Supernaut s/t LP (Polydor, 1976)
Now for some real glam! Though they had a couple hits in their homeland of Australia, Perth's Supernaut are relatively unknown outside the island. In 1974, they were playing as a pub rock band under the name Moby Dick. They moved to Melbourne, went glam and changed their name to Supernaut. They put out a single - the edgy (at least back then) I Like It Both Ways - and it made the Aussie Top Twenty. So did the single Too Hot to Touch and this here album. Punk rock hit and they tried to hop on that trend by changing their name to the Naughts and playing shitty new wave. And that is what I learned from the one online bio of these guys.
Obviously named after the Black Sabbath song, there are some heavy, Sabbath-like riffs on Supernaut's debut, enough to make me wonder what this record would have sounded like had it been made two years earlier, when glam still had some balls, or four years prior when heavy metal and glam were making a nice transition. Another thought it how Supernaut would have sounded if they held off a year and recorded as punk hit. Musings aside, other than one shitty ballad, there is nothing wrong with this record. In fact, I'd rate it as one of my favorite glam records. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Tops for Dancing
Jo Ment & His Party Singers Tops for Dancing LP (Ariola, 1974)
Those Germans know how to party! Really, tongue is not in cheek. Here is the proof. Jo Ment is a regular show business, horn playing schmo. He could have been in the Lawrence Welk band or playing some casino or touring old folks homes, and who knows he might have done all that. I mean he did play with James Last, for christ's sake. Take a look at the guy and he's wearing a suit that looks like it was made out of upholstery fabric, he has a burgundy bow tie, huge tinted glasses and a nice perm and there is no tongue in his cheek. By every measure of man, Jo Ment is a dork. And I say that as someone who walks on the precipice of dorkhood gingerly. HOWEVER, as much as a geek Ment is, his party record is a string of medleys played to a studio audience who cannot get enough. So when a medley ends, the crowd cheers. I mean, what better idea for a party record is there? You put this on, listen to medleys of your favorite songs and you get the background noise of people partying - so all of a sudden you party becomes more of a party because people are partying on the record! But that is not the end! Best of all is that Ment has an obsession with Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the most excellent glam rock songwriting team. Yes! You can not beat medleys of songs made famous by Sweet, Mud, and Suzi Quatro (not to mention non-C&C hits by Golden Earing, Slade, and Alvin Stardust)! So break out the lederhosen, grab a stein of your favorite stout, put on some Jo Ment and PARTY DOWN!
Cosmic Brotherhood Sunshine World 45 (A&M, 1969)
Here's a bit of faux-psych so good that who cares if it is just a bunch of studio guys and not some longhairs on flight. However, if you look at the credits you will see one name that give you a hint that at least one of the musicians on here wasn't a hack. Hersh Hamel (Himmelstein) gets the songwriting and production credit. Look into Hamel's history and you find that he was a constant figure in West Coast Jazz. His name is behind Chet Baker (he appears in Let's Get Lost), Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards, and especially Art Pepper. Hemel met Pepper early on and played on many of his important recordings. He also is quoted extensively in the book Straight Life, the best music biography/autobiography ever written. Leader of the band is Bill Plummer, sitarist who made an astounding and quite collectible sitar psych jazz album called Bill Plummer & the Cosmic Brotherhood. The vocal are handled by a guy named Maurice Miller, who primarily was a jazz drummer, having played behind John Coltrane on Cosmic Music (as well as other gigs). I haven't ferreted out the other members, but odds are they are other jazzbos.
Jim Caldie, Jr. Shepherd LP (Artists in Christian Testimony, 1978)
...and then there are songs that are so inspired that they are nothing but transcendent. How else can you explain the story of David & Goliath done cabaret style, complete with one-liners, and topping 6 minutes? Come on, find me a reason these lyrics exist:
God is with me, He's right here.
Go ahead and cheer.
You'll be sorry, Mister Muscle Man,
When you're on your can.
You may think you're really something
but compared to God you are nothing.
Get prepared to die today.....
The only reason I can think of that Jim Calidie's David and Goliath was written and performed and recorded and released is that God smacked Caldie right in the soul, causing a sort of musical stigmata. Pure, 100%, unfettered divine intervention is the only explanation. Because if it ain't that then David and Goliath has be Gay camp or comedy or some twisted joke, and those explanations are just nto possible because every other song on this record also smells of Jesus sitting at a piano bar. Plus, the name of the record label (and the organizations web site) gives absolutely no hint that this should be taken as anything other than what it is. I am emphatic about this being totally genuine, because I am just as shocked as you that Caldie's D&G exists.
