Baby Don't Cry
Sundae Times Baby Don't Cry b/w Aba-Aba 45 (Seville, 1968)
Pleasant surprise here! I bought this just because of the name. I was digging through a box at a pretty quick pace and didn't look at the label too carefully. The name made me think, "Sixties pop" - which is fine as I've been on a Sixties pop kick for a while now. Since I didn't know the name Seville, any doubt to spend $2 on this was shelved. I am always willing to check out a new record label. Had I looked a little closer at the label I wouldn't have done a double take when I heard the intro Baby Don't Cry and then the vocals. "Hot damn," I mumbled. "This sounds like the Equals." I look at the label. The songs are credited to and produced by an Edmund Grant. So Eddie Grant, the genius behind the Equals is behind this band! No wonder it sounds like Eddie Grant!
Though the Sundae Times was, no doubt, under Eddie's wing, they weren't an Eddie Grant band. Headed up by Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuel, the Sundae Times came about after the young Antiguan met Grant in England and started writing songs with him. He also jammed with future Wailer Junior Marvin, who gave Samuel the nickname Fuzzy because he played his bass through a fuzz box. Fuzzy joined up with Dell Richardson and Conrad Isadore (what a great name!) to form Sundae Times, the UK's first all Black pop trio. They made one album and some singles and then broke up. Richardson formed the Afro-fusion group Osibisa. Fuzzy went on to play with Stephen Stills, Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, and later joined Manassass.
These two songs are aces. How they picked an A side I have no idea. Too bad they only managed one album. But it is still good to know that there was at least one band going in the Sixties who were hitting the same chords as the Equals.
Good Thing Man
Frank Lucas Good Thing Man 45 (ICA, 1977)
Way back in August of 2005, I wrote this pup up in one of my 45 listen & hit it's. I wrote:
Very much lifted from Let's Get It On but that is fine, especially since this has that "You Know I'm the Most Flyest in the Hood" vocalist fronting this. And when you come up with a line like "I got a whole lot of yum yum," I mean, hell, you win. The flip starts off with "I'm gonna tell you about my mule/My woman is my mule/because when it comes to lovin/she's a hardworkin fool."
My opinion has not changed one bit. So when I stumbled across this going through a stack of records, made an MP3, googled it for info, I found some sketchy information stating this sold over a million copies and my post. The first thing I thought is, "Damn, I've been doing this thing that long?" The second thing is "Mmmmm mmmmmm Good." And I will leave this at that.
Catastrophe III Freestyle 12" (Hurricane, 1988)
For a brief moment in the early 1980s I had a hip hop career. I was listening to KDVS, the excellent student-run radio station in Davis, and some sly dejay slipped Grandmaster Flash's The Message in between the Gang of Four and James Brown. Lake many who heard The Message for the first time, especially those who heard at the time it was released, the song was nothing less than revolutionary. The sound - so funky and stark and angry. The words - no bullshit, tell it like it is poetry that was the most cut to the bone since the Last Poets. I rushed to the local Tower Records and bought a copy of the album. Interest peaked, I went searching for more. Problem was, in Sacramento there wasn't much more, certainly nothing as good or as raw as The Message. So as wee-punkers, my little gang tried to make our own hip hop. We hang out in Okie Park and create Get Down Music, our "band" dubbed the Ungrateful Get Down Band. The band consisted of one person rapping, one person interjecting "That's right! "Get Down!," one human beat box, and two people mimicking bass and keyboard. It was as horrible as you can image and never escaped our little world (though I have a cassette tape of it, which about a year ago I considered posting but I've shamed myself enough already).
A few years later, fifty miles south and from a whole different world, Catastrophe III had their Get Down Band going. They actually knew what they were doing. Instead of spiky hair and shaved skulls, they sported jerry curls, and their rhymes were a bit better than "get down/get funky/fuck you/i'm a junkie." Their human beat box sounded a bit better than a someone coughing up a fur ball. And I am sure there are countless other factors that distance Catastrophe III from the Ungrateful Get Down Band. Perhaps the biggest thing is that they made a record and we didn't.
I found the Freestyle 12" in a thrift store in Stockton. It is one of thousands of early hip hop 12"s that came out in the 1980s, so many doomed to obscurity (there is a whole line of Killed By Death style hip hop comps to be made). Catastrophe III had the bad luck of being from Stockton, where they might have gained some local support but had no chance of breaking nationally, especially not at the time. While Freestyle starts a bit rough, the song has a great build and contains some great off-the-cuff rapping.
