Kendra Steiner Editions

January 30, 2020

SPIRITUAL JAZZ 10: PRESTIGE (Jazzman UK, CD)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:33 pm

SPIRITUAL JAZZ, VOLUME 10: MODAL, ESOTERIC AND DEEP JAZZ FROM PRESTIGE RECORDS (Jazzman Records, UK, CD….released 29 November 2019)

  • 1. Ahmed Abdul-Malik – Song Of Delilah
  • 2. Roy Haynes – Dorian
  • 3. Latin Jazz Quintet – Rip A Dip
  • 4. Roy Haynes – Modette
  • 5. Walt Dickerson – Death & Taxes
  • 6. Yusef Lateef – Love Theme From Spartacus
  • 7. Moondog – Organ Rounds
  • 8. Ahmed Abdul-Malik – Summertime
  • 9. Mal Waldron – Warm Canto
  • 10. Idris Muhammad – Peace
  • 11. Gary Bartz – I’ve Known Rivers

 

I haven’t taken the plunge with any of Jazzman’s previous 9 volumes of “Spiritual Jazz”—-they’ve been on my “wait for the price to go down on these” list—-but as a fan of Prestige Records since my boyhood days of finding Prestige LP’s at used record stores in the early 70’s, I had to grab this one immediately, and I’m glad I did. Now I’m going to more aggressively search for the previous volumes….

Most of us probably associate the term SPIRITUAL JAZZ with labels such as Black Jazz or Strata East, and it’s a relatively broad term, which could refer to overtly spiritual music in the vein of Alice Coltrane, to more primal works such as those of Pharaoh Sanders, to anything with an Afro-Centric or Eastern vibe. The Art Ensemble of Chicago could be called by the term, and even some of the grungy, small-label funk 45’s from the 68-73 period (the kind of thing collected on old “Soul Patrol” albums….after all, some of those had the subtitle “the undisputed Black Mind Power”) could be put into that arena, although not “jazz” by the usual standard. In hindsight, that was a significant movement, allowing the 60’s-inspired cultural exploration of African roots and the Black aesthetic to flower in new and exciting ways that were often rooted in community activism, multi-cultural education, etc. (although we tend to think of Afro-centric things as Spiritual Jazz, the Jazzman series wisely includes volumes from European and Japanese artists too, showing the movement can take root and inspire people anywhere, and also, if something like PAUL HORN IN INDIA can’t be included as Spiritual Jazz, what can?).

Prestige certainly released a number of albums in that vein, and tracks from two of them end this album, one by drummer IDRIS MUHAMMAD, and one by saxophonist GARY BARTZ’s NTU TROOP (I remember both of those artists getting a good amount of airplay when I was involved in jazz radio in the mid-to-late 70’s). However, what makes this album quite special and unique is that the other 8 tracks are all earlier material, mostly from the 1950’s. In a way, it could be called ROOTS OF SPIRITUAL JAZZ, and the way it surveys “exotic” tracks from the 1950’s, moves into the early 60’s with MAL WALDRON (always a man who followed his own unique aesthetic that did not fit into any established category), and then fully blossoms in the early 70’s with MUHAMMAD and BARTZ truly shows the evolution of this kind of “deep” jazz.

Before I start dropping the term “modal” around, perhaps I should provide a link to a short tutorial about the modal approach:

Basically, this collection goes back to the 1950’s and looks at artists such as Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Yusef Lateef who were early exponents of Middle Eastern/African/Islamic elements in jazz (and at the time, I’d imagine people would have viewed this kind of jazz as a cousin to Exotica) as well as folks like drummer Roy Haynes (always ahead of the curve) or vibist Walt Dickerson or pianist-composer Mal Waldron who anticipate modal jazz, throw in a few left-field entries that foreshadow later movements in jazz, and wind up in the early 70’s with what most of us would think of as “Spiritual Jazz.” It’s a wonderful trip full of not-too-common tracks from Prestige, and I highly recommend this volume….in fact, come payday, I think I’ll be picking up a few of the other volumes in this series.

I also have to compliment the wonderfully insightful liner notes of Francis Gooding (Jazzman Records has always set a high standard for the depth and diversity of their compilations as well as first-rate documentation/notes). As someone who prefers Prestige Records to Blue Note (not that I don’t love Blue Note), I appreciate Gooding making that case better than I could. Prestige was a low-budget, spontaneous, jam-oriented label, and in that was its uniqueness and greatness. When I started the KSE label, Prestige’s Bob Weinstock was a hero and model to me (although I do not have his skills in options trading and investments….if only I did!).

If this review makes the album sound at all appealing to you, then you should probably find a copy ASAP. It has a wonderful flow, the sound quality is sparkling, and notes are informative and get you making valuable connections, and any collection that champions PRESTIGE RECORDS is something I want to get behind.

January 22, 2020

the Ultimate 1970’s crime TV show guest-star list

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:05 pm

Some people may have too much time on their hands, but spend that time you and I don’t have doing things that make life a little more entertaining (or should I say “slightly less brutal”?) for the rest of us. One such person is whoever took the time to edit together the “guest star announcements” from the opening credits of EVERY episode of the classic 1970’s crime TV show CANNON, starring WILLIAM CONRAD….that’s 120 episodes!

