Peggy Lee- Latin ala Lee!

DSCN1130I got this for a dollar. I liked the concept.

I found it odd that this album won a Grammy for best album cover I mean it is not bad but it is not great.  I looked at the other nominees that year and none of them were too great either.  The award in general is quite up and down.  Sgt Pepper’s won in this category but so did the Black Keys for Brothers.  maxresdefault Peggy Lee was born in 1920.  Starting off in radio, she joined Benny Goodman’s Orchestra after being discovered singing in a Chicago club.  After she left Goodman, she had a string of hit records.  She also wrote songs as well..   She wrote a few of the numbers for Disney’s Lady and the Tramp including the Siamese Cat Song which some claim is quasi-racist.  Along with acting in a few features in her heyday, she continued to perform up into the 90’s.  She died in 2002 at age 81 from complications from diabetes as well as a heart attack.

Peggy’s Website

This album came out in 1960.  The underlying concept is taking musical standards from Broadway and interpreting them in an Afro-Cuban style, complete with congas, horns, and cha-cha-cha vocals.  To this end, the album accomplishes its goal by providing interesting versions of old standards.  It could have gone a bit more over the Latin edge, but this was 1960 so what can you expect.  “Heart”, “I am in Love”, “Surrey with a Fringe on Top”, and “I Could have Danced All Night” stand out to me.  Could have used more of the songs I like from Broadway musicals but hey what can you do?DSCN1131 I was back and forth but decided, albeit in  bad taste, to go with Oscar and Hammerstein’s ” I Enjoy Being a Girl” from the Flower Drum Song. Here is a latin interpretation of a number from an American Asian-American Musical. And I am sure a week after the fact, everyone is tired of the Caitlyn Jenner jokes so I will spare you here.

Satisfactory.  Could have easily been just a straight interpretation of standards but they actually tried to change it up.  Kudos to you, Ms Lee.

Wishbone Ash- Wishbone Four

DSCN1127This was a dollar and already had commentary written on the back. Somehow, I felt it bestowed upon me to broadcast the story of this album and its previous owner.DSCN1128This album was formerly owned by what I can best translate as one Zarhan Quddus .  It was a part of his or her “Big Log Collection”.  In a time before blogs, Zarhan carefully documented the purchase of the album on the back cover.  Purchased assumedly second hand on Saturday February 12th of 1986, Zarhan went to CMC Stereo to purchase a turntable and decided to buy some records at Sound Warehouse In the author’s word’s, “What better way to blow some money.” This album cost 99 cents plus 6 cents tax.  Zarhan rated the album as good.  However, the author notes the effects of the turntable purchase ($130 in 1986 dollars) and makes a note to adhere to stricter fiscal policy in the future.DSCN1129

As far as the record and the band, Wishbone Ash was a English rock band from the 70’s who merged progressive rock, folk and hard rock.  They also were one of the first bands to use twin lead guitars and were instrumental on developing the style later used by other hard rock bands in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  This album came off the heals of their most successful album, Argus, and was a slight departure from it.  Less frantic guitars and more subtle and subdued textures.  It was still popular among fans however as it signaled musical growth and a willingness to take chances.  In the early days they were managed by Miles Copeland (Stuart’s brother).  Currently , they have one member still in the band and tour here and there.

Wishbone Ash’s Web Page

I was stuck between the harder driven “Doctor” and the slower melodic “Sorrel”.  In the end, I went with “Sorrel” as it has the dual lead guitar lines that seem to define this band.

Meh.  You get what you can out of this record after a couple of listens. I want to like it more but the twin guitar thing is done by so many now, the album does not really break out of its era.

The Beach Boys- Good Vibrations (Pickwick)

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Today is the release of Love and Mercy, the movie about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. In response to the release, here is a Beach Boys album I got for $5.00.Love_&_Mercy_(poster)

Love and Mercy details two eras in Wilson’s life, the 60’s portrayed by Paul Dano and the 80’s by John Cusack. The Cusack period shows Wilson’s time with experimental physiatrist Dr Eugene Landry, played by Paul Giamatti. Wilson has said he is pleased with the portrayals and feel they are accurate, with Dano’s performance being the closest of the Wilson’s. I think he was shocked as well by the performance of Giamatti.

IMDB Entry for Love and Mercy

Brian Wilson is one of the most prolific songwriters of the last half century. He is also one messed up dude. Probably should have stayed off the hard drugs. Much has been written about this and I am not going to rehash that here. I did find it interesting that he suffered his panic attack while on a flight from L.A. to Houston in 1963. A month later, he would resign from touring and concentrate on writing and recording. To this end again, he was a genius. Much has been written about Pet Sounds, the Smile sessions, and Smiley Smile. Again, I am not going to rehash this here.

