Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

February 23, 2020

FADING YELLOW, Volume 17 (Flower Machine CD, Sweden)

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FADING YELLOW, VOLUME 17: 20 TIMELESS GEMS OF U.S. POP-PSYCH & OTHER DELIGHTS (CD, Flower Machine Records, Sweden, released December 2019)

1              –The Avant-Garde*        Yellow Beads

2              –Alan Lorber      Congress Alley

3              –The Poppy Family          I’ll See You There

4              –J.C. Cole*          I Found Me Today

5              –The Rooftop Singers     Kites

6              –A Small World                 I See You

7              –Space                  Radio Song

8              –James, John & Francois                Carolina

9              –The Fifth Estate              Love Is All A Game

10           –The Celtics        Looking For You

11           –The Hobbits     Artificial Face

12           –The Surprise Package   The Other Me

13           –The Magpies                    The Ballad Of Samuel Oscar Beasley

14           –The Looking Glass          Love Is Not Everything

15           –The Marshmellow Highway       I Don’t Wanna Live This Way

16           –Bucky Wilkin    I Wanna Be Free

17           –Sound Carnival                I Wish I Could Tell You

18           –The Swiss Movement                   Inside Of Me

19           –The In-Keepers               The Cobwebs Thread Of Autumn

20           –Salt And Pepper             In The Morning

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I was not aware that Volume 17 of FADING YELLOW had been released until Mike Stax sent out his Excel spreadsheet of who was reviewing what for the next issue of UGLY THINGS, and I saw that someone else was reviewing FY 17 (I reviewed FY 16 for UT in late 2018). Thankfully, Suzy Shaw at Bomp Records was stocking it, and I’ve been playing my newly acquired copy multiple times over the last week. If you’re not familiar with the series, let me quote from the first paragraph of my UT review of FY 16:

  Curating compilations is truly a complex art–a quality compiler with a consistent aesthetic and a knowledge of deep tracks that others have overlooked can create a masterwork from songs that, taken individually, might not blow anyone away. Through sixteen volumes, the Fading Yellow (the name taken from a Mike Batt song on the first volume) series has staked out a unique territory–not really psychedelic, though with some trippy elements; not really sunshine pop, though with some elements from that genre too. There tends to be a moody, melancholy feel to the best tracks on these albums, and even when the series moves too far into the 1970’s and some of the pieces sound like groups such as America or England Dan & John Ford Coley, those tracks tend to complement the overall atmosphere of the album and provide a change of pace among the trippier tracks that helps create a varied mosaic of sound that’s instantly recognizable as a Fading Yellow comp. The albums can transport you to a place where you are looking upon a field of flowers illuminated by moonlight at 2 a.m., with a mellow wine buzz….assuming that’s what you want!

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Fortunately, Volume 17 DOES NOT veer into the 70’s soft-rock mentioned above–it’s a solid collection of little-known also-ran pop-sike sides from both major labels and small local labels, nicely programmed into a seamless set that will satisify any lover of the SOFT SOUNDS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE compilation series or any listener to Steve Stanley’s NOW SOUNDS internet radio show. Each collector who curates these kind of compilations has a slightly different focus and slightly different taste, so FADING YELLOW is not the same as SOFT SOUNDS. There is less of the kitschy material found on SOFT SOUNDS (though the Alan Lorber track here on FY 17 certainly qualifies), but SOFT SOUNDS would never present some of the 70’s material FY does (for which I’m glad). It’s a trade-up and neither is “better” than the other–best to enjoy both, as so many of the records will be unfamiliar to the majority of listeners. Very little of what’s on FY 17 has been reissued….the amazing snarling 60’s bubble-punk anthem “Artificial Face” from the second LP by Jimmy Curtiss’ THE HOBBITS (the only album track here, I’m the proud owner of a mono copy of the LP, everything else is from 45’s) was re-issued on a Spanish comp named after it, ARTIFICIAL FACES, a number of years ago, but most everything else is not on reissues I own. From the flowers-in-her-hair and yellow love beads San Francisco-from-a-distance as seen by a sensitive-folkie vibe of “Yellow Beads” by The Avant-Garde (of Naturally Stoned fame), featuring Chuck Woolery (of game show and reality show fame), to a single from San Antonio’s THE SWISS MOVEMENT that could give the late 1967 Hollies a run for their money, the album has 20 diverse songs that will evoke patchouli incense, nehru jackets, images of fields of poppies in a psychedlic-tinged 1968 deodorant commercial, and the kind of hippies found in a Dragnet episode or an Up With People rally. The Turtles or the post-Peter Tork Monkees would be proud to claim the majority of the tracks here, unless Orpheus or The Association would be a better fit.