Pyar Ka Mandir
Laxmikant-Pyarelel Pyar Ka Mandir LP (Super, 1987)
Listen, I am not gonna front that I an expert on Indian movie soundtracks. What I know about Bollywood you could shove up a duck's ass. The movies contain a bit of light petting, a lot of restaurant scenes, an bushy mustached actor playing the evil dude, and a few scenes where people spontaneously break out into a psychedelic song and dance number. My knowledge of Bollywood has come from stumbling on Indian movies when flipping though UHF channels on the TV, a few comps, and a handful of soundtracks that I pulled out of various Indian food stores before they became hot with DJs and disappeared. Today there might be an Indian market in Des Moines that has a box of vinyl (still doubtful) but if you are in a major city, don't waste your time...or money.
The Indian film industry turns out a little more than 3 feature films a day, each with a soundtrack (over 1000 movies made theater release in 2004). Let's be conservative and estimate that an average of 300 Bollywood soundtracks were released per year since 1970. That is 10,500 records, tapes, & CDs. At that rate you gotta figure that most of it is crap. When I did my big Bollywood soundtrack haul, I blindly bought 100 records in a couple weeks. I had no idea what I was doing. I went by the covers: Anything picturing a gun or an elephant (and hopefully a gun AND an elephant), I bought. Tigers were also a hook. Old people sitting around a feast table I passed up. Most of what I was looking at were recent titles, which in this instance was late 1980s. Finding old titles in Indian stores was impossible (and finding any Bollywood in used record stores was tough). Out of the hundred LPs, five had songs that sucked the filth out of my mind and replaced it with joy juice. Ten more had really good songs. Another ten had songs that warranted multiple listens. Of the rest, twenty five were mildly amusing but dismissible and fifty were blah or outright crap. All this worked out for me once the internet boomed as I was able to sell the shit to dot.com drunk yuppies at very high prices. Since then I pick up Bollywood sountracks when I find them but I am careful not to over pay. I also know a few names to look out for.
Laxmikant-Pyarelal is one of the names. Actually it is two names. Laxmikant Kudlakar and Pyarelal Sharma make up one of India's most popular songwriting teams. They have composed over 500 soundtracks for nearly every major film maker in Bollywood. Of the records I have by them, most are good. They are fond of mixing Indian classical music with rock & roll and often have pretty funky passages in their songs. The singing is nearly always tops. Of the soundtracks I have by them Pyar Ka Mandir is my favorite.
I give you two songs from Pyar Ka Mandir. The first is a long one, Pyar Ke Pahle Kadam Pe, which brings in all that is good about Bollywood music: Great singing, dubby sitar funk, odd vocal parts, and startling sound effects. Kishore Kumar and Alka Yagnik sing. The second cut, Log Jahan Per Rahte Hain (Sad) is a beautiful slow short one. Mohammed Aziz sings on this one.
Manfred Mann Chapter Three Volume 1 LP (Polydor, 1969)
One day, about ten years ago, I am in the bookstore one day when a woman called. She say that her son had just died and she has some books to sell. I ask her if she could name some titles, she sets the phone down, grabs a few books, returns and recites, "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas," "Trout Fishing in America," "Been Down So Long..." I quickly figure out that the son now buried had to be in his late 40s or early 50s. With those kind of books there is a chance that he had records and maybe some good ones. I ask her if her son had any records that they were looking to sell. She say, yes, thousands. My heart jump.
I know, I know. Fucking vulture Soriano. But, hey, she called me. It isn't like I was hanging out at the boneyard, sliding up to grieving families, whispering "Was the deceased a record collector?" (Not a bad idea, though.) She needed to sell and I wanted to buy. So we set a date and when that day came I hop into my since departed, much missed Toyota truck and drive over. I knock on the door. She say meet her at the garage door. As the garage door wirrs up, I see about 20 moving boxes full of LPs. She tells me she had tried to yard sale them at a buck a pop and only sold ten. She adds that she has some inside the house, records that her neighbor said are worth money and would I look at them first? We go inside and I sort through the small stack of "collectibles," i.e. Jefferson Airplane and a couple beat up Beatles albums. In other words, nothing worth a shit. Back to the garage.
