Four Tops- Reach Out

So why wouldn’t you buy this album? Seriously?  It was only $4.  Well this is my last post from Amsterdam, despite being written in Houston weeks earlier.  Hopefully, I will get home by the next post.  More about this vacation in January.

Truth be told, this is not the original record I had planned for this month.  I originally had an early Aretha Franklin album picked.  However, when I pulled out the record and found out it was not Franklin, my heart dropped.  This was the second such incident this month as I went thru the same thing with Doris Day’s movie version of The Pajama Game. Next month, I plan to dedicate a week to these mis-labeled records.

Well, if I had to get a replacement, this would be a mighty fine substitute from the vocal quartet from Detroit.  Released in 1967, this was I believe their most successful album going #11 in the US and #6 in the UK. It also spawned six Top 20 singles including the #1 title track.  It was the last Four Tops record to feature Motown’s production/song writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  On top of their contributions, the album also features (2) songs from the Monkees as well as one from The Association.

For a sample, I went with “Walk Away Renee” as was suggested by my neighbor. This was a tough call as I also really liked “7 Rooms Of Gloom” as well as about the rest of this album.

Great record. And in decent condition as well.  Top Rated.

Arlo Guthrie- Hobo’s Lullaby

Happy whatever day this is.  By now, I am probably coming to grips with the fact that my vacation is over.  Not sure how much blog work I got during this time, although I had such a great time sitting in Vondelpark listening to songs for the blog year, I am sure I will do this again.  I bought this was the version of “City of New Orleans” which was Arlo Guthrie’s only Top 40 hit.  It was $5 and what was then, the upper bound of purchases for this site. Damn you, inflation. Damn you I say.

Recently, I saw Alice’s Restaurant on TCM and was reminded of the younger Guthrie.  Pretty good movie.  I had seen it before.  Does a good job portraying the events of the song, Arlo’s last days with Woody, and the dysfunctional relationship between Alice and Ray.  I particularly liked the scene at the Group W bench.  Anyway, as I said, I was reminded of the young Arlo and went to pull this album from my pile for selection this month.

Released in 1972, on Reprise Records, this was Guthrie’s 5th record, not counting the soundtrack to the movie above.  This features songs written by Arlo as well as ones written by his father, Bob Dylan, Hoyt Axton, and Jimmie Davis.  Also, of course, there is the Steve Goodman penned- “City of New Orleans” which was mentioned above.  There is a whole slew of guest musicians including Axton, Ry Cooder, Jim Dickinson, Jim Keltner, Spooner Oldham, Linda Ronstadt, and Clarence White. But alas, Poor Arlo.  You have fell victim to the lackadaisical attitude I gained during the build up to my vacation, which ends shortly.  So I am going to call this a good album without getting to much deeper on the subject. Which it probably deserves ( the deeper introspection that is).

For a sample, I went with the Dylan penned “When The Ship Comes In”.

Satisfactory.

Lennie Hayton- Jamaica

So I got this because I saw Jamaica in big letters followed by this white guy so I thought this would be a funny album to listen to.  As it is my habit to not read the back covers of the albums I buy, I did not know that this was an interpretation of the Broadway musical, Jamaica.  So that is two musical albums in two days, despite the fact that I swore off musical albums after October.  Oh well.  This was one Yankee dollar.

Jamaica was a Broadway musical, written by EY Harburg, Fred Saidy, and Harold Allen, the team behind Finian’s Rainbow. It tells the story of an tropical island overrun by consumerism, set to Calypso music, which was quite popular at the time.  It was supposed to star Calypso’s greatest star at the time, Harry Belafonte, but Belafonte grew ill at the time of production.  The emphasis was then shifted to Lena Horne.  Also staring Ossie Davis and Ricardo Montalban, the show opened on Broadway in 1957 and ran for 558 performances, which was quite impressive at the time.  It was nominated for a good amount of Tony’s but had the unfortunate distinction of coming out the same year as Music Man and West Side Story.

Lennie Hayton, was an American conductor and composer, born in New York City in 1908.  Wikipedia points out that he was known was wearing a captains hat.  His work included stints for Bing Crosby as well as the musical director for MGM. Hayton would arrange the music for Singin’ in The Rain as well as win an Oscar for his work on On The Town.

Incidentally, Hayton served as Lena Horne’s musical director at MGM and the pair got married in 1947.  While Horne admitted that she got married to advance her career and cross the color line in Hollywood, the pair separated for most of the 60’s.  Hayton died in 1971 from heart disease brought on by heavy drinking and smoking. He was 63.

So here is this album from Roulette Records in 1958.  Pretty decent stuff.  Tried to digest the story of the musical but I don’t think it matters much. Yep, vacation laziness strikes again.

For a sample, I went with “Ain’t It The Truth” as well as “Hooray for the Yankee Dollar.”

Eh.  Decent enough to garnish a satisfactory rating.

Stan Kenton- Hair

You though I was sick of posting Broadway albums after October, right?  Well think again.  Here is this, which I purchased for $1.20.  I think it the time, I was amassing various cover versions of Hair and this one popped up. Still on vacation at the time of you reading this so lets hope it went OK.

