Kendra Steiner Editions

September 1, 2019

Vintage Psychedelia From The Music City (SPV-Yellow CD, Germany)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:31 pm

various artists, “Vintage Psychedelia From The Music City”

cd, SPV-Yellow Records, Germany….circa 2008

compiled by Fred James and Paul Urbahns

vintage psych front

For about 15 years, in the 1990’s and the early 2000’s, wonderful 50s/60s  compilations of tracks from the small labels of Nashville appeared on a number of reissue labels in Europe, mostly Holland and Germany, licensed from the archives of Bluesland Productions, run by the superb bluesman Fred James, who is well-known for his exciting collaborations/productions with veteran blues and R&B artists such as Frank Frost, Homesick James, and the “Excello R&B Legends,” Clifford Curry, Earl Gaines, and Roscoe Shelton. Any album James recorded with these men is worth getting, and the Gaines and Shelton discs have rarely been far from my turntable/cd-player over the years. However, Mr. James is also an archivist and controls the rights to the material found on a number of Nashville-based small labels, with material spanning a number of genres: blues, R&B, rocknroll, pop, country, bluegrass, rockabilly, country-rock, jump blues, etc. We can look at those other genres in other posts (and I hope we will, it’s a large and stunning body of work that’s little commented on), but now I’d like to discuss an odd but fascinating album that crept out in Germany eleven years back and has received little attention.

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The focus here is on Nashville’s SPAR label. Best known for its soundalike budget covers of various hits (most record collectors have stumbled across a number of Spar 45’s over the years, particularly if you are in or close to The South), Spar also recorded original material, and there is a mixture of both on this 20-track album. The core of the album, and the finest material on it, is singles by three bands, The Network (whose single was produced by the great George Motola, of Jesse Belvin fame, who’d moved to Nashville and brought his A-game to this session), Charley Romans Seventh Plane, and The Mad Tea Party, groups about which little is known, but the little that is known is covered well in James’ liner notes. They are first rate, trippy soft-psych material that would fit well on a FADING YELLOW or SOFT SOUNDS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE comp.  In fact, I’m sure at least one of the songs is on one of those comps, as I’ve heard TWO of these songs but I’ve never owned the actual singles. They are intelligent songs, well-performed and well-arranged, but with that wonderful small-label ambiance that makes all the difference. And the album’s programmers were smart to put these as tracks 1 and 2 (great lead-off makes one favorable toward the album), tracks 5 and 6, and tracks 9 and 10. With that much excellent material in the first half of the album, the many entertaining but thin soundalike covers by The Electric Screwdriver are easier to swallow. Of course, being quickie recordings, they really DO NOT sound “alike” to the originals, and from our perspective today, it’s the differences that make listening worthwhile. I particularly like the “bubblepunk” vocal on “Instant Karma,” which makes it sound like something from the Kasenetz-Katz stable. The covers of Hush, Come Together, Born To Be Wild, and Crimson and Clover are all well done and capture the essence of the originals while sounding different enough to be of interest to today’s collectors. The covers of “Love Is Blue” and Jose Feliciano’s version of “Light My Fire” are not really psych by any definition, or even rocknroll, but as they are mixed among other quality material, they are quite tasty….and have that unique, off-kilter flavor one finds with budget-label cover versions, which I have actively collected and enjoyed for decades. For instance, the version of Paul Mauriat’s elevator music classic “Love Is Blue” is arranged to feature fewer musicians than the original (which makes economic sense on a quickie cover), so a solo classical guitar is featured throughout and there is no orchestra. The guitarist’s playing—maybe someone who played on a Nashville country session across town the same day—is beautiful, and I’d love to hear a full album of him/her playing the hits of the day. You take fine artistry wherever you find it.

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Southern psychedelia sounds nothing like psychedelia from other parts of the USA—-I was reminded of that fact again recently while reading about LITTLE PHIL AND THE NIGHTSHADOWS in UGLY THINGS #51…. only a band from the South could produce an album like their totally original with a debt to no other band THE SQUARE ROOT OF TWO…. or something like THE ELECTRIC TOILET‘s album IN THE HANDS OF KARMA (a favorite of mine since the 70’s)… or the various bands who recorded for Shelby Singleton’s family of labels (Charly did a fine sampling of that material on a 2-cd set a few years back called ALICE IN WONDERLAND: THE GREAT SOUTHERN POP-SIKE TRIP). Maybe it’s the fact that so many Southern bands have deep roots in soul/gospel and in R&B flavored frat-rock—-you decide. Even the Spar cover of “Magic Carpet Ride”, credited to THE ELECTRIC SCREWDRIVER, reflects that unique approach to psych South of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I should state for the record that if you buy this album thinking you are going to get psychedelic material, you’ll be disappointed. There are three fine trippy singles (six songs), mixed in with excellent sound-alike covers of psych-tinged classics (Magic Carpet Ride, Crimson and Clover, etc.), mixed in with other Spar Records covers from the era (Love In Blue, Games People Play, etc.). I should also mention the fine cover of fellow Tennesseans THE BOX TOPS’ hit SWEET CREAM LADIES, by a Spar studio group called THE CHORDS (on some other records spelled THE CORDS), which was originally on the B-side of a cover of “Build Me Up Buttercup” credited to The Fantastics. Perhaps the best way to appreciate this album is to imagine you are listening to some low-wattage Nashville radio station in an alternate universe circa 1969 in a dream  you don’t want to end, in a world where all the windows are crooked, the milk is watery, and all the newspapers are printed off-center. Or maybe you hit a junk store outside Nashville circa 1972 with a large haul of random Spar Records-related material, and you’re playing it in no particular order. However you view it, fans who can go from pop-sike to budget-label covers of “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Instant Karma” without missing a beat will be as excited about this album as I’ve been for the last eleven years. You’re unlikely to find a copy of either ELECTRIC SCREWDRIVER album in the wild easily (I’ve never owned them, though I’ve owned maybe 20 Spar singles at one time or another over the years), so here’s your chance to hear the cream of that material….and some first-rate original pop-sike singles from Music City USA….and I see copies of this CD on Discogs and Ebay going for FOUR DOLLARS. You can’t afford NOT to own a copy.

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8-track cover from Bluesland Productions (owner of the rights to this material) website

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August 31, 2019

JOHN MAYALL, “LIVE IN EUROPE” (London Records LP, PS 589, issued in 1971)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 7:36 pm

JOHN MAYALL, “LIVE IN EUROPE” —  London Records (USA) PS 589, released 1971

originally issued in the UK in 1968 as “Diary of a Band, Volume Two”

lineup: John Mayall, keyboards, vocals, harp, leader

Mick Taylor, guitar / Keith Tillman, bass / Keef Hartley, drums

Chris Mercer, tenor and sop. sax / Dick Heckstall-Smith, tenor and bari. sax

live recordings made in the UK, Holland, and Ireland, circa November/December 1967

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Listening to this album while working this afternoon, in late August 2019, it dawned on me that I have owned JOHN MAYALL, LIVE IN EUROPE for 48 years (!), and I’ve played it regularly ever since. Why would anyone treasure such an album, a live album with bootleg-level sound quality, issued in the US three years after its original UK release by Mayall’s  former American label to capitalize on his success at a new label (Polydor) and of course to capitalize on Mick Taylor’s fame as one of the Rolling Stones.

One reason is that by any standard it’s a raw and exciting album of British Blues, with extended versions of the songs and with a “live” club sound so authentic you can taste the watered-down drinks and the cigarette smoke. As a 13-year-old, I was quite impressed with the album, having already been into Mayall since about 1968, when I first heard JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS CRUSADE as a 10-year-old….that’s why when Mick Taylor was chosen to join the Rolling Stones, I’d already heard of him. As a boy of 10-12, I could afford maybe three new LP’s a year, with allowance, lawn-mowing money, and birthday/Xmas presents. I made sure that each new Mayall (and Kinks) album was at the top of my want list. I also could pick up cut-outs here and there to fill the gaps, and as those were often 99 cents (or even 47 cents), I could afford those with pocket change, and thankfully, my parents would give me a few quarters if I were short, knowing how much I loved music.

