Saturday, February 27, 2010

Toots & the Maytals

Artist: Toots & the Maytals
LP: Funky Kingston
Song: "Country Road"
[ listen ]

Have you ever wondered how it would sound if John Denver had been born in Kingston? Popular reggae group Toots & the Maytals hold the record for the most #1 hits in Jamaica! You can read about the group here.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Lynn Anderson

Artist: Lynn Anderson
LP: Ride, Ride, Ride
Song: "Ride, Ride, Ride"
[ listen ]

Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1947, Lynn Anderson learned how to be a country music superstar from her mother, Liz. After winning more than 700 trophies in horse shows when she was a tot (she's still an avid rider), Lynn went on to become one of country music's most popular singers of the 1970s—scoring several #1 hits and landing a bunch more in the top ten throughout the decade. Her 1970 country hit "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" was her most popular—even making its way onto the pop charts, where it climbed all the way to #3. In 2000, the governor of Tennessee officially named June 15th "Lynn Anderson Day," and in three of the state's counties (and one in Kentucky), October 3rd has been set aside as a special day to honor Lynn Anderson's hair. After hitting a rough patch in the mid-2000s (she was arrested for several DUIs and for shoplifting a Harry Potter DVD), Lynn seems to be back on track, spending the past several years performing and winning awards. You can read more about Lynn Anderson here, see her complete discography here, and visit her website here for news, music, videos, horse pictures and more! The notes and photos from the back of her 1967 debut album are included below.

 [ Ride... ]

[ Ride... ]

[ Ride. ] 


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thelma Houston

Artist: Thelma Houston
LP: The Devil In Me
Song: "I'm Here Again"
[ listen ]

Born in Leland, Mississippi in 1943, Thelma Houston is primarily known for her popular cover version of "Don't Leave Me This Way," which topped Billboard's Hot 100, R&B and Dance singles charts in 1976. "The Devil In Me" was Houston's follow-up record, and, though filled with the same energetic, danceable pizazz that gave her a hit the year before, it didn't bring her a similar success. The album's first single, "I'm Here Again" only reached #21 on Billboard's R&B singles charts, but just see if you can keep your body from dancin' to it! You can read all about the fabulous life and career of Thelma Houston here and find videos, pictures, new music samples and become Thelma Houston's friend on her MySpace page here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Hesitations

Artist: The Hesitations
LP: The New Born Free
Song: "Let's Groove"
[ listen ]

I spent nearly two hours last night rubbing and peeling to get the giant promo sticker off the lower third of the front of this LP cover (it hid the 3 guys in white, yellow and green shirts up to their eyelids) and I got a big blister on my thumb in the process. (I'm willing to suffer for my art.) Unfortunately, someone put a series of scratches across the first side of the record, which pretty much ruins four of the tracks. You can hear the scratches when "Let's Groove" begins, but they mostly disappear after about a minute since the song is near the end of the side. Formed in Cleveland in the mid '60s, The Hesitations split up temporarily after the accidental shooting death of lead singer George "King" Scott in February of 1968. You can read a little about the group here, and visit the website of the newly formed Hesitations here if you'd like to book them for a special event. Notes and photos from the back of "The New Born Free" LP, released in 1968, are included here:


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Cyrkle

Artist: The Cyrkle
LP: Red Rubber Ball
Song: "Red Rubber Ball"
[ listen ]
Song: "Cloudy"
[ listen ]

The morning sun was shining like a red rubber ball in Seattle yesterday, but when I looked outside today, I saw that the sky had turned...cloudy. Both of these songs were written by Paul Simon at around the time Cyrkle bassist Tom Dawes was on tour with Simon and Garfunkel. "Red Rubber Ball" became The Cyrkle's first hit syngle, making it all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1966. With their jaunty melodies and clean-cut good looks (see video clip below), The Cyrkle seemed destined for the big time after band manager Brian Epstein got them a gig playing 14 shows with The Beatles on their 1966 US tour. Sadly, the hits stopped for The Cyrkle just as suddenly as they had begun and the group called it quits at the end of 1967. (Tom Dawes did have one last hit of sorts with the "plop-plop-fizz-fizz" Alka-Seltzer jingle in the 1970s.) You can read more about The Cyrkle here and here and the cheeky "Red Rubber Ball" LP liner notes are included below.

