Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks- Where’s The Money?

This was all of $1.00.  I thought this was the second Dan Hicks record I owned. I was wrong. I have three.  I also thought this was the second one I posted.  Wrong again.  This is the first.

Dan Hicks passed on in February of last year.  His music is both easy and complex to describe.  On some levels, it is an exact extension of the hot jazz/ gypsy music of Django Reinhardt and the country swing of Bob Wills, plus many other genres of music, all while looking like hippies. His band the Hotlicks was formed in 1967, split in 1972, reformed sometime before 1973 and split sometime thereafter with an occasional reunion, most notably in 1991. The band was sprung from the San Francisco area where Hicks moved as a youth.  He was born in Little Rock Ark, in 1941.  See what I did there?  I did it backwards.

Dan’s Webpage

Anyway, this was his second record and it was done live. Recorded at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the album features what his webpage calls the best known lineup of the band featuring Maryann Price and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg on vocals and percussion, Sid Page on first violin and mandolin, and Jamie Leopold on Double Bass.

I was really blown away how good this album was and how eclectic it sounded on one hand while making perfect sense on the other.  The songs are all really good.  Great musicianship and great vocals.  Also , featured on the album is some of the best stage banter I have heard in a long time.

For a sample, I went with what I felt was the Best song on the record, “Caught in the Rain”.  I also went with the first track, “I Feel Like Singing” because when I first listened to it, I thought the record was skipping.  And if you really think about it, to accomplish that feat on a live record is really saying something.

Anyway, great album. Top Rated.

Easy Pickin’- The Winning Combination- Xerox

This was $4 but looked interesting enough as I like to buy and review product or promo records.

The Easy Pickin’s group, I believe were from Stamford,which oddly enough was Xerox’s headquarters until 2007.  The group consisted of Barbara Allen on vocals, her husband Bill on guitar, mother of three Linda Shackleford on bass, Joe Knowlton on banjo, and Dave Raucsher on the mandolin, violin, and just about every other instrument.  According to the one piece of information I bothered looking at, the band had been around some twenty years or so, recording a live album at the Country Tavern Restaurant, where they gigged regularly.  It is said that they had a interesting repertoire between bluegrass standards as well as contemporary country hits.  The record does reflect this.

This record is a promotional record but for whom, I am unsure.  The records welcomes the holder as a proud member of the ISG team.  It also mentions FSM members which I assume is the Full Service Maintenance group.  The record encourages members to ” share points for service achievements focusing on machine reliability and response time”.  These points, in turn, can be translated “into merchandise gifts for you… and your family”.  So I am deducting that theses were given to Xerox service people who achieved departmental goals.  And this was back in the day when people were decently paid.

I am guessing this came out sometime in the seventies.  Pretty good mix of tunes. including “Luckenback Texas”, “Heaven is Just a Sin Away”, “Tennessee Stud”, and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”.  Decent album.  Nothing that will make you radically re-look the way for see bluegrass, but not bad either.For a sample, I went with the theme song/jingle of the record, “The Winning Combination”. Decent record, overall, although I am sure I would have liked a monetary bonus more if I worked at Xerox.  Anyway, Satisfactory record.

Pedro Harras-Hecho En Venezuela / Musica Para Exportar

This was another international pickup from the hot spot of used international records, Half Price Books of Sugar Land.  This was $4.

There is no really any other way a putting it than Venezuela these days is a real messed up place.  Three weeks ago, there were anti-Maduro out over by the Galleria area.  Not going to really delve too deep into the subject being a full hemisphere over, nor being in a spot to lecture anyone as to how democracy works.  

So in regards to this album, this is a collection of songs from Venezuelan artists.  According to the back cover, the orchestra and choir is by Pedro Harras.  Songs are from such famous Venezuelans as Luis Felipe Ramon y Rivera, Rafael Gonzalez, and Jose La Riva Contreras.  I have heard from one source that this came out in the 60’s.  From another, I have heard 1973.  It was apparently made for export purposes, according to the title.

