Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rabbi Abraham Feinberg - I Was so Much Older Then... (1969)

I know I said I wouldn't make apologies for late posts anymore, but I do want to complain a bit about why this post is a couple months late. First, Microsoft wrecked by computer--I let one of Microsoft Security's assistants take over my computer in order to fix a problem with a Vista security update that wouldn't properly install and when they were done the computer wouldn't reboot. After many long conversations with new friends from Microsoft in India I reinstalled Vista a couple times and finally got it working again. Then Bitdefender started screwing with me--every time I downloaded a couple files my internet browser would go blank and I'd have to reboot the machine--that lead me to reinstall Vista a couple more times until I figured out the problem was with Bitdefender. They still haven't fixed it but me and a bunch of other irate people expect a fix within weeks! OK--that's my rant. On to this month's post...

This is a record that should have made it into Roger Bennett and Josh Kun's And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl, but didn't. Rabbi Feinberg was a leftie, Reform rabbi from Toronto who got some counterculture cred singing along with John & Yoko on "Give Peace a Chance." He even suggested a couple of lines for the song. Soon after he recorded this album for Vanguard. The back cover of which has a couple of photos of him with John & Yoko in case you missed the story at the time. It also features some biographical information detailing his education, his early singing career as Anthony Frome, the "Poet Prince of the Airwaves," and his peace activism. You can read other versions of his bio here and here.

Rabbi Abraham (or Tony) Feinberg covers a number of excellent songs including Buffalo Springfield's "Flying on the Ground," the Bee Gees' "Words," and Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" as well as some really old oldies like Brahms' "Lullaby." And while he doesn't have a bad voice, he doesn't really have much of a feeling for most of the material. He told John Lennon that he couldn't keep time with "today's music," but I don't think that's the problem. He keeps time OK, but he just sounds too too formal, too classical for this material. Still, there are some interesting (if perhaps a bit dated) production touches on the record, like the echoey background vocals on "I Shall Be Released" and the little spoken political pieces that link the songs (there is no blank space between numbers, so it may sound like some of them end pretty abruptly). And the record does grow on you (or at least grew on me) after repeated listenings--so in spite of its general oddness you may find some things to like.

Here's the tracklist
1. Simple Child Loved
2. Story of Isaac
3. Flying on the Ground
4. Warm Traitor's Breath
5. Words
6. I Shall be Released
7. Goodthings
8. Bells of Saint-Pierre
9. Torna a Surriento
10. Brahams Lullaby

And you can get the music here or here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Barry Mann - Angel, Angel Down We Go ST (1969)

Well, as you may have guessed I'm not posting the Hoover album I promised last time--it turns out it's already available on the excellent PUZZLEDOYSTER blog and I suggest you go over there and grab it ASAP.

Instead, I'm filling a request for an album I didn't post before because it had been available elsewhere--in this case on the 7 Black Notes blog, which unfortunately is no longer active. Since I lost my own recording of this when my hard drive crashed a while back, I am reposting the recording that appeared on 7 Black Notes.

So what about Angel, Angel Down We Go? Well if you're interested in the movie (starring Jennifer Jones and Roddy McDowall, as well as featuring Lou Rawls and Holly Near) I suggest you check out IMDB's page on it. Or check out the trailer. The soundtrack, which may or may include all the music from the film (I have to confess to never having seen the movie) features music by Barry Mann, composed sans songwriter partner, wife and lyricist Cynthia Weil. Mann has co-writing credits for many memorable songs. If you're not familiar, check the Mann & Weil web site. Mann's soundtrack credits are perhaps not as impressive--although the duo did pen most of the music for the classic teen-exploitation flick, Wild in the Streets (a personal favorite).

So I hope you enjoy this soundtrack of groovy music and wacked-out dialogue from a weird and apparently pretty awful 60s flick available here or here.