I can remember the radio ad for LIVE IN EUROPE as if it’s yesterday, on radio station KFML in Denver, the “underground” station, which had both an AM and FM version. I’m not sure if it was a locally made ad or one provided by the label, but it had some FM disc-jockey sounding voice talking about Mayall’s devotion to blues music and how it has cost  him wider fame, over a bed of music from the album, which sounded intriguingly raw to my young ears. I remember some of the language in the ad being “Mayall has been laughed at, scorned….”, and if the intent was to sell Mayall as “the real thing” to the FM underground audience of 1971 (as opposed to, say, The Rolling Stones, Mick Taylor’s then-current employers), it worked on me. I believe the record was on sale for $3.99, and I took the bus to Independent Records on West Colfax, between Sheridan and Wadsworth, to get my copy (this store was where, a year or two later, I was first exposed to bootleg LP’s). I bought most of Mayall’s Polydor LP’s at that store too.

I’d already heard bootleg-quality live recordings from some of the cut-outs on the Charlie Parker Records label…see my piece on the CP 30-cd box set, elsewhere on this blog–         (  CP Box  )… by that time I had one of the Parker and one of the Lester Young sets, and I considered those magical as they took me to the venue and the gig itself in a way that studio recordings never could (and I heard those recordings of Bird and Prez before I’d ever heard their studio recordings). I’d also gotten blues albums by the likes of Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Lightnin Hopkins in those same cut-out racks and played them all the time. So to have a raw live album by one of my musical heroes, with extended workouts, probably recorded at 2 a.m. in some sweaty blues club in the Europe of my adolescent imagination was quite a delicious and satisfying experience for the 13-year-old me!

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And did the actual album meet and exceed my expectations! Side one, running 24 minutes, had two extended slow-burners, with long, relaxed but tension-filled solos from Mick Taylor, the aching vocals of Mayall swirling around his organ lines, hot sax solos, and the powerhouse drumming of Keef Hartley. Side two, however, really jumped into the deep end of the pool. The first track isn’t even a “song,” but Mayall and the band’s introductions and interactions with well-lubricated club patrons, as well as sarcastic asides from Hartley, whose accent is so thick I could only make out half of what he was saying. That is followed by a solid 7-minute version of Sonny Boy II’s “Help Me,” and then a 5-minute slow smoldering blues featuring the sax players. The album closes with an excerpt from a long jam with banter between Hartley and Mercer, a ferocious drum solo from Hartley (always a crowd-pleaser…. there’s a Mayall live album with recordings from 72 or 73 floating around called SMOKIN’ BLUES that features Hartley on drums, and live he’s very much a British Blues version of the Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa-style drummer, someone who knows how to work an audience), and then a closing chorus from the whole band. It ends on a climax, and you’re ready to flip the album over and put the needle in the groove at the beginning of side one again….at least I am.

I don’t remember this album making much of a splash when it was released. Mayall’s albums for Polydor were coming out in regular succession–USA UNION, THE TURNING POINT, MEMORIES (a mind-blowing concept album with autobiographical lyrics that cut to the quick–), BACK TO THE ROOTS, JAZZ BLUES FUSION, MOVIN ON, TEN YEARS ARE GONE, etc. Those got regular airplay on  KFML and FM “album rock” stations nationally (though after TEN YEARS ARE GONE, Mayall’s popularity waned a bit, and then he moved to ABC Records, when I stopped picking up every Mayall album automatically…I began again with his early 80’s live album on GNP Cresecendo). “Room To Move” was even something of a hit on that level and could be heard daily on the radio. London continued to release older Mayall product in new compilations to compete with his product on other labels, and all of it was amazing–LOOKING BACK, THRU THE YEARS, PRIMAL SOLOS, etc. The version of “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” from LOOKING BACK is (to me) the best thing Eric Clapton ever recorded, and shows why he was so revered during his Mayall period. I’ve never been much of a Clapton fan otherwise, but anyone who could play the way he did there (and elsewhere) during the Mayall and Yardbirds years must surely still “have it” somewhere within him. Or maybe there is some Clapton live blues bootleg out there that will change my mind–I’m open-minded, so please put it on a CDR and mail it to me. Thanks in advance. A few years after LIVE IN EUROPE, I finally got the FIRST album in the series, DIARY OF A BAND, originally issued in the US and UK in 1968 (but in two volumes in the UK, only one here, the second one coming out three years later as LIVE IN EUROPE), which was quite similar and is equally recommended…though that never had the effect on me that LIVE IN EUROPE did because I had EUROPE so early in my development and probably played it daily for two years.

As of this writing, Mayall is still at it, well into his eighties, and he certainly does still have what it takes. Just a year or two ago he issued a wonderful live album with a no-guitar trio (Mayall on keys, a bassist and a drummer), and the tracks were long and one never missed the guitar. And speaking of guitar, Mayall now has Texas’s CAROLYN WONDERLAND playing with him, whom I know and admire from her collaborations with Guy Forsyth. Mayall continues to feature only the finest musicians and gives them a lot of space. God bless John Mayall!

By the way, an interesting, kind but not-entirely-superpositive perspective on John Mayall is provided by jazz/R&B saxophone great RED HOLLOWAY, who worked with Mayall in the early 70’s (Mayall had some amazing L.A.-based jazzmen in his band at that time), and is on the SMOKIN BLUES album mentioned above (in fact, the tours documented on that album are discussed specifically by Holloway). It’s in the second half of an hour-long interview, but you’ll want to listen to the entire thing anyway as Holloway’s background is rich in blues and R&B. He is the perfect example of the old axiom that the basis of jazz is in blues playing. Here’s the link:  Holloway interview

Holloway clearly doesn’t fully appreciate Mayall’s take on the blues (I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to…it would be like asking Gary Cooper or Buck Jones what they thought of Italian westerns, had they lived long enough to see some), but when he comments on the content of Mayall’s lyrics, he shows that he truly DOES get it–he’s just labelling the cup as half empty rather than half full. His comments on Mayall’s audiences not knowing good work from mediocre work (by Holloway’s standards) is also interesting. Coming from a man who spent years playing to Chicago club audiences who knew the real thing because they lived it, one can understand where he’s coming from.

You can still get a copy of LIVE IN EUROPE for under five dollars on Discogs. And there is a British CD that combines both volumes of DIARY OF A BAND into a 2-cd set, which is well-worth tracking down…make sure what you’re ordering is a 2-cd set.

JOHN MAYALL LIVE IN EUROPE came along at the right time for me, and it’s still working its blues-drenched magic nearly 50 years after I bought it. It must be the best $3.99 I ever spent.

mayall europe

August 24, 2019

pay a visit to THE SHELLAC STACK

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:24 pm

THE SHELLAC STACK

an hour-long podcast from Bryan S. Wright, now up to show #176, featuring music from 78 RPM discs, pre-1952, available at Shellac Stack homepage

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I’ve been enjoying Bryan Wright’s SHELLAC STACK podcast for years. Initially, I would burn CDR’s of the hour-long shows and listen in the car on long road-trips or at home while making dinner, paying online bills, etc., but now that I’ve got a recent computer and not my old 2004 clunker that would not stream more than 12 seconds at a time before cutting out for ten seconds, I’m listening online, as I did today on this leisurely Saturday morning.

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Although the first 30 episodes are no longer available, the ones from episode 31 on still are, so you’ve got OVER 140 HOURS of exciting and enjoyable music at your fingertips.

Mr. Wright is an acclaimed pianist and musicologist, and also runs the superb RIVERMONT RECORDS label, which most recently issued a fine 2-cd set of the complete works of the NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM KINGS, which now replaces the old two volumes on Italian “King Jazz” as the definitive collection of the NORK. Rivermont also issued a new 78 RPM record earlier this year, so you know where Wright’s heart is! He brings a lot of knowledge and a lot of passion to the show (he’s not unlike the 78 RPM music world what Leonard Maltin is to the vintage film world, an expert and scholar who still has the enthusiasm and passion to share the work with others which one associates with a fan, someone who says, “hey, you’ve GOT to here this”). Also, since Wright plays his own records, everyone of them is something he once found in the wild, purchased online, or traded with another collector for, so he has a personal stake in each record. He liked it enough to buy it and preserve it, and now he’s sharing it with us! That “personal” quality really comes through on the show.

