Ronnie Aldrich and his Two Pianos- It’s Happening Now

DSCN2175This was a dollar.  It had a good mix of what would have been at the time contemporary tunes.20131231185348!Ronnie_Aldrich_1969

Ronnie Aldrich, born in 1916 in Kent, England, was an easy listening/jazz pianist who began playing at three years old. He is famous for his duel piano sound, as puts it, a one man Ferrante & Teicher.  Through his career, he more or less made 50 records or so.  He would die in 1993 at the age of 77. entry

There is nothing real radical or groundbreaking about this album.  In fact, this goes into the elevator music category pretty quickly.  Good song selection with tunes like “Hey Jude”, “Light My Fire”, and “For Once in My Life”.  But bottom line, there is no teeth on this album and the arrangements are quite tame.  Good for relaxation and zoning out.

DSCN2176For a sample, I went with one of my favorite songs, Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”.  I find it highly amusing because as it is such a downer of a song, Aldrich’s version is happy and poppy.  It is a descent arrangement but a total 180 degree turn from the song’s original intent.img_1

Meh.  This is too easy listening for me to really like. That is just my personal taste talking.


The Mikado staring Groucho Marx

DSCN2173The Half Priced Books in Sugarland has the strangest (or crappiest, you choose the adjective) records in town.  That being said, I spent $30 during my last trip.  I totally still am geeking out over two records I bought there, this being one of them.  I paid, you guessed it, $1 for this masterpiece. Groucho_Marx_Koko_the_Mikado_Bell_Telephone_Hour_1960

This is the studio recording of the 1960 NBC Bell Telephone Hour’s production of The Mikado.  Groucho Marx, who was a huge Gilbert and Sullivan fan, apparently enjoyed taking the role of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner.  Oddly enough, his daughter played the role of Peep-Bo.  As the original production was two hours, a good chunk had to be excised in order to fit into a 53 min slot.  Hardcore Savoyians and Gilbert and Sullivan snobs are going to  hate this but I think it is just awesome. While the purists will object to Marx’s voice, I would argue that for the role of Ko-Ko, it is more important to be funny than a great singer.  Marx does this very well.

DSCN2174I know posting more than two songs equates to laziness on my part, but I really dig this album.  Here are two numbers that showcase Marx and two that have Marx singing with the others.  I included some brief dialogue to these tunes as well. If I had to choose one of the songs,  would go with “I’ve Got a Little List”. groucho_marx_marxism_ohp_postcard-p239361244071807990z85wg_400

I am still pretty stoked I found this. There are a whole lot of better recordings of the Mikado (there also are a lot worse-see my post from April) but I love the concept of Marx as Ko-Ko.  Top Rating.

Marx with George Carlin

Smith- A Group Called Smith

DSCN1787So another month of Donkey Show is in the can (yes I know Monday is still August). I normally use a formula to plan each week but last weekend after I had chosen my records for September, I realized I did a poor job of adhering to it.  Too many instrumentals.  Normally, I try to balance it out.  Oh well.  I think I will do a better job in October.  Back to August, this was a $1. I knew a little bit about this band when I got the album.  The songs on the record were reason enough to burn a Washington.

Smith, who oddly enough started life as The Smiths, was a Los Angeles band formed in 1969.  With their blues based sound, they had a smash hit with their cover of Burt Bacarach’s “Baby, It’s You”, previously done by Shirelles.  This was their first album with vocal duties shared by Rick Cliburn, Jerry Carter, and Gayle McCormick.  After a less successful second album, the band call it quits.  McCormick had a brief solo career.  Incidentally, “Baby, It’s You” was used in Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof.

Gayle’s Tribute Page

As far the album itself, it is ok.  It contains covers from the Stones, Muddy Waters, the Zombies, the fore mentioned Shirelles, Bo Diddley, Dino Valenti, and Houston’s own the Clique.  Vocal duties are spread but McCormick’s voice is as beautiful as her. The album would peak on Billboard at #17.


For a sample,  I went with “Mojaleskey Ridge”.  It is a hard rocking blues based number.  I was unable to find out anything substantial about it on the Net and if you have been following the blog, you should know I do not like digging to deep for anything on the weekend.Gayle_Dunhill Promo Page_1970

Satisfactory and August is now officially in the can.


The Style Council- The Cost of Loving

DSCN1783This was $5.  Besides being Paul Weller’s post-Jam band, I was  amused with the KANM 99.9 FM writing on the record. Despite my griping about Cactus Records lack of cheap vinyl, this is the fourth record in a row I have posted from the store . Also, to give a bit of perspective, I went there back on June 16.stylecouncil

KANM 99.9 is the college station of “College Station”.  As the student radio for Texas A&M, the station now broadcasts strictly on the Internet and on Campus Cable.  I thought about contacting them about the reward for return written on the back cover but then I found other ways to occupy my time.

