The Lennon Sisters- Today

DSCN1888This was 80 cents. It had an excellent song selection on it.  3483902_orig

The Lennon Sisters got their start on the Lawrence Welk Show in 1955.  Hailing from Los Angeles and an obviously pious Roman Catholic family with 11 children, (6 girls and 5 boys), the original incarnation was Diane, Peggy, Janet, and Kathy.  Their first performance was well received and the sisters became mainstays on the show until 1968.  From there, they would release records, host TV shows, and tour across the Country.  Peggy would retire in 1999.  Diane, would do the same in 2000.  Janet and Kathy, along with younger sister Mimi still carry on the tradition and perform today. As a side note, I am struck how many Lawrence Welk fans have web pages.  It would seem that that fan base would be pretty computer illiterate. SHORPY_04179u

The Sister’s Web Page

A piece of tragedy in the story, 6 weeks before the premier of their TV show, Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters, their father, William was gunned down by a deranged stalker. The killer, Chet Young, was convinced that he was to marry Peggy and that the elder Lennon was standing in the way of this.  This obviously was devastating to the sisters.wpt_1320694538The Lawrence Welk Page on the Sisters.

This album was released  a year before the tragedy in 1968.  It has a very good selection of contemporary tunes including “It Must Be Him”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “What the World Needs Now”  and Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum”.  At times however, their take on these songs are awkward and very cornbread.  However, the Sister’s harmonies shine out on the tracks.

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For samples, I was tossed between a few songs but decided to stick with “California Dreamin” and “Green Tambourine”.  Both these songs showcase the Sister’s skills as well as the awkwardness of their interpretation of these flower power tunes.maxresdefault (2)

Satisfactory due to the amount of songs I like but this could easily slip into Meh territory.52e69a82a216e.preview-620

 

 

Sixto Sanchez- Me Piden

DSCN1883This was  80 cents. It looked like a cheap way to diversify the site’s music. I realized after writing this that I have an embarrassing low amount of Tejano in my collection.

I had a hard time digging up info on Sixto Sanchez Jr but this is what I believe to be true.  He was born in Seguin, Texas in 1947.  He was the lead singer of the Broken Hearts, a rock and roll band started by National Hispanic Music Hall of Famer George Soto.  With this band, he became one of the early heroes of Tejano music.  He was known for getting emotional on stage.  At some points, he would actually cry.  Just as he was starting to gain fame, he would die in an auto accident in 1964.  The Broken Hearts would carry on without him but Sanchez would be the vocalist most associated with the band.  Something like that anyway. The Broken Hearts would be inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame which I believe used to be in Alice, Tx and may not exist anymore.

992826_594329240589814_1463960065_nThis album seems to be a collection of hits done by the band during Sanchez’s tenure.  You can hear the emotions in his voice in the songs.  The Broken Hearts band is pretty tight.  I am not as up to date on classic Tejano but I must say this stuff is pretty good. It is a bit slow at times but there are some upbeat numbers on the album. It is a lot like latin Doo-Wop. The songs are really driven by guitar, organ, or horns but not by accordion.  Thus, it offers a different take on what gringos assume about Tejano music.

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For a sample, I went with “Me Piden” as this song is the one that pops up the most on the Internets.  Me Piden is Spanish for I Ask. I also went “Si Quieres Volver” to give an example of one of the up tempo songs on the album.

Satisfactory Record.

 

Big Tiny Little- Mr Piano Personality

DSCN1886This was 25 cents.  I seem to have gone on a lounge kick this month.  Anyway, this had a good mix of tracks on it.

big-tiny-littleBig Tiny Little Jr. was best known for his work on the Lawrence Welk Show. Born in Worthington, Minn. in 1930, Tiny started playing piano when he was five. He spent some time playing in his father’s band (Big Tiny Little Sr) and did a tour of the Far East in the US Airforce.  From there, he joined Welk and became a tenured member from 1955 to 1959.  After this time, Little put out about 45 records or so.  He also played lounges and night clubs. He would die in 2010 at age 79.

This record was recorded live at Harrah’s in Reno, NV in 1964.  It showcases Little’s immaculate skill at the ivories, as well as his band and horns.  The song selection is pretty good and it does a good job of alternating between vocal and instrumental tracks.  I normally do not like non-James Brown versions of “Night Train”  but this version is pretty decent.  “Canadian Sunset”, “I’ll Remember April”,and “Scotchin’ with the Soda” are pretty good as well.

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For samples, I wanted to showcase Little’s skills so I went with “Personality” which he sings and Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things”  which I think is his best piano on the album.

A-1548303-1314922307.jpegSatisfactory record.

 

Bert- Bert’s Blockbusters

DSCN1881The cover snagged me on this. It seemed very grandiose.  It was $3 less 20%.