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While much of the show is dedicated to 20’s and 30’s dance bands, he also goes back to the 1900’s and 1910’s and plays ragtime, banjo solos, ethnic music, and a lot more. He also plays—-and you don’t find this championed much anymore—-original records from the 1940’s and early 50’s  traditional jazz revival, both records with an original jazz figure like Bunk Johnson at the helm, but also bands of players then in their 20’s taking on New Orleans standards or new songs composed in that manner. And where else today are you going to get 78’s of theater organ instrumentals from the 1920’s, instruments that are to music what an elephant is to a poodle dog, and acoustic recordings by parlor vocalists who roll their R’s. The most recent show featured a wonderful 1928 recording by Sophie Tucker with Jimmy Dorsey on alto and Miff Mole on trombone that reminds us almost 100 years later why Ms. Tucker was truly The Last Of The Red-Hot Mamas!

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Let me quote Bryan Wright’s own comments on the show, as he puts it better than I ever could:

I’ve been collecting 78 rpm records for most of my life. Something about these heavy, scratchy old discs caught my ear when I was a kid and I’ve been fascinated by them ever since. In this digital age of heavily-produced music that involves layering and piecing together snippets of sound recorded on multiple tracks over days, weeks, or months, then tweaking pitches and rhythms to create a “perfect” performance that never existed, there’s something refreshing to me about placing the needle in the groove of a 78 rpm record and listening to a musical performance captured in a single, uninterrupted “take” by talented musicians working side-by-side. Essentially, each disc offers one or two studio-recorded “live performances” that allow me to appreciate completely the talent of the musicians; I never have to wonder if what I’m really enjoying are the mixing and editing skills of a nameless engineer.
I have fairly eclectic tastes in music and 78 rpm records offer so many choices. Whether it’s the ragtime banjo stylings of Fred Van Eps, the western swing of Milton Brown and His Brownies, Jesse Crawford at the Mighty Wurlitzer, the tight vocal harmonies of the Revelers, the hot jazz of Jelly Roll Morton, the cornball comedy of Homer and Jethro, the sophisticated piano of Cy Walter, the hard-driving swing of Benny Goodman, the haunting voice of Om Kalsoum, or even the syrupy violin-laced parlor music of Joseph C. Smith, I enjoy them all. (Though I have to admit a particular affection for the hot dance bands of the late 1920s and early 1930s.)


 

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78 RPM records, like silent films, but unlike paintings and literature (which have a different kind of value), provide a document of an actual period (2-3 minutes usually) of living time—-a document which can be replayed today, in many cases more than 100 years after the fact. You are experiencing the living (now there’s a phrase that could come out of the Gertrude Stein of the 1910’s!) of a human being, probably long gone by now, alongside that person for a period of time. There is something magical about that. Also, while I won’t go as far as Robert Crumb, who once claimed to not listen to any music not recorded on 78 or any music recorded after 1934 (!!!), I will definitely say that coming from a 78 RPM disc (or a scratchy acetate from the 50’s or 60’s) gives the music a kind of gravitas, a deeper specific gravity. Because 78 rpm records spin faster than a 45 or 33, there is more INFORMATION in the grooves for each second of sound. When that sound is played with the correct stylus from a fine quality 78 and the information in the grooves extracted with care, the sound is rich and full in a way that digital sound just cannot capture. The late sound archivist John R. T. Davies was a master of bringing that sound out of 78 RPM discs, and fortunately Mr. Davies worked on hundreds if not thousands of reissue LP’s and CD’s, making that musical treasure available to future generations who will never hold an actual shellac disc in their hands. It’s similar to how seeing a film projected from 35mm provides a richer, more grounded viewing experience than something coming from a digital source.

Thanks to Bryan Wright for the hard work he’s put into doing 176 shows so far…and he doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon. Put the show on while you are doing something around the house, or if you can access it in your car, while you are driving. I predict you’ll be coming back often….and sampling the older shows. Many shows have a theme of one sort or another (recent ones have included ladies’ names, names of cities, and songs related to “heat,” which he did in the midst of the 2019 extra-hot summer), and you can wander among the older shows in his back catalogue and find a theme you like. Enjoy! There is gold to be found online if you know where to look….

August 22, 2019

TEENAGE DREAMS, VOLUME 40: The Final Edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:49 pm

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TEENAGE DREAMS, VOLUME 40: THE FINAL EDITION (Teenie Weenie, CD, Germany)

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Heart Broken – Danny Cagle & the Escorts
Wanda – Randy Loring
That’s The Love – Steve Denver With The Phantoms
Maggie – Sunny Molino With The Chekkers
We Mean More To Each Other – The Centurians
Lonely Tears – Roger Blackwell
Walking At Midnight – Sonny Flaharty
For My Angel – The Vons
Teenage Serenade – Ray Burden
Too Young For Love – Bob Steffek & The Falcons
I Dreamed AboutYou Last Night – Charlie Gore
Twistin’ Irene – The Dinos
The Girl By My Side – Inspirations
i Always Dream Of Barbara – Scott Smith & The Rockets
I Wish – Eric With The Plazas
Oh What An Angle You Are – Dickie Loader & The Blue Jeans
Yo Yo Girl – Dickie & The Debonaires
White Bobby Socks – Bosse Quiding
Blue Guitar – Jan Davis
Unlucky In Love – Freddie Morrison & The Capris
Lonely One – Robert A Irvine
Lonely Girl – Jerry Minton
The Flame – Ralph Miranda
My Truest Love – Dick And Slim & The Satelites
A Woman Of The World – Rockdin C Hoaglund
Jane – Rock Williams & His Fighting Cats
I Thank The lord – Bobby Leone
The Foolish One – Dick Dewayne
Let Me Keep You Company – Johnny Jay
Gee Whiz – Little Angie & The Hi-Lites

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After a 20-or-so year run, with 40 (!!!!!) overstuffed CD’s with 30 or more tracks each of prime late 50’s/early 60’s teen rock and roll (except for one volume which opened with an awful recently-recorded track “in the spirit of the era”), the Teenage Dreams compilation series comes to an end…but it’s better to go out on a high point, and this volume 40 is certainly a solid one, than to keep going and padding future volumes with sub-standard material. Anyone who’s ever collected 45’s of that era knows that there’s a lot of junk out there with awful flat and/or adenoidal lead vocals, or unlistenable cloying backing vocals or insipid Mitch Miller style instrumentation backing the singer, so the compilers of this material have waded through probably hundreds of singles to come up with the 30 tracks on offer here. Teen rock/ highschool rock/ malt shoppe bop, call it what you will, dates from 1957 or so through 1964. These artists wanted to be the new Ricky Nelson, the new Bobby Vee, perhaps the new Dion, maybe the new John Ashley or the new Fabian—-they did not want to be the new Link Wray or the new Gene Vincent. Every area had its teen dances at high schools and VFW halls and CYO events and Masonic Halls, and here in the USA, any town with a few thousand people could have a small label they could record for (and that’s not counting “custom”/vanity pressings, where anyone anywhere with a few hundred dollars could put out a record and potentially compete with Ricky or Buddy or Elvis). Some vocal groups who were not specifically doo-wop or had a charismatic front man who tended to be featured would also qualify for this genre. And yes, there might be some overlap between singles that would wind up on a Collector–White Label LP or singles that would fit on a doo-wop collector’s reissue because there would be that ineffable “teen” quality where the band could potentially play a dance attended by Wally Cleaver and his pals (Beaver was too young), or Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics.

The bands generally rock, although some may have a few strings and a backing chorus—-the better volumes of this series may only have 4 or 5 such tracks, spread out among the 30.

Also, various volumes feature early recordings by people who are better-known for their work after this era…. early tracks by Skip Battin and Steve Barri on various Teenage Dreams volumes come to mind. And it’s great to learn about the local “teen scene” circa 1959 or 1961 in towns such as Corpus Christi or Dayton or Providence or Charlotte…not to mention the well-chosen overseas teen-rockers from places such as New Zealand or Belgium or (as on this album, with the Dickie Loader track) South Africa. Back in the LP era, Collector-White Label issued 3 fine albums of this kind of material from New Zealand called ROCK FROM THE OTHER SIDE, which are highly recommended (those leaned toward more of a harder R&R sound, but the “teener” feel was there most of the time).