In fact most of the information I got on this record came from a Google translation from a fellow music blogger which I offer here:

“The disks of the seal BASF and POLYDOR have the defect of not indicating the year of production. Despite this, we occupy this place in the 1970s,

Once again, we have seen the need to edit the content to correct errors or omissions in copyright, which is a constant in MADE IN VENEZUELA discs.

We seem very good musical arrangements – with some resemblance to those of RAY CONNIFF – that this production offers us.”

Link to original blog post

For a sample, I went with a tune co-written by Juan Vicente Torrealba entitled “Campesina”.  Good little number.

Anyway, decent little album of Venezuelan tunes which seems to have its own unique sound as compared to its neighbors.  I liked this record.  It seemed to share some characteristics with Northern Brazilian and Colombian music, yet it had its own flavor as well. Satisfactory.

 

The Cliff Holland Trio- Bourbon Street

This gem was only a dollar.  Not only do I like small regional records.  I also like autographed ones despite this record’s autograph being on the plastic cover.  It is made out to a “Mr & Mrs Cruz” to which Cliff Holland wished them good luck.  Since this record is from Calgary, I can’t help but wonder if these are Ted’s parents and if perhaps, I am holding the missing link of the JFK assassination in my hands.  Trump conspiracies aside, I always did have an overactive imagination.

Other than what I read on the back cover, I do not know much about Cliff Holland, other than the fact that he was a member of two successful southern vocal groups:The Delta Rhythm Boys and the Four Knights. His stint in both these groups led to worldwide travel and 12 Gold Records.  What brought him to Western Canada, I do not know.  Based on the lack of any drummer credits on the record, I assumed Holland handled skin duties but this is a mere assumption and I am starting to thing this is not the case. Anyway, the Trio is rounded out by English born Larry Yarwood on piano who was also a member of the Calgary City Stompers and Lye Kosh, a Regina native who was also an employee of Gulf Oil of Canada.  Further credits go to back-up bassist Glenn Dickson as well as Larry Bechthold for rhythmic patterns on the record.  Perhaps this is where the records drums come from although it is a strange way of saying it. Please note that I am pretty sure this is not Holland in the video below but I really liked this song.

Anyway, this is a real good album.  Between Holland’s baritone voice and the jazzy/lounge instrumentation, the listener is magically transported into a smokey dark room (although due to smoking laws, that aspect is lost to future generations).  Really good performances and really good songs including such standards as “Chicago”, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, ” They Call the Wind Maria”, and “Summertime”.  

This record did skip pretty badly.  I went to my upstairs neighbor to clean it but that did not do the trick.  I had to use his turntable as well as his fancy recording device to get a good recording.  I succeeded on this front but was to lazy to splice the songs apart so here are three samples all put together.  First is the second Paint Your Wagon song on this record, the immortal “Wandrin Star”. Second is the Bob Crewe-Bob Gaudio penned “Can;t Take My Eyes Off of You” which is a great version but probably included only because I saw Jersey Boys last month.  Finally, I leave you with a Holland co-penned tune “Our Town” which is more of  a shout out to the people who worked on this record, which is dedicated to Calgary.

Really good little record despite the fact that I can not play it on my record player.  It really hit on a lot of angles for me.  Top Rated.

 

John Schneider- Quiet Man

This was $2.40 at a discount.  I used to like getting celebrity records on this site but that was when I was unemployed and had all day to write post.  Those days have past.

John Schneider, born in Mount Kisco, NY in 1960, is best known for his portrayal of Beauregard “Bo” Duke from the Dukes of Hazard.  As a child from the 80’s, this was my favorite TV show.  Like most kids my age, I had a crush on Daisy Duke as well as hated shows when Bo and Luke’s cousins took over during contract disputes (or going on the NASCAR circuit as the show stated). Along with playing Chips, me and my pal used to play Dukes of Hazard but for some reason, I always had to be Luke (since my friend argued that his name was Jon, I was always Paunch in Chips). Back to Schneider, it should be noted that he had a re-occurring role as Superman’s adoptive father in Smallvile.

