The Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4th, although the final language was announced by the Continental Congress on this day in 1776.  The vote itself, inside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (then known as the Pennsylvania State House) took place two days earlier. It made for a suspenseful scene in second episode of the miniseries John Adams — you can learn a lot more from cable television than you ever did in school.

The most remarkable part of the story is that nobody’s certain King George II ever received a copy. There There were about 200 broadsides produced by a Philadelphia printer (you know, keepin’ it local) John Dunlap.  There are 26 known copies today, including one recently found in England’s National Archives in Kew, and another found in a Pennsylvania garage sale. Whether or not an actual Declaration, listing grievances against the King, was ever delivered to his highness is highly uncertain.

This 1961 documentary album by Stan Freberg recreates the conversation between Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as the thirty-one year old member of the Second Continental Congress traveled to Franklin’s home to get his signature on the Declaration of Independence.

Both Jefferson and Franklin were members of the “committee of five,” who were assigned the task of declaring independence from the British crown. The other members were JohnAdams, Roger Sherman and Roger Livingston — you can thank Livingston that you and we, here in Minneapolis, are part of these glorious United States, for it was he who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

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Adams had nominated Jefferson for the job of creating the Declaration’s first draft. The two became bitter political enemies over the course of their lives, only to reconcile through the encouragement of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who also signed the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd, 1776. The correspondence between Adams and Jefferson, now elder statesmen removed from the political fray, has provided historians with enormous insight into the United States’ formative years.

Adams and Jefferson both passed away on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826. Adams was at home in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Jefferson on his plantation at Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. They were preceded in death by Franklin (1790) and Rush (1813). The last surviving signer of the Declaration was Charles Carroll, who lived until 1832.

We hope you have a safe fourth of July as you pursue happiness. Your friendly neighborhood record store will be closing early at 5pm.

spitfire LP montrose LP

asia

Dragons are one of the most universally cool things in the world, and like all such things — for instance spaceships or girls on roller skates — they appear on album covers a lot more often than they do in real life. For the life of us we can’t imagine why a band that’s actually called Dragon wouldn’t put one on all their album covers.

dragon lp

Our favorite album about a dragon is the one where Spider-Man saves the Earth from Draco, King of the Dragon-Men. Our second favorite is “Perci the Dragon” by folk singer Ken Lyon.

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ridgetop westernairesThis great single on Jet-Tone Records is an early recording by Wayne Hancock, whose tireless touring justifies his reputation as a modern day Hank Williams or Bob Wills. Hancock calls his recent records “juke joint swing” — a combination of honky tonk, western swing and rockabilly.

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“Looking for Better Days”

Hancock is one of the latest in a long line of outlaw characters recording for Bloodshot Records, who celebrated their twentieth anniversary last fall with a great compilation album of covers from their catalog (we posted Charlie Parr performing “Manifold” at the time).

And we love this song, which is tradition of fairly-well tunes like Woody Guthrie’s “So Long Its Been Good to Know Yuh.” When you don’t have the option of up and leavin’ it’s helps a little to hear someone singing about it.

When we first encountered the evolving creature Panther Ray, the band was knee deep in the hazy golden era of psychedelic rock, and we described their formative live sets as being pulled fourfold in different directions. Around the same time Dave described them as the Twin Cities’ “new psychedelic rock hope” in a story for the City Pages‘ local music blog. It might have been a long time coming but the release of the band’s formal debut, Ripple, lives up to any lofty expectations.

panther ray

Ripple runs frantically through eleven tracks with minimal spacing, placing the jingle jangle combination of electric twelve-string and strung out fuzz of their early EPs into a more modern lo-fi foundation. We have loved this band through its steady evolution for its innate ability to build arrangements around memorable pop hooks and Ripple is filled with them — some, like “Speaking to a Tone” and the standout track “I Want You” strike a chord with their pre-psychedelia pop roots (we should mention here that you can hear the entire album on their bandcamp page here). Others fuse this with fuzz, feedback and studio experimentation without leaving melody on the floor.