The Cyrkle on YouTube:
[ "Red Rubber Ball" ]
from "Hullabaloo" TV show—April, 1966


Monday, February 22, 2010

Dennis Plies

Artist: Dennis Plies
LP: Marimba Melodies
Song: "Springs of Living Water"
[ listen ]

I was feeling a little under the weather this morning, but a sip from Dennis and Jan's bubbly "Springs of Living Water" quickly put things right again. Originally from California, Dennis Plies was a young man of only 15 when he and his marimba took first place at the local, state, regional and national musical contests sponsored by Youth For Christ. According to the internet, Plies now teaches at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon, where he's been since 1979—and according to Dennis himself, this record was released in 1963. Some friends and I took a weekend road trip getaway down to Portland just this past weekend; if I'd known Dennis was there, I'd have invited him to join us for some delicious chocolate cake at the Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse, where he could have signed his LP for me while we enjoyed the cafe's live classical piano music provided by a lovely Brazilian woman named Diana.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Tex Ritter

Artist: Tex Ritter
LP: Blood On the Saddle
Song: "The Face On the Barroom Floor"
[ listen ]
Song: "Rye Whiskey"
[ listen ]

Here are a couple songs from an album by Jack Tripper's father. Born in Texas in 1905, Woodward Maurice "Tex" Ritter is one of country music's earliest pioneers. He starred as a singing cowboy in a whole bunch of films in the 1930s and '40s and had a string of country hits throughout his long career. He performed his Oscar-winning theme song for the film HIGH NOON at the very first televised Oscar ceremony in 1953, and in 1964 Ritter became the 5th person to be inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame. You can read more about the life and career of Tex Ritter here and find a list of his film and TV appearances here. The liner notes and pictures from the back of the "Blood On the Saddle" LP (released in 1960) are included below.

[ Tex Ritter: January 12, 1905 — January 2, 1974 ]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bob Rosengarden and Phil Kraus

Artist: Bob Rosengarden and Phil Kraus
LP: Like—Bongos!
Song: "Caravan"
[ listen ]

I never promised you a Rosengarden, but here he is anyway, working with Phil Kraus on this terrific bongo-themed entry in Time's Series 2000 set. Working with Bob and Phil here are Al Caiola (guitar), Phil Bodner (lots of things), Nick Tagg (piano and organ) and Frank Carroll (bass) along with several percussionists you'll find listed in the notes below. You can read about Phil Kraus here, Bobby Rosengarden here, and specific song notes for all tracks on their album can be found below, in case anyone is tempted to purchase their own copy of this record here.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Modern English

Artist: Modern English
LP: 7" single
Song: "Gathering Dust"
[ listen ]

While working at Budget Tapes & Records in Yakima, Washington back in the 1980s, I started listening to bands on the British 4AD label—like Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Xmal Deutschland and Dead Can Dance. The music of 4AD had a strong influence on me then, and I began collecting everything on the label I could find. I still keep an eye out for rare 4AD stuff, and I finally came across this Modern English single from 1980 (the label's first year in business) while on my trip to Boston last November. You can read about Modern English here and the 4AD label here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jose Cubano and the Orchestra

Artist: Jose Cubano and the Orchestra
LP: Cha Cha Cha
Song: "Everyday Is Ladies Day"
[ listen ]

Here's a song for all the male heterosexual morons I see clogging the supermarket checkout stands at 6:30pm on Valentine's Day each year. The men all wait impatiently in the long lines, holding last-minute discounted roses and boxes of chocolates in their hands—as if Saint Valentine's widely advertised call for them to express some small token of affection for their long-suffering wives has still somehow managed to catch them completely off guard. Everyday is ladies day, assholes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kroeze Brothers

Artist: Kroeze Brothers
LP: Especially For You
Song: "Glorybound Train"
[ listen ]

The photo on the record cover is somewhat misleading, since in reality there are only two Kroeze Brothers—Johnny (banjo) and Billy (guitar), they're the ones wearing brown suits and ties. The two figures in pink are not Kroeze Brothers, but are actually the brothers' wives—Kowanda (bass) and Sandra (versatile talent and arrangement ability). If you look carefully, you'll see two additional figures tucked away in the corner over by the chimney. That's Clement and Priscilla Humbard, who handle harp and Hawaiian accompaniment, respectively, and who also wrote the LP liner notes, included below. The Kroezes are a lively and talented local musical ministering family that's been preaching God's word from their homestead up in Everett, Washington for over 50 years. You can read all about the Kroezes and see what they're up to nowadays on their website here. I think it's high time I paid them a visit.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Della Reese

Artist: Della Reese
LP: Della Della Cha Cha Cha
Song: "Always True to You In My Fashion"
[ listen ]

Born to an African-American father and a Native-American (Cherokee) mother in Detroit in 1931, Deloreese Patricia Early was hired to sing with Mahalia Jackson's Gospel group when she was just 13 years old. She moved to New York City in 1953, where she recorded for Jubilee Records and was named 1957's "Most Promising Singer" by Billboard, Variety and Cashbox magazines. After a string of both major and minor hits through the 1960s, in 1970 Della Reese was the first black woman to guest-host "The Tonight Show." This led to other work in television, including a guest appearance on Match Game and a lengthy stint as Tess, the "angelic supervisor" on the hit show "Touched By An Angel" from 1994 to 2003. You can read more about the life and career of Della Reese on Wikipedia here and on her official website here. "Della Della Cha Cha Cha" was produced by a pair of cousins named Hugo & Luigi; the album was recorded in 1960 and released on RCA in 1961. I picked up this copy at an antique store in Rapid City, South Dakota last summer; it has some water damage on the cover, but I love it just the same.

[ Della Reese ]