’s music was filled with joy! Unpretentious, unpredictable and very unique with her own special way of navigating through a piece of music. She had the technical proficiency (she studied at Julliard School of Music in NYC) to articulate difficult passages of music and the ability to transcend the technical aspects and produce glorious music coupled with her vibrant personality. The result through the years has left an indelible stamp upon every individual’s heart that has ever heard her play and sing”

Friesen and Hoffman
Friesen and Hoffman

This album showcases her jazz vocal stylings against swinger interpretations of folk tunes.  Her voice is beautiful and the album is a great performance of vocal jazz.  Her piano is also quite good. The song selection is pretty good as well.DSCN1154

“Sing Hallelujah” is the best song on the album and I believe it was issued as a single.  However, Spaceage Pop has this as a sample on their site and I do not believe in repeating the work of others.  But fear not as you can link to it here and download the tune.  You can also check out their site and download other space pop gems.  Do you people download the songs on my site?  That is why I started this in the first place and quite frankly, I am surprised you are even reading this. All you have to do is left click on the mouse the song and “Save Target As”.  It is that simple.   Email me if you need technical assistance. Anyway, before I get too introspective on this, here is the link:

Download “Sing Hallelujah”

Therefore, for a sample, I was torn between “Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies” and “Lass from the Low Country”.  I went back and forth with this for some time but decided to go with “Lass”.  No reason.  It could have gone either way.

This is a Top Rated album for me.  Glad I found it.