Great Girls!

Joie Chan Sweet Baby (Chattahoochee, 196?)
The Bermudas Chu Sen Ling (Era, 1964)

Today you get two great oddities: One is a girl group song by an Asian American singer. The other is a fake Asian girl group tune by one of the Sixties pop scene's most active women.

I can't tell you anything about Joie Chan. About Sweet Baby, I know that it was recorded at Stan Ross's Gold Star Studios. Ross recorded many great Chattahoochee records and worked a lot with Kim Fowley. As you can see this is on Chattahoochee, one of the best singles labels going at the time. Like a lot of Ross/Chattahoochee records, Sweet Baby sounds great while still keeping a raw edge. Ross also makes the recording sound full with pretty sparse instrumentation. One thing I like about his records is that he is really good with the reverb chamber. Things come off sounding dark and deep as a result.

You can credit Rickie Page with The Bermudas. Rather than rehash what I've dug up, I'll just quote Mick Patrick from an old thread on the Selectropop board:

The Bermudas, the Majorettes, the Georgettes, Joanne & the Triangles and Beverly & the Motorscooters: these are just some of the recording appellations used by singer-songwriter-producer-businesswoman Rickie Page and the female members of her musical family. She and her omnipresent husband George Motola also ran Troy Records, the original 1964 outlet for 'My Boyfriend' by Becky & the Lollipops, yet another name used by the Page clan. This particular outfit comprised Rebecca (Becky) Page, her older sister Joanna, their mother Rickie and Susie Kuykendoll, Rickie’s sister. Rebecca shared lead vocals with Rickie, whose oldest daughter Sheilah sometimes took her place in photos of the group. In 1957 Rickie Page had begun a stream of recordings using her own name for every label under the California sun, not to mention some in Nashville. She also waxed as a member of the Jordanaires, the Spectors Three and Bobby 'Boris' Pickett’s Crypt-Kickers; factors which make her one of the unsung heroines of the early-1960s Los Angeles scene. Rickie is still active in the music business, composing songs from her base in Fresno, California.


Sippin' a Cup of Coffee

The Ordells Sippin' a Cup of Coffee b/w Big Dom 45 (Dionn, 1967)

"Oh oh oh! A-ah! Ummmmmm" That is exactly what I said when I dropped the needle on this one. From the accent on the first beat followed by the slow string drag I knew that this was gonna be a killer. The background vocals moan and then the falsetto slides in. The slow dreamy pace together with string swells and jabs, gorgeous vocals, and a muted trumpet that sits in the back and sounds like a car horn way in the distance: Add that all up and it is one of the best moody soul songs ever.

And that is not all. Flip this pup and hear a great funky, seat of the pants instrumental.

A perfect record!!!


Stairway to Heaven / Sousa's Salsa

Reverberi Stairway to Heaven (United Artists, 1977)
The Gold Orchestra Sousa's Salsa (Gold, 197?)

You know, records really don't cost too much to make. Sure, people spend money on recording and promotion, but if you send a tape to a record pressing plant and ask them to return it in the form of 1000 shiny black discs you will be about $700 poorer. That is today. Twenty years ago, when oil was cheaper and millions of vinyl records were being pressed every day, you could get a record done for about five cents a record. Because pressing a record was so cheap, many a record that probably shouldn't have been made were birthed just because someone somewhere thought that it might make them a hell of a lot of money. Here are two examples of such a record.

I found Reverberi's version of the Led Zeppelin chestnut Stairway to Heaven when I was in high school. I was lucky enough to go to a school that had a radio station. It wasn't much. A few storage rooms off of a classroom, filled with third-hand equipment that the radio/communications/drama teacher begged from his radio dejay buddies. The station actually had real call letters (KRAT) and a frequency (which faded half way into the parking lot). The radio in the teacher's lounge was always tuned to KRAT, a way for the staff to make sure we weren't cursing on the air. You could also hear the station at lunch time and during morning and afternoon break, when it was broadcast over speakers outside the station and in the quad.

Our record library was crap, toss offs donated by pro radio stations. That never bugged me as I was a teenage record freak with a knack for shoplifting vinyl. I'd bring in my Black Flag, Eno, Kaos, and Devo records and torment the student body. After a lunch show, I was guaranteed to be called "Devo Punk Rock Faggot" for a couple weeks. I was also guaranteed to get a lecture by the radio teacher on my choice of music ("That's not rock & roll"), my on-air manner ("You sound like a college radio dejay" - which I took as a compliment), and my future ("You are a smart young man, but you'll be going nowhere fast unless you forget this punk rock style"). The man doing the lecturing had bleached his hair blond in response to Rod Stewart's Blonds Have More Fun album and drove a Corvette. After I graduated high school I was thrilled to see him on a TV at 2 am on a UHF station hawking waterbeds in a commercial.

What does this have to do with Reverberi? I found the record in my high school radio station's library and adopted it as my theme song. The ire I received for playing rock blocks of Flipper was dwarfed by my spinning Reverberi's Stairway to Heaven every single day during my senior year of high school. If you count, "Play that one more time, Soriano, and you are dead" as a death threat, I got tons of them. The threats came to nothing. Back then people thought punk rockers were mental cases and much of the student body believed me and my punk friends were capable of killing them all in their sleep. We did nothing to discourage that thinking.

So who is this Reverberi guy? He is an Italian composer, who, in the late Seventies, started doing pop tunes. He also did soundtracks.

The Gold Orchestra's Sousa's Salsa (That Tuba Thing) didn't come from KRAT. I found this a couple months ago rummaging through a box at my favorite record hut. It was too stupid to pass up. What could be stupid about a disco song anchored by a tuba playing Sousa melodies? You really have to ask? Wanna know what is stupider? The B side is the same song but over 6 minutes long. Thank me for sparing you the long version.