I have about 20 of the 40 volumes and must say that they’ve provided me with endless hours of joy, particularly on road trips where it’s like the ultimate malt shoppe jukebox of fresh material you’d find in a dream. One could never “find” these kind of things out in the wild nowadays, and I never participate in online auctions, so the anonymous European compilers of this material, who know more about the nuts and bolts of the local US post-Elvis, pre-Beatles teen sound than I ever will, have really done us all a public service by making this exciting and enjoyable music available. Oh, there are other series mining this vein—-I’ve reviewed some of them in Ugly Things magazine, and I assume they will continue (the albums on the “Classics” label from Sweden are particularly fine), but those of us who love small-label original rock and roll featuring local-scene teen-idols should tip our hats to the folks at Teenie Weenie Records for sticking with this series for two decades or more….and keeping the quality high. I will raise a chocolate malt in their honor….

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TD 40 SUNNY MOLINO WITH THE CHEKKERS

Sunny Molino with the Chekkers

August 17, 2019

100 KSE MUSIC RELEASES ON DISCOGS

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 7:41 pm
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Between 2009 and December 2018, Kendra Steiner Editions released nearly 140 CDR’s (some of the earliest ones being 3″ mini-cdr’s) of experimental music and other genres (higher-key psychedelia, gospel, poetry, etc.). We closed down the label on December 7, 2018 (as FDR once observed, “December 7th, a day that will live in infamy”). Pretty much every week now in mid-2019, I still get an e-mail or two from someone who is looking for a particular release–in some cases a past customer who missed something at the end of our run, in other cases someone who probably Googled the name of a favorite artist (Matt Krefting, Alfred 23 Harth, Lisa Cameron, The Garment District, Fossils, Tim Olive, More Eaze, Derek Rogers, etc.), saw the listing of their KSE release on this website, and assumed the item was still available.

I usually reply to these communications with a short note saying that ALL KSE MUSIC RELEASES ARE SOLD OUT–PLEASE CHECK THE SECONDARY MARKET FOR ANY AVAILABLE COPIES ON PLATFORMS SUCH AS DISCOGS….and truly, at this point, that is your best option. I know that some people who were sent promo/review copies sold them, and it seems as though some folks who bought and enjoyed their albums made digital copies and sold the physical copy. For your convenience, here is the link to the KSE page at Discogs, where presently there are 107 copies of various KSE releases available, most at reasonable prices. Go for it!

KSE releases at Discogs

A number of KSE artists (More Eaze, Massimo Magee, etc.) have already made their KSE releases available digitally, so I would encourage you to check the artists’ websites to see if they are offering downloads. Also, for some of the releases from recent years, it’s entirely possible that the artist still has a few copies that they are selling at shows. I always tried to be generous with artist copies, and provided restocks. Of course, you should DEFINITELY check out any KSE artist who is playing in your area… and  you should be checking out live music of all kinds in your area—-even at my age, I still go out to see local music artists and touring independent artists at small venues probably every other weekend, sometimes more often. Just a few days ago, while we were in Fort Worth, I caught trumpeter ALCEDRICK TODD’s Wednesday night residency at the Scat Jazz Club on 4th St., and it was an amazing experience (check them out when you are in the DFW Metroplex). If musicians and artists of any stripe can go out there and present their creations to strangers and put themselves on the line, then we audience members owe it to ourselves to check out new music and art, particularly artists new to us, because new and fresh cultural products make life richer and more worthwhile. Oh, you’ll occasionally encounter a dog (no offense to canines intended)—-while in Fort Worth, we saw a new production of a work from a local playwright which was abysmal. Oh, the players were all fine, and the production was well-organized and presented, and the direction kept the complex, fast-moving events and scene and costume changes coming with no slip-ups, but the play itself was a labored, loud, desperate, and tacky attempt at comedy which sucked badly (I won’t identify to venue or the playwright, as I don’t want to torpedo any Texas artists….he may well write something wonderful next year). However, if I did not once again take the chance and see a work new to me by an artist new to me, I would have missed the last 7 plays I’ve seen in the last year which were amazing! Chance involves risk, but the risk is well worth taking. And if I do poetry readings or poetry-and-music performances myself, or give a lecture on poetry or film at some local venue, and I expect people to show up for that, should not I do the same for others….

discogs 2

Getting back to KSE, in the case of artists such as ALFRED 23 HARTH, or MATT KREFTING, or ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE, or JENNIFER BARON/THE GARMENT DISTRICT, or LISA CAMERON, or MASSIMO MAGEE, or SARAH HENNIES, or CLAIRE ROUSAY, or TIM OLIVE, or SMOKEY EMERY, or DEREK ROGERS, or SIR PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE, or the late REVEREND RAYMOND BRANCH,  pretty much ANYTHING these artists do is important and worthy of staying in print permanently. I would not be surprised if some years down the line some of Harth’s or Krefting’s or Magee’s KSE albums are reissued on vinyl. These albums are out there in the world, and their effect will continue to reverberate across the decades.

Mary Anne and I are extremely appreciative of your support for our music releases over the years.

Please note, though, that there are at least two dozen regular KSE releases, and probably more, which are NOT on Discogs.  If you own one of them, could you please put up a listing with a cover scan? You can find scans of most of the covers here on this website, so you could just copy that if you’d like. I would hope to get all of our releases up there eventually, in order to document the work which we all did together. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide in that area.

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Also, if you are a KSE completist, you know that I would sometimes slip a free item in with your order, and in the last two years of our operations, that might be one of our unadvertised “private releases” of public domain material. NONE of those were ever listed on Discogs—-indeed, I did not list them by name on our discography here on the KSE website, only stated “private release” and gave its initials. If you own one of those, you should consider putting that up on Discogs too. There were 13-15 “private releases” of public domain material (swing bands, gospel, 1940’s and 1950’s radio detective programs, 20’s dance bands, music from cylinders, etc.), which were never advertised and only given away to customers who ordered multiple items in a particular two-week period when that limited release was being distributed (these private releases were usually run in editions of between 10 and 20). They were all assigned number consecutively with the regular releases and are part of the KSE legacy.

riverside cover

Finally, KSE continues on, but in a new incarnation, as an imprint for Bill Shute poetry books, professionally published and distributed internationally via your local Amazon supplier wherever you are. These are all attractive, perfect-bound paperbacks, and the most recent two (AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN in 2018, and RIVERSIDE FUGUE in 2019) are newly composed book-length poems, running between 45 and 60 pages. I am presently working on another of these (they take about a year to complete), tentatively titled TOMORROW WON’T BRING THE RAIN, and hope to have it done by Summer 2020. They are not available through the KSE website. I’ve also had a few poetry books come out from other presses, both in North American and in Europe, in the last few years, and I try to put ordering information about those here so you can purchase them directly from the publisher. In 2020, I should have a Selected Poems volume covering 15 years of work, JUNK SCULPTURE FROM THE NEW GILDED AGE, coming out from a German publisher, and I’ll certainly give the ordering information for that when it’s out.

Until then, if you’d like to investigate my latest book-length poem, here is the info:

BILL SHUTE, ‘RIVERSIDE FUGUE’ (KSE # 414)

a book-length poem in three sections:

I, SETS AND SIMULATIONS; II, PLUNDER AND ADAPTATION; and III, PRETENDING AN INTEREST
66 page perfect-bound paperback, composed 11/2018 – 6/2019 in Texas and Louisiana

available at all Amazon outlets in North America and Europe as a local purchase
US customers may order at    https://amzn.to/2XYxm5h

 

I’ll continue to write about music, film, literature, and other issues here at the KSE blog, so keep checking in. I’ll try to get an average of at least one entry up on the blog weekly. If you are a reader who knows me from UGLY THINGS or BLOG TO COMM, welcome. The focus and writing style is different for each venue. However, the KSE blog is the place to come to keep up on whatever I’m doing for whatever market… and the place to learn about books, films, music, visual art, comics, etc. which I feel need championing, and which I feel many of you will enjoy and be happy to have discovered.

