Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bobbi Martin - Harper Valley P.T.A. (1968)

This is not the best album you'll ever hear, but it's an interesting one as these things go. Harper Valley P.T.A. is Bobbi Martin's third album. Martin was a country/adult contemporary singer whose biggest success came with a sort of anti-women's lib anthem from 1970, "For The Love Of Him," which got to #13 on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart. But that was an album away from this one.

This one, which is long out of print, is a cash-in effort, titled to capitalize on Jeannie C. Riley's crossover country hit "Harper Valley, P.T.A." The song, which was written by Tom T. Hall, was extremely popular and was also recorded at the time by singers Billie Jo Spears and Margie Singleton. The Bobbi Martin version must have been a major rush job. According to Billboard, this album was released in September of 1968. Riley's version came out in August of that year.

But Great Art can crop up in the most unexpected places. Here, it rears its head in the form of "Misty Blue," a gorgeous ballad penned by Buddy Holly compatriot Bob Montgomery. The song was first done by Wilma Burgess in 1966 in a seriously old-timey country version, which got to #4 on the country chart. Ten years later, it became a pop/ R&B smash for Dorothy Moore. But the version on this album, while not a hit, has a lot to offer. I think Martin's vocal beats Burgess' and this arrangement is more palatable to modern tastes than the one on the Burgess single.

Most of the rest of the songs here are other covers and most are no great shakes. Nor is the sound quality particularly good. Still it's an obscurity and presents a snapshot of the way the music biz worked in the 1960s, when record companies would rush-release soundalike cover versions, hoping to usurp the original artist's hit.

Track list:
1. Harper Valley P.T.A.
2. Empty Arms
3. She'll Have To Go
4. Be Mine
5. Gentle On My Mind
6. You'll Cry Tomorrow
7. I Love Him
8. Little Green Apples
9. Misty Blue
10. I Think Of You

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Deadly Nightshade - The Deadly Nightshade (1975)

This is feminist folk rock, didactic but tuneful. And obscure. This album has never come out on CD, but didn't get that much play back when it was released. One reason is that it's just not all that mainstream-oriented. The other is that it came out the independent Phantom label.

The Deadly Nightshade and was the first of two albums by this New England-based trio. Not only didn't it find favor with the public, but critics didn't seem to take to it either. Robert Christgau dismissed it (somewhat famously) as "squeaky-clean," "smug," and the stuff of junior high school talent shows. Then again, Christgau also didn't like Joy Of Cooking much, and I think they're fab, so I'll take his opinion with a shaker of salt.

I also think his assessment had a lot to do with the singing style of this group, which comes from the folk tradition, where performers ten to e-nun-ci-ate a bit too much. It's somewhat bothersome, but it's actually not that bad. The sarcastic lyrical thrust reminds me a bit of the Roches but without their sense of the absurd, and the music recalls the aforementioned Joy Of Cooking but without Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite's assured songwriting.

The Deadly Nightshade would go on to have a minor hit with a disco version of the theme song from the oddball TV soap opera "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," a show I remember really enjoying as a kid because of its weirdness. The Nightshade took their single to #79 in the summer of '76 and it was their only hit.

It's also miles away from this album, which mixes up country folk ("High Flying Woman"), satirical ballads ("Nose Job"), and funky pop ("Sweet Sweet Music"). Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals guests on organ and Leslie West of Mountain also chimes in on guitar -- although for some reason (a joke?) he's billed as "Ms. Leslie West."

Bassist Pamela Brandt went on to become an author of several books as well as a noted food critic. She died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 68.

Related posts:
Toni Brown - Good For You, Too (1974)
The Joy - Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite (1977) 
Toni Brown - Toni Brown (1979) 

Track list:
1. High Flying Woman
2. Nose Job
3. Something Blue
4. Losin' At Love
5. Dance, Mr. Big, Dance
6. Keep On The Sunnyside
7. Sweet, Sweet Music
8. Shuffle
9. I Sent My Soul To The Laundromat
10. Someone Down In Nashville
11. Blue Mountain Hornpipe
12. Onions

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Re-Up: The Sunrays - For Collectors Only: Vintage Rays (1996)

I originally posted this out-of-print Sunrays collection to cap off Surf Music Month, which I did back in July. Since then, I was able to get a higher quality copy of it that has the "missing songs" I mentioned in my original post. So I'm re-upping it. In addition to the music, I included a PDF of an online music journal that has an interview with Sunrays band leader Rick Henn. I also took time to tag the MP3s Enjoy this one -- I sure did, as my original post below shows.


As July comes to a close, so does Surf Music Month on this blog. Every day since July 4, I've posted an album that was related to '60s surf music in some way. But there's still one more day to go and I saved best for last.

The Sunrays' 1996 three-disc set, For Collectors Only: Vintage Rays, is long out of print and now goes for around $100 a pop on the used market. There is a reason for that, and it's a reason that goes beyond the fact that it's hard to find. The music here -- at least on the second two discs -- is about as great as you're going to find when it comes to 1960s pop. And that means all '60s pop, not just surf music.

First, let's dispel a falsehood that I keep reading about when it comes to the Sunrays. The band was not "put together" by Murry Wilson -- the Beach Boys' manager who was also the father of the Wilson brothers. The Sunrays were already a band called the Renegades while they were in high school. It was there that they met Beach Boy Carl Wilson, who introduced them to his father Murry, who the Beach Boys had recently fired as manager.

Murry took on managerial duties and got the group a major label deal. He also produced their records. But the Sunrays were their own band, not Murry's puppets. This should be all general knowledge because the story of how the band was put together has been told in countless interviews and on the radio interview included on this very set. But, it seems, most people can't be bothered to do basic fact-checking before spouting off on YouTube and online music forums.

A second falsehood is that the group was a Beach Boys "copy band." They might have performed in the style of the Beach Boys, but their songs weren't Rutles-like facsimiles. They used the Beach Boys' harmonies as a jumping off point to create a '60s pop sound, similar to what Jan & Dean did after 1963. More importantly, the songs that the Sunrays came up with are so good that it almost doesn't matter that their sound wasn't wholly original. This becomes evident in the second half of this collection, which brings together almost everything they recorded (more on this below).

Disc one is made up of a bunch of surf instrumentals cut when the band were in their teens. It's nice, but expendable. The main course comes up on the second disc, which is the Sunrays first album plus some non-LP sides. It contains a plethora of original songs, mostly by band members Rick Henn and (the late) Eddy Medora, virtually all of which are first-rate.

Besides the Henn-penned hits "I Live for the Sun" and "Andrea," there are some really impressive deep cuts. First and foremost is "A Little Dog and His Boy," which is both musically and lyrically innovative. What other pop song in 1966 tackled the issue of the war with such assured narrative craft? No "copy band" would have come up with something that was both this moving and this tuneful.

The only discordant notes come in the form of the two songs Murry Wilson wrote for them, "Car Party" and "Outta Gas." Frankly, they're awful. And they rightfully flopped as a single release. The elder Wilson could not write rock songs. He could, however, write ballads and a mellow number Wilson co-wrote with Henn, "Won't You Tell Me," is a highlight of disc three. (Beach Boys fans might remember that Rick Henn also wrote at least one song with Brian Wilson, "Soulful Old Man Sunshine," which stands as THE great Beach Boys number left unreleased in its day.)

Disc three mostly has songs that would have been on the Sunrays second album, had there been one. Judging by the strength of such numbers as "Tired of You," "I Wanna Know," and (especially) "Old Man Doubt," this would have been one hell of an album. But the group hadn't even cracked the Top 40 with those two aforementioned hits, so another full LP wasn't in the cards.

My copy of this set is missing some tracks, which is why I made reference earlier to it "almost" including everything the Sunrays recorded. Absent are a handful of alternate takes that closed out the second disc.