Brian’s Web Page

Wikipedia Bio on Brian

Info on Smile album

This album is a Pickwick collection of some of their biggest hits, including the Title track. There is no logic or pattern to the songs. Just tunes they could throw together on a cheap record and sell. For a sample, I went with “Heroes and Villains”, the song that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the Smile album but was scaled down. Jimi Hendrix referred to it negatively as “psychedelic barbershop quartet”. Brian wrote and takes the vocal lead on this.DSCN1126

Go out and see the movie if you are a fan as it has been getting good reviews. So really, that is it? Just slop on a couple of Wikipedia pages and call it a day? It is Friday. I wrote an Epic Novel on Monday for an album I really liked. For being a casual Beach Boys fan, this is what you are going to get.

Al Dean and the Allstars- From Texas to Nashville

DSCN1123This album was a dollar. Good song selection in terms of standards plus the local angle. Note on the cover that it “contains Cotton Eyed Joe”.292723_10150320001164925_1940631181_n

A good friend of mine who I have lost contact with named Cullen once told me that if you are going to play music in Texas, you need to learn “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Jole Blon”. At the time, I was playing accordion and had “Cotton Eyed Joe” down. This album, has both instrumentals.296365_10150321188109925_1289707851_n

I could not find out much about Al Dean and the Allstars. According to the back cover, he is from Freer and has a very liberal definition of the Golden Triangle. Al is joined in the band by his wife Maxine on drums and his son Galen on lead guitar. All three take turns with the singing duties. They may have played the Grand Ole Opry or they might have been in the audience, however you want to interpret the album cover. They released at least three records. Galen and Al have a page on Facebook and seem to play still here and there. These pictures are from their Facebook page.1780910_10152296497129925_707317190_n

The album, from 1967, is pretty good. Scratch that, it is real good. The songs with vocals are good including “It Looks Up”, “Ruff Neck Pay Check”, “The Girl of My Dreams”, and “Long Lonely Nights”. The instrumentals are great as well. Besides the ones mentioned earlier, “Jalisco”, which to me is lifted from “The Three Caballeros”, seemed to do well as a single. Regardless, I like the sound of this record as it captures a country era sound between Bob Wills swing and the countrypolitan which I loathe.DSCN1124

“Cotton Eyed Joe”, which is indeed a Texas staple, has is roots in plantation music and has evolved steadily over the years. The original song had more lyrics, as well a slightly different melody ( Bob Wills and Doc Watson both do good versions of the old style.. FYI).. If I am reading Wikipedia correctly, Al Dean was the first to play and record the version that is well known to most of us who went to sporting events in Houston in the 1980’s. He borrowed from another South Texas Staple, “The Gingerbread Man” and inspired a new round dance polka, complete with the rounds of Bullshit which are still popular today. So I believe Al is responsible for how most of us hear the song today. “Jole Blon” on the other hand, is a Cajun waltz and referred to the Cajun national anthem. It seems to have remained more stable in its interpretation over the years.317734_10150321186949925_1075708728_n

So here for your collection of Texas Standards are “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Jole Blon”.

This is a real great find for me and a great album. Top Rating.

 

Instrumental Hits from the “Golden 60’s”

DSCN1122This was a dollar and had all the classic 60’s instrumentals on it.DSCN1121

From what I learned, Modern Sounds was a subsidiary of the parent Hit Records out of Nashville, who specialized in cheap sound-alike records.  That is what this is; a collection of instrumental standards done by the label’s house band.  They run the gambit of tunes ranging from the horn driven “The Stripper”, the organ driven “Green Onions”, guitar driven “Pipeline”, and the drum driven “Wipe Out”.  Overall it is a good collection and although not as good as the originals, it is not completely bad.telstar_i

I decided to go with “Telstar” as the sample, a US Billboard #1 hit in 1962 for the UK’s Tornados.  Named for the Telstar communications satellite that was launched that year, it was written (or perhaps plagiarized) as well as produced by Joe Meek, who despite having no musical background or inclination, shot his landlord and then himself in 1967. As of 2013, the satellite is still floating in space.  It should also be noted that this was Margret Thatcher’s favorite pop song.

Joe Meek Bio

This is barely satisfactory to me as I hate sound-alikes but the track selection is good so it will get played.