I’ve always loved the convention of the hard-boiled narrative recitation of a show’s title and cast while those titles and names are appearing on-screen during the opening credits. Warner Brothers TV did a great job of that in their late 50’s/early 60’s shows such as 77 SUNSET STRIP, HAWAIIAN EYE, BOURBON STREET BEAT, etc. This convention was continued on by the various programs produced by Quinn Martin, one of the most successful being the 1971-1976 CANNON. Any fan of 70’s crime TV knows that one of the highlights of that Golden Age of television was the quality of the “guest stars” because they had such a rich well of talent to draw from. I can just imagine my late mother catching the first two minutes of a show like Cannon, and on seeing that someone like Bradford Dillman or Jim Davis or Barry Sullivan or Sherree North was guest-starring, she’d make a point to watch it. I responded the same way.

Therefore, watching a non-stop 26 minute flow of guest star announcements, each with its own footage of the guest star looking like a star, is on some level the ultimate 70’s crime TV show high. I actually put down what I was doing earlier today and watched this straight through. After all, if I hear the name RAY DANTON or DANE CLARK or CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY or VERA MILES or ANDREW PRINE or BEVERLY GARLAND or MURRAY HAMILTON or THALMUS RASULALA or CHRISTOPHER STONE or LUKE ASKEW or FRED BEIR or JAY SILVERHEELS, it’s going to stake a claim on the next 55 minutes of my life. Producer Quinn Martin understood that.

cannon

So… if you are ready, here it is… bask in the greatness of 70’s crime television and its rich bounty of quality guest stars….and not just the big names. I’m always ready for a character role from a Ramon Bieri or Noam Pitlik, and that kind of person gets special billing too.  Enjoy!

 

cannon - 9-11-71 (2)

January 20, 2020

The Song, Not The Singer, in the 1920’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:24 am

In the popular music world pre-Bing Crosby (and still true to some extent until the rise of Frank Sinatra in the 1940’s), people bought records to get the songs they enjoyed so they could hear them when they wanted to in the comfort and privacy of their homes. The singer of the song was not that important unless the record buyer was buying the disc because  they were a fan of the singer—-in which case, they’d enjoy that singer performing anything. In most cases, though, it was the song that was being sold, and any competent vocalist could sing it, and with the bewildering array of pseudonyms on records in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, particularly on budget labels, who could ever know the actual performers anyway. Also, with budget labels, or the budget and dime-store subsidiaries of major labels (such as Columbia’s “Harmony” label, the source of 3 tracks found on the album discussed here), the people in department stores (not music stores) picking up a record of a favorite song for 30 or 35 cents with leftover change from some other purchase would not especially care who was singing it, if it was competently performed. This led to an odd occurrence I’ve heard a few dozen times over the years on 20’s Dance Band records….the phenomenon of songs written for a female singer performed by a male singer who did not bother to change to pronoun, singing it as originally written. Although some might have gotten a laugh out of the irony of that back in the day, I’d bet 95% of listeners wouldn’t have cared. After all, records were not an outlet for singers doing autobiographical baring-of-the-soul on disc; in a way, they were like someone in a music store doing a “demonstration” of a song so someone would buy the sheet music of it. Would they change the pronoun? Of course not, it’s a product they are selling. They are not expressing their true feelings in song.

fred rich

I’ve commented on this phenomenon to family and friends before, and they’ve gotten a laugh out of some of the songs, but I mention it today because as I am pulling out of my flu and trying to get caught up with the backlog of work my job requires before I return  tomorrow, I thought I’d put on a CD of snappy 1920’s Dance Band 78’s, so I dug out this 25 year old collection of 1929-1930 sessions under the baton of Columbia head of recording Fred Rich, many of which feature vocals by that great Texan SMITH BALLEW (1902-1984). He and his brother had both been involved, in differing degrees, with the seminal 1920’s Texas jazz group JIMMIE’S  JOYS (there is a fine Jazz Oracle CD documenting their body of work, circa 1923-1928–see pic at bottom). Also, Mary Anne will be a happy to learn that Ballew was a UT man!

smith-ballew-2f025c69-821b-456d-9d1f-46fb29198cc-resize-750

So you get to hear the male vocal group The Rollickers sing about how “He’s So Unusual” (their man, that is) and Smith Ballew croon the Gershwin classic “I Got Rhythm” with its original woman wanting “my man” lyrics. Ballew does a tidy, swinging and satisfying version of the tune, and I wouldn’t have noticed it myself except that I’d wanted to comment on this phenomenon at some point, and hearing two (I think there was even a third on this album!) examples at once set me off.

I’m surprised no one has done a collection of this kind of thing–all you’d need is a dozen or so examples and it would make an entertaining compilation that many would enjoy, albeit on a campy level.

And since I’ve been including You Tube links in so many of my recent posts, why not another….. here’s that hot version of “I Got Rhythm,” sung by Smith Ballew, and featuring such great jazz players in the band as Joe Venuti (amazing here!), Eddie Lang, Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, and Tony Parenti! Recorded 29 October 1930.

