Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Skeeter Davis

Artist: Skeeter Davis
LP: I'll Sing You a Song and Harmonize Too
Song: "Set Him Free"
[ listen ]
Song: "Let Those Brown Eyes Smile at Me"
[ listen ]

This 1960 release was country star Skeeter Davis' first solo LP after her singing partner, Betty Jack, died in a car wreck in the summer of 1953. "I'll Sing You a Song and Harmonize Too" spawned three singles, two of which were hits. "Set Him Free" peaked at #5 on the country singles chart in 1959, while "Am I That Easy to Forget," went to #11 in 1960. You can read more about the record here

For some reason the stereo on the album doesn't record right when I make an mp3. I had to choose between loud violins/judge voice and quiet Skeeter, or full-sounding Skeeter and Chet Atkins' guitar, but with the strings and the judge whispering in the background. I went full Skeeter. It all sounds normal on the stereo in my living room.

[ Skeeter Davis: December 30, 1931 — September 19, 2004 ]

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Wonderland Band

Artist: The Wonderland Band
LP: Wonder Woman
Song: "Wonder Woman Theme"
[ listen ]

I hope this is what Wonder Woman is going to look like in the new movie that's coming out soon. You know, I remember my Wonder Woman having magic bracelets, a magic lasso, and a magic boomerang tiara, but I don't recall her having a magical spiked medieval flail.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Here's a mix made from stuff I found at the record stores on my road trip around Upstate New York. 

side one:
01. On the Road Again - Barrabas 

       [7" - Off Center Records, Utica]
02. Forever Together - Five Man Electrical Band 
       [LP - Angry Mom Records, Ithaca] 

03. I Want to Die Easy - Inez Andrews
     [LP - Record Theatre, Buffalo]
04. Shut Off the Light - Betty Davis
     [LP - Bop Shop Records, Rochester]
05. Fun 'n' Roll (Dancin' In the "Funkshine") - Quazar
       [7" - Last Vestige Music Shop, Albany]
06. Amanda - Black Blood
       [LP - Record Baron, Buffalo]
07. Wind Quartets - Tyrannosaurus Rex
       [LP - M&B Record Exchange, Buffalo]
08. My Ship Is Comin' In - The Walker Brothers
       [7" - Bop Shop Records, Rochester]
09. Io Me Ne Andrei - Claudio Baglioni
       [LP - Angry Mom Records, Ithaca]
10. Trip to Mars - Lord Christo
       [LP - Revolver Records, Buffalo]  

11. I forgot to Remember to Forget - Johnny Cash
       [LP - Lakeshore Record Exchange, Rochester]
12. He Won't Deny Me - Swan Silvertones
     [CD - Doris Records, Buffalo]
13. Electric Surf Board - Jack McDuff
       [LP - Record Baron, Buffalo]
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Send Me an Angel - Real Life

       [12" - Reimagine Records, Utica]
02. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad - Prince
       [7" - Off Center Records, Utica]
03. Love or Confusion - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
       [LP - River Street Beat Shop, Troy]
04. You Sure Love to Ball - Sylvia
     [LP - Record Archive, Rochester]
05. Blue Gardenia - Dinah Wahington
     [LP - Black Dots Records, Buffalo]
06. One Little Pack of Cigarettes - Herman's Hermits
       [LP - The Sound Garden, Syracuse]
07. Djanger - The Yanti Sisters 
       [7" - Collector's Paradise, Jamestown]
08. Nie Dla Mnie Taka Dziewczyna (She's Not the Type for Me) - Niemen & Akwarele 
       [LP - Angry Mom Records, Ithaca]
09. If You Do Believe In Love - The Tee-Set  
       [7" - Off Center Records, Utica]
10. Joggin' - Patsy Maharam
       [7" - Re-Collector, Schenectady]
11. Can You Stop Woman - Rudy
       [LP - Revolver Records, Buffalo]
12. Shine For Jesus - Sister Rosetta Tharpe
     [LP - Last Vestige Music Shop, Albany]
13. Wheel of Fortune - The Billy Williams Quartet
       [LP - Record Archive, Rochester]
[ listen ]

[ Upstate New York Road Trip — September 21 - October 4, 2016 ]

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sum Sum & Bun Bun Sisters

Artist: Sum Sum & Bun Bun Sisters
LP: 7" single
Song: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" 
[ listen ]

Have I ever told you about the time I was working at Scarecrow Video and a group of young Asian college students came in and asked if we had the film "Chicky Chicky Boom Boom?" I honestly thought they were looking for some rare soft-core Russ Meyer film that had never been released on video. 

