Steeleye Span-Below The Salt

dscn5305-800x777What an awesome week of posting records with multiple posts on this site.  Here is another, my fourth post from Steeleye Span.  This was a dollar.  Steeleye Span is one of my favorite groups. Search the site for past posts if you want to learn more.p01bqgzw

This was the bands fourth album and their first for Chrysalis Records.  With this label and with the start of a classic lineup (Maddy Prior, Tim Hart, Peter Knight, Bob Johnson, and Rick Kemp), the band would achieve a successful run of records through the 70’s, hitting their peak. This album was also the start of their electric folk sound which would be more defined on upcoming records. This came out in 1972.  The title comes from the medieval practice of setting the salt at the middle of the table. Whereas the servants and dependents were at the bottom end, the family and intimates would sit above the salt. The album cover depicts the band on both sides of the table.dscn5306-800x770

As stated above, this album was the start of the mixture electric sound and medieval influences that would perminate future releases.  That being said, it was a bit of a surprise that the top hit from the album was the a capella piece from the renaissance “Gaudete” which was sung entirely in Latin.  The song was released around Christmas and was the band’s commercial breakthrough.  It also landed them a spot on Top Of The Pops.

The rest of the album is more in line with the Steeleye sound which was developing with this album.  Good songs include “Spotted Cow”, “Royal Forester”, “John Barleycorn”, and “Saucy Sailor”.  As a side note, Nigel Pegrum would join the band on drums a year later to cement their sound as well as the classic lineup.dscn5307

For a sample, in the past, I have went with songs that showcase Maddy Prior’s voice.  However, for this sample, “King Henry”(Child ballad 32, Roud 3867), I chose something in which Prior has a backup role.  I believe the lead vocals are handled by Bob Johnson.  The song features the Loathly Lady motif which has been used in English, Scottish, Irish, and Norse storytelling.  Basically, it is Beauty and the Beast in reverse with the female being the beast.

Information on “King Henry”

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Excellent record which shows the evolutionary trajectory the band was headed towards.  Satisfactory.

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass- The Brass Are Coming

dscn5302-800x768This was $1.00.  It seems that most of the records posted this week are from artists who have multiple posts on this site.  Makes my job way easier as I do not have to write much expostionary copy.  Anyway, Herb Alpert does attract a wide array of listeners/viewers to this blog.chimp-herb-alpert-1968-4-21

This record, released in 1969, was a supplement to a similar TV special. The album has a western tint to it. I can only assume the TV special followed suit.  This was made towards the end of the life of the Tijuana Brass as Alpert would disband the group shortly thereafter.

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As a result, some critics say it falls short and perhaps most of the life has been sucked out of the band at this point.  Some call it a tired effort. That being said, there are some good points to this record.  Highlights inlcude the title track, “Moon River”, the Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back” and “jazz standard “Sunny”.

However, for a sample, I went with one of my favorite songs “Anna”.  I have written about this before and here is a link to an explanation of the song. There is also a video on it that I am very partial to. Again, the fact that I do not have to write about how much I love this song as it has already been done is great.dscn5303-800x782

As far as the record goes, the Brass have done better so I have to give this meh.

Judy Collins- Fifth Album

dscn5300-800x778This was $1.  Just as with Ray Price, I can no longer remember how many Judy Collins’ albums I have posted.  I feel that this is the third.  Of course, a simple search on this blog would answer this question, but I am not in the mood for that today. This album formerly belonged to Dale Charles Adamson who lived in Bellaire (Texas) in what is now a close to $1 million home.exhibit_judycollins_920_210_3

As the title would infer, this was Collin’s fifth album (her fourth studio effort).  Released in 1965, it was also her last true folk record as her next effort would start leaning more into pop.  Featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Richard Farina, Gordon Lightfoot, Phil Ochs, and Malvina Reynolds, Allmusic.com calls this her definitive folk statement. John Sebastian and Farnia play on a few tracks. A poem of Farina’s is also on the back cover.  The front cover blinds you with those famous headlights a bit (I’m talking about her eyes).dscn5301-800x778

There are a lot of good songs on here.  I really liked “Pack Up Your Sorrows”, “Thirsty Boots”, “Mr Tambourine Man”, and “Lord Gregory”.  This is a little specious as I like almost any cover of “Mr Tambourine Man”.  Two songs that I also like are the ones that are most topical in nature and the ones that I will use for samples.