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smith 2

Smith Ballew eventually moved into films and has 18 credits as an actor on the IMDB. He was also in the unreleased 1930’s footage that was eventually cobbled together with other old and new footage into the 1949 mind-bending patchwork film GUN CARGO (in which he sings a song!).

He eventually retired to his home state and passed away here in Texas in 1984. I always enjoy his work on record and on the screen. He should be better remembered today, but alas, the 1920’s, when he first made his mark, are now 100 years distant.

jimmie

January 19, 2020

Eddie Muller’s TCM NOIR ALLEY intros and outros

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:30 am

noir 1

I’ve been down with the flu recently, which is always worse than just a cold and winds up being somewhat debilitating. In the first few days of it, I could hardly get  up out of the upright chair (to keep myself from coughing, as I would have done if I’d been in bed) where I was resting, and I could not stand my usual accompaniment of music or BBC World Service news, and I certainly could not read anything. My head was like a tightly-tied knot which had been dipped in water after tying and allowed to dry and tighten even further. After a few days of the worst, I was still unable to do any real “work,” but my mind hungered for something to chew on. I was able to enjoy some of the wonderful audio-book adaptations of Erle Stanley Gardner’s PERRY MASON novels, read solo by Alexander Cendese, and I also stumbled across an online collection of the introductory and post-film comments by TCM’s “Czar of Noir,” EDDIE MULLER on his weekly NOIR ALLEY show.

noir 3

Muller’s NOIR ALLEY is one of those rare things that comes along on occasion which everyone, no matter what perspective they come from or what agenda they bring to film, agrees is first-rate and not to be missed. Muller himself is a long-time Noir scholar and preservationist and champion, and TCM was lucky to get him. Although I’ve seen a number of the films he’s presented, I’ve only been able to watch a few of his presentations of them, which are always insightful and full of accurately researched details—-in some cases, he’d interviewed various cast and crew members himself.

While the glory days of Film Noir might be, say, 1945-1953, one can go back at least five years earlier and forward another five years and find fascinating works worthy of study and enjoyment.

I’m thankful that someone took the time to record these intros and outros off the air (literally, you can see the camera moving sometimes as it photographs the TV screen and there’s a slight tinge of room tone to the sound, though not enough to matter). Yesterday, I listened to SIX HOURS of them, so I thought it was worth sharing the link, as I’m not sure how long these will be up.

These commentaries are gold to any film lover, even if you have not seen or don’t plan on seeing all the films discussed. They can also help you to decide which films you want to seek out. Mary Anne and I have been fortunate to see, in the last 8 years or so, both DETOUR (1945, screened in Austin), and CRY DANGER (1951, screened in Houston, from a restoration assisted by Muller’s Film Noir Foundation) from 35mm prints on the big screen, the way they should be seen. It’s encouraging to see repertory film groups and art-film societies giving these films the respect they deserve, and for a genre-film person such as yours truly, seeing Columbia and Monogram and RKO and Eagle-Lion programmers being given first-class treatment is satisfying, though what’s really satisfying are the films themselves, and we have Mr. Muller to thank for making so many of them accessible to us.

Here’s the link to more of these commentaries than you’d have time to listen to in a week. You’ll want to subscribe to the channel….and thanks to whatever anonymous soul took the time to record and upload these!

Muller intros and outros

noir 2

 

 

 

 

 

January 10, 2020

“Beyond Vaudeville” channel on You Tube

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:31 pm

With everyone and their dog having their own podcast or You Tube channel today, it’s hard to get people to understand the incredibly liberating 1980’s phenomenon known as Public Access cable stations. Back in the pre-internet days when cable television might have offered 50 or 60 channels, there was often one which was set aside for local amateur broadcasts. You had (in the areas where I lived, at least) take a class in the technical side of things to get on the air (and the cable company offered it), but as long as what you were doing was not obscene (and that varied by area–in NY or LA you could go a lot further than you could in the South or Midwest), you could pretty much do any kind of special interest show. There were punk-rock shows, shows dedicated to Afro-centric history, shows devoted to ethnic communities not otherwise reflected on the broadcast dial, shows devoted to sub-cultures, shows devoted to fringe political movements or fringe religious groups, shows devoted to comic-book fandom, Tagalog-language shows dealing with popular culture back home in the Philippines, shows devoted to avant-garde art and theater, etc. Much of the time they weren’t even listed in advance…you just turned it on and sometimes between shows there would be a crawl about what was on for the next day or two. I used to watch it often. You might get a lecture on the work of Samuel Johnson, and then a performance (shot on camcorder) of an Egyptian dance troupe who were appearing at a local college, then a panel discussion of local Nation of Islam leaders, then some public domain 30’s cartoons, then a series devoted to Chicano history, then someone talking about how to lobby the city’s zoning commission, then maybe jazz performances from local artists, etc etc. It was the place where you could see edgy fringe figures who would never get on regular TV before there was an internet. Public access even created its own celebrities—-someone like Skip E. Lowe was on L.A. public access cable for decades, doing his celebrity interviews in his inimitable style (a style parodied by Martin Short with his Jiminy Glick character).

beyond vaudeville 2

BEYOND VAUDEVILLE ran on New York City public access cable from 1986-1996. A friend back East sent me a few VHS tapes of shows during this period and I was amazed by them. If you can imagine something that combined the best qualities of Uncle Floyd, Fernwood Tonight, The Soupy Sales Show, The Joe Franklin show, and Pee Wee’s Playhouse but was done on a $1.98 budget by people who knew their obscure popular culture and underground culture well, you’ll have some idea of what it was like, and as with anything genuinely subversive, you never really knew in your initial exposure to your first episode what level to take it on. The show was hosted by Frank Hope (like Joe Bob Briggs, a “character” created by the show’s producer), a nervous, but over-excited fanboy type, and his tall, taciturn and vaguely threatening co-host, David Greene, along with Joey The Monkey.