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“Don’t Hold Me Down”

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“I Want You”

It’s a guitar-driven record in more ways than most recent local releases, and filled with so many unexpected, inventive moments that things still leap out on the tenth or twentieth listen. Local label Forged Artifacts put forward “Get To You,” with its sweeping seventies solos, as a single, but the tracks which caught our ear were the reverb-rich “Natural Girl” and “Inside Out,” where guitarists Dan Ries and Hannah Porter are awesomely eerie.

 

 

 

 

Ripple‘s largely anonymous vocals alternate between Ries and Porter, with bassist Andy Rockwood providing some support (he was a founding member along with Ries). The effect is at first alienating, but increasingly fits with the album’s fusion of fuzz and pop. Our favorite tracks capture the most interesting combination of these.

We were late to post about this album when it was first released, but Panther Ray has been playing pretty often in the Twin Cities for some time now. Their next show is Thursday night at the Kitty Cat Club in Dinkytown along with Graveyard Club.

Everyone here at your friendly neighborhood record store loves local songwriter and bandleader Gabe Barnett, which is why his album Old As the Stars was included near the top of our list of favorite albums of 2014. Barnett has a way of placing contemporary ideas into classic arrangements which makes him equal parts folk troubadour and bonafide crooner a la Crosby. The best of Barnett’s songs cut to the bone, a quality which hits home here at Hymie’s.

He’s just released a new single with an ‘electrified’ version of his backing group, Them Rounders — just in time for the band’s July residency at the 331 Club in Northeast. They’ll be there each Thursday night with a great bill of guests.

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“Old Dogs”

We’ve always offered a 15% discount on pride weekend, but with the recent Supreme Court decision it seems like this year it’s more special than ever.

Probably, there are more appropriate pride-themed records we could post but we’ve always been fans of the Dynamic Superiors. Lead singer Tony Washington expressed his homosexuality in a way which went beyond the fairly timid early 70s standards at Motown. The group waited a decade for their break, and didn’t waste it with several hit off the four albums they made for the label — all of which were ahead of their time. We think they’re the single most under-rated Motown group.

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 “Romeo”

Their biggest hit was “Shoe Shoe Shine” — one of the best new songs to come out of the seventies throwback to doo wop and vocal groups. This performance from Soul Train captures the group’s showmanship and old-fashioned devotion.

Our favorite Dynamic Superiors songs is “Nobody’s Gonna Change Me.” We never really understood why it hasn’t been adopted as an anthem, except that its not as catchy as “I Will Survive.” The group’s performances (check the choreography in that Soul Train appearance!) and class were legendary. Washington passed away in anonymity in the early 80s — we were told someone somewhere in Hollywood was working on a biopic about him.

In the meantime we have some records: four on Motown and one on another label. It wouldn’t be fair to pigeonhole the group as a “gay group,” but Washington is an unrecognized icon. Also, their albums were some of the best stuff Motown released in the mid 70s.

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“Nobody’s Gonna Change Me” by the Dynamic Superiors

sesame street liveWe love Sesame Street Live because there’s a few reasons its a rarity in the Sesame Street catalog: for starters it was the last to be originally issued by Columbia Records (all subsequent releases were on CTW’s own Sesame Street imprint). It features the only appearance on album of the second Gordon, Hal Miller, who sings “Show Me How You Feel.” Miller was replaced by Roscoe Orman soon after, and Orman still plays the role today. We’ve already posted the most well-known album by the original Gordon, Matt Robinson, here.

The last reason Sesame Street Live is a special album is this song performed by Emilio Delgado, who has appeared on the program as Luis since 1971.

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Luis runs the Fix It shop on Sesame Street with his wife Maria, and we love him because he’s a family man and small business owner. He seems to love his work even when he’s surrounded by broken toasters. He is also remarkable as certainly the longest-appearing Mexican American on television. Surprisingly, Luis hardly ever appears on the more than sixty albums in the classic Sesame Street catalog of the seventies and eighties. He makes up for it with this positive song written by Sesame Street’s musical genius, Joe Raposo.

 

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