One of the records that has made its way one and off my turntable in the last few months has been Paul Vanase's Baby Bones, late 70s Gay punk/glam cabaret that is off the rails great. D&G could be a Vanase song, had someone contracted Baby Bones to do Godspell (Please God, please let it happen!). The comparison in sound and performance between Caldie and Vanase is very close, though I really doubt that Caldie owns the delightful sarcasm that Vanase oozes. If you are a fan of Vanase or Charlie the Hamster or both, you will enjoy Caldie's David and Goliath.
Run and Tell That
The Mighty Knights Run and Tell That LP (Mainstream, 1974)
I've written about my love of Black gospel music here and elsewhere, so I'll keep the sermon short. Let me say that growing up in a White Sacramento suburb I really wasn't exposed to much Black music other than what was on Top 40 radio. I certainly had no rub with gospel music, at least not the real stuff. Like many a youngster, I loved the Rolling Stones but never thought of their secular rip offs of gospel music as anything but the Rolling Stones. I tooled through my teenagehood listening to my punk rock, which was my soul music (nothing like the sustenance gained from a listen to I've Heard It Before by Black Flag!). During that time I heard a hundred artists who stole bits and pieces from gospel - Captain Beefheart, Roxy Music, Birthday Party, Beasts of Bourbon, etc. - but, outside maybe some snippets caught from a PBS special on the Civil Rights movement, I was estranged from the music until I hit my 20s.
Like many of you men types, one of my early girlfriends had a stack of Aretha Franklin records, ones that we would listen to over and over when we were at her place. Of course, Aretha is really hard to resist and, when you are a record fiend, impossible to pass on. So I picked up Aretha records. One day I stumbled on Aretha Gospel, a recording of the teenage Aretha singing at her father's church. A must hear if you haven't, on her only Chess release, the wee Aretha's voice almost as strong as it became as an adult. From there I picked up her two record gospel set, Amazing Grace, and I was hooked on gospel music.
Problem was beyond Aretha I didn't know what to look for nor where to find it. Though Sacramento has a thriving Black gospel community, you don't find many Black gospel records in used record stores or thrift stores of the secular persuasion. Some years into my record hunting career, at the point I was determined to find every record hole in the Great Central Valley, I started put in a lot of miles looking for records. My hunt brought me to C & L Records Variety Store on Franklin Blvd., in Sacramento (but not before my friend Larry Rodriguez beat me to it...by a week!).
C & L was the place for Black gospel. It was a small store with two racks of records and a couple piles on the floor. The records were stuffed in and below the racks, many of them sealed. While most of the records were gospel, there was also soul, funk, R&B, and, surprise, bubblegum. The walls were covered with gangsta rap and gospel rap posters. Behind the record racks was a small room set up as a radio dejay booth. Sitting in the room was a very old man named Jesse Calloway. Who is Jesse Calloway? Here is the obituary that ran in Sacramento's African American newspaper, the Sacramento Observer:
Born on November 2, 1925, Jesse L. Calloway went to Glory on Christmas Day, December 25. One of the original members of the well-known spiritual and gospel group, the “Victory Five,” Calloway moved to Sacramento from Ruston, Louisiana in 1946. Calloway played baseball for the Oakland Acorns, worked at the Southern Pacific Railroad Shops, owned his own barbecue café called the “Happy Kitchen,” and managed several service stations in the area. But it was Calloway’s musical background with the Victory Five that he and his brothers were highly recognized for. During their 25-plus years of existence, the Victory Five recorded three albums appeared on the Ted Mack Amaturer Hour and many local televisions and radio shows. From 1956 to 1957, the Calloway and the Victory Five did a regular program on Channel 13, in 1957 they were seen regularly on Channel 3 for two years before performing on Channel 10 for one year. While the Victory Five carried on the tradition of gospel singing as part of Black America, Calloway and his business partner Lamerle Larry ran C & L Records and Variety Store, a shop that specialized in gospel and religious music.