The best way to let you know what the show was about is to list some of the celebrity guest stars:

SAMMY PETRILLO

TINY TIM

VIRGINIA GRAHAM

MONTE ROCK III

DAVID PEEL

ARTHUR ‘STREET SINGER’ TRACY

BENNY ‘SHAVING CREAM’ BELL

JOYCE ‘HONEYMOONERS’ RANDOLPH

TULI KUPFERBERG

PAT MCCORMICK

IMOGENE COCA

AL ‘GRANDPA MUNSTER’ LEWIS

AUDREY LANDERS

QUENTIN CRISP

LARRY STORCH

BILLY BARTY

PAT COOPER

MICHAEL BERRYMAN

DEL RUBIO TRIPLETS

GEOFFREY HOLDER

SHIRLEY ‘HONEYMOON KILLERS’ STOLER

KAYE BALLARD

KITTY CARLISLE HART

JUDY CARNE

FRED WILLARD

AUSTIN PENDLETON

WILLIAM M. GAINES

Beyond_Vaudeville_Small

I think you get the point by now. This was the hippest guest list anywhere in the 1980’s. I almost wish I’d lived in New York so I could have watched it (almost….). And those are just the celebrity guests. There are also local amateur talents (the kind of acts who would be would have had Broadway Danny Rose as their agent), “real people” such as conspiracy theorists and Robert Goulet fans, etc etc.

In 1987, the show was picked up by MTV and adapted to a different format to make it more mainstream, the way that punk (alas) evolved into new wave and lost a lot of its essence. That show was called ODDVILLE, MTV, and while very entertaining, was not the same as BEYOND VAUDEVILLE. You can’t fake or contrive the kind of authenticity that BEYOND VAUDEVILLE represented. It’s kind of like when a cult artist records for a more mainstream label, usually for one album—-it is probably fine in its own way, and it can help get others into a quality artist, but something’s missing. Imagine if Jandek had done an album for Tim/Kerr Records, or if Andy Milligan had made a slasher film for one of Roger Corman’s companies (New World, Concorde, etc.).

I loved the BEYOND VAUDEVILLE shows I had on those two VHS tapes, and the show was just a vague and positive memory….until I recently discovered that there are 50+ episodes available on You Tube (there’s even a Facebook group so you can learn about new additions to the You Tube channel), and they are amazing. You can subscribe to their You Tube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI9XO6PLvHRpLzaAMz96X_A/videos

Pardon me if I made any factual errors in this write-up. I’m no expert on the show…although over the next few months I plan to watch ALL of what’s on You Tube…I began with the Sammy Petrillo episode earlier this week and have watched 2 more tonight, on a rainy evening, stuck home when I’d planned to go out and catch some live music at an outdoor venue.

I have a feeling that many of you reading this will wonder “where has this show been all my life.”

There were a number of live appearances in the NYC area during the show’s run and after, as well as reunions, and some of those are online also. I may be 30 years late in my championing of this show, but better late than never.

January 7, 2020

something missing on the CONTRACT ON CHERRY STREET soundtrack album

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:00 am

I watched the 1977 made-for-TV crime film CONTRACT ON CHERRY STREET again recently, thinking I would review it for Blog To Comm (which I still plan to do). In case you have forgotten, this was the “comeback” film for Frank Sinatra, whose last feature film was the 1970 western comedy DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE, which I saw theatrically on the bottom of a bill a year or two after its release, and which was not a classic. Sinatra waited 7 years to make another film, a project developed by his own company, based on a crime novel that was supposedly a book his mother really liked and recommended to him. The film was eventually made for television and was treated as an “event,” spread over two nights (like a “mini-series”!) and given a lot of promotion. It’s a solid 70’s urban crime film, and you can read about it in my review later in 2020.

contract cd

(see Henry Silva on far left)

The musical score by Jerry Goldsmith is excellent, going for a more moody, brooding, downbeat feel than many 70’s crime scores which have an uptempo and hyperbolic “cop show funk” angle. Considering that Frank Sinatra was an older man by the time this film was made, having a more mature and brooding soundtrack was fitting, and it also helped create an atmosphere that emphasized the grueling, depressing day-by-day checking out leads and footwork of the cop on the beat. I managed to find a cheap copy of the obscure soundtrack CD recently, on a Belgian specialist label, fully licensed and from the original tapes. It sounds majestic and takes me back to those dirty NYC 70’s streets where the film was shot as well as making me feel as if I’m walking in the shoes of the Henry Silva and Martin Balsam characters in the film.

