Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I'M STILL IN LOVE WITH YOU - Al Green

YEAR: 1972

LABEL: Hi

TRACK LISTING: I'm Still In Love With You, I'm Glad You're Mine, Love and Happiness, What A Wonderful Thing Love Is, Simply Beautiful, Oh Pretty Woman, For the Good Times, Look What You Done For Me, One of These Good Old Days

IMPRESSIONS: The King of Cool and the Sultan of Soul! "As silken as bedsheets and as soft as a mattress..." in the words of author Robert Gordon. This album contains three of my all-time favourite Al Green songs: the exquisite title track and "Love and Happiness" as well as a breathtaking cover of Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I'm Still In Love With You, Love and Happiness, What A Wonderful Thing Love Is, Simply Beautiful, Oh Pretty Woman, For the Good Times, Look What You Done For Me, One of These Good Old Days

FACT SHEET: I'M STILL IN LOVE WITH YOU is Al Green's fifth album. It is the most successful album of Green's career making it to number four on the Billboard 200 and number one on the R&B chart. The album was produced by Green's steady producer Willie Mitchell. "Oh Pretty Woman" is a cover of the Roy Orbison hit and "For the Good Times" is a Kris Kristofferson song.

Monday, January 30, 2012

RAINDANCING - Alison Moyet

YEAR: 1987

LABEL: Columbia

TRACK LISTING: Is This Love, Stay, Glorious Love, When I Say (No Giveaway), Blow Wind Blow, Weak in the Presence of Beauty, Ordinary Girl, You Got Me Wrong, Without You, Sleep Like Breathing

IMPRESSIONS: In 1987, I fell in love with this bit of pop perfection. It didn't hurt that Alison Moyet guest-starred on an entire episode of FRENCH & SAUNDERS where she not only performed "Ordinary Girl" but also acted throughout most of it (and she was quite funny). I believe I first got the album on vinyl and then promptly bought it on cassette which I played to death back in the day. Of course, when I finally got around to getting a cd player, I immediately bought it on compact disc as well. The only thing missing was 8-track. RAINDANCING is simply one of my favourite 80s albums.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Is This Love, Stay, Glorious Love, Blow Wind Blow, Weak in the Presence of Beauty, Ordinary Girl, Sleep Like Breathing

GUEST ARTISTS: David Freeman (vocals on "Sleep Like Breathing")

FACT SHEET: RAINDANCING is Alison Moyet's second album. "Is This Love?" was co-written by Alison Moyet and Dave Stewart (under his Jean/Manu Guiot pseudonym). The original UK version of the album had the songs in a different running order. "Sleep Like Breathing" duet partner David Freeman is from the band "The Lover Speaks".

Sunday, January 29, 2012

STORMS - Various Artists

YEAR: 2003

LABEL: Cerpts Productions

TRACK LISTING: Storms - Fleetwood Mac, Knowing Me Knowing You - ABBA, Every Little Thing About You - Raul Malo, Lovesong - The Cure, Winter Kills - Alison Moyet, Blue - Sarah McLachlan, If I Could Reach You - The 5th Dimension, Back To Then - Darius Rucker, Blue - Barry Manilow & Sarah Vaughan, Don't Take Your Love From Me - Frank Sinatra, Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye) - Gladys Knight & the Pips, No More Drama - Mary J. Blige, This Train Don't Stop There Anymore - Elton John, If I Could Only Stay Asleep - Patsy Cline, Ghost In This House - Allison Krauss, Trouble - Cat Stevens, Black - Pearl Jam, Who Am I Foolin' - Cheryl Wheeler, Two Star - Everything But the Girl

IMPRESSIONS: It was never my intention to put up a cd mix I made myself however there's no other I would consider before this one. The only cd mix I've made which has a fan base; everyone who has heard it declared it a classic. So who am I to argue with them? I would certainly say this is the one cd mix I consider a perfect jewel. Made on the 7th of January 2003, this cd was the result of a breakup and a broken heart ripped out of my chest and trodden on with golf shoes. Not only was the year 2002 a tough one for myself but for others I knew and this cd resonated strongly with all of us. Not only does it contain my number one favourite song of all time (Pearl Jam's "Black") but it also contains my number TWO favourite song (Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama"); both songs won Song of the Year Penguin Awards in their respective years. It features the song which had the most ever plays on my first ipod "City Lights" (Everything But the Girl's "Two Star" which had racked up 18 plays before I got my new ipod "Podzilla"). The cd also features the second saddest song ever recorded: The 5th Dimension's "If I Could Reach You" (the number one saddest song ever recorded, in case you're interested, is Stan Rogers' "First Christmas"). I am still extremely proud of the mood I managed to sustain on this cd and consider it my finest programming job.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Storms - Fleetwood Mac, Lovesong - The Cure, Winter Kills - Alison Moyet, Blue - Sarah McLachlan, If I Could Reach You - The 5th Dimension, Blue - Barry Manilow & Sarah Vaughan, Don't Take Your Love From Me - Frank Sinatra, Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye) - Gladys Knight & the Pips, No More Drama - Mary J. Blige, This Train Don't Stop There Anymore - Elton John, Ghost In This House - Alison Krauss, Trouble - Cat Stevens, Black - Pearl Jam, Who Am I Foolin' - Cheryl Wheeler, Two Star - Everything But the Girl

FACT SHEET: STORMS is a Cerpts CD Mix which was compiled on January 7, 2003. The cover art is by Edward Gorey.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

THE BEATLES - The Beatles

YEAR: 1968

LABEL: Apple

TRACK LISTING: Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Glass Onion, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Wild Honey Pie, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Martha My Dear, Blackbird, Piggies, Rocky Racoon, Don't Pass Me By, Why Don't We Do It In the Road, I Will, Julia, Birthday, Yer Blues, Mother Nature's Son, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey, Sexy Sadie, Helter Skelter, Long Long Long, Revolution 1, Honey Pie, Savoy Truffle, Cry Baby Cry, Revolution 9, Good Night

IMPRESSIONS: This is my favourite Beatles album. While I had my second favourite Beatles album "ABBEY ROAD" most of my life, I didn't pick up this album (on vinyl) until around 1980-1981 and immediately fell in love with it's treasure trove of schizophrenic songs; each one stands alone as a completely different listening experience. Oh, what riches! If variety is the spice of life, this is the spiciest Beatles album, mate. It's double album length gives you something to really sink your teeth into unlike single album at that time which were over before you knew it. Remember albums at that time were usually only about 35 minutes long so the "White Album" is more what we consider a single album length today. That having been said, THE BEATLES contains some of my all-time favourite Beatles songs: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", "Blackbird", "Don't Pass Me By", "I Will", "Mother Nature's Son", "Savoy Truffle" and "Good Night". Also, it has the superior version of "Revolution 1"; I prefer the album version (with its more challenging slower tempo) to the harder but less interesting single version. I also like the fact that the double album length makes it less of a "Lennon-McCartney Show" and lets George and Ringo have a little more space to shine without being pushed off the album with only one song each as usual. I just don't buy the usual complaint that the Beatles were working separately instead of together as a group. From everything I've read and heard from the Beatles' own mouths, each member ALWAYS worked up a song on their own and then presented it to the group for their input or to be assigned parts to play on it. How is "The White Album" any different since that's exactly what they did here as well. The only difference being they apparently separated themselves into individual studio rooms until they were ready to present the songs to the group. So instead of doing this at their individual homes, they instead did it in different rooms in the same studio. Sounds to me like they were working closer, not farther apart. And since the Beatles being forced together in one studio room during the recording of the "LET IT BE" sessions seems to have broken the group up, the working conditions on "The White Album" seems to have been the way the Beatles SHOULD have gone in order to keep working together; if they had stayed with that formula maybe they would've stayed together and given us a few more brilliant albums. Think of that the next time you hear someone whine about "The White Album".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Glass Onion, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Martha My Dear, Blackbird, Piggies, Don't Pass Me By, Why Don't We Do It In the Road, I Will, Julia, Birthday, Mother Nature's Son, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey, Sexy Sadie, Helter Skelter, Long Long Long, Revolution 1, Honey Pie, Savoy Truffle, Cry Baby Cry, Good Night

GUEST ARTISTS: Eric Clapton (lead guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"), Mal Evans (backing vocals on "Dear Prudence", trumpet on "Helter Skelter"), Jack Fallon (violin on "Don't Pass Me By"), Pattie Boyd Harrison (backing vocals on "Birthday"), Jackie Lomax (backing vocals on "Dear Prudence"), Maureen Starkey (backing vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"), Yoko Ono (backing vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and "Birthday", speech/tape/sound effects on "Revolution 9"), The Mike Sammes Singers (backing vocals on "Good Night").

