Aug 022013
 

Greetings, seekers of the rare, the unusual, the putatively worthless! I come before you once again with a pair of fine, obscure tunes — both from the same, excellent single — collected at a garage sale I chanced upon a few weeks ago.

I make no claims about the catalog depth of the Shangri-Las, a girl group most famous for their mega-smash hit, “Leader Of the Pack.” But I can say that all the Sharngri-Las material I have found in my thrifty peregrinations has provided excellent entertainment, and Mrs. Bakshi concurs. This single is no different. The A-side, “Love You More Than Yesterday,” is catchy and hook-laden, and features just enough — how shall I say it? — girlish naivete to amuse.

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The B-side, however, was a real WTF moment for me. And I mean that in a good way! As you’ll hear, “Past, Present & Future” isn’t really a “song” at all. It’s a spoken word piece, about… uh… about the emotional impact of being raped, as far as I can tell. Seriously.

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The first time I heard it, I had a hard time getting past the melodrama, and I suspect you’ll have the same reaction. But if you have it pop up on CD mixes in the car for a month as I did, you may find yourself appreciating its subtler charms. I cannot tell a lie; I love the extreme girly drama of it. As I get older, I find myself losing patience with the supposed drama of the gang-banger, the beer-drinker, the hell-raiser, and I enjoy the simple charm (if you can call it that) of a girl’s lament, ca. 1965. And as far as girl’s laments go, this one is a corker. See what you think.

As always, I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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Jul 122013
 
Please note:  they were also Rockin'.

Please note: they were also Rockin’.

Greetings, seekers of good, cheap music! I come before you with a couple of songs gathered from local thrift stores that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Both are good examples of the kind of music I pick up just because the title appeals to me. And who could pass up the opportunity to give a spin to a tune called “Don’t Fool With Fu Manchu”? Here it is, as performed by Boston garage crossover artistes The Rockin’ Ramrods.

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I swear, I have the best luck when I buy stuff just because the title sounds interesting. Money isn’t the only — not even the main — reason I do this, but a year or so ago I found a busted-down single in a thrift store. It was on the Dixie label (never heard of it), and it featured “Hangover Blues” on one side, and “Satan’s Wife” on the other. I had to buy it, despite the fact that it looked like it had been run over by a lawnmower. Turned out the damn thing was worth hundreds of dollars (well, maybe not in the beat-up condition my copy was in) — and with good reason; “Satan’s Wife” is a great song. Here’s Jesse Floyd performing the number for you. Please join me in imagining that Jesse and his gang of drunken hillbillies recorded this huddled around a Sears & Roebuck tape deck in the lantern-lit living room of a Tennessee mountain shack; the Internet tells me that the Dixie label was an offshoot of a larger concern that devoted itself to small-run vanity pressings for country folk who had home-grown tapes they wanted the world to hear.

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As always, I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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Jul 032013
 
Eugene Church and the Fellows

Eugene Church and the Fellows

Greetings once again, fellow seekers of the rare, the rockin’, and the rubbish-y! I come before you bearing two more dusty discs for your amusement, scrounged from the flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales in and around our nation’s capitol.

Over the years I’ve been buying my music this way, I’ve come across a number of tunes that were originally introduced to me through “cover versions” by artists I grew up with. Old, scratchy blues 45s and 78s show me what the Fabulous Thunderbirds were listening to back in the 70s, and there are any number of uptempo party/soul records that clearly had a treasured spot in the record collections of members of the J. Geils Band.

Every now and then, I run into singles that sound like they should have been covered by this or that band from my youth. I’m presenting two of them to you today.

The first is entitled “Good News,” by Eugene Church, and I think it coulda, shoulda, oughtta have been one of those foot-stomping party tunes cranked out by the J. Geils Band during their mid-70s heyday. I can hear Magic Dick and J. doubling down on the faux morse code intro, and Stephen Jo Bladd joining in on the “hoo… hoo”s during the verses. Of course, the thing would have been sped up and rockified like all their covers, but that’s okay.

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Next up: a song called “We Need Love,” which I would have loved to hear by NRBQ, and sung by Big Al Anderson — who, quite frankly, already sounds like he stole a trick or two from the vocal playbook of Ray Scott, the artist you’ll hear here. I just love the enthusiasm Scott shows for the lyric, which he manages to transform into quite a lusty affair.

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I hope you enjoy, and, as always, I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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Jul 012013
 
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xq70ez

Greetings, fellow seekers of the wild, the weird, the wonderful, and the presumptively worthless! I come before you today with my usual slab of dusty vinyl scrounged from a flea market, featuring not just R&B third-stringers The Moments, but also their platooning labelmates, the Whatnauts! What could be better?

I’ll tell you what could be better: a full-on R&B conspiracy, featuring a mysterious man in purple who some around here love to hate.