One odd thing about the soundtrack, though. While it lists the credits, and the liner notes discuss Sinatra’s character and his production company’s role in making the film, there is not one picture of Sinatra anywhere in it. When I first saw the cover, with Henry Silva looking downcast at a police funeral, I figured that was a good image to capture the feel of the film and the soundtrack and did not think about it. When I read the booklet after getting the album, I did not think about it….I was interested in learning about Goldsmith’s approach to scoring the film.

Today, though, listening to the album while working, and then perusing the liner notes, it dawned on me…..SIX different pictures from the film (one used twice), and not one contains Sinatra anywhere in it. Not even in the background. Lots of Henry Silva and Martin Balsam and Harry Guardino, which is great, but none of Frank. My guess is that licensing the music from Columbia Pictures Television (as they did) did not include the rights to Sinatra’s image. That probably commanded its own fee. This is a small specialist label and the album is a limited 2000 copy pressing. They probably spent every last penny on having the tapes gotten from the vaults, getting them transferred, and paying the license fee. Well, I’m glad that the great Henry Silva didn’t ask for a fee for his image (and let’s hope they sent him a copy!). The album came out in 1999, the year after Sinatra’s death. Maybe things would be viewed differently today, with a consideration of Sinatra’s film legacy….maybe not.

In any event, it is a beautiful, moody, and atmospheric soundtrack and I see you can get a copy for around $7 on Discogs….

Contract on Cherry Ad

January 6, 2020

“This Is Mainstream” (We Want Sounds CD, France)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 4:12 pm

mainstream 1

‘THIS IS MAINSTREAM’ (We Want Sounds, France, CD or 2-LP set)

from the back cover: ULTIMATE BREAKS & BEATS FROM MAINSTREAM RECORDS, THE SUPREME SOUND OF PRODUCER BOB SHAD, FUNKY TURNTABLE CLASSICS & HIGHLY SOUGHT-AFTER RARITIES!

French compilation CD of material recorded for Bob Shad’s MAINSTREAM label between 1971-1975, all taken from the master tapes.

  1. Saundra Phillips – Miss Fatback  3.09
  2. Afrique – Kissing My Love  3.08
  3. Hal Galper – This Moment  11.50
  4. December’s Children – Livin’ (Way Too Fast)  3.38
  5. Blue Mitchell – Blue’s Blues  7.08
  6. Maxine Weldon – Make It With You  2.56
  7. Reggie Moore – Mother McCree  2.57 LP2
  8. Jay Berliner – Papa Was A Rolling Stone  5.30
  9. Dave Hubbard – T.B.’s Delight  3.54
  10. Almeta Lattimore – These Memories  3.31
  11. Buddy Terry – Lean On Me (Lean On Him)  5.55
  12. Pete Yellin – Bird And The Ouija Board  12.35
  13. Sarah Vaughan – Just A Little Lovin’  3.10

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I reviewed a collection of soul material (on the UK Ace/Kent label) from Mainstream Records, circa early 70’s, a few years back, and it reminded me how much material was recorded by BOB SHAD for his little-label-that-could during its final push in the 1970’s. By the time I had a foot in jazz radio circa 1976-1977, Mainstream had already stopped releasing new jazz product, though we did have some of their albums in the station’s record library, and I remember playing tracks by some of my personal favorite Mainstream artists such as Blue Mitchell or Hadley Caliman or Charles Kynard when I was on-air after midnight.

There was a standard design to most Mainstream LP’s, and as someone who ran a small label myself for a number of years, I understand the advantages of that—-it keeps costs down, it allows you to focus on the music and the promotion instead of the design, and it gives your product an instantly recognizable look in the marketplace. I used to buy records in the early 70’s at a junk store on the north side (the side toward Boulder) of Golden, Colorado, where I would stop after high school in the afternoon. They had lots of radio station promos from Boulder and Denver radio stations, with the station name and date rec’d scribbled in magic marker on the front. I got many of the releases on the US branch of Blue Horizon there (and those changed my life), and I also got some Mainstream jazz albums there. I saw many 45’s on Mainstream too, but one only has so much money, and most of the artists I had either not heard of or were not people I was actively searching for.

It was very clear that Bob Shad was aiming the 70’s Mainstream label at a primarily African-American audience, and much of the label’s output was rooted (particularly in the rhythm section) in funk and soul. The playing on top of the beat might be quite free and “spiritual” in the Pharaoh Sanders sense, but there was a funky and even African undercurrent to the records…and this was true even when the artist (say Hal Galper) was not Black. Of course, it was the jazz side of the Mainstream catalog that was mostly of interest to me back then, and that’s still true today.

I always assumed Mainstream had a problem competing with both the major labels (in distribution) and the more focused labels specializing in Black music such as Stax or Brunswick (which I assumed had better contacts in the small radio-station community). Also, the funky nature of much of the jazz output was not the kind of thing that generated five-star reviews at Downbeat magazine! It did not surprise me when Mainstream went under–it’s hard to run a small label and compete with the big boys (and yes, they were pretty much male). I was happy to see when in the 80’s and 90’s the Mainstream catalog became very collectible because of hip-hop sampling and crate-digging DJ’s.