I'm not certain what I'll be posting next but upcoming posts will include Len Novy, Casey Anderson, Line Renaud, Randy Holland, Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, Florence Warner, and Pete Fountain (I got about 20 of his records at the thrift store recently). Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bobby Paris - Let Me Show You The Way (1968)

Bobby Paris began his singing career as a member of the Golden Keys doo-wop group, and in addition to this album on Tetragrammaton he recorded a number of singles over the years (see discography here). Paris typically gets labeled a "blue-eyed soul" singer, but as he's Puerto -Rican "brown-eyed soul" is the more appropriate label. There is no doubt that Paris is a powerful and soulful singer and, as you can hear on this album, he can really belt out a song about a broken relationship.
in addition to singing and songwriting (he composed most of the songs on this LP), Paris also worked as a producer, co-producing Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" among other tunes. There's an online interview, if you want more information on his career.
So what about this record? Well, it starts out really strong, and Side 1, which consists entirely of his own compositions, includes some great soul (a few of which became hits on the Northern Soul circuit). Stand-out tracks include the uptempo “Per-Son-Nal-Ly” (which sounds like something Tom Jones could have made a hit out of) and “Out of Key” (which has some more reflective moments between the soaring choruses). However, Side 2 attempts something more and fails in the process. It’s an extended song cycle that feature a couple originals and some classic cuts interspersed with brief spoken passages. There are some good original songs on Side 2 as well, but the spoken interludes, which sound like rejects from a Rod McKuen record, detract rather than add to the experience, and the there’s way too much pathos on some of the covers (you kind of expect him to break down crying in the middle of “Bye, Bye Blackbird”). Paris might get points for trying to conceive a narrative to link the songs, but loses them for his annoying attempts to explain the narrative arc. However, overall this is a decent album with some fine songs and great vocals, but it would have been better if he had attempted a little less. The production could also have been better on this one--it sounds kind of muddy at time--but that may also be because I've only got the mono version (the record was also released in stereo).
Here's a tracklist (although Side 2 is labeled "The Cycle" as a whole and the spoken word pieces also each have their own name, which I've left off here, as they are best forgotten):
a. Out Of Key
b. I'm So Lonely
c. Per-Son-Nal-Ly
d. No No No Girl
e. I'm Not That Kind of Man
f. Going Out The Way I Came In
g. Let Me Show You The Way
h. You
i. Please, Mr. Sun
j. Tragedy
k. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying
m. Bye bye Blackbird
The recording is (obviously) in mono and encoded with a VBR-extreme setting. You can get it from r-share or m-fire.
In other news, I was also sent a cleaner recording of the first Pollution album, which is now available in place of the older recording. Also, I've gotten a couple requests to post the Angel, Angel Down We Go soundtrack now that's it's no longer available on another blog, and will try to do so in the coming months. Stay tuned for more good music--I picked up a bunch off odd folk records at a thrift store recently and still have a backlog of records I wanted to post from before. Next up, though, is the 1969 country/rock release from Willis Hoover entitled Hoover.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Len Chandler - To Be a Man & The Lovin' People

It's been a while, but to make up for the delay I'm posting 2 albums, both by Len Chandler and both released in 1967. They're also the only 2 albums he released under his own name. To Be a Man is my own recording but I have to thank blog reader Markus (for forwarding the other album to me) and his friend Steve for recording it.

Chandler was one of a number of African-American folk singers/songwriters who were performing during the 1960s, but with the exception of Richie Havens most of them aren't that well known today. Chandler was a classically trained musician (oboe was his first instrument) who didn't get interested in folk singing until he was in college. His first performance of folk songs were actually sung with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (he performed "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" and "Wayfaring Stranger"). He started writing songs for Broadside and got involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and then got a record deal with Columbia. Among his compositions was the godawful novelty number "Beans in My Ears" as well as some songs written in support of the Black Panther Party. (You can check his full discography here, but other than a later e.p. and his work on the Credibility Gap comedy album, it doesn't go much beyond these 2 releases). He seems to have focused more on songwriting during the 1970s, and was a founder of the Alternative Chorus-Songwriters Showcase. He also moved to LA.

Of these 2 albums, To Be a Man, is the first and (to my ears) weaker of the two. It's a more traditional folk album, featuring him and his guitar, but is perhaps too traditional, and while I don't believe he cops any of the riffs here it does sound like a lot of other records you may have heard before. Chandler's faults as a perfomer are also more glaring--his vocals are often too formal and I, for one, wish he would loosen up a little (as he does sometimes on the other release). His guitar playing is fine but not exceptional, and his songs are also a bit generic at times. He's at his best here on bluesy, uptempo numbers like "Feet First Baby" (about an ornery natural-born fighter) and on the satirical "Hide Your Heart, Little Hippie.” When he tries to be poetic he meanders and the results are kind of confusing (as on “Shadow Dream Chaser Of Rainbows” which goes from images of “moths deep inside [him]” and the “fires [he's] been drawn to, to learn” to people following rainbows for an imaginary pot of gold, which really isn’t as valuable as a shadow because soulless people have no shadows, or something to that effect.

