Friday, July 14, 2006

The Bus Boys - Minimum Wage

The Bus Boys were an L.A. based band that really rocked. Those who have heard them have never forgotten them, especially not with a kicking song like this featuring vocal parts by five of the boys and great lead guitar by Victor Johnson. Arista released their debut album Minimum Wage Rock & Roll in 1980. Brothers Brian and Kevin O'Neal wrote most of the songs on it and the follow up from 1982 American Worker. Whether they all actually daylighted in resteraunts I don't know but on stage and in publicity photos they dressed as though they did, even posing in Madam Wong's on the back cover of this album. There's a line in Did You See Me? "bet you never heard music like this by spades" as aside from Asian drummer Steve Felix this rock band was black. Another track from their debut, There Goes The Neighborhood, complains about whites moving into the inner city, while KKK equates being black in a rock group with another fish out of water concept. D Day is a great Funkadelic style party song which seems likely to have inspired Fishbone's later Party At Ground Zero. While American Worker was fairly recently issued on CD, Minimum Wage seems to have had only one CD release... in Europe over ten years ago and practically impossible to find. This was the first vinyl I burned to compact disc (on a sunny spring day in S.E. Alaska) and there is a little hum from not having the line grounded properly. Back in the day I would sing this song to myself while weeding a grocery store's parking lot on a Sunday.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ron DanteThe Archies - Over And Over

Here is one fat wad of bubblegum pop! This track is my favorite from my vinyl of the time (1969?) of Kirschner/RCA's The Archies Greatest Hits, written by producer Jeff Barry and co-written and sung by Ron Dante. Most of the other songs from this album were co-written by Canadian Andy Kim who went on to have his own major '70s hit with Rock Me Gently. I really dig this sound regardless of the crassly commercial nature of the whole thing... Get some proper quality Archies recordings when you get a chance, they are worth it with great tracks like Sunshine(Barry/Bloom), Everything's Alright (Dante), Feelin' So Good(Barry/Kim), Bang-Shang-A-Lang (Barry), and another personal favorite Jingle Jangle (Barry/Kim). Hey, I'm just a girl, so it's okay for me to dig this stuff.

Check out the official site for more about Ron Dante.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Paupers - For What I Am

Here's a rare side from '60s Canadian group The Paupers. This single was released in 1965 by the original lineup with Bill Marion and quickly sank into obscurity in a country where most radio stations didn't yet support the domestic product. By 1967 The Paupers had signed to Verve Records after a great performance at a New York showcase event. They opened for The Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco shortly after that and received rave reviews but star bass player Dennis Gerard began doing a Syd Barrett on stage from drug use issues (if he appeared at all), and despite two successful album releases (Magic People and Ellis Island on Verve Forecast) the group fell apart on the road somewhere. Skip Prokop went on to form the very successful Lighthouse group which cut many an LP between 1969 and 1974. Their biggest hit was Skip's One Fine Morning (When I Wake Up). The a side of this single is credited (Prokop & Marion), the b side Free As A Bird also to (Prokop & Marion), produced by David Mostoway Prod. You can buy the two Paupers albums with bonus tracks from Pacemaker.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shenley Duffus
Shenley Duffus - Rukumbine

Something from the Ska file. From 1964, Rukumbine is a track that has really gotten under my skin and has some things in common with the famous streetwise Simmer Down by Bob Marley & The Wailers. I think this is loosely based on an earlier American song called Rock Combine. Duffus has an effective sandpaper rasp-bark akin to Toots Hibberts of The Maytals. Island Records in England rereleased many of Duffus' recordings between 1963 and 1966: Give To Get, Fret Man Fret, I Know The Lord, One Morning and Easy Squeal among them. This recording was produced by Duke Reid of Treasure Isle, which always means fine skanking...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

On a Magic Carpet
The Three Suns - Terry Theme

A favorite from the easy-listening/lounge category are the Three Suns. This is a stereo cut from the RCA On A Magic Carpet LP (1960) and has some smooth guitar work. Terry Theme was written by Charlie Chaplin for his famous talkless film Limelight. There is a little bit of the vast Suns catalog available on CD if you look for it. My interest is solely in the recordings produced by Charles Albertine.

