Doo Boo Doo Boo Za
Ya'ssoo Doo Boo Doo Boo Za b/w Tsamico Horos 45 (Gorgona, 19???)
Better than a novelty record is a novelty record in a language that you understand no word of, for then the novelty song becomes less of a novelty and more something of wonder. Such is the case with Ya'ssoo's Doo Boo Doo Boo Za. And as fun as Doo Boo... is it is topped by the B-side, which, as standard with most novelty records, is an instrumental. Like Doo Boo.. Tsamico Horos is recorded on a budget and thank god! As a result, it has a raw, edgy sound.
I know very little about this record other than the people who did it were from San Mateo, California and that they probably are of Greek blood. There is nothing to indicate what date this was made but if I had to guess, I'd say early 70s. Maybe late 60s but, hell, this could have been cut in the 1980s.
Harlem Nocturen Cha Cha Cha (Shhh Pt. 7)
Rene Bloch and His Big Latin Band Harlem Nocturne Cha Cha Cha 45 (Hi-Fi, 1959)
Rene Bloch got his first bit of success playing the lead alto sax on Johnny Otis's 1945 hit version of Harlem Nocturne so it is little surprise that his new Latin jazz version of the noir standard would appear right after the Viscounts hit with their classic, guitar lead take. I don't know if you are familiar with Otis's Harlem Nocturne, but if you aren't, it is one you should seek out. Otis was the man who slowed the song down and gave it the moody feel that you know from the Viscounts' version. Rene Bloch's sax is key to the Otis rendition.
After playing with Otis, Bloch immersed himself in the New York Latin jazz scene. His style went from Perez Prado big band to a very short cha cha cha phase (think one record) and finally Latin soul & boogaloo, a scene in which he was a pioneer. Here is one from his brief cha cha cha period.
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Blue Mist (Shhh Pt. 6)
Bo Rhambo Combo Blue Mist b/w Diane 45 (Imperial, 1958)
I love. love. love these kinds of records. Bo Rhambo's brilliant 45 is a broad paint stoke of noir, a last cool gasp of post-war instrumental moodiness, as sound soon to be absorbed by surf bands and rephrased as rock & roll. By '58 Link Wray was already laying the foundation for the dark rock instrumental, but his ooze hadn't infected teen America. Not yet. The kids still needed a little tenderizing, a job for Duane Eddy, under the tutelage of Lee Hazelwood, before Wray's killer guitar inspired the surf & hot rod scene. Until then, a mournful saxophone played lead atop bleak dark alley noise. Before rock & roll took hold the noir instrumental was the soundtrack of cool.
Blue Mist back with Diane is Bo Rhambo's contribution to noir's rich catalog and what a contribution it is. Both songs are stark and move at the tempo of a slow crawling fog. I've heard album cuts this slow but never anything released as a 45, intended for commercial air play! I am very impressed that some producer was so caught up in this sound that he'd push such a single.
Bo Rhambo was based on the West Coast and had a short recording career, documented here. I picked this up for a couple bucks.
Midnight Mover Groover (Shhh Pt. 5)
Crawford Brothers Midnight Mover Groover b/w Midnight Happens 45 (Aladdin, 1957)
Here ya go: A solid A side/B side 45 and few words from me. Midnight Mover Groover is a slow creeping blues instrumental that is recorded exactly the way records should be: Dark, loud, warm, full. There you go - Scott Soriano's guide to recording in four words. Want more proof? Let's flip this record over and listen to Midnight Happens, a B side that tops the A. This one is funky without being funk and jazzy without being jazz. You can dance to it. You can listen to it. The sax player has a great tone and perfect attack. The piano player knows when to accent and when to shut the hell up. Midnight Happens is a perfect song.
How Do You Do It
The Lady-Bugs How Do You Do It 45 (Chattahoochee, 1964)
It is Spring, the perfect time for The Lady-Bugs. The Lady-Bugs were Jackie DeShannon and great girl group The Murmaids. Their one song was released on the Kim Fowley produced Chattahoochee label, alway worth checking out. DeShannon was a Kentucky girl who had a sting of minor hits, dated Elvis, is claimed to have invented folk rock, and so much more. The Murmaids were sisters Carol & Terry Fischer and Sally Gordon. The Murmaids had one hit, the excellent Fowley prodiced Popsicles & Icicles and then faded into obscurity. Kim Fowley? The man is a legend and I am quite confident that if you are a Crud Crud follower you know of him (or can certainly find out pretty easy).
The Lady-Bugs released just one song. The flipside of this record is by "The Lady-Bugs Ensemble" and it is a rather weak instrumental cut called Liverpool, in order to cash in on the Merseybeat craze.
