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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

The story in yesterday’s Star Tribune about Krista and James Botsford, the North Dakota couple who have refused to accept payment of $50,000 to allow the Sandpiper pipeline to pass through their land, had for us a David vs. Goliath feeling.

It also reminded us of the long battle in Minnesota over what was called the CU Project. This proposal to build high-voltage direct current power lines across several central Minnesota counties led to substantial protests from farmers. All were worried about future use of their land, its value, and the safety of the lines. Most of all, we wrote when first wrote about the events here on the Hymies blog, “middle-Minnesota residents felt their lives and land were being disrupted to serve urban populations.”

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“Pope County Blues” by Larry Long

The post went on: “Opposition to the CU Project led farmers to use ingenious guerrilla tactics – Construction sites were vandalized with tractors and farm tools. Trucks were used to block construction and their ignitions damaged. By 1978 incidents were increasingly serious – A crowd of a hundred or more farmers chased powerline crews from a worksite. Soon after, in the famous ‘Battle of Stearns County’ farmers sprayed state troopers with anhydrous ammonia. We are not making this up.

There were also nonviolent protests. Just a month later eight thousand people marched from Lowry to Glenwood in protest. Temperatures were below freezing. Regardless, the CU Project was ultimately completed nonetheless, using land owned by nearly 500 farmers, and the Coal Creek Station, which creates the power transmitted through the lines, is today the third largest producer of coal ash in the country. It is supplied by the Falkirk Mine in Underwood, North Dakota, one of the largest such operations in the country. It may be powering the computer on which you have just now listened to Larry Long’s song.

Other Minnesota folk singers wrote about the events (including Nancy Abrams, Dana Lyons and Charlie Broten) but Larry’s was the only recording we could find.

Whether someone will write a new song for the Botsfords fight against the Sandpiper pipeline seems unlikely to us — dramatic as they could be, court battles are hardly as exciting as protests. Like the Botsfords, who can trace the land’s legacy in their family back generations, we’re uncomfortable with the precedent set by the State of North Dakota using eminent domain law to force the family to comply.

Historically, these controversial provisions have been used to serve the public good, usually in the form of utilities. They seem increasingly to be used to further private interests, as in several cases here in the Twin Cities. Does it truly serves the public good for North Dakota Pipeline Co. to run $2.6 billion worth of line through three states to deliver Bakken fracking oil to Superior, Wisconsin? We have pretty simple lives here in the Longfellow neighborhood, and we’re glad to pay more for the little gas we use, the airplane tickets we rarely buy, and so on — especially if it means we’ll continue to live in a country with family farms.

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.

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

DSC07343Burt Bacharach is turning eighty-seven on Tuesday, and local guitarist Brian Peterson asked if he could come in and perform some of Bacharach’s many famous songs — so he’ll be here this evening at 5pm for your listening enjoyment. In the meantime, we had fun looking for some interesting recordings of his songs. Here’s the ones we chose:

story of my lifeThe Story of My Life

“The Story of my Life” was one of the first major successes for Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who had started writing songs together about a year earlier. The single by Marty Robbins reached #1 on Billboard’s country chart and #15 on the pop chart in 1957 — another version in England by Michael Holliday was also a #1 hit. Robbins later re-recorded the song for a 1970 album, and its title was used for a Columbia Legacy compilation disc.

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“Story of my Life” by Marty Robbins

DSC07346The Blob

Bacharach also wrote songs over the years with Hal’s brother, Mack. One of them was “The Blob” for the 1958 monster movie starring Steve McQueen. The silly song was recorded by a Los Angeles studio band led by Bernie Knee. The single by the Five Blobs was a surprise hit, reaching #33 on Billboard’s pop chart.

Folks in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania host an annual “Blobfest” which includes re-enactments and a photo opportunities at a facsimile of the basement of Chef’s Diner.

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“The Blob” by the Five Blobs

DSC07347Move it on the Backbeat

“Move it on the Backbeat” is another song Bacharach wrote with Mack David. The uncredited singers are the Gospelaires, an in-demand backing vocal group which including at that time Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, as well as Cissy Houston.
You can also hear them singing on records by the Drifters, Dinah Washington, Ronnie Hawkins and on Doris Troy’s “Just One Look” (Troy was previously a member of the group). And of course “Move it on the Backbeat” was the beginning of a long collaboration between Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, who recorded dozens of Bacharach/David songs.

