Our Dinosaur Friends
Art Barduhn Our Dinosaur Friends - for the Early Years LP (ARA, 1978)
This one is an absolute gem. I found this at a thrift store with it's companion volume, The Intermediate Years. It was, as you will hear, two bucks well spent and further proof that for every 100 shitty children's record out there, there is an absolute gem. As I've written before, what makes a great children's record is music that does not
"talk" down to kids, music that treats them as the creative, spontaneous, intelligent beings we seek to destroy. Our Dinosaur Friends is just that.
"A dinosaur records? Eh how hard is that?" you ask. Sure , dinosaurs are an easy sell to young'un, perhaps easier than firemen and candy. Few kids aren't fascinated with our reptilian cousins or second cousins or wherever they fall in this animal soup. So anyone can make a good dinosaur record. No only is that not so, it means you've never heard this one. I've listened to many a kid's record and the only one that hits it like this is Stark Reality's record of Hoagy Carmichael songs (reissued as Stark Reality Now on Stones Throw). (To be fair, Stark Reality stands alone. Our Dinosaur Friends is great, but as good as it is, it pales next to Now.) Like Stark Reality, Art Barduhn has come up with some songs that sound more avant garde than they do children's. Our Dinosaur Years sounds more like Tom Waits' Frank's Wild Years period (done five years earlier) or Moondog (created decades earlier) than Raffi. Every time I listen to this I am taken aback over how much freedom the children's music genre gives musicians.
Art Barduhn started his music career playing vibes on the Seattle TV show Boreson & Barduhn in the 1940s. By the Fifties he was in Los Angeles recording polkas and playing jazz. He composed and arranged for TV, taught voice and music lessons, and created kids music. Here he is joined by Eric Miller and Pam Johnson (pictured below). As of 2005, Art was still alive and playing music in Palm Springs, fronting a Beach Boys=styled band called The Arthur Barduhn Trio.
Oh yeah, one of the really great things about this record is that the first side is vocals and music. The second is the music sans vocals. When you hear the cuts below, you will know what a treat that is. Happy hunting!
Don Carson & the Casuals Yes Master! (Bertram International, 196?)
I filled enough of these pages with my thoughts on exotica. I am a fan for all the reasons most people are: I like the mish mash of musical styles, I enjoy the hamfisted attempts at trying to conjure up the strange & exotic, I giggle at the wrong-headed jabs at internationalism, and I dig what happens when all the above collide. Even better is when vocals are added. I am not referring to Yma Sumac style vocals, where the sound of the voice is paramount, the lyrics an afterthought. I thrill when some musician or producer decides that the one thing their exotica song needs is vocal commentary, a good set of lyrics that conjure up a land far, far away. Hello Don Carson! I am not sure when this pup was made. I will guess early 60s, but it could have been created in the late 50s. Who Don Carson was, I have no idea. Why he made this song, I can only guess. But who or why doesn't matter: This is a great listen and a perfect example of the glorious ignorance that makes primo exotica/kitsch.
Aufray Chante Dylan
Hugues Aufray Aufray Chante Dylan 7" (Barclay, 1965)
In the early 90s, I was in a record store in British Columbia digging through boxes. I had just discovered Jacques Dutronc for myself and was hoping to find more French 60s pop. The Swingin' Mademoiselle comps had yet to come out, and there weren't any collections of French pop or garage stuff that I had found, so I didn't have a cheat sheet or a guide to go by. I did have the names Dutronc, Hardy, Bardot, and Gainsbourg to look for and Brel to avoid, but, other than that, I was flying blind. A record store clerk asked me what I was looking for and I told him Dutronc. He raised his eyebrows, surprised that some American was asking about the great French singer, and said that he was sorry, he didn't have any, "However you might enjoy Hugues Aufray." We walked over to the French section and he handed me the Aufray Chante Dylan LP, poked at the cover and said, "Very important disque." The record was only $6 Canadian, which is about $4 US, so I bought it. At the very worst, it was a guy with a French accent singing Dylan and that was worth the kitsch value.
A few weeks later, after arriving home, I dropped needle on Aufray's take on Dylan. Wow! Unlike others who cover Dylan, Aufray doesn't slick it up or mellow it out. Instead he puts a nice hard Rolling Stones like rhythm section behind it and let's his guitarist rip. For many a Frenchie, Aufray was their introduction to Dylan and lucky they were that Hugues got to Bob before someone like Jacques Brel or Mireille Mathieu did.
Being the French Ambassadeur de Bob Dylan has not lead to a cult of Aufray or the same kid of hipness that surrounds Dutronc or Antoine. Many of my French friends regard Aufray as Old Man Music. This is probably due to Hugues doing a fair number of music hall songs. For every great odd pop song like Le Serpent, Aufray made a couple dozen designed to make you cry in your wine. In 1968, he also took a musical stand for the establishment and against the students who were ripping up cobblestones and chucking them at the cops. For positioning himself against youthful rebellion, his name was written in the books of Stodgy Old Farts.