The Famous Davis Sisters
The Davis Sisters The Famous Davis Sisters LP (Savoy, 1962)
Digging for records in San Francisco is good for a number of reasons. First is that the town is very musically literate, which means there are good records to be found. Second is that the Bay Area has had some of the best new and used record stores ever which means there are good records to be found. And third is that the town is so damn trendy which means there is always something that the casual music fan passes up. Here is an example: Late last Summer, my girlfriend and I are walking from the St Francis Soda Fountain (owned by a childhood buddy of mine and very much recommended) and we come upon a yard sale. I see a lady looking at records and immediately get that "Fuck, too late" pit in the gut. The woman is dressed in the latest hipster fashion and is making a nice stack of records, with intent. I slide next to her and motion toward a box. She nods an assent, she has already gone through it. I take a look at the pile she has created: Captain & Tennille, The Carpenters, Seals & Croft, etc. Essentially she is creating a pile of shit. I warm inside. Later I am told that the latest trend among the hip and the dumb is Yacht Rock. The youngsters gather in bars, drink, and finding fuckables to smooth sounds of the Seventies. Martinis to Muskrat Love: My anus feels frozen. So, while this lady is gobbling up poop, I flip through a box of records and the first good record I find is The Famous Davis Sisters! Dig some more and my five minute detour has netted me five terrific Black gospel records, all in pretty good condition. I used to get annoyed by trendies, but not if they are gonna leave fantastic records like this one laying around.
The Davis Sisters were from Philadelphia and are one of the "first first female groups to sing hard gospel." They were not only groundbreaking but a incubator for great gospel singers. Of their graduates was the great Jackie Verdell. Unfortunately, the group, who were one of the most popular at the time, kept losing great singers and were later met by tragedy. One of the sisters died in a flaming automobile accident and group leader Ruth Davis, died of heart and liver failure after a long, painful fight with diabetes.
I am sure when you hear the Davis Sisters, you will instantly know the answer to the question "Love Will Keep Us Together or Earnestly Praying?"
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922 - 2007
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922 - 2007
Kurt Vonnegut died on Wednesday. My first thought was "I hate it when the good people die." Chances are if you are a fan of this blog, you have read at least one Vonnegut book, so I will spare you the rundown of his life. The man was a cultural & literary icon. His humor, humanity, and scathing condemnation of the cruel and the dumb is well known. His skill as a writer and storyteller have been praised. Like many of you, I read all of his books and reread plenty. He is one of my favorite writers.
I really can't add anything else other than a line of his from a radio interview in the early 1990s. I am not sure what the context is but I don't think it matters, as the sentiment is just as true today as it ever was. The man said, "It's about time we called people scumbags again." When I started a community newspaper in the late 90s, I stuck those words atop the masthead. Rest in peace, Kurt Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Reads Cat's Cradle LP (Caedmon, 1973)
The Five Blobs The Blob b/w Saturday Night in Tijuana 45 (Columbia, 1958)
I like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant person. I don't wrinkle my nose when I see two boys kissing. I can listen to an hour of conservative talk radio without throwing something. I check myself when a small child runs into me full speed in the grocery store. You can call me Mr Water Off A Duck's Back, yes you can. However, if you were to mention in passing that you saw a record by a band called the Five Blobs in a record bin for a dollar but couldn't bring yourself to buy it, I would pummel you...and I wouldn't feel a tinge of guilt for doing so. I mean, what sane record freak passes up a record by the Five Blobs?
Hardly an obscure record, The Five Blobs' The Blob was made for the Steve McQueen movie of the same name, though there are debates as to whether the song actually appeared in the film's first release. It made the record charts for three weeks, giving Burt Bacharach one of his earliest hits. Also credited is Mack David, brother of hal David and composer of the Bugs Bunny theme song. The Five Blobs is really one guy - Bernie Nee - overdubbed five times. Besides the title what grabs me is the slightly Latin theme that goes through both the Blob and the flip side, sort of a gringo version of Perez Prado. The friendly sound that says Hey Kids The Blob is Fun! is also a plus, as is the finger pop.
Justo...para su gusto
Tulio Enrique Leon Justo...para su gusto LP (ISTMO, 196?)
Many years ago, I picked this up thrifting and it is one of the records that lead me to the mindset that I will take a chance on nearly any record I haven't any idea what the hell it is. Based in Central America, Tulio Enrique Leon, in the 1960s and 70s, turned out a ton of Latin records, mainly stocked with cumbias. Most of the records have cheese cake covers featuring a snapshot of a sexy, barely clad lady. I know this because there are pictures of other records on the back and the only online references I get are pic of record sleeves. I am guessing his records are party records, just by the how many titles he releases, and that they are quite common in Central America. I don't know if they all sounded like this one.