Stan Kenton has been on this site before.  Twice I believe.  One good record.  One not so good record.  Well here is this released in 1969, a year after the musical had become a sensation.  Pretty good stuff which by the way is my standard response when I do not want to put much effort into this.  Half the songs have vocals or at least a chorus.  The others do not. Musically, this is a pretty entertaining.  Could have really gone either way as when classical. old school band leaders interpret modern music, the results can be mixed.  Fortunately for Kenton, this record does well.  Key musicians include Bud Shank, Gene Cipriano, Jack Sheldon, Bill Hood, and Gil Falco.

For a sample, I thought “Colored Spade” was really funky.  So here it is.

Satisfactory record.

The Barry Sisters- A Time To Remember

If my calculations are correct, today marks the first night of Hanukkah.  Happy Hanukkah everybody! To celebrate this event, here is the effort from the Barry Sisters.  It was 43 and probably bought specifically for this event (or maybe Passover- who can remember?).

I have featured the Barry Sisters on this site before so if you want to learn anything else about Minnie and Clara, I suggest you either search for the last post or check Google.  Did I mention I am on vacation?

This record was released by ABC Records in 1967 and is a collection of pretty standard Yiddish tunes. Well, I believe they are pretty standard.  Not 100% up to date on my Yiddish material.  Anyway, this was done around the end of their career but still a good little record.  A couple real interesting pieces. Perhaps if I were not on vacation, then I would be inclined to write a little more or at least re-read the back cover and regurgitate that information (according to the back cover, the song “is a happy wishing song” translating into “I Wish, I Wish”).

For a sample, here is “Alevai, Alevai” which I am sure means something but am too lazy to look into any further.

Satisfactory.

Los Admiradores- Bongos

Here we are with another week where I still just don’t feel like writing all that much.  Vacation has officially started this week by the time you read this and I should be in Amsterdam.  More on this trip in January.  I hope to get a bit more current with posts in 2018 as opposed to doing them many months in advance which I have been doing for the later half of this year.  This album was one dolla.  Had a decent playlist plus it is Command Records.

Willie Rodriguez

Anyway, here is this effort, as always produced by Enoch Light, for Command Records.  Released in 1959 (and re-released in 1960 as Bongos, Bongos, Bongos), this record is from a group of Command studio musicans led by Willie Rodriguez ( Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman) and Don Lamond (Charlie Parker, Benny Goodman) on bongos.  Three albums were recorded under this moniker with this being the first, although I am unsure the lineups on the others.

Anyway, this is a pretty good collection of songs, put together in an interesting fashion, and as always with Command, well executed and produced.  Highlights include “Tenderly”, “All of Me”, “Greensleeves”, “Blue Moon”, and “Unchained Melody”.

For a sample, I went with “You and the Night and the Music”.

Don Lamond

Satisfactory record.

The Standells-Dirty Water

This was $4.  Got it for the garage rock sound of the 60’s.  It has been so long since I have written posts, I am having a hard time getting back into it.  Also, by the time you read this, I should be in Amsterdam on vacation.  It is my goal to get at least a week ahead of the vacation, writing wise.

Despite being most famous for the title track of this album, “Dirty Water” a song about Boston, The Standells were from California, Los Angeles area to be specific.  Lead vocalist and keyboard player, Larry Tamblyn, is the brother of West Side Story/ Twin Peaks actor, Russ Tamblyn.  The band formed in the 60’s and was influential to the early punk rock of the 70’s.  According to Wikipedia, a version of the band is active today.

This was the groups second album, recorded in 1965 and released in 1966 on the Tower Label,  The album spawned two singles, the title track and “Sometime Good Guys Don’t Wear White”.  Pretty good album.  Straight ahead garage rock from the 60’s.  Incidental, the title track would go on to become an unofficial anthem of the Boston Red Sox.

A lot of good points on this album as well as a lot of good covers of popular rock and roll tunes of the day.  There is an excellent cover of “Hey Joe” but I made a vow to myself that I would not post a version of this song due to the fact that it was stolen by Billy Roberts from his girlfriend at the time, Niela Miller and her song “Baby, Please Don’t Go to Town”.

Anyway, sample we need so sample we must.  Here is “Rari”.

Satisfactory record.  Maybe I can get more into writing these as this vacation goes on.

Louis Prima- A Tribute to Louis Prima

This record was $2.00 with discount.  Why not?  Louis Prima was a stud, in many ways.  Still trying to finish out to month and year.  With it technically still being November while I am writing this, I should point out that despite being in the American League, we are still proud of our local baseball team, the Houston Astros for winning the World Series.  Although I am still not happy about them moving out of the National League, there is not a better group of guys in sports than our Astros.  They held the parade a few weeks ago downtown. The rumor I heard in my apartment elevator was that 700,000 people were in attendance.  Either way, it made it tough for me getting home from work with all roads by my apartment jammed.

