Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks- Orginal Recordings

Yet another week.  Saints be praised.  Here we are with this little gem by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, who I blogged about a couple months back.  I bought this shortly after his death for what I believe was $1 from Sig’s Lagoon, which I no longer go to because I tend to leave there with 30+ records per trip.  No slight against Sig’s and on the contrary, I highly recommend it for a record shop.  Overall, I did well this year in really limiting my purchases but I still have a ways to go before I can really splurge again.  And as previously noted, shopping for records was my favorite part of this blog.

But here we are with the first record from Mr Hicks and his Licks of Hot.  Released in 1969, it features the first line up of the band with Sid Page, Sherry Snow, Christine Gancher, Jamie Leopold, and Jon Weber.  This line up would break up in 1971.

I did not know this but Hicks got his start playing drums in the psychedelic rock band, The Charlatans.  This is most likely the reason why we have the Charlatans UK.  Anyway, towards the end of his tenure, Hicks moved to front the band.

But back to this record, here is the folk, country, swing, jazz combination that made Hicks and his Hot Licks famous.  Pretty good album and it includes one of his more famous songs, “I Scare Myself”.  Overall, real good effort.

For a sample,  I wanted to use the song above but after hearing “Jukie’s Ball” I was drawn to it for no other reason than they name check a Jimmy in the intro, even if it is a wooden dummy.

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry w/ Earl Hooker- I Can’t Believe My Eyes

Could Friday come any faster?  This was $3 and purchased to get more blues on this blog.  On a personal note, my phone was dying a slow death so I got a new I-Phone 7s.  Look at this phone.  This thing is huge.  Seriously, why so big, Apple?

Sonny Terry (1911-1986, bn Greensboro, Georgia) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996, Knoxville, Tenn) were two prominent blues artists who frequently performed together.  Both men had to overcome obstacles in their lives.   Terry, who played harmonica, was blinded in two separate childhood incidents, where as the guitarist McGhee, lost a leg to polio at age 4.  Both men had become musicians when they met in 1939.

The duo came together in New York City in 1942.  Terry had been playing with Blind Boy Fuller whereas McGhee was greatly influenced by Fuller’s guitar. Anyway, the duo was a success both on the folk circuit (which included such luminaries as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger) as well as blues circles.  Both artists also performed as a jump blues combo on the side.  Perhaps most casual listeners will connect the duo to their work on Steve Martin’s The Jerk.

Anyway, this album, released on the Bluesway subsidiary of ABC Records in 1973, features the duo along with guitarist Earl Hooker.  Recorded from sessions back in 1969, Hooker had passed by the time of this release.  Hooker was an early proponent of the electric guitar in blues.  Johnny Lee was also his cousin.

Anyway, 10 songs on this album, all written by either McGhee or Terry.  All pretty good.  Overall, this is a good album.  The album also features keyboard work from Ray Johnson, Jimmy Bond on bass, and Panama Francis on drums.

For sample, I could have gone in multiple directions, I think I picked about 6 songs for potential samples.  Well, after some whittling, I went with “Poor Man’s Blues” and “When I Was Drinkin”.

Good little record.  Satisfactory.

Tom Paxton- Ain’t That News!

This was most likely $1 but it could have been $3.  I really lost track of purchases these days.  No matter the price, I would have bought it at either for the inclusion of one of my favorite songs “Bottle Of Wine”.

Tom Paxton, (born in Chicago in 1937 but reared in Arizona and Oklahoma) wrote some really good songs including the one mentioned above and the favorite of this site, “Last Thing On My Mind”.  He also wrote a good number of protest tunes (which make up half of this album).  While this one really stuck it to LBJ, Mississppi, and the usual suspects of the 60’s, his protest music has been updated as well as revised for the times and a variety of subjects including such numbers as “Without DeLay”, ” Bobbitt” “The Bravest” (written about the firemen of 911), “I’m Changing my Name to Chrysler”, (later modified to “I’m Changing My Name to Fannie Mae”), and so on.

Paxton was a fixture in the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, having his work covered by Pete Seeger and the like.  And at a time when Dylan was singing 2 or 3 original numbers, Paxton’s material was 50% his own. According to the only source I really have time to look into, Paxton really started the movement of folk singers performing new material during this period.  The appeal of his non-political songs also spread into other genres as well including light folk and country.