I also did a slight bit of rearranging on the third disc. I put the long (and revealing) interview with the radio disc jockey at the very end. Its previous placement in the middle of the disc ruined the flow of the songs. And those songs definitely do flow. I defy anyone to play discs two and three a few times and tell me their minds aren't blow by the unforgettable musical hooks, brilliantly melodic choruses, and soaring vocal harmonies. Luck often plays a role in success, and it's my theory that Rick Henn and Eddy Madora would definitely have become major players in '60s pop had the breaks been right.

Disc: 1
1. Sidewinder
2. Renegade
3. Seventh Son
4. Young And Wild
5. Six Eight Blues
6. Trouble
7. Wheel Stand
8. Square Four
9. Ski Storm (Part 1)
10. Ski Storm (Part 2)
11. Snow Skiing
12. Mogul Monster
13. Reputation
14. Justine
15. Night Train
16. Surf Beat

Disc: 2
1. Outta Gas
2. Car Party
3. I Live For The Sun
4. Andrea
5. A Little Dog And His Boy
6. Have To Be Myself
7. I Look Baby-I Can't See
8. You Don't Phase Me
9. Still
10. Jo Ann
11. Better Be Good To Me
12. Bye Baby Bye
13. Tears In My Eyes
14. Since My Findin' You
15. When You're Not Here
16. Goodnight Debbie, Goodnight
17. Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
18. Just 'Round The River Bend
19. Hi, How Are You
20. Loaded With Love
21. Time (A Special Thing)
22. I Live For The Sun (Alternate Version)
23. Andrea (Alternate Version)
24. Jo Ann (Alternate Version)
25. You Don't Phase Me (Alternate Version)
26. Just 'Round The River Bend (Alternate Version)
27. Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously (Alternate Version)

Disc: 3
1. I Wanna Know
2. Got No Time For My Baby
3. I Was A Loser
4. I'm On My Way
5. Our Leader
6. Tired Of You
7. Hey Little Girl
8. Old Man Doubt
9. Suzuki The Fun Bike
10. Terry Steen Time Radio Show
11. Don't Ya Give Up
12. Won't You Tell Me
13. The Colonel's Song
14. Going Surfin'
15. Longboards Rule '96

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beau Nasty - Dirty, But Well Dressed (1989)

As promised, here is the long out-of-print Beau Nasty album I referenced in a post a few days ago. This album came out just as the hair band fad of the late 1980s was peaking. It went nowhere for a lot of reasons that have been documented elsewhere, but I'll recap here.

First, this glam metal/hard rock band might have been put together with the idea of cashing in on a trend, and therefore didn't build up a groundswell of support by doing a lot of touring. This was an important element of the metal scene in the '80s and is what helped bands like Guns N' Roses, Cinderella, and Motley Crue really take off.

But I also think the wrong singles were picked. The songs pulled as singles were the ballad "Paradise in the Sand," the rocker "Shake It," and the band's cover of the Clovers/Searchers hit "Love Potion #9." The first was a bit too bland for mass appeal, the second was way too harsh, and the third was too quirky (it would take another few years before Americans "got" semi-ironic cover versions of oldies by rock acts). Anyway, I think the single should have been the ballad "Make A Wish," which was penned by Jesse Harms, who'd written a hit with Eddie Money ("Walk On Water") and also co-composed songs with Sammy Hagar.

The other big reason for this record flopping was the band's ridiculous attire on the album cover. This has been written about elsewhere on the Web, but I'm reluctant to link the blogger that wrote about it, because the last time I promoted a music blog I got a nasty comment from the blog writer here and then the guy called me nasty names on his own blog. No good deed goes unpunished, so all good links will go unpublished. Use Google if you want more info.

This album also reminds me why I was never a good rock critic. That's because no matter how much I dislike something, I'm reluctant to call it bad. The reason for that is because I can usually understand why other people like it. The sound of this record grates my nerves, particularly the high-pitched screeching of lead singer Mark Anthony Fretz. But here's the thing: If you like this style of music and enjoy the Axl Rose-Sebastian Bach style of vocalizing, then this record actually isn't bad at all and Fretz is an excellent frontman.

How do you judge good and bad when you think like this? As regular readers know, I happen to love old surf music, but lots of friends have commented to me on how the boppy '60s tempos and nasal lead singers can get annoying. Yet when I hear that sound, I immediately perk up. The same thing that makes them lunge to change the radio dial makes me turn it up. Who's right?

When you get down to it,  preferences outweigh the idea of good vs. bad. And I think that the kind of people who adhere strongly to the "good vs. bad" concept when it comes to music (or any art form, for that matter) are arrogant and self-absorbed. This is one reason I stopped writing professionally -- and the main reason I don't take to religion. Anyone who thinks they know "the answer" and fails to even consider that there might be other opinions is not worth listening to because they lack a basic understand of what makes us human -- our differences.

For example, if a teenage girl hears Ke$ha and truly loves it and relates to it, then it's good music for her. Who the f*ck am I to say otherwise? Same goes for Beau Nasty. It might be fingernails-on-blackboard to my ears, but somewhere out there are guys and gals who will discover this album and think it's a great lost hair band masterpiece. Maybe it will sound as good to them as the never-released second album by the Sunrays sounds to me. Who is to say either of us is wrong?

Related posts:
The Pat Travers Band - BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert (1980)
The Pat Travers Band - Live at the Warfield - San Francisco (1980)
Humble Pie - The Scrubbers Sessions (1997)

Track list:
1. Shake It
2. Goodbye Rosie
3. Gimme Lovin'
4. Paradise In The Sand
5. Dirty, But Well Dressed
6. Love To The Bone
7. Gemini
8. Piece Of The Action
9. Make A Wish
10. Love Potion #9

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Cover Girls - Show Me (1987; 1991 Canadian Reissue)

Since I'm on a roll doing late 1980s and early '90s pop stuff, maybe now is the time to post my rare copy of the Cover Girls' first album, which is from Canada and has an extra song, "Better Late Than Never," tagged on at the end. The mastering of this one also sounds different than the American version, but since I don't own that one anymore, I can't remember how they differ.

Few people remember the Cover Girls now, but during the "in-between years" of the Reagan-Bush Era, they were a major force on the pop charts. What are the "in-between years" of which I speak? To me, they were the '80s equivalent of the period in the early '60s just before the Beatles broke.

Both eras were dominated by a lot of ethnic girls groups and bookended by the explosion of major artists (Elvis/Beatles; Madonna/Nirvana). Both eras had a lot of pre-fabricated teen pop singers who got swept aside once the new trend hit. Both eras were sociologically similar in that they reflected last gasps of fading cultural ideals (Kennedy optimism/Reagan conservatism).

I was in college when this record came out and brought this point up in one of my classes and almost got laughed out of the room. The major argument that some girls in class made against it was that the girl group era of the '60s was marked by sexual repression, while the '80s were about sexual liberation. Not quite.

All these years later, I think my argument stands. While the '80s might have seemed liberated then, hindsight has shown us that they were pretty repressive if you were gay, lesbian, transgender, or even a single mother. And beyond that, the '90s era trend of "hooking up" made the "daring" pre-marital sex of the '80s seem tame by comparison.

The Cover Girls (Remember them? This is a post about them!) were an early entry into this second era of girl groups. Other similar girl groups that scored hits around this time included Sweet Sensation, Exposé, Company B, Seduction, and Pajama Party. Most performed variations on Latin freestyle dance music, which could be infectious if the songs were good.