Adios for now, in mid-August 2019. I’ll be back again soon, so please bookmark or follow the KSE website here.

–Bill Shute (San Antonio, TX)

August 7, 2019

CLASSICS COMPLEMENTARY TRACKS (France, 3-CD set, Classics #24)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:29 pm

complementary

CLASSICS COMPLEMENTARY TRACKS

3-cd set, released 1999, Classics #24 (France)

contains 1924-1949 recordings

Between 1990 and 2004, the French “Classics Records” label issued over 1000 CD’s, chronological multi-volume sets of the 78 rpm recordings of great jazz and swing artists…and later R&B through their Classics R&B subsidiary (think of it as a jazz version of Document Records, but without the alternate takes). Multiple releases were out each month, and early on, I knew that it would be silly (and financially impossible) to attempt try to get them all or even many of them. Instead, I tried to focus on bodies of work that had not really been reissued adequately (SEVEN volumes of Erskine Hawkins, for instance, or four volumes of Bennie Moten, or as many of the Fletcher Hendersons as I could afford, etc.) or periods in an artist’s career that had evaded reissue at that time (Ellington’s post WWII but pre-LP-era Columbia recordings). Also, I sought out lesser-known artists whose bodies of work I’d always wanted to hear….TWO cd’s of the complete Boots and His Buddies, for instance. To say that these albums were a revelation is an understatement.

As with the many Document CD’s I own, the Classics discs are pretty much always in regular rotation here. It’s hard to imagine now, but because of the distribution clout of Allegro Music (which later burned so many indie labels badly and was largely responsible for Document Records de-emphasizing physical media), these discs—-at least some of them—-would appear in American music stores such as Tower, Best Buy, and Circuit City. They’d usually have one copy of each, and if you wanted it, you had to pick it up quick. I would usually scout the local stores each month at payday. (Another amazing phenomenon during this period was that American labels would sometimes distribute the jazz releases of their Japanese subsidiaries! I wonder sometimes if that era was just a dream. The Circuit City in my neighborhood had the 10-CD Japanese Phonogram box of the complete Clifford Brown, which was listed for about $90. I could not afford that, but I looked at it every time I visited. After about four months of it not selling, it was lowered to $29.99….I took the plunge….it still has a prominent place in my collection, and it’s never far from my main CD player) And in the early to mid 1990’s, retailers prided themselves on having as many different releases as possible….as the years went by, the emphasis became many copies of a handful of new releases. Things became less interesting at the point, and listeners with specialized tastes had no choice but to buy online. We all know what eventually happened with that!

One day in 1999, at my local retailer (sorry, I don’t remember which), I saw a Classics label 3-cd set called COMPLEMENTARY TRACKS (technically, it was a 2 cd set with a free bonus cd), and it had a sticker on the front (which I’ve saved) saying “This Set is NOT a Sampler!” It looked like an interesting combination of lesser-known, un-reissued artists (Garnet Clark, Midge Williams, Alphonso Trent, Ella Logan, Jerry Kruger) and obscure, often late-period recordings by well-known artists for obscure labels (1943 and 1946 sessions by Don Redman, 1945 and 1949 sessions from Fletcher Henderson, a 1945 session from Luis Russell, an obscure Slim Gaillard one-off for a tiny L.A. label). The track listing for the third “bonus” CD was not listed on the back cover, but hey, there were enough gems already on the first two CD’s to warrant this purchase.

I never saw another physical copy of this set in my travels to jazz-focused record stores in various cities, and I see that it is now selling (only one copy available) for $107 on Discogs. I assume those of you who know how to download music from various foreign hosting sites can find this album somewhere out there. The rest of you, keep your eyes out and maybe some record store will sell a copy for maybe $25 or whatever, ignoring the price on Discogs, and you can have your own copy of this amazing set, something which only could have been released during the golden age of archival CD reissues of vintage music. It belongs on the same shelf as the Savoy Completer Disc and the Verve Elite Edition compilation I’ve reviewed elsewhere here at the KSE blog.

Here’s what the Classics label itself said about this curious release: This two CD set (plus a bonus CD) includes tracks not available in the Classics series. The bonus CD corrects errors featured in different Classics releases

Since it’s unlikely you’ll be finding a copy of this soon, let me provide my own guide/commentary to what’s on the 3 CD’s.

Compact Disc 1
1-1 –Chick Webb And His Orchestra
Who Ya Hunchin’
2:54
1-2 –Chick Webb And His Orchestra
In The Groove At The Grove
2:41

The final two instrumentals from the Webb band, which did not fit on their non-Ella Fitzgerald collections of Webb’s records
1-3 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
Night Wind
2:39
1-4 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
If The Moon Turns Green
2:44
1-5 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
Devil In The Moon
2:54
1-6 –Taft Jordan And The Mob
Louisiana Fairy Tale
2:55

These 1935 tracks for “Banner” are the only pre-1950 recordings under his own name by the great Armstrong-inspired trumpeter, a man often mentioned in jazz lore and interviews with musicians from the period….also featuring pianist Teddy Wilson
1-7 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
Boats
2:51
1-8 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
Fish For Supper
2:38
1-9 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
‘Ats In There
2:42
1-10 –Al Cooper And His Savoy Sultans
Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
2:46

The final session, from 1941, from this great NYC combo, which did not fit on their Classics CD….and that CD was one I definitely bought since the band was a legend for their exciting performances at the Savoy Ballroom, but their recordings seemed to evade reissue
1-11 –Jerry Kruger And Her Orchestra*
Rain, Rain, Go Away
2:26
1-12 –Jerry Kruger And Her Orchestra*
Summertime
3:01

Female vocalist, tracks from 1939, with Buck Clayton and Lester Young
1-13 –Don Redman And His Orchestra
Pistol Packin’ Mama
3:50
1-14 –Don Redman And His Orchestra
Redman Blues
4:53
1-15 –Don Redman And His Orchestra
Great Day In The Morning
3:14

Don Redman was, along with Fletcher Henderson–in whose band he was arranger circa 1923-24–the key architect of the jazz orchestra of the 1920’s, and by extension the fore-runner of the swing orchestras of the 1930’s and beyond. First we have three wonderful V-Discs from 1943, with Redman himself providing witty spoken introductions. Redman sings on one track, and anyone who’s ever heard his classic version of  “Cherry” with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers knows the unique “personality” vocals of Redman in his signature lazy style–fans of Johnny Mercer’s singing would enjoy Redman’s.
1-16 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Midnite Mood
3:02
1-17 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Dark Glasses
2:29
1-18 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Mickey Finn
2:40
1-19 –Don Redman’s Orchestra*
Carrie Mae Blues
3:08

An obscure 1946 session for a label called “Swan,” which was NOT the later Philadelphia label of Freddy Cannon, Link Wray, and Beatles fame
1-20 –Alphonso Trent And His Orchestra
Clementine
3:11
1-21 –Alphonso Trent And His Orchestra
I Found A New Baby
3:12

Interesting territory band, also featured on a Jazz Oracle CD, with very-late Gennett sessions released on the Champion subsidiary
1-22 –Luis Russell And His Orchestra
After Hour Creep
2:49
1-23 –Luis Russell And His Orchestra
Garbage Man Blues
2:53

Tracks not included on the Russell CD #1066….the latter track is the classic “stick out your can, here comes the garbage man” which became a standard in the blues/R&B world
1-24 –Chickasaw Syncopators
Chickasaw Stomp
3:17
1-25 –Chickasaw Syncopators
Memphis Rag
3:22

The sizzling hot 1927 Memphis session by the young musicians who later became the Jimmie Lunceford band
Compact Disc 2
2-1 –Garnet Clark
I Got Rhythm

American pianist who came to Europe with Benny Carter in 1935 and stayed there….he died young, and made only two sessions, this track recorded in Paris and issued only on a French 78
2:58
2-2 –Midge Williams, Columbia Jazz Band
St. Louis Blues
3:27
2-3 –Midge Williams, Columbia Jazz Band
Lazy Bones
3:28
2-4 –Midge Williams, Columbia Jazz Band
Dinah
3:23