Tomtom-bertandernieThis album showcases the hits of Bert.  All the classics are here from “La La La” to “Doin’ the Pigeon” to “Pat, Pat, Patty Pat”.  Bert also showcases his lead administrative functions with songs such as “The National Association of W Lovers”.  maxresdefault (1)

Bert is joined on most songs by Ernie.  He also guests with Big Bird, his nephew Farley, and Herbert Birdsfoot.  But it is the songs Bert performs alone that make the album.

DSCN1882The sample I used is “Stop”  which showcases Bert for the sadistic prick that he is.  Here Bert takes great joy raining on other peoples parade and shutting down their fun.  Unsure of his own enjoyment of the song at first, Bert finds that stomping on others fun is quite amusing and for him, quite enjoyable.lras-1211-04-o+sesame-street-themed-gallery+bert

Meh.  The fun of the album wore out quickly.  invincible_bert_kevin_skinner

 

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty- The Very Best Of

DSCN1879 This was a dollar. My folks had this when I was a youth.

Conway-Twitty-and-Loretta-LynnLoretta Lynn and Conway Twitty are the most famous duet pair in country music.  If either of the two sang with anybody else, the recordings would still be good.  They released 11 records, charted 12 singles and hit #1 five times.

conway_twitty-loretta_lynn-louisiana_woman05This is a greatest hits compilation that, as I stated before,  my parents had when I was a kid.  So I knew the songs and the album already.  That means less critical listening and therefore, lighter work load for me.  Got to cut corners where I can.  However, the songs on the record are all great, from “After the Fire is Gone”, “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man”, As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone”, “Feelin’s”, and “The Letter”. This compilation, released in 1979 went to #19 on the Country Charts and was also a Gold Record in the US.

 

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Despite all the great songs, I will have to go with the song I remember the most from listening to this album as a kid; “You’re the Reason our Kids are Ugly”.   It still just seems like such a ridiculous phrase to utter. And at the end of the day, they still love each other in the song.  How Strange.  This was a B-side from their 1978 album Honky Tonk Heroes.maxresdefault

Satisfactory record.

 

Rare Earth-Ecology

DSCN1756This was a dollar.  The maintenance man in my apartment, who saw me with records the other day told me to look out for Rare Earth’s album, Ma.  Well, I am still looking for Ma but here is this.

RareEarthRare Earth was not the first white act signed to Motown but they were the first white act with hits.  Formed in Detroit as the Sundowners in 1960, they became the Rare Earth in 1968.  Motown signed them to a subsidiary that was dedicated to white rock acts, using their name as the label’s moniker. The band’s chief period was in the early seventies.  They managed to continue in various forms up to today.

Rare Earth’s Website

This album was their third.  It would chart at #15 in the US. Two singles, “the Temptation’s “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “Born to Wander” would chart #7 an # 17 respectfully.  This album is pretty rocking.  Good guitar and percussion work.  The band does a decent cover of “Eleanor Rigby” as well.

I used “Number 1 Man” as the sample.  I felt it contains a good sample of this record.  Satisfactory Record.  Happy Saturday.

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Henry Mancini- Mr Lucky Goes Latin

DSCN1752This was a dollar.  My buddy Jeremy turned me on to it so I was looking out for it.  Apparently, he got his copy out of a dumpster while working construction.

lucky32Mr Lucky was a Blake Edwards television show on CBS which aired in 1959.  Despite being one of the highest rated new shows, it was dropped after one season.  It is the kind of show you would watch today if you did not have cable and naturally watched a lot of Antenna Television or MeTv. Henry Mancini wrote the theme music and put out two Mr Lucky records, both of which were successful (this one a bit more so).MrLucky

This album is Mancini reworking some of the shows tunes with Latin flair.  This was made during his 60’s prime years and there are plenty of Mancini-isms on this.  The music is very good and the instrumentation is spread.  Highlights include “Rain Drops in Rio” , “The Sound of Silver”, “Blue Mantilla”, and “Cow Bells and Coffee Beans”.  I will admit; it took me a couple of listens to really like this album, but once I gave it a few listens, I really liked it.

 

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As a side note, “Lujon” was used in The Big Lebowski.  It was used as the background theme music for Jackie Treehorn. Because other blogs have noted this and posted this song on thier blogs.  I decided to post “No Cal Sugar Loaf”.  Otherwise, it would have been the other one.original

Top Rated album.  Thanks Jeremy.

Billy Bond- Twangy Guitars

DSCN1754This was a dollar. The cover hooked me.

jerry-cole
Yeah, I know he is playing bass in this pic.

