Ian & Sylvia- Four Strong Winds

Being that good Canadian that I am, I totally snagged this for a dollar.

Ian and Sylvia (who were on my blog when I was between jobs and had the time to write books on the subject) really broke thru the Canada and US market with this album, the couple’s 2nd, brought to you by those folk stalwarts at Vanguard Records.  Man, that is one long run on sentence. Released in 1964, the title track, composed by  Ian Tyson, also was a major hit both in Canada and among the folk world.

Perhaps I should state more but you can look at the earlier post for more information.  As far as this album went, I felt there was a large influence of American traditional music on it.  The album features guitar from John Herald.  I am so close to finishing up this month, this is really where we are going to leave it.  If you want to learn more, Google it.

For samples, I went with the French ” V la L’Bon Vent” as well as “The Royal Canal” which was the basis from Brendan Behan’s ‘Auld Triangle” which has been on this blog several times.

Top Rated Record.  One more post and this month is done.

Ken Hamilton – The Ken Hamilton Show

This was $3.00.  Not sure why I bought it other than the Canadian angle. Still really reeling over my short vacation to Arizona this weekend.  It was a lot of fun but I did a lot in a short time, got back home at 1 am in the morning and, basically am still exhausted. So more on that once I get rested.

As far as this post is concerned, I could not find much more on the subject, Ken Hamilton, other than what I could ascertain from the back cover.  When I searched I was flooded with information on the Ken Hamilton, the artist, Ken Hamilton the miniature guy, and Kenny Hamilton, Justin Bieber’s former body guard. .After some digging, I found that he was born in Jamaica, moved to Vancouver where he performed before moving to Montreal where he hit it big.  He called his act, along with Terri Malone and the Oliver Jones Quartet, “the Ken Hamilton Show” and toured it all around the East Coast from Miami to the Maritimes.  He also played Puerto Rico and Vegas as well as an extended residence at Shepeards at Park Ave and 56th Street in New York City. I believe he is still active.  Oliver Jones on the other hand, retired from music last year.

A web page on Montreal Soul and Hamilton

Good enough album.  Hamilton sounds like he has some West Indian roots. He has a good enough voice and the material is a pretty good rendering of popular songs at the time.  Malone and the Quartet also shine as well.  For samples, I decided to showcase all three concerns.  So here is “Little Richard” by the Oliver Jones Quartet, “1-2-3” by Malone, and “Michael Row The Boat” by Hamilton.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  Kind of glad I could not find much on them as I needed a break from writing today.

Eric Mercury- Electric Black Man

This month, we on the blog have been highlighting contributions to music from African Americans or in this case, African-Canadians.  I bought this at a record show for $3 from a Canadian chick.  It was a pretty up front cover and title.  At the time, I was greatly looking to diversify the records on the site and this title seemed to underscore this.

Eric Mercury is a Canadian singer/songwriter from Toronto, who gained some fame in the 60’s and 70’s.  Coming from a musical family, Mercury performed in several groups up North before going solo in the late 60’s and moving down south to the US of A.

He released a few albums as well as a few acting roles.  In the 80’s, he moved to more behind the scenes roles, such as producing and song writing.  I believe he is still alive today.

This was Mercury’s 1969 debut solo record. I believe it was his most popular effort as well.  It is kind of a soul/ rock and roll mix.  Four songs are written by Mercury.  There is also a cover of Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. The album is ok.  I think, given the title, I expected more out of it, perhaps more electric guitar. There is a lot, but I guess with the title, I was expecting the album to be drowning in it. Ah, subtlety. Never one to believe in this.  Anyway, despite this, the album does a great job of showcasing Mercury’s vocal talent, which I really enjoyed.

I really went back and forth with this album with liking it, not liking, etc.  Well, the last time I listened to it, I really liked it so I am going to stop there.  The opening track, “Long Way Down” is pretty cool with a nice fiddle part.  I also really liked “Night Lady” which I felt was finely arranged.  But for a sample, I decided to go with the title track.

Decent enough record and since he is Canadian, I am going to say Satisfactory.

Ronnie Hawkins- The Best Of

 I got this again from the Big Al collection.  Makes sense having this, being Canadian (from Ontario none the less).  Hawkins and his backing band were popular in that neck of the woods.

One reason I went back to Amsterdam this year for no real good reason is I thought if I don’t go back now, it will be another two years before I go back.  I got a pretty good handle on the city.  I am about 85% proficient at planning out my activities based on city geography. I guess if I waited another two years, I may lose some of this.

Well to segue this observation into a tangible place I went to, I spent a day working down to the south east part of town to spend some time in Oosterpark.  Incidentally, on route to the park, I roamed seemingly close to Amstel Station (like I said, 85%).  Anyway, I got back on track and to the park.  Nice park it is.  Located behind the Tropical Museum and built on what I believe was an old cemetary, it is about a third of the size of Vondelpark.  I think the first time I went to the park was my trip two years ago.  There is a nice lake area with ducks and geese as well as a handful of art pieces and statues.