On The Lovin’ People, he has the benefit of a good backing band consisting of Pretty Purdie on drums, Artie Butler on organ & piano, and Joe Mack and Bill Salter on bass. The band, who play both loose and funky without ever sounding sloppy, helped produce a more laid back vibe and Chandler sounds more relaxed than he did on the earlier album. He has some better songs on this one, too, such as the title cut warm, poppy number about...well, “Lovin’ People,” on which the presence of a chorus (made up on the spot of people who had gathered to provide assistance to a mothers’ help organization) also helps temper Chandler’s unfortunate tendency towards over-earnestness. “The Naked Fool” is about a relationship gone bad, which doesn’t have anything new to say but will have a few toes tapping. “Sold Out, No More Reservations” is an interesting number about a male groupie, and “Bound to Fly” has a nice soaring quality, and Chandler’s lyrics and delivery mesh well on it. If anything the problem here is that Chandler is sometimes eclipsed by his backing band—check “Behind Your Eyes” where the band goes off on some nice free jazz-psychedelic tangents while Chandler seems to be trying to channel Sammy Davis, Jr.

Here's the tracklist for To Be a Man

  1. To Be A Man
  2. Feet First Baby
  3. Nancy Rose
  4. Bellevue
  5. Missionary Stew #2
  6. Keep On Keepin' On
  7. Shadow Dream Chaser Of Rainbows
  8. Hide Your Heart, Little Hippie
  9. Roll, Turn, Spin
  10. Time Of The Tiger
  11. Takin' Me Away From You Train
  12. Quittin' Time

And here's the list for Lovin' People

  1. Bound to Fly
  2. The Naked Fool
  3. The Lovin' People
  4. The Warmth of You Beside Me
  5. And Still I Dream
  6. Behind Your Eyes
  7. Touch Talk
  8. Sold Out, No More Reservations
  9. I Couldn't Keep From Carin' After All
  10. The Language of Love

To Be a Man was transferred from a mono copy of the album and the Lovin' People (apparently) from a stereo copy (at least the MP3s are encoded in stereo). The first album is encoded at VBR-extreme and the 2nd at 192k, and I've made available as one DL HERE. I hope you'll enjoy them.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Seraffyn - Of Love, Of War, Of Many Things (1964)

Seraffyn (last name Mork) is, according to his record cover, the "last, great troubador." Now he is certainly not the last, and is greatness is arguable (although the album is entertaining enough), but he certainly seems to have been a troubadour, and a wandering one at that (again according to the record cover). He also was born & raised in New England (not Old Scotland), graduated from Harvard and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and in 1953 won the Folksong Award at the International Eisteddford in Wales.

Seraffyn does a fine job at singing and occassionally speaking his way through some good folk material, an Edward Lear poem, and a song from the Fantasticks (i.e., Early One Morning). Most of the material, though, is British (as from the British Isles) with some particularly stirring tracks on the first side. A few of the selections, particularly the version of the Owl & the Pussycat (a guy has a romantic dinner and sings to his girlfriend, "What a beautiful pussy you are? WTF?) fall short of the standard set by the first few tracks and seem a bit silly by comparison. Still the record is a notch above your average folk record from the period and one has to wonder what happened to Seraffyn, who does not appear to have released anything after this.

Here's the tracklist
1. The War Song of Dinas Fawr (Men of Harleach)
2. Will Ye No Come Back Again
3. The Bonnie Earl O'Mowry
4. The Song of Wandering Aengus
5. Try to Remember
6. Early One Morning
7. The Road to the Isles
8. Little Tiny Boy
9. The Cowboy's Lament
10. The Owl and the Pussycat
11. Cock Robin

The recording is in mono & the MP3s are encoded with a high quality VBR. Unfortunately there are a couple brief skips (covered over as best I could) on the track "Little Tiny Boy." Listen here or here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

John Blair - Mystical Soul (1971)

Some time ago I mentioned that I had this record but decided not to post it because it was up on another blog (headfonehaus) that is sadly gone. The recording that I'm posting here comes from that site, since mine was lost when my hard drive crashed. I hope headfone won't mind--props to him.