FACT SHEET: THE BEATLES is the Beatles' ninth album (number 9, number 9...); the titles of the album is THE BEATLES and not "The White Album" although that's what it's usually called. The original working title for the album was "A Doll's House". The album was the first released after the death of their manager Brian Epstein and the first album released on their new Apple label. Most of the songs were written in Rishikesh, India while the Beatles were on a transendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with some work being done at Trident. Recording sessions were filled with tension and apparently featured all four Beatles basically working solo and bringing in the others for specific recording needs. The Beatles at the time were in a great deal of turmoil stemming from everything from Brian Epstein's death, group in-fighting, dissillusionment with the Maharishi, business pressures from Apple Corps and the continuing presence of Yoko Ono in the studio. Paul McCartney is reported to have played drums on "Dear Prudence" because Ringo Starr had temporarily quit the group; this resulted in the other three Beatles sharing drum and bass duties on "Back In the U.S.S.R." as well during this period. George Harrison asked Eric Clapton to play lead guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and reciprocated by collaborating on the song "Badge" on Cream's "GOODBYE" album; during Clapton's time in the studio tensions eased and the Beatles were, according to Harrison, "on their best behaviour". This is the album which saw the Beatles move from 4-track to 8-track recording as well as experimenting wildly with a vast array of different musical genres and sounds from 1930's dance hall to country-western to avant-garde John Cage-like noodling to lush movie score sensibilities. The album cover was designed by pop artist Richard Hamilton to contrast Peter Blake's ornate SGT. PEPPER cover; the original album cover featured "The Beatles" in raised embossed lettering with a serial number to suggest a limited edition numbered release. "Dear Prudence" was written for Mia Farrow's sister Prudence who was in India at Maharishi's seminar but would often not come out of her room. "Glass Onion" overtly refers to the current "Paul Is Dead" urban legend with the lyric "and here's another clue for you all/the walrus was Paul". "Martha My Dear" was written for Paul McCartney's sheepdog Martha. "Julia" refers to John Lennon's mother. "Sexy Sadie" is about the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Friday, January 27, 2012

BORIS KARLOFF IN THE INNER SANCTUM - Boris Karloff

YEAR: 1981

LABEL: Radiola/Radio Yesteryear

TRACK LISTING: The Wailing Wall, Birdsong For A Murderer, The Mahogany Coffin

IMPRESSIONS: Around 1979-1980 I got really big into old time radio shows owing mostly to my friend Ed Jacoby who discovered the local PBS radio station was rebroadcasting them daily. Also at the same time, my mother (who worked at ACME) called from the supermarket and told me there were a bunch of old-time radio cassettes for sale (by Metacom) and did I want her to pick me up some. What a question! Simultaneously I discovered Radiola records in stores and sent away for a mail-order catalogue. All this choice resulted in my swimming in old-time radio records and tapes. I still affectionately remember the thrill of having the mailman deliver that big LP-sized box containing about half a dozen Radiola records to my door. Among them was this BORIS KARLOFF IN THE INNER SANCTUM record. INNER SANCTUM is one of my favourite old radio shows and what could be better than a pair of episodes starring the King of Horror Boris Karloff??? I'll tell you what could be better: the little 15 minute episode of THE BLACK CHAPEL tagged onto the end, that's what. This is one of my favourite old radio shows of all-time. Airing a quarter of an hour before midnight on the CBS Pacific Network on the dark, winter evening of January 6, 1939, the story of "The Mahogany Coffin" is masterfully told by Ted Osborne (because unlike regular radio shows, this is simply one person telling a story in the best storyteller tradition). The Karloff episodes are top notch but this BLACK CHAPEL episode is a masterpiece!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: All of 'em.

FACT SHEET: "The Wailing Wall" is an episode of Inner Sanctum broadcast on CBS Radio on November 12, 1945 sponsored by Lipton Tea & Lipton Soup. "Birdsong For A Murderer" is an episode of INNER SANCTUM broadcast on CBS Radio with no broadcast date given. "The Mahogany Coffin" is an episode of THE BLACK CHAPEL starring Ted Osborne broadcast on the CBS Pacific Network on January 6, 1939.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

DOWN IN THE BASEMENT: JOE BUSSARD'S TREASURE TROVE OF VINTAGE 78s 1926-1937 - Various Artists

YEAR: 2002

LABEL: Old Hat Records

TRACK LISTING: The Lost Child - Stripling Brothers, How You Want It Done? - Big Bill Broonzy, The (New) Call of the Freaks - Luis Russell & His Orchestra, The School House Fire - Dixon Brothers, Greenback Dollar - Weems String Band, You Got To Go Down - Blind Gary, The Old Ark's A-Moving - A. A. Gray & Seven-Foot Dilly, Runnin' Wild - James Cole's Washboard Four, Keep It Clean - Charley Jordan, Get the "L" On Down the Road - Bill Johnson's Louisiana Jug Band, I Got A Bulldog - Sweet Brothers & Ernest Stoneman, Old Hen Cackle - Coleman & Harper, Song From A Cotton Field - Bessie Brown, Atlanta Bound - Gene Autry, Easy Rider Blues - Soileau & Robin, Hot Lips - Bill Brown & His Brownies, Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo - Uncle Dave Macon, Hastings Street - Blind Blake & Charlie Spand, Ain't That Trouble In Mind - Fields Ward & the Grayson County Railsplitters, Give the World A Smile - The Corley Family, Original Stack O'Lee Blues - Long Cleve Reed & Little Harley Hull-Down Home Boys, Hot Town - Fess Williams & His Royal Flush Orchestra, Paddlin' Blues - Gitfiddle Jim, Plow Boy Hop - Grinnell Giggers

IMPRESSIONS: Joe Bussard is a national treasure. His passion for and conservation of early 78 rpm recordings of "string bands, blues, jazz, country, cajun, gospel" and other "old time music" is priceless. But not only does he collect these records but he also makes them available to anyone who asks him. I myself have availed myself of this service for a small fee and received several cassette tapes of requests from the man. In his own words: "I'm just a crazy old poppy-eyed hoot owl. Nuttier than a fruitcake! Some people are so goddam cranky-ass they can't have no fun. Well, I've been having fun! You can't say you don't have fun when you come down here (to Joe's basement)! I say, don't hold anything back! Enjoy yourself, relax and live!" This Old Hat Records cd has one of the best packaging and greatest booklets ever to accompany any cd!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Lost Child - Stripling Brothers, How You Want It Done? - Big Bill Broonzy, The (New) Call of the Freaks - Luis Russell & His Orchestra, The Old Ark's A-Moving - A. A. Gray & Seven-Foot Dilly, Runnin' Wild - James Cole's Washboard Four, Keep It Clean - Charley Jordan, I Got A Bulldog - Sweet Brothers & Ernest Stoneman, Old Hen Cackle - Coleman & Harper, Song From A Cotton Field - Bessie Brown, Atlanta Bound - Gene Autry, Easy Rider Blues - Soileau & Robin, Hot Lips - Bill Brown & His Brownies, Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo - Uncle Dave Macon, Hastings Street - Blind Blake & Charlie Spand, Ain't That Trouble In Mind - Fields Ward & the Grayson Country Railsplitters, Give the World A Smile - The Corley Family, Original Stack O'Lee Blues - Louis Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hull-Down Home Boys, Hot Town - Fess Williams & His Royal Flush Orchestra, Paddlin' Blues - Gitfiddle Jim, Plow Boy Hop - Grinnell Giggers

FACT SHEET: Joe Bussard is known as "The King of Record Collectors" with a museum-quality collection of over 25,ooo 78 rpm discs. He generously shares his collection with reissue labels (of which this is one) as well as just folks who can request tapes of any records they want for just a nominal fee. From 1956 6o 1970, Bussard ran the last 78 rpm record label called Fonotone which released new recordings of "old-time" music. Bussard also DJ's the weekly "Country Classics" radio programme for Georgia Tech's radio station WREK Atlanta as well as shows for three other radio stations. Luis Russell was Louis Armstrong's long-time musical director as well as being the father of current blues singer Catherine Russell. Charley Jordan's "Keep It Clean" was covered with new lyrics by R. Crumb. The Down Home Boys' recording of "Original Stack O'Lee Blues" owned by Joe Bussard is the only known copy known to exist; the song is the basis for Lloyd Price's number one hit "Stagger Lee".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SPACE ESCAPADE - Les Baxter