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I love these compilations, both as a collector myself (great tracks I’ve never heard) and as someone who enjoys the unique atmosphere these records create. In fact, ATMOSPHERE is the operative word for any FY comp. Each track is atmospheric, and placed alongside 19 other selections, it’s a beautiful juxtaposition of images and moods to take you back to a 1968 or 1970 that never existed, but was a beautiful dream/fantasy for but a brief moment in time. All for the cost of a CD.

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If you’re in the US, try Bomp Records mailorder. If you’re in Europe, try some of the local Ebay sites. This is a Swedish release, so finding it in Europe should not be much of a problem. These are limited to 500 copies, so don’t delay….most of the earlier volumes are out of print. Can’t wait for Volume 18. Hope it does not take another two years….

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February 22, 2020

upcoming Bill Shute reviews for Ugly Things #53 and update on other writings

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I just submitted the last of my reviews for Ugly Things magazine #53, which should be out in a few months. Here’s what you can expect from me:

EDDIE AND THE SHOWMEN, SQUAD CAR: THE EDDIE BERTRAND STORY (CD, Oldays, Japan), a tribute to the great South Bay surf guitar pioneer, with the complete singles from Eddie & The Showmen, Eddie’s tracks with his earlier band The Bel-airs, along with tracks from other South Bay surf instrumental bands of the era, some with Bertrand connections. Packaged in one of those cardboard mini-LP sleeves the Japanese labels do so well….


ALEXIS KORNER, THE COMPLETE WARNER BROS. RECORDINGS (2-cd, Wounded Bird), includes the career-spanning 2-LP compilation BOOTLEG HIM! and the 1973 ACCIDENTALLY BORNE IN NEW ORLEANS, from the British Blues master

korner warner

MICHAEL NESMITH WITH RED RHODES, COSMIC PARTNERS: THE McCABES TAPES (CD/LP, 7A, UK), a sublime and intimate live set from McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA, from 1973….Nesmith and steel guitarist Red Rhodes were riding on the crest of the wave of their amazing duo album PRETTY MUCH YOUR STANDARD RANCH STASH when they stopped in at McCabes, a place where both men felt very comfortable and at home, and kept the audience spellbound for hour of hypnotic, mind-bending “cosmic cowboy” music….I hesitate to call this “country rock” since Nesmith (one-time San Antonio resident and student at San Antonio College, I’m proud to say!) has always been a genre unto himself…

nesmith cosmic

ELVIS PRESLEY, THE ‘ELVIS IS BACK’ SESSIONS (4-CD box, Follow That Dream/RCA, Denmark) The complete surviving recordings, with every take in the order recorded, of the four days of sessions Elvis did in March and April 1960 upon his release from military service in the Army, the 12 songs from the album ELVIS IS BACK and 6 songs used for 45 rpm singles, among The King’s finest-ever recordings….


ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: GETTING IT TOGETHER IN THE COUNTRY, 1968-1974 (3-cd box, Grapefruit UK)… Compiler David Wells has done an amazing job pulling together a wide variety of music from British and Irish bands moving into a “rural rock” vein in the post-psychedelic era, under the influence of the Clarence White-era Byrds, John Wesley Harding-era Dylan, and The Band….one of those compilations which will cause us to re-evaluate a lot of music we have listened to for years but did not fully contextualize…


IT’S THE BEST STUFF YET! (2-cd set, Frog, UK)…Disc One contains a rich harvest of Piedmont Blues (from Virginia down through Georgia) from the acoustic-blues era, including some private recordings and an X-rated acetate of Josh White doing a version of “Darktown Strutters Ball” unlike any you’ve previously heard, but the real revelation here is Disc Two, the complete, hour-long 1956 Atlanta session from BLIND WILLIE MCTELL, from start to end with all the songs and the talk, in the order it as recorded. Excerpts were included on the Prestige-Bluesville LP LAST SESSION, but here we have everything, and it’s like having McTell himself in your living room talking and playing. A must-own collection!

it's the best stuff

NORMAN PETTY STUDIOS: THE VAULT SERIES VOLUME 7, 1953-59 (CD, Nor-Va-Jak)… Another first-rate excavation into the meticulously-kept vaults of Clovis, New Mexico, producer NORMAN PETTY, featuring a wide variety of 1950’s artists mostly from West Texas and New Mexico, including Roy Orbison, Peanuts Wilson, Sonny Curtis, Alvis “Eddie” Edwards, Bob Church (Terry Noland’s brother), Don Guess, Jimmy Bowen, and some tracks with Buddy Holly on guitar. These albums go out of print quickly and then are available only as downloads. Volume 8 is already out for a few months, so get Volume 7 ASAP.

