Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lokomotiv GT

Artist: Lokomotiv GT
LP: 7" single
Song: "Higher and Higher"
[ listen ]

Supreme Echo, a tiny little place next to a super depressing pawn shop at the corner of Government and Bay Streets, was the last and final record store I visited in Victoria. It turned out to be the best one of all! (It was actually the second record store I visited too, but after traipsing across town in the pouring rain I found the place locked! I returned the next day via taxi after calling to make sure they were open.)

I realized pretty early on in my Victorian excursion that my vinyl-hunting expectations had been too high. I'd figured, "Canada's a foreign country! Exotic!" Plus, "I once found a Boney M single at Victoria's Salvation Army thrift store. The sky's the limit!" But it turns out the city's shops are primarily peddling pasty-people pop records that you could find in Everett or Wenatchee, USA. 

But my luck finally turned around at Supreme Echo. Along with pasty-people pop and really friendly service, the place offers a treasure trove of Eastern European rock records from the late-'60s and early '70s, with an emphasis on Poland! One of the neat things I found there is this 1975 Polish pressing of two live tracks by Hungarian supergroup Lokomotiv GT. (They're still pasty, but I bet they don't have this in Wenatchee.) You can read all about Lokomotiv GT on Wikipdia here, where they discuss various lineup changes over the years and outline Lokomotiv GT's connections to other Hungarian rock groups of the '70s like Omega and Skorpio.

[ Supreme Echo — Victoria, BC, Canada ]

Monday, January 15, 2018

Calum Kennedy

Artist: Calum Kennedy
LP: Songs of Scotland and Ireland
Song: "The Ould Lammas Fair"
[ listen ]
Song: "Lovely Stornoway"
[ listen ]

Scottish singer Calum Kennedy once embarked on a disastrous tour of the Scottish Highlands in an old bus, with the entire enterprise documented on video by the BBC. Kennedy reportedly wasn't happy with the program, but it has since developed cult status. I found this 1959 recording (and not much else, other than a James Last Christmas LP) at Lyle's Place in Victoria, Canada. I've provided a sample of one of Calum's Irish songs ("The Ould Lammas Fair") as well as one from Scotland ("Lovely Stornoway," which is also a really good band.) You can read about Mr. Kennedy on Wikipedia here

[ Calum Kennedy: June 2, 1928 — April 15, 2006 ]

[ Lyle's Place — Victoria, BC, Canada ]

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Artist: Smokie
LP: Bright Lights & Back Alleys
Song: "Needles and Pins"
[ listen ]

Essence, The Four Corners, The Yen, Kindness, The Sphynx and The Elizabethans were all names this British rock band performed under before finally settling on Smokey in 1974. (They switched it to Smokie in 1975 after being threatened with legal action by Smokey Robinson.) The group had a few hit singles in several European countries—they were particularly popular in Scandinavia for some reason. Yet major success in the USA evaded Smokie; "Needles and Pins" was their second most popular hit on these shores, peaking only at #68. I found this copy of their 1977 "Bright Lights & Back Alleys" LP at Vinyl Envy in Victoria while taking refuge from an end-of-year rainstorm.

[ Vinyl Envy — Victoria, BC, Canada ]

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ruby and the Romantics

Artist: Ruby and the Romantics
LP: Ruby and the Romantics
Song: "I Cry Alone"
[ listen ]

The next record store I went to in Victoria was Cavity (aka. Cavity Curiosity Shop), which is right around the corner from Fan Tan Alley on Pandora Avenue. Another vinyl shop called Talk's Cheap was listed as having the same address as Cavity, but the guy at the Cavity counter said the owner of Talk's Cheap now sells music out of his house, usually only by appointment. The Cavity was filled with lots of neat old vinyl, comic books, posters, crystal balls and other curiosities. I picked up a handful of records; my favorite is this Ruby and the Romantics LP from 1967. 

Singer Ruby Nash and her fellow Romantics, who all went to school together in Akron, Ohio, hit it off big when their debut single, "Our Day Will Come," went to #1 in 1963. Sadly, it was their only top ten hit; their singles stopped making it into the top 20, then eventually began peaking outside the top 40 before the group ultimately called it quits in 1971. Still, as you can see here, the group had a profound influence on lots of other musical artists of the '60s and '70s. Ruby and the Romantics were finally given their due when they were inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in the summer of 2013.

