Monday, May 30, 2016

The Original Washboard Band

Artist: The Original Washboard Band
LP: Scrubbin' & Pickin'
Song: "Who Threw the Whiskey In the Well"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Glory of Love" 
[ listen ]

Oh shit. This reminds me I need to do laundry. The Original Washboard Band, from Brunswick, Georgia, used to entertain the stuffy 'old money' families that would occasionally retreat to a nearby Paradise Island off the Georgia coast to get away from all the horrible regular people who only had average incomes. While there, the families would sometimes amuse themselves by listening to local music being played on a variety of outdated household appliances still being used by the poor and needy—like the common washboard, for example (which simply can't be beat for getting tough stains out of trousers and shirts). The Original Washboard Band were reportedly a favorite of both the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts and thus were allowed to record a record for RCA in 1958. And here it is. Sadly, fame proved elusive (I found no evidence of a second LP), though the group did appear on the Garry Moore TV show in 1959, according to Jet Magazine.

[ Norman "Shorty" Feimster; Nathan Jones; Robert "Washboard" Ivory; Charles Ernest Jones ]
[ The Original Washboard Band ]

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pete McCabe

Artist: Pete McCabe
LP: The Man Who Ate the Plant
Song: "The Man Who Ate the Plant"
[ listen ]
Song: "Music Box" 
[ listen ]

Here's a glistening gem I dug from out of the dusty 'Miscellaneous M' rock LPs bin at Golden Oldies last week while I was searching for...something I can't recall. From banjo-pickin', folk-singin' Pete McCabe, "The Man Who Ate the Plant" was released in 1973 on the Tumbleweed Records label just before it closed its doors. Pete, who lived in Denver in the early '70s, where Tumbleweed Records was based, now lives in California, and he's making music again! Go to his website here to listen to a sample from one of his recent songs, and go here to visit the Art Into Dust blog entry from 2012 in which Pete McCabe talks about making "The Man Who Ate the Plant."
[ Pete McCabe nowadays, on the castle grounds. ]

Sunday, May 22, 2016

String Driven Thing

Artist: String Driven Thing
LP: String Driven Thing
Song: "My Real Hero" 
[ listen ]

The Scottish group String Driven Thing, fronted by husband and wife team Chris and Pauline Adams, seem kinda' like what X might have sounded like if they'd been around in 1972 and knew their way around a violin. I found this one at Golden Oldies yesterday when I dropped by to look for some Whitney Houston singles.
[ String Driven Thing ]

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Barry Ryan

Artist: Barry Ryan
LP: 7" single
Song: "Eloise" 
[ listen ]

This 1968 Barry Ryan single is just the sort of "symphonic rock" uplift I need on this grey and rainy Saturday morning in Seattle. Barry used to perform with his identical twin brother, Paul, but Paul couldn't handle the pressures of stardom, so he took to the backstage shadows with pen and notebook in hand, scribbling out smash singles like "Eloise" to keep his brother at the top of the European pop charts. It's weird; you'd think that, as twins, Paul and Barry would be equally adept at handling the three-ring circus called fame. In any case, the hits kept coming for another few years, finally tapering off in 1972. Now Barry's a photographer, but he still pops up every now and again to perform. You can read more about him here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Artist: Kraftwerk
LP: 7" single
Song: "Musique Non Stop" 
[ listen ]

When I browse through my collection of 45s, I'm always grateful I picked up offbeat singles at Tower Records from the mid-'80s on—like this Kraftwerk single, for example. The song didn't registar on the Billboard Hot 100 at all when it came out in 1986 (it was evidently a hit at the dance clubs), and I've never come across another copy of it in 30 years of record hunting ever since. I only regret that I didn't start buying unpopular 45s with picture sleeves at Tower Records sometime around 1978 instead! But then how was a ratty 9-year-old Mormon kid from Yakima supposed to get to Seattle to collect rare vinyl?

