Awesome-ness!

You are currently browsing the archive for the Awesome-ness! category.

 

hj kuntryHere is a surprisingly good privately pressed country LP from 1975. Sometimes we set aside these albums because the covers are comical, or there might be a good tune for the blog here, but this one was just a great honky tonk listen all the way through.

Herbert John Carter, ie “H.J. Kuntry,” is still out there touring and promoting what he’s called “dixiephonics.” According to this article from some batshit tea party website down in Florida, Kuntry has an index card for each of the 30,000 people he’s sold a a copy of They Call me H.J. Kuntry or another record. Kinda nice to know there’s still some folks out there rockin’ the old school promotional network (don’t expect Kuntry to invite you to join Linkedin any time soon). He reminds us a little of our own Sherwin Linton, whose motto is “forever on the stage.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“They Call me H.J. Kuntry”

We had an opportunity to DJ our collection of honky tonk and rockabilly 45s at one of Sherwin Linton’s shows last year, just after the Turf Club re-opened after its reconstruction. Not only did he let our pal Joe Killem (The Annandale Cardinals, Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band) sit in on his set, but Mr. Linton was a ton of fun to talk to — he loved the records we were playing, and knew the words to just about every one. We kind of imagine H.J. Kuntry to be a similar kind of guy.

You can find his Myspace page here, which has a few tracks off this album. He’s still performing in the Tallahassee area.

 

 

“Bad Reputation” is a pretty awesome song when you think about it: girls are often scolded about the consequences of a bad reputation, as though its akin to wearing a scarlet letter. It’s hard to believe Joan Jett’s first album (originally self-titled and then reissued as Bad Reputation) was rejected by pretty much every record label in America.

Jett and producer Kenny Laguna pressed the album themselves, selling it directly to fans and record shops while touring. It was eventually picked up by Boardwalk Records (in the US) and Airola (in Europe) and is today considered a classic. The independent label she founded to release her first solo album, Blackheart Records, is one of the first female-led labels (we posted last year about Rosetta Records, founded by Rosetta Reitz just a year earlier).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett

Jett doesn’t seem to really have a bad reputation — in fact, one of our customers once brought us an autographed copy of this album to hang on the wall (its in the entryway by the 50¢ bin). He’d won front-row seats from a radio station, and also had a backstage pass which was still inside the album. He told us he was surprised when she gladly signed the record after inviting him to sit down and have a beer with the band. He’d expected her to be as mean as she looks on most of her album covers, but in fact she was just the opposite.

joan jett bad reputation

“Bad Reputation” is likely to be one of the songs you’ll hear at tonight’s show in the shop. We’ll be hosting  She Rock, She Rock, an all-female punk rock jam session. They are a Minnesota based 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on encouraging women to become involved in music performance. Female-identified persons can prepare a song (here is their list of possible suggestions) and join them. Riot grrl rockers Bruised Violet will also be performing. We expect it will be one of the most fun in-store performances we’ve ever had here at Hymie’s.

Also today we are participating in the first-ever MN Vintage Crawl. Clicking on the link will take you to their website with full details. Many other businesses are participating and offering specials and discounts. We’ll be offering 15% off records to anyone who signs up for the crawl.

 

This Saturday we are participating in the first ever MN Vintage Crawl. Participants in the self-guided crawl who sign up and wear a wrist-band may enjoy a 15% discount here at Hymie’s and other special deals at other businesses (the link above will take you to their website, which has a list of businesses). Everyone will be starting at Public Funtionary, a northeast Minneapolis art studio, but many of the sites will be here in our Longfellow neighborhood.

There’s an article from Red Current about the Vintage Crawl and its founders here.


 

Saturday evening we will be hosting She Rock, She Rock, an all-female punk rock jam session. From their website:

We offer a very safe, supportive environment for folks with little or no stage experience and for those who are veterans of the music scene. This is a performance opportunity for anyone. If you want to play with the band, have one of the songs (here) prepared. We’ll have a drum set, guitar amps, bass amp, keyboard and mics available for you to use. You can probably use one of our guitar or basses too- but bring your own if that’s your fancy. We also have room for two guest bands to play a small set in between the jam band sets.

You can check out some videos from past jam sessions on their Youtube channel here.

Anyone interested in performing should email Sam Stahlmann (sam@sherocksherock.com) to sign up prior to the jam. We’re asking a $5 suggested donation for this event — She Rock She Rock is a Minnesota based 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

The music starts at 7pm, and they’ve invited Bruised Violet to join them as a special guest.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Got No Apologies” (the She Rock, She Rock theme song) by Cadence and the Wolf

Muhammad Ali recorded his album of trash-talking poetry, I Am the Greatest, during the dramatic build-up to his bout with Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship. On February 25, 1964 his against-the-odds prophecy came true when Liston spit out his mouthguard at the bell starting the seventh round (you can watch the entire fight here).

