Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tercet Egzotyczny

Artist: Tercet Egzotyczny
LP: Tercet Egzotyczny
Song: "W Samo Poludnie (Just at the Noon)"
[ listen ]

For some reason Blue Arrow Records wasn't on the Cleveland record store list I'd put together before I left Seattle. Fortunately, the guys at My Mind's Eye told me about the place. It turned out to be one of the best record stores in Ohio! First of all, it's located in a neat 1950s-looking building that features a big blue arrow over the door. Then, the entire floor there is covered with album sleeves under a waxy varnish, and the friendly guys working there gave me a sturdy cardboard box for shipping LPs back to Seattle. Last but not least, they've got a great selection and reasonable prices. I picked up lots of neat old gospel, soul, funk, and Latin LPs at Blue Arrow, and even a few from Poland, like this 1966 self-titled release from Tercet Egzotyczny, or "The Exotic Trio." Izabella, Zbigniew, and Mieczyslaw brought the folkloric music of Central and South America (and a cover of "High Noon," evidently) to appreciative audiences throughout Europe, and they also made appearances in the USA. I've only had their record for a few weeks, but it's given me many pleasant moments indeed. You can read about Tercet Egzotyczny on Wikipedia in English here, in Polish here, and visit their website here. The bilingual LP liner notes are included below, and here's a Tercet Egzotyczny video from the 1980s. 

Tercet Egzotyczny on YouTube:
 [ Blue Arrow Records, selection ]

 [ Blue Arrow Records, LP floor tile ]

 [ Blue Arrow Records — Cleveland, OH ]

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bell Hops

Artist: The Bell Hops
LP: Polka Hops
Song: "She's There, I'm Here"
[ listen ]

I was bummed that I didn't have time to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during my brief visit to Cleveland, but I'd really have been devastated if I'd missed out on the Polka Museum too. The Polka Hall of Fame is located in the same building as the Softball Hall of Fame, which conjures up all sorts of glorious visions of what it would be like if the two sporty activities could somehow be combined into one. The museum showcases the history and array of polka talent in the Cleveland area, including "America's Polka King," Frankie Yankovic. To my delight (and to the delight of the museum staff too, I'm sure, since I bought so many), I discovered lots of wild and wonderful vintage polka records for sale in the museum gift shop! This 1964 LP by The Bell Hops may be my favorite of the ones I found there. The Bell Hops are led by two fellows named Henry Jasiewicz, a father and son. You can read about the life and career of Henry Sr. here, and read all about the younger Henry Jasiewicz here.

 [ The Polka Hall of Fame — Euclid, OH ]

[ Vintage Polka Albums for sale at The Polka Hall of Fame gift shop ]

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Flamingos

Artist: The Flamingos
LP: Requestfully Yours
Song: "In the Still of the Night"
[ listen ]

One of the stores the guys at My Mind's Eye Records said I should visit was Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights. The place was closed when I arrived, but there was a note on the door saying "be right back." The store re-opened a few minutes later when the clerk returned from the supermarket with several boxes of cereal. Record Revolution is quirky and cool, has good prices and a good selection, and, like many other record stores in Ohio, they have a basement full of records.

[ Record Revolution's basement full of records. ]

[ Record Revolution — Cleveland, OH ] 

Along with some early '80s rap, a few 7" singles, and a half-dozen cheap Elvis Presley movie soundtracks in pristine condition (I'd listened to "Elvis Radio" in the car the entire time I was in Cincinnati), I found this 1984 re-release of oft-requested tunes by The Flamingos, a Chicago doo-wop group who sent lots of singles to Hitsville in the mid-to-late 1950s. You can read all about The Flamingos and their numerous lineup changes here, find the "Requestfully Yours" liner notes below, and go here to listen to Cole Porter's "In the Still of the Night" as performed by a men's chorus.

[ The Flamingos in 1957 ]

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hank Fort

Artist: Hank Fort
LP: Hank Fort Sings Her Own Great Songs
Song: "You Can't Hurt Me Now Cause I'm Daid"
[ listen ]
Song: "I Didn't Know the Gun Was Loaded"
[ listen ]

After camping overnight during a thunderstorm at the East Bay State Park on the shores of Lake Erie and then visiting a Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky the following morning, I arrived in the large, beautiful, rusty, and wonderful city of Cleveland in the late afternoon.

 [ Cleveland, OH ]

The first place I stopped was My Mind's Eye Records in Lakewood, on Cleveland's west end. There's no listening station there, but I found some great stuff I was familiar with, along with a few others I was willing to take a chance on based on the covers, since the prices were low. The owner and other folks working at the store were friendly and helpful, and recommended other record stores I should visit in Cleveland.