More on The Three Suns here: The Three Suns: The Living Stereo Era

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Easy Money - Getting Lost

Here is one of my all time favorite indie records... this was the first release from Richards Records of British Columbia: Getting Lost (Hourigan) 2:56 by Easy Money. My memory tells me I picked this disc up new sometime around 1981. I think this side is just the sheep's pinata! The b side for any record keepers out there was High Fashion (Hourigan) 2:33.

British Columbia had a great do-it-yourself spirited music scene around 1977-1983 with groups like The Subhumans, The Pointed Sticks, The K-Tels/Young Canadians, The Modernettes and The Dishrags. You can find Sticks, Young Canadians and Modernettes on CD from Sudden Death Records and a various artists compilation from the Vancouver scene circa 1977-78 titled Vancouver Complication is available there too!

If anyone has any information about Easy Money to pass along I'd be curious to know more. The songwriter's name Hourigan rings a bell as having been involved with some other group before this but I can't pin it down. I may dimly recall the name Easy Money being on some photocopied posters to events I couldn't attend, but hoo nose. The only show I know I saw had NoMeansNo and a lot of really loud noisy groups who held little interest for me at the time.

Update: Check it out... Linda McRae of Easy Money is still around!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hawkshaw Hawkins - Put A Nickel In The Jukebox

Here's a wonderful little Country & Western rarity... Put A Nickel In The Jukebox (And Let That Record Play) by Hawkshaw Hawkins. Hawkshaw was sadly one of the four doomed passengers on the March 5, 1963 flight that also took the lives of Cowboy Copas (Going Back To Alabam' was his biggest hit), and Patsy Cline. Hawkshaw's biggest hit would seem to have been LOnesome 7-7203. See, they used to have these things called exchanges where the first two numbers of a phone number in an area would be written as letters, here we had GRanite and EVergreen. So LO7-7203 would be 567-7203, not that any such exchange as LOnesome existed (but just for kicks I suppose you could give it a try and let us know what happens). His recording career started after the war when he was about 25. I really love Hawkshaw's voice and Slow Poke, Little Whitewashed Chimney, Teardrops On Your Letter, I'm Waiting Just For You, and Sunny Side Of the Mountain are all favorites. This one was released on King Records in 1948. A follow up in 1949 was titled I Wasted A Nickel. Why... a nickel was worth more then than it is today, young fellers, by cracky, not like these fancy nickels you kids have these days! Hawkins left King For RCA in 1953, and moved on to Columbia in 1959. He performed with Patsy Cline numerous times as they had been at the time of the crash, but certainly deserves recognition apart from that connection.

You can find some classic Hawkins on CD at

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bert Williams was a pioneering black entertainer. This song, dated 1906, is now 100 years old, and was a huge hit for both Williams and Columbia Records (#3423). The following biography contradicts this date saying that Nobody was introduced at The Ziegfeld Follies of 1910 or 1911. Possibly that was the east coast debut? Further along I will be posting two later prohibition-era recordings by BertWilliams.

From The Ziegfeld Touch by Richard and Paulette Ziegfeld, Abrams, 1993: "BERT WILLIAMS was born in the West Indies in 1874, the grandson of a Danish consul. The family moved to San Pedro, California, and Williams graduated from high school and studied civil engineering before he and three friends toured California playing Hawaiian music. He then turned to minstrel shows, one of the few entertainment areas open to black performers. Like all minstrel show actors, Williams had to wear blackface. He also had to learn the American Negro dialect and slapstick humor.

In 1895 Williams formed a vaudeville team with George Walker; six months later they were headliners. From 1902 to 1905 the two starred in the all-black Broadway comedy In Dahomey. They remained a team until Walker's retirement in 1909. Williams performed briefly with Walker's wife and then returned to vaudeville as a single.
It was in the Follies that Williams introduced the song "Nobody"; he sang the song for seven years. He tried to drop it, but audiences always wanted to hear it. Williams was a regular in the Follies for ten years (1910-19), missing only the 1913 and 1918 editions. He performed in some of the funniest scenes in the Follies, usually with Leon Errol.