The day following the fight Ali’s association with the Nation of Islam became public, and he changed his name from Cassius Clay. Demand for his album increased exponentially, and a single of “I Am the Greatest” became a surprise hit. Columbia later let the album run out of print, possibly because of Ali’s controversial conviction of draft evasion. The champion refused to serve in Vietnam (“No Vietcong ever called me nigger”) and was sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine before his appeal was eventually overturned by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court.

i am the greatest

He did not make another record until 1976, when he released the cult classic Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay. On that album he was joined by Frank Sinatra and Howard Cosell.

Ali’s conviction was overturned because the draft board had not addressed whether or not he was qualified for conscientious objector status. Unfortunately, the legal process cost him his license to box during his prime years, nearly all his late twenties. He was an enormous role model during this time for black people, and in particular influenced civil rights leaders to express their own opposition to the Vietnam War, notably Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“I Am the Greatest”

Wilt Chamberlain’s professional career coincided with Ali’s. He joined the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959, after spending a year with the Harlem Globetrotters — setting an alarming eight NBA records in his first season alone, he was named the leagues Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

While he was undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Chamberlain considered retiring early in his career. He felt frustrated that he was often double- and triple-teamed, fouled and vilified. In an ill-advised 1965 Sports Illustrated interview, Chamberlain expressed disdain for the league as well as several coaches and fellow players, trash-talk worthy of “the greatest” himself.

thats easy to say wilt chamberlainChamberlain had a post-basketball entertainment career, even playing a villain in Conan the Barbarian, as well as recording this novelty single in 1960. His other legacy is a claim, in his 1991 autobiography, that he had sex with 20,000 different women, a boast even Muhammad Ali would describe as ridiculous.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“That’s Easy to Say”

In 1971, Chamberlain and Ali were offered $5 million each for a fight to be held in the Houston Astrodome. Ali’s response is unknown, but Chamberlain refused after reportedly consulting with is father.

 

pajaro ciego

Mixed into a musty box of the usual suspects (Ken Griffin, Frankie Carle, etc) this week were a few Argentine 78s on Odeon. We don’t sell many 78s these days, and find even fewer this fun. We refer collections of them to our old friends at Vintage Music Company, who specialize in 78s, cylinder recordings, and vintage machines. Their motto — Explore the past and preserve it for the future — says it all. Any collector of vintage recordings will have a wonderful time visiting their shop.

Our small selection of 78s include mostly swing and pop records which have been mixed into collections of LPs. Sadly, for most post-war 78s, the supply out there seems to far exceed the demand. Every box is still fun to flip through, and we often enjoy playing those dime-a-dozen pop records — these songs were such a delight we thought we’d share them.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Pajaro Ciego” by Rodolpho A. Biagi

There’s an enchanting magic to the music of pianist Rodolpho Biago — no surprise fans called him Manos Brujas (“Spellbinding hands”). His late 30s tenure with Juan D’Arienzo’s Orchestra contribute to the band’s enormous influence on tango, which shifted from slower, more romantic pieces to the dynamic style more familiar to listeners beyond Argentina. Biagi began his career in his early teens, accompanying silent films in theaters.

His sense of rhythm could be deceptively simple, almost monotonous, yet entirely enchanting. D’Arienzo’s first hit with Biagi at the keyboard, “La Puñalada” (“The Stab”), was a national sensation and also a revival of the early century 2/4 tango. Biagi left the D’Arienzo to form his own orchestra in 1938, which toured Latin America extensively for decades, popularizing the pianist’s unique rhythmic take on tango and later milonga. Biagi’s orchestra was the first to appear on Argentine television.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Brasil Moreno – 1st Parte”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Brasil Moreno – 2nd Parte”

Baritone Candido Botelho is known as one of finest contemporary interpreters of the songs of composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. He was also very successful as a singer of romantic pop songs — his most famous hit was a 1941 recording of Ary Barroso’s “Canta Maria.” The lively song on the 78 we found is from the soundtrack of Joujoux et Balangandans (“Knick Knacks and Trinkets”), and Betelho’s arrangement sounds almost as suited for Felix the Cat or Bugs Bunny as for a dance band.

 

It’s George Benson’s birthday and we thought it would be fun to celebrate with some of our favorite songs from his albums. You don’t need a special occasion to enjoy his music, however — pretty much any day is the right day for some George Benson jams.

benson mcduf

George Benson cut his first single at ten years old, but fell into his familiar style a few years later working for organist Brother Jack McDuff, who served as a mentor to the promising guitarist. His first LP as a leader, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson, was recorded for Prestige Records with McDuff’s band in 1964, and most of the songs were originals he’d written. As a frequent side-man on McDuff’s records Benson’s bold, downstroke-driven style shone, but he also showed the sensitivity of Wes Montgomery’s more subtle, layered approach.