First, there is the Phil Ochs tune, “In The Heat of the Summer”.  Ochs’ songs had a composure all there own.  His style shows through even though it is Collins singing.  I also went with Reynold’s “It Isn’t Nice” which was recorded live at Town Hall in New York .

Judy Collins - Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins, American singer and songwriter known for her eclectic tastes and for her social activism. Photographed in New York 1/7/2015

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Paul Mauriat- Blooming Hits

dscn5298-800x772This was 80 cents.  At the time, I kept seeing this record over and over in the used record bins.  I guess I still see it from time to time.  After I while, I break down and bite at the repeat offenders.  The inclusion of “Penny Lane” also probably influenced the decision to buy.

© http://paul-mauriat.com
© http://paul-mauriat.com

Paul Mauriat was a French orchestra leader, born in Marseille in 1925.  Starting in music young, he began recording in 1957.  He recorded what looks like at least 100 albums.  His big hit was 1968’s “L’Amour Est Blue (Love Is Blue)”.  It was a #1 hit single in the US for 5 weeks. As of this writing, he is the only French performer to score the #1 spot in the US.  Mauriat would die in 2006 at age 81.

A more in depth Biography from his web site.

This album was released in late 1967 by Philips.  I am guessing it was a vehicle to promote the hit single discussed above.  Despite being a prolific composer, the songs on this album are all covers of pop tunes.  The album does showcase Mauriat’s arranging skills as he brings out the colors of each song.

There a a bunch of decent moments.  Highlights include not only the hit single, but “Adieu A La Nuit”, “Inch Allah”, “This Is My Song”, and “Mama”.  The rest of the songs, sadly, are a bit too corny for my liking.dscn5299-800x786

For a sample, I wanted to go with “Penny Lane” when I bought this.  Normally, I really like rock/pop songs that are translated into orchestrated works.  However, songs such as “Penny Lane” that are already heavily orchestrated kind of fall flat.  I mean, not a whole lot is added.  So I went with the hit single “L’Amour Est Blue”.  Sonny and Cher’s “Mama” was up for serious contention as well.paul-mauriat-1968

Overall meh for me.  Maybe because it is Tuesday. Maybe because the corny moments can not save the good parts, which I should note that I really do like.

Ray Price- Burning Memories

dscn5296-800x778This was one dollar.  I have lost track of how many Ray Price albums I have posted.  This maybe the third. Not much new to say about an artist the third time around.  But what else can you say about one of the true pioneers of honky tonk country?ray_price_74c-1024x626

This was Price’s seventh album, released in 1964.  This album marked a departure from his pure Ernest Tubb honky tonk sound with the addition of string sections and lush production values.  In a way, it was the start of the Nashville Sound of the 60’s and 70’s. Backed with Nashville musicians such as Floyd Cramer, Pig Robbins, and Buddy Emmons, Price goes through 12 classic tracks written by such luminaries as Hank Cochran, Eddie Miller, Mel Tillis, Buck Owens, Conway Twitty, and Willie Nelson.

Some dude I ran into a year ago at Half Price Books told me that Price was blacklisted in the country circles for some time for embracing this new sound.  I am not sure how true or false that is, but for now I take him at his word.  If you know me, you know how much I like talking to strange guys. Anyway, if he was indeed blacklisted, it would not be for long.dscn5297-800x786

Overall, this is a real good album.  It contains two Price standards, “Make The World Go Away” and “Release Me”.   The rest of the album is filled with songs that take advantage of Price’s rich baritone voice.  There are a couple simplified songs but the vast majority are backed by the string section. Given this, there is still enough twang within the songs.

