Monday, July 28, 2014

The Hobbits

Artist: The Hobbits
LP: Men and Doors—The Hobbits Communicate
Song: "Men and Doors"
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Song: "The Journey"
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Song: "Feeling"
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My friend Chris and I went on a little road trip getaway to the Olympic Peninsula last weekend. We visited the beautiful and fog-shrouded Olympic Mountains, stopped in quaint little towns like Port Gamble, Port Angeles, Sequim, and Port Townsend, and in the Port of Townsend I even found a nice little record store! Mixed in with a few other shops in a subterranean stone passageway, Quimper Sound has been supplying the peninsula with music since 1974. One of the best things I found there is this highly dramatic psychedelic pop record made by The Hobbits in 1968. It's not easy to find online photos of the band since annoying stuff like this keeps popping up. Fortunately, there's a photo of the group on the back of the LP, along with lots of other stuff that I've included below. You can read more about Jimmy Curtiss and The Hobbits on the allmusic website here.

 [ The Hobbits ]

 [ Quimper Sound — Port Townsend, Washington ]

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jackie Mittoo

Artist: Jackie Mittoo
LP: Let's Put It All Together
Song: "Feel Like Makin' Love"
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Song: "Frangipani"
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The last and final record store I went to on my road trip through Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana was Domino Sound Record Shack in New Orleans—off the beaten path and away from the touristy parts of town. Like most other record shops I visited in the South, this was one of the very best. I picked up so many records at Domino Sound, they had to put them in a cardboard box for me to carry them away. Though it was hard for me to choose which one record to post, I chose this 1975 Jackie Mittoo LP for two reasons: #1.) I've been working on a large jigsaw puzzle at work with my friend Beatrice, who sits at the adjoining desk. I made some exciting progress on Friday since work was slow, and this morning I awoke from a dream in which I was finding and correctly placing tiny pieces into the big jigsaw picture. So with its puzzle-themed cover, Mittoo's LP seemed a perfect fit. #2.) I really like it. Reggae isn't my favorite genre, but when it features solo electric organ it's definitely my cup of tea.

Born in Brown's Town, Jamaica in 1948, Jackie Mittoo's grandmother began teaching him to play the piano when he was just four years old. He was a member of The Skatalites in the 1960s and then emigrated to Toronto, Canada at the end of that decade. He continued to make music and played in lounges in Toronto and, though perhaps not as well known as the only Jamaican reggae musician anyone outside of Jamaica has ever heard of, Jackie Mittoo worked with some of the best in the business until his death from cancer at age 42. By then Mittoo had become known as a master of his craft. You can read about Jackie Mittoo on Wikipedia here and go here to see his complete discography—with photos!

[ Jackie Mittoo: March 3, 1948 — December 16, 1990 ]

[ Domino Sound Record Shack — New Orleans, Louisiana ]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Connie Francis & Hank Williams, Jr.

Artist: Connie Francis & Hank Williams, Jr.
LP: Connie Francis & Hank Williams, Jr. Sing Great Country Favorites
Song: "Wabash Cannonball"
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Before stumbling upon this wonderful 1964 duet LP filled with country standards at a cute little walk-in closet of a store called Skully'z Recordz in the French Quarter of New Orleans, I had no idea that Connie and Hank, Jr. had made a record together—and they've been out driving together too! Like peanut-butter and chocolate, Hank and Connie make a surprisingly delicious combination that truly reflects today's spirit of musical pioneering. Go here to read all about Connie Francis, here to read about Hank Williams, Jr., and there's a bit of information about this record they made together here. Liner notes from the back of the LP are included below. 

 [ Connie Francis & Hank Williams, Jr. ]

[ Skully'z Recordz — New Orleans, Louisiana ]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

John Littleton

Artist: John Littleton w/ Chœurs du Noviciat de Concy-Yerres
LP: Amen — John Littleton Chante Odette Vercruysse 
Song: "Gethsemani"
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Song: "Petit David"
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After spending the night tent-camping in beautiful Shepard State Park just outside Gautier, Mississippi, I decided to stop for breakfast at the very first Waffle House I came to—which was about the 7 millionth one I'd seen on my trip.

It was better (yummier and more diner-like) than I thought it would be! Continuing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast on super-scenic Highway 90, I finally arrived back in New Orleans on the afternoon of April 13th, a Sunday. I'd booked a room at the charming Burgundy Bed & Breakfast, just a few blocks east of the historic French Quarter. If you're headed to New Orleans and looking for a nice quiet place to stay, I highly recommend the Burgundy. 

The French Quarter Festival was wrapping up its final day as I set out on foot to explore the city. There were throngs of tourists milling through the narrow boulevards, some stopping to listen and dance to street musicians, as well as to those scheduled to perform on stages throughout the neighborhood. On the eastern border of the French Quarter I came upon the Louisiana Music Factory, a bustling record and CD store where I found this terrific French-language gospel LP that features John Littleton performing songs and hymns by Odette Vercruysse. Born sometime in 1930 in Tallulah, Louisiana, John Littleton began singing in church at an early age. The U.S. Army later took him to Reims, France, where he reportedly fell in love, both with the land and with a lady. Littleton remained in Europe and continued singing, eventually becoming known as the "ambassador of the negro spiritual in France." The traditional Southern spiritual and the French chanson make a fascinating combination, as you can hear in the songs included above. John Littleton is backed on the record by the Chœurs de Noviciat de Concy-Yerres, as well as an orchestra directed by Francis Le Maguer. You can read more about John Littleton in French here and go here for his English-language obituary in The Independent.

[ John Littleton: 1930 — August 24, 1998 ]

[ Louisiana Music Factory — New Orleans, Louisiana ]

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Meditation Singers

Artist: The Meditation Singers
LP: Don't You Want To Go?
Song: "Don't You Want To Go?"
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Song: "Shelter Me"
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One of the oldest settlements in the South, Mobile is one of the places I was most excited to visit on my trip. Located on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, the city was founded as the capitol of the French colony of Louisiana in 1702, but was moved a ways downriver (due to regular flooding) to its present location in 1711. (The capitol of Louisiana was relocated to Biloxi in 1720.) I was only in Mobile for a single afternoon and evening, which wasn't nearly enough time. I would love to go back to check out some of its museums, its gay bars, and to take in a movie at The Crescent, Mobile's antique independent movie theater. 

One place I did manage to visit, as you've probably guessed, is the record store—Mobile Records. I only had about an hour or so before they closed, but I still found an armload of neat old LPs, including this 1966 release by The Meditation Singers. Formed in Detroit in 1947, the group initially included Della Reese, who left in 1953 to pursue a solo career, though her sister, Marie Waters, stayed with the group. Reese was replaced by Laura Lee, though she had left the group too to pursue a solo career by the time this "Don't You Want to Go?" LP was released. The front of the album features the 1966 lineup of members, all except co-lead singer Donna Hammons, who evidently had better things to do that day than to stand around posing for pictures. Anyway, I've included an older photo of The Meditation Singers below that does include Donna. She looks like such a nice woman. You can read more about The Meditation Singers on AllMusic here and go here to read all about Mobile, Alabama.

The Meditation Singers on YouTube:

[ The Meditation Singers ]
[ back: Verlene Rodgers, Earnestine Rundless, Marie Waters ]
[ front: Laura Lee, Donna Hammons ]

[ Mobile Records — Mobile, Alabama ]