KANM Website

The Style Council was an English band founded by Weller and Mick Talbot in 1983.  Playing music that incorporated many styles, in a way, they were an extension of where Weller was going with the later Jam albums.  Also in the band was Weller’s wife at the time, Dee C. Lite.  Most of their success was in England and the group disbanded in 1989.

This album , released in 1987, was the band’s third studio album.  Coming off the heels of their biggest commercial success, Our Favorite Shop , the album marked a move from New Wave to a more adult contemporary style.  As a result, perhaps, this album marked a turning point for the band according to Wikipedia and perhaps the beginning of their decline .  That being said,  this album is really not my cup of tea.  It is too polished in areas and again, too much adult contemporary.  I mean, I know this is not the Jam and all musicians grow but compared to the earlier Style Council album, this is a bit bland for my tastes.  For the sake of issuing a counterpoint, a lot of mid/late 80’s music was heading in this direction so the band was not alone.

DSCN1784For a sample, I went with “Heaven’s Above”, one of the tracks released as a single.  It should be noted it failed to make the UK charts.B6IPdgzIIAAArm_

Meh.  Perhaps it is unfair to say, but I would rather be listening to the Jam.


Pete Seeger- We Shall Overcome- Live at Carnegie Hall


This was $4.  Despite how one may feel about his political views, no one embodies folk music in the 20th century like Pete Seeger (1919-2014).  He was in a class of his own in terms of not only performing and songwriting, but in the collection of folk songs.  Perhaps it is the last feat which was Seeger’s strength and lasting legacy.

Henry A. Wallace, making a political tour of the American South, listens to Pete Seeger, a banjo-playing singer, on a plane between Norfolk and Richmond, Aug. 28, 1948. (AP Photo)

Pete Seeger Appreciation Page

pete seeger_1390903517718_2177501_ver1.0_640_480This album was recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1963 right before Seeger was to set off on a tour of the world with his wife and children.  The album is a pretty good collection of diversified folk and protest songs of the time with selections from Dylan, Guthrie, Paxton, and Seeger himself.  On the back cover, Seeger thanks the songwriters, the teachers, and the song collectors who influenced him.  It is quite a long list but if anyone wants to learn folk music,  it is a good reference place to start.  This is just my gut feeling and I have no real evidence to back it up, but I feel that Seeger had no lessors or juniors.  Anyone who sang a song with conviction was to him his peer, despite all his contributions to the genre. Perhaps I am dead wrong on this issue, but I do not feel so. Anyway, the performance on the album is good here as well as the song selection.  In all it makes for a good album.


DSCN1786For a sample,  Bobby Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Going To Fall’  stuck in my mind.  I always felt the song could have benefited if Dylan wrote it just a bit later in his career (1965 perhaps).  At times, I feel it is a bit too derivative of Guthrie. However, Seeger recognized it as a masterpiece and at the time, I believe he felt it would be the song Dylan would be remembered for which is a pretty heavy statement that early in one’s career. As far as Dylan goes, it is just one masterpiece in a collection of masterpieces. One thing about Seeger is you can tell he enjoyed playing the songs he played.  I think he really enjoyed playing this one.

While I was doing research on this (which I do less of these days), I came across the video on YouTube.  I was taken aback on two things.  First, how white the audience was, which was I guess was standard for the time.  Second,  I was taken aback with all the stunned looks from the audience. There are a lot of blank faces.  Some people even look asleep. It is as if the bused the crowd in from some social dance.  If you don’t like socially conscious folk music, why would you go to a concert where it was played?  In contrast, the crowd on the record sound more supportive.

Anyway, this is a very fine record.  Top Rating. I should add a disclaimer that a good chunk of this post was based on opinion rather than fact but why should you hold Music Blogs to a higher standard than Cable News?


Floyd Cramer-Plays the Monkees

DSCN1781This was $4.  I really liked the Monkees as a kid (ok, I still do) and Floyd Cramer’s reputation proceeds itself.The-Monkees-as-they-were-in-1967

The Monkees had the best writers at the time of their TV run including Boyce and Hart, Goffin and King, Nilson among others not to mention Mike Nesmith’s contributions. Floyd Cramer, on the other hand, was THE session pianist at the time who was one of the chief musicians responsible for the Nashville Sound.  This album, released in 1967 I believe, is a pretty good marriage between the two.

Floyd Cramer Getty Michael Ochs Archives circa 1961 copy
Floyd Cramer

There is not much to say other than this is piano driven interpretations of the Monkees early catalog.  Although it can be elevator music at times, overall the album is pretty good.  Cramer masterfully keys through some of the Monkees biggest hits (“I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville”) to some of the lesser numbers (“Tomorrow’s Going to be Another Day” and “Sometime in the Morning”) to Mike Nesmith’s country tunes (“Papa Gene’s Blues”) to straight out rarieties (“Hold On Girl)”.

DSCN1782When I bought this, I had “Papa Gene’s Blues” in mind as the sample, due to Nesmith’s country sensibilities and Cramer’s Nashville pedigree.  However, after a few listens, I went with the rarer “Hold On Girl”.  Not to take away from the other song, which is good, but “Hold On Girl” is beautiful with its piano lines.