YEAR: 1958

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Shooting Star, Moonscape, Mr. Robot, The City, A Distant Star, The Commuter, Winds of Sirius, The Other Side of the Moon, Somewhere In Space, Earth Light, The Lady Is Blue, Saturday Night On Saturn

BONUS TRACKS: (On the El/Cherry Red cd reissue): Cornflakes, Toy Tiger, Havana, The Trouble With Harry, Sinner Man, The Left Arm of Buddha, The Clown on the Eiffel Tower, Melodia Loca (The Chilean Drive-You-Crazy Song), Venezuela, Cherchez La Femme, Rush Hour Romance, Designing Woman, Blue Echo, Ricordate Marcellino (Remember Marcellino), La Panse (The Little Flower), The Lonely Whistler, Love Song from "Houseboat", Please Mr. Sun

IMPRESSIONS: "Even today, in an era of science and satellites, the mystery of the universe has lost none of its magical appeal. We can close our eyes and dream of the future, wondering whether a starlit planet might soon replace a tropical island, the Riviera, or a distant mountain lodge as an ideal spot for a romantic holiday. Or, with the aid of the music in this album, we can drift into the future's lovemist with Les Baxter and make a spaceliner escapade by earthlight, tongue safely fastened in cheek." The cover of this album is probably one of the most famous in the lounge canon. But the music in the album isn't quite what one would expect from the album cover. Rather than weirdly spacey music, Baxter instead is working more on the lighter, easy listening side of his repertoire with music which sounds more like what I heard in my doctor's office when I was 5 years old. This is not a bad thing if you're in the mood for lighter Liberace lounge -- which I sometimes am -- but the promise of the wacky cover is not quite realized in the music itself. That having been said, this is still an enjoyable Les Baxter loungefest with its sugary strings and scintillating piano arpeggios. "The City" is actually one of Baxter's favourite compositions and late in life, when his memory was failing him, he still would often play "The City" for friends and family at his piano. While SPACE ESCAPADES is a nice, solid space age bachelor pad album, I think Les Baxter is better served with his more exotica-flavoured albums benevolently overseen by the Tiki gods.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Shooting Star, The City, Winds of Sirius, The Other Side of the Moon, Somewhere In Space, Earth Light, The Lady Is Blue, Saturday Night On Saturn, Cornflakes, Havana, The Left Arm of Buddha, Melodia Loca (The Chilean Drive-You-Crazy Song), Venezuela, Blue Echo, Love Song from "Houseboat", Please Mr. Sun

FACT SHEET: SPACE ESCAPADES is Les Baxter's 19th album; it's a little hard to come up with a proper number due to his frequent collaborations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

DR. DEMENTO 20th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION - Various Artists

YEAR: 1991

LABEL: Rhino

TRACK LISTING: Delicious! - Jim Backus, The Scotsman - Bryan Bowers, Junk Food Junkie - Larry Groce, Eat It - Weird Al Yankovic, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight) - Lonnie Donegan, Wet Dream - Kip Addotta, Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh (A Letter From Camp), Wappin' - Darrell Hammond & Christopher Snell, The Purple People Eater - Sheb Wooley, Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Cocktails For Two - Spike Jones, Transfusion - Nervous Norvus, Beep Beep - The Playmates, St. George and the Dragonet - Stan Freberg, Witch Doctor - David Seville, Gitarzan - Ray Stevens, Earache My Eye (Featuring Alice Bowie) - Cheech & Chong, Dead Puppies - Ogdon Edsl, Dancin' Fool - Frank Zappa, Star Trekkin' - The Firm, The Time Warp - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Masochism Tango - Tom Lehrer, The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun - Julie Brown, The Ballad of Irving - Frank Gallop, The Battle of Kookamonga - Homer & Jethro, King Tut - Steve Martin, Der Fuehrer's Face - Spike Jones, Fish Heads - Barnes & Barnes, Poisoning Pigeons In the Park - Tom Lehrer, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out - Shel Silverstein, The Cockroach That Ate Cincinatti - Rose & the Arrangement, Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen, Pencil Neck Geek - Fred Blassie, Ti Kwan Leep/Boot To the Head - The Frantics, Existential Blues - Tom "T-Bone" Stankus, They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haaa! - Napoleon XIV

IMPRESSIONS: I believe the first time I heard the Dr. Demento Show on radio was when it was brought to my attention by my friend Ed Jacoby. I naturally became an avid listener for years and even tape recorded some of the episodes. Sadly, due to the outrageously pitiful Philadelphia radio market, it only lasted several years before the show disappeared from local radio in the early 80's. Around that time, a vinyl box set came out which I snapped up; it's even signed by Dr. Demento himself. Once again sadly that set has never been issued on compact disc. There were also a few single LPs of Dr. Demento released in the 70s which I tracked down as well (also none of which have been reissued on cd, more's the pity). However, in 1991 Rhino went some ways towards rectifying that situation with this 2 cd set containing many of the most well-remember and popular songs the Doctor played on his radio show.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Scotsman - Bryan Bowers, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight) - Lonnie Donegan, Wet Dream - Kip Addotta, Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh (A Letter From Camp) - Allan Sherman, Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Cocktails For Two - Spike Jones, Transfusion - Nervous Norvus, Beep Beep - The Playmates, St. George and the Dragonet - Stan Freberg, Gitarzan - Ray Stevens, Earache My Eye (Featuring Alice Bowie) - Cheech & Chong, Dead Puppies - Ogdon Edsl, Dancin' Fool - Frank Zappa, Star Trekkin' - The Firm, The Time Warp - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun - Julie Brown, The Ballad of Irving - Frank Gallop, King Tut - Steve Martin, Der Fuehrer's Face - Spike Jones, Fish Heads - Barnes & Barnes, Poisoning Pigeons In the Park - Tom Lehrer, The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati - Rose & the Arrangement, Pencil Neck Geek - Fred Blassie, Ti Kwan Leep/Boot To the Head - The Frantics, Existential Blues - Tom "T-Bone" Stankus, They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haaa! - Napoleon XIV

FACT SHEET: Barry Hansen took on his Dr. Demento identity when in 1970 he played Nervous Norvus' "Transfusion" on the radio and a fellow DJ remarked that he must be demented to play such a song. The name stuck and the Doctor started his Dr. Demento Show which became syndicated in 1974. The Dr. Demento Show lasted on "terrestrial radio" until 2010 and has since moved to online streaming broadcasts at the show's official website. The opening theme song for the show is "Pico and Sepulveda" by Felix Figueroa & His Orchestra (actually Freddy Martin & His Orchestra); the song was re-recorded by the Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band and that has been the official theme played since 1974. The Doctor's traditional opening line for every show is "Wind up your radios, Demensions and Dementites!". During the show, various countdown intro music is from composer Harry Partch's "Barstow". The closing theme for the show is "Cheerio, Cherry Lips, Cheerio" by Scrappy Lambert (recorded under the name of Gordon Wallace) which Hansen found in a thrift shop.

Monday, January 23, 2012

AT THE COPA - Sam Cooke

YEAR: 1964

LABEL: ABKCO/RCA Victor

TRACK LISTING: Opening Introduction, The Best Things In Life Are Free, Bill Bailey, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Frankie and Johnny, Medley: Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me, If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song), When I Fall In Love, Twistin' the Night Away, Band Introductions, This Little Light of Mine, Blowin' In the Wind, Tennessee Waltz

IMPRESSIONS: This is the only live album Sam Cooke released in his lifetime. The one venue he wanted to play was the Copacabana; in the singer's mind you hadn't made it until you'd done it. Cooke famously played the Copa early in his career and bombed spectacularly. Therefore, he vowed he would not play the Copa again until he was ready. By 1964, he finally felt he was ready. This album represents a personal milestone for the singer because he successfully played at his "holy grail" venue at long last. As such, the album is an important audio document in Cooke's career but not necessarily representative of his music. Despite his huge success at the time, practically none of his hit singles can be found here. More Trini Lopez concert than Sam Cooke, the album features song choices which to our modern ears seem mighty odd for the singer to be performing. However, that's what put bums in seats at New York's Copa in 1964. Or should I say WHITE bums in seats. As such, the album also is a major success story in the crossover success of black artists into traditionally white charts. However, as a pure listening experience it can come across as a strangely underwhelming and frustrating affair; unless, of course, you yearn to hear the composer of "A Change Is Gonna Come" sing his rendition of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Best Things In Life Are Free, Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out, Medley: Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me, When I Fall In Love, This Little Light of Mine

FACT SHEET: AT THE COPA is Sam Cooke's 16th album (including "Best Ofs"). The live concert was recorded on July 7 - 8, 1964 at New York's Copacabana. Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind" was a personal favourite of Sam's and it provided inspiration for his own "A Change Is Gonna Come".

