The Cartoon Cowboys with Jimmy Carroll Orchestra
(aka Quick Draw McGraw)
El Kabong! b/w Ooch, Ooch, Ooch! 45 (Golden Record, 196?)
As far as I am concerned the Golden Age of children's records was the early 1960s until the mid 1970s. While there is great stuff prior to the 1960s and a scattering of good tunes later than the 1970s, the Golden Age had a few things going for it. First, kids were not seen as fragile little creatures that imitated everything they saw or heard. No one thought that watching Punch & Judy was going to turn out an army of wife beaters. Nor did anyone thing twice about airing the Three Stooges on after school television. Second, the music (with the exception of Disney) and TV was not created in order to sell a product other than that record or that show. Nor were cereal lines or action figures created to capitalize on the music (with some exceptions, again see Disney). Third, the music did not assume the listener to be subliterate (even though many kids were) or unable to comprehend things. And, lastly, there was a huge premium placed on not only imagination but stimulating imagination. Because of these things there is a wealth of great kid's records out there (though finding them in good condition is a real challenge).
This is all stuff I know now. Even though I grew up during that Golden Age, as a kid I only few a couple kid's records. There was a Sesame Street ABC record and the Winnie the Pooh series narrated by Maurice Evans (which are wonderful records and put the Disney versions to shame). What entertained me as a kid were my mom's 45 collection. Early on I was spinning Elvis's Teddy Bear and Crawfish. I loved Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. But my favorites were Black Leather Jacket & Motorcycle Boots by the Cheers and Girl after Girl by Troy Shondell (who I will feature in a future Crud Crud). I am not claiming I was too cool for school, because I did go to school and I certainly was more of a geeky troublemaker than part of the cool club. Nah, my parents were just too cheap to buy kid's records so we were left with their stash. This being the case I didn't discover this gem of a 45 until way into my adulthood.
These two originated with the cartoon Quick Draw McGraw. El Kabong! is the story of a Hero of the People who rides around the Old West whacking bad guys on the head with his "trusty guitar." Here is that acceptance of violence that you don't see nowadays. For a bit more violence we have Ooch, Ooch, Ooch! We also have something that makes pretty much no sense at all. Is there a lesson here? A moral? That you can say "ooch" if some one hits you on the head with a skillet?
The Jimmy Carroll Orchestra was a popular band of the 1950s & 1960s. The backed many a singer from Marlene Dietrich to Diane Washington to Johnny Griffin. They were regulars on TV and movie sets. And they did this record. Gil Mack was a voice actor who played Bob Brilliant on Gigantor and Pauley Cracker on Kimba the White Lion, both short lived TV cartoon shows. Don Elliott has done a lot of voice work and some pretty great jazz vocal albums, The Voices of Don Elliott being very cool.
Emile Volel Volume 1
Emile Volel Volume 1 LP (private pressing, no date)
Every vinyl freak has a record like this, the one record that tweaked his/her ear enough to make them start picking up anything that looks remotely interesting. I found this record in the early 90s at a record store called In the Groove. ITG was a great little store in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael and one of the few stores I've been in owned by a woman. Laura (I never knew her last name) was a great record person and had one of Sacramento's best record stores ever. While not too good on rock & roll and certainly not punk rock, Laura had great jazz, country, and world music sections. Her philosophy was reissues should be cheap because they are what many people use as an intro. I picked up many a Prestige/Milestone double album jazz reissue at her place. Almost always paying no more than five bucks. She also had a great dollar section. That is where I found this recrod by Emile Volel.
I don't know what made me pick it up. Perhaps it was the cover photo. Maybe it was because the blurbs on the back of the record said he was from Haiti. Most likely I was in an adventurous mood and a buck didn't seem too much to risk. With these kind of records - one dollar mysteries - the key is the first song. If the first song hooks you, you will keep the record. If it doesn't, chances are you might track skip but you will never give it a fair listen. Parle-Lui D'Haiti is the first song on this LP and it drew me in.
After a quick piano romp, the song shifts into a slow moody, lounge like tempo. Volel's Belafante's like voice comes in and he is a good singer - nothing special, but good enough to carry the record. Listen closely and you hear that something is off. There is a reason why the song starts with a frantic pace: It is because the piano player is a wee bit eager to show off his chops. As the song goes on you hear the unnamed pianist throw out melody for clusters of notes. Our lounge Monk's thunking is contrasted by an organ which both weazes and haunts. Wrap it all up and the song is a strange mish mash of sounds that shouldn't work together but do.