This was Paxton’s third record a believe, released on Electra in 1965, which had already built a stable of folk artists among its ranks.  It is a pretty good album.  About half the songs are topical/political and the other half are just standard non-agenda songs, such as “Bottle of Wine”.

I really do not like putting political stuff on this blog as I like to keep it neutral.  This becomes more and more important to me as the social discourse in the US continues to disintegrate.  But to get off my soapbox, here is the title track, which I still feel is relevant today .  I wanted to go with “Bottle of Wine” when I bought this but I felt that Paxton’s original version really paled in comparison to the Kingston Trio’s version, shown above.  Also, more importantly, it skipped and I was too tired to clean it. There was a lot of skipping records this month for some reason.

Excellent record. Satisfactory.

The Charleston Trio- On Tour

Welcome to another week of the Show. This one was a pricey selection at $5.00.  It did have a lot of songs on it that a knew and liked.  

I know nothing about the Charleston Trio other than they were probably a marketing tool rather than a proper band.  They may or may not have provided backup vocals to the likes of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, George Jones, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline.  I believe the group consisted of the Glaser Brothers from Nebraska (Tompall, Chuck, and Jim) who moved to Nashville in 1958.  They really shook the town getting involved in publishing, recording, and singing. Sometime in the mid 60’s the group worked under the moniker, Tompall Glaser and his Brothers.  I believe they disbanded as a vocal group in the early 70’s to focus on solo endeavors. Of the brothers, Tompall was probably the most successful in the genre of Outlaw Country.  This of course is really speculation but I think it is accurate.

This may have been the group’s third record, released some time in the mid-sixties, I am guessing.  On the International Award Series, this album does not sound even remotely live.  Yet it has the On Tour moniker.  Really good selection of songs although it has more of a folksy vibe as compared to the country style the half baked biographies seem to claim..  A lot of good songs including “Drill Ye Tarriers Drill”, “Casey Jones”, “The Wayfaring Stranger”, and “Greensleeves”.

For a sample, I went with “Billy Boy” for certain reasons that will not be disclosed here.  I also went with “Casey Jones” as well.  

Eh decent enough record but highly overpriced for me.  And the cover versions of the songs that I really like tend to lean a bit on the bland side. But the vocals are quite good. I imagine their country recordings are much better. I went back and forth on this and finally decided to go Satisfactory.

OST- The Dirty Dozen

I no doubtly got this to write a post about Lee Marvin.  It was a bit on the high end at $4.

In the era of the tough guy actor, there was no tougher actor than Lee Marvin.  Born in New York City in 1924, Marvin was wounded serving the Marines in the Pacific Theater of WWII.  After the war, when asked to replace an ailing actor in a local theater production, Marvin worked his way up from Off-Broadway to Broadway, and then to the big screen.  He started in small supporting roles, most times as a heel, including The Big Heat and The Wild One, playing a foil to Marlon Brando’s character (as well as perhaps influencing the Beatles along the way).

He started getting bigger parts including a stint of movies where we played heel to John Wayne (Sidenote: I always stop watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance after Marvin is done.  Eventually lead roles started coming Marvin’s way, leading to his Oscar winning performance in Cat Ballou.

I believe The Dirty Dozen is the work Marvin is best known for.  This film, released in 1967 and directed by Robert Aldrich, features a big roster of talent, including Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Robert Ryan, and football star- turned actor, Jim Brown in his first role.  I like how the army brass, for the most part are played by establishment type actors who have worked Hollywood for awhile while the Dirty Dozen are mostly newer, anti-establishment actors.  That is why it so fitting for Marvin to play the groups’ leader.

The soundtrack was done by Frank DeVol (1911-1999).  De Vol was an accomplished musician who became a composer and arranger as well as an occasional actor.  After having much success in records and radio, De Vol took his efforts to Hollywood where he worked on soundtracks for both the small and big screen.

This album is ok.  It is not like the movie was known for its music.  However, the soundtrack work is quite apt for the film.  I lot of the songs have the old standard “You’re In The Army Now” woven in to them.  It makes for a good effect during the training scenes at the beginning for the movie. For a sample, I decided to pick a song that shows this.  I chose “The Sham Battle” which played during the war-games sequence.  Not only does this song reference “In The Army”, it also quote “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree”.