On this, the Cover Girls' first effort, the songs are good. How good? Well, they had (get this) five Hot 100 hits off it between Feb. 1987 and summer 1988. Their hits from this CD included: "Show Me" (#44), "Spring Love" (#98), "Because Of You" (#27), "Promise Me" (#40), and "Inside Outside" (#55). And while those might not have burned up the pop charts, several were much bigger dance hits. In 1989, the group would release a follow-up album that had three more hits, including the Top Ten ballad "We Can't Go Wrong."

Back then, this stuff made for better listening on the dance floor than in the living room and that still goes for today. Still, if you have memories of this era or are partial to freestyle, this is one of the best albums of its type. And, say what you will, I still see parallels with this and groups like the Jellybeans or the Jaynetts.

Related posts:
Wing And A Prayer Fife And Drum Corps - Babyface (1976)
Various Artists - The Network Forty: Tune Up - Next 40 #23 (March 26, 1990)
Ms. Adventures - Ms. Adventures (1990)

Track list:
1. Show Me
2. Because Of You
3. That Boy Of Mine
4. One Night Affair
5. Spring Love
6. Inside Outside
7. Promise Me
8. Love Emergency
9. Better Late Than Never

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Various Artists - The Network Forty: Tune Up - Next 40 #23 (March 26, 1990)

Yesterday was "National DJ Day," so here's a post that's sort of related. This is a CD that was created for radio industry insiders, so DJs played these songs from this very disc at some point.

This particular CD is part of a series that was called "The Network Forty," and geared to Top 40 stations. It contained 18 potential hits, about half of which actually became hits. There was also a series like this called "The Album Network" that was designed for AOR radio.

Back in the '90s, I used to buy these discs for a buck each at a used record store. In the days before YouTube, it was a good way to hear pop hits (or misses) without having to shell out full price to buy. I remember having about a dozen of these, but this particular one from March 1990 seems to be the only one I kept. Oh well. If I hear from my ex, I'll check to see if any of these ended up in her collection, but my guess is that I sold the rest of them all back or just dumped them.

So why would anyone want to hear this stuff now when you can get it on YouTube? Well, besides being able to get a snapshot of a bygone era (something I always enjoy), these CDs had a lot of radio edits/mixes that weren't on albums.

To cite a few examples, the Cover Girls' boppy "All That Glitters Isn't Gold" runs 5:50 on their We Can't Can't Go Wrong CD, but 3:51 here. The Blue Nile's brooding (and brilliant) "The Downtown Lights" is 6:29 on their Hats album but is whittled down to 4:05 here. The songs by After 7, Electronic, and Beau Nasty are also edits.

Meanwhile, Beats International's "Dub Be Good To Me" (mistitled "Be Good To Me" on this CD) is featured in a mix I can't find anywhere else -- one that omits the "Guns of Brixton" bassline. D Mob's "That's the Way of the World" is the 7" single mix and not the more commonly-heard 12" mix.

Another amusing feature of these CD was the notes they contained from industry people who were, I assume, paid to push specific songs or bands (see right). This one has an unintentionally hilarious write-up on a song the writers claimed "leaps out and embraces you" and was "more than just another rock record." It turned out to Beau Nasty's "Paradise In The Sand," one of the more spectacular flops of its era. Who was Beau Nasty? Stay tuned. I may just have more on them soon.

Track list:
1. Kylie Minogue - Tears On My Pillow
2. Damn Yankees - Coming Of Age
3. Joe Satriani - I Believe
4. The Blue Nile - The Downtown Lights
5. The Cover Girls - All That Glitters Isn't Gold
6. Beats International - Dub Be Good To Me
7. Electronic - Getting Away With It
8. After 7 - Ready Or Not
9. The 4 Of Us - Drag My Bad Name Down
10. Michael Monroe - Man With No Eyes
11. Tim Finn - Not Even Close
12. Shakespears Sister - Break My Heart (You Really)
13. Beau Nasty - Paradise In The Sand
14. Everything But the Girl - Driving
15. Timmy T - Time After Time
16. Tina Turner - Look Me In The Heart
17. Pretty Boy Floyd - I Wanna Be With You
18. D Mob - That's The Way of the World

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Debbie Gibson - Acoustic Live (1991)

So what were you doing June 8, 1991? Bruce Springsteen was getting married. I was on a first date with a woman who would become my wife. Meanwhile, Debbie Gibson was overseas, on her way to becoming one of those American performers who was "big in Japan."

Here third album, Anything Is Possible, had come out a few months earlier and was considered a commercial disappointment. Not only had it failed to equal the #1 chart placing of her previous effort, Electric Youth, but several of the singles pulled from it didn't make the charts at all. This was something that had never before happened in Gibson's career.

Undeterred by her dwindling American audience, she set off for Japan where her music was still appreciated (and would be for decades after). Her Japanese fans also apparently didn't expect the song-and-dance stage shows demanded by American ones, so Gibson was able to play some solo piano gigs there. One of them was this concert, which was recorded for radio.

This broadcast is a total rarity. It's never been circulated and no song from it has ever been put on YouTube as far as I can tell. In fact, there's pretty much no evidence of it at all on the Web. I found this out when I tried to locate a photo from the show. There are no pics. I ended up creating a "cover," so to speak, by using a still from a Japanese TV performance that Gibson did around the same time.

The only reason I even know about this concert is because Debbie Gibson authority "Scott from Australia" saw some of my previous posts on her and sent this along to me. Scott is also responsible for a lot of the music featured on a previous Gibson compilation I put together, so let's give him a metaphorical round of applause.

This set of tracks came from a long file with very average sound quality. But I like to do sound editing, so I split the file into separate songs and  EQ'd it properly to bring the sound up to snuff. I also added in tags. I don't want y'all to think I'm just sitting around; quite a bit of work goes into this stuff. Most of it, anyway.

Getting back to Debbie Gibson: Had she done a solo show like this a few years later, it would have been called "unplugged," a word that MTV popularized through its TV show of the same name. But this was before that, so this show was simply called Acoustic Live.

And, as these things go, this is pretty damned good. If anyone needed proof that Gibson could sing and play without electronic musical arrangements, this is it. Her voice is crystal clear and I don't hear any weak notes or substandard performances. As for her keyboard playing, she was a actually classically-trained pianist and it shows in this performance. That's evident on some of her own tunes like "One Hand, One Heart," but it really comes to the fore on the "Billy Joel Medley," where she throws in snippets of his "Prelude" and "Root Beer Rag" at the end -- both of which are difficult to play.

(In case you're wondering "Why Billy Joel?" it's because Gibson is a lifelong Joel fanatic and grew up playing his songs on piano. Also, Gibson is from Long Island and so is Joel. On Long Island they think about Billy Joel the way the rest of us think about Paul McCartney. Trust me on this one; I lived on "the Island" for almost a decade.)

There's also a treasure trove of rare Gibson songs here. She does three ballads from the mellow second half of her third album, Anything Is Possible, and the strength of the ballad "Try" makes me wonder if the song wouldn't have been better served with a more sparse, piano-based arrangement on the album. There's also the non-album B-Side "So Close To Forever," the Japan-only single "Without You," the aforementioned Billy Joel medley, and a solo cover of Elton John's "Crocodile Rock."

I've purposely kept the music on this blog as wide-ranging as possible. There is no focus, which is the way I like it because it reflects the way I've always listed to music.

But with this post I think I can safely say that my blog now features the biggest collection of Debbie Gibson rarities anywhere. Some of you might think that's a questionable goal to have achieved. But too bad. Because not only do I like it, I'm tempted to advertise it in the title of this blog -- if only to annoy rock purists who seem to have replaced the religious orthodoxies of the old days with musical ones for today. In other words, I'll like what I wanna like, trends and critics be damned.