I'm posting this in response to a blog reader request. So here and here you can hear John Blair's 1st album Mystical Soul released in 1971 on the A&R label. John Franklin Ellington Blair (his full name & yes he was supposedly related to the aristocratic Ellington) was (he passed away in 2006) a singer, violinst, martial artist, poet & inventor of the "Vitar" (a combination acoustical guitar and violin). He put out 3 albums of his own unique mix of jazz, soul, and pop-rock music and this is his first. You can hear his 3rd album, We Belong Together, over at the My Jazz World blog. The album features some nice covers (Burt Bacharach, Beatles, etc.) and fine original numbers. I hope you'll enjoy it. I certainly did.

I hope to be back in a couple weeks with a post of an excellent folk record from Seraffyn, the Last Great Troubador.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

So what happened to this month's post?

Or how I was kidnapped and taken to the Castle of the Gnomes! Or not.

So what really happend? Well, I was getting Stephen Spano's fine psychedelic outing Eye to Eye ready for posting and did a quick check on Google only to find that it had been recently posted here, on the Good Records NYC blog. Since it's my policy not to post stuff that's available elsewhere I ended up shelving this month's post. I did, however, get a request for John Blair's first album, which had been posted before on another blog but doesn't seem to be available any longer, so I will make some effort to get that up before the month's over. Otherwise, I will definitely have a new post up next month.
Also, I've observed that most of my recent posts begin with me complaining that I don't have much time to post. That seems to be a pretty monotonous theme. So, in the future please assume I don't have any time and I won't complain about it anymore. Also, while I'd like to be posting monthly I can't make any promises--suffice it to say I will try to post as often as I can and as long as I have records to post (which should be for quite some time to come). Thanks for reading and for your comments and emails!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Hank & Lewie Wickham With Johnny Dagucon - ST (1971)

I'm really pressed for time this month (and probably will be for the next couple as well) so I'm not going to write much about this one. The fact is that I don't know much that I could relay to you anyway. There were a couple songs from this posted on a blog (I forgot which) a couple years back but that post/blog seems to have disappeared. I can also point you to the Wickham brothers Web site for more information about the brothers. You can also pick up some reissued material and some newer releases on CD there, as well as books like How to Play Guitar Well Enough To Screw up Your Life.

I can say this is an enjoyable outing of folk-country-rock stylings released on the King label (better known for its country & soul music). The Wickham's original material tends to be songs of quiet longing and love, many quite good and there are also a number of choice cover songs (including excellent versions of Love's Message to Pretty and Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now--2 of my alltime favorites). They play their guitars well enough and the Wickham that sings listened to plenty of Elvis' records, although he lacks Elvis' voice.

Here's the tracklist:
Side 1
Liberated Woman
But You Know I Love You
Both Sides Now
Tu Solo TuI
t's Over
Mr. Bonjangles
Side 2
Blow the Ashes Away
Fire & Rain
Yesterday, When I Was Young
A Day in the Life of a Fool
Message to Pretty
Angel Fire

I should apologize for the late (for March) post and while I'm at it the crappy cover photo. And the sound on this isn't quite as good as I'd like. I may be wrong but I think my turntable seems to be getting worse. Perhaps someone who knows more about audio hardware can clue me in, but will a bad stylus pick up more noise? Will putting a good stylus on a 3rd rate turntable be a better investment than upgrading to a 2nd rate turntable? Anyway, despite the imperfections I hope you enjoy this album.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Musical Theatre - A Revolutionary Revelation (1970)

The 1960's (and yes 1970 is part of the 1960's) produced plenty of weird records and plenty of cheesy records, but those musical excursions that combine the weird & cheesy are a rarer lot. This is certainly one of them. So what is the record about? Well according to thel liner notes, "This album attempts to explain in musical form, not only what the youth of today are against but also what they are for....It is a musical expression against the war, racism, violence, poverty, the destruction of our natural environment, inequality, puritanism, and the imbalance of power." Now listening to it for the first time you might miss this. You might mistakenly believe that the record was made to cash in on disgruntled youth who might be fooled into thinking this album expresses their concerns, such as their desire for a "love pill" and their belief that a lack of compassion for minority groups caused Lee Harvey Oswald to become an assassin. And so you might think that what you're hearing is the counterculture filtered through the psyche of an aging, pseudo-hipster, record producer who assumes the voice of a nameless, all-wise, Socratic questioner. But you'd obviously be wrong, or maybe not. It is really difficult to capture the weirdness of this one in a couple paragraphs, so you should really listen to it yourself and decide how serious of a piece of musical theater (I'm sorry, theatre) this is.