Sunday, January 22, 2012

WHAT A DIFF'RENCE A DAY MAKES - Dinah Washington

YEAR: 1959

LABEL: Mercury/Verve

TRACK LISTING: I Remember You, I Thought About You, That's All There Is To That, I Won't Cry Anymore, I'm Thru With Love, Cry Me A River, What A Diff'rence A Day Made, Nothing in the World, Manhattan, Time After Time, It's Magic, A Sunday Kind of Love

BONUS TRACKS: Time After Time (First Version), Come On Home, It Could Happen To You, Studio Dialogue

IMPRESSIONS: Dinah Washington is on my Mount Rushmore of vocalists along with Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. "Here's the New Dinah Washington!" That's what the original 1959 liner notes to this album said. And that's kinda true since this is definitely more of a pop album and it resulted in tons of radio play as well as a Grammy for the NOT title track -- you'll notice the song is called "What A Diff'rence A Day Made" while the album title uses the word "Makes". Any road, this album features rather sweet strings a la the albums Nat King Cole or Ray Charles would've been turning out. However, Dinah's "tart tone" (as nicely referred to by itunes concerning her voice) manages to cut through the slightly saccharine strings and maintain the singing quality and emotional truth for which Dinah was renowned. Along with the epoch-making Grammy winning song, Dinah's "I Remember You" is probably my favourite rendition by ANYBODY of that standard. Another really nice touch from the 2000 Verve extended cd release, the final track on the cd features studio dialogue which ends just before the first track "I Remember You" begins; so if you set up your cd player so that the album starts over with track one when it reaches the end of the cd, you get a seemless segue right back into the album. Totally circular, babe!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Remember You, I Thought About You, That's All There Is To That, I Won't Cry Anymore, What A Diff'rence A Day Made, Manhattan, Time After Time, A Sunday Kind of Love, Time After Time (First Version), Come On Home, It Could Happen To You, Studio Dialogue

FACT SHEET: WHAT A DIFF'RENCE A DAY MAKES is Dinah Washington's 14th album. The album was arranged by Belford Henricks. The song "What A Diff'rence A Day Made" won the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

THE BEST OF - Spike Jones

YEAR: 1967

LABEL: RCA Victor

TRACK LISTING: Cocktails For Two, William Tell Overture, Chloe, My Old Flame, The Glow Worm, None But the Lonely Heart, Laura, The Man On the Flying Trapeze, You Always Hurt the One You Love, Der Fuehrer's Face, Dance of the Hours, Hawaiian War Chant

IMPRESSIONS: This has two vivid associations for me. Firstly of my grandfather Buster Mars who was the first Spike Jones connoisseur in my life. I bought this record in the mid-1970s at the Listening Booth store in the Pennsauken Mart where my grandfather and I would go almost every weekend. It was one of the RCA Victor "Pure Gold" reissues on vinyl in the 70s. I would play it on their huge record player which was the size of a bureau and an actual piece of furniture; encased in wood it also served as a storage place for all their record albums in a cabinet inside. My second association is with my friend Ed Jacoby who was also a fan of Spike Jones or any other silly music. When I was a wee kid, he had a reel-to-reel tape deck (as well as many other audio/visual equipment of the day) on which we'd make our own messed-up compilation tapes.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Cocktails For Two, Chloe, My Old Flame, The Glow Worm, None But the Lonely Heart, Laura, You Always Hurt the One You Love, Der Fuehrer's Face, Dance of the Hours, Hawaiian War Chant

FACT SHEET: Carl Crayson sings vocal on "Cocktails For Two", "You Always Hurt the One You Love" and "Der Fuehrer's Face". Doodles Weaver provides "commentary" on "William Tell Overture" and "Dance of the Hours" as well as vocals on "The Man On the Flying Trapeze". Red Ingle sings vocals on "Chloe", "The Glow Worm", "Laura" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love". Paul Judson sings vocals on "My Old Flame". Paul Frees provides vocals on "My Old Flame" as Peter Lorre. Aileen Carlisle sings vocals on "The Glow Worm". Helen Grayco and Spike Jones provide vocals on "None But the Lonely Heart". Jimmy Cassidy and Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath provide vocals on "Laura". The cover portrait of Spike Jones was painted by Jack Davis.

Friday, January 20, 2012

MODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY & WESTERN MUSIC - Ray Charles

YEAR: 1962

LABEL: ABC-Paramount/Rhino

TRACK LISTING: Bye Bye Love, You Don't Know Me, Half as Much, I Love You So Much It Hurts, Just A Little Lovin' (Will Go A Long Way), Born To Lose, Worried Mind, It Makes No Difference Now, You Win Again, Careless Love, I Can't Stop Lovin' You, Hey Good Lookin'

BONUS TRACKS: You Are My Sunshine, Here We Go Again, That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven)

IMPRESSIONS: Certainly one of the most influential albums of all time. This one makes me think of my late friend Peg. We would often listen to some Ray Charles when she was putting the water up for pasta (and she'd usually sing "Hit the Road, Jack" when it was time for me to go home). And one of the most often played of Brother Ray's output was this album.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: You Don't Know Me, Half As Much, I Love You So Much It Hurts, Just A Little Lovin', Born To Lose, It Makes No Difference Now, You Win Again, Careless Love, I Can't Stop Lovin' You, That Lucky Old Sun

FACT SHEET: MODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY AND WESTERN MUSIC is Ray Charles' 18th album (more or less); it is his fifth album released by ABC-Paramount after Charles left Atlantic Records for a much better contract. It is a concept album of sorts in that Ray Charles covers well-known country songs as a radical departure from his usual output. The album is considered a landmark in breaking down racial barriers in the music industry; by combining R&B with Country, Ray Charles received radio play on both black and white stations. The album spent 14 weeks at number one on the US pop charts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SONG OF JOY - The Captain & Tennille

YEAR: 1976

LABEL: A&M

TRACK LISTING: Song of Joy, Lonely Night (Angel Face), Mind Your Love, Smile For Me One More Time, Shop Around, Going Bananas, Butterscotch Castle, Muskrat Love, Thank You Baby, Wedding Song (There Is Love), 1954 Boogie Blues

IMPRESSIONS: Here's another one that reminds me of summer in Egg Harbor with my second girlfriend; what exactly is this sudden gravitation towards memories of Kelly Ann??? I would only see her on summer vacations at my father's house in Egg Harbor and this is when I bought and played the hell out of this album. I was all of 10 years old and we both loved this album. At the time, "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" was my favourite song. Then there's the soaring gospel of the opening title track which still manages to thrill me to this day. Jerry Reed Hubbard's "Mind Your Love" is another barnstormer which should've been recorded by Ray Charles. And the side concludes with the deliriously (and deliberately) silly pseudo-instrumental "Going Bananas" which sounds like exactly that! While side one can still be listened to without any apology, side two is where all the embarrassment resides. However, I've reached an age when the unbelieveable saccharine kitsch of "Muskrat Love" (a tune I didn't like back then) and "Butterscotch Castle" can be enjoyed for this very quality. There's also that "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" squirmer which it seems every wedding during the mid-to-late 70's was required by law to play as the unlucky couple staggered down the aisle.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Song of Joy, Lonely Night (Angel Face), Mind Your Love, Shop Around, Going Bananas, Butterscotch Castle, Muskrat Love

FACT SHEET: SONG OF JOY is the Captain & Tennille's second album which proved equally as successful as their debut album and produced three top 5 hits. The title song was written by Reginald Rasputin Boutte and Billy Preston. "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" is another cover of a Neil Sedaka song who continued to be their patron saint after their megahit debut with Sedaka's "Love Will Keep Us Together". "Shop Around" is a cover of the original Smokey Robinson & the Miracles #2 hit which took the Captain & Tennille to #4 on the charts. Finally, their third hit single was a cover of W.A. Ramsey's "Muskrat Candlelight" which they released as "Muskrat Love". The Captain & Tennille was basically a trio on album with Tennille on vocals and Daryl Dragon on bass and synthesizers while Hal Blaine played drums. Backup vocals were by Toni Tennille with her sisters Louise and Melissa.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

AIN'T THAT A BITCH - Johnny "Guitar" Watson

YEAR: 1976

LABEL: Shout Factory

TRACK LISTING: I Need It, I Want To Ta-Ta You Baby, Superman Lover, Ain't That A Bitch, Since I Met You Baby, We're No Exception, Won't You Forgive Me Baby