Related posts:
Debbie Gibson - 'Out of the Blue'-Era 7-Inch Singles: A's and B's (1987-88)
Debbie Gibson - 12-Inch Singles (1986-88)
Debbie Gibson - The Alternate Electric Youth (1989)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 1 (2004)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 2 (2005)
Debbie Gibson - Rarities (1990-1999) 
Chris Cuevas - Somehow, Someway (1991) 
Various Artists - The Songs Debbie Gibson Gave Away (1988-92) 

Track list:
1. Introduction and Commercial
2. Interview
3. One Hand, One Heart
4. Sure
5. Billy Joel Medley:
   a. Piano Man;
   b. New York State Of Mind;
   c. This Night;
   d. Only The Good Die Young;
   e. Leave A Tender Moment Alone;
   f. Prelude;
   g. Root Beer Rag
6. Another Brick Falls
7. Without You
8. Try
9. Foolish Beat
10. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
11. Lost In Your Eyes
12. So Close To Forever
13. Crocodile Rock

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Alisha - Nightwalkin' (1987)

Random thoughts.


Me in 1987: "Wow, my folks will listen to anything from 1957, so long as it brings back memories of their glory days."

Me in 2017: "Wow, I'll listen to anything from 1987, so long as it brings back memories of my glory days."


In the song "Glory Days," why does Bruce Springsteen use the word "speedball" instead of "fastball?" Has anyone ever actually heard anyone say "speedball?" I haven't and I grew up in a "baseball family," where we had Major League season tickets and my brother was a high school all-star and played college ball. When I worked at a local newspaper company I sat near the sports reporters and NO ONE ever said "speedball." Is it a Jersey thing? Someone enlighten me.


It was a long slide downhill from the brilliantly outré "New York City Serenade" and "Kitty's Back" to the simplicity of the speedball song, don't you think? But then, a man's gotta put food on the table. And girls in the bedroom -- judging from the Boss' recent autobiography.


Wait a minute, if "Glory Days" is so bad, then why did the title become part of the cultural lexicon and why did I reflexively quote it at the start of this post? Er, strike that last comment from the record.


It's funny how a little thing like the word "speedball" will get on my nerves so bad it ruins my appreciation of an entire song. I can't listen to "Glory Days" without fixating on that word and how it got past Springsteen's "squad" (another stupid, annoying word) because it sounds so pretentious and inauthentic. Wonder if Jon Landau gave him that word?


My take on how Landau lobbied to get the word "speedball" in a Springsteen song (for best results, imagine this guy's voice in your head when you read these words): "Hello, Bruce? Pip, pip old chap. Back at my prestigious Ivy League alma mater I had a professor who used that word in a way that was, shall we say, ironic. Why not try it out on your plebeian audience? Hahaha!! Miami Steve?! Fetch me my caviar! Chop chop old boy! You know I can't help Bruce write about the working class without my caviar!"


Speaking of little things that tick me off, this album, Nightwalkin', begins with someone going "Psssst!" Fewer things bother me more than when people make stupid noises like that to get people's attention in public. I've noticed mostly miscreants and self-styled "gangstas" do this. I also despise when people can't give you a clear-cut "yes" or "no" and instead grunt out sounds like "uh-huh" or "nuh-huh." Gee, sorry it was too much fucking effort for you to say that fucking word "yes" or "no." No wonder civilization is degenerating by the minute.


Imagine if everyone did this. We'd have a society of animal-like humans totally unable to communicate clearly and instead making odd pig-like noises at each other. Come to think of it, if people continue to mostly communicate on their smart phones instead of speak, this is what society will become.


I refuse to own a smart phone. I made this decision a long time ago after I heard a woman I know say she wanted her husband get one because otherwise how else would she be able to keep tabs on him all the time? Think about that. Is that what you want? Imagine that awful wife from "Everybody Loves Raymond" stomping around demanding to know your whereabouts 24/7 for eternity. Who would sign up for this? Probably the same sack-less wonders who filled stadiums while the Boss bellowed about "speedballs," that's who.


Parents also do this to their kids. What kind of high school kids voluntarily submit to the smart-phone-helicopter-parent treatment? During large portions of high school, my folks had no idea where I was and had no way to reach me. If they had, they'd have been "checking in" constantly -- as would the parents of my various girlfriends. This would have been disastrous to our (ahem) growth into adults. I'm kidding there, but I'm also not kidding. In order to grow up, you need to explore, make mistakes, and learn how to deal with problems you yourself create. Having mommy and daddy standing by (to paraphrase an old Gershwin tune), is a way to keep kids frozen in immaturity. Which is why we're seeing things like "safe spaces" on college campuses today.


Full disclosure about those stadium shows: I was one of the many who saw Springsteen on his "Born in the U.S.A." tour, so I'm kind of making fun of myself here. I saw him in DC in 1984. So sue me. But somewhere on this blog I wrote about how I got tickets to see him again in '85, but sold them so I could see Jonathan Richman, who was playing on the same night. You need to know when to move on in life.


You might think Nightwalkin' is for dance music aficionados, but Blues Magoos collectors also need to have this album because Peppy Castro co-wrote the title track. I kid you not -- check the credits. Here's the lowdown on that. After the Blues Magoos split into two camps in the late '60s, Castro reconfigured them into group that performed more Latin-oriented music, which reflected his ethnic roots. This led him into dance pop, where he wrote the Top 30 hit "Breaking Away" for his band Balance in 1981. It's only a short hop from "Breaking Away" to the title track of this album.


Wonder if Alisha knew the guy writing songs for her was also behind on of the weirdest songs ever to grace a major label album, "Scarecrow's Love Affair?"


"Scarecrow's Love Affair" is from the 1968 album Basic Blues Magoos, which is one of my favorite records ever. I spent endless days in my '80s-era college dorm room with friends spinning a ratty old copy of it the turntable. Since that album is from the 1960s and Alisha's Nightwalkin' is from the '80s, you'd think the Blues Magoos record would be rarer. But you'd be wrong. As I mentioned in my last post about Alisha, Nightwalkin' goes for a LOT of money on the used market now. Last I saw, it was selling for around $100 at


Which, of course, is why I'm posting it here, since this is a blog dedicated to rare music. For more details about Alisha, refer to my aforementioned previous post about her, where I wrote about her third and final album, Bounce Back, from 1990, which is something of a freestyle classic.


This album isn't as good as Bounce Back or her self-titled first album from 1985. It also wasn't as successful. The singles pulled from those albums at least scraped the Top 50 or Top 60, but this album's only chart hit was "Into My Secret," which got to #97.


Maybe it only got to #97 because it opens with someone going "Psssst!" and the rest of the world agrees with me and HATES to have to hear that. Even if it is from 1987 and brings back the glory days. The end.

Related posts:
Alisha - Bounce Back (1990)
Chris Cuevas - Somehow, Someway (1991)
Debbie Gibson - Rarities (1990-1999)
Hi-Five - Hi-Five (1990) 
Homework - Homework (1990) 
Ms. Adventures - Ms. Adventures (1990)
The Party - In the Meantime, In Between Time (1991)
The Superiors - Perfect Timing (1990)
Rick Wes - North, South, East, Wes (1990)
Rick Wes - Possession (1991)

Track list:
1. Into My Secret
2. Love You Up
3. Girls Don't Lie
4. Play With Boys
5. Let Your Heart Make Up Your Mind
6. Nightwalkin'
7. I Don't Know What Comes Over Me
8. Do You Dream About Me
9. Save A Little Love
10. Into The Night

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Iveys - Someday We'll Be Known (Demo Tape, 1968)

The Apple Records collection of rare Badfinger material I recently posted went over so big that I thought I'd put out this bootleg, which doesn't seem to be online anymore. It's a collection of pre-Badfinger demos from the days when they were calling themselves the Iveys.