Talk about obscure….this African-American pianist made these recordings in Japan with Japanese musicians for a Japanese label in 1934! Hearing a Japanese ensemble tackle these well-known songs, with a fine American pianist at the helm, is an experience!
2-5 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
King Porter Stomp
3:00
2-6 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Moten Swing
2:53
2-7 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Minor Riff
2:46
2-8 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Satchel Mouth Baby
3:03

1945 L.A. sessions for Musicraft, which went unissued at the time and came out only during the LP era
2-9 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Close Your Eyes
2:52
2-10 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
This Is Everything I Prayed For
2:43
2-11 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Again
2:52
2-12 –Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
Ain’t Losing You
3:01

An obscure 1949 session–very late for FH–from L.A. for the local Supreme label, featuring the vocals of Troy Floyd
2-13 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Of All The Wrongs You Done To Me
2:43
2-14 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Terrible Blues
2:48
2-15 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Santa Claus Blues
2:40
2-16 –The Red Onion Jazz Babies
Cake Walking Babies From Home
3:08

Seminal 1924 recordings for Gennett, featuring the young Louis Armstrong
2-17 –Perry Bradford Jazz Phools
Lucy Long
2:49
2-18 –Perry Bradford Jazz Phools
I Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle
2:35

A 1925 record from a band fronted by Bradford (there’s a piece about him elsewhere on this blog–just search for PERRY BRADFORD AND THE BLUES SINGERS in the search box), featuring Armstrong, Don Redman, and James P. Johnson
2-19 –Evelyn Preer
If You Can’t Hold The Man You Love
2:47

The great actress and vocalist, whose work can be found on various Document CD’s, is backed by the core of Duke Ellington’s band here
2-20 –Walter Page’s Blue Devils
Blue Devil Blues
2:45
2-21 –Walter Page’s Blue Devils
Squabblin’
3:00

From the classic Kansas City band (remember the seminal film LAST OF THE BLUE DEVILS?) 1929 recordings, including the young Hot Lips Page and the young Jimmy Rushing
2-22 –Omer Simeon
Smoke-House Blues
2:31
2-23 –Omer Simeon
Beau-Koo Jack
2:41

The New Orleans clarinetist, also associated with Jelly Roll Morton, on this 1929 recording made in Chicago, one side of which features Earl Hines on piano
2-24 –Ella Logan And The Spirits Of Rhythm*
Exactly Like You
3:06

The famous Jive vocal trio, an unissued 1941 recording
2-25 –Slim Gaillard Quartet*
Froglegs And Bourbon
3:07

An obscure track by the master of Vout-O-Reenee, recorded for the L.A. “Bee Bee” label, though not originally released.


BONUS DISC (Disc 3)  this might be called the “corrections” disc

3-1 –Art Tatum
I Would Do Anything For You
2:38
3-2 –Benny Carter
Tiger Rag
2:40
3-3 –Jimmie Lunceford
Bugs Parade
2:28
3-4 –Duke Ellington
Wall Street Wail
2:57
3-5 –Luis Russell
Poor Lil’ Me
3:19
3-6 –Cab Calloway
Are You Hep To The Jive
2:47
3-7 –Lucky Millinder
All The Time
2:32
3-8 –Billie Holiday
On The Sentimental Side
3:03
Tracks 1 through 8 of Disc 3 are “corrected” versions of songs from earlier CD’s where the wrong version or the wrong take appeared….these tracks “correct” those errors.
3-9 –Pete Johnson
Pete’s Lonesome Blues
2:51
3-10 –Pete Johnson
Mr. Drums Meets Mr. Piano
2:56
3-11 –Pete Johnson
Mutiny In The Doghouse
2:46
3-12 –Pete Johnson
Mr. Clarinet Knocks Twice
2:56
3-13 –Pete Johnson
Ben Rides Out
3:00
3-14 –Pete Johnson
Page Mr. Trumpet
3:05
3-15 –Pete Johnson
J.C. From K.C.
3:02
3-16 –Pete Johnson
Pete’s Housewarming Blues
2:49

These tracks, which are also collected on a Savoy album called PETE’S BLUES, had spoken intros with boogie woogie piano master Johnson inviting different musicians to join him in a house party….those spoken intros were lopped off of the earlier Classics CD on which the tracks appeared….they are “corrected” by the complete versions here.
3-17 –Bunny Berigan
It’s Been So Long
3:03
3-18 –Bunny Berigan
I’d Rather Lead A Band
2:49
3-19 –Bunny Berigan
Let Yourself Go
2:48
3-20 –Bunny Berigan
A Melody From The Sky
2:47
3-21 –Bunny Berigan
Rhythm Saved The World
2:35
3-22 –Bunny Berigan
I Nearly Let Love Go Slippin’ Thru’ My Fingers
2:48
3-23 –Bunny Berigan
But Definitely
3:00
3-24 –Bunny Berigan
If I Had My Way
2:41

Any fan of trumpeter Bunny Berigan knows that he was a sideman on hundreds of records, many of which contain exciting solos from him….evidently, when Classics reissued sides on an earlier CD that Berigan recorded with vocalist Chick Bullock, they edited out the vocal choruses to feature Berigan’s soloing! I guess the folks at Classics did not like Bullock’s vocalizing–he’s in the same vein as session vocalists such as Dick Robertson, Smith Ballew, etc. Anyone who listens to a lot of 20s and 30s dance bands is used to those kind of vocals, and some are worse than others. Bullock would be considered “above average” among those session vocalists, and does not really have the stilted nasal sound one associates with 20s vocalists such as Irving Kaufman. Now Classics presents the full records as they were originally issued, with Bullock’s vocals, as they should have been issued originally. Hey, I wish I could cut out most of Mezz Mezzrow’s solos on various jazz recordings from the 20’s through the 40’s, but doing so is re-writing history.

…………………………….

While this 3-CD set was intended as a collection of rarities, allowing collectors to fill gaps in their exhaustive archives, it works incredibly well as a jazz sampler for the general audience too, and the material will certainly be fresh….even a Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman connoisseur such as yours truly had never heard, or heard of (I may have seen the Henderson ones listed in the Hendersonia Discography), the sessions here. If you can find this, grab it. Or if it’s online, go for it.

I won’t be parting with my copy anytime soon….

ADDENDUM….if you don’t have enough with the 1000+ albums on classics and this three-cd mopping-up set, there is an Austrian label called NEATWORK which collects, for a number of major jazz artists, the ALTERNATE TAKES, in chronological order, left off the Classics CD’s. Discogs lists between 40 and 50 CD’s on that label. The 10 cd’s of alternate Ellington are essential, as are the multiple volumes devoted to Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Teddy Wilson, and Eddie Condon. They’re probably ALL essential, but I had to focus on the ones most important to me, as these things cost money….

complementary

July 28, 2019

Frank Virtue and The Virtues, “Hop, Skip and Jump: 1955-1962” (Hydra Records, Germany, CD)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:54 pm

FRANK VIRTUE AND THE VIRTUES

“Hop, Skip and Jump” (Hydra Records, Germany, CD issued in 1997)

30 tracks recorded in Philadelphia, mostly recorded between 1955 and 1959

VIRTUE 1

 1  Roll ‘in An ‘a’ Rockin’
2  Straighten Up & Flyright
3  Rattle My Bones
4  Guitar Boogie Shuffle
5  My Blue Heaven
6  I Think You’re Lying
7  Let’s Have A Party
8  Hop Skip Mambo
9  Corrine Corrina
10  Boppin’ The Blues
11  Stranded In The Jungle
12  Flippin’ In
13  I Ain’t Gonna Do It No More
14  Mambo Rock
15  Rip It Up
16  My Constant Love
17  I Made A Mistake
18  Oo Ya Gotta
19  Lover Boy
20  Go Joe Go
21  Can’t We Be Sweethearts
22  Fever
23  Rose Of San Antone
24  Hallelujah I Love Her So
25  Charleston Twist
26  Mountaineer Teen Break
27  Toodle Oo Kangaroo
28  Roll Over Beethoven
29  I’m Going Home
30  Good Bye Mambo.

virtue 4

There is a lot of mis-informed discussion printed both online and in books and magazines about the early days of rock and roll and the pre R&R days by people who have not actually listened to a lot of small-label recordings from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. People like the late Billy Miller or the late Cub Koda or The Hound or Bill Dahl you could trust because they’d listened to thousands of records from that era, and knew their R&B and country boogie inside out. They’d listened to the source recordings, not just read about them….or used someone else’s third-hand generalities as the evidence for their claims.