Hietsuki Fushi

Masio Suzuki Hietsuki Fushi b/w Karichikuri Uta 7" (Victor Japan)

There are some very simple rules I follow when digging for records: 1. Buy anything with the word "boogaloo" in the title, 2. Every box is worth looking through, and 3. Do not pass up records that have great covers and absolutely no English on the cover, especially when you are only paying a buck per record. These rules have served me well and in the case of today's record, they are golden.

Until I asked for the translation assistance of Young Steve Strange, the only thing I knew about this record is that the A side has one of the greatest vocal performances I've ever heard, one every bit as great as the sounds you heard come out of Sabah's mouth a few months ago. Masiao Suzuki is the guy behind this song and from what I understand he is famous in Japan as a traditional folk music singer.

As far as what the songs are about, according to Young Steve:

The first song is called "Hietsuki Fushi." It is an old folk song sung by people harvesting the fields. I am not entirely clear as to what "Hietsuki" means. "Hie" means "millet" or "barnyard grass." and "tsukikomu" means to pound together. I think it's something to do with harvesting as well. "Fushi" mean melody. There is a legend that goes with the song:

Over 800 years ago the Heike Clan was defeated in the Battle of Dannouchi. After their defeat, they sought refuge in a village called Shiiba located deep in the mountains. Here they took up agriculture and lived a generally idyllic lifestyle. Despite the remoteness of their newfound home, word of the Heike Clan's mountain refuge soon reached the government in Kamakura, who dispatched an assassin to finish them off. However this assassin, Daihachi by name, found he couldn't bring himself to kill them once he saw how peaceful their new existence was. Instead of carrying out his duty to the kingdom, he resolved to live among the Heike and learn their ways of agriculture.

During his time there Daihachi fell in love with a young girl of noble birth named Tsurutomi. Before long, Tsurutomi
ended up pregnant due to their affair. Around this time Daihachi received word from Kamakura that he was to return to the capital at once. He couldn't very well return with the pregnant Tsurotomi, as she was the daughter of his sworn enemy, so he had no choice but to return home without her. Before he departed for Kamakura he gave Tsurtomi his sword, the "sword of heaven," with instructions to give the sword to her child. If the child was a male Tsurotomi was to tell him that he must use the sword to serve his country, but if it was a girl she was to plant the sword in the ground. I am not sure whether or not the child is a girl or boy, however the story of this "tragic" incident was immortilized in the "Hietsuki Melody."

Young Steve continues: The other song is called "Karichikuri Uta" and it measn something like "The Harvest Song." It literally translates as "The cutting and tearing song."

One thing that might be of interest is that the instrument on the record is a Japanese 3-strigned banjo-like instrument called a Shamisen. Traditional Shamisen (I dunno how old the ones on this record are) are made using cat skins.

And there you go. Thanks to Young Steve for the help on this one. This kid is desperate to get back to Japan but is having a hell of a time getting there due to immigration & work visa hassles. If you are in Tokyo and have a job for the young man or a lead, contact me and I'll pass on the information.


In Research

Research 1 6 12 In Research LP (Flick City, 1968)

Welcome to the world of Research 1 6 12. This ellusive record has long been a staple of psychedelia collector want lists and for good reason. At its best, Research 1 6 12's In Research is moody psych cut with Them like guitar fuzz and smart ass pranks.

According to the Rabbi Morrie Yess, who played guitar in the band, Research 1 6 12 formed as the result of a gig in an Oxnard, California bowling alley. Somehow they made their way to Flick City, the record label of David Rollnick, who clawed his way into the music biz by managing the Cleftones. They recorded this one album which "aired on 75 FM stations across America" and promptly broke up. Rabbi Yess asumes that "sales were rather weak" and states that none of the band received any royalties from the record.

After the band broke up, Yess went to the "Holy Land...and studied Torah for about 7 years in a Rabbi College. [He has] been uninvolved with rock since 1978." Dick Bozzi went into radio, pioneered the oldies/classic rock format, headed a major label subsidiary specializing in bringing back classic rock acts, and was last seen helping Kansas revive their career. Don Burns, "born in the backwoods of Tennessee" (according to the liner notes), disappeared, perhaps to back to the woods? Rabbi Yess mentions the "other two band members" besides Bozzi and him. So perhaps there is a fourth uncredited member. I don't know. This is all the information I could get out of the Rabbi.

I got this record at least 10 years ago. Fished it out of a dollar bin. It had been marked down from $5. Didn't know what it was at the time but who wouldn't spend a buck on a record with a song called "Lookin' in the Toaster" on it?

Please check out the comments as Rabbi Yess has contributed a little more history to this mystery....


Some Sunshine

The Voices of East Harlem Can You Feel It 45 (Just Sunshine, 1974)
Que Sunryse A Storm Brewing 45 (Just Sunshine, 1973)

Here are two from the Just Sunshine Records label. Just Sunshine is most well known for pressing Betty Davis's great freak funk records, as well as putting out records by Stuff, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Alexis Korner.

The Voices of East Harlem had a pretty decent career and are regarded well enough that at least one of their records has seen vinyl reissue. They were produced by Leroy Hudson and Curtis Mayfield, among others. The cut here is penned and produced by Hudson and is a great piece of funky soul.

Que Sunryse is as obscure as their name is odd. I know absolutely nothing of them other than they recorded this single. A Storm Brewing the the b-side and far superior to the mellow Friday the Thirteenth. A Storm Brewing is a pretty good description of the song. Somewhere between gospel, funk, and Stax style soul the song's intensity grows as it goes on. Perhaps one of Crud Crud's more funkified readers can fill me in on anything I missed.

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