There's almost nothing here that's mindblowing, but if you like this band it's interesting to hear what they were up to before they achieved recognition. The major standout is Pete Ham's "Man Without A Heart," a melancholy ballad with a haunting melody and lyrics that now come off as somewhat disturbing, considering what happened with Ham.

Other catchy tunes include "Turn On Your Lovin' Mood" and "The French Song (Sitting In A Taxi)" which are both by fired bassist Ron Griffiths. To my ears, these songs offer more evidence that Griffiths pop-rockers fit in better with the songs of Ham and Tom Evans than the more American-sounding numbers written by his replacement, Joey Molland. Perhaps if they'd kept Griffiths around their albums wouldn't have sounded as patchwork-ish, since Molland and Ham's songs often sat uncomfortably side-by-side, sounding like they were recorded by different bands.

Tom Evans' "The Leaves" seems like it had potential had it gotten beyond the basic demo/fragment stage. And is that a primitive drum machine I hear in the background on "The Leaves III?"

The concluding number, "For My Sympathy" -- also called "(Call On Me) For My Sympathy") -- was not originally part of this collection, but was tacked on by someone (not me). It's a pleasant enough Kinks-styled tune by Evans and Ham and is totally unrelated to the Joe Tansin song "Sympathy" from Badfinger's 1979 album Airwaves.

There was a longer version of this bootleg that concluded with mono mixes of Iveys songs that were released by Apple. But my version of this bootleg didn't come with them, probably because they eventually got released on various Apple reissue CDs and were removed from this set.
Related posts:
Apple Records Extra - Badfinger (Disc One, 2010)
Apple Records Extra - Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax (Disc Two, 2010)
The Beatles - Making of Across the Long and Winding Road - CD 1 (1968-70) 

Track list:
1. I Believe (Version 1)    
2. The French Song (On A Taxi)    
3. Harmonizing    
4. Spoken aka "I Hope You Win Something On Bingo..."    
5. Man Without A Heart    
6. The Girl Next Door In The Mini-Skirt    
7. Turn On Your Lovin' Mood    
8. It Takes So Long    
9. Unknown Instrumental    
10. Handsome Malcolm    
11. Hey Baby    
12. The Leaves I    
13. The Leaves II    
14. The Leaves III    
15. The Leaves IV    
16. The Leaves V    
17. The Leaves VI    
18. Mr. Strangeways    
19. I'll Kiss You Goodnight    
20. Sausage & Egg    
21. Handsome Malcolm    
22. Another Day    
23. I Believe (Version 2)    
24. Love Hurts    
25. For My Sympathy

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Apple Records Extra - Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax (Disc Two, 2010)

Here's the second disc of the double CD of unreleased and rare music that came as part of the 17-CD box set Fresh From Apple Records. The first one, which I posted about a few days ago, featured a treasure trove of rare Badfinger/Iveys material. This one showcases rarities from Mary Hopkin and the late Jackie Lomax. Hopkin was one of Paul McCartney's Apple signees, while Lomax was a friend of George Harrison's.

Hopkin scored a major hit with "Those Were The Days" (#2 in the U.S. in 1968), so she re-recorded the single in various languages for various foreign markets, much like the Fab Four did with "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Four remixes of those re-recordings are here, as are two other foreign versions of her songs and a non-LP B-Side, "Jefferson."

The Lomax material includes the outtake "Going Back To Liverpool," which sounds like it features George Harrison on backing vocals. There are also three mono mixes from his album Is This What You Want?, and the stereo mix of his non-LP "New Day" single from 1969.

I wonder if Kimberly Rew of Katrina and the Waves saw the title "Going Back To Liverpool" on a bootleg or in a book and decided to write his own song around it. Whatever the case, it's Rew's song with this title and not the aforementioned Lomax song, that became an alternative radio staple for the Bangles in 1984. The Rew-Lomax connection might be coincidence but, then, more than one composer has been known to see a song title and use it to write their own song.

Related posts:
Apple Records Extra - Badfinger (Disc One, 2010)
The Beatles - Making of Across the Long and Winding Road - CD 1 (1968-70)

Track list:
1. Mary Hopkin - Quelli Erano Giorni ('Those Were The Days' Sung In Italian / 2010 Remix)
2. Mary Hopkin - Que Tiempo Tan Feliz ('Those Were The Days' Sung In Spanish / 2010 Remix)
3. Mary Hopkin - An Jenam Tag ('Those Were The Days' Sung In German / 2010 Remix)
4. Mary Hopkin - Le Temps Des Fleurs ('Those Were The Days' Sung In French / 2010 Remix)
5. Mary Hopkin - Quand Je Te Regarde Vivre ('Let My Name Be Sorrow' Sung In French)
6. Mary Hopkin - Watashi Wo Kanashimi To Yonde ('Let My Name Be Sorrow' Sung In Japanese)
7. Mary Hopkin - Jefferson
8. Jackie Lomax - Going Back To Liverpool
9. Jackie Lomax - Sour Milk Sea (Mono Mix)
10. Jackie Lomax - The Eagle Laughs At You (Mono Mix)
11. Jackie Lomax - Little Yellow Pills (Mono Mix)
12. Jackie Lomax - New Day (Stereo Single Mix)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reader Request - Seeking Traffic 45 Mixes (1969-74)

I'm putting together a collection of mixes and edits that were specific to the 45 records of the rock band Traffic. But I'm missing three of these that were released as promo singles, so I'm putting the word out to see if anyone out there has them. In keeping with the spirit of Traffic, I was thinking maybe this could be a collaborative process.

This idea came about when I realized that most of Traffic's single mixes from 1969 onward hadn't been included as bonus tracks on their CD reissues. Granted, the group's first two albums did include single mixes as bonus tracks, but after that, most have gone missing.

Some of the unique mixes/edits that I own include the unique U.S. 45 stereo remix of "Empty Pages," the mono British single mixes of "Medicated Goo"/"Shanghai Noodle Factory," and the variations of "Walking In The Wind" (the mono edit and the instrumental B-Side). Beyond that, I also have about ten more oddities I plan to include in this collection. Some are from 45s; others are oddities from out-of-print CDs.

Now here's where you come in. Below are listings for the three items I don't have. All are promo 45s that have a mono mix on one side and a stereo mix on the other. I assume someone out there has these. The missing 45s are:

  • "Glad (Part 1)." United Artists 50883 from 1971. Besides having a mono mix, this single also edits down the song from 7 minutes to 2:40. As far as I can tell, there was no regular (i.e. non-promo) release with "Glad (Part 2)" on the flip side so all that exists is the mono/stereo promo single. But I could be wrong. 
  • "Shoot Out At the Fantasy Factory." Island Records ILPS-9224 from 1973. Besides having a mono mix, this single has a 5:10 edit of the song, which runs around 6 minutes on the album.
  • "When the Eagle Flies." Asylum Records ‎E-45102-A from 1974. This is the only one of these three singles that doesn't edit down the song. But it still has a mono mix.

The last two seem especially rare. But I assume there are Traffic collectors and/or diehard Steve Winwood fans who have them. After all, there were dedicated Debbie Gibson collectors who contributed to the rarities sets I put together of her music. So it stands to reason that there would be Winwood diehards who read this blog, since he's been more successful for a much longer period of time.

If you send in a WAV file in relatively good condition, I can clean it up with the audio programs I have. I'm especially interested to find out what they did with the edit of the instrumental "Glad," which I hear used to be used as background music for weather reports on some AM radio stations in the '70s.

For those who bothered to read this to the end (or peruse this quirky post at all), there's a Winwood-related gift below.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Apple Records Extra - Badfinger (Disc One, 2010)

This is the first disc of the double CD of unreleased and rare music that came as part of the 17-CD box set Fresh From Apple Records. The rest of the set was made up of reissues of vintage Apple titles by Badfinger, Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Billy Preston, and others. Those albums are all relatively easy to find, but this because it only came with the box set. For Badfinger fans, its essential listening because of the amount of rare material on it.