BONUS TRACKS: Funkula, Follow Me

IMPRESSIONS: What an outrrrrrrrrrrrrrrageous cover! This album brings to mind commuting 40 miles round trip to my job at the Turnersville Lone Star down Cross Keys Road circa 1997. Somehow or other I had suddenly gotten Johnny "Guitar" Watson on my radar in the mid-90's and picked up this cd at Tunes. "Bitch" is probably the best place to start when delving into "the Gangster of Love's" 70's funk success.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Want to Ta-Ta You Baby, Superman Lover, Ain't That A Bitch, Since I Met You Baby, We're No Exception

FACT SHEET: AIN'T THAT A BITCH is Johnny "Guitar" Watson's 11th album. The album was certified gold and was Watson's first successful funk album after a long career as a blues artist. The album spawned two hit singles: "Superman Lover" (which would be later sampled by Ice Cube, Ghostface Killah and Redman) and "I Need It". Watson's often spoken lyrics lend him to be considered one of the forefathers of rap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LOVE - Johnny Cash

YEAR: 2000

LABEL: Columbia/American/Legacy

TRACK LISTING: I Walk the Line, Oh What A Dream, All Over Again, A Little At A Time, My Old Faded Rose, Happiness Is You, Flesh and Blood, I Tremble For You, I Feel Better All Over, 'Cause I Love You, Ballad of Barbara, Ring of Fire, My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You, While I've Got It On My Mind, I Still Miss Someone, The One Rose (That's Left In My Heart)

IMPRESSIONS: This is the very first Johnny Cash album I ever got because frankly I had never given Johnny Cash a second thought. I did not listen to the Rick Rubin-produced "AMERICAN RECORDINGS" series in the 1990s nor had I ever listened to "LIVE AT FOLSOM PRISON" or any other Cash record in my life. Cash to me was the guy who sang "A Boy Named Sue" or else "Sunday Morning Coming Down" (a song beloved by my old friend Ed Jacoby which I actually liked a lot). However, I was never into country music and Cash simply didn't exist to me. I owe my current appreciation (and it is substantial now) of Johnny Cash to my ex: Shit For Brains -- and it is one of the very few things I am indebted to her for. She was a huge fan owing to her late father's love of Cash's music so, in 2000 I thought I'd check out what I was missing and bought the newly-released "themed" cds compiled by the "Man In Black" himself: "LOVE", "GOD" and "MURDER". For those that know me, it may come as something of a surprise that my favourite of the three is "LOVE"; everyone I know would automatically think "MURDER" (a collection of dark murder ballads) would've been my fave but not a collection of "sappy love songs". But "LOVE" is the album I played more than the other two for some reason and the songs are anything but "sappy"; Cash couldn't be sappy if he tried. These songs, personally handpicked by Cash himself, were recorded between 1956 and 1996 and were mostly written for and about his wife June Carter Cash. Miles from sappy, these songs are typically honest, clear-eyed Johnny Cash from his genuine, matter-of-fact statements of love ("'Cause I Love You") to the sometimes silliness between lovers ("My Old Faded Rose") to the agony of separation ("I Still Miss Someone") to the frankly randy ("Ring of Fire" and "While I've Got It On My Mind"). Above all, the genuineness of emotion conveyed in the songs is what hooked me in. "For the last 35 years", June writes in the liner notes, "I have been able to look into those black steel eyes (of Johnny's) and feel his love, and realize that he always cared." Or in the man's own words: "What has happened to our love language? We have brought it down to three-minute sound bites -- sandwiches in cute words that rhyme. And its a shame that those love songs are played everywhere with no follow-up kisses to seal the words." There is nothing "cute" or "surface" about Cash's love songs on this cd; even the light-hearted ones go deep beneath the surface to illustrate how grown-ups love and are loved. The songs are direct in their subject matter. To let the man himself sum it up: "I remember when I fell into June's 'Ring of Fire'. There was a lot of showing it as well as saying it. Never has there been a deeper love than my love for her. At times, it was painful, but we shared the pain, so it was just half painful. Now, even though it mellowed out, the flame of our love still burns. And it burns, burns, burns."

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: I Walk the Line, Oh What A Dream, All Over Again, A Little At A Time, My Old Faded Rose, Happiness Is You, Flesh and Blood, 'Cause I Love You, Ballad of Barbara, Ring of Fire, My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You, While I've Got It On My Mind, I Still Miss Someone

FACT SHEET: "LOVE" is a concept album compilation of songs handpicked by Johnny Cash on the subject. Also released at the same time in 2000 were two more collections called "GOD" and "MURDER". Shortly after their separate release (and healthy sales figures), the three albums were combined in a box set slipcase but the cds were originally released separately. The songs were recorded between 1956 and 1996 covering Cash's entire career up to that time. Along with more well-known tracks, Cash included lesser-known album cuts as well as previously unreleased songs "My Old Faded Rose" (1964) and "I Tremble For You" (1967).

Monday, January 16, 2012

MRS. PINOCCI'S GUITAR - Cheryl Wheeler

YEAR: 1995

LABEL: Rounder

TRACK LISTING: Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar, Does the Future Look Black, School Girls, TV, The Rivers, Further and Further Away, Is It Peace or Is It Prozac?, Howl at the Moon, The Storm, So Far To Fall, Makes Good Sense To Me, Piper, Time Taketh Away, One Love

IMPRESSIONS: Along with Cheryl's DRIVING HOME, this is one of my favourite albums of all time. Another masterpiece (that's two in a row for our girl). The opening title track is deceptively simple but often makes me cry during the final verse. This album is just wall-to-wall with exceptionally well-written songs and it's debatably Wheeler's masterpiece. I saw Cheryl live circa 2000 along with Patty Larkin, John Gorka and Cliff Eberhardt and when she sang "Howl at the Moon" the other three singers unexpectedly came on the stage to sing harmony on the chorus; from Cheryl's reaction the moment was unplanned and you could tell it genuinely touched her.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar, Does the Future Look Black, School Girls, TV, Further and Further Away, Is It Peace or Is It Prozac?, Howl at the Moon, The Storm, So Far To Fall, Makes Good Sense To Me, Piper, Time Taketh Away

GUEST ARTISTS: Jonathan Edwards (vocals on "School Girls", co-producer), Johnatha Brooke (background vocals on "The Rivers")

FACT SHEET: MRS. PINOCCI'S GUITAR is Cheryl Wheeler's fifth album. The title track is based on an actual event in Cheryl's life. The hilarious and oddly touching "Is It Peace or Is it Prozac?" was written after Cheryl suffered a nervous breakdown and, after she recovered she wrote "Howl at the Moon" for her new dog James. "Makes Good Sense To Me" was Cheryl's response to the right-wing "Contract with America" in 1994. The album was nominated for the "Song of the Year" Penguin Award for "So Far To Fall" and won Penguin Awards that year for "Duet of the Year" for "School Girls" and "Album of the Year".

Sunday, January 15, 2012

BODY AND SOUL - Billie Holiday

YEAR: 1957

LABEL: Verve

TRACK LISTING: Body and Soul, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Darn That Dream, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, Comes Love, Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You?, Embraceable You, Moonlight in Vermont

BONUS TRACKS: Comes Love (False Start Take 2), Comes Love (False Start Take 3), Comes Love (Alternate Take 1)

IMPRESSIONS: This is another of those "late night" albums. Lady Day is nearing the end of her career and her life and may not be in perfect voice but, as the itunes album review quite rightly puts it: ". . .Billie Holiday with some of the platinum chipped off the pipes is still way better than bunch of finger-snappin' wannabees any day." Yer damn skippy! The intimate setting of Holiday and her band gently swinging lends the quality of a live performance in a midnight club; this is enhanced by the inclusion of studio ambiance included on the cd reissue. It seems like, at the end of her career, Holiday has once more gone back to being "the singer with the band" as the musicians are given equal time with sometimes quite extended musical performances after Lady Day sings the first verse and chorus. There may be better Billie Holiday albums vocally but this one provides a wonderful atmosphere and depth of emotion which is just as priceless

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Body and Soul, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Darn That Dream, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, Comes Love, Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You?, Embraceable You, Moonlight in Vermont

FACT SHEET: BODY AND SOUL is Billie Holiday's eighth album (if it's possible to count album releases from this era). The album was produced by Norman Granz and features an excellent band made up of Ben Webster (tenor sax), Barney Kessel (guitar), Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet), Jimmy Rowles (piano), Red Mitchell (bass) and Larry Bunker (drums).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