Anyway, I figured my upstate New York record hunting was finished once I left Ithaca, since I'd found a notice online that the one and only vinyl shop in Jamestown, NY had closed in 2015. But I had to visit Jamestown anyhow, since that's where Lucille Ball comes from and they've got a museum, her grave, the "Scary Lucy" statue, and other things like that strewn all over town. As I was walking through downtown Jamestown to take a gander at a humongous I Love Lucy mural painted on the side of a building... eyes were instinctively drawn to the word "RECORDS" painted on a column outside Collector's Paradise, a store with a treasure trove of odds and ends assembled inside. 

As I browsed through the bins, I heard the store owner bragging about how he'd taken over the shop from the previous owner, a woman who, according to him, "was just giving things away. She didn't know the value of anything! You have to know what you've got so people don't swindle you! Now I know what things are worth. You won't find any deals here!"

"You won't find any deals here." Not the most effective advertising slogan I've ever heard. When I came across a batch of 45s from Singapore in the 1960s that didn't have prices on them, I was prepared for the worst. The owner had left by the time I brought my few records to the counter, and the friendly gal working there wasn't allowed to do any pricing. She couldn't reach the owner by phone, so I had to leave my name and number. She was going to have him come back in to price the records, and then I could stop by again after visiting the Lucy & Desi Museum to see what sort of deal I wasn't going to get (my words, not hers). 

Of course it's hard to imagine that the good people of Jamestown have been scrambling over each other, forming lines around the block to acquire 1960s vinyl singles from Singapore, but evidently the owner posts things like this on e-Bay and they go for a pretty penny—a pretty penny, indeed. I'd found about ten singles in all, and when I returned from the museum and saw what some of them had been priced at I had to stifle a scream...not a scream of joy. Let me just say this: I'd suggest changing the name of the shop from 'Collector's Paradise' to 'Collector's Quandary.'

I picked out three of the singles that I was most excited about that didn't have six-figure prices on them and made an offer for the trio. The nice gal I was working with, who did seem to really want me to have the singles, I must say, called the owner to present my counter-offer. (I tried to sweeten the deal by also purchasing a nice vinyl copy of The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band," which wasn't overpriced there any more than it is at every other record shop in America.) My offer was accepted. So I guess you really can find deals at Collector's Paradise. Well, actually, no. You can't. But things can be arranged in such a way that you feel like you got a deal at Collector's Paradise, and sometimes that will just have to do.

I know I put myself through an awful lot of trouble for three measly 7" singles. But I just couldn't imagine pulling out of Jamestown knowing that I'd left behind a copy of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as recorded by the Sum Sum & Bun Bun Sisters of Singapore in 1969. It was worth it. The record is more than spectacular! (Or, to use the vernacular, it's wizard; it's smashing; it's keen.) Go ahead and look for more pics of these sisters, but all you're likely to come up with is a bunch of photos of these.
[ Sum Sum & Bun Bun Sisters ]

[ Collector's Paradise — Jamestown, NY ]

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hugo Blanco y su Conjunto

Artist: Hugo Blanco y su Conjunto
LP: Bailables No. 9: Agua Fresca
Song: "Agua Fresca"
[ listen ]
Song: "Oro Cochano"
[ listen ]

This isn't the first time I've posted music by Venezuelan harpie Hugo Blanco on my blog—see here and here—but it is the first time he's appeared on here since he died in the summer of 2015. RIP, Hugo Blanco. If anyone deserves to go on plucking and strumming their harp amongst the clouds for all eternity, it is you. Hugo released lots of Bailableses during his time here on Earth. "Agua Fresca," aka. "Bailables No. 9," came out in 1972. Find Hugo's full Palacio Records discography here.

The three things I'm going to remember most about Ithaca, NY and their local record store, Angry Mom Records, are these: 1.) Due to some big festival ("Apple Harvest" or something) there wasn't one single motel room available in the entire city the night I pulled into town—except one. And that one was listed at $77 on the internet, but the price was suddenly jacked up to $149 when I gave them a call on my quickly-dying cell phone. Why on earth would I spend $149 on a used bedroom when that same $149 could go toward the purchase of used Venezuelan disco-harp records instead? I slept in my car. 2.) There's no place I'd rather have coffee and breakfast after sleeping in my car than at The State Diner on State Street. 3.) Apple Harvest Fest is weird, and the people of Itlaca love donuts. They will line up for hours. For a donut. 