Not sure of those were simpler times or if we just turned an eye to casual racism.  Well my bet is on the latter but I do not want to turn this into a big debate.  I will say this: Sorrell Booke and James Best, who played Boss Hogg and Roscoe P Coltrane, were good friends and were allowed to ad-lib on set.  Best also taught acting classes later in his career and one of his students was a young Quentin Tarantino.  It was at Best’s classes where Tarantino met collaborators who would work on his films.

Schneider was able to parlay his popularity on Dukes to a successful music career.  He recorded ten albums (including a Christmas album with Dukes’ co-star Tom Wopat) with four Country #1 singles to his credit.  This was Schneider’s third album, released on the Scotti Brothers label in 1983.  It did not chart.

Decent album but I would have probably liked it more if I was a girl in the 80’s.  There are some decent moments.  As a whole, I really do not like much 80’s country so I am a bit biased to start with this. 

For a sample, I went with the old Johnny Burnette classic “Dreamin” which was released as a single.  It charted at #32 on the country chart.

Meh.  As stated above, do not like 80’s country and I am pretty much over the Dukes.  Not 10 anymore. I mean it sounds just as good as anything else from that decade, it is just not my proverbial cup of tea.

Traffic- John Barleycorn Must Die

Here’s a really good one dollar record for a Saturday.  

This was the fourth album from the UK group Traffic but the first without guitarist Dave Mason.  In his departure, and after some side projects, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi put together this album which was released in 1970.  Critics were a bit hard on this album noting Mason’s absence, but it sold well both in the US and the UK , eventually going gold.  Most of the record is very jazz/blues oriented with the exception of the title track, which was a nod to the rising influence of bands like Fairport Convention on the UK scene. 

“John Barleycorn” (Round 164) is an English folk song dating back to the Age of James I.  The earliest copy is from the 1400’s.  There is also around 140 versions of the tune according to the back cover.  On the surface, it seems like a pretty nasty song.  Three men have decided that John Barleycorn must die.  He is mowed down and left in the sun to dry.  He is then cut down at his knees, rolled into a cart, smashed between stones ground up.  The songs concludes that many men can’t function without the death of John Barleycorn and that his blood is consumed by many from all walks of life.

Pretty gruesome until you realize that John Barleycorn is not actually a person and is instead barley and malt, the main ingredients in beer and whiskey.  The song in fact is a description of the harvest of these cereal crops and the production of alcohol.  It remains popular today and versions as shown above exist in both minor and major tones.

Anyway, I found Traffic’s version to be quite interesting.  Thus, here it is as the sample.  It should be noted that the rest of the record does not sound like this.

Good record. Satisfactory.

Jacques Brel- Le Formidable Jacques Brel

This was $5. I like French records from the 60’s in general, plus I like a lot of Jacques Brel’s songs that have been translated into English (“Seasons in the Sun” for example).  That made this purchase pretty simple, even at the high price. This record was previously owned by one Janis Childs, whose 7 digit phone number on the back reminds me of a simpler time in this town.

Brel, born in Brussels in 1929, was a singer/songwriter/actor/director who cast a large influence not only over the French speaking world, but over Europe as well. He was a giant in the French world of Chanson music.

His songs, theatrical an introspective in nature, were also translated into English and covered by some of the biggest stars this side of the Atlantic including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, John Denver, and perhaps most famously, Rod McKuen.

If you Google pictures of Brel, you will find a whole lot of pictures him smoking.  It should come to no surprise that he developed a tumor in his lungs.  The majority of the 70’s were spent in ill health.  He also spent a vast majoirty of his time sailing.  Despite being quite sick for some time and being told his time was short,  Brel lived more years than planned, finally succumbing to complications due to lung cancer in 1978.  He was 49.