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“Move it on the Backbeat” by Burt and the Backbeats

casino royaleThe Look of Love

Casino Royale was the third soundtrack album Bacharach worked on. The title song was performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and Dusty Springfield sang the sultry, memorable tune “The Look of Love,” one of the most well-known Bacharach/David songs of all.

In the days before eBay and internet dealers, original stereo pressings of Casino Royale were one of the most sought-after albums for audiophiles. This is a result of the recording process, in which high-grade tape was used and heavily saturated to nearly the point of distortion, leading to extreme high and low ranges on playback. Our fairly worn mono copy is hardly a gem, but then again we’ve never really understood audiophiles anyways — they sure can take all the fun out of record collecting!

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“The Look of Love” by Dusty Springfield

DSC07344South American Getaway

Bacharach’s score to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of the records we’ve had in our collection for the longest. He received one of his three Academy Awards for the music, and the B.J. Thomas recording of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” was a huge hit. The music fits the film magnificently, as in the montage scene where Butch, Sundance and Etta travel to Bolivia and this song is heard.

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“South American Getaway” by Burt Bacharach

smithBaby It’s You

Bacharach and Mack David wrote “Baby Its You” with Luther Dixon, who was the producer who established the Shirelles’ sound (he’s credited as Barney Williams on the single). It came out in the middle of their string of successful tunes for Scepter Records in the early sixties. The song was also a hit for the Beatles, and later an even bigger hit for Smith in 1968, which featured a full-throated delivery by singer Gayle McCormick.

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“Bqby Its You” by the Shirelles

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“Baby Its You” by Smith

DSC07352Trains and Boats and Planes

Originally titled Hit Maker!, the first album Bacharach issued under his own name didn’t feature his own voice. Instead listeners found lush, mostly instrumental arrangements of songs he and David had written for Warwick and others. A largely anonymous chorus sings some of the songs, including “Planes and Boats and Trains,” which was had minor success as a single in England.

Also among the anonymous contributors were Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, session musicians in their pre-Zeppelin days.

The album has been reissued many times over the years, most often as Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits.

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“Planes and Boats and Trains” by Burt Bacharach

DSC07351Walk on By

“Walk On By” was one of the many hits Bacharach and David wrote for Dionne Warwick in the sixties. The song’s woe-is-me narrative draws out a unique quality from nearly everyone who interprets it.

Isaac Hayes turned it into a bombastic, epic jam on his 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul, and about ten years later the Stranglers recorded an equally over-long version driven by a plodding bass line and an extended organ solo. Shortly after that the Average White Band recorded a great, funky version on their album Feel No Fret. Its a song which has inspired many interpretation and many imitations, and is surely one of the most beloved Bacharach songs.

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“Walk on By” by Isaac Hayes

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“Walk on By” by the Stranglers

DSC07348

My Little Red Book

The lyrics of Hal David were often melodramatic and self-depreciating, which fit well with Bacharach’s style. We read an interview once where he described how the music should tell a story, just as the lyrics do.

Whether “My Little Red Book” was intended to reference the ubiquitous and famous Quotes from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, published the same year as the song, is as debatable as theories The Blob was an allegory for Soviet communism. The song was one of the first Bacharach and David wrote for a British pop band, probably connected to their continued chart success across the pond beginning with the cover of Marty Robbins’ “The Story of My Life.”

When Love recorded the song for their first album, guitarist Arthur Lee completely re-invented the chord changes, to the chagrin of Bacharach. Still, the song was a hit and has become a favorite of garage rock fans and guys who like to hang around record stores and talk about where punk rock was invented.

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“My Little Red Book” by Love

DSC07345I Say A Little Prayer

Several of the hits Bacharach and David wrote for Dionne Warwick became jazz standards, although his use of unusual chord progressions probably made it more complicated for performers. Stan Getz recorded an entire album of Bacharach/David songs in the seventies (What the World Needs Now Is Love), and Ahmad Jamal opened his 1968 album Tranquility (one of our favorites of his) with two of their songs: “I Say a Little Prayer” and “The Look of Love.”