One of the most important (though not most often discussed) streams that fed into the river that was 50’s rock and roll was the nightclub “jive” tradition from the Northeastern United States, often with Philadelphia as its home base. Artists such as the pre-Cameo Charlie Gracie, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys (whose arrangement of “Hound Dog” was adapted by Elvis), Bill Haley, Mike Pedicin, Jimmy Cavallo/Cavello, and many others were doing a music rooted in Louis Prima and without the cultural influence of the American South you would find in someone from Memphis or Mississippi or Houston, where country music was the native and dominant  music of the region, and where young white musicians would grow up alongside African-American blues artists, even during the days of legalized segregation, and hear local blues and R&B records by local artists on local radio stations.

These kind of artists were issuing records as early as 1951 and 1952 which are by any standard rock and roll, and for every Haley or Cavallo or Gracie who was recording in that era, there were surely dozens or hundreds working the local lounges and Italian restaurants and lower-tier nightclubs of the Northeast. On a German collectors album devoted to Charlie Gracie, which includes all of his amazing pre-Cameo rock and roll records (he was somewhat watered down by Cameo, as many other artists were), there is a 1952 TV appearance from a Philly broadcast hosted by Paul Whiteman, where Gracie does a solo vocal-and-guitar performance which is a full two years before Elvis’ first Sun Records, and while it’s quite different, it’s a totally original SOLO rock and roll performance, one of the earliest, and in a just world, it would be anthologized widely and be well known and cited often and included in documentaries. It isn’t (and it’s not on You Tube, or I’d provide a link).

A lot of these artists tended to be “entertainers,” where the show element of a performance was important, and a frontman with good people skills and a line of jive patter was essential. While we can never find ourselves in a New Jersey Italian restaurant and lounge in 1954 featuring such an artist (as we enjoy our linguini with clam sauce), the album under review today will get you as close as you can possibly get in 2019 to that magical world.

Frank Virtue is probably best-known today for his massive instrumental hit “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” a rock and roll guitar adaptation of Arthur Smith’s “Guitar Boogie,” and for his Philadelphia studio (see pic) where hundreds of great local singles were recorded over the decades (he also mastered the Beatles single on Swan!). “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” by Frank Virtue and The Virtues was issued in a number of countries and has been reissued many times, along with album-length collections of the Virtue band’s instrumental rockers (which, it should be mentioned, featured JIMMY BRUNO on lead guitar, who had a long career as a jazz guitarist and has a number of albums out you can still find today). Everyone should own a collection of The Virtues instrumentals, but that’s not what’s being discussed today.

Leave it to Hydra Records in Germany (check out their amazing catalog of deep archival digs of early rock and roll) to compile the ultimate collection of little-known and largely unreleased VOCAL recordings from Virtue and crew—-if you want to know what a typical nightclub set circa 1955 or 1956 from a Philly-based act that would use the word “rockin” in its advertising, this is it, 30 tracks worth.

The earliest 1955 recordings here, with an unknown female vocalist, still have the influence of the vocal trios of the big band era, but built on the chassis of a small guitar-based combo, and the rest of the tracks here are the kind of small-group jive-rock discussed above, sometimes with a booting tenor-sax. As would be expected and appreciated by nightclub and lounge audiences, a number of the tracks are rockin’ adaptations of standards such as “My Blue Heaven,”  “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” and “Rose of San Antone,” alongside doo-wop influenced tunes such as “Can’t We Be Sweethearts” and THREE (count em!) tracks that exploit the mambo-rock fad.

The vocalists (who include frontman Virtue) vary, and sometimes have more enthusiasm than great technique, but enthusiasm and a raspy tone are what rock and roll singing is about—-hey, even today there are artists milking this vein, often working cliched Italian-American stereotypes into the act (I saw one about six months ago at a lounge here in San Antonio! A transplanted upstate New Yorker who was “working” us Texas locals, telling us how this song and that excited the customers at “Vinnie’s Pizzeria” or whatever—-I suppose this kind of thing is to Jimmy Cavallo or Mike Pedicin what the Blues Brothers were to Junior Wells, and that’s not meant as a compliment) and making Sopranos and Mad Men and Bobby Darin references! It’s a timeless routine!

VIRTUE 2

I’m not claiming the performances on this album, taken from obscure acetates and local 45’s, are the greatest recordings ever made or that they are some unheard 1952 sessions that rewrite musical history. No, what’s special about them is that they are probably VERY typical of a unique movement in the NE USA. They are acetates documenting the act, not intended for airplay or wide release, along with raw local 45’s, which may have been sold from the bandstand or at a neighborhood record shop where Virtue himself night have dropped them off. The “typical” nature of the sides puts you in the moment in mid-50’s Philly or Jersey, and for me that’s an exciting thing. Most of the recordings are from 55-58, but there is also a 1962 twist 45, which sounds like the kind of “custom pressing” you’d find on a Collector/White Label compilation LP.

A name seen often on the credits here is the larger-than-life James Myers/Jimmy De Knight (credited as co-writer of Rock Around The Clock, and you should Google that to read the various perspectives on his authorship of that song), a man whose association guarantees some exploitation value to any project. Jack Howard, longtime Bill Haley friend and associate and man behind many Philly small labels, is credited with producing some of the sides here, as is Dick Clark (!!!!). The liner notes, composed by someone whose first language is German, mention that Clark used the band to record soundalike cover versions for quickie knock-off “covers of hits” records he produced. I was unaware of this side of Clark and don’t know anything about what labels these were issued on. It’s possible some of the selections here are from those knock-off records (they cover Stranded In The Jungle and Blue Suede Shoes and the like). I’d love to know more.

Whatever the source of the sides, they rock from start to finish, with that unique “New Jersey lounge” flavor that cannot be faked (only badly imitated, such as by the band I saw recently). Virtue’s biggest hit, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” is included here, but otherwise this is the material you DO NOT hear on most Frank Virtue and the Virtues reissues. If you enjoy this kind of music, you should also get the Jimmy Cavallo collection on Blue Wave, the Mike Pedicin collection on Bear Family, the Charlie Gracie collection on Cotton Town Jubilee (or the old Gracie LP on “Revival” from France), any collection of Bill Haley’s pre-Decca sides, and Collector/White Label’s ROCKIN AND BOPPIN ‘BILLY IN PHILLY CD (which has a picture of Frank Virtue on the cover). Also, the European ANORAK ROCKABILLY 45 website had a good number of singles from the Philadelphia ARCADE label available for download a few years ago, and those might still be up—-those are also full of typical club bands of the era, in that amazing era in Philadelphia music history.

Want a taste? Not sure what’s being discussed here? You can listen to the entire album at the link below….put it on while you are doing whatever you’re doing today. And transport yourself to a neighborhood lounge in South Philly, circa 1956, with “famous recording artist” Frank Virtue and The Virtues. I’ll take the wayback machine there anytime….

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listen to this entire sequence of 30 songs at this link:

You Tube: Hop Skip and Jump

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July 27, 2019

now available, MY WEEK BEATS YOUR YEAR: ENCOUNTERS WITH LOU REED, 1972-2013 (Hat & Beard Press)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 11:43 am

lou book pic

MY WEEK BEATS YOUR YEAR: ENCOUNTERS WITH LOU REED, 1972-2013

Compiled by Michael Heath, Edited by Pat Thomas

Hat & Beard Press, 300-page hardback, published May 2019

publisher’s statement and ordering info

I’ll be doing a full review of this fine collection of 41 years of interviews from the one-and-only LOU REED in UGLY THINGS #52 (#51 is at the printer’s now), which will not be out until later in the Fall. To help promote the book, I wrote a brief recommendation of the book at Amazon, which you can read here:

Bill Shute recommendation for Reed book

Of course, you should always buy a book directly from its publisher rather than from some massive conglomerate, so please use the link above labelled “publisher’s statement and ordering info” to order your copy.