There are other songs on this LP that are also keepers. Like most lounge singers of the day, Volel has his Beatles' song. In this case, it is The Long and Winding Road. Both this song and The Windmills of Your Mind, another lounge standard, are made by the organ, which gives the songs an eerie psychedelic twist (especially on Windmills, which has a very cool ending). The last song I give you is Volel's version of the bolero Besame Mucho. Instead of using a percussionist, Volel sings and plays guitar to the bolero beat on his organ. While the guy is not Timmy Thomas, he does make some good sounds.
After doing a bit of web research, I have given up on trying to find anything about Emile Volel. I do know that he made a CD in the last 10 years and some folks like his boleros. From the sleeve I gather that he was born in Port au Prince, Haiti and spent some time playing in Washington, DC at places like the Lounge, The Grindle, and the Olney. Since he signed and dated the back, I know that he was playing there around 1971. And there you go.
And the winner is....
Avant Gardener s/t 7" (Virgin, 1977)
Too often overlooked in the DIY punk sweepstakes is the Okehampton band, Avant Gardener. According to Punk 77, these smelly lads, got their one record by winning a Virgin Records sponsored talent contest. How and why they won remains a mystery. Sure, Virgin had a rep for introducing difficult music to the world, but the Avant Gardener seems a but too rough around the edges & utterly without radio pop sense to win a record company talent contest. Not that I object. I would be overjoyed if something like Avant Gardener spoiled the stage of American Idol. My god, that would be a dream. Even better if the whole show was stocked with bands like Avant Gardener. Imagine that! This week Avant Gardener goes up against Stickmen with Ray Guns, Tampax, the Godz, and Sheer Smegma. I would love to see Paula Abdul try to cough up possitives about the Stickmen's rousing rendition of Scavenger of Death. And what would Simon say about UFO Dictator? American Idol: Punk Edition would be the show for the ages! I know it will never happen, but as you listen to Okehampton's finest, just imagine them on the Idol stage, a thousand tools in the audience doing the wave to Strange Gurl in Clothes.
A Day of the Trumpet
Fireblood Angel Band (Featuring The Hosts of Heaven) A Day of the Trumpet 7" (Siloam, 1982)
Welcome to one of the strangest records in my collection and one that, despite years of searching for information, I know very little about. As it is, I found out about this record by chance. Some years ago, Rick Ele, a fellow dejay at KDVS, made it his mission to listen to all the 7"s in the station's library. I am not sure if he got through them all or not, but he did at least make it to the letter F. I know this because one day he pulled me aside and said, "You gotta listen to this one," as he handed me the Fireblood Angel Band 7". I went into a listening room and spun the record. Wow! The next day, I got online and tracked down a copy in the catalog of a mail order op in Sweden. It was the only one online (and I haven't come accross one since), I sent off $8 and got a brand new copy in return.
Listen to the record and you will find that the music itself is pretty strange. Tape loops, feedback, random piano playing, chord organ, Shaggs like percussion, and a guy with a Texas accent singing in a singsong meets chant meets rant. Let's get a little deeper than the music. What is the guy singing about? By the song titles, name of the band, name of the record label, and what I can make out of the words, this fellow, whose name might be Makkabah, is singing about Christ, the End Times, and the spirit.
A Day of the Trumpet is from a passage in the Bibical Book of Zephaniah 1, which reads "The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land." Pretty heavy shit.
I am not sure if In Every Heart is a Bibical reference, however from what I can make out Makkabah seems to be singing of Man's Soul.
The label name, Siloam, is the name an ancient pre-Israeli city now an Arab settlement called Silwan, in East Jerusalem. It is the site where Jesus is alleged to have given a blind man his sight.
The name Makkabah comes from the Hebrew word for hammer. It is also the word in which the name Machabeus is based. Machabeus being the hero of the Book of Maccabees, part of the Old Testament Apocrypha.
God knows (and I am sure in this case, he'd be the guy) where Fireblood Angel Band came from. Breaking it down, a fireblood is a edgy, roughneck type of guy, so perhaps this is a group of bad ass angels? Hosts of Heaven is a pretty common phrase in the lexicon of Christianity and also pretty obvious.