The two below are on the Aufray Chante Dylan LP, though I have taken them from one of two 7" eps of the same name. I recommend seeking any and all of these versions out. As far as the rest of Aufray, proceed with caution. I've got some great stuff, some okay records, and some shit stinkers. You can also check out a prior post on Hugues and the response.
Village of Love
Nathaniel Mayer & The Fabulous Twilights Village of Love b/w I Want a Woman 45 (Fortune, 1962)
Mainstream histories of rock & roll go something like this: First there was Elvis. Okay, actually there were a couple Black people Elvis was influenced by, but, really, Elvis pretty much started rock & roll for real. Then Elvis went into the Army and rock & roll died, until some teenagers from England named the Beatles found rock & roll in the hands of Pat Boone, saved it from obscurity, helped it make the world safe for the likes rockers like Bruce Springstein, U2, and Guns'n'Roses. This is the history of rock & roll as seen by boardrooms full of White PR hacks.
"Oh, Soriano, do you have to bring race into this?" As a matter of fact, I do. The mainstream history of rock & roll is one that tends to ignore race, at least past the WelltherewasthebluesandthenHEYLOOK!!!ELVIS line you always hear. There is this block of time - 1958 to 1963 - that seems to get ignored. That is the time in which Black people ruled rock & roll. It is also the time in which the record companies were trying to figure out a way to market rock & roll to white people safely. By safely I mean without Black people in it. The short of it is that radio charts were shaken up so that music was once again divided into two categories: Pop (including White rock & roll) and R&B (Black rock & roll), R&B being the new way to say Race Music, the previous category reserved for music by Blacks. So on record company rosters, in Billboard, and on radio station play lists, Black rock & roll disappears, making it possible for some White Limeys to "save rock & roll," a notion the Beatles themselves would find absurd.
So what was happening in that 5 year "dead" space? Bo Diddley for one. Gary "US" Bonds, Rosie & the Originals and their great Gimme Love (called the greatest rock & roll song every by John Lennon), Ike & Tina Turner, and much more. With Nathaniel Mayer & The Fabulous Twilights we have another example of Black rock & roll.
Village of Love was a hit for Nathaniel Mayers, his first one. It was his second of five singles on Fortune before he split from them over money. He disappeared and was doomed to obscurity, until the nearly obscure soul punk band the Detroit Cobras recorded a version of Village in 1996. In 2004, he did an album for Fat Possum, some songs recently released on vinyl on Stardumb.
Village of Love is a great rock & roll songs with some nice screaming vocals. I especially like the "Come on"s followed by the flat backing vocals. But the winner for me is I want a Woman. It seems like your average ballad, even with the near cavemanesque backing vocals that start the song off, and then the guitar solo comes in! What kind of voltage was that cat zapped with? This is one of the greatest, most twisted guitar solos I've ever heard. "Truly Great Music" the record label says and for a dollar I know that they are right.
Love for Sale
I spent this Sunday going through boxes of records and listing them on ebay. I've got a lot of odd balls up right now (and will be listing more this week) and thought some of the readers of this blog might be interested. Here is the link. Also, in case you don't know already, I run a small label called Ss Records. I put out some interesting stuff and carry records that you are not likely to get elsewhere, at least in one place and/or in the US. I don't list ads at the side of this blog or have Amazon tags, nor do I do fund appeals. I do this blog because I like to. However, if you feel inclined to throw some money at me, I will be very happy to throw some records back at you. Actually, I'll probably mail them. I've been told that I "throw like a girl." Plus records tend to break if you don't catch them.
Darkness Fills My Lonely Heart
Sounds of Modification Darkness Fills My Lonely Heart 45 (Jubilee, 1968)
While the Sounds of Modifcation were indeed a real band, it is Bob Gallo's stamp is all over this pup. Do a little research on Gallo and you see that, considering his resume, the man gets far less run than he should. He started his music carrier as one of the persons behind The Crests' Sixteen Candles. Then went on to work for Cameo/Parkway. During the Sixties he produced James Brown's It's a Man's, Man's World, ? & the Mysterians' 96 Tears, as well as hits for the Drifters, Young Rascals, Patti LaBelle, Bo Diddley, and many others.
On SOM's Darkness Fills My Lonely Heart, Gallo plays producer, arranger, and songwriter. He also plays on it. Of the band, I know nothing other some of their mellower songs have appeared on some comps of 60s sunshine pop.
Tin Tin s/t
Tin Tin s/t LP (Atco, 1970)
Like many of you, my first hear of the Bee Gees was thanks to Saturday Night Fever. And if you were my age and male and were white and lived in the suburbs, your ears were more in tune with Electric Funeral than Staying Alive. Needless to say, Night Fever didn't encourage me to explore the Brothers Gibb's past.
