Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bobby Bare, Norma Jean, Liz Anderson

Artist: Bobby Bare, Norma Jean, Liz Anderson
LP: The Game of Triangles
Song: "One Among the Three of Us"
[ listen ]

In this melancholy song about love triangles, Liz and Norma Jean both admit that they've had to take turns being "in the way" as far as their complicated romantic relationship with Bobby Bare is concerned. But in order to make things fair, I think there should be a verse where Bobby pipes in with, "and then tomorrow, I'll be the one who's in the way!" But alas, this was 1967... so the egocentric, male chauvinist Mr. Bare ends up getting 200% from his women, whereas Liz and Norma Jean have to make do with getting just 50% each from their man. But as country music fans like me know all too well, that's just "life as it really is." You can read about Bobby Bare here, Norma Jean here and Liz Anderson here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Los Hermanos Arriagada

Artist: Los Hermanos Arriagada
LP: El Trio del Exito
Song: "Dulce Monica"
[ listen ]

Omar, Mario, and Jorge are Los Hermanos Arriagada—who sorta' look like a trio of South American Humphrey Bogarts, if you ask me. Originally from a town called Cañete in southern Chile, The Arriagada Brothers' popularity spread throughout South and Central America as well as into Mexico and Spanish-speaking parts of the USA like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami. You can read about Los Hermanos Arriagada here in Spanish and in English here. The Spanish-language notes from the back of their LP are included below along with a photo of the Arriagadas where, admittedly, they don't look as much like Bogart as they do in the picture above.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pierre Tchana

Artist: Pierre Tchana
LP: Ambiance Africaine
Song: "Deborah"
[ listen ]

This various-artists album on France's Barclay label features a couple of cuts from Pierre Tchana; "Deborah" is my favorite of the two. I couldn't find much info about Pierre Tchana on the web, but on the World Music Central website I learned that he's originally from Cameroon, and I found a neat-looking Pierre Tchana record cover on the Jam Magica blog here. The French-language liner notes about Pierre Tchana are included below, along with a dynamite photo of the singer riding an old moped.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gus Vali and His Casbah Ensemble

Artist: Gus Vali and His Casbah Ensemble
LP: All Points East
Song: "Rampee"
[ listen ]
Song: "Misirlou"
[ listen ]

Gus Vali is of Greek heritage, but his terrific 1960 "All Points East" LP whisks listeners away on a musical safari that stops in several exciting locales in the mysteriously exotic near Orient—like Turkey! Track notes for "Rampee" (w/ vocals by Manny Ayvas) and Vali's ponderous interpretation of "Misirlou" are included below, along with LP liner notes by Val Arms in which he calls Gus "fresh." You can find more info on Gus Vali along with a list of his other records on the Hipwax website here.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Jimmie Spheeris

Artist: Jimmie Spheeris
LP: Isle of View
Song: "I Am the Mercury"
[ listen ]

Here's another cool record I found while digging through the used bins last week. Jimmie Spheeris was born in Phoenix City, Alabama at the end of 1949. His father Andrew, who operated a traveling carnival called "The Majick Empire," was murdered by a disgruntled carnival-goer, and after that his mother took the family out west to California. Jimmie later went to New York City to work on his music career, releasing four LPs throughout the 1970s. Sadly, Spheeris was killed by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle in the wee hours of Independence Day, 1984. He is survived by his sister Peneolope, who directed "Wayne's World," and cousin Costa-Gavras, who's made some great political thrillers like "Z" and "Missing." You can read more about the all-too-brief life and career of Jimmie Spheeris here, and visit the Jimmie Spheeris Memorial Gallery here, where you can watch a nice one-minute video tribute to the handsome and talented singer. ps: say this album's title really fast for a big surprise!

[ Jimmie Spheeris: November 5, 1949 — July 4, 1984 ]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bob Ruzicka

Artist: Bob Ruzicka
LP: What the World's All About
Song: "The Love Affair Is Over"
[ listen ]
Song: "Stoney Plain Daydreaming Man"
[ listen ]

Here's a neat record I picked up for a few bucks last week while killing time browsing through one of Seattle's used record stores. Bob "The Singing Dentist" Ruzicka had several hits on the Canadian country music charts in the '70s and early '80s before returning to his tooth-fixin' trade full-time. He reportedly now lives on Vancouver Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia, just north of Washington state! I've already got an appointment to have my teeth cleaned, and am hoping he'll sing me a song or two while he's examining my molars. You can read more about the life and career of Bob Ruzicka on Canada's Country Music News website here, and I've included a YouTube clip below, though I'm not entirely sure I've got the right Bob.