Admist all this weirdness and between the spoken word exchanges, there are some pretty cool songs here. Computer World is probably my favorite (sort of a watered down version of Lothar & the Hand People's "Machines") and the Lee Harvey Oswald montage, Reflections in the Life of an Assassin is pretty cool too. The band, made up of some competent session musicians plays it with a straight face (although not as straight as the Mystical Voice & the Revolutionists). Here's the personnel listed on the record:

  • Written and conceived by Jay Darrow
  • Paul Griffin - Organ/Piano
  • Al Gorgoni, Dave Spinozza, Bill Snyker - Guitars
  • Jimmy Johnson - Drums
  • Chuck Raney - Fender Bass
  • Jack Jennings - Percussion
  • The Musical Theatre - Revolutionists
  • Howard Newhouse - Mystical Voice

Jay Darrow is the main instigator of this fantastic excursion into teen angst & desire. In addition to writing the script he's cowriter on most of the songs (in most cases along with G. Shayne). I don't know much about him, though, other than the fact that he is also listed as a producer on a number of pop/rock singles during the late 60s by bands like the Harbingers, the Plebian Rebellion, & that counter-culture icon Anita Bryant.

Because the spoken interludes fill up the space between the songs I have not seperated the tracks the way I usually do. Also, this is still a pretty noisy recording and my attempts at noise reduction don't seem to have worked as well as they usually do. Unforunately I think this is because my crappy turntable has gotten crappier. I'm going to try to get a new stylus sometime soon, which will hopefully help. I hope you enjoy this weirdness released in 1970 on the Metromedia label.

And here's the tracklist:

We Want
Computer World
You Only Reap What You Sow
Reflections in the Life of an Assassin
There Must Be a Better Way of Life
A Love Pill
Before the Apple
I've Seen God in Many Places
A Revolutionary Revelation

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Orriel Smith - A Voice in the Wind (1963)

I've been particularly busy as of late, so this post comes a little later than I had promised. I hope you'll find that it's worth the wait. A Voice in the Wind is a pretty traditional folk album from a singer who is anything but traditional.
She is a classicaly trained singer whose mother sang opera. Grew up in Washington, DC living across from the Seeger family. Started performing folk songs at Gerde’s Folk City in NY when she was 18 and studying opera singing in the city, and managed to get on the Johnny Carson show (singing “The Russian Nightingale”) before she had a recording contract, which got her signed to Columbia to record this LP and some tracks on a couple of Columbia's All-Star Hootenanny compilations. After that moved on to the Jimmy Joyce Singers and a recording with Ray Conniff live in Japan. She did a fantastic single with Phillip Lambro (Tiffany Glass b/w Winds of Space) that is available on the Fuzzy Felt Folk compilation (highly recommended) and sang on Lambro's soundtrack to Crypt of the Living Dead (also available on CD). Nowadays she performs opera arias while clucking like a chicken, which you do have to hear to believe (my description can't do it justice). Thankfully both The World's Favorite Cluckoratura Arias & Live! From CarnEGGy Hall are available on CD.
On this record she performs largely unaccompanied by her own guitar and occassionally strings under the direction of Walter Raim. The record was produced by Bobby Scott, who helped her select the material (a nice mix of British and American ballads, for the most part).
You can review her full discography here. And read an excellent interview, from Terrascope, here. There are also a couple of poor quality videos from her folk-singing days out on Youtube here and here.
These MP3s (also available here) of the album come from the mono version. Here's the tracklist:
Side A
1. The Deceived Girl
2. Down By The Glenside
3. When I Was Single
4. Over The Hills
5. Been On This Train
6. White Curtains
Side B
7. Black Is The Color
8. Chilly Winds
9. Take My Mother Home
10. Geordie
11. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
12. Red Rosy Bush
Coming sometime next month: A Revolutionary Revelation by the Musical Theatre.