Offical Web Page

This record, released on Vanguard in 1967 was the US version of Brel’s ninth album, Jacques Brel 67, released on Barclay Label.  Backed by Francois Rauber conducting and arranging, this album contains 10 songs written or co written by Brel.  Pretty good numbers.  Interestingly enough, Brel retired from the stage the year this album was released. He would release 4 albums thereafter.

For a sample, I went with “Le Cheval” which translates into horse.

Good album,  Satisfactory.

The Fantastic Violinaires- A Message to My Friends

This was one dollar. It has been awhile since I posted a gospel record on this site and that is probably why I bought this.  

The Fantastic Violinaires were a gospel vocal group formed in Detroit in 1952. In the early sixties, they were joined by Robert Blair, who became their leader until his death of a heart attack in 2001 at age 70.  Before he turned to secular music, Wilson Pickett sung with this group.  I believe a version is still active today.’

Webpage for the Group

This album, released on Jewel Records from Shreveport, LA in 1976, could have been their 10th or so album. Pretty decent.  Good vocals.  Uplifting songs.  Gospel but not too overly gospel in some areas.

For a sample, I went with “Sunshine”.

Satisfactory record.  Did not feel much like writing today.

Jerry Reed- When You’re Hot, You’re Hot

This was a pretty massive record for Jerry Reed so buying t for $2.40 was a no brainer.  I originally planned on putting this album on the blog earlier but I think I was too country heavy the month I originally selected it so it fell into the unused pile.  This month, I found myself tired of listening to records so I picked this one from the pile to save me some time as I already had the songs downloaded.

The 70’s were a great time for Mr Reed, starring with Burt Reynolds in movies and releasing over twenty albums.  This was his biggest success, released in 1971 and reaching #2 on the Country charts, #45 overall.  The title track was the single from the album but was a massive hit, staying #1 on the Country chart for five weeks as well as cracking the overall Top 40 at #9.  Reed would win a Grammy for his efforts.  It was also referenced in his appearance on Scooby Doo which I am sure I posted on a prior Reed post.

The cover boasts the inclusion of the hit single “Amos Moses” which was also on his earlier album Georgia Sunshine.  It was a decent hit for Reed but not as big as the title track. The back cover describes it as a slow starter but that the label has always had faith in Reed.  It was also used in Grand Theft Auto’s San Andrea soundtrack.

Overall, this is a good little album.  The two fore-mentioned tracks alone make it worth buying.  There is also a lot of good country tunes as well as decent covers of Dylans’ “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” and Mel Tillis’ “Ruby, Don’t Take You Love To Town”.

For a sample, I went with “Big Daddy” which showcases a little of Reed’s guitar prowess (at least I am guessing it is Reed. Why wouldn’t it be?).

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

The Melachrino Orchestra- Music For Two People Alone

This was originally 50 cents but with discount, came out to a lean 40. Why did I get it?  Can not remember anymore.  Most likely price.  

This record, released by RCA Victor in 1954, is from the Melachrino Orchestra, led by George Melachrino.  Born in London from Greek and Italian roots, and proficient on a variety of instruments, he worked in bands before becoming an army musician in WWII.  After the war, he lead his own orchestra with records, performance, and soundtrack work. His series of  “Moods” albums became pop staples but may be better known today for their covers rather than the actual content. Melachrino died in 1965 but the string orchestra under his name continued after his death for another decade at least. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

Melachrino’s Space Age Pop Page

Anyway, this is a collection of songs for two people alone and draws from a diverse source of material including Hammerstein-Kern, Rodgers-Hart, Gershwin, Gonzalo Roig, Lew Pollack, and Hoagy Carmichael.  

It is Carmichael’s selection that I used for a sample.  Here is his composition, “Two Sleepy People”. On the whole, this record put me to sleep.  Meh.