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This handsome and essential volume was compiled by Michael Layne Heath, punkzine pioneer and acclaimed poet, who published a number of chapbooks with KSE over the years, and who was included in KSE’s 2014 poetry collection POLYMORPHOUS URBAN: POEMS FOR LOU REED, alongside Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal, Jim D. Deuchars, A. J. Kaufman, and Matt Krefting.

Lou Reed turned the interview into performance art. His collected interviews belong right alongside his albums and live shows and collected lyrics when considering his overall body of work. Many of us used to wait excitedly for Reed’s next appearance in print, especially in CREEM, where he would engage in arguments with Lester Bangs or in insightful conversation with Bill Holdship. Different aspects of Reed’s persona came out in each interview, and all were entertaining, giving a slightly different glimpse into the creative mind of Mr. Reed. Get your copy of this from the publisher next payday!

Also, please check out UGLY THINGS #52, where my official review of the book will appear. It should be out in the later Fall.

LOU REED COVER

 

July 17, 2019

discover The Popular Jazz Archive

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 7:08 pm

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BEN SELVIN ORCHESTRA

Smith_Ballew___His_Orchestra_Whyte_s_Restaurant_1929

SMITH BALLEW AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Ted_Weems_orchestra_circa_1936

TED WEEMS ORCHESTRA

harry reser

HARRY RESER & HIS CLICQUOT CLUB ESKIMOS

fred

FRED RICH AND HIS HOTEL ASTOR ORCHESTRA

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ART HICKMAN AND HIS HOTEL ST. FRANCIS ORCHESTRA

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ABE LYMAN AND HIS CALIFORNIA ORCHESTRA

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CLIFF  “UKULELE IKE”  EDWARDS

For many years, THE POPULAR JAZZ ARCHIVE has been posting online collections of 78 RPM recordings of the great pre-Swing Dance Bands of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Bands such as Art Hickman’s and Isham Jones’ are as important to the development of what became Swing as Fletcher Henderson’s was–it’s just that Henderson’s  (with the coming of Louis Armstrong in 1924 and the influence of Don Redman’s arrangements) had a strong jazz element, and people with a jazz orientation can clearly see the line of development from Henderson through, say, Benny Goodman.

The Dance Bands of the 1920’s—-not the small jazz combos such as the Wolverines, but the larger groups who recorded regularly and may have had residencies at hotels—-existed during the Jazz Age, and many of them had a jazz element (some did not), but they would have associated “jazz” with the bands who had the Original Dixieland Jazz Band or the New Orleans Rhythm Kings as their models.

My late mother, who was alive in the 20’s and 30’s and who attended many Swing concerts at movie theaters in the late 30’s and early 40’s, certainly knew what jazz was….but she had a term that she used often to define music with a jazz element that would not be labelled jazz, and that was JAZZY. Louis Prima’s 1950’s hits would be called “jazzy” as would Van Morrison’s scat singing as would a 20’s hotel orchestra doing a Charleston number.

Here’s the link:

Popular Jazz Archive at the Internet Archive, 1000+ songs from 78 RPM discs

Not only do you get expertly curated, chronological 78-by-78 surveys of the different dance bands covered, but often, when there were pressings on different labels and under pseudonyms, you are provided with both (or all, if there are three or more) versions, even though they may not necessarily be different takes. Wow!

Few labels do reissues of this kind of music anymore, and these transfers are excellent, the kind of thing you’d find on a specialist reissue label. Just choose an artist at random, let the songs run through (be ready for multiple versions of many) the playlist, and put it on while you are working or doing something at home. Pretend you are at some swanky hotel with a sprung dance floor in 1926… For me, 20’s dance bands have a dynamism and freshness that’s always appealing and always puts a smile on my face. Here and there you’ll find some lugubrious crooning, but you’ll also find uniquely 20’s lyrics as absurd or surreal as Robyn Hitchcock at his best. Hey, it’s free….so don’t complain–just enjoy. And think about the fact that we’re just five months short of the 1920’s being 100 years ago!

wah

July 15, 2019

‘A… Come Assassino’ (Italy 1966), starring Alan Steel/Sergio Ciani

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:53 pm

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  “A… COME ASSASSINO” (A For Assassin), Italy 1966

B&W, 77 minutes, Italian Language (subtitled in English)

starring Alan Steel (Sergio Ciani), Mary Arden, Gilberto Mazzi

directed by Angelo Dorigo (aka Ray Morrison), produced by Walter Chiari

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A…COME ASSASSINO, a late (1966) B&W Italian murder mystery, is mentioned rarely, and when it is, it’s due to the presence of star ALAN STEEL/SERGIO CIANI, well-known from sword and sandal films such as HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN. Steel continued working after the Peplum boom, and in the last six months I’ve seen him in a 1970 India-set colonial adventure with Peter Lee Lawrence, and a 1976 Robin Hood comedy very much in the vein of a Bud Spencer film. He’s been convincing in everything I’ve seen, as he is in this film. Also, the film is occasionally mentioned as an early Giallo. Well, maybe in the sense that there is a murder and a number of disreputable suspects, but anyone going into this expecting a kind of proto-Dario Argento slasher is sure to be disappointed. It sometimes is vaguely reminiscent of one of the B&W early 60’s German krimi films in content, but has none of the stylized post-expressionist eccentricity of those films, although it probably would have appealed to fans of that genre outside of Germany.

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The patriarch of a wealthy family is killed by having his throat slashed. Because he knew in advance that his family and hangers-on were all no good, he created a tape-recorded will in case he died, and its terms are novel: of the eight or so people in his orbit who might expect some kind of inheritance, one month after his death, only THREE of them would be allowed to present themselves to his attorney for the remains of his estate. If there are more than three, then NO ONE would get a cent. If there are fewer than three, that was OK….they would split it (of if one, he/she would get it all). He knew that these crooked, sleazy individuals would probably kill themselves over the money in their greed, and no doubt he expected to laugh from the grave over their attempts to eliminate each other. That’s the plot, which takes about ten minutes to set up, and then the remainder of the film involves the characters playing out this scenario, as one after the other leaves the picture, until….  well, you’ll need to see it yourself to find out, but it would not take a genius to figure out what happens, especially once one meets and gets to know this motley crew. And you just know there will be an ironic and cynical resolution, and of course, there is.

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The film plays very much like a Charlie Chan film or Perry Mason episode, minus the hero detective or attorney. There is a clever inspector who seems to be unravelling the threads of the initial crime and then the later shenanigans, but he is hard-pressed to keep up with the pace of the new complications and deaths as the characters eliminate each other.

Running just about an hour and a quarter, A…COME ASSASSINO moves quickly, has a crew of entertainingly sleazy and back-stabbing characters, utilizes the atmospheric B&W photography and old-dark-house setting well, and does not overstay its welcome. In the last 20 minutes it begins to take on some horror film-style camera angles and imagery, but again, anyone coming into this expecting a B&W proto-giallo will be let down.

Imagine a 60’s Italian version of those early 1930’s American indie murder mysteries, set in an old mansion on a rainy night, and made by outfits such as Chesterfield or Mayfair, and you’ll have a better idea of what the film delivers. I found it very entertaining—-it offers a consistent mood, colorful characters who have been cheating and cheating on each other in different combinations that are exposed as the film progresses, and it winds up ratcheting up the suspense and atmosphere in the final 20 minutes. Alan Steel is quite effective as the patriarch’s private secretary who begins as a kind of uptight accountant type but turns out to be much different, and watching him untangle is a pleasure. Fans of Mario Bava’s BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (which this film does not resemble at all) will be happy to see American actress Mary Arden appearing here, and she also gets a multi-dimensional role that allows here to be both seductive and to chew the scenery. The English subtitling is adequate, and no one will have a problem following the murderous trajectory of the film. Perfect for late night viewing, and easily available for your enjoyment on You Tube. Be sure to subscribe to the “Blake Adam” channel, which is hosting the subtitled feature. He’s got dozens and dozens of 60’s Euro genre films in a number of styles, most of which are quite obscure and quite good. Enjoy….

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