From this 70s Prestige two-fer, which includes Benson’s debut as well as McDuff’s Hot Barbeque, we picked this lovely version of the standard “Easy Living” because it shows how much Montgomery influenced Benson’s style from the beginning.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Easy Living”

DSC07258

With a quartet featuring organist Lonnie Smith, Benson made his heaviest bop recordings in the mid-sixties for Columbia. In addition to his two awesome albums, Its Uptown and The George Benson Cookbook, the group recorded Finger Lickin’ Good with Smith as the leader, and Melvin Sparks as a second guitarist. Ronnie Cuber plays a baritone sax with the group, giving them a grittier, swampier feel than other organ/guitar combos which usually employed a tenor.

Columbia capitalized on the success of Benson’s soul jazz hits in the seventies by collecting tracks from these albums, plus some unissued material, on Benson’s Burner in 1976. Its hard to say what fans of his mellow style made of these tracks, but we think of his bop recordings as some of his very best. “The Cooker” was the opening tune on The George Benson Cookbook.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“The Cooker”

benson weep willow

Lonnie Smith took the band to record for Blue Note, replacing Benson with Larry McGhee, ending their successful five year collaboration and also effectively ending Benson’s bop phase. During those years he had continued to work with Jack McDuff, and also appeared on albums by Lou Donaldson, Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan.

From the late 60s on, his own albums started trending towards the style of Wes Montgomery, and away from contemporaries like Grant Green and Melvin Sparks. Its a shame his own quartet was not recorded more by Columbia, because the handful of records they did make are fantastic.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Benson’s Rider”

miles in the sky

While at Columbia Benson also made an appearance on Miles Davis’ transitional album, Miles in the Sky. So far as we can recall, his was the first appearance of an electric guitarist on one of Miles’ Columbia albums, presaging the fusion phase which began in earnest with In a Silent Way (with Brit John MacLaughlin playing guitar) and providing a bridge of sorts between Benson’s soulful Columbia quartet and his own fusion-leaning albums for CTI to follow. Benson’s solo, starting shortly after the 7:00 mark, is surprisingly restrained compared to either.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Paraphernalia”

DSC07245

Benson opened his first album for Creed Taylor’s CTI label with a Miles Davis tune (“So What”) but by the time he hit his stride there the music was far removed from the heavy fusion vamps Davis was recording at the same time. Still, Benson’s bandmates over the half-dozen albums he made for the label included, at times, three members of Davis’ second great quintet, in addition to soul jazz mainstays like Phil Upchurch, Joe Farrell and the Brecker brothers. His driven take on Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” has always been a favorite of ours.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Take Five”

DSC07247Few things had more tragic consequences in the world of jazz than the first time Nat ‘King’ Cole began singing pop standards over sugary string arrangements — the records sold so quickly that at most sessions he stopped playing the piano, leaving the world without one of the finest soloists of a generation.

The same could be said of George Benson’s string of hit singles for Warner Brothers starting with 1977’s “This Masquerade” (below). His albums became increasingly filled with smoldering rhythm and blues numbers, and his solos fewer and further between. He had, in fact, crooned a couple tunes several years earlier on his lush recreation of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. On “Golden Slumbers” he doesn’t even play the guitar he’s seen carrying across the street.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Golden Slumbers”

songs in the key

Another pre-Breezin’ hint at Benson’s prodigious vocal prowess was an appearance on Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. where he sings some backup as well as playing guitar. His supporting role is pretty minimal, overshadowed by another guest, flautist Bobbi Humphrey — still, any appearance on one of the most revered records of all time is pretty awesome. Stevie’s masterpiece beat out Benson’s Breezin’ for the album of the year Grammy, but Benson’s single “This Masquerade” won record of the year. “Another Star” was released as a single but it didn’t sell as well as “Sir Duke” and “I Wish,” both of which topped the charts.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Another Star”

DSC07256

Breezin’ set a new standard for crossover jazz, cultivating previously unrealized commercial potential. Record collectors know this as one of the most ubiquitous seventies jazz albums, taking for granted the likelihood there’s already a copy somewhere on our shelves. Although he only sang on one song, a cover of Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade,” its success as a single became the turning point in Benson’s career. Although this was his first album for Warner Brothers, it followed the form of his CTI Records and even included some artists regularly heard on his albums there, like Phil Upchurch as keyboardist Ronnie Foster, whose solos provide some of the album’s best moments.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“This Masquerade”