Leon's Justo...LP is pretty standard for a low budget Latin record in that it is full of cumbia, a couple sons, a merangue, rumba, etc. However what sets it apart is that it sounds like it was recorded in a very dusty cave. And there is the percussion. Some of it sounds like a drum machine, but that could also be the recording of the clave. All together the record has a feel of otherworldliness to it. It definitely sounds of a different time and place. If any of you have any info on Leon or have tracked down his other records, please post something.
A reminder of Gibble Gabble.
Women of the Old Testament
Sarah Hershberg Women of the Old Testament LP (F.E.L. 1968)
I don't think I've heard a hipper take on the Old Testament than Sarah Hershberg's Women of the Old Testament. Thirteen songs here on Old T women or how the Old T views women. Take the jazzy Woman of Valor, based on Proverbs 31. Sarah and her hipster band gives us the lowdown on the "Scripture's view of the ideal woman." Notice one of the most important traits is that she can fight! How Old Testament! Then there is Deborah. She sat around for twenty years watching her people bow to the Canaanites, until one day God told her to lead her people into kicking Sisera and his henchmen's asses. And finally we have the story of Judith. Judith was pissed off at her town leaders for being major pussies when faced with assault by the Assyrians. So she had the Assyrian general Holofernes throw a party for her and when he was good and drunk and thinking he was gonna lay some pipe with Judith, she pulled out his sword - steel not flesh - and slew him with it.
Like many of you, I can appreciate the message of the New T, Jesus's pacifism, his socialist agenda, and turning water into wine. But the Old T is a little more fun! Lots of stabbing and baby making in those pages (and besides the way today's so-called Christians act, we are much closer to living in an eye-for-an-eye Old T world than a turn-the-other-cheek existance).
My latest post on 365 Redux.
Charles Lloyd Warm Waters LP (Kapp, 1971)
Some years back I was yacking with Scott Miller* about "cracked" records by "straight" artists. I was obsessing over both the Beach Boys' Wild Honey and Alex Chilton's Flies on Sherbert. Miller asked if I had heard Charles Lloyd's Warm Water. "Charles Lloyd? The guy who did all those jazz albums geared towards hippies?" Same guy, Miller told me. He said he know a place that had one in a dollar bin and he'd snag it for me. A week later he made good on his word.
I took the record home and listened to it and it is indeed cracked. What is cracked? Well, it is a record made by an artist, who usually makes pretty straight forward records, but at this point in their career they are on some (hopefully) temporary skid or diversion and start turning out music that is a bit unhinged - musically, emotionally, creatively... Because of the circumstances an artist's cracked record is often his rawest and sometimes his most honest. Classic examples are The Beach Boys' Wild Honey, which is Brian Wilson at his most desperate, Alex Chilton's Flies on Sherbert, and Skip Spence's Oar. Whether or not Syd Barrett's solo albums or post Elevators Roky Erickson qualify is debatable. Charles Lloyd's Warm Waters certainly does.
Prior to Warm Waters, Lloyd had played sax on classic records by Chico Hamilton, Les McCann, and Cannonball Adderley. Starting in the mid-Sixties he cut a handful of records as leader, with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette which were quite popular with the hippie crowd, partially because Lloyd made the commercially smart move of playing place like the Filmore with psychedelic bands. In 1971, he played on a Beach Boys record. Soon after he recorded Warm Waters.
Think about the Beach Boys in 1971 and the thing that should come to mind is a lot of drugs, trendy mysticism, psycho psychologists, and other forms of mindfuck. Charles Lloyd was pretty solid in with those cats (Brian & Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine guest on Warm Waters, as do John Cipolina and Dave Mason). He also was a practicing fruitarian (as in he ate nothing but fruit). Listen to the songs here and you know something different is going on. The lyrics on Warm Waters are both personal and abstract, spiritual and full of pain. Put those words in the almost distant, near fading voice you hear on the record and it is obvious that Lloyd was either on some kind of skid or going through a serious transition.
After Warm Waters - called his first and worst pop album by many Lloyd loyalists - his music started to get a bit straighter, sound a bit more together. He made some more pop albums, equally obscure though not as pained as Warm Waters, and guested on records by Gabor Szabo, Harvey Mandel, Canned Heat, Roger McGuinn, and the Beach Boys. By the late Seventies he was back doing jazz, releasing records on Pacific Jazz, Blue Note, and ECM. Whatever tunnel Lloyd was traveling in during the early 70s, his ECM years showed that he had emerged and found a nice quiet, meditative ECM style existance.
Personally I prefer the cracked Charles Lloyd.
*obligatory "Nar/Bananas/Tikimen" Scott Miller not "Game Theory/Loud Family" Scott Miller disclaimer