Williams was known for his sense of timing and his pantomime. Although he wanted to do serious drama, he was apprehensive about his success for two reasons. First, he had become so associated with comedy that he did not know if audiences would accept him in a serious role; and, second, racial barriers were still difficult to overcome. Williams was the only black performer the Keith vaudeville circuit would book on a white bill in Washington, D.C. While Williams helped the white public accept black actors outside the South, some white vaudevillians still refused to appear with him. Even at the height of his fame, Williams could live in a good New York hotel only if he used the rear elevator. Once when Williams went bicycle riding, the local sheriff confiscated the bike, assuming that because Williams was black, the actor had stolen it.
After the 1919 edition, Williams left the Follies. He financed and appeared in his own revue, Broadway Brevities of 1920, written and produced by George LeMaire, a former Follies cast member. Later he signed with the Shuberts.

Williams was a loner who discouraged personal relationships. Being from the West Indies, he did not identify with Harlem blacks. Around August or September of 1900, Williams had apparently married Lottie Cole Thompson; she had been married before and was several years older than Williams. Lottie performed with Williams until he became a Follies star; she then retired. They never had children.

Williams was a heavy drinker and a chain smoker. As early as 1911 he had developed a weak heart and problems with his feet due to poor circulation. In later years he was chronically depressed. His health deteriorated seriously in 1921. While touring in a Shubert show in Detroit, Williams caught a cold and developed pneumonia. He refused to cancel the show because it would put the other actors out of work. He collapsed during a performance and was taken home to New York, where he died March 4, 1922."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Here is an oldie from the late '60s U.S. charts just to start this blog off with a 'bang'... hee hee. Cinnamon (G.Tobin-J.Cymbal) by Derek on Bang Records B 558 (erstwhile label of early Neil Diamond). This comes from the very copy my brother and I would spin again and again in childhood (where Dion's Runaround Sue and Rolf Harris' Nicotine And Alchohol discs got to is a mystery), so expect a couple of surface noise glitches but actually I was surprised it still sounded this good! The B-side for the curious was Dance What Cha Wanna (J.J.Murray) by Jerry O.

"Sneakin down your alley way and knockin' on your door. Thought I had enough but I'm back for more."

From All Music Guide: "The first artist ever to be billed simply as "Derek" was a stand-in for the real singer of a No. 11 hit on the Bang label, entitled "Cinnamon." The real Derek, real name Derek Cymbal, was the brother of Johnny Cymbal, a Scottish-born singer and songwriter. He wrote and recorded "Cinnamon" for Bang Records. It had all of the hooks, a catchy melody, and a beautiful chorus that seemed to fit in with the easy-going pop-rock vibe of the period (its intro and beat recalled the Monkees' "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," while its chorus recalled "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison; curiously enough, Morrison was a Bang artist, and the Monkees tune had been written by Neil Diamond, who was also a Bang artist). Rather than risk it being ignored like his other recent singles, however, he chose to release it under his brother's name, Derek. Issued in August of 1968, "Cinnamon" became a hit, riding the charts for 15 weeks and rising to No. 11—that kind of action required personal appearances, and suddenly Johnny Cymbal's brother Derek, who was a musician in Johnny's band anyway, was out on the road. Alas, Derek never charted another single, and disappeared from the consciousness of the listening world after 1969."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tap tap tap... testing... testing... 1,2,3... 1,2,3...

It's on? Cool. Hi, how's it going? You guys like rekkids? I like rekkids. I like weird and obscure and hard to find rekkids sometimes, but I wish they weren't hard to find. I will obsess here about old stuff mainly, it's sort of a big junk drawer as much as a web log.

The title springs forth from when I lost a lunch kit in elementary school in the early '70s. I guess my parents had been talking about hippies and so my excuse was that hippies had stolen my lunch kit when actually it fell down into a creek (on my way home I tried to jump across instead of using the little bridge and it wound up too far down for me to get... I was dared by a girl named Betty). The excuse didn't really work out but I got a brand new Scooby Doo lunch kit with matching thermos (the old one was a hand-me-down Bobby Orr one my brother outgrew, with an old mismatched tartan patterned thermos). I had really wanted a Banana Splits lunch kit so I guess karma did have a bit of say in this prejudiced saga.

Well, bye for now.