Johnny Puleo and his Harmonica Gang- Vol 2

DSCN1117I bought this for a dollar to try to attract my friends who play harmonica to the site but it may do more damage than good.PMK68108Johnny Puleo was born a dwarf in 1907 on Washington DC.  After winning a talent contest, he was signed to tour with Borrah Minevitch and the Harmonica Rascals.  Borrah taught Johnny the art of pantomime with a routine similar to the one Puleo’s group did with Milton Berle below.  He soon would become the focal point of the act.

Johnny quit the act and formed his own group but was found by Minevitch and reminded of his contractual duties.  When Minevitch died n 1955, Johnny was free to start his own group, The Harmonica Gang.  As his first act, he doubled everybody’s salary. As this illustrates, he was well known for his kind spirit that was way bigger than his 4 ft-6in frame.  Johnny would perform live across the world as well as on countless TV shows, 8 movies, 5 shorts, and 8 albums.  Johnny died in 1983 again in Washington DC.

Everything you would possibly want to know about Johnny Puleo if you were so inclined

The novelty of this album wears off fast.  Also, as most records of visual artists, it fails to address the comedic aspect of the gang’s performances.  But if you can get over that, they are nice performances done all on harmonica; chromatic, bass, chord, and polyphonia (Johnny’s specialty).  Some of the numbers like ‘Espana Cani” and “Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” are quite nice little numbers and their rendition of “Stars and Stripes” is quite patriotic.  So this album is not so much bad as it is annoying.DSCN1118

I was back and forth between “Night on Witches Mountain” and “Sabre Dance”, but decided to go with the first choice.  “Sabre Dance” is a much more visual number and Johnny does not play on the album version.

Meh.  It isn’t bad but the concept will get on your nerves after a few listens.

Ian and Sylvia- Nashville

DSCN1115This was a dollar.  As a good Canadian, I could not pass it up.ASC05523

Ian Tyson, born in Victoria, British Columbia,  learned guitar while recovering from rodeo injuries.  In the 50’s, he would move to Toronto to become a singer.  Preforming in clubs and coffeehouses, he met Sylvia Fricker.  They started performing together in 1959.  By 1962, they moved to New York and signed with Vanguard records. “Four Strong Winds” would be their biggest hit and cement them in the 60’s folk scene.  They would also prove quite popular on the folk festival circuit. The couple married in 1964 and put out a dozen or so albums.  I am not sure which one happened first, but in 1975, they disbanded and divorced.  I am willing to bet they happened pretty close together.  Either way, both are still alive, involved in music, and do reform on special occasions.photo-2010-ian_sylvia-web

A Link to a More Detailed Bio

This album was recorded in 1967, in , well, Nashville with some of the best session musicians in the town.  It would mark a departure from their early work in folk into an early country rock style.  It would also lean more on session musicians than previous work.  It would appear that their work was headed in this direction and would continue to go down this route.  Also, from what I could piece together, folk purists were not 100% receptive to this progression.  However, in a bigger sense, it would seem they were at the forefront or dare I say Pioneers of the country-rock movement, .DSCN1116

The album is pretty good. The session players make their mark on this album.  Jerry Reed plays guitar on a few of the tracks. Pete Drake plays steel guitar on many tracks as well. It has two Dylan tunes from his Basement Tapes sessions, “Wheels on Fire” and “Quinn the Eskimo”.  The rest are mostly originals and they are all pretty good. This whole album is pretty good.  “Farewell to the North”, “Taking Care of Business” “Ugly Man”, “London Life” and “House of Cards” are among my highlights.  Again this is a really good example of the beginning of country rock.  I don’t think the powers that be really knew how to market this trend so I don’t think the later albums sold really well, which is a shame, a travesty I say.cc68b629ef50fbc145224e6e1467cd0b

I picked Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire” as the sample as it is one of my favorite songs.  This song was written by Dylan and Rick Danko during the Basement Tapes sessions between 1965 and 1967.  Fourteen of these songs were put on a demo and copyrighted by a production company owned by Dylan and Albert Grossman, Dylan’s manager.  These songs were then shopped around to interested artists.  As Grossman also managed Ian and Sylvia, it would make sense they would release a version.  I also believe this came out before the version on the Band’s Big Pink Album. At the same time, across the ocean, a version recorded by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and Trinity became a Top 5 hit in the UK.  Which would lead to Julie Driscoll recording a version in the 1990’s with Adrian Edmondson for the TV show Absolutely Fabulous, which is why I bought this album.  It all comes back together eventually.  None of this should take away that Ian and Sylvia’s version is quite excellent.

This is a top rated album for me and I will definitely be on the look out for the albums that came out after this one.