DSC07248Erotic Moods is the orphan of the George Benson catalog, having hardly been released and even less enthusiastically acknowledged. At its raunchiest the record’s loosest jams are downright dirty, especially the enthusiastic sex sounds throughout “Sweet Taste of Love” — one of two tracks featuring the sultry sounds of Willis “Gator” Jackson’s sax. This dancefloor gem has a hot lead vocal by Ann Winley, whose husband Paul ran the label which ran the range from doo wop to pioneering hip hop. Winley also produced a sweet soul jazz album by Willie “Gator” Jackson on which Benson played some of his most R&B styled guitar. Wikipedia’s Benson discography specifically omits this one, but Erotic Moods is essential Benson.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Smoking Cheeba Cheeba”

DSC07259

The live album Weekend in LA features Benson’s regular backing group: Phil Upchurch, Ronnie Foster, Jorge Dalto, Stanley Banks and the double drumming team of Harvey Mason and Ralph MacDonald. Its four sides recorded at the Roxy in 1977 are split pretty evenly between instrumentals and vocal numbers, and the band is in great form — the set also introduces “On Broadway,” the Drifters tune which Benson would sort of adopt as a signature tune. Our favorite track is tribute to Wes Montgomery.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“I Remember Wes”

DSC07244

Give me the Night first appeared here on the Hymie’s blog when we posted our proposal for a biopic about producer Quincy Jones, and its also a regular in our “make-out music” section. This is probably Benson’s most pop-oriented album. His take on James Moody’s “Moody’s Mood,” on which he’s joined by singer Patti Austin, is particularly silly. Still, there’s something irresistibly enjoyable about this album.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Give me the Night”

DSC07257

This two volume bootleg of Benson and a new band is a mellow affair compared to Weekend in LA. Most tunes are stretched to ten minutes or more, and the solos are subdued and thoughtful. Benson is certainly a fan of Miles Davis’ modal masterpiece Kind of Blue (who isn’t?), having recorded several of its songs. This long version of “All Blues” includes some great interplay between the quartet and a memorable, extended solo by Benson. Drummer Al Harewood, who passed away around this time last year, was a frequent side-man for Blue Note in the sixties. Here he comps Benson’s solo with the same flair he showed on albums by Stanley Turrentine and guitarist Grant Green.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“All Blues”

DSC07255

Benson sang “The Greatest Love of All” for the 1977 bio-pic The Greatest, in which Muhammad Ali played himself — lyricist Linda Creed wrote the song as she suffered through the early stages of breast cancer. When Creed passed at the tragically young age of thirty-seven, her song was a #1 hit as re-recorded by Whitney Houston. Another song Benson sang on the soundtrack, “I Always Knew I Had it in Me,” also had an inspiring message. It seems like the perfect place to end our tribute today.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“I Always Knew I had it in Me”

A few weeks ago we posted “Jitterbug Waltz,” one of our favorite Fats Waller melodies, and wrote about his role introducing the Hammond organ to jazz. He was an accomplished keyboardist, comfortable at the Hammond, the piano, and the pipe organ as well. He formed the bridge between ragtime and stride piano and modern jazz.

fats waller

what did i doAlong with “Jitterbug Waltz,” Waller composed many jazz standards, the most well-known of which are “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”He and his longtime collaborator Andy Razaf also wrote “What Did I Do to be so Black and Blue?” for the Broadway show Hot Chocolates, which is distinguished as an early protest song reflecting on race relations in America. It was a hit for Ethel Waters and for Louis Armstrong (whose recording you’ll hear below), and was prominently featured in the prologue of Ralph Ellison’s novel The Invisible Man. “At first I was afraid,” begins Ellison’s unnamed narrator,

this familiar music had demanded action, the kind of which I was incapable, and yet had I lingered there beneath the surface I might have attempted to ask. Nevertheless, now I know that few really listen to the music.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“What Did I Do to be so Black and Blue?”

Fats Wallers’ final recording session in 1943 featured a white musician, trumpeter Don Hirleman, at a time when integrated groups were rare. He died of pneumonia while traveling that December, and was remembered by more than 4,000 fans at his funeral in Harlem. It was said at the time “he always played to a packed house.”

As extraordinarily talented as Waller was as a composer and performer, he was also a consummate entertainer, known for his jokes and interjections during performances. The many sides he recorded as a singer capture his humor. These two tunes are from a single August 1934 session, included on the Bluebird collection you see up above. We are especially fond of the second one.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Then I’ll be Tired of You”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Don’t Let it Bother You”

The reason we chose to write a little about Fats Waller again today is that the Southside Aces will be performing his music, with special guest Mike Polad on the keyboard, tonight at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34. It’s part of their ongoing second Thursday residency there, which we featured when they released their disc of the same name earlier this year. The music starts at 8pm (details, if you’re all about Facebook, here) and we highly encourage fans of classic jazz to check it out.

« Older entries

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.