I’m also happy to see a new round of quality Mainstream reissues, from the master tapes and tastefully presented, from the French “We Want Sounds” label. Evidently, Mainstream itself was revived as a company (I remember seeing various reissues prior to that coming out which were related to Tamara Shad, Bob’s daughter) in 2017 by Bob Shad’s grandchildren, Mia and Judd Apatow, children of Tamara Shad. While there are a number of Mainstream reissues on We Want Sounds, if you want a one-volume distillation of everything that was great about the early 70’s Mainstream sound, the new THIS IS MAINSTREAM comp is a dream come true.

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As you listen to younger vocalists such as Saundra Phillips and Almeta Latimore, 70’s soul artists who had little to do with the “older people’s music” of 60’s soul, and then to long trippy but funk-rooted jazz instrumentals from the likes of Hal Galper and Blue Mitchell, to leisurely studio-jazz covers of pop and soul songs by Jay Berliner and Buddy Terry, to old-school vocalists such as Maxine Weldon and Sarah Vaughan doing 70’s “uptown” soul covers of the compositions of Mann-Weil and David Gates, all mixed together and programmed for maximum variety, it becomes clear (as it was to me, in a vague and undefined way, back in the 70’s seeing and hearing the Mainstream discs that I did) that to Bob Shad, this was all one music. Obviously, he understood the marketplace and knew that marketing jazz albums and soul 45’s were totally different activities with different contact persons in radio and promotion, but Shad seemed to have a kind of visionary quality, a man with a vision of the unity of African-American music styles (no matter what the ethnicity or cultural background of the musicians playing on the records, all of whom shared the vision) in the early 70’s. As you play this album, and you’ll want to put it on “repeat” as it’s such a wonderful mixture that’s expertly programmed, like the deepest DJ set, your jaw will drop at what a beautiful set it is.

I will definitely be getting some more of these We Want Sounds reissues of the Mainstream catalog (I see they are on LP too, for those so inclined). Here is a list of some I see for sale online:

JACK WILKINS, windows

BUDDY TERRY, awareness

HAROLD LAND, a new shade of blue

ALICE CLARK, alice clark

and some compilations including

INNER PEACE: RARE SPIRITUAL FUNK AND JAZZ GEMS, THE SUPREME SOUND OF PRODUCER BOB SHAD

FEELING GOOD: FUNK, SOUL, AND DEEP JAZZ GEMS, THE SUPREME SOUND OF PRODUCER BOB SHAD

kynard

As a lifelong blues fan I’m well aware of Shad’s late 40’s/early 50’s work with SITTIN’ IN WITH (SIW) records and as a lifelong jazz fan I’m well aware of his work at EmArcy later in the 50’s. And every fan of 60’s psychedelia knows the many great albums released on Mainstream. I know that the 70’s Mainstream output is not to the taste of many reading the KSE blog–hey, the “uptown” 73-75 soul is not to my taste either–but it’s great to see the jazz especially be given a second life, and unfortunately, some of these albums may be getting wider exposure now than they did in their original 70’s release. I know that some I stumbled across in used records stores in the 80’s and 90’s I NEVER saw a physical copy of in the racks in the 70’s.

Let me end this piece by reprinting my review of the Mainstream SUPER-DUPER LOVE compilation on Ace-Kent, which I published in Ugly Things a few years ago. It provides a capsule history of Bob Shad. Also, before that, here is a mention of the revival of Mainstream from producer/broadcaster Bob Porter, a man whose name is synonymous with Soul Jazz and who was a colleague (working for other labels, of course) of Shad for many years. I’m glad to hear that Shad had a good life after leaving the record business behind and moving to California. I always wondered what happened to him in the post-Mainstream, pre-internet age!

Bob Porter: https://www.wbgo.org/post/judd-apatow-revives-mainstream-bob-shads-independent-record-label#stream/0

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V.A.–Super Duper Love: Mainstream Hits and Rarities, 1973-76 (Kent, UK), CD

Bob Shad produced jazz/blues greats such as Charlie Parker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Big Bill Broonzy, and later he was the first to bring national attention to Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, Gary S. Paxton, The Amboy Dukes, and Skip Battin. He began in the mid-40s working for Savoy and National, and then started his own label, Sittin’ In With (SIW), which was largely blues-oriented, then worked A&R for Mercury in the 50’s  and ran their acclaimed jazz subsidiary Emarcy, then went independent again with Time and Brent Records in the late 50’s, finally emerging with his best-remembered label in the mid-1960’s, the legendary Mainstream.

Shad’s Brent label began issuing soul 45’s in the mid-60’s (collected previously on Kent’s excellent CD “Brent–Superb 60’s Soul Sounds”). By the early 70’s, much of Mainstream’s LP output was soul-jazz (a genre they stood by longer than other labels), but most of their 1970’s 45’s were aimed at the soul charts and Black radio stations. Super Duper Love focuses on the last few years of Shad’s soul releases on Mainstream and on related labels such as Brown Dog, Fast Track, and IX Chains. Most of this material has never been reissued.