[ Cavity Curiosity Shop — Victoria, BC, Canada ]

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Breeders

Artist: The Breeders
LP: Mountain Battles
Song: "Walk It Off"
[ listen ]
Song: "Regalame Esta Noche"
[ listen ]

Happy New Year! I escaped America for a few days and zoomed up to Victoria, British Columbia on the Victoria Clipper for a bit of rest and relaxation. Plus records! The Turntable is a neat-looking little store situated in the famously quaint and narrow Fan Tan Alley, near the city's Chinatown neighborhood. Oh, did I say store? Record museum is what I actually meant, since the prices at The Turntable generally discourage purchasing by anyone who isn't a nutty collector or an unfortunate tourist who has absolutely no idea what they're doing when shopping for vinyl. Here are a few unfortunate examples: 
There were lots of good records at The Turntable, but they basically have an ongoing "buy-one-for-the-price-of-eight" sale and I just wasn't having it....well, not until I found The Breeders' "Mountain Battles" LP perched up on the wall display for $30. That, as a matter of fact, seemed reasonable.

For one thing, that's $30 Canadian, which equals about $25 US. For another thing, The Breeders are one of my favorite bands and you don't see this one around too often on vinyl. For yet one more thing, it features a song, "Regalame Esta Noche," sung entirely in Spanish! For a last and final thing, it was just about the only reasonably-priced LP in the store and I desperately wanted a souvenir from this place! You can read about "Mountain Battles" on Wikipedia here and go here to find a 2008 Pitchfork review that seems pretty spot-on to me.

[ The Breeders, circa 2008 ]

[ The Turntable — Victoria, BC, Canada ]

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Grant Advertising International Band of Bangkok

Artist: Grant Advertising International Band of Bangkok
LP: 7" single
Song: "Medly"
1. The Sound of Thailand
2. "Sawutdee Ka"
3. "We Three Kings"
4. Magic Beams
5. Our Thailand
6. Thai "Jingle Bells"
7. Grant Farewell
[ listen ]

Here's a 1965 Christmas oddity from Thailand I picked up at Beats & Bohos last Thursday night before meeting my friends for a Christmas noir theatrical production at the Greenlake Theater. This record was evidently once presented as a gift to a Dr. S. H. Work. We're having a very white Christmas here in Seattle, which means I'm stranded at home making butterscotch apple crisp that I'm not going to have to share with anyone. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Loretta Young

Artist: Loretta Young
LP: The Littlest Angel and Lullaby of Christmas
Song: "The Littlest Angel"
[ listen ]

Speaking of old-timey Christmases, here's one from the dusty, snow-crusted aisles of Christmas past. Though I enjoy the lilting voice of Oscar-winning actress Loretta Young (there are things to admire about Gregory Peck too, of course), I have to admit this record puts me straight to sleep—with visions of sugarplums and everything. I recently watched Loretta Young in a decent film noir from 1949 called THE ACCUSED and she's also great in COME TO THE STABLE and THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER, for which she got her Oscar. It's too bad she isn't better remembered nowadays. You can read all about here here.

[ Loretta Young: January 6, 1913 — August 12, 2000 ]

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Three Suns

Artist: The Three Suns
LP: The Sounds of Christmas
Song: "Jingle Bells"
[ listen ]
Song: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
[ listen ]
Song: "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"
[ listen ]

Not only does this 1957 Christmas album from The Three Suns have a terrific old-timey cover and contain lovely old-timey instrumental holiday music that fills the soul with cheer or whatever, but the liner notes contain a rundown on the history of a host of popular carols, both secular and spiritual alike! According to Wikipedia, The Three Suns was First Lady Mamie Eisenhower's favorite band.

[ The Three Suns ]

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Jerry Wallace

Artist: Jerry Wallace
LP: Comin' Home to You
Song: "Comin' Home to You"
[ listen ]

I went to the thrift store on my way home from work on Friday to look for a white elephant gift for my office holiday party next week. I was excited to find a vintage Sears "Cooky" Press & Cake Decorator set with all the pieces intact!

I just hope nobody's mad if this is what they end up with for their gift. If they are, I guess I'll steal it away from them and decorate my own cookies and cake. I also found this Jerry Wallace LP for .99¢ in the dusty thrift store bins. He evidently started out sorta' rockabilly in the 1950s, but mellowed out by the 1960s and '70s when he scored a number of country hits. It's always exciting to discover a new artist and a new hairdo idea at the same time...and at such a bargain price!

[ Jerry Wallace: December 15, 1928 — May 5, 2008 ]