Later, in my twenties, away from the 'burbs and starting to hang out with citified freaks, I had the pretty typical older record geek gives wisdom to young buck experience. You know what I am talking about: Frizzy haired, wild eyed, pock faced, raspy voiced, twitchy not quite a hippy but older cat who hangs on the fringes of the punk rock scene, pulling you aside and telling you, out of the blue, that there was a Bee Gees before disco and that he'll lay a copy of Horizontal on you next time he sees you...or better yet, you can come over his apartment right now and he will give you a copy because he has three. You are young and dumb and the thought of a free record by a band you have yet to really discover clouds over all judgment and puts you in a place not so different than the archetypical hitchhiker who climbs into the cab of a haunted death truck only to get ass raped and then eaten. Of course the carnal canibalism doesn't happen. Older record dude doesn't even offer you a glass of wine and a backrub. Nah, he is just a little lonely and really wants to share his record collection with you. Hell, he can't get his girlfriend to listen to his records and the internet is 15 years from being invented so it's hanging out at coffee house and befriending the young, aspiring punkers and aiding their growth into full on record geekdom. A passing of the vinyl torch, if you will.
Everyone who hears Horizontal completely reevaluates their take on the Bee Gees. It is a great record and has one of the best break up songs ever in Birdie Told Me. You get your paws on a copy and soon you are picking up every Bee Gees record you can find. At some point you will hit 1969's Cucumber Castle, the only Bee Gees' album with out brother Robin, who quit in a fit, and left the record to Barry and Maurice. Shortly after the record's release, Barry and Maurice parted. Maurice, fighting alcoholism and having trouble with his wife Lulu, dove into producing his fellow Aussies, Tin Tin,
Lead by Steve Kipner, who later joined the Bee Gees, Tin Tin sounds very much like a brother Gibb has something to do with it. Not only does Maurice produce, his songs are on it, and he plays on some cuts. His name is also featured on the front cover of the album. That's fine, because Maurice's touch is gold. Gold in sound, not in sales. Tin Tin did not catch on and split after one record.
Soon after Tin Tin came out, the Gibbs brothers were back and recording what became 2 Years On, which was followed by Trafalgar, both good but not essential records.
Realists Wonderland 7" (Eccentric, 1981)
Here is a fantastic song to bring in the summer. I know absolutely nothing about this single other than is was a very well spent two dollars and it was made in the UK. Absolutely perfect power pop that fuses the db's, the Shoes, Nick Lowe, the Who, and so many other greats. Why this record isn't on every power pop must have list is beyond me. Why I can't find any information on these guys is also puzzling. Enjoy.
Bull & the Matadors The Funky Judge 45 (Toddlin' Town, 1968)
Finky Fuzz Here Come the Judge 45 (Epic, 1968)
Peter Tosh Here Comes the Judge 45 (Gibbs, 1972)
The Judge song! One of the best song subject genres ever! My first encounter with the Judge wasn't through song but rather Flip Wilson's Here Comes the Judge skit on the TV show Laugh-In, a show I used to watch with my parents as a kid. Flip copped the phrase from Pigmeat Markham, a comedian who recorded a musical version of his joke for Chess in 1968. I didn't know of Markham until much later in life and after I had heard my first Judge song, Shorty Long's great Here Comes the Judge. Shorty's was one of the first funky 45s I ever bought, so that version will always remain a favorite.
Today I am giving you three Judge songs, each one radically different. Bull & the Matador's version of the Andre Williams penned The Funky Judge is a funk classic. A second into the groove and you know that this is a dance floor filler.
I have no idea who Finky Fuzz is or anything about their version. What is strange about it is that it takes two African American R&B staples - the Judge song and the one-liner song - and drops them into a country western frame. Very strange.
My favorite Judge song is Peter Tosh's devastating Here Comes the Judge. Tosh starts off with a roll call of Great Explorers/Blood Thirsty Imperialists - Columbus, Stanley, Drake, etc. Then they are put on trial, but not before some of the coolest backing vocals ever chime in. And, to a ground shaking beat, Tosh condemns them to death for crimes against Native People everywhere. As my brother would say, "Righteous, mon."
Cindy & Sue Temple Love (Era, 1961)
Who are Cindy & Sue? I have no idea. My research has found nothing. I can't even state that they did a record other than this one or that this actually made it past the promotional stage. The girls are shrouded in mystery. But that is okay because other than providing backing vocals, the girls' presence on Temple Love is nil (they do carry the A-side, a rather bland pop song called Let's Fall in Love). The star of this song is Bob Worth, who plays the "Artisan Organ at International Sound." What would have been a catchy R&B shuffle becomes something demented when fronted by Bob's pipe organ. The girls' backing vocals spin this further into strangeness. Two steps (and one dracula voice) away from hokey, Temple Love is a great B-side and more proof that any 45 on Era is worth a listen.