The good news is that this is a well-programmed archival dig through 24 obscure singles most of us have never heard…although 9 of them made the R&B charts back in the day. The not-so-good news is that, unlike some productions coming out of the South at the time, these recordings might be a bit “uptown” for the Ugly Things reader. The performers range from well-known artists in between labels and trying to stay current such as Little Richard and Lenny Welch, to many strong lesser-known female vocalists, a number of whom are in the then-popular “sister to sister” talk-singing style, to a number of vocal groups such as The Dramatics and The Steptones. Soul music was evolving during this period, and that evolution is made clear as we proceed from 1973 through 1976 here.

However, faulting these recordings because they don’t sound like something from a small label in Jackson, Mississippi, or Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is not really fair. This was a New York label, and it also licensed material from major cities such as Detroit and Washington, DC. Urban Black radio of the day in Northern cities wanted sophisticated records, something that sounded modern and “classy,” and Mainstream’s soul 45’s from the final years of the label certainly delivered that very well. Performers such as Doris Duke and Sandra Phillips and Darlene Jackson and Calvin Arnold are as deep and soulful as the best artists from that period. Just imagine you are tuning into a 1974-75 soul radio station in Philadelphia or Baltimore. It’s a tribute to Bob Shad that a man who began his career in the 1940’s could still be issuing fresh and modern sounds that competed quite well on the playlists of Black radio stations of the mid-1970’s–and this is a masterful compilation of first-rate material, if 1973-76 uptown soul is to your taste. Bob Shad has left us a quality and diverse soul legacy!

Bill Shute, Ugly Things Magazine

January 3, 2020

Chronological 45/78 RPM playlists, A’s & B’s, from the 1950’s and early 1960’s… BILL BLACK, THE CHAMPS, SANTO & JOHNNY, BILL DOGGETT, FREDDY CANNON, BILL HALEY, JOEY DEE, HANK BALLARD, DANNY & THE JUNIORS, JIMMY BOWEN, DALE & GRACE

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 11:56 am

Nothing satisfies like original rock and roll records in MONO on 45 or 78 rpm records, the way they were meant to be heard. I heard the original 1968 45 rpm single of The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” last year for the first time in maybe 25 years and felt an excitement I had not felt about the Stones in decades. THAT was the sound that made the (pre-1973) Stones worthwhile, and no CD reissue (or LP reissue for that matter) has captured it. Speaking of The Rolling Stones, for me the ultimate reissue would be needle-drop recordings from the original vinyl (VG+ copies, not mint), mastered LOUD, so they would be loud at any volume (and ending with Street Fighting Man). Can you imagine Brian Jones’ slide guitar cutting through the speakers on “I Wanna Be Your Man”? I can, as I own that 45, and played it hundreds if not thousands of times as a youth, and the excitement of hearing the slide guitar and the song fade out at the end while the volume of the surface noise stays constant is part of the joy of such a great record.

There’s no Stones on offer here today, but earlier material, from many of the greats, with the singles, from original vinyl, back to back, A’s and B’s. This is how rock and roll (and rockin’ R&B in some cases, and easy-rollin’ swamp pop in one case) should sound. Let Bill Black’s Combo lock you into their groove for 2 minutes and 11 seconds, or whatever. Then listen to the flip-side, an equally hypnotic Memphis groove that even an awkward three-legged goat could dance to. If you’d bought a Black 45 in, say, 1961, you knew exactly what you were getting….after all, they called it “The  Untouchable Sound,” and it was…you could patent that chunka-chunka beat. And you’d no doubt play the single over and over….and over. And play it for your friends who visited. And have your girlfriend or boyfriend dance to it with you when she/he came over. And you’d hear the guttural riff and primal beat in your head all day as you were bagging groceries and would tune out the world while being careful to put the eggs and bread in the same bag. And you’d be anxious to get home and play the single again, and again. And you’d be excited that a new Bill Black single would be out in 3 months or so, and then you’d repeat that experience. People mostly bought 45’s back then, not albums. They spent 79 cents on one, and they got their money’s worth.

When we listen to some European public-domain CD compilation of rock and roll, where we get material ripped from earlier CD’s or some other digital master, and we get 25 songs at once, and they don’t have the analog sound, we’re not getting the original experience, which (to me, at least) is far more exciting than any digital experience.

These playlists of original 45’s are about as close as you can get today to that experience.

What prompted me to post these links is that the gentleman who put these on You Tube (thank you, Patrick T, wherever you are) has had about 2/3 of his material taken down in the last year. Who knows how long the rest will be  up? Savor this material now, while you can.

Before you start, when not try this transfer, direct from the turntable to you, of a 78 RPM version of the sublime Duane Eddy B-side “Three-Thirty Blues”.