Satisfactory Record.

Ellen Foley-Nightout

DSCN1777This was $4.  If Cactus Records has cheap vinyl, I have yet to find it.  I wanted to leave with something and there was this, so there.

hqdefaultThere are four things you may know Ellen Foley by even if you are asking yourself now who she is.  First, she recorded the female vocals for Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”(She would be replaced in the promo video as well as subsequent tours).  Second,  she was Mick Jones’ girlfriend (of the Clash, not Foreigner).  Third, she originated the part of the Witch during the pre-Broadway run of Steve Sondheim’s In The Woods (She would also eventually play the role on Broadway as well).  Finally, she was the original public defender on the second season of what was the raunchiest show on TV back in the day, Night Court (She would be replaced by Markie Post).Billie_Young

Ellen’s Webpage

This was her debut album.  Produced by Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter, it was released in 1979 and charted a few minor singles.  All things considered, it was a rocking seventies album going into the eighties.  However, it does show off Foley’s vocal power and there are some very good numbers.  I bought the album originally because I thought “We Belong to the Night” was the more famous tune. That is not to take away from the version on the record.

DSCN1778This power is evident in “Hideaway”, the song I used as a sample.


Meh.  It is a bit of a shame that this got sandwiched between two eras but it is what it is. A nice album but destined to stay within the time it was made.

Dionne Warwick- The Windows of The World

DSCN1779This was a dollar. Who is going to pass this up?

Photo of Dionne WARWICKBorn in East Orange, NJ in 1940, Warwick has sold over a 100 million records worldwide and is second to Aretha Franklin in terms as the most charted female artist.  Her family on her mother’s side were gospel singers, the Drinkard Singers.  Naturally, Warwick started out in this and other gospel acts.  She was doing background vocal work when she met Burt Bacharach.  She was signed to Bacharach and Hal David’s production company and thus, a successful team was built. The majority of Bacharach and David’s hits were written for and performed by Warwick.

Expanded and Probably more accurate Bio

This was Warwick’s eighth studio album.  Released in 1967, it would chart #22 in the US and #11 on the R&B. It contained one of Bacharach’s most covered songs, “Always Something There to Remind Me”. Although the album is full of good Bacharach/David tunes, Warwick expands by singing songs of other composers including Steven Sondheim/ Leonard Bernstein, Dory and Andre Previn, and Bert Kaempfert among others.

DSCN1780For a sample, I went with Bacharach’s “I Say a Little Prayer” as well as a Kaempfert tune, “Love”.dionne

Satisfactory record.

Run DMC- Walk this Way/King of Rock 45


Happy Saturday.  I am not sure how much I paid for this in 1986.  I am guessing around $2 or less. This is the second Aerosmith post in a week.  It was not planned this way.Run_D.M.C.

This single was a #4 hit for Run DMC and in my opinion was responsible for bringing Aerosmith back from the dead.  Without this single, there is no Permanent Vacation, Pump, or Armageddon Soundtrack for that matter.  This also started the rap rock trend, furthered much later by Anthrax/ Public Enemy and the Judgement Night Soundtrack.tumblr_ma2bqfK4nt1qfa8kuo1_1280


That is all for Saturday.  Enjoy


The Cowsills-In Concert

DSCN1284This was another dollar find.  Had a good track list.

This late 1960's photo, location unknown, provided by the Cowsills, shows the Cowsills, a popular group of singing siblings and their mom. Surviving members of the group, which got its start playing frat parties and other local gigs in Rhode Island, are scheduled to perform Wednesday evening, Aug. 10, 2011 evening in Providence after the premiere of a new documentary about the band. (AP Photo/The Cowsills)

The Cowsills are a Newport, Rhode Island family band who were the inspiration for The Partridge Family.  Formed by three brothers in 1965, the group would expand to six siblings and include their mother, also referred to as “Mini-Mom”. The group would find success with their hit “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things” as well as their version of “Hair” cleaned up without the third verse and also included on this album.


Family squabbles would lead to their dissolution in the seventies but the members would reform from time to time..  The patriarchs would pass on as well as three of the siblings (Barry drowned in Hurricane Katrina).  However, the surviving members still perform to this day.

The Cowsills Web Page

This album, I imagine, was hastily released to capitalize on the bands popularity.  Released in 1969, it would be their best charting album  coming in at #16.  Except for “Hair” and “Good Vibrations”, the rest of the songs are live.  All the songs are covers.  On one hand, listening to songs such as “Sunshine of Your Love”, you are reminded pretty quick that this is not Clapton and Bruce (this perhaps is an unfair comparison). On the other hand,  the band does a real good job in terms of tackling a diverse catalog of pop.

DSCN1285For a sample,  I went with the Motown staple, “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”.cowsills


I went back and forth with this but decided to give it a satisfactory record.  I like pop music. Sorry.