I'm going to go on the assumption that anyone who reads this blog already knows who Badfinger is and also knows their tragic, depressing story. So I'm not going to repeat it here. What I will say is that the group had a pretty wide stylistic range as songwriters considering they're usually lumped in with the '70s power pop crowd.

Their early music as the Iveys is pretty credible popsike, while their later material is the stuff of classic songwriting, especially the oft-covered "Without You," which was penned by Pete Ham and Tom Evans. It's sadly ironic that this song would become a hit multiple times over after both Ham and Evans committed suicide.

This set contains twenty rarities. Most of them were unreleased on CD before and what's what is connoted by an asterisk (or two), which you can see below. The liner notes are minimal, so if you want more track details, go here. Titles that don't have asterisks came out on on the first CD reissues of Badfinger's albums which were released in the 1990s and have different bonus tracks than the ones that were released as part of this box set in 2010. Got that?

I'll be presenting the second disc of this set in a few days. But first I'm going to put out a few requests for the readers of this blog. I'll do this in the next post or two, and hopefully, everyone will be as helpful as they were when I raised questions about a Beatles' recording session date in my post about the song "Across the Universe."

Track list:
1. Dear Angie (Mono Mix)**
2. Think About The Good Times (Mono Mix)*
3. No Escaping Your Love (Mono Mix)**
4. Arthur (2010 Stereo Remix)*
5. Storm In A Teacup (Mono Mix)**
6. Yesterday Ain’t Coming Back (Mono Mix)*
7. Love Me Do (Instrumental Version)*
8. Get Down (Previously Unreleased Version)*
9. Money
10. Flying
11. Perfection
12. Suitcase (Censored Lyric Version)
13. Sweet Tuesday Morning*
14. Mean Mean Jemima
15. Loving You
16. Get Away (Previously Unreleased Version)*
17. When I Say (Previously Unreleased Version)*
18. The Winner (Previously Unreleased Version)*
19. I Can Love You (Previously Unreleased Version)*
20. Piano Red (Previously Unreleased Version)*

Tracks 1-6 by the Iveys
* Previously unreleased
** First time on CD/Digital release

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Keisha Jackson - Keisha Jackson (1989)

You want obscure? The debut album by Keisha Jackson is so forgotten that when I went to rip the CD, all the titles came up wrong. What came up were the titles of her second (and last) album. But this is her first. It's not in print and not available for streaming, but you can find used copies pretty cheaply. I found this for a buck at the local Salvation Army store.

Keisha Jackson is the daughter of Millie Jackson, a pioneering R&B/soul singer, who brought a sexual frankness to her music that was way ahead of its time. From what I can tell, this was the bigger of her two releases because it contained song that got to #39 on the R&B chart, "Hot Little Love Affair." Jackson never crossed over to the pop charts and made the Hot 100.

The main reason for that might be that the field was so crowded then with female artists doing variations of what Janet Jackson had done in 1986. This album falls squarely into that category, with arrangements and songs that sound like they take their cue from the Control album. What's missing, though, are the pop hooks from that album. The songs here are nice and they're well-sung. But they're not memorable enough to have been hits, at least not in 1989.

Still, if you like the sound of late '80s music, this album should be a treasure trove of nostalgia, since it's filled with synth and vocal samples, that classic Yamaha DX7 keyboard sound, plus old-style drum machines (I think I hear the Alesis HR-16). Heck, even the lyrical themes are straight out of the past. "Love Triangle?" How '80s! These days the song would probably extol the virtues of "polyamory."

Related posts:
Voggue - Voggue (1981)
The Superiors - Perfect Timing (1990)

Track list:
1. Hot Little Love Affair
2. Do Me Right
3. He's So Jealous
4. U Needa Lover
5. U.B.U.
6. Over You
7. Love Triangle
8. After All This Time
9. Lookin' Out For #1
10. Hit Me (With Your Love)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Opal - Early Recordings Vol. 2 (1984-87)

This is a collection of obscure studio and live recordings by Opal, the Los Angeles-based neo-psychedelic band that was part of the Paisley Underground scene of the 1980s. It's on YouTube for streaming, but this is a high quality version with a bonus track.

Opal was primarily comprised of David Roback on guitar and vocals Kendra Smith on bass and lead vocals, but also included Suki Ewers on keyboards and Keith Mitchell on drums. Both Roback and Smith had deep roots in the Paisley Underground scene. He'd come from the Rain Parade, and she was from Dream Syndicate.

Before Opal, the pair put together the psychedelic rock band Clay Allison around 1983/1984. Clay Allison released one single, "Fell From the Sun"/"All Souls," but when the group changed its name to Opal, that was re-released under the new name. Roback and Smith also worked together on the 1984 collection of cover songs Rainy Day, where they collaborated on haunting, minimalist versions of Big Star's "Holocaust," the Buffalo Springfield's "Flying On the Ground Is Wrong," and the Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror."

The studio sound they developed there -- Roback's strummed acoustic guitars and Smith's understated vocals -- formed the basis of what they would do in Opal. It was also a precursor to what Roback would later do in Mazzy Star with Hope Sandoval.

It seems hilariously appropriate that Opal never actually released a full album in its day. The group's first LP, Happy Nightmare Baby, came out in late 1987, just after Kendra Smith abruptly quit the group in the middle of a tour. Less than ten years later, Smith would disappear from the music scene (and apparently society itself) entirely, going away off to live in the wilderness.

Sandoval replaced Smith in Opal, and then the group eventually changed its name to Mazzy Star. They gained popularity as the 1990s wore on, and had considerable success with the chart hit "Fade Into You" as well as several albums.

But Opal wouldn't go away, it seems. In 1989, an collection called Early Recordings came out and brought together non-LP B-Sides, demos, and outtakes. In my estimation, it's the swirling, ethereal sound of these recordings that defined the Opal aesthetic, and that influenced a generation of future dream pop groups like Beach House and Azure Ray. Happy Nightmare Baby was a good record, but Early Recordings was something else entirely. Roback's spacey soundscapes and Smith's evocative vocals were a unique blend that added up to much more than the sum of their parts.

So it stood to reason that fans would want more.  Around 2006, a fan put a second set of early recordings together as a follow-up. It's not a legitimate release and as such doesn't have songwriting credits for most of the tracks. But it does do an excellent job of rounding up obscure recordings by this band.

Where are the songs on here from? Some of them might have been slated for a second Opal album that never materialized. The ones that feature singing by Roback instead of Kendra Smith are probably demos. There are also two live cuts here by Clay Allison. Here is some info on some of  the tracks:

"Sisters of Mercy" is a cover of a Leonard Cohen song that was originally included on his 1967 debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. "Lisa's Funeral" is taken from a live Clay Allison performance at the King Kong Club in Maryland, May 14, 1984.

"Freight Train" is a cut that appeared on Opal's "Fell From the Sun" EP that was released in the UK on Rough Trade in '85. Some copies of Early Recordings include this song as a bonus track, so I assume it was put on Early Recordings Vol. 2 to make sure everyone had it. Unfortunately, it was mastered on Vol. 2 with way too much compression and treble and sounded distorted. So I substituted the clean version from Early Recordings here and it now sounds the way it did on the original EP. It's a cover of an old song by folk-blues singer Elizabeth Cotten that's been done by quite a few performers, but rarely with the wistful pathos Roback and Smith bring to it.

"Little Bit of Rain" is a recording of a popular Fred Neil song that's also been covered by Linda Ronstadt, Karen Dalton, and Martina McBride. Neil included it on his 1965 debut album Bleecker & MacDougal.