I had no idea of Mr. Calloway's past when I first started going to the store. To me he was the quiet old guy, who seem amused that a godless White guy and a Chicano pagan were coming up to his dejay booth (where he would do Saturday gospel music broadcasts for station KJAY) with stacks of gospel records. He would take the stack from you and have you sit next to him as he held up each record and grunted with approval or stated that he would have to tape this one, come back next week for it (plenty of the records we were buying were from his personal collection). Mr. Calloway would rattle off some number, each record being about $3, $4 if sealed. In about a year's time I bought about 200 records from him, most of them gospel music, some of them full sermons (and great ones, too). When I found a local gospel record, I'd bring it into him and ask about the artist. "Oh he was good. Really fat. Could dance, though. Had a pretty wife. I think he's in LA now," was typical of Mr. Calloway's information. My clue that he was something more than a record store owner came by chance. I was in C & L digging and an Englishman came in and started to interview Mr Calloway. The voice sounded familiar and when the man's companion called him Opal, I knew it was Opal Nations, the gospel music expert from Down Home Music and Arhoolie Records (and his own Pewburner Records). Nations was there quizzing Calloway about the Victory Five and trying to get some recordings out of him. One day I came by the store and it was shuttered. Jesse Calloway, who was pretty frail when I first met him, had gone "to Glory" or at least was on the long walk to it in a hospital or nursing facility.
Larry and I pulled some great, even amazing, records out of C & L. Early on in Crud Crud's existence I posted some tracks from a Vernard Johnson LP I found there. I will post some of the sermons on Gibble Gabble at a future date. Today I am going to lay five tracks from another record I found at C & L.
The Mighty Knights are not one of the "wild" and "primitive" gospel acts the White kids find hip nowadays. Nope, they are a standard gospel group, one whose music would be called R&B or soul if it was secular. The band is stripped down but strong. The vocals are great. As far as gospel records go I would rate this one a 6 or a 7 (which says more about how strong the genre is rather than how week the Knights are).
Atlanta, Georgia was where the Mighty Knights called home. Made up of several pastors and deacons of a few different area churches, the voice you hear up front is the Rev. James Paden. Run and Tell That came out on Mainstream Records, a label mostly known for its funk/blues jazz. Like many Black music labels at the time, Mainstream had a "Spiritual" series. This is the second gospel record in that series.
Stroke My Yoke
Willie Tomlin Stroke My Yoke b/w Check Me Baby 45 (Peacock, 1968)
The tag "fly" was invented for guys like Willie Tomlin. Two blues based blasts of style and raunch are what this Peacock record is all about. Check Me Baby is not only a great rundown of Aesthetic According to Willie Tomlin, it contains a geographical recitation, something that always thrills record geeks. As far as Stroke My Yoke goes, I think we can all agree that Willie is not singing about laying your hands on a "shaped wooden crosspice bound to the necks of oxen."
Peacock being, more or less, a Texas label, I assume that Willie was one of the many blues cum R&B singers that the Lone Star State turned out. More than that I can't tell you.
Susan King Drum Rhythm b/w You Got Me in a Fix 45 (Turntable, 1966)
Sometimes you gotta just let the record speak for itself. Especially when you know nothing about the artist other than she has an okay voice, which is saved by one killer of an A side, and that this record is sought after by dejays (though not one of those real spendy 45s). Have a great weekend!
The Humors of...
Lewis Furey The Humors of... LP (Aquarius, 1976)
Stumbling on a good, little known glam record is such a treat! Out of all the genres around, glam is one of the most risky for the record freak. The records are either really good or they really suck. There usually is no in between. In fact, I've found that I have more glam records that are great from front to back than ones that have just one or two good cuts. Here is one where pretty much every song is good.
Lewis Furey is a French Canadian, who made music out of Montreal. His first single came out in 1972, followed by his debut LP two years later. A couple years passed before The Humors of... came out. And then after three more years he put out his third and last pop album. Right before Humors... he scored a film and then another. He won awards for his film work and abandoned pop for soundtrack and other work.
The Humors of... came out a little late in the glam game and because of that there is a bit of disco here and there. For the most part, though, Furey owes his sound to the heavyweights of glam: T-Rex, Bowie, and Roxy Music. I also hear a bit of Cockney Rebel and some Brian May in the guitar work. And although there are plenty of gay themes in Furey's songs, the sound of Jobriath lurks not here.
One of the many joys Humors... has to offer is plenty of absurdist lyrics. "Savage, on the loose, savage on the loose, savage, savage, savage -- little mouse got raped and ravaged. Savage on the loose, well the man is loose, very loose, -- seems he's fixing to cook a goose. Who pulled the pug out on who? Who pulled the plug out on me? All the tea in China couldn't save the day, dig when someone plucks an angel's wings, someone's got to pay, I say now..." (Rubber Gun Show). Ack!
Stack o' Records
It has been a while since I did a 45 rundown. Picked up a stack over the weekend, had some time, wrote some words. No MP3, just a tip sheet for you fellow diggers.