Since Trini Lopez was in the movie, the album also features a full out version of his song “Bramble Bush”.  This cross promotion was probably why Lopez was in the movie in the first place. I believe Lopez plays an acoustic segment of this song in one of the barrack scenes.  Lopez is still alive as of this writing. Anyway, I am using his song as a sample as well.

Satisfactory record.

Roger Whittaker- Folk Songs Of Our Time

This was one dollar.  I got it for the number of Irish songs on it that I like.  St Patrick’s Day is near at hand and I figured I would post this to kick things off.

My parents had a Roger Whittaker cassette when I was growing up that we listened to in the car during long drives. It was this and the TV infomercials for his music that they used to play during the day after school that exposed me to the folk singer.

Whittaker, whose parents were from Staffordshire, England, was born in Narobi, Kenya in 1936.  While there, he engaged in a variety of expat activities including a stint in the Kenya Regiment as well as University in South Africa. He moved back to England in 1959 to further his education.  It was during this time, after he was playing music in clubs, that he started making records. Whittaker had some hits in the 1970’s and was a mainstay on the adult contemporary charts.  He was also popular world wide, especially in Germany, probably due to a world view shaped by his expat experiences.  Throughout his career, he earned over 250 gold, silver, and platinum records. Apparently, he has retired from performing in 2013.

Webpage for Whittaker

This album was released in 1978 and follows the adult contemporary soft world folk that Whitaker is known for.  All songs are traditional and as far as I care to research are all from England or Ireland.  And that is why I bought the album, for the Irish songs. Two songs on this were among my favorite Irish songs, the Irish-Gothic “She Moved Thru The Fair” and “Star Of The County Down”.

Well, after going back and forth, I decided to go with “County Down”.  This number was commonly sung by drummer Andrew Rankin at the start of the Pogues second encore during their concerts.

Decent enough album.  I mean, I knew what this was probably going to sound like when I got it. And it was only a dollar.  So Satisfactory enough.

Earl Scruggs – Performing With His Family and Friends

dscn5573This was $3.00. Technically, I should be back from vacation.  However, I am still blazing thru the rest of this months’ post.  If you come here for the writing, you have been short changed this month.

Earl Scruggs, 1924-2012. Photo courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Earl Scruggs (1924-2012) popularized his three finger style of banjo and was a pioneer of bluegrass music.  Together with guitarist Lester Flatts, (both of which played with Bill Monroe until 1948), Scruggs formed the Foggy Mountain Boys and had several bluegrass hits thru out the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Oddly enough, Scruggs was one of the few bluegrass artists to support the anti war movement at the time.  That is evident on this record in the segment recorded at the Moratorium in Washington DC in 1969.

This record was from a TV special Scruggs did with several guest stars.  Released in 1972, it featured a diverse line up of artists such as Doc Watson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and the Birds.  Various members of Scruggs family also play on the album.  Dylan’s contribution is small, playing guitar on the instrumental “Nashville Skyline Rag”.  Doc Watson’s segments are quite good.  Baez, provided some controversy and along with Dylan’s inclusion, may have turned off some bluegrass die hards.  However, Scruggs music was able to transcend prevailing attitudes at the time.

For samples, I went with a somewhat interesting track featuring Scruggs talking about electronic music.  “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” features Scruggs playing banjo against a Moog.  I also featured Scruggs playing with the Byrds on thier take of Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.”


Satisfactory Record

Melanie – Leftover Wine

DSCN4853 (800x794) (2)This was a dollar I believe.  I got it because I like the artist.


Melanie Safka, known professionally as Melanie, is a American born singer-songwriter from Queens.  Bursting on to the scene in 1968, she was barely known outside of Greenwich Village ( and the Netherlands where she had a hit with “Beautiful People”) until she played Woodstock.  The phenomenon of raising lighters (now cell phones) perhaps started during her set and influenced her to write “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”, which would become her first US Top Ten hit.  She also had success with “Brand New Key (The Roller Skate Song)” which was later used in Boogie Nights.  Melanie still plays live today.