[ Kraftwerk ]

Monday, May 16, 2016

Andy and the Bey Sisters

Artist: Andy and the Bey Sisters
LP: Andy and the Bey Sisters
Song: "Mood Indigo" 
[ listen ]
Song: "You Can't Be Mine Anymore" 
[ listen ]

Here's something pretty wonderful that I found at Bay Sound in Daphne, Alabama a few years ago. Andy and his sisters never did take America by storm, but they should have if you ask me, or if you ask whoever wrote the liner notes for the back of their 1961 debut LP on RCA. Of course the Europeans loved Andy and his sisters, but then they've always been ahead of the game. Marlon Brando has always known a good thing when he hears it too, and he loved Andy and the Bey Sisters. 

I just saw Brando last night in THE CHASE (1966), which for some reason I had thought was a comedy. It's not. Though a little heavy on the melodramatics, it's a good film about topical issues directed by Arthur Penn the year before he made BONNIE & CLYDE. It features an all-star cast, including a late-career turn by Miriam Hopkins, who you may remember from THESE THREE (1936), which was written by Lillian Hellman, as was the screenplay for THE CHASE. Hopkins also co-starred in some 'old' Bette Davis movies—THE OLD MAID (1939) and OLD ACQUAINTANCE (1943). Anyway, Brando loved Andy and the Bey Sisters. I don't know if he ever got to play them for Miriam Hopkins while they were working together, but I bet she would have loved them too.

You can read more about the fascinating and talented trio of Bey siblings here, find a 2004 NPR piece about some of Andy Bey's (relatively) recent work here, and listen to Andy perform a devastating version of Nick Drake's "River Man" here. There's also a video clip and liner notes a-plenty included below.

Andy and the Bey Sisters on YouTube:
[ "Smooth Sailing" ] 

[ Andy and the Bey Sisters ]

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sheila E.

Artist: Sheila E.
LP: 12" single
Song: "The Belle of St. Mark" 
[ listen ]

I was finally making some real progress on getting my sprawling album collection under control when my sister Chass sent me a text on Friday night about the West Seattle Garage Sale Bonanza taking place throughout that neighborhood over the weekend. She highlighted this particular ad for me:

I tried my best to forget about it, but after a restless night's sleep I suddenly found myself at the listed address yesterday morning at 9am.

As you can see, the city's vinyl vultures had already descended upon the place by the time I arrived, so it was good I got there early. "ALL GENRES" was an accurate description of what was for sale, with boxes of LPs by everyone from Grace Slick to Bohannon; from Claudine Longet to Rolling Stones; from Tony Mottola (there was an over-abundance of Tony Mottola for some reason) to...well, to Sheila E. This 12" by the lovely Miss E. is one of the things I picked up at a bargain rate. My favorite of all of Sheila E.'s singles, "The Belle of St. Mark" peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984. You can read about Sheila E. here, visit her website here, and there's a nice piece from NPR that was aired a few weeks ago here, where the legendary performer-percussionist recalls her very first meeting with Prince.

[ Sheila E. with drums. ]

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Gisele MacKenzie

Artist: Gisele MacKenzie
LP: Gisele MacKenzie Sings Lullaby and Goodnight
Song: "Hush, Little Baby" 
[ listen ]
Song: "Oh, Can Ye Sew Cushions?" 
[ listen ]

I'm blessed to have one of the Great Mothers on Earth, so I'd like to proclaim that here, though my mom isn't likely to read it. (She doesn't follow my blog; we have completely different taste in music.) "Hush, Little Baby" is one of the earliest songs I can remember hearing, sung by my mother as she rocked me to sleep in the old family rocking chair. I've also included here the beautiful "Oh, Can Ye Sew Cushions?" from Gisele MacKenzie's 1959 album full of international lullabies, because, well, who's ever heard of a lullaby with the word 'cushions' in the title? The Scots, that's who. More information on the lovely Ms. MacKenzie is available here. Happy Mother's Day!

Gisele MacKenzie on YouTube:
[ "The Twelfth of Never" ]

[ Gisele MacKenzie: January 10, 1927 — September 5, 2003 ]
[ Pictured w/ daughter Gigi in 1962. ]