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“I Say a Little Prayer” by Ahmad Jamal

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“The Look of Love” by Ahmad Jamal

#1 Pleasure Horse

pleasure horseThere are more than a couple bands in the Twin Cities who claim Gram Parson’s “cosmic American music” as inspiration, but few if any appropriate the very best of its stylistic medley as well as Pleasure Horse, whose self-titled debut has been must anticipated around your friendly neighborhood record shop. The band slowly evolved over its several years, staying focused on multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Tim Evanson, who we first met as a member of the Flying Dorito Brothers. They were a Parsons cover band with a short-lived run much loved by many, and Evanson’s take on “One Hundred Years from Now” stuck to our ribs.

With lead guitarist Ben Mahowald, he’s kept the band going and growing. Pleasure Horse offers just a little of just about everything you’ve ever loved about country music over ten tracks: beer-soaked heartbreak and twang, and a little Tex-Mex and a little rock and roll. There’s a fuzz guitar on “Reasons” which recalls Grady Martin’s solo on a 1961 Marty Robbins single, and an organ on “News Radio” which sounds like it was borrowed from the first Lambchop album. Either song is an excellent example of the band’s innovative arrangements, which are so consistently inventive its impossible to pick a favorite moment on this album.

The album’s production doesn’t do its ambitions justice, as is evident from the rollicking opener “Company Spade,” which we really want to burst out of our speakers with the energy we know is in there, and sometimes the drums get lost. The band balances its rhythm section against pedal steel, brass, organ and fiddle, but feels boxed in and restrained. The songs are just so damn good it doesn’t matter. Some are solidly pastoral and narrative, like “Gracie” and “Oahe,” and others just fantastically catchy. Pleasure Horse hits that sweet spot on every song on this album.

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“Gotta Wonder”

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“News Radio”

The release show for the first Pleasure Horse album is Friday May 8th at the Nomad World Pub. Also playing will be Suzie and Murder Shoes. Details here.

 #2 The Gated Community

gated communityWe Can Do Anything opens with a rich, bluegrass rendition of the Youngblood’s harrowing “Darkness, Darkness” (the only cover on the disc), but the ensuing eleven tracks aren’t as driven towards a cynical worldview as their first disc (heard here), which had a series of Dead Kennedys-as-a-bluegrass band moments. Hints of the way the political world creeps into daily life, whether welcome or not, still appear. In “Non (A French Song)” a laid-off factory worker laments malaise with a little more grace than the stumpjumpers on Charlie Parr’s latest (but not much), and the slow burning closer, “This World,” presents an open-eyed optimism in response to the oppressive pressures in the Youngbloods anthem which opened the album by embracing the here and now.

This doesn’t suggest Sumanth Gopinath’s lyrics are any less dense or intense, just that their focus has shifted in a new direction. Its almost as if he’s channeled John Hartford’s alternating sense of humor and stark sentimentalism and the ability to shift between the two with ease. The arrangements suit this well, especially in the balance between bluegrass roots and good old fashioned Nashville country — All the twang’s in all the right places. Remarkably, they get in all the requirements for “the perfect country and western song” as per David Allen Coe (though not in a single verse). A lovely duet, “Georgia,” is the album’s highlight, just enough George and Tammy to hit the heartstrings, and lushly produced. “I Wanna Get Drunk Tonight” is a hilariously fun song which would have fit perfectly in our post last week about bar fightin’ songs, and “Non (A French Song)” is good outlaw country fun. You know, it was Charlie Daniels who played the fiddle on that Youngbloods song.

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“Georgia”

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“Non (A French Song)”

The release show for We Can Do Anything is Friday May 8th at the Icehouse. Also playing is the Church of Cash, a Johnny Cash cover band. Details here.

Today is In Heart of the Beast‘s annual May Day Parade down Bloomington Avenue, which ends with a wonderful festival in Powderhorn Park. It is one of our favorite days of the year here in South Minneapolis.

We forgot to find a good May Day song this year, so here’s a fun one about dancing.

dance on

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“Dance On” by Alan Dale

chitter chat 45

We thought the Smart Alex single was the most interesting Record Store Day release this year, even though it wasn’t recognized on the major label-leaning official RSD list. The folks at Modern Radio Record Label released the rare 1979 local single, and barely got them back from the plant in time to deliver copies to stores around town. They also posted a history of the band, who helped Hüsker Dü get their first gig at the Longhorn had had the Replacements as an opening act, to name a few of its claims to legendary status.

Smart Alex will be playing a proper release show for the reissue on May 22nd at the fabulous Turf Club. Modern Radio only pressed a hundred copies, but they’ve saved a few. We have couple left in stock, too. The show should be a pretty awesome event.

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“Chitter Chat”

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