duane-eddy-threethirtyblues-jamie-78

Play it loud. The next time you hear someone going on and on about why analog vinyl is preferable to digital, using terms like “warmth” and “punchy,” THIS is what they are talking about, this is the kind of cathartic sound experience they are remembering experiencing, and they want YOU to feel the same kind of sonic ecstasy, which I hope you will. You can FEEL each bluesy twang of Duane Eddy’s guitar. Eddy and his producer Lee Hazlewood knew what they were doing. Many who rave about Lee’s 1960’s solo recordings (as they should!) talk about the “paintings in sound” he is able to create through instrumentation with room to breathe, his rich voice, and his poetic lyrics, but Lee had been doing that since the mid-50’s, and there is no better example than his early Duane Eddy productions. Many overseas listeners would hear the sound of an imagined romanticized “America” with each echoed twang of Duane’s guitar. They imagined Monument Valley, or the Kansas Plains, or the Grand Canyon, or the empty but energy-charged main street of the town in HIGH NOON. You can imagine whatever you’d like while listening to this rare Jamie-label 78 (78’s were a dying breed at that time, and late-period 78’s are quite rare, the same way a 1968 MONO LP is, but maybe even more so), but is a rich and full and beautiful creation to me, and records like this are one reason why I am singing the praises of Mr. Duane Eddy (follow him on Facebook! he’s still around, still playing, still sounding great, still a friendly guy!) and records such as this recorded 60+ years ago. Enjoy….

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Now, it’s time to enjoy these fine collections of singles. Some should be a revelation unless you have a fairly complete collection of the artists….

BILL BLACK’S COMBO, 1959-1965

THE CHAMPS, 1958-1961

 

SANTO & JOHNNY, 1959-1966

 

BILL DOGGETT, 1954-1956 (almost two hours!!!)

 

….

 

FREDDY CANNON, 1959-1964 (Swan)

 

….

BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS, Essex 78’s 1952-1954

 

JOEY DEE & THE STARLITERS, 1960-1963

 

HANK BALLARD & THE MIDNIGHTERS, 1958-1966

 

DANNY & THE JUNIORS, 1960-1962 (Swan)

 

JIMMY BOWEN, 1957-1960 (Roulette)

 

DALE & GRACE, 1963-1967 (the great Louisiana swamp-pop duo)

Thanks for listening…and thanks for visiting the KSE blog. Best wishes from San Antonio!

January 2, 2020

classic 2014 Sammy Reed ” Music from the World of the Strange and the Bizarre” shows back online!

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 11:53 am

5 complete hour-long “Music From The World of the Strange and the Bizarre” radio shows from March-June 2014 are available here:

https://strangemusicworld.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-no-top-teeth-series.html

Sammy Reed’s present website can be found here (bookmark it!):

https://strangemusicworld.blogspot.com/

sammy reed

….

Sammy Reed’s name might not be that well known to people outside the song-poem community, or people who followed WFMU 10+ years ago, and he hasn’t helped matters much by being very active online for a while, then pulling back and pretty much vanishing for a while….sometimes taking down what he’d put online in the past.

For 10-15 years, I’ve followed his work, and I hope he stays online this time around and his present website stays up (check out the link above).

Sammy’s “Music From The World of the Strange and the Bizarre” radio show has been a staple at my house for many years. I downloaded a few dozen of them onto CDR and still play them regularly (they’re perfect for road trips!) and sent copies to my friend Brad Kohler, who did not have a computer and couldn’t access them online. If you can imagine an absurdist re-take on an old Casey Kasem American Top 40 show but with music from some alternative universe where song-poem records, low-grade amateurish novelty records, sound-alike cover versions from budget labels, private-pressing vanity records, songs related to long-forgotten fads, and novelty-themed disco exercise records are the dominant popular culture of the day. Sammy Reed is an entertaining host, with a deadpan, aw-shucks persona that reminds me of classic country entertainers such as, say, Smiley Burnette or Max Terhune or Hank Penny. During  his heyday, he even spun off a separate Top 10 show and You Tube channel featuring the hits and most-requested songs from the show. He would also take requests, and he was kind enough to play a great Nashville soundalike cover of “Whiter Shade Of Pale” for me on a few occasions.

There’s not one iota of condescension in Sammy Reed’s approach to anything he presents or champions—-we’re all born into this absurd world, but when we detach ourselves enough to come to that realization, the mistake that some make is to think that they themselves are somehow less absurd than others and to look down at the rest of us and forget where they came from. The Sammy Reed approach is just the opposite–embrace the absurdity, roll around in it—-as a now-deceased BBQ entrepreneur here in the San Antonio area used to say, “Git it all over you”—-allow yourself to be entertained by the folly of our brothers and sisters, knowing that we ourselves are equally absurd and all is folly. There’s something liberating in that approach, and it’s eye-opening to sense the warp and woof, the texture of throwaway culture and matter-of-fact phenomena that most people would look PAST to see something else. Andy Warhol certainly understood that, as does writer-photographer–editor/publisher Wyatt Doyle, of New Texture fame (check out his DOLLAR HALLOWEEN book, reviewed a few years on this blog).

Sammy Reed has done a number of other interesting archival projects dealing with the throwaway ephemera of everyday life, documenting airchecks and advertising reels from small-town radio stations in the 70’s and 80’s, documenting junk mail dealing with bogus penny-stocks and investment schemes, documenting transcription discs created by advertising agencies to sell long-forgotten ad campaigns, documenting the everyday details of the 50+ year soap opera THE GUIDING LIGHT, and much more. These are deep time-capsules that are both fascinating (in that they document the roads not taken by “serious” culture) and entertaining.

I hope Sammy keeps his present website up and running and that you readers of the KSE blog check it out a few times a month. His shows always put a smile on my face and cause me to not worry so much about whatever is on my mind….

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