Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Cardinals

Artist: The Cardinals
LP: The Best of The Cardinals - Vol. 1
Song: "The Wheel of Fortune"
[ listen ]
Song: "Choo Choo"
[ listen ]

I hadn't initially planned to visit Oxford, Mississippi on my trip through the South, but when I searched online for record stores in Tupelo, I discovered that the nearest one was fifty miles away—in Oxford. The store, called The End of All Music, closes at 6pm on Mondays, so I had to hightail it northward across the state, with no freeway, all the way from Meridian. I'd left Meridian in the afternoon and made it to the Oxford record store at about 5:15pm. I was thrilled to have 45 minutes to dig through the place, but a little bummed that I didn't have 245 minutes available. It was one of the best record stores on my trip! Though it doesn't look like much from the outside, the inside is well-lit, well-decorated, and well-organized with several different rooms, each featuring a different group of genres. There's even a small walk-in closet full of singles, including three bins of Motown and three bins of Stax singles that I didn't have time to look through. I found lots of neat stuff at The End of All Music (gospel, soul, jazz organ, calypso, folk) so it was hard to decide what to post. I've settled on this collection by The Cardinals (yet another one of the "bird groups"), since it features a neat train song. Everyone knows I love train songs. I don't usually collect "Best Of" albums, but since The Cardinals evidently only released singles throughout the 1950s, and no LPs, this vintage collection seems like a good thing to have. Formed in Baltimore in the mid 1940s, The Cardinals recorded their first single in New York in 1950. The group went through a few lineup changes over the years, landing quite a few hits on the R&B singles charts before calling it quits in the early 1960s. "The Wheel of Fortune" was a top ten hit for The Cardinals in 1951; "Choo Choo" was actually the b-side of their 1956 single called "Off Shore." You can read more about The Cardinals here and here and then read even more here, where you'll also find their complete discography.

 [ The Cardinals: Donald Jack Johnson, Meridith Brothers, Ernie Lee Warren, 
Leon "Tree Top" Hardy, Jack Sam Aydelotte ]

 [ The End of All Music — Oxford, Mississippi ]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shelley Fabares

Artist: Shelley Fabares
LP: The Things We Did Last Summer
Song: "Johnny Loves Me"
[ listen ]

The records at Meridian Underground Music are tucked into the back corner of the place (CDs, DVDs and posters are also sold at the store along with a wide variety of incense, as you can see here...

...and they also sell guitars and drums and other musical stuff). The owners of the store are super friendly and gave me lots of free stickers and other things with the store's logo on them. Unfortunately, several of their heavy bins full of vinyl are stored overhead, and I couldn't think of any way to retrieve them without breaking either my spine or—even worse—most of the records in the bins! I went ahead and dug through some of the lower bins though, and I found this terrific 1962 summer-themed LP by Shelley Fabares. Popular at a young age (her first single, "Johnny Angel," went to #1 when she was just 18 years old), Shelley is also an actress, appearing in no less than three films with Elvis Presley (GIRL HAPPY, SPINOUT, and CLAMBAKE), which is more than any other actress can claim! "Johnny Loves Me," released the same year as "Johnny Angel," went to #21 on the charts. You can read more about Shelley Fabares on Wikipedia here and I've included notes and pictures from the front and back of the album below.

 [ Meridian Underground Music — Meridian, Mississippi ]

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Adam Hebert

Artist: Adam Hebert
LP: The Best of the Cajun Hits
Song: "I'd Like to Know"
[ listen ]

Artist: Adam Hebert and Country Playboys
LP: Cajun Hits - Volume 2
Song: "North Side Door"
[ listen ]

After crossing the Mississippi state line and spending the night in Natchez next to the Mississippi River, I drove along the Natchez Trace Parkway, headed toward Jackson. A few miles southwest of Jackson is the little town of Raymond, where there's a legendary record store called Little Big Store. I'd already had it on my list, but Tess at Lagniappe Records in Baton Rouge also mentioned it, saying the store, located in an old train depot, is filled with records! It reminded me of scenes from AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD where Klaus Kinski talks about trying to find El Dorado, the mythical city of gold somewhere in the South American jungle. Fortunately, unlike Mr. Kinski, I had a good map and I didn't get shot with arrows, so I arrived at Little Big Store on time and unharmed. With multiple rooms stacked to the brim with well-organized records (and seemingly almost entirely unpicked-over by tourists and hipsters), the place really is a delightful oasis of vinyl gold in the middle of small-town Mississippi. And they ship records to anywhere in the world! You can watch a short video with photos of the store on their website here. Betty and Merwin, who were working there the Sunday afternoon when I stopped by, are both really friendly and played samples from the records I was interested in on the store's player. Among other things, I picked up these wonderful first two volumes of greatest Cajun hits by various artists on Swallow Records, a southern Louisiana label, from the late 1950s. There's not much info on Adam Hebert on the web, but you'll find a little here and general notes from the backs of both LPs are included below. If you'd like to read about the history of Cajun music, go here.

 [ Uncredited Cajun band from cover of "Cajun Hits - Volume 2" ]

[ Adam Hebert and Country Playboys ]

 [ Adam Hebert receives award in 2007. I love that he wears a clip-on tie. ] 
[ I love it in an adoring, non-condescending way. ]

[ Adam Hebert: 1923—2010 ]

 [ Betty and Merwin at Little Big Store—Raymond, Mississippi ]