FRANZ LISZT: FANTAISIE ET FUGUE SUR LE NOM DE BACH, EN REVE, BALLADE NO. 2, NUAGES GRIS, BAGATELLE SANS TONALITE, LUGUBRE GONDOLE 1 ET 2, UNSTERN!, CSARDAS MACABRE - Olivier Gardon


YEAR: 2006

LABEL: BNL

TRACK LISTING: Fantaisie et Fugue sur le Nom de Bach, En Rêve - Nocturne, Ballade No. 2, Nuages Gris, Bagatelle sans Tonalité, La Lugubre Gondole No. 1, La Lugubre Gondole No. 2, Unstern!, Csardas Macabre

IMPRESSIONS: This album contains some of Liszt's darkest music. I always thought this would make for perfect listening around noon on Halloween; before the trick or treaters start coming around and before the sun goes down. There would be yellow leaves blowing about across the lawns and a nice, round orange pumpkin sitting sentry on the front porch. There is a particular stillness about Halloween afternoon which suits this piano music perfectly. Olivier Gardon's touch is spot on with this material and some of it features Liszt going "booga-booga"!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Fantaisie et Fugue sur le Nom de Bach, Ballade No. 2, Nuages Gris, Bagatelle sans Tonalité, La Lugubre Gondole No. 1, La Lugubre Gondole No. 2, Unstern!, Csardas Macabre

FACT SHEET: Liszt's "Fantasy and Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H" was composed in 1855 and later revised in 1870; it is a frequently performed piece in the organ repertoire even though it was originally composed for pianoforte. Nuages Gris mean "Grey Clouds" and was composed on August 24, 1881; it's one of Liszt's most haunting as well as experimental works with respect to expressive compositional structure and owes it's bleak sound probably to the fact that the composer was suffering from a fall down a flight of stairs as well as dropsy and failing eyesight at the time. "Bagatelle Without Tonality" was composed in 1885 is an extremely chromatic waltz which could be taken as a piece of program music for Nikolaus Lenau's FAUST. "La Lugubre Gondole" is one of Liszt's most important late works composed in Venice when the composer was a guest of Richard Wagner. Liszt may have had a premonition of Wagner's death which inspired the first version of the 4/4 piano work in 1882; the piece was recomposed shortly after in 1883 and was probably meant as a memorial piece to Wagner. "Unstern!" means "Evil Star" and is another example of Liszt's important late work (1885) in which he experiments with new chord structure and piling up thirds; at the climax of the piece Lizst pairs two mutually exclusive chords against each other in a sound which Peter Raabe has described as like a prisoner hammering on a wall knowing full well that no one will hear him. "Csardas Macabre" is another late "diabolic" piano work which may have been inspired by Liszt's friend Camille Saint-Saens' "Danse Macabre" of 1876.

Friday, January 13, 2012

IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME BY NOW: THE BEST OF - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

YEAR: 1995

LABEL: Epic/Legacy

TRACK LISTING: Cabaret, The Love I Lost, If You Don't Know Me By Now, Don't Leave Me This Way, I'm Weak For You, Everybody's Talkin', Hope That We Can Be Together Soon, Bad Luck, Where Are All My Friends, Wake Up Everybody, Yesterday I Had the Blues, Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back), I Miss You, Tell the World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby, Keep On Lovin' You

IMPRESSIONS: Growing up in South Jersey, I heard a lot of "the Sound of Philadelphia" in my childhood during the seventies. One of the premiere groups to emerge from Philadelphia International was Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring the spectacular voice of Teddy Pendergrass. Hearing these sounds usually makes me think of my second-ever girlfriend when I was ten years old: Kelly Ann L.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Love I Lost, If You Don't Know Me By Now, Don't Leave Me This Way, I'm Weak For You, Bad Luck, Wake Up Everybody, I Miss You, Tell the World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby, Keep On Lovin' You

FACT SHEET: Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes started life as the Charlemagnes. They took the name "The Blue Notes" in 1954 without much chart success. The band added drummer Teddy Pendergrass (formerly of the Cadillacs) in 1970. At the time they signed to Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label in 1972, the group consisted of Harold Melvin, Teddy Pendergrass, Bernard Wilson, Lawrence Brown and Lloyd Parks. They scored a number of big hits in the next four years until Teddy Pendergrass quit the group at the height of their success in 1976 to start a solo career. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes are one of the most successfully covered Philly soul groups with hit versions of their songs including Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way" and Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me By Now".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ATLANTIC RHYTHM AND BLUES 1947-1974 - Various Artists

YEAR: 1991

LABEL: Atlantic

TRACK LISTING: Lowe Groovin' - Joe Morris, That Old Black Magic - Tiny Grimes, Annie Laurie - Tiny Grimes, Midnight Special - Tiny Grimes, The Applejack - Joe Morris, Cole Slaw - Frank Culley, Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Stick McGhee, So Long - Ruth Brown, I'll Get Along Somehow - Ruth Brown, Hey Little Girl - Professor Longhair, Mardi Gras in New Orleans - Professor Longhair, Tee Nah Nah - Harry Van Walls, Danny Boy - Al Hibbler, Anytime Anyplace Anywhere - Joe Morris, Teardrops From My Eyes - Ruth Brown, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - Stick McGhee, Don't You Know I Love You - The Clovers, Shouldn't I Know - The Cardinals, The Chill Is On - Big Joe Turner, Chains of Love - Big Joe Turner, Fool Fool Fool - The Clovers, One Mint Julep - The Clovers, Wheel of Fortune - The Cardinals, Sweet Sixteen - Big Joe Turner, 5-10-15 Hours - Ruth Brown, Gator's Groove - Willis Jackson, Ting-A-Ling - The Clovers, Daddy Daddy - Ruth Brown, The Midnight Hour - Ray Charles, A Beggar For Your Kisses - The Diamonds, Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean - Ruth Brown, Good Lovin' - The Clovers, Wild Wild Young Men - Ruth Brown, Mess Around - Ray Charles, Honey Hush - Big Joe Turner, Soul On Fire - LaVern Baker, Money Honey - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Lovey Dovey - The Clovers, Such A Night - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Tipitina - Professor Longhair, White Christmas - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Honey Love - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Whatcha Gonna Do? - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Shake Rattle & Roll - Big Joe Turner, Sh-Boom - The Chords, Oh What A Dream - Ruth Brown, Jam Up - Tommy Ridgley, After the Lights Go Down Low - Al Hibbler, Tomorrow Night - LaVern Baker, Tweedlee Dee - LaVern Baker, I Got A Woman - Ray Charles, Greenbacks - Ray Charles, The Door Is Still Open - The Cardinals, Flip Flop & Fly - Big Joe Turner, A Fool For You - Ray Charles, This Little Girl of Mine - Ray Charles, Play It Fair - LaVern Baker, Adorable - The Drifters, Smokey Joe's Cafe - The Robins, Ruby Baby - The Drifters, In Paradise - The Cookies, The Chicken and the Hawk - Big Joe Turner, Devil Or Angel - The Clovers, Drown In My Own Tears - Ray Charles, Hallelujah I Love Her So - Ray Charles, Jim Dandy - LaVern Baker, Down In Mexico - The Coasters, Corrine Corrina - Big Joe Turner, Treasure of Love - Clyde McPhatter, Love Love Love - The Clovers, It's Too Late - Chuck Willis, Lonely Avenue - Ray Charles, Since I Met You Baby - Ivory Joe Hunter, Lucky Lips - Ruth Brown, Without Love (There Is Nothing) - Clyde McPhatter, Fools Fall In Love - The Drifters, Midnight Special Train - Big Joe Turner, Empty Arms - Ivory Joe Hunter, C. C. Rider - Chuck Willis, Searchin' - The Coasters, Young Blood - The Coasters, Mr. Lee - The Bobbettes, Long Lonely Nights - Clyde McPhatter, Betty and Dupree - Chuck Willis, What Am I Livin' For? - Chuck Willis, Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes - Chuck Willis, Yakety Yak - The Coasters, A Lover's Question - Clyde McPhatter, I Cried A Tear - LaVern Baker, The Right Time - Ray Charles, Charlie Brown - The Coasters, What'd I Say? (Parts 1 & 2) - Ray Charles, There Goes My Baby - The Drifters, Along Came Jones - The Coasters, Let the Good Times Roll - Ray Charles, Poison Ivy - The Coasters, Dance With Me - The Drifters, Just For A Thrill - Ray Charles, This Magic Moment - the Drifters, Save the Last Dance For Me - The Drifters, Shopping For Clothes - The Coasters, Spanish Harlem - Ben E. King, Young Boy Blues - Ben E. King, Stand By Me - Ben E. King, Gee Whiz - Carla Thomas, Saved - LaVern Baker, Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms) - Solomon Burke, Little Egypt - The Coasters, Amor - Ben E. King, Last Night - The Mar-Keys, I'm Blue - The Ikettes, You Don't Miss Your Water - William Bell, I Found A Love - The Falcons, Cry To Me - Solomon Burke, Don't Play That Song (You Lied) - Ben E. King, Green Onions - Booker T. & the MG's, Up On the Roof - The Drifters, See See Rider - LaVern Baker, I (Who Have Nothing) - Ben E. King, If You Need Me - Solomon Burke, These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding, Hello Stranger - Barbara Lewis, On Broadway - The Drifters, Just One Look - Doris Troy, Mashed Potatoes - Nat Kendricks & the Swans, Land of 1000 Dances - Chris Kenner, Walkin' the Dog - Rufus Thomas, Release Me - Esther Phillips, Mercy Mercy - Don Covay, Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters, And I Love Him - Esther Phillips, Hold What You've Got - Joe Tex, Mr. Pitiful - Otis Redding, Baby I'm Yours - Barbara Lewis, Teasin' You - Willie Tee, Got To Get You Off My Mind - Solomon Burke, I Want To Do Everything For You - Joe Tex, I've Been Loving You Too Long - Otis Redding, A Sweet Woman Like You - Joe Tex, In the Midnight Hour - Wilson Pickett, See-Saw - Don Covay, Respect - Otis Redding, You Don't Know Like I Know - Sam & Dave, When A Man Loves A Woman - Percy Sledge, 634-5789 - Wilson Pickett, Hold On I'm Comin' - Sam & Dave, Cool Jerk - The Capitols, Neighbor Neighbor - Jimmy Hughes, Land of 1000 Dances - Wilson Pickett, Knock On Wood - Eddie Floyd, Try A Little Tenderness - Otis Redding, Mustang Sally - Wilson Pickett, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby - Sam & Dave, Sweet Soul Music - Arthur Conley, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You) - Aretha Franklin, Do Right Woman-Do Right Man - Aretha Franklin, Show Me - Joe Tex, Tramp - Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, Funky Broadway - Wilson Pickett, Hip Hug-Her - Booker T. & the MG's, Soul Man - Sam & Dave, Respect - Aretha Franklin, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin, Soul Finger - The Bar-Kays, Baby I Love You - Aretha Franklin, Skinny Legs and All - Joe Tex, Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin, I'm In Love - Wilson Pickett, Memphis Soul Stew - King Curtis, Since You've Been Gone - Aretha Franklin, (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding, Tighten Up - Archie Bell & the Drells, Slip Away - Clarence Carter, Think - Aretha Franklin, Too Weak To Fight - Clarence Carter, Can I Change My Mind - Tyrone Davis, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack, Take A Letter Maria - R. B. Greaves, Rainy Night In Georgia - Brook Benton, The Ghetto - Donny Hathaway, Turn Back the Hands of Time - Tyrone Davis, Compared To What - Les McCann & Eddie Harris, Call Me - Aretha Franklin, Don't Play That Song (You Lied) - Aretha Franklin, Precious Precious - Jackie Moore, Groove Me - King Floyd, Patches - Clarence Carter, Don't Knock My Love (Part 1) - Wilson Pickett, Funky Nassau (Parts 1 & 2) - Beginning of the End, Thin Line Between Love and Hate - The Persuaders, Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin, Day Dreamin' - Aretha Franklin, You've Got A Friend - Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Clean Up Woman - Betty Wright, Could It Be I'm Falling In Love - The Spinners, Killing Me Softly With His Song - Roberta Flack, Where Is the Love? - Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, I'll Be Around - The Spinners, Feel Like Makin' Love - Roberta Flack, One of A Kind - The Spinners, Sideshow - Blue Magic, Mighty Love - The Spinners, Love Won't Let Me Wait - Major Harris