"Cherry Jam" is probably a live performance by Clay Allison since it appears on several live bootlegs of theirs (such as the aforementioned King Kong Club show). It interpolates a variation of the riff of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine" starting at the 5:16 mark. The closing track,"Indian Summer," is Opal's loose take on the Doors song from their 1970 effort, Morrison Hotel. It's from a promo 45 released in 1987 -- a split single with Slovenly's "Enormous Critics" on the flip side.

Finally "Hear The Wind Blow" was yet another song that was included as a bonus cut on some versions of Early Recordings but left off others. Since not everyone has it, I tagged it onto the end of this set. It's a haunting Roback-Smith tune that's as indicative of the singular sound of Opal as anything they recorded.

And that's all we know. Although not as strong a collection as Early Recordings, there's enough good material here to make the case that Opal definitely would have had an impressive career had Roback and Smith stayed together.

Related posts:
The Eyes of Mind - Tales of the Turquoise Umbrella (1984)
The Things - Coloured Heaven (1984) 
The Wombats - Zontar Must Die! (1984)
The Crawling Walls - Inner Limits (1985)
Beach House - Rarities (2008-2010)

Track list:
1. My Canyon Memory
2. Sisters Of Mercy
3. Sailing Boats
4. Vespers
5. Lisa's Funeral
6. This Town
7. Freight Train
8. Wintertime
9. Little Bit Of Rain
10. What You've Done
11. Cherry Jam
12. Indian Summer
13. Hear The Wind Blow (Bonus Track)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fun Fun - Have Fun! (1984)

Here's an '80s obscurity for you. Call it synthpop. Or electronic disco. Whatever you want to call it, this is the type of music that's full of those once-"futuristic" synthesizer sounds that now come off as innocently nostalgic.

Fun Fun was a female duo based in Italy that achieved minimal success in the U.S. and had some success with club records in Europe. How much success is hard to say, though. Because they used a very common word in their name twice, it's difficult to find info on them online. What mostly comes up is the Beach Boys songs "Fun Fun Fun." But I guess you can't blame a group for not choosing a Google-friendly name in 1984. Even "futuristic" synth acts couldn't see into the future.

Fun Fun's blend of uniformly-sung female vocals and dance rhythms is similar to what Bananarama was doing around this time, when they first hooked up with the Jolley & Swain production team. The difference is that there aren't any hooks here on the level of those in "Cruel Summer" or "Robert DeNiro's Waiting."

Still, a lot of the numbers are pretty good if you go for '80s dance music, especially the boppy opener, "Give Me Your Love." That, "Color My Love" and a remix of "Sing Another Song" were the singles pulled from this album. This group had a second album, Double Fun, that came out in 1987 that I've never even seen. This one at least got a brief CD release overseas and came out on the dance music label TSR Records in the states. Their second album can only be found on LP and came out on a tiny U.S. label called ZYX Records.

Related posts:
Madonna - The Madonna Anthology (1979-81)
Madonna - The Madonna Anthology 2 (1981-85)
Growing Up Different - A+B=C (1985)
Red Tape - Red Tape (1986)
Alisha - Bounce Back (1990)
Ms. Adventures - Ms. Adventures (1990)

Track list:
1. Give Me Your Love
2. Sing Another Song
3. Tell Me
4. Living in Japan
5. Color My Love
6. Give a Little Love Again
7. Happy Station (Scratch Version)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Various Artists - Move On

Same drill as with all the other Buffalo Bop sets I've put out. This collection of vintage '50s rockabilly (which came out in the year 2000) can likely be found elsewhere. But not @320 with high-quality scans.

Related posts:
Various Artists - Hot Rod Hop
Various Artists - Date Bait
Various Artists - Rockabilly Xmas
Various Artists - High School Caesar
Various Artists - Teenage Favorites

Track list:
1. Dudley Callicutt - Get Ready Baby
2. Pat Richmond - Don't Stop the Rockin'
3. Bobby Lee - Miss Mary
4. Thunderwords - Misery
5. Perry LaPointe - B.O. Rock
6. Wayne Haas - Betty Ann
7. The Storms (Carl Groves) - Canteen Baby
8. Terry & the Pirates - What Did He Say
9. Don Ellis - Come on in World
10. Bristow Hopper - Hate That Bear
11. Leslie Sneed - Oh Baby Doll
12. Bruce Channel - Now Or Never
13. Bob Calloway Wake Up, Little Boy Blue
14. Dean Wolfe - Twistin Jane
15. Billy and Mickey - Rock & Roll Baby
16. Melvin Blake - Move On
17. Cookie and Charlie - Bye-Bye Baby (Don't Cry)
18. Terry & the Pirates - Talk About the Girl
19. Tommy Palm - Black Knee Socks
20. Curtis "Sauce" Wilson - Teenage Party Line
21. Charles Walton - Teen Age Blues
22. Rex Qual - Going Rocking Tonight
23. Don Hager - Liza Jane Bop
24. Ray Gerdsen - Wanna Rock Rock Roll (With You Honey)
25. Wayne Haas - Leave Linda Alone
26. Billy and Mickey - Uh-Mmm
27. Jack Roubik - Live It Up
28. Tommy La Beff - Tore Up
29. Jack Roubik - I Got A Baby
30. Billy Lehman & the Rock-Its - Lollie

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Party - Free (1992)

In my last post about actor-singer Paul Petersen, I neglected to mention he was once a regular on the TV show "The Mickey Mouse Club" way back in the 1950s. By contrast, The Party was an early '90s vocal group made up of members of "The New Mickey Mouse Club" in that era.

I'm less concerned with the differences between these two recording acts per se than in what the differences in their music says about our society, its arts, and its technological advancements (or lack thereof).

Consider: Petersen's music came out in the early 1960s. The Party's CDs were released in the early 1990s. That's about a 30 year gap. And yet the sound of Petersen and the Party's music couldn't be more different -- in lyrical content, in musicality, and in the technological sound of their records.

It's now been 25 years since this CD by the Party came out in 1992. That's almost as long as the time between Petersen's music and their own. But if you turn on the radio now, music doesn't sound all that different than the way it sounded a quarter century ago on the Party CD -- not in lyrical content, musicality, or in the technological sound of the recordings.

And, so, I throw out this question to y'all: What the does this mean? Does it mean we've stagnated in some ways? Does it mean our culture started to "slow down" some time in the 1990s? Or does it mean, perhaps, that stagnation is the norm and the late twentieth century brought about exponential change in technology and human relations that had no equal in history and will not be seen again.

It was a long journey from Petersen's "She Can't Find Her Keys" to the Party's "Free," which wast the single from his album. Somehow it seems like less of a journey between "Free" and something like Drake's "One Dance," which was one of the biggest hits of 2016. Maybe to a 16-year-old these tracks would sound wildly different, but I still doubt they'd sound like the difference between Petersen and the Party.

The big things that seems to have changed is the way we listen to music. A quarter century ago, this blog in its current form would not have been possible. Nor were MP3s in existence or the sharing of them. And you couldn't order CDs from Amazon and get them in a day. So I guess technology has, in fact, advanced, but just not in the area of how music itself sounds.

That still doesn't explain how or why the lyrical thrust of music has barely been altered from the era when I was a teenager but had completely changed in two decades after my folks were teens. But we can only ask so many questions in one blog post.

Speaking of which, this is the Party's third album (out of four) and it's out of print and unavailable for streaming. In my opinion, it's their weakest effort, but they could sing so it still sounds pretty good if you like this sort of thing. I already posted their second CD, which is now very hard to find. If I get in the mood to really annoy people, I may just post some of their "maxi-singles," where you get the same song remixed a half-dozen times.