For a sample, I went with “Are You Sure” which still has that classic Price sound with subtle orchestration.  I also went with “Here Comes My Baby Back Again” because after writing about the string use, I would be a fool not to post something that illustrates it a bit better.ray-price-musician-obit-country-music-ftr

Despite the shift and public attitudes at the time, this is a satisfactory record.

Jean Shepard and Various Artists- Blue Ribbon Country

dscn5452Country music pioneer and Grand Ole Opry mainstay Jean Shepard past away today of Parkinson’s disease. She was 82.

Obit from the Tennessean

Obit from Billboard

Obit from Rolling Stone

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Born in 1933 in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma, Shepard was raised near Bakersfield, playing in an all female band when she was discovered by Hank Thompson.  She signed to Capitol Records in 1952 and joined the Opry in 1955.

A true pioneer of country music, as well as one of the influential female singers behind Kitty Wells, she released 24 records and 73 singles to the Hot Country Charts during her career.  When she retired from the Opry last year, she was the first female member with six decades of service in the institution.

A note of interest, she married Hawkshaw Hawkins in 1960.  Hawkins would die three years later in the plane crash that killed Patsy Cline.4c4fe113d60b3346fae1b071543f0388

This record was purchased for one dollar.  It was a double record that for some reason, followed a logical side/record allotment (i.e. side 1/2 on one record and 3/4 on the other).  It was a sampler of the big country hits of the time from the Capitol label.dscn5453

It includes such stars as Glen Campbell, Sonny James, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Bonnie Owens, Bobbie Gentry, Tex Ritter, Wynn Stewart, and Ferlin Husky.  It also featured rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson.  Many hits songs are contained here including ” Ode to Billy Joe”, “A World of Our Own”, “By The Time I Get to Phoenix”, and “Gentle On My Mind”.  Overall, it is a good pick for $1.dscn5454

Here from that record is Shepard with her 1967 resurgence hit, “Heart We Did All That We Could”.  Note the light fuzz on the track.jean-shepard

RIP Jean Shepard

The Mar Keys- Last Night 45

2015_115-mar-keysFor reasons that will become clear in October, I had to add two additional posts to this month so here is the first of two Sunday posts.  Maybe someone famous will die next week and I won’t have to do another Sunday post. I will keep my fingers crossed.  This 45 was 20 cents.  The only thing it really cost me was my dignity as I had to rifle thru stacks of beat up 45s.  It should also be noted that there is a crack in my 45.As you know I do not like writing long posts on Saturday, you should assume (and rightly so) that I like writing even less on Sunday. So I am keeping this brief.mar-keys1_large

But as for this week, here is a 45 from the Mar Keys, who were the house band of Stax Records.  Starting life as The Royal Spades, the all white band eventually became integrated in the studio.  Certain members would morph into Booker T and the MG’s (and to a lesser extent, The Blues Brothers).  From that time on, recordings with horns were generally credited to the Mar Keys while those without went to Booker T.stax-recording

Although the lineup varied, key members include Booker T Jones, Packy Axton, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Al Jackson, Gilbert Caple, Wayne Jackson, Floyd Newman, and Andrew Love.  After 1964, Isaac Hayes joined this illustrious crew.mar-keys2_large

In addition to backing many famous artists on the Stax label, the Mar Keys made their own recordings.  The first and most famous one was this single, “Last Night” which went to # 3 in the US and earned a Gold record.

From that 45, here is the B side “Night Before”.

 

 

 

John Cougar Mellencamp- Scarecrow

dscn5294-800x782The fact that I paid 40 cents for this record is criminal.  This is probably one of the top records of the 1980’s and probably subconsciously the reason I wear jean jackets.  I had a copy of it myself.  I probably still have it somewhere, possibly in Canada. On a personal note, you may have read between the lines when my posts got longer that I had recently been put out of work.  Well, that all ends today actually as I am at my new job as you read this.  So as I result, I expect the posts to shorten up again.  But like I have always said, why would you want to read thsi anyway?  I never read any of the music blogs and those were quite professionally done.rs-180796-85851489

“Jack and Diane” made John Cougar Mellencamp big, but this album made him  superstar. Although he started using his Mellencamp moniker on an album prior, it was this album’s success that really cemented his status and led him to drop the Cougar (which he did a few albums later).  Released in 1985, the album contained three top ten singles “Lonely Ol’ Night”, “Small Town”, and “R.O.C.K in the USA”.  Two more singles, “Rain on the Scarecrow” and “Rumbleseat” would crack the top 30. The album itself peaked at #2.

