Computerized Synthesized Organized
Rudy Rosa with his Custom X66 Hammond Computerized Synthesized Organized LP
(R&R Productions, 197?)
Sometimes you have to let a record speak for itself...or, in this case, a record's liner notes:
The Organ has indeed made giant strides in the art of music and self-expression, from the days of the old pump organs, up through the age of the mighty pipe organ, and now into the electronic era, bringing with it, horizons limited only by the artists imagination.
To capture on disc, the unlimited, inspiring, and mind altering sounds of the electronic organ and synthesizer requires not only a computer-synthesizer organ complex, but also an individual to perform equally well as a musician and electronic engineer.
Such a person is Rudy Rosa. Both musically and electronically oriented, Rudy began his career at the age of six, giving him to date, over 24 years in the music field. Rudy designs, builds and services his equipment, and also recorded the master of this album, using his wife Sue, as chief engineer.
It is interesting to note that Rudy cannot read a note of music, and never had a lesson on the organ. His father taught him to play the accordian by ear. Also the organ complex you see and hear on this album is one of a kind, the sounds you hear can only be described in the same way, "Totally Unique." The Organ console basically is a Hammond X-66 used in companion with an Arp synthesizer, along with a mass of other electronic apparatus. Rudy's organ complex boasts an array of switches, knobs and dials that give the appearance of a 747 cockpit. The only difference in this case, there is only one pilot, and also it will never get off the ground. However musically, it has risen high in the musical world, and this can be wittnessed by the crowds that flock to see Rudy perform at Manny's Surf and Turf Supper Club located in Fairfax, Virginia on the outskirts of the nations capitol, Washington, D. C.
The next best thing to being there is to listen to Rudy perform on this, his latest album, that you are sure to enjoy.
See you at Manny's.
Here are three of the ten songs on this record, a sampling which fairly represents the genius of Rudy Rosa and his amazing Organ complex.
One Man Band
Paul Blackman One Man Band LP (Folkways, 1957)
Born in Louisiana sometime in the late 1800s, Paul Blackman made his tiny mark playing on the streets of New York City, where this recording was done at an unknown time and place. Even the liner notes that come with this lack any solid information, a rarity for Folkways releases.
Blackman's one man band is one of the few that I've heard a recording of that is so percussion heavy. It's drums, drums, and drums that propel Blackman's songs, leaving us something that sounds more "Bongo Joe" George Coleman than Abner Jay. And since the recording is nice and raw, the overall sound is more frantic than most one man band recordings.
Harvey Mandel Baby Batter LP (Janus, 1971)
Considering that Harvey Mandel's Baby Batter has several songs with killer funk breaks, is full of hot guitar work, and has musicians such as Big Black and Emil Richards on it, you'd think it would get much more run than it does. But, while not totally obscure, it certainly qualifies as a hidden blues rock gem. And when I write the word "gem" behind "blues rock" please take that seriously, as I wouldn't call myself a fan of the genre. I don't hate it, but you rarely find it at the top of the listening pile. Some exceptions, for sure: I'll never pan early ZZ Top records (or really any ZZ Top record). Absolutely no reservation in putting on an Ansley Dunbar Retaliation album. The first Loading Zone record is a gem. But beyond that, I tread lightly. Yeah, I am sure one of you schmoes is gonna give me a list of blues rock to look for. Thank you, in advance, now can I have a couple over medium with some sour dough toasted and buttered? Maybe, my reservation about blues rock is universal, which is why you don't hear much rattle about this record. Perhaps Mandel's former gig in Canned Heat is a scarlet letter. I dunno. I picked this record up because "Baby Batter" is slang of cum and it is on Janus Records, a label which has some great moments and is worth checking out.
Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan
Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan LP (MGM, 1968)
Five years or so, I was wandering around Tijuana looking for record stores...and to find record stores in Tijuana wandering is what you have to do. Search the interweb and you will find one Tijuana record store referenced and it is a very good one, but it is just one. You can ask around and get a few more, but what you will find are stores stocked with rancheros, narcocorridos, and mariachi music. The phone book is worthless. It is wandering that will find you inside some nearly literal hole-in-the-wall digging through a rack of 20 records, and buying half of them for no more than fifteen bucks. Of course, this wandering means walking through some pretty fucked up neighborhoods and popping into really sketchy places. Hey, look, there is the nastiest looking whore you'll ever see. No panties either. Wait that's a dude! And over there! It is a cop with a machine gun. That guy that I just saw huffing paint, now he's following me. And look a pack of dogs. They sure look hungry! You also wander through some really cool places, colorful markets, great neighborhoods with the whatever-it-takes architecture that is totally Tijuana. There is much fun and freedom in not knowing where "you aren't supposed to go." It helps to look a bit Latin, to dress like an everyday person, and to walk like you know where you are headed, relaxed but with a purpose. And, aside from the looking Latin, those aren't Tijuana rules, but good guidelines for wandering anywhere you are a stranger.