Maybe waxing philosophical in a blog about a teenybopper act isn't the best way to put forth ideas about technology, sociology, and music. Then again, this is the way I like things to be. I'm as likely to find nuggets of philosophical truth in early Beach Boys throwaways as I am to discover them in Great Works of Literature, so this fits in with the way I view the world anyway.

More dope early '90s teen pop sounds:
Alisha - Bounce Back (1990)
Chris Cuevas - Somehow, Someway (1991)
Debbie Gibson - Rarities (1990-1999)
Hi-Five - Hi-Five (1990) 
Homework - Homework (1990) 
Ms. Adventures - Ms. Adventures (1990)
The Party - In the Meantime, In Between Time (1991)
The Superiors - Perfect Timing (1990)
Rick Wes - North, South, East, Wes (1990)
Rick Wes - Possession (1991)

Track list:
1. Free
2. Change On Me
3. All About Love
4. I Want You
5. In My Life
6. Where Is My Romeo
7. Frontin'
8. Let's Get Right Down To It
9. At All Times
10. It's Out Of My Heart
11. Needin' Someone
12. Independent Woman
13. Cappuccino & Bacon
14. Life Ain't Nothin' But A Party
15. Quien Es Tu Romeo

Monday, January 2, 2017

Paul Petersen - Hits & Rarities (1961-1968)

I hate to post something and wax negative about it, but this semi-bootleg collection is now selling for over $40 used and it's not exactly worth that -- to put it mildly. It's called Hits & Rarities, but the hits are redundant since it contains every song on the Best of Paul Petersen CD, which anyone who buys this would already have. And as for rarities, it inexplicably leaves off one very conspicuous B-Side, so I added that as a bonus track (keep reading for details).

On top of all that, it also repeats several songs that can easily be found on the 1963 album Teenage Triangle and its 1964 sequel More Teenage Triangle. These are multi-artist albums put out by Petersen's label Colpix that also feature his "Donna Reed Show" co-star Shelley Fabares and singer-actor James Darren. Again, any fan of Petersen would already have these discs as well because they were issued together on one CD about a decade ago.

To backtrack for people unfamiliar with Paul Petersen: He was a child actor who played the younger brother Jeff Stone on "The Donna Reed Show" (1959-1966). When he and co-star Shelley Fabares were both in their teens, the show took a page from the "Ozzie and Harriet" playbook and had the two young actors cut pop songs. Fabares had the biggest hit with "Johnny Angel" (#1 in 1962), but Petersen actually charted more Hot 100 hits than her -- he had six, while she had four.

Petersen wasn't a bad singer either, and his whispery tenor could be effective if given the right setting. Unfortunately, the arrangements he got were are usually very "Hollywood-ish" and overwrought. Most of the problems had to do with the ridiculous-sounding female backing vocals that for some reason were a trademark of his records. The high-pitched chirping makes otherwise good singles like "Girls in the Summertime" and "Lollipops and Roses" seem unintentionally comic.

By the 1980s, Petersen had become famous for an entirely different reason. He founded a non-profit support and assistance program for former child actors called A Minor Consideration. For several years, Petersen was regularly seen on TV talk shows talking about the why child actors often aren't able to navigate the transition to adulthood.

While this was happening, the children's-oriented cable television network Nickelodeon started running "The Donna Reed Show" as part of their adult-oriented evening program block called Nick At Nite. They ran it for several years in the late 1980s in prime time and because of this, the show gained a new generation of fans.

This is what got me interested in the music of Petersen (and Fabares as well). There was no Internet back then, so I spent many hours as a college kid looking up info in old books and visiting oldies record stores. Heck, someone had to research this stuff back then and I elected myself to do it.

Petersen cut two solo albums and eleven singles for Colpix and two singles for Motown. Several single sides never made it onto albums and he also left a few things in the Colpix vaults. Those are what make up the handful of songs that count as rarities here -- and those are the only reason a Petersen fan would want this collection. Since most people reading are familiar with the hits, here's a rundown of the obscurities:

  • "Be Everything To Anyone You Love" is a Doc Pomus song that was the non-LP B-Side to "Keep Your Love Locked (Deep In Your Heart)," an early Gerry Goffin-Carole King tune Petersen took to #55 in the spring of 1962. The A-Side, but not the B-Side, was included on Petersen's debut album Lollipops and Roses.

  • "I Wanna Be Free" was never released officially, but is from the "Donna Reed Show" episode "Slipped Disc," where Petersen's character Jeff Stone gets a pop "combo" together and they cut a record. This song was co-written by future Monkees tunesmith Tommy Boyce, who would re-use the title and one of the lines in a much more successful song he'd co-write with Bobby Hart for the Pre-Fab Four a year later.

  • "Rosie" is not quite a rarity, but we'll count it anyway. It's from a cash-in "soundtrack" to "Bye Bye Birdie" put out by Colpix Records to capitalize on the movie's popularity. Instead of featuring the actual actors from the film, this record featured Colpix's teen stars of the day, Petersen, Fabares, and James Darren. All the other Petersen songs except this one made it onto the Teen Triangle albums. This song was, in fact, rare, until the Colpix Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack made it onto CD as part of a James Darren two-fer ten years ago. But since that release could have been missed by Petersen fans, I'm calling this one rare.

  • "Kids (Folks)" is also from the Colpix Bye Bye Birdie album. It also made it onto the second Teenage Triangle LP and can also be found on Fabares' greatest hits CD. However, the versions on those discs are all in stereo and since the one on here is mono, this one gets by as a rarity on a technicality.

  • "Very Unlikely" is the Non-LP B-Side of Petersen's debut 45 "She Can't Find Her Keys," which hit #19 in 1962. Once again, this is a stray tune that didn't make it onto Petersen first LP Lollipops and Roses. Nor was it ever compiled before as far as I know.

  • "Two Little Boys" is a mystery track. It's an unreleased version of a turn-of-the-century war song that would be revived by Rolf Harris a few years later. This duet sounds like it was sourced from a scratchy acetate. My copy of the CD didn't come with liner notes, so I have no idea what this was intended for or who the woman is who is singing along with Petersen.

  • "Quarantine" and "Quarantine Insert" are recordings of a song that was intended for a "Donna Reed Show" episode but apparently went unused.

  • Finally, "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" is my inclusion. It's a non-LP B-Side that definitely should have been included on this CD. The song was the flip side of his 1963 single "The Cheer Leader," which got to #78 and was his last chart entry. ("Cheerleader" is written as two words on the record label, hence my spelling.) The song, of course, is the Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Burke composition that gave Frank Sinatra his first hit with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Petersen rocks it up here, relatively speaking. But again, the female backing singers undercut the mood and make the record hopelessly dated.

Track list:
1. She Can't Find Her Keys
2. Keep Your Love Locked (Deep In Your Heart)
3. Lollipops & Roses
4. My Dad
5. Amy
6. Girls In the Summertime
7. The Cheer Leader
8. Poorest Boy In Town
9. She Rides With Me
10. Where is She?
11. Hey There Beautiful
12. Little Dreamer
13. Happy
14. The Ring
15. You Don't Need Money
16. Little Boy Sad
17. Be Everything To Anyone You Love
18. Mama Your Little Boy Fell
19. I Wanna Be Free (TV)
20. Rosie (From "Bye Bye Birdie")
21. One Girl (From "Bye Bye Birdie")
22. Kids (Folks) (From "Bye Bye Birdie")
23. Very Unlikely
24. What Did They Do Before Rock 'N' Roll?
25. Don't Let That Happen To Us
26. Chained
27. A Little Bit For Sandy
28. Your Love's Got Me Burning Alive
29. Two Little Boys
30. Quarantine
31. Quarantine (TV Insert)
32. Polka Dots and Moonbeams (Bonus Track)