Our story begins with the Moments and the Whatnauts, heard here collaborating on a great little chune called, simply, “Girls.” The groove is light and frothy, the melody pleasing, the sentiment positive and the singing tuneful, plus — what’s that I hear? A rare R&B deployment of a Mellotron! It’s a winner, and here it is for your enjoyment:

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Up next, the villain in this case, one Prince Rogers Nelson, from his soundtrack LP “Under the Cherry Moon,” with one of my favorite Prince deep cutz, “Mountains”. As soon as I heard the Moments/Whatnauts number, I raced back to the stereo to play this track. Can you hear why?

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Have you twigged it yet? Here, this should help. First the opening chords to “Girls”:

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Now, the opening chords to Prince’s “Mountains”:

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Let me make this even more plain. Whatnauts:

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Prince:

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And, for my coup de grace, the two segments, “stacked” on top of each other:

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What I find remarkable about this coincidence is that both sets of chords are played, a.) in the same key; b.) at the same tempo; c.) with the same general timbre/voicing; and d.) as an introduction to their respective songs. Now, to be clear (lest Prince’s lawyers be listening in): I don’t really think Prince “stole” his intro to “Mountains” from “Girls.” But I do get a warm fuzzy glow thinking of the possibility that he knew about, and liked, that obscure track enough to pay it tribute at the height of his fame. It’s probably just a coincidence, but my job here is to titillate and tantalize as well as enlighten.

I look forward to your reponses.

HVB

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Jun 192013
 
Fight the Beatles traditionalist power

Fight the Beatles traditionalist power

Hey, just enough time to post and split— but I did want to showcase two strong Beatles covers, and let you guys duke it out on the topic of which is better, or whether they both represent the triumph of Beelzebub over good taste. Anyhow, here they are. First, “Blackbird,” by Billy Preston:

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And second, a dreamy interpretation of “Julia” by Ramsey Lewis.

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I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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Jun 162013
 


Greetings, fellow seekers of the rare, the unusual, and the putatively worthless. On this Father’s Day, I come before you in humble tribute to the father of RTH, our very own Mr. Moderator, whose singular accomplishment in the field of Rock community I shall celebrate through a choice slab of dusty vinyl.

Specifically, today I share a track that will hopefully nurse him through his legendary fear of dancing in public spaces. The Flares recorded a song for just this problem in 1961 entitled “Foot Stompin’, Part 1.” Though it climbed to number 25 in the charts that year, I heard it for the first time when combing through a haul of 45s I found at a local flea market. It’s infectious, foot stompin’ good fun, and it makes dancing easy!

So here’s to you, Moddie — long may you stomp.

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HVB

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Jun 122013
 

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Greetings, fellow seekers of the rare, the unusual, and the mostly worthless! I come before you today bearing a new musical gift, scavenged from a thrift store, flea market, garage sale, or garbage can in or around our nation’s capitol. Today and henceforth, my goal will be simple: to brighten your day with a worthy slab of dusty, scratchy vinyl — hopefully one you haven’t heard before. I’ll try to do this every few days, one song at a time, so I can keep this up as long as my dusty stack of vinyl will let me.

Before we begin, a few words about why I do this.

We’re all familiar with the way people discover “new” music these days: the internet (shudder). The internet promises so much. It coils around our brains, whispering sweet nothings into our ears like “people who bought (X) also bought (Y),” and “you might also like (Z),” in an attempt to part us from our money as efficiently as possible.

Unfortunately, pursuing these recommendations usually leads us into sub-sub-genre ghettos where qualities diminish with every off-ramp we take. Furthermore… well, how can the internet possibly suggest a voice because it soothes me, or a guitar solo because it makes my spine tingle, or the vigorous shaking of a pair of maracas because they make a final outchorus jump to life? No, I have decided that the internet is a trap, my friends, and I shun it.

Instead, when I want more music, I don my burlap robe, cinched at the waist with a frayed length of rope, and — shepherd’s crook in hand — I strike out to find music where it’s been abandoned, discarded, and cast aside as garbage. Humble places are where I find my richest treasures.

I select my music because the song title appeals to me, or because the record label looks cool, or because the band is named after an obscure body part. The rewards are deep and lasting. I fall in love with songs because they amuse me, delight me, or astonish me, or force me to listen to things in a new way — not because they sound as much as possible like the last album I bought, which I bought because it sounded like the 10 albums that preceded it. I am not lying when I say that my musical life has become much more enjoyable since I’ve mostly stopped buying “new” music in digital format. I invite you to join me in my travels.

Today’s offering is “Ain’t No Big Thing,” by the Radiants. I chose this chune in special tribute to Mr. Moderator, who got browbeat a few days back for asking some tough questions. I just want to remind him that all that is said and done in the Hall is offered in good fun and done with the best of intentions. Like the song says, it ain’t no big thing.

I love the lyric in this song. I can’t remember the last time I heard a song that made a point of telling me not to worry, or tried to convince me not to get upset about something. Why aren’t we tired of music that exists just to get us het up and bothered?

Anyhow, this one’s for you, Moddie. We love you just the way you are.

I look forward to your responses.

HVB

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