My favorite statue is the boy riding the goat situated on a path by the lake smack in the middle of the park.  I mean why is the kid riding a goat? It asks more questions than it answers.  The bronze, by the way, is called “De Bokkenrijder”(Goat Rider) and was done by Gerrit Boluis somewhere around 1957.

Back to the album, Ronnie Hawkins, born in Huntsville, Alabama in 1935 and raised in Fayetteville, is an American rockabilly musician who found great sucess in Ontario.  He is known as a pioneer in Canada’s music scene.

 When he moved up to Canada to take advantage of this popularity, all the members of his backing band, with the exception of his drummer, began to drop out. Hawkins replaced the departing Alabama boys with Canadians.  This became the backbone of the Hawks which later became the backing band for Bob Dylan, and then most famously, The Band.  Much has been written about this already and I am not going to re-iterate the story here.  Instead, I offer a link.

Link to a history page of the Band

As a side note, The Last Waltz was on PBS last week.  It is an amazing movie that could not be done by anyone other than Martin Scorsese and The Band.  Really great piece of work. I was really stunned at the end when I thought about it but everyone of the guest stars really either was or became an music icon.  No flavors of the month on it.

Anyway, this is a Canadian record from Roulette records in 1964.  Although there is some back and forth on the matter, this is compiled from past releases.  Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Robbie Robertson are on all the tracks.  They are joined by Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson on “Mojo Man”, “High Blood Pressure”, and “Boss Man”.  The two also play separately on two other tracks as well.  Good album.  Nice piece of rockabilly as well as music history.

For a sample, there are many directions I could go in. After much thought, I decided to go with “Come Love”.  I was also considering “Who Do You Love”, “Sexy Ways”, and “I Feel Good”. I really could have posted the whole album but for some reason showed restraint.

Top Rated Album.


DSCN5109 (1024x1019)This is the third prog rock album I have posted this month.  No smoking gun reason why.  I post what I can find. So when I found this for a dollar, there was no way I was going to pass it up.  I always like when I can post something from the 1980’s.kerrang-10.1982-1

This was Rush’s ninth studio album, from 1982, and it came of the heels of their  biggest seller, Moving Pictures.  It marked a stylistic move towards synthesizers, played by Geddy Lee.  It also was the last album with producer Terry Brown.  “Subdivisions” is the big hit off this album, becoming a live staple in their show.  “New World Man” also had some traction as well.DSCN5110 (1024x1002)

Signals sold well, going to number 10 on the Billboard chart and going platinum in November of 1982, two months after its release. The new direction, aided by the synthesizers differentiated the album so it was not a case of Moving Pictures II, which they could have easily done.  The record buying public reacted gratefully for this.

For a sample, I went with “The Analog Kid”.  I find it kind of a bookend to the “Digital Man”.prog-02.2014-3

There you go.  Satisfactory record.  Five paragraphs to the point, a video, and an MP3.  Less than 5 minutes to throw together.  It is Saturday.  That is all you are going to get,

Moe Koffman- Plays for the Teens

DSCN4298This was $5.00 at the record show.  I think I got it because I thought the title was funny.  The idea of the Swinging Shepard knowing that the teens want more light jazz flute.koffman-moe-63182

Moe Koffman was actually from Canada, Toronto to be exact.  He had worked with some big bands in the US before returning to Canada to form smaller unis.  His big hit, “Swinging Shepard’s Blues” elevated him to the upper ranks of jazz flutists of the time.  His ability to adapt to popular styles of the times did not sit well with the older jazz crowd.  But he was versatile, both with music and with musical instruments.  He also did a lot of session and television work in Canada.  He would die of cancer in 2001 at the age of 72.

This was his first record for Ascot Records and contains his big hit mentioned above.  I can see where jazz flute purists would be upset with his up beat light numbers.   A lot of references to the twist and the shimmy on the titles.  There is also a few jazz classics such as “In The Mood” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” DSCN4299

There is an article from the UK’s Guardian on this record that makes a good point:  this does not sound like the work of someone who would play with Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie.

Review from the Guardian on their strangest records.

For a sample, I went with “Flute Twist”.tspa_0060339f

Meh.  I was kind of expecting more out of this album.  The flute playing is kind of vanilla.  It did not help that I paid the upper limit for this record, either.


The Carlton Showband- First Choice

DSCN4029This was one dollar.  I got it to play something this month other than the Clancy Brothers. A lot of work this week. These will be brief.  I am not sure why but I went to a record show and bought about 25 records.  I am still way behind on listening to new stuff.  bandwithjohnnyThe Carlton Showband was formed in Brampton, Ontario in 1963.  They featured members from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Nova Scotia.  They were popular in Canada on CTV for about a decade.  Many of the founding members are now dead.

