Will I Find Her
Charles Christy Will I Find Her b/w Cherry Pie (Hanana-Barbera, 1965)
I remember when I found my first 45 on HBR. It was the Dynatones funk groover, "Fife Piper." Soon after that find, I had a triple score, 45s for the Guilloteens (what a great name!), The Rainy Day People, and Sacramento's The New Breed. Man o man, what a great label. From then on, I snagged any HBR record I could find. For a while it was easy. Word hadn't gotten out that the Hanana-Barbera company not only produced cartoons but made some fantastic records. Then people started to talk and soon these pups started to dry up
Here is one of my fave HBRs. "Will I Find Her" is a great shuffling pop tune. And Charles Christy version of Marvin & Johnny's "Cherry Pie" is almost lewd in its suggestion. Enjoy!
Escape from Cuba
The High & the Mighty Escape from Cuba b/w Trying to Stop Cryin' (ABC, 1966)
Before there were The High & the Mighty, there were the Reflections, a Detroit group who had a 1964 hit with the Nuggets classic "(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet." Though they released a scad of singles, the Reflections failed to hit again. When their contract with Golden World, ended they signed to ABC and ditched their name for The High & the Mighty. Their first single was this nice piece of propaganda pop.
"Escape from Cuba" is the only anti-Castro sunshine pop songs I've ever heard. Smack dab between The Rascals and Free Design, The High & the Mighty tell a tale of a young man rowing his fishing boat to the good US of A. Is it a good song. Let's say that the Cuba angle propels it to good enuf to chart in Miami for a couple weeks. The flip, which was the a-side outside of everywhere other than Little Havana, is a nice frantic pop number.
Lonnie Duvall Cigarettes b/w Street Walker 45 (Hip, 1966)
There are very few records I buy twice. I figure, no matter how beat a record is, once I have it, the search is over...but there are few that beg to be bought again. "My Girl" by Clyde McCullough & the Silks is one of them. A perfect song, recorded in the early 60s and smack dab between classic dowop and an early R&B ballad, "My Girl" stayed on my turntable for months, even though the only copy I had was beat to hell. Walked into what has become my favorite record store and asked the owner if he had a copy. He said he did, we talked about the song, it being somewhat obscure, and he asked me for $20 which I happily paid him. I figured my first copy cost me 50 cents and this one was flawless so why not. That was about five years ago.
About 15 years back, I found a copy of Lonnie Duvall's "Cigarettes" at the Ye Olde Record Store in Diamond Springs, California. All 45s were one dollar so I would buy stacks based on nothing but song title or band name or the way a label looked. There were three hooks for this Duvall single. First was the song title "Street Walker." Could it be about a prostitute? The flipside was called "Cigarettes" so maybe so. Second hook was the label name - Hip. Third hook was that the record label states that it is distributed by ATCO. I had just finished reading Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music, his history of Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, and other Memphis area soul entities. From Guralnick, I knew that Stax was also distributed by ATCO, so I figured that there might be a connection and so Lonnie Duvall could be some wicked soulman. Well, I was right on Hip being a Stax imprint and wrong about Duvall being a R&B singer. "Street Walker" could or could not be about a prostitute, but even if it wasn't the song was a good poppy garage tune with a nice brooding organ. But what made the hooks pay off was the "plug side," the song "Cigarettes."
"Cigarettes" starts off with a match striking a match book, flame ignites, and cigarette is lit. The first bass note is struck and hangs there for a second before it coolly walks on. A solid drum beat is topped by a distant, wheezing organ, and a killer guitar. And then there are the vocals - dramatic , defeated, yet so fucking cool. During the break, another match is struck and then the plea. Such a great fucking song!
After hearing it the first time, I got on the interweb and searched for information and found nothing. I also looked for another copy because the dollar copy I had was two parts music, one part surface noise. Played it for a friend and he found one in a week, but not I, not I. About once a year a copy would turn up at auction and end at $40 or it would be listed for the same or more on some sale site. Last week, I stumbled across one for $10. Though I had no idea what the condition was, I bought it. It came and here it is, nice and clean.
As for who Lonnie Duvall was, I do not know. Because Hip was related to Stax, I assume he was from Memphis or thereabouts. He released one other single on Hip, something called "Your Mother and Daddy Are Right." The b-side of that one is "Cigarettes." Every copy of this single that I've seen with my eyes or listed on line are promo copies, so who knows if this ever got proper release.
Is It a Lie
Ernest J. Ruis Jr. / Sham & I Is It a Lie 45 (DCA, 196?)
Standard early to mid 60s R&B track with a nice solid kick to it + pop vocals by a couple teens that sound on the Whiter side of vocalese = man, I have no idea who the hell this is! The label credits either or both Ernest J. Ruiz Jr. and Sham & I as the artist. There is no writing credit, though that could be Mr. Ruiz, Jr. A Cohn and a Donig are given production credit and the music publisher is Donco, a combo of the producers' names. While this was administered by BMI, not any more. No record of this song or publisher appears in their database. This is a promo copy, so who knows if the song ever made it past this stage. A complete mystery. Enjoy.
Duchess of Saigon Easter Queen EP (S-S, 2002)
Time to tap into the S-S Records catalog of fine music. Though raved about by a select few when it was released (Byron Colley, WFMU, Ryan Wells, Jay Hinman), the debut by Sacramento's Duchess of Saigon was S-S Records' worst selling record. Although we pressed only 300, it took a little over 4 years to sell out the pressing. If I was to take a jab at why, I'd say sales were hindered by the hideous sleeve and, perhaps, it was released a few years too early. Too bad, maybe a little recognition would have kept the band around.
Formed in 2001, the Duchess of Saigon were Mary and Richard. Two artists, they met at UC Davis, started seeing each other and then formed a band. Though Richard had been in a handful of Sacramento bands (Rick & the Young Rogues, Sir & the Young Men), Duchess was Mary's first band. She was handed the drum duties...and good thing, too! Because she was unencumbered by formal lessons, Mary developed a unique drumming style in which she would keep the beat with her feet and play the melody with her hands. The unconventional approach to percussion, as well as her ethereal backing vocals, gave Richard's VU-influenced garage-pop songs an excellent twist. One reviewer likened them to the Carpenters if played by the Shaggs.
The first time I saw Duchess of Saigon, they were horrible. Just a goddamn mess of a band. However, the second time, six months later, they convinced me they were the best band in town and I hurriedly asked them if I could put out a record. That record is Easter Queen. We pressed 300, it sold slowly, and finally went out of print. Another Sacramento label, Plastic Idol, put out their second seven inch. That, too, sold slowly and is, I think, still in print. It is as good as the first.
The Duchess were working on an album, but recording and equipment problems kept dragging the project on. Mary, frustrated with her drumming, lost interest and quit. About a year later, both Mary and Richard picked up and moved to Florida. I do not know if they are playing music now.
Here are 3 of the 4 songs on Easter Queen. It is one of the best records I ever had a hand in.