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Nice to get all those off to UT editor-publisher MIKE STAX, with whom I’ve worked for nearly 35 years!

At Chris Stigliano’s inimitable BLOG TO COMM (the online version of the old BLACK TO COMM punk-zine), my column continues to run every-other Tuesday with comments on film, music, comics, books, old-time radio, vintage television, and the occasional pseudo-autobiographical narrative piece. I provide a link to each of these on the KSE Facebook page (and on my own personal FB page) when it appears at BTC, and as I type this on a Saturday morning in late February, Chris has material in the can from me to get through the next 3 1/2 months. I get regular feedback from readers on the BTC pieces, which is very much appreciated. My most recent piece there is a write-up on the 1942 Monogram film RUBBER RACKETEERS, starring Ricardo Cortez, at his suave and sinister best. Here is a link to that:

Rubber Racketeers BTC, Bill Shute

I’m also working on an introductory essay for a new book collecting early 70’s magazine articles from one of my favorite film directors and prose writers….I’ll provide more specifics on this when the project is officially announced. The kind of people who read this blog or BTC will probably find this book to be one of the most essential of the year when it’s eventually issued.

My job keeps me busy well beyond work hours, alas, so I’ve not put much up here on the blog recently (I need to finish some of the 12-15 half-completed blog posts sitting in my draft box when I have time). As with most employers nowadays, mine is requiring more of me each year, seeing how much the camel’s back will take before it breaks. Also, now being 61, I undoubtedly require more effort to do the same tasks I did five years ago. Add those elements together, and you can see the end result.

Fortunately, I continue to plug away at my 2019-2020 book-length poem TOMORROW WON’T BRING THE RAIN, which I hope to complete and edit during my two week writing vacation in June, split between Evangeline Downs racetrack in Opelousas, Louisiana, and a cabin on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, east of Breaux Bridge, LA. This 48-page work is about 70% completed presently. My notebook is always in my pocket, and the work’s structure/format/unifying tropes and image patterns were set before I began the “writing.” An analogy I would give to help people understand how I work would be a film-maker shooting all the footage–master shots, close-ups, two-shots, second-unit sequences, location shooting, etc.–and then going into the editing room for a month or two and creating the finished work. In a sense, that’s what I did during the June writing vacations for the previous two book-length poems, RIVERSIDE FUGUE (2018-2019) and AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN (2017-2018).

Speaking of poetry, I’ve been spending much of my free time in a number of variorum editions (combining all variant versions of texts in one book) of Wordsworth’s poetry, from the wonderful CORNELL WORDSWORTH series. I’ve been a lifelong reader of the two major versions of THE PRELUDE, but in the last few years, I’ve been studying the lesser-known texts of William Wordsworth, both early and late, and attempting to get a handle on the logic behind his many revisions of his poetry. People generally write off these revisions as being inferior (as, say, W. H. Auden’s later revisions of his earlier work), but Wordsworth was such a devoted re-writer (and often he would not publish ANY of the versions!) and produced such a large quantity of versions of his large quantity of works that a true knowledge of WW’s work requires a jump into the deep end of the pool of variants forms of the works. I’m not sure how many would follow me into such dense (and by today’s standards off-putting) works as THE ECCLESIASTICAL SONNETS, but as a poet I find his method and his variant “finished works” fascinating and an inspiration.

All of the recent Bill Shute KSE poetry paperbacks are available here:

Bill Shute author page

Check them out! All are under $10 each and in handsome perfect-bound editions, each page carefully composed in the open-field format, with stanzas inspired by the late-period William Carlos Williams “stairstep” line, though I’ve been doing this long enough that my work does not really resemble anyone else’s, love it or hate it or avoid it.

The British collection (with original art by David Payne) from A Series of Lizards Press, APPROACHING THE APPARENT, sold out a few months after its release, and the shared poetry book with Michael Casey CULTURE OF COMPLIANCE is available from The Ruminant Press, though they are down to their last few copies. If you are a local here in San Antonio and would like a copy of that, just ask me when I see you as I have a few extras left.

As always, thanks for your interest in my various projects–past, present, and future.


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