IMPRESSIONS: All killer no filler! The House that Ruth Built. The impact and influence of the Atlantic Records catalogue cannot be overstated. This is one of the best box sets you're gonna find. The song "Patches" by Clarence Carter was one of my earliest "favourite songs" as a wee kid; because of this my first dog was named Patches. He bit me.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Everything here is a stone classic. But in the interest of brevity (already out the window with THIS monumental post), I'll choose my favourites from the best of the best: Cole Slaw - Frank "Floorshow" Culley, Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Stick McGhee, So Long - Ruth Brown, I'll Get Along Somehow - Ruth Brown, Hey Little Girl - Professor Longhair, Mardi Gras in New Orleans - Professor Longhair, Teardrops From My Eyes - Ruth Brown, One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - Stick McGhee, The Chill Is On - Big Joe Turner, Chains of Love - Big Joe Turner, Wheel of Fortune - The Cardinals, 5-10-15 Hours - Ruth Brown, Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean - Ruth Brown, Mess Around - Ray Charles, Honey Hush - Big Joe Turner, Soul On Fire - LaVern Baker, Money Honey - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, White Christmas - Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters, Shake Rattle & Roll - Big Joe Turner, Sh-Boom - The Chords, Oh What A Dream - Ruth Brown, Jam Up - Tommy Ridgley, After the Lights Go Down Low - Al Hibbler, Tomorrow Night - LaVern Baker, Tweedlee Dee - LaVern Baker, I Got A Woman - Ray Charles, Greenbacks - Ray Charles, Flip Flop and Fly - Big Joe Turner, Play It Fair - LaVern Baker, Smokey Joe's Cafe - The Robins, In Paradise - The Cookies, Devil Or Angel - The Clovers, Hallelujah I Love Her So - Ray Charles, Jim Dandy - LaVern Baker, Down in Mexico - The Coasters, Lonely Avenue - Ray Charles, Since I Met You Baby - Ivory Joe Hunter, Lucky Lips - Ruth Brown, Fools Fall In Love - The Drifters, C. C. Rider - Chuck Willis, Searchin' - The Coasters, A Lover's Question - Clyde McPhatter, The Night Time is the Right Time - Ray Charles, What'd I Say (Parts 1 & 2) - Ray Charles, There Goes My Baby - The Drifters, Let the Good Times Roll - Ray Charles, Save the Last Dance For Me - The Drifters, Spanish Harlem - Ben E. King, Young Boy Blues - Ben E. King, Stand By Me - Ben E. King, Gee Whiz - Carla Thomas, Saved - LaVern Baker, Last Night - The Mar-Keys, Cry To Me - Solomon Burke, Green Onions - Booker T. & the MG's, Up On the Roof - The Drifters, These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding, Hello Stranger - Barbara Lewis, Just One Look - Doris Troy, Mashed Potatoes - Nat Kendricks & the Swans, Walking the Dog - Rufus Thomas, Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters, And I Love Him - Esther Phillips, Hold What You've Got - Joe Tex, Baby I'm Yours - Barbara Lewis, Teasin' You - Willie Tee, Got To Get You Off My Mind - Solomon Burke, I Want To Do Everything For You - Joe Tex, I've Been Loving You Too Long - Otis Redding, Hold On I'm Comin' - Sam & Dave, Cool Jerk - The Capitols, Knock On Wood - Eddie Floyd, Try A Little Tenderness - Otis Redding, Sweet Soul Music - Arthur Conley, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You) - Aretha Franklin, Do Right Woman Do Right Man - Aretha Franklin, Hip Hug-Her - Booker T. & the MG's, Soul Man - Sam & Dave, Respect - Aretha Franklin, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin, Baby I Love You - Aretha Franklin, Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin, Since You've Been Gone - Aretha Franklin, (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding, Think - Aretha Franklin, Can I Change My Mind - Tyrone Davis, Rainy Night In Georgia - Brook Benton, The Ghetto - Donny Hathaway, Turn Back the Hands of Time - Tyrone Davis, Call Me - Aretha Franklin, Don't Play That Song (You Lied) - Aretha Franklin, Groove Me - King Floyd, Patches - Clarence Carter, Funky Nassau (Parts 1 & 2) - Wilson Pickett, Thin Line Between Love and Hate - The Persuaders, Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin, Day Dreamin' - Aretha Franklin, Clean Up Woman - Betty Wright, Could It Be I'm Falling In Love - The Spinners, Where Is the Love? - Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, I'll Be Around - The Spinners, Feel Like Makin' Love - Roberta Flack, Sideshow - Blue Magic, Love Won't Let Me Wait - Major Harris