I start digging. About ten records into the first box and I find an original copy of Easter Everywhere by the 13th Floor Elevators. I fight hard not to shit. My mind is churning. Possibilities become attainable. Fantasies morph to reality. Nirvana awaits! This is the kind of record collection that every record geek has wet dreams about stumbling on. This is the payoff for the hundreds, nay thousands, of hours plowing through beat up records by Herb Albert, Pat Travers, and Styx. This heals the scarred finger tips of the serial record flipper and thaws the cynical freeze off a heart that has been pierced one to many times by that one funk jazz masterpiece that is supposed to be pimp/fly/dope/whatever beyond belief but is really just Seventies cheese with a polyester beat. Holding Easter Everywhere in my trembling hands I remind my self that she had tried to yard sell these for a buck a pop and failed! Oh God in Heaven, Allah, Zeus, and dear Hugo Ball, Thank you! Thank You! THANK YOU!
I go to the truck, get a box and start pulling records. Some of the records are your average okay records, things I can flip for five bucks each. Some are known gems like the skull-cover White Light/White Heat, both pressings of the Yardbirds' Roger the Engineer, and the first couple Pretty Things LPs in mono, stuff I had reissues or cassette copies of. There are things I never heard of before, like the Barry Goldberg Reunion, records I wound up give a spin and get rid of. And then there are records in these that are complete mysteries to me (Haspshash & the Coloured Coat, Savage Resurrection, the first Loading Zone LP, etc.) waiting for me to be blown away upon first play. Three hours of digging and I come up about 500 records. I was about to make an offer and she set the price at a grand, twice of which I would have paid if I had been at that dollar a pop yard sale, but what the hey? My bank account can handle it and these are the boom days of ebay so I know that I can easily turn over a hundred at 10 bucks each. I pay the lady and haul away my scores.
One month later: Of the records I picked up not knowing what to expect, the one I have the least expectations for is Manfred Mann Chapter Three's Volume One LP. I know the early Manfred Mann of Do Wah Diddy Diddy and the later Manfred Mann of Blinded by the Light and I hate them both. However but the cover of MMCT looks different enough to prompt me to give it a spin before I throw it into the ebay pile. I set the record the turntable and drop needle, expecting suckiness to come out of the speakers. Hmmm...here's an eerie organ doubled by a flute and then the bass slides in with a killer subdued bass line, a fuzzed organ and vocals which definitely don't have the Manfred Mann sheen. Pretty fucking cool stuff. Funky and creepy...uh, what's that? My my this horn blast is something else and the way the sax snakes out of that, oh shit this is great! I put the needle back at the beginning, turn up the bass, crank the volume, and sit down back. For a bit over forty-five minutes I am in bliss.
A month passes and Woodhouse and I are speeding up to Seattle to record A Frames II. Woodhouse lives across the haul and I pound on his door whenever I have a great record score. He opens the door with an annoyed "What." I say "You gotta hear this." He gets excited and makes the three step journey to my apartment and I blow his mind with something incredibly deep and emotional like Patty Water's first or totally idiotic but genius such as the Unholy Swill. But I've kept him in the dark about Manfred Mann Chapter Three, knowing it would sound great on a car stereo. We roar past Corning and I slipped a cassette of the record into the tape deck. Woodhouse undergoes the same jaw dropping mind fuck I went through and, in stutter, asks who it is. I make him guess. He has no idea. Manfred Mann. No shit? Yes shit. My god... We get to Seattle, party a bit and put the the tape on. Twenty feet high and it sounds even better. I am sure the record influenced what we put together that weekend.
Manfred Mann Chapter Three was a band between bands. Mike Hugg (who tossed the drums for vocals on this one) and Manfred had a little money in the band - thanks to their past hits and some commercials - and decided to do something they really wanted to do. They thought that they could bring jazz to rock & roll. What resulted is the perfect blend of free jazz, psychedelia, funk, and prog rock. They made two albums. This one was released worldwide. The second only in Europe. Both records flopped. Manfred Mann fans usually write off Chapter Three as some weird abomination. Ha! I know the truth and you will, too, after you give this a listen.
Door to Door
Once again, it is time for me to sell some records. I have a bunch listed on ebay, so give a look-see and bid if you see anything you would like to own. Also check out Ss Records, my record label, for some very good music. I don't have a little paypal donations bug on this thing, nor do I beg you for donations, so if you get pleasure from this thing, please consider enlarging your record collection while lightening my load. Of course, cash donations, paid writing or dj gigs, and bottles of fine single malt scotch will be appreciated.