Webpage for the Carlton Showband

This album is pretty decent.  You can tell the Canadian influence.  There are some good tracks and some decent instrumentals.DSCN4030

For a sample, I swore I would not do “Danny Boy” but after listening to this record, I really liked this version.  The cymbals really make it. Also, here is ‘Old Johnny Bucca” which is what people used to call bawdy.bandcatchthespiritbarshot

Satisfactory Record.



The Irish Rovers- TheUnicorn

DSCN4025Here is Canada’s version of the Clancy Brother’s, The Irish Rovers. This was one dolla.  I got it some time this summer.  No discount. It had enough songs that I liked on it.

irish rov

This was the second album for the Rovers and it centered around their song “The Unicorn” based on a Shel Silverstein poem.  Released in 1967 and with Glenn Campbell on lead guitar, the song did quite well on the charts both in the US and in Ireland.  Moreover, despite having nothing to do with Irish culture, it is still quite popular in Irish pubs today according to whoever wrote this on Wikipedia.irish_Rovers_090__1__2

The rest of the album is quite good and features more traditional Irish songs including “The Orange and the Green”, “The Wind that Shakes The Corn”, and “The Black Velvet Band”. DSCN4026

For a sample, I went with “Bridget Flynn” and “Goodbye Mrs Durkin”.  I had never heard “Bridget Flynn” before I bought this album but I fell in love with the song when I heard it.  As far as “Mrs Durkin” goes, it is a pretty well covered Irish tune down by many including the Pogues. It comes on at the 6:33 mark of the video below.  I also believe, if memory serves me right, that Spider Stacy played it with the Lost City Ramblers this last December at the Continental Club in Houston.  And to think the writer from the Houston Press complained that Stacy did not reach too deep into the Pogues’ repertoire.  What was he expecting, “Hot Dogs With Everything”? What an jackass.

Top Rated album.





Harry Hibbs- A Fifth of Harry Hibbs


Hey.  It is March and that means St Paddy’s Day is just around the corner.  In tribute, I decided to run thru the Irish records I have amassed during my record searches.  This was $2.00.  I got it at Vinyl Edge.  I did not like the fact that it was in the unpriced bin and I had to go thru the suspense of seeing if it was in budget or not at the cash register.  However, I was greatly pleased with this album and the other Irish one I bought.  I have not listened to any of the other albums I got that day.  I am about 100 records backlogged for things I have not listened to at the moment.harry-hibbs-1971-colour

If you are not from Canada, it is not apparently obvious that this album is from Newfoundland.  The bottle of Newfie Screech is the dead giveaway.  While technically not 100% Irish, the music of Newfoundland has strong Celtic ties.  It does have more of an Irish influence as compared to other maritime provinces which are more Scottish in nature.img_0095

Harry Hibbs was born on Bell Island on 1942.  An accident in a plant left him unable to perform strenuous work.  As a result, he took up music as his father was an accomplished fiddle player.  Hibbs himself played the button accordion.  He released 26 albums according to Wikipedia, several of which would go Gold.  He also appeared on many Canadian TV programs, including his own, The Harry Hibbs Show.  Hibbs would pass in 1989 of cancer.

Canadian Encyclopedia entry on Harry Hibbs

This would have been his 5th album on Arc Records, hence the title.  It was released in 1971.  Listening to it, there is no mistaking it for Newfoundland music.  The button accordion is prevalent.  There are is also a lot of Irish influence as well.  The songs are fast and driving.  Highlights include “Roddy McLury”, “The Orange and the Green”, “Erin’s Green Shore”, and “All for Me Grog”, all traditional Irish tunes.R-4330428-1409441547-2106_jpeg

For samples, I went with the instrumental “Paddy O’Regan” and the Irish favorite, “The Banks of the Roses”.  Both tracks illustrate the frenzied button accordion.  The latter also features Hibbs’ vocals.harry-hibbs-1971

This is a satisfactory record for me. Would buy another album if I ran across it.






Hank Snow- Songs I Hadn’t Recorded Til Now

DSCN3627Happy 2016! This was $3.00.  Being a good Canadian and old school country fan, I had to get this album.


Hank Snow’s Museum

Born in Nova Scotia, “The Singing Ranger” himself, Hank Snow (1914-1999) is a legend of country music and deserves more on this blog than I am willing to give him today.  As you may have guessed, my internet is still down.  Do not fret, however.  I have more Hank Snow albums so I expect a more detailed post next go around.hank-snow

If you can not wait, here is his Wikipedia Page

This was released in 1961 by RCA records, with whom he stayed with his whole career.  It seems to be a collection of popular country tunes that Snow, as the title suggests, had not done until now.  Overall it is a good collection and has trademark Hank Snow vocal style.DSCN3628

The sample I am posting is one of my favorite songs and it is also the reason I got the album.  Here is Hank Snow with his version of the Hank Locklin classic, “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On”.

max rr

Satisfactory Record.  Have a good 2016!!