[ My Mind's Eye Records — Cleveland, OH ]

One of the things I discovered at My Mind's Eye is this 1958 Hank Fort record for which I paid just $2. I really can't say I was taking a chance at that rate—especially when you consider that the record includes songs called "I Didn't Know the Gun Was Loaded" and "You Can't Hurt Me Now Cause I'm Daid," and that they're being sung by a lovely-looking woman named Hank. Born in Nashville, Tennessee before it was the country music capitol of the world, Alma Louise Middleton Hankins Fort wrote more than 400 songs during her career. You can find a nice photo from Life Magazine below where Hank is shown sorting through sheet music copies of "Put Your Shoes On, Lucy," one of her most popular tunes. There's more about Hank Fort here, where you'll learn where you can go to visit her grave, and go to Lonesome Lefty's Scratchy Attic here to listen to more of Hank's songs. Notes and photos from the back of the "Hank Fort Sings Her Own Great Songs" LP are included below.

[ Hank Fort: June 14, 1914 — January 12, 1973 ]

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Millie Jackson

Artist: Millie Jackson
LP: Caught Up
Song: "I'm Tired of Hiding"
[ listen ]

Before heading out of town, I drove around the Toledo Art Museum, which unfortunately had already closed for the day. But while leaving the parking lot, Sound Asylum Records caught my eye across the street. They were having a closing sale! Along with a few records (mostly stuff like Freddie Jackson, The Jets, and Melba Moore), they also had lots of CDs, clothing, jewelry, and things like that. I did find this neat 1974 Millie Jackson LP, on which she evidently introduced her "innovative style of raunchy rap," and I found two potentially so-bad-they're-good late '70s gospel records (there was no listening station, so I had to judge a record by its cover). Nothing was priced, but since the store was closing and the signs outside proclaimed "50% off! Everything Must Go!" I figured the LPs would be .50¢ or maybe one or two dollars at most. The woman working there had to call someone on the phone to tell them what albums I wanted and find out how much to charge me. I was told they were $5 each, and I suddenly understood why they were going out of business. I put the cheesy gospel albums back, paid $5, and left with my Millie Jackson record. I figured the cover alone was worth at least $5.50. You can read about Millie Jackson's life and career here, listen to her weekday afternoon radio show on Dallas' KKDA 730 AM, and the notes and pictures from her "Caught Up" love-triangle LP (they're caught in a web of lies!) are included below.

[ Sound Asylum Records — Toledo, OH ]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Brooklyn Allstars

Artist: The Brooklyn Allstars
LP: The Exciting Brooklyn Allstars
Song: "A Soldier's Prayer"
[ listen ]

One of the stores the guy at RamaLama Records said I should visit while I was in Toledo was AA Records Are Us. Packed with records that have been gathered over the years by Frank Lynn, the store's friendly, chain-smoking owner, AA Records Are Us is one of those dusty places that you'd never manage to get through in a single day. I'd hardly begun poking around on the main floor when Frank took me downstairs to show me another room that was also filled with records from wall to wall. I began browsing through the soul and jazz LPs, but found them over-priced. (Things I'd just seen in Cincinnati and Dayton for $3 or $4 were $10, $15, or even $25 at AA Records; there was even a Martha & The Vandellas LP that was going for $700. I'm sorry, but if a record is worth $700, it belongs behind glass with laser-beams around it, not in a dusty bin next to the $10 Melba Moore LPs.) Still, I found good deals on several neat records, including Connie Smith's first LP, an old Marvin Rainwater album, and this late-'60s-ish gospel LP by The Exciting and Famous Brooklyn Allstars, who are evidently still making music today (see video below). You can read about The Brooklyn Allstars on here, and visit the AA Records Are Us website here, where you'll find an unsuccessful attempt to link to this interesting 2007 Toledo Blade news story about Frank and his wonderful store. LP liner notes and photos are included below, along with some pictures I took at AA Records Are Us.

The Brooklyn Allstars on YouTube:

 [ The Brooklyn Allstars ]

[ AA Records Are Us — Toledo, OH ]

[ AA Records Are Us, main floor ]

 [ AA Records Are Us, basement ]

[ Frank Lynn, owner of AA Records Are Us — Toledo, OH ] 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Robert "Goodie" Whitfield

Artist: Robert "Goodie" Whitfield
LP: Call Me Goodie
Song: "Goody Goody"
[ listen ]

After enjoying a delicious breakfast and some good conversation with the locals at The City Diner on Monroe Street, I headed over to Culture Clash Records, one of the best record stores on my trip. I picked up lots of terrific albums and singles there, including this funky and colorful (and ice-creamy) 1982 Robert "Goodie" Whitfield LP. The entire record is good, but my favorite is Goodie's cover of the classic relationship revenge song "Goody Goody," written in 1936, which I first heard sung by Julie London on the radio. There's not much info about Robert "Goodie" Whitfield on the web, but he was evidently born in Dallas, he may have gotten into some legal trouble, and it seems he really likes ice cream. You can read more on the 2Step Vinyl Soul blog here, where you can listen to another of Goodie's songs, and there's a neat 1983 photo of the singer on Wikipedia here. I've included the "Goody Goody" lyrics below, along with more photos and the address of The Robert "Goodie" Whitfield Fan Club.

 [ Culture Clash Records — Toledo, OH ]