Fabulous Harmonica played by Yama Yama Man
Yama Yama Man Fabulous Harmonica played by... LP (Riviera, 195?)
Go ahead an laugh at me. You won't be the first. I got this record at a radio station record sale. I go to the sale every year. I see the same faces and have got to know whom the assholes who try to crowd you out of sections while you are looking, whom set boxes on top of boxes of records that they are going to look at in order to keep you from looking at stuff, and other shitty, petty record hogging practices. Luckily these people are easily thrown off by someone pushing back, so when I respond to the ol winged elbowed nudge with me stopping, looking them in the eyes and the words "You try to push me away again and I will make you eat those fucking records," they clear the area. It is also good that these assholes are just looking for Beatles collectibles and deep grooved six eyes, and leave gems like the Yama Yama Man for me. What is also good is that there are a fair number of really cool & pleasant music freaks who show up and know other people's taste. That is how I got the Yama Yama Man record.
Some guy who collects acetates saw the Yama Yama Man, looked at me knowing I am a sucker for this crap and said "I think you will want this." When I gasped and said, "Hell yeah I do," he laughed and then turned to a friend of his and said, "He took the Yama Yama Man." His friend laughed. When a few friends and I were going through records at the end of the sale, showing off our finds every friend laughed at me for having the Yama Yama Man LP, each saying that they passed it up and knew I would buy it if I came across it. Well, fuck you, too. Laugh at me. LAUGH AT ME!
There is one great, okay, good song on this record and besides that it is a fake record and that makes it even better. There is no Yama Yama Man. The name came from a popular song and was used just to sell records to (I assume) the folks who bought exotica. Even better is the fact that these songs appeared on at least 10 under records under the names of Larry Farber, the Cavaliers, Boris Draper, Frank Gem, the Harmonica Hot Shots, and Danny Welton, who was actually the person who the music is by. Like many a record on the budget labels (Crown, Crescent, Spin-O-Rama, etc.) these tunes were recycled over and over, the only unique thing being the record jacket, which in this case is a fucking gem! With that, enjoy a cool exotica version of Samson & Delilah.
Manuel & the Renegades Rev-Up 45 (Piper, 1963)
Cheerful Earfuls The Drag - Number One 45 (Stepheny, 1960?)
I can't think of any genre of rock & roll that has spun off as many absurd subgenres as 60's surf instrumentals. Yeah, the fact that punk rock is responsible for ska punk, emo, mosh metal, NYHC, and funk metal makes it rock & rolls biggest abortion provider, but inspiring morons to rawk is not quite the same as being an incubator of absurdity. From surf music's loins popped snow skiing music, water skiing music (home of Duane Eddy's worst record - Water Skiing - a classic!), slot car music, motorcycle music, and hot rod music. Who cares if the only difference between the subgenres is what sound effect is featured in the song, what matters is that the sound effect is there.
Manuel & the Renegades start Rev-Up with a great grunted "Rev-Up" and a smart rev of a motorcycle. A Wipe-Out style drum intro follows and we are off into a great jam and some cool picking, accented, of course, by more sound effects! By the name of the band leader (Manuel), the songwriter (Rodrigues), and the publishing company (Noneca), I am gonna guess that Manuel & the Renegades were part of the great Chicano instrumental rock & roll scene that called Los Angeles home. (A fantastic vinyl comp of Chicano instros is Original Surfin' Hits released by GNP-Cresendo in the 1960s and still in print at the turn of the century.)
Do vocals count as sound effects? When they are in an instrumental song and I am trying to stretch the definition of "sound effects" while doing a write up they sure do. Evanston, Illinois' Cheerful Earfuls make some great Duane Eddy-inspired noise - a very cool stroll, which, I think is trying to create the mood of the drag strip. Sure. The Drag has a great groove and an even better guitar. A Stepheny Records discography states that Stepheny went out of business in 1960, so I will peg the date of this pup there, something that would make it pre-date surf-inspired hot rod music. Hmmm maybe this is the first hot rod themed instrumental. Then again The Drag might be the name of a dance. For my sake and to hold the theme of this post together, let's go along with what I just wrote and listen to the songs. Okay?