As noted above, Louis Prima was a stud.  Born in New Orleans in 1911, Prima mixed his Italian roots with New Orleans’ jazz to form something new and original.  His own musical styles also evolved over time, starting with a New Orleans-style jazz band in the 1920’s, a swing combo in the 1930’s, a big band in the 40’s, a jump blues band in the 50’s, and finally a Las Vegas lounge act in the 60’s. Unlike other artists such as Frank Sinatra, Prima openly embraced the new rock and roll which was rising in the 1950’s.  Prima was also married five times, inlcuding a stint to singer Keely Smith, with whom Prima had a successful act.  Prima died of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1978.  He was 67.

This record was a collection of some of his biggest hits, both solo and with Smith, including, “Just A Gigalo”, “Sing, Sing, Sing” and :Felicia No Capricia”.  Pretty good album.,  Really jumping.

For a sample, I had various options but decided to go with the “Bourbon Street Blues” as well as “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” which features the talents of Keely Smith.

Top rated album.

Nestor y Jorge y su conjunto- Festival de Colombia

This album was $2 .  I got it for my continual search for Colombian music.  At this point, I have not written a post in a good month and a half.  I like getting ahead of myself but find that it is almost impossible to keep the website current, since I am still reflecting on things going on in November.

As discussed somewhere in this blog, I went to Bogota, Colombia back around 2011 or so, maybe 2010.  I went for an oil show, which was beyond awesome.  During this time, I was exposed to several forms of local music at the exhibitors booths.  There were various bands, similar to what is on this record with horns, harps, and guitars.  There was also a few exotic dancers, a gymnast who came down from the ceiling, a Argentinian couple doing the tango, and for one brief moment, a Brazilian samba group took over the show. 

There was a lot of harp and a lot of saxophone as well in a weird Colombian style. There was the rolling whiskey cart. There was some Colombian rapper in a pink hat as well as a bunch of oil executives doing the limbo and conga lines. On top of this, there were local street artists as well.

Anyway, these pictures are from that show, back in the day when I had a crappy camera or perhaps a crappy camera phone.  Either way, after looking at these pictures, I was taken aback at just how much music/culture I was exposed to during this Oil Show.  This is also on top of the graffiti and radio music I documented in an earlier post.

Anyway, here is this, 12 songs written by Colombian composer Leonor de Valencia, from Ibague, the musical capital of Colombia.  These songs are performed by Nestor and Jorge, whom even less is known.  Not really feeling out research today.  Not sure when this came out, but here we are with a good collection of local songs from the coffee belt of Colombia.

For a sample, I went with “Sanjuanero” and “Cafe suave de Colombia” as I have been struggling to make up my mind these last two weeks (or next two weeks- I guess it is a question between my writing these and you reading these).

Satisfactory record.

OST- The Story of Star Wars

With the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise coming out this month, ( The Last Jedi, opening Dec 15), I thought it might do me well to buy and post this album, from the movie that started it all. From the 1977 film, which was re-titled A New Hope, but what everybody pretty much remembers as Star Wars, this was $5.  And if I am reading his (or her) crappy cursive correctly, this was once owned by a Chris De Surro.

Star Wars was not the first movie I ever saw in the theater that I remember ( that would be Grease which I was probably disruptive during the screening).  However, it would be the first one that I lost my lunch over.  I remember being a kid and going to the theater not really understanding what I was seeing.  However, during the movie, I was glued to the screen.  I remember thinking to myself what could be better than that movie?  Well, when I found out they had action figures from the movie for sale, than I truly lost it again.

Which brings me to this story which is about my generation’s obsession with Boba Fett, the bounty hunter from The Empire Strikes Back.  Many people have asked why a character who barely had any screen time in the second and third could be so popular.  Well, that is mainly in part to the good folks at Kenner Toys who made the action figures.  Before Empire was released, Kenner had a promotion where if you send in 5 or so proofs of purchase, you would get a free Boba Fett action figure.  According to the promotion, Boba Fett was to be have a major role in the next movie.  He also was to have a projectile missile on his back which would shoot out.  All summer long, my friends and I imagined what a bad ass Boba Fett would be.

Then we got the action figure, which did not have the projectile missile due to kids shooting their eyes out.  Then came Empire, in which Boba Fett mostly stood still.  His only dialog was arguing some semantics with Darth Vader.  I think on both fronts, we were ultimately short changed.  But the excitement of Boba Fett that summer was real and I think what people my age mostly remember.

Anyway, back to this album which is basically dialog from the movie augmented by narration as well as John William’s score. What else can I say?  I mean it is a neat souvenir but really does not do much to out do the movie. The record itself was quite worn and skipped horribly.  It also came with a booklet of pictures from the movie as well.

For a sample, I went with the closing scene of Luke destroying the Death Star and the resulting medal ceremony at the end.

I really kind of hated listening to this album as it was quite tedious but what else was I excepting out of it? I bit on the high side but I will give it a satisfactory. I meant to dress this post up more and get a bit more in depth but an aggressive schedule for November and early December has crippled this effort.