4.) People in Ithaca are simply wild about their local acapella choirs. 5.) It's hard to find a public restroom in Ithaca at night. 6.) Angry Mom Records has an amazing selection of records—especially in their 'World' and 'Soul-Funk-R&B' bins—and at really good prices too. I ended up buying 25 records here. 7.) The 'guy' employees at Angry Mom Records will not talk to customers. They aren't mean or anything, just mute. Questions are answered with a series of gestures or with actions instead of words. Upon inquiring if it would be alright for me to charge my cell phone somewhere in the store while I shopped, the guys took my cell phone and charger from me and plugged it in behind the counter...but without uttering a word. They were the friendliest, most accommodating store clerks with absolutely no customer service skills that I've ever met.

[ Hugo Blanco: September 25, 1940 — June 14, 2015 ]

[ Angry Mom Records — Ithaca, NY ]

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Kagny & the Dirty Rats

Artist: Kagny & the Dirty Rats
LP: Kagny & the Dirty Rats
Song: "Pocket Rocker"
[ listen ]

After leaving Troy, NY, I drove up into the Adirondacks and went camping by a lake. I enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful autumn leaves, had a delicious breakfast at Nancy's Village Cafe in Malone, stopped off at a castle on an island in Alexandria Bay, and then finally made my way over to Watertown, where I grabbed a sandwich and a beer at The Paddock Club, a local watering hole.

[ Camp ]

[ Leaves ]

[ Nancy ]

[ Castle ]

[ Club ]

The handsome bartender at The Paddock heard me whining about his town not having a record store, so he pointed out that there was actually a little thrift shop called Thrifted across the street that had some records for sale. I hustled over to check it out and found some vinyl in a small alcove behind a beaded curtain. This 1983 Motown LP by Kagny & the Dirty Rats was the only thing I bought. My online sleuthing didn't turn up much, but I did discover that Kagny's bass player is the very one and the same Cliff Liles who was in Apollo, a group that had released their only record just four years earlier. I was hoping "Pocket Rocker" would be a song about discreet public masturbation, like on a bus. No such luck.

[ Thrifted — Watertown, NY ]

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lionel Richie

Artist: Lionel Richie
LP: 7" single
Song: "My Love" 
[ listen ]

"You've been my friend and you've been my lover, oh lawd. Honey, you're everything I need. You've made my love so strong, now I know where I belong. Oh girl, you'll never have to worry. Oh baby, any more, any more." Oh, lawd—I should have been an early '80s pop ballad lyricist! This shit is easy, as long as your public isn't too discerning. And as we can see here, they were not. I could have been famous. Just thinking about it blows my mind. All the time. Did you know that Lionel Richie scored 13 consecutive top ten hits between 1981 and 1987? "My Love" was the 4th one, peaking at #5 in 1983. I found this single at River Street Beat Shop in downtown Troy, NY.

Downtown Troy is a wonderful, exciting place. It's basically a large grid of mid-sized 19th century structures on lovely tree-lined streets. It doesn't seem to have had its charm slit open and gutted to make way for huge crappy cement things the way so many other downtowns in upstate New York did in the 1960s, '70s and '80s—before people finally stepped back to take at look at what they were destroying and said, "Hey, this is actually kinda' neat. Let's make it a landmark." I even had a French dip dinner with au jus in a bar that used to be frequented by gangster Legs Diamond—or, as I like to call him, ole' Diamond Legs. The man was notoriously hard to kill.

[ River Street Beat Shop — Troy, NY ]

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Shirelles

Artist: The Shirelles
LP: Happy and In Love
Song: "No Sugar Tonight"
[ listen ]
Song: "Dedicated to the One I Love"
[ listen ]

I love Albany. After a hot breakfast at Jack's Diner I walked all around downtown, snapping photos of the city. Then I hit Last Vestige Music Shop, where they've got a basement and loft full of records, back behind the main front part of the store, pictured below. I found lots of great stuff here, including a sealed copy of "Happy and In Love," the 1971 Shirelles 'comeback' record on RCA, which instead somehow managed to keep them away. Boo on the American public. This is a dynamite record.

Originally a quartet (Doris Coley left the group between 1968 to 1975 to tend to her family) The Shirelles initially came together for a talent show at their New Jersey high school, but then went on to land a string of top ten hits between 1960 and 1963. Their popularity waned as a bunch of other girl groups crowded them off the charts, along with a band of unruly Brits. "No Sugar Tonight" was the sole single released from "Happy and In Love," but it, too, failed to chart. Only Beverly Lee and Shirley Owens are still with us from the original lineup. Time for another comeback LP, ladies?

[ The Shirelles — 1971 ]

[ Last Vestige Music Shop — Albany, NY ]