Melanie’s Web Page

This album was her fourth, recorded live from Carnegie Hall in 1970 and released the same year.  Whereas her studio efforts were complex arrangements, this album was Melanie bare boned. The result is a beautiful and engaging live album.  It is stark, raw, and emotional (see, I can use adjectives other than good).  The album finishes off with a studio track, “Peace Will Come”.photo1

The album states on the cover, “Recorded Live At Margie’s Birthday”.  This is in reference to music journalist Margie English.  There is a version of “Happy Birthday” on this album as well.DSCN4854 (800x795) (2)

For a sample, I went with “Uptown and Down” which is about her native New York, played live in New York.  I was kind of leaning more towards “Leftover Wine” but it had a skip in it and I was too lazy to fix it.  “Uptown and Down”, however, is still a moving number.melanie-copy1

Satisfactory Record.

The Seekers- Georgy Girl

DSCN4635 (794x800)Well, it was bound to happen eventually, but I ended up buying two copies of this record.  Both were $1.  I did a blog on the Seekers last year.  If you remember, I have tried real hard to like them and in all fairness, they do have some really good numbers, but overall, I like my folk music with rough edges.  So it is kind of strange that this would be the band I ended up doubling up.  the-seekers-gallery-22-wfkouylheuto-wfzofmcshpvt

Link to Earlier Seeker’s Post

This was the seventh album of the Seekers and apparently, in the US, it was an abridged version by Capitol Records of EMI’s Come the Day, both released in 1966. One source lists it as 1967.  I am too busy to split hairs on this point.  Anyway, it contains their big hit, “the title track “Georgy Girl” from the 1966 British movie of the same name. If you read this blog, at the very least in the last week, you know that this song as well as the movie is one of my favorites.  This is pretty much why I bought the album. I realize I posted this clip on my last Seeker’s post, but Damn it, I like it.

This album is ok.  There are some pretty good moments. Aside from my obvious love of the title track, I really liked their versions of “Red Rubber Ball” and “California Dreamin”.  It also has decent enough versions of “Yesterday”, “Last Thing On My Mind”, “Come The Day”, and “Turn, Turn, Turn”.  I still reserve my original point, that I , personally, prefer a less fine tuned folk music product, but having said this, this album is not too bad and is probably my favorite of theirs.DSCN4636 (800x787)

For a sample, I was drawn to Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man”.  I think it is kind of perverse having these fine Australian singers from the UK sing a nice, clean ditty about swamp life. It also underscores the influence of Kershaw (who I posted last week) beyond his home state, especially in an age before internet.seekers-729-20130910140938412341-620x349

I like this album and it is probably the reason I keep buying Seeker’s albums despite my objections.  Satisfactory

The Roger Wagner Chorale-Folk Songs of the Old World Vol 2

DSCN4519This was $2.40.  I should have probably read the back cover a bit before buying it.  I saw Folk Music of Europe and just went with it.bio-wagner-roger

Roger Wagner was born in Le Puy, France in 1914.  He died in Dijon, France in 1992.  In between, he went to America, where he directed the MGM chorus, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Robert Wagner Chorale.  During his career, he was decorated with many awards and honors.

The Roger Wagner Chorale’s Web Page

Interestingly enough, the directorship of the Chorale was assumed by Wagner’s daughter, Jeannine in 1992.roger_wagner_at_piano_with_lamc_members_circa_1965

This album is a collection of vocal chorale songs from various countries in Western Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Holland.  The inclusion of songs from Scandinavia is what drew me to this originally.  As sated above, I saw folk music and just went with the album expecting something a bit different.  If I would have read the back cover, I would have known that this was going to be a collection of vocal works.  I guess I was expecting more instrumentation.  I can hardly fault this record for my lack of reading.  DSCN4520

That being said, the songs are ok.  I mean the album delivers what it promises, technically superior vocal chorus interpreting folk songs of yore.  I do really like the diversity of countries represented on this album.Wagner-w-singers4web

For a sample, I decided to go with a few numbers from different places.  First is “Ayer Te He Visto” ( I Saw You Yesterday), a love song from Spain.  Second, is “Rosa” a children’s skipping song form Holland.  The accordion in the track is one of the few examples of prominent instrumentation on the album.  Finally, mainly in part because I got some hits two days ago from Denmark, here is the Danish “Gaaer Jeg Udi Skoven”(I Wander Thru the Woodlands).  According to the back cover, Danish folk songs are rooted in the noble classes of the middle ages.  This song speaks of the Danish love of the outdoors.roger_wagner_recording

It is a bit unfair to shoot this record down because I did not read before I bought, but I am doing just that.  This album is meh to me.