Tim James Strange Things b/w Motions 45 (Delco, 1976)
Here is another odd little gem. I picked this up a couple years ago in the Bay Area for a buck and was very please when I dropped needle on it. By the sound, I thought that this was made in the late 60s. It has a folk cum garage cum psych thing going on and there is a nice amateur rawness to it. I looked up the pressing plant number and the plant matrix tells me it was pressed in 1976. While that is surprising (and might explain why this hasn't appeared on some garage or psych comp), I can hear it. If you think of all the post-Velvet sounds that started burbling up in the mid-70s, Tim James sounds closer to the Twinkeyz than he does the Sonics or Red Crayola. I am not sure where James was from but I am gonna guess Northern California, as the copies of this that I've seen for sale have been from Nor Cal record dealers (and one Brit who regularly deals with some Nor Cal guys).
(Now It's) Back to School
Cal Hayes (Now It's) Back to School 45 (D'Oro, 196?)
Please, please take me to Cal Hayes's school...but only if I have a clear path to the exit! Prepare yourself to hear the strangest, creepiest, and, perhaps, best end of summer/back to school song you will ever hear. I know those are strong words but trust me.
Hayes has a distant haunted voice, one that reminds me in tone of a strung out Charles Lloyd and in temper of Jandek. I assume he also plays organ and dubbed the backing vocals. The percussion track is one of those stock jobs that used to come with old Hammond organs and which Timmy Thomas used on his excellent Why Can't We Live Together LP. However, a few beats into Back to School and you know this is no where near the eccentric yet smooth soul of Timmy T. The record sounds like it was recorded in a crawlspace.
Because there is little info on the record label, I know nothing about Cal Hayes and D'Oro Records. There is no date on the record but the Hammond, the type style on the label, and the flip side (a very good raver called Lies! Lies!, which I will post some other day) lead me to believe that this was made in the late 60s. Unfortunately D'Oro was a common name for record companies. Cal Hayes could be a master rose grower, a video game voice actor, a baseball player, Mickie Most's son, or a Canadian. Or he could be some guy who made a record and disappeared. My seaches have been fruitless. There is no information in the deadwax that would give me pressing plant information. Neither the songs nor Cal Hayes is registered with the major publishing companies, BMI & ASCAP. This is a complete mystery.
I didn't find this one myself unless you count walking into my favorite record store after a month's absence and the owner calling out, "I am glad you came today! I have the worst record ever for you!" He dropped the needle on this thing and the percussion track told me I was in for a treat. As the song grew it became more and more strange. My record shop pal looked at the speakers in disgust, as the skin on my face was stretched to its limit by the big fucking grin spreading accross it. He took the record off, handed it to me, and pointed at a few boxes that just came in. "There's more stuff like that over there. Whatever you want, it's a buck each." After an hour I had a nice healthy stack and was sent out the door wit, "I can count on you to buy what no one else wants!"
Wha Ha Ha s/t
Wha Ha Ha s/t LP (Recommended, 1983)
In my first wanderings on the internet some years ago I stumbled onto the Recommended Records website. I was looking for the ten volume Plastic People of the Universe vinyl set. I had just had a very good thrift score that I turned over on ebay for some mad mad money (ahhh the dot.com boom!) and I felt a need to spend some of it. I was a little too late for the PPU set, so I spent some time looking though the vinyl Recommended did have. I had no idea what I was looking at and just went on descriptions. Lucky for me that Chris Cutler guy has good taste and writes helpful descriptions. I found some real gems. The prices were good and the dollar was actually holding its own against the pound. One of the records I got was this Wha Ha Ha LP.
Out of the small stack that I had bought, Wha Ha Ha was the real treat. Compiled from three different LPs, this collection is nothing less than astounding. Recorded in the early 80s, Wha Ha Ha incorporates many different styles of music - post punk, dub, jazz, Japanese folk music, ambient, nature sounds - and fuses them so well that the result is something all to itself. Listen to Akatere (which originally appeared on the album Getahaitekonakucah) and I think you will agree that this is remarkable music.
Wha Ha Ha was formed in 1980 by free jazz saxophonist Akira Sakata. They recorded a handful of LPs. Sakata also had his own trio going and played with many of the free jazz/postpunk/no wave crowd - James Blood Ulmer, Material, Lounge Lizards. He also played with Last Exit and recorded with the New York avant jazz crowd. He still plays today with jazz and avant musicians as well as people like DJ Krush.