As I noted earlier, I have spent many a hour trying to track down information on this record. I did find the copyright holder, an education consultant in Houston, Texas. However my many attempts at contacting this person have been fruitless. And since I have started the email and website of this person are dead. So this one remains a mystery.
Цветы Честно говоря 7" (Melodiya, 1974)
Headed by Stas Namin (nom de musique of Anastas Mikoyan, Jr.), son of an Armenian Soviet official, Tsvety was one of the few official rock bands. While at first they sound a bit like some stunted Sgt Pepper's wannabe, listen close and the music warps in a rather strange way. The backing vocals are almost too straight. Folkish parts just appear. Are the anomalies instances of state interference or were they because Soviet musicians only had access to so much Western rock and roll?
What is most important about Tsvesty is that they were Stas Namin's wedge into both the counter culture and the official Soviet art & entertainment establishment. Using his cred in both camps, he was able to pull of the USSR's first arena rock concert in 1981. Hugely successful, Namin was able to arrange tours of the USSR by Western rock acts. When the USSR fell apart, Namin was in just the right place to become Russia's biggest concert promoter, producer, and art & theater patron. Nowadays he is worth billions.
Честно говоря (Chestno Govorya)
Ты и я (Teh I Ya)
Больше жизни (Bolshe Zheizni)
Archie Moore's "Times Tables" with Soul and a Beat
Archie Moore's "Times Tables" with Soul and a Beat LP (ERU Productions, 1964)
Ha! You thought I didn't have any more gems squirreled away! "Oh no, Soriano, is gonna throw another foreign pop MP3 up. He must be running out of stuff," you've been thinking. Wrong! I am just pacing myself and here is proof.
I picked up this gem in a record store in Portland. The young guy behind the counter looked at it and said, "Cool. Educational records are cool," as he punched $3 into the cash register. "Educational record!" I wanted to scream, but I held my tongue. After all it is not his fault that he doesn't know who the great Archie Moore is.
So who is he? According to the introduction he is an actor, humanitarian, politician, and "World Champion." That last one should be World's Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Moore fought in from the 1940s 'til the 1970s, for 27 years, ten of which he held on to the Light Heavyweight title. He tried several times to capture the Heavyweight belt but he could not overcome Rocky Marciano and Floyd Paterson. He also fought Muhammad Ali, a sad chapter of Moore's life as, at 50+ years of age, he could hardly keep up with the young Ali (AJ Leibling wrote a great essay on the Moore v Ali match). By the time he retired Moore had knocked out 141 opponents, a record. Almost as impressive is that, according to this record's liner notes, Moore had a boxing glove-shaped swimming pool!
Other than having his name and face on the sleeve and a short spoken intro (with dubbed in cheering!) Moore has little to do with this record. The main voice behind it is a "PTA President, den mother, civic worker, and psychology major named Pat Rucker. Uncredited are a bunch of musicians and singers.
Chica Ye Ye
Los 3 Sudamericanos Chica Ye Ye 7" (Belter, 1965)
Though popular in their native Paraguay, Maria, Johnny, and Dario didn't really hit it big until they moved to Spain in 1965. Over the next couple of years, they turned out a string of hits, some pop versions of mambo and bosa nova standards, some a peppy Spanish version of the sounds coming from neighboring France. Like many pop stars of the Sixties, Los 3 did television and movies. At their best, they were a pretty cool pop group. At their worst, it is dreck. (At this point, I am sure Crud's Euro visitors are wondering why the hell I am spending time posting a band that is as hip and authentic in Europe as Sonny & Cher are in the US. Let's just say, ignorance is bliss.) The two cuts here are from Los 3 Sudamericanos' first 7" ep.
I'm a Cult Hero
Cult Hero I'm a Cult Hero b/w I Dig You 7" (Friction, 1979)
I can't say that this is little known, because it has been on every Cure fan's want list for years. Released as an one-off on Chris Parry's Friction label, Cult Hero is The Cure and some pals screwing around in the studio. Stuck with a couple killer riffs and nothing to do with them, the band drafted Frank Bell, a fixture from their favorite pub (or so the legend goes), and set him on vocals. And that was the end of Cult Hero. A nice tidy package and a couple of great songs.