Before recording, the band immersed themselves in 1960’s records, learning the secrets from rock and roll and incorporating them into JCM’s music. The result was a heartland roots rock effort that sung loudly of a fading American Dream.  And although he gets no credit for it, this album can be seen as one of the forefathers of Alt Country.

An Interesting article about JCM’s follow up album

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For a sample, I went with what was one of my favorite songs at the time, “Rain On The Scarecrow”.1441419008893-cached

Top Rated record.

Herman’s Hermits- There’s A Kind Of Hush All Over The World

dscn5292-800x775This was 80 cents.  For that price, it had enough songs that I knew that made it a good buy.  Also, I was attracted to the track which I am using as a sample.p01bqsqr

This was Manchester’s own Herman’s Hermits’ fifth album, released in 1967.  One cool thing about this is that the same album was released in both the US and the UK.  Record companies seemed to do this more often after 1967.  Anyway, the title track was a huge hut for the band.  It would also be their last #1 single in the US.  The album would reach #11 in the States.  At the time, the band was thought of as more of a single’s band.  This album, at least according to Allmusic.com, changed that.

The album is pretty good. It is a good collection of songs.  I really liked “No Milk Today”, “Dandy” (not related to the Kink’s version), “Gaslight Street”, and “Saturday’s Child” ( done previously by the Monkees).dscn5293-800x786

But the big delight is the band’s version of the torch standard “Jezebel” complete with a bass line that borrows from “The Peter Gunn Theme”.  It does not sound within the bands comfort zone and thus really steals the show.kingswaystudios_201265

Satisfactory Record.

The Temperance Seven- 21 Years On

dscn5290-800x775This was one dollar.  I knew of the band and actually had a compilation CD so I was quite keen to post this eventually.  The more I think about it, this may have been 80 cents. As a side note, I saw the Squirrel Nut Zippers on Friday at the Miller Outdoor Theater.  If you are not from Houston, then you probably not know that that would mean a free show.  It was pretty good.  I bring it up because it is the same kind of music more or less.  Anyway, the band was good, a bit better than this band but not as good as the White Ghost Shivers when they had their giant banjo player. Also the US based trad jazz seems to have a harder edge then the British based.

by Dezo Hoffmann, modern bromide print, 1961

The Temperance Seven were a British band specializing in 1920’s traditonal jazz.  Founded by Paul McDowell, Philip Harrison, and Brian Innes, the band eventually ballooned into a nine piece, moving towards the same lines as the Alberts or the Bonzo Doo-Dah Dog Band.  They scored a #1 hit with “You’re Driving Me Crazy”, which incidentally was the first #1 George Martin produced.

Angry letter from the Late Paul McDowell to the Guardian

They also backed Peter Sellers on a single before that.  Trad Jazz had started to become popular in the early 60’s.  It was during this time, they appeared in the film, It’s Trad, Dad.  This is how I became aware of them.

That Trad sound craze was short lasted as Beatlemania soon gripped the world.  The band’s core started to fade.  However, as both band leaders and members changed, the band continued with renewed success in places such as Hong Kong and Bahrain. A form of the band is still around or it least they were in 2015.

Link to Band’s Web Page

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This album, released in 1976, seems to be a retrospective collection of songs which I believe were re-recorded for this effort.  It also includes a song recorded on a British Airways Concorde flight.   The songs are ok.  It is pretty much your straight out trad jazz.  I am really unsure of what the lineup for this record looked like.  I guess that should not really matter.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Lime House Blues” and from the Concorde recording, “Mach II March”.temps

If it was not for the fact this was a dollar, I might give a different review, but since it was so cheap, I have to give this a satisfactory rating. Two dollars would have been a different story.