Bob Ruzicka on YouTube:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Black Russian

Artist: Black Russian
LP: Black Russian
Song: "Move Together"
[ listen ]
Song: "'Cause I Love You"
[ listen ]

While they're not exactly The Four Tops, believe it or not Black Russian is actually a Motown band! Serge, Natasha and Vladimir sneaked over to America from Russia in 1976 and endured several years of hard luck in New York before scraping together enough dough for a move to Los Angeles in 1978. Once in Hollywood, they signed a record deal, got hooked on Big Macs and bowling, and released this album on the Motown label in 1980. Unfortunately, most of their songs sound like numbers cut from the final version of a mediocre Broadway musical. Still, the group's got an interesting story, and these two songs aren't that bad. You can read about Black Russian in the LP's liner notes below (it's actually a sticker) and in this 1980 article from the archives of People magazine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cupcake 3: Dark & White Fudge

These little, light, and moist cupcakes, with a tempting fudgy chocolate topping, are perfect for serving at any time of day.

Makes 20 cupcakes
scant 1 cup water
6 tbsp butter
generous 3/8 cup superfine sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
scant 1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1¾ oz/50 g semisweet chocolate
4 tbsp water
3½ tbsp butter
1¾ oz/50 g white chocolate
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Chocolate curls
3½ oz/100 g semisweet chocolate
3½ oz/100 g white chocolate

* Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Put 20 paper baking cases in 2 muffin pans, or put 20 double-layer paper cases on two baking sheets.

* Put the water, butter, superfine sugar, and syrup in a pan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

* Meanwhile, put the milk and vanilla extract in a bowl. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. Sift the flour and cocoa into a separate bowl and add the syrup mixture. Stir in the milk and beat until smooth. Spoon the batter into the paper cases until they are two-thirds full.

* Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

* To make the topping, break the semisweet chocolate into a small heatproof bowl, add half the water and half the butter, and set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until melted. Stir until smooth and let stand over the water. Using another bowl, repeat with the white chocolate and remaining water and butter. Sift half the sugar into each bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Top the cupcakes up with the frostings. Let set. Serve decorated with chocolate curls made by sharing the chocolate with a potato peeler.
side one:
01. White Noise Maker - Frank Black
02. Lonely Feelin' - War

03. Montague Terrace (In Blue) - Scott Walker
04. Ghetto Letto - Barry White
05. Broke a Feeling - Sharks
06. Foxey Lady - Jimi Hendrix Experience

07. Fiddle Riddle - Frank Black
08. Let There Be Funk - Patrice Rushen
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Magdalena - Brandon Flowers
02. She's Everything to Me - Barry White

03. The Ballad of the Sad Young Men - Margaret Whiting
04. I Thought of You Today - Randy Brown
05. Speedy Marie - Frank Black
06. Shotgun - Billy Preston
07. Oh Willy - Nektar
08. Rum and Coke - Barry White
09. Segretamente - Quintetto Vesuvio

[ listen ]

Friday, September 17, 2010

The New Californians

Artist: The New Californians
LP: The New Californians
Song: "Runnin' Away"
[ listen ]
Song: "I"
[ listen ]

One of the annoying things about Christians is that they always seem to think that somewhere deep down, non-Christians secretly know that Christians have found The Truth. So then when you tell them you're not interested in religion and that you don't want to be like them, Christians just insist that you're "runnin' away" from something. (See first track above for more details.) Can't a person be not interested while just standing contentedly in place? In hopes of luring a more interesting variety of people to their church, The New Californians demonstrate that Christians can get funky too. (See second track posted above.) Fortunately, "I" can still tell the difference. A seaside group photo, music credits and headache-inducing liner notes are included below—along with New Californian close-ups, arranged according to how well each group member's early '70s fashion decisions hold up in the year 2010.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tim Spencer Family

Artist: Tim Spencer Family
LP: Circuit Ridin' Preacher
Song: "Circuit Ridin' Preacher"
[ listen ]
Song: "Down Deep In My Heart"
[ listen ]
Song: "These Old Bones"
[ listen ]

Featuring songs written by family patriarch Vernon "Tim" Spencer, who was one of the founding members of The Sons of the Pioneers, this 1958 religious LP is loaded with catchy ditties. The album's title cut includes a refrain used by my favorite circuit ridin' preacher, Harry Powell, played by Robert Mitchum in the 1955 film "The Night of the Hunter." I'm also posting "Down Deep In My Heart" because, along with a nice vocal melody, it features some terrific instrumental bits with guitar and organ. "These Old Bones" is thrown in too, since it's relentlessly catchy and I'm pretty sure it features Tim's son Harold "Hal" Spencer on lead vocals. With that nifty suit and crew-cut, he's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen on the back of a record. You can read all about Tim Spencer and his family here, where you'll also find lots of neat pictures and some sheet music for songs Tim wrote. The "Circuit Ridin' Preacher" LP liner notes and a Spencer family photo are included below.

 [ Tim Spencer Family: Harold—Velma—Tim—Loretta ]