Al Perkins Step It Up b/w Nothing But Pure in the Heart 45 (USA)
Step It Up is a great mid tempo R&B number that falls between Ike Turner and Roy Head. A bit polished but in a good way. Nothing… is an instrumental is a jazzy gospel mode. I doubt it will get spun again, especially since the A side is so sweet.
Fugi Mary Don’t Take Me on No Bad Trip Pt 1 & 2 45 (Cadet)
Of a handful of Black psych funk bands, Fugi was one of the best. The unfortunate thing about the genre is that few outside Funkadelic produced records that were 100% great. Fugi didn’t; however they did make one untouchable single and this is it. Great Normal Whitfield style funk with a big stoned vibe to it. Of course it being a Pt 1 & 2 single it fades right when you want it to take off. Fortunately this was also an album track and there are a few Fugi boots floating around.
The Aliis Let In Love Today b/w Love Looks So Good On You 45 (Trim)
Pronounced The Awl-eeez, I assumed named after Muhammad Ali, The Aliis make so-so soul. Both songs sound like the 5th Dimension trying to be A) Curtis Mayfiend and B) the Delfonics. A solid eh.
Ripple Willie Pass the Water b/w Git Owf 45 (GRC)
Up tempo wah wah dance floor funk which is pretty damn good. Willie… has a really nice Isaac Hayes-style latin jazz funky soundtrack breakdown. Git Owl could easily be a Johnny Pate soundtrack cut. This is one great single and I certainly would post the audio if the record wasn’t so trashed.
Bobby McClure You Got Me Baby b/w Peak of Love 45 (Cadet)
Though Oliver Sain had a hand in You Got Me…, it sounds like Holland-Dozier-Holland. It is one of those songs that you can slip on when people are sufficiently juiced up and will dance to anything. And Peak of Love sounds like a funkier Smokey Robinson production and would please a dance floor anytime of day. A nice copycat single.
Len Snider & The Jokers I’ll Be Coming Home Tonight b/w Everyone Knows (All Boy)
God bless the Everly Brothers! Their sound was perfect for low budget copyists. I’ve got a few dozen Everly inspired pop singles and all of them have that great, rough edged, small label production to them. Both of these songs have a country tinge to them. Coming Home… is the up tempo pop song. Everyone Knows is a ballad, good made memorable by a trombone hook. I’ve got a few Len Snider 45s and like them all.
The Tempos Monkey Doo b/w Oh Play That Thing 45 (Fairmont)
A good but not great R&B instrumental from 1963. The A side has a nice farfisa and some raspy voiced guy saying “Monkey Doo” from time to time: Without those the record would be a throwaway. Oh Play… is a lightweight stroll.
Little Sister Somebody’s Watching You b/w Stanga 45 (Stoneflower)
One of the best records Sly Stone ever made. Lead vocals by “Little Sister,” everything else by Sly. He made this one right around There’s a Riot Goin On and it was one of his first experiments with a drum machine (as well as one of the first pop songs to have drum machine on it). There is a very cool, understated funk sound to this one, which is both peerless and timeless. Not a hard record to find as it has been reissued over and over.
Syndicate of Sound Change the World b/w You’re Lookin’ Fine 45 (Capital)
Forgive me for being ignorant of SOS’s funky side! I’ve heard their 60s garage classic Little Girl a couple thousand times, both in single form and on their first album. However, I never heard this (I assume later stuff). Change the World is an Eric Burden song, which the Syndicate do funky, as if the Spencer Davis Group were around a tad bit longer. You’re Lookin’ Fine is the Ray Davies tune and it sounds like a wee bit heavier Kinks circa Kontroversy. This is all good BUT the production on these songs is a but restrained. The leads shoot out nice and loud but there is a severe lack of heaviness. Given some balls, this record would have been a fucking classic! That said, I think this one will grow on me.
The Weight Music is the Message LP (Bertram International, 1970)
More private press obscurity. No need to comment further on the whole private press thing other than here is a perfect example of the kind of record reissuers seize on. One really cool cut and a bunch of passables = Some Italian trying to charge you $25 for a repress. Again we need a KBD series for PPRR.
The Weight were from the San Francisco Bay Area. According to the liner notes, they feature former members of the bands The Blazers (a GI lounge band), The Groop, and The Antics. The cover a lot of Beatles songs because the Beatles are one of their favorite bands (they also do a nice cover of the Equals' Baby, Come Back!). And they were the house band at Rick's Lounge in Walnut Creek, where this record was recorded. While this record has ten songs on it, most of them are covers and most of the covers are Beatles songs. Ho Hum. There is a near-stunner on the disc and that is a lounge meets psych version of Susie Q, and that is what you get today.