FACT SHEET: ATLANTIC RHYTHM AND BLUES 1947-1974 is an eight cd box set which chronologically covers the biggest hits from the classic R&B label between the years 1947 - 1974. The box set was originally released in 1985 on vinyl with one less record in the box; the final volume (number 8) featuring music from the years 1970 to 1974 was included when the box set was reissued on compact disc in 1991.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

LAND OF DREAMS - Randy Newman

YEAR: 1988

LABEL: Reprise

TRACK LISTING: Dixie Flyer, New Orleans Wins the War, Four Eyes, Falling In Love, Something Special, Bad News From Home, Roll With the Punches, Masterman and Baby J, Red Bandana, Follow the Flag, It's Money That Matters, I Want You To Hurt Like I Do

IMPRESSIONS: Half a brilliant album. Often considered a concept album, it's really not. The concept of songs concerning Newman's childhood holds strong for the first few songs on the album which do deal with autobiographical material. Sadly, that concept suddenly evaporates and the songs become unrelated. This album contains some of my favourite Randy Newman songs including album opener "Dixie Flyer" and the murder ballad (or is that "pre-"murder ballad) "Bad News From Home" which are both brilliant. Unfortunately, side two of the album contains mostly dross until you get to the brilliant father/son "I Want You To Hurt Like I Do" which features a very atypical theme for a father/son song. While half of the album may contain mediocre material, the other half more than makes up for it and is well worth a listen.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Dixie Flyer, New Orleans Wins the War, Four Eyes, Falling In Love, Bad News From Home, It's Money That Matters, I Want You To Hurt Like I Do

GUEST ARTISTS: David Paich (synthesizer), Tom Petty (guitar, background vocals), James Newton Howard (synthesizer, keyboards), Jeff Porcaro (drums), Mark Knopfler (guitar, vocals), Jeff Lynne (keyboards, backing vocals)

FACT SHEET: LAND OF DREAMS is Randy Newman's ninth album. The album title is also a fantasy novel by James P. Blaylock. Before the album's release, the song "Something Special" was used in the end credits for the 1987 Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell movie "OVERBOARD". The exquisite piano bridge from "Dixie Flyer" is often used on public radio as filler/break music between features.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SUPER TROUPER - ABBA

YEAR: 1980

LABEL: Atlantic

TRACK LISTING: Super Trouper, The Winner Takes It All, On and On and On, Andante Andante, Me and I, Happy New Year, Our Last Summer, The Piper, Lay All Your Love On Me, The Way Old Friends Do (Live)

IMPRESSIONS: The pop juggernaut! This album was given to me as a birthday present by my grandmother in 1980 (along with the "GLENN MILLER - A MEMORIAL" record mentioned elsewhere on this blog; click the Glenn Miller label for more info). It is the only actual ABBA album (not being a "best of compilation") that I own and its pop wonderfulness got a lot of play back then. It contains probably my favourite ABBA song "The Winner Takes It All" and the album has something of an autumnal feel. After all, "The Winner Takes It All" was ABBA's last huge hit single and SUPER TROUPER was their last chart topping album. Even the upbeat songs have a hint of melancholy about them and there's an "end of the party" feel to the album (made explicit in the song "Happy New Year" and its accompanying video as well as the literal approach of autumn found in "Our Last Summer"). "On and On and On" is one of my favourite stompers and it's got a wonderful cynical edge to it not usually found in ABBA's oeuvre. The medieval silliness of "The Piper" is a lot of fun and I think channels the fascination with Dungeons & Dragons that was high in 1980 cultural consciousness.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Super Trouper, The Winner Takes It All, On and On and On, Happy New Year, Our Last Summer, The Piper

FACT SHEET: SUPER TROUPER is ABBA's seventh album. "Super Trouper" is a registered trademark owned by Strong Entertainment Lighting referring to their brand of directional spotlights used to follow an entertainer while performing on stage. The cover was designed by Rune Söderqvist and utilizes the "spotlight" theme with the band surrounded by the members of two circuses filmed at Europa Studios in Stockholm; the original concept was to have the cover photo staged in London's Piccadilly Circus until it was discovered there was a law preventing entertainers and animals in Central London. "The Winner Takes It All" made reference to the divorce of Agnetha and Björn the year before. "On and On and On" is about the band's experiences of Stockholm's night life. "The Way Old Friends Do" was recorded live during ABBA's 1979 world tour; it was usually performed at the end of the concert with the band members linking arms around Benny's accordion. On the original vinyl LP, the audience applause at the end continues into the run-off groove meaning that it will play continuously if your turntable doesn't have an autostop feature.

Monday, January 9, 2012

NEVER NEVER LAND - Jane Monheit

YEAR: 2000

LABEL: N-Coded Music

TRACK LISTING: Please Be Kind, Detour Ahead, More Than You Know, Dindi, Save Your Love For Me, Never Let Me Go, My Foolish Heart, I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good), Twisted, Never Never Land

IMPRESSIONS: In June 2000, I began working at Borders in charge of classical music cds; at that time (when Borders KNEW what it was doing) every section of books, music and video had a person expert in that section in order to provide top assistance to customers. This is how you sell things. World, take note. Anyway, Maz was in charge of the jazz cds and I would often ask her to recommend some tasty jazz albums to me; many of my favourite jazz albums were purchased on her say so. One day, she brought me over to a listening station to listen to this "brand new kid" with the great voice: it was Jane Monheit. She does have what someone called a voice "about as close to flawless as a human can get" and this debut certainly demonstrates that for all to hear. In listening to her subsequent albums, I sometimes noticed a tiny bit of the spark of emotion missing in her singing; a complaint sometimes levelled against the great Ella Fitzgerald for being technically brilliant but a little cold. However, this debut album doesn't suffer from that at all; here (probably due to her endlessly working many of these songs for competition) Monheit sings with a great deal of warmth. She perhaps doesn't manage to get as silly as she should on Annie Ross' "Twisted" but her love ballads sound suitably smitten and/or broken-hearted (as each song requires). Jane's take on Sammy Cahn's "Please Be Kind" is wonderfully playful and upbeat on a song which is usually performed more low-key. On "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good), Monheit sings the rarely-heard verse which she heard on her "Bible" the Ella Fitzgerald "Duke Ellington Songbook" album so the comparison earlier to Ella is certainly justified. This debut also features the beginning of Monheit's obsession with Brazilian bossa nova with the inclusion of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi"; Monheit usually has at least one Jobim/Brazilian bossa nova tune on her albums.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Please Be Kind, Detour Ahead, More Than You Know, Dindi, Save Your Love For Me, Never Let Me Go, I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good), Twisted

GUEST ARTISTS: Kenny Barron (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Lewis Nash (drums), David "Fathead" Newman (tenor saxophone), Hank Crawford (alto saxophone)

FACT SHEET: NEVER NEVER LAND is Jane Monheit's first album. "The Mermaid" (a nickname given to her because of her long hair) was only 22 when she recorded her debut album. A lifelong singer, she came to New York when she was 17 and enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music. After a string of bar gigs, she entered the 1998 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in Washington, D.C. during her senior year. . ."and was cut". After receiving a letter saying she was out, she then received a phone call saying she was in. After making the finals, she came in second place for a $10,000 prize.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN - Pink Floyd

YEAR: 1967

LABEL: Capitol

TRACK LISTING: Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Matilda Mother, Flaming, Pow R. Toc H., Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk, Interstellar Overdrive, The Gnome, Chapter 24, Scarecrow, Bike

IMPRESSIONS: I hate Pink Floyd. Or should I say that I hate Syd Barrett-less Floyd. Pink Floyd was Syd Barrett's band. Without him, it became that bloated, monotonous mess most people think of as Pink Floyd. That's the one I don't like. But this album (and to a lesser extent their second "A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS") features Syd's bizarre songwriting to the hilt before his mind left him. This is the one and only album which features Syd Barrett as the leader of the band; the 2nd album saw his mind dissipating and the introduction of Dave Gilmour to pick up the slack. The final song on their 2nd album "Jugband Blues" is literally the sound of someone losing his grip on reality and it would mark Syd's farewell from the group. The unhinged genius of his solo work would continue.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Matilda Mother, Pow R. Toc H., The Gnome, Chapter 24, Scarecrow, Bike

FACT SHEET: THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN is Pink Floyd's first album. The title of the album comes from chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame's "THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS"; one of Barrett's favourite books. The album cover was photographed by Vic Singh utilizing a prism lens given to him by friend George Harrison. The album has subsequently been recognized as one of the seminal psychedelic albums of the 1960s. The track listing above is the original Columbia/EMI release order; the US version featured the songs shuffled around in a different order and also included pre-album single "See Emily Play".