Despite the what the cover says, there is no Billy Boyd.  This was done by session guitarist Jerry Cole.  Born in 1939, Cole first came on the scene with the Champs (which also had Glenn Campbell).  Cole found he could grow his income by playing on budget records.  This is one of them that he did for Crown.  After success, he went to Capital Records where he led his instrumental surf group, Jerry Cole and the Spacemen.  During this time, he was still a lucrative session man, working with “The Wrecking Crew”.  He worked on songs with the Byrds, Roger Miller, Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, and so on.  He also was among one of the musicians on the Beach Boys Pet Sounds sessions.  Cole died in 2008 at age 68.

With the Champs

Again,  this was made for Crown Records.  According to Cole, the record company “would request five surf albums, five country and western albums and five easy listening albums. Cole would write nine different songs for each album to back one cover version of a hit of the time, organize a band, arrange and record the music for master tapes that he would deliver to Crown in about three weeks time; doing an album or two in a day”-cited from Wikipedia.

DSCN1755I can see why Cole would not want his name on this.  This album was not what I expected.  It has twangy guitars but on most songs, they are easily overshadowed by the sax.  At times the guitars are too twangy; other times, not twangy enough.  There is never the perfect amount of twang.  At times, the songs sound like a love child between Duane Eddy and Link Wray.  At others, it sounds like a blatant rip off of the two. Most of the record also sounds the same.

aacdon14JerryColeFor a sample, I went with “Oop Shank”.  I felt it was the rockingest track…  which is sad.

Meh.  I guess it is alright for what they were trying to accomplish at the time, but I am done with this record.

The Mary Kaye Trio- ST

DSCN1506Another 25 cent score. Decent songs on this was worth taking a chance for.  Turns out I got a pretty good deal.

300x300The Mary Kaye Trio is credited with starting the Vegas Lounge Scene and are among one of the founding members of the lounge act.  Mary Kaye (born Kaaihue) was born in 1924 in Detroit.  She grew up in St Louis in a musical family.  A descendent of Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalami, she played with her brother in her father’s Hawaiian Band as a youth.  Breaking away from their father as well as Hawaiian music, Mary and Norman would start playing in bars and lounges along with Frank Ross and the Trio was born.  At some point, they brought their act to Vegas and fit in with the dawn to dusk crowd. Often playing in the wee hours until 6am, they created the lounge scene.  Celebrities such as Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and Chuck Heston were among fans.  The band grew to popularity in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, playing many shows and releasing a dozen or so records.  The act would dissolve in 1966. According to Norman, Chuck Heston cried on hearing the news. Mary would pass on in Las Vegas in 2007. Norman passed on in 2012.

A-1775054-1301549021_jpegSometimes known a the “First Lady of Rock and Roll”, (mostly because of Fender’s marketing efforts), she made the above ad for the guitar company, and although she did not play this model often, the Mary Kaye Strat has become a collectors item.

mary_kaye_stratThis album really swings and brings the Vegas Late Night Lounge Scene to the listener’s living room.  Mary, Norman, and Frank interweave their vocals thru these tunes.  They switch from solo numbers to unison choruses.  The back up vocals are also very good.

 

For a sample, I went with “Man’s Favorite Sport” and “Sleeves of Green”.DSCN1507

This is a Top Rated album for me, mainly because I got it for 25 cents.

 

Theodore Bikel and Geula Gill- Folk Songs from Just About Everywhere

DSCN1867Theodore Bikel passed on today at age 91. This album was 25 cents.

Link to Theodore’s Obit

p_FAlthough the man who was once called “A Poor Man’s Peter Ustinov” was primarily known as an actor, he was also quite an accomplished folk singer.  He released countless albums of folk music from all areas.  Although he focused on Jewish and Russian folk, he was able to perform folk music from Latin America, the USA, and other areas.  He cofounded the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and also was the first person to perform “Blowin in the Wind” after Bob Dylan.  On stage, he originated the role of Captain von Trapp in the Sound of Music.  “Edelweiss” was written specifically for him when it was learned he had no song of his own in the show.  Bikel had also performed the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof more times than anyone else (2000+).  Finally, no highlight reel would be complete without mentioning he had a role in Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels.

DSCN1868This album shows off Bikel’s grip both on international music as well as language.  Although heavy on the Israeli folk, Bikel and Geula Gill also sing Russian, Bolivian, Greek, Argentine, Brazilian, and French-Canadian to name a few.  The majority are duets and the voices contrast well.  The songs are good as the music is all over the place and makes for an excellent mix.  I should point out that Geula Gil, a former kindergarten teacher in Israel, has a fine voice and does well on this album.

theodore-bikel-premiere-argo-01From the album, here is the Bolivian folk tune “Pollerita” in tribute to Bikel.  Bikel has better performances on here but this is my favorite song.