Monday, November 20, 2017

Della Reese [1931-2017]

Artist: Della Reese
LP: Della By Starlight
Song: "These Foolish Things"
[ listen ]

Della Reese has turned out all the lights in the world. She has hung a cloud over the moon. Her obituary is here. I wonder if she and Charles Manson bumped into each other in line at the pearly gates.

Della Reese
[ July 6, 1931 — November 19, 2017 ]
We will miss you, Della.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Spoons

Artist: Spoons
LP: Arias & Symphonies
Song: "South American Vacation"
[ listen ]

After attending a memorial service in Bothell for a former work colleague yesterday afternoon, I decided to drop by Vortex, by my favorite Kirkland record store, to help shake the melancholy from my head. I was at the store for over three hours and, if not quite a fine-toothed comb, I would say I at least went through the place with a hairbrush, and I drove away with a heavy stack of wonderful and unusual things. 

One of them is this 1982 LP by Canadian new wave band Spoons. They're pretty doggone good, but I like them even more as I imagine how excited I would have been to have found out about them back in 1982, when I was 13 years old. I would no doubt have had bedtime fantasies about running off to the Yukon with cutie keyboardist Rob Preuss, where we would live in domestic, yet romantic, yet pretty cold probably, bliss for the rest of our lives. We'd have to snuggle in bearskin to stay warm! But instead of honeymooning with me, Rob and his hair ran off and joined Canadian rock group Honeymoon Suite. There's a sweet interview with Preuss here where everything about him seems bashful except his coiffure. You can watch an interview with the entire group here, find an effusive "Arias & Symphonies" album review on the Same Mistakes blog here, learn more about the four Spoons than you've ever wanted to know here, and go here to find out which two Spoons recently played a benefit show to raise money for the high school where they got their start.

[ Spoons ]

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ben Light

Artist: Ben Light
LP: Speed of Light: Ben Light At the Piano 
Song: "Lover"
[ listen ]
Song: "Charmaine"
[ listen ]

Three seconds after I put the needle on this 1956 Ben Light LP I began craving a martini. I didn't so much want to drink a martini, but to hold one in my hand, softly swirling it around in the glass as Ben's fingers danced 'lightly' over the keys.

Born into a family of classical musicians in New York City in 1893, Ben was a rebellious child and decided to go in for ragtime playing on the piano. By age 18 he had a regular gig in Denver, CO and he was a Vaudeville staple in the 1920s and into the mid-1930s. He recorded some 'racy' numbers (with titles like "The Guy Who Put the Dix In Dixie," you get the idea) in the '30s as Ben Light and His Surf Club Boys before moving on to more prestigious recordings for Capitol Records in the 1950s, like "Speed of Light." You can still hear his Vaudeville roots shining through, like sunlight from the distant end of the longest piano keyboard in the universe. Ben's last recordings were released in 1958; he died at age 72 in January of 1965. You can read more about Ben "Dizzy Fingers" Light here and check out the LP liner notes below.

[ Ben Light ]

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Vitamin E

Artist: Vitamin E
LP: Sharing
Song: "Kiss Away"
[ listen ]

I had to take a big dose of Vitamin E this morning so I didn't catch tonsillitis. But even if I had, it would have been worth it!
Vitamin E's sweetener/vocalist Bianca Thornton eventually went on to bigger and better things as Lady Bianca—we have the same birthday! Wikipedia calls this 1977 Vitamin E record "commercially doomed," though, doomed as it may have been, it was through no fault of the music itself. It's dynamite! I'm fairly certain that the American public was once again to blame. They never know a good thing when they hear it. I picked up this LP for $3 at Doug's Used Records in Yakima, WA two summers ago on my way to a family camping trip in the woods. They had a used copy at Yakima's Off the Record too, which I stopped at next, but there they wanted $45 for it.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Black Heat

Artist: Black Heat
LP: No Time To Burn
Song: "M & M's"
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Black Heat's second album, from 1974, is one of the super groovy things I re-discovered in my own collection while doing a little autumn LP housecleaning today to make some extra room. M & M's...mmmm. I've always loved chocolate! There's not very much info about the under-appreciated funk band Black Heat here.

 
[ Black Heat ]

Saturday, November 4, 2017

U.T.F.O.

Artist: U.T.F.O.
LP: 12" single
Song: "Roxanne, Roxanne"
[ listen ]

This is one of the best rap songs I've ever heard. And I've heard at least a dozen. But don't take my word for it. VH1 ranked 1984's "Roxanne, Roxanne" #84 of the 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of all time. Dr. Ice, The Kangol Kid, and The Educated Rapper started out as dancers for Whodini—well two of them did, anyway—before forming U.T.F.O. (Untouchable Force Organization) in Brooklyn in 1984. This is their first single, produced by Full Force. Sadly, The Educated Rapper died this past June after a battle with cancer. More about U.T.F.O. can be found on Wikipedia here.

[ U.T.F.O. — Umm...Totally Forgot the Outfits ]

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trinita

Artist: Trinita
LP: 7" single
Song: "High Feeling"
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Autumn gives me a high feeling—how about you? This 1979 single by Trinita that I found in Helsinki earlier this year gives me a high feeling too...as does the amazing music video for the song. I'm pretty sure these three fellows are the B. Devotion gang that dance backup for Sheila.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wade Denning

Artist: Wade Denning
LP: Famous Ghost Stories! With Scary Sounds
Song: "The Specter"
[ listen ]

Here's some scary fun from Wade Denning in 1975. According to the website put together by one of Wade's grandkids, Wade composed numerous jingles for Maxwell House coffee and Kinney Shoes in addition to producing albums filled with famous frightful ghost stories. What an interesting fellow! I chose "The Specter," written by Guy De Maupassant and adapted by Mr. Denning, primarily because I just love those French accents. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Della Reese

Artist: Della Reese
LP: I Like It Like Dat!
Song: "Drinkin' Again"
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Song: "'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do"
[ listen ]

Today I went with some friends to a farm up near Snohomish that has a huge corn maze shaped like the state of Washington. You had to enter the maze over by Spokane, and then all the pathways through the corn are labeled as the roads, highways, and freeways of Washington. You can travel all around the state on foot to visit its various landmarks—like the Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia, the Tacoma Narrow's Bridge, Mount St. Helen's, the Grand Coulee Dam, the Space Needle—and even learn a bit of historical trivia about each of them by reading a little placard placed nearby. It was pretty amazing, though a little bit corny too. 

I found a copy of this terrific 1965 Della Reese LP at the big double-level antique store in downtown Snohomish after we got some coffee and pie, just before we headed to the farm. Turns out there's nothing quite as nice as Della Reese singing you the blues on a late-October evening while you're sipping a cup of tea.

[ Della Reese ]