So, about five years ago, I stumble into a Tijuana record store, a place I would probably never find again, if it is even there. Well, record store is a bit strong. This place had a counter to the side, a table with a boom box on it, a display stand with maybe 25 records on it, and a rack of CDs. I looked through the records and found a LP by the Rhodesian beat band the Shakespeares, a Polish pressing of an album by the German beat band The Rattles, and the Mexican pressing of this record, "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan." I had no idea who the Ryan brothers were, but the cover grabbed me (it is now one of my favorites) so I bought it.
Barry and Paul Ryan were identical twins from Leeds and as far as I know the only identical twins to have a multi-million selling hit. The brothers started as an act, singing together in the 1950s. They had moderate success, more as a novelty than anything else. Paul tired of performing and started writing songs. Barry sang them. In 1968, Barry recorded Paul's song "Eloise" and the brothers became pop sensations. "Eloise" raced up the English charts, and though it tops 5 minutes, it hit Number 2. It also sold 3 million copies. The Ryans followed the single with an album, this one here. But there were no more hits. Not on this record and not in the future. Barry quit singing in a couple years later and Paul scored only one more hit, a song for Frank Sinatra, which charted in England but nowhere else. Paul died in 1992. Barry came out of retirement in the late 90s, but by 2002, he had drifted back to private life. Prior to Barry's "comeback," the song "Eloise" had a second life with 1986 recording by The Damned, whose version hit Number 3 on the UK charts.
The songs on "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan" are pure orchestrated pop. Phil Spector, Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, Lennon-McCartney, the Brothers Gibb - you hear them throughout the Ryan's songs. The blend (thanks to Johnny Arthey and Bill Landis) is executed so well that after a few listens the influences fade and what comes forward is pure pop. Enjoy!
Greatest Hits 1974 AD
The Eleventh Hour Greatest Hits 1974 A.D. (20th Century, 1974)
Gotta wonder what inspired this creature! The Eleventh Hour is a studio job, the product of legendary producer Bob Crewe ("Music to Watch Girls By") and songwriter Kenny Nolan. Its inspiration? Other than money? Man, I have no idea. Perhaps the Jimmy Caster Bunch's "Troglodyte". Or maybe Parliament-Funkadelic. Hell, maybe Cheech & Chong. And why the falsetto vocals? Whatever it was that influenced them and that sound, Crewe and Nolan came up with an unique album curiously worthy of many plays. And though they didn't directly score a hit, their song, "Lady Marmalade," not only scored huge for Labelle but is one of the iconic songs of the Seventies.
I'll spare you the Eleventh Hour's original take on "Lady." It was done much better by Patti Labelle. However I will give you three of the better songs on this album, despite the name, the one and only from these guys.
Alive and Well in Argentina
Zalman Yanovsky Alive and Well in Argentina LP (Buddah, 1968)
Welcome to the greatest psychedelic punk bubblegum fuck off ever made by a pop star during his fall from grace. Zal Yanovsky started his pop career in the go-nowhere but historically significant Mugwumps. The Washington DC band was notable because it was the starting off point for the Mamas & the Papas (Denny Doherty & Cass Elliot) and the Lovin' Spoonful (John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky). It is Zal and the Spoonful who we care about here, specifically Zal. So there is Zal and John and some other guys and "Do You Believe in Magic" and a few years of success. And then Zal's life got turned around something serious. Cruising through San Francisco with fellow Spoonful Steve Boone, Zal was pulled over by the fuzz and he and Steve were busted with a trunk full of pot. After trying unsuccessfully trying to get their dealer to take the fall, the Man made Zal an offer, fink the guy out or get deported. You see Zal wasn't an American. He was from that the Great Red North, Canada. And, Zal didn't want to go back to Canada. He was making a nice living with the Spoonful here in the States. So Zal narced on the dealer and was set free. Unfortunately for our man Zal, his dime dropping didn't sit too well with his fellow musical longhairs and he was pretty much shunned by the music scene. One day, he was called over to Sebastian's house and told that he was voted out of the band. He made one solo record, Alive and Well in Argentina, and then split to Canada where he became, with his wife, a very, very successful restauranteur with Chez Piggy and later Pan Chancho bakery. He died in 2002.
Alive and Well in Argentina is an odd album. It is odd in that it is one of the few "I don't give a fuck" records made by a pop star (albeit on a sharp career decline) and that it was released on Buddah, which wasn't the most serious label at the time (their main truck was bubblegum) but it was a hit machine. Alive and Well.... contains no hits. Though some Wikipedia ass claims it "has hard rock and heavy metal influences" not only is his timing off, but his ears are full of shit. Zal's influences here are sarcasm, playfulness, scorn, and lots of dope. The songs range from the King Usziewicz worthy cover ("You Talk Too Much", "Little Bitty Pretty One") to brilliant psychedelic instrumentals ("Lt Schticnckhausen") and pretty much everything in between. Take it for what it is - a rock & roll album with no allegiance to or regard for anything - and it is a solid, nay, excellent record.