The Dave Clark Five- Greatest Hits

DSCN1077This was a dollar and had a bunch of songs I like.  I did not realize it at the time I bought this, but it is another record from the Al Lake collection.  What do we know about Al Lake?  He is a brash fellow who lets you know in bold letters on the front of the cover that this is his record.  No sensible signature on the back cover for him.DSCN1078

The Dave Clark Five or DC5 were right behind the Beatles in terms of popularity during the British Invasion.  Initially, the were more popular in the US than the UK but that evened out at the end of the decade. They would have 17 hit singles in the US, 18 appearances of the Ed Sullivan Show (the most by a British Invasion group), and were the first UK British Invasion band to tour the US.  They would disband in 1970, thus remaining an artifact from that era unlike the Stones, the Who, or the Kinks who chugged on.  After much prodding, they were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

DC5 web page

This is basically a collection of their early hits which I believe came out in 1966, in the middle of their career.  All the songs are good on this.  Straight forward rock and roll.  For samples, I went with “Because” and “Catch Us If You Can”, the latter being the theme from their movie.  Directed by John Boorman, it was their take on A Hard Day’s Night.  I saw it a couple of months ago and was slightly let down.  First off, unlike the Beatles who played themselves, the DC5 played other people.  Second, I seem to recall their music was more in the background and there were no scenes of them playing instruments that I remember.  There was a funny scene at a costume party at the end but by that time, I had drifted pretty much out of it.

Anyway, Top Rated album for me.  Enjoy Saturday.

The Rezillos- Destination Venus/ Mystery Action 45

GP32021264I wanted to thank everyone who checked us out this week by posting something that is actually good. I bought this 45 sometime ago for $5.00.  “Destination Venus” to me has everything that made the Rezillos great. The B-side , “Mystery Action” is pretty great as well.

Info on the Rezillos

Below is a live performance with alternate lyrics from the Old Grey Whistle Test

Also, here is a lip synced version from Top of the Pops. I like singer Faye Fife’s dress as well s the chorus line after the solo.  Also, yes they are from Scotland.  That is why the guitarist Jo Callis is wearing a kilt.

And of course, here is the sample from the 45 I bought complete with reprised ending which to me makes the song.  Thanks for your support this week. Keep spreading the word out there.

Rick Wakeman- The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

DSCN1075This was $3.00.  It looked completely over the top so I wanted to check out it (SPOLIER ALERT: It is completely over the top).

Rick Wakeman is best known for his work with Yes.  Before that, he was a session musician.  After joining the Strabs, we joined Yes thru their successful Fragile period.  He started his solo career in 1973 between weaving in and out of Yes over the years.  He would release over 100 solo records but his first three are his most successful.  This was his third.

Rick’s Web page

If you do not like Prog Rock, this record is not going to change your mind.  In fact, it will probably reinforce all that you think is silly about the genre. Because on the surface, it is quite silly. A musical tribute to the King Arthur legend, this record is over the top.  First off, he uses (and credits individually) a choir and orchestra, both with around 50 members each.  This record, along with its predecessor, Journey to the Center of the Earth, were expensive to record.  For instance, for Journey, Rick had to sell cars and mortgage himself to fund recording.  These records once recorded, however, sold well.DSCN1076

Touring for these were equally ridiculous.  A 20 date tour of North America for Journey complete with the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Choir of America, along with Rick’s backing band, set Rick back 125,000 pounds according to Wikipedia.  For this album, it got crazier.  Along with a band, choir, and orchestra, Rick played three sold out shows at Wembley Arena complete with an Ice Show.  You read that right. People on ice skates skating to the music. It should be noted that this was back in a time when concert tickets were relatively cheap.  This endeavor proved to be unfeasible and was quickly discontinued.

The album itself, released in 1975, is good but pretty over the top.  There is a Spinal Tap vibe to the album, its packaging, and the back story.  As you would expect, the keyboards are quite intricate playing themes and motifs thru out the album. Rick employs a variety of keyboard instruments on his . When they cut loose, it is quite a majestic sound put against the Round Table mythology.  An interesting side note; he started writing this album while resting in the hospital after a minor heart attack at age 25. His doctors advised him at the time to quit music.  According to his web page, he incorporated this experience into the story and describes this record as a musical autobiography of sorts.

“Merlin” is the song most fans seem to gravitate to but I picked “Sir Galahad” as a sample.  I like the contrasting tempos, the rising choir and the intricate parts.  Again,  if you hate Prog, this will do nothing to persuade you otherwise.

This is a satisfactory record for me.