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Yesterday we brought home an awesome dog from the Humane Society in St. Paul because Irene needed a new pal — they’ve already become just about the best of friends!
They’ll put your new dog’s name on a tag before you leave, but we couldn’t choose — it wasn’t until we got into the van and heard the next song on the mix we’d been playing that we know who she’d be….
“Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Friends know we are terrible at taking pictures, even during special events like Saturday’s block party here at the record shop. Fortunately, lots of other folks carry cell phones and cameras and capture some things for us — this year we we struck up a new relationship with Radio K that we hope will continue. And here is their coverage of the block party, complete with some awesome pictures and videos.
“Rainbows all over your Blues” by John B Sebastian
“Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
“Chasin’ that neon Rainbow” by Alan Jackson
“Ridin’ the Rainbow” by Elvis Presley
“The Rainbow Connection” by Kermit D. Frog
Now’s a good time to get up and stretch your legs — don’t worry about the person in the next cubicle, just get started and they’ll join in.
One of our favorite things about Disco For Kids is that a friend’s mom brought this album in, along with a bunch of peculiar local albums from the 80s and some new wave standards like Blondie.
Some of us remember dancing in place to music on album in gym class. It was usually played on one of those awesome Califone portable turntables, and it was usually funny stuff like this — you know, designed to get kids moving, as if that’s really all that difficult.
Sometimes these records are super cool (take a listen to this one we posted a while back). Other times they’re just campy and silly. One of the other things we love about Disco for Kids is the art in the instructional booklet.
Here’s an album that falls into the category of very rare, but not particularly valuable — Joey Ford lent us this album last weekend when he brought his band, Tree Party, into the shop to perform some songs from their new disc, Iced Over (we posted some tracks from that great album here). It’s one of his treasured possessions because it’s an album his Dad made with some friends. It’s from around 1970 or so, guessing from the cover songs that are included and whether or not it has as much collector value as some fancy Beatles 45 doesn’t really matter to us — we loved having a chance to hear this album.
Friendship Dues by Absolutely Nothing was recorded live and in a studio (the sides are labeled “Live / Dead” maybe in reference to the Grateful Dead’s awesome Live/Dead double LP released late in 1969). No engineering or production credits are given on the jacket, so we can only guess where or exactly when — the “Dead” side might well have been recorded in a garage or a dorm room. Absolutely Nothing’s address is in beautiful Pipestone, Minnesota (about three and a half hours southwest of the Twin Cities). We learned from Joey that the group on the back of the album were students together at Augustana College in Sioux Falls.
This record’s certified hippy appeal was established while we played this album in the shop this weekend: one of our regular customers, a dedicated Deadhead who waited in line last Record Store Day to buy the Phish album here at Hymie’s, came up to the counter and said, “What is this, man? It’s great!”
Friendship Dues is mostly covers of well-known folk/rock standards of the day, with a strong Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young emphasis (the quartet accounting for four of the album’s thirteen tracks) — other covers include Jerry Jeff’s ubiquitous “Mr. Bojangles” and two Elton John songs.
The first of those, “Love Song,” is mis-credited to John & Bernie Taupin, but was actually written by Lesley Duncan, who joined Elton for the lovely duet on Tumbleweed Connection in 1970 — it is one of few songs on the classic Elton John albums that he didn’t co-author.
While not as often recorded as “Mr. Bojangles,” there are at least a hundred covers of Duncan’s song from the early 70s — in spite of having problems with stage fright she performed with Elton on several occasions. Duncan also recorded a couple of solo albums, contributed backing vocals to Dark Side of the Moon, and was in the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar (check out her official website here). Pretty cool.
Jerry Jeff Walker based “Mr. Bojangles” on a man he met in a New Orleans jail, after being arrested for public intoxication in 1965. Possibly the all-time best song ever written about a dog, it was recorded more times than anyone could count by everybody and his cousin. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took it to the top 10 with a great 1971 recording that also featured a delightful interview with “Uncle Charlie and his dog Teddy,” who howls along to a harmonica. Absolutely Nothing’s performance, like most of their album, owes it sound to the big names in folk music of the day, like CSN or John Denver, who recorded the song about the same time, 1970, on Whose Garden Was This?
Everybody from King Curtis to Bob Dylan recorded “Mr. Bojangles” — if one were hard pressed to find the worst version it would likely come down to Rod McKuen or William Shatner.
“Birds” by Neil Young features the voice of Joey’s Dad, Mel Ford. Joey tells us that he was always behind his camera, so there aren’t a lot of recordings of him, making this album very special for his family. That’s a close-up of Mel from the picture on the back cover.
Joey also tells us that Jeff Rohr, Warren Hanson and his Dad Mel remained good friends — he remembers camping in the Black Hills with the three, their voices echoing off the pines as they sang “Goodnight Irene.”
“For Whatever Reason”
Absolutely Nothing’s album includes a few great original songs on the second (“Dead”) side, including one attributed to “R. Clown” who we assume is Robo the French Clown listed in the hilariously hippy “special thanks” section on the jacket. That song, “But You Know I Love You,” is great. It reminds us a little of Gordon Lightfoot’s great song “I’m Not Sayin’” which is on his first album.
“For Whatever Reason,” above, is another of those great originals, written by Warren Hanson who also plays guitar and sings throughout. It’s too bad they didn’t make a whole album of their own songs.
“Come Back Home” by Jeff Rohr was one of our favorite song on the album. Maybe somebody will hear it or another here and decide to cover them. In this digital age there’s no reason something should be forgotten simply because there weren’t very many copies of the album to begin with — Last year somebody else out there discovered a copy of Friendship Dues and put it up on Youtube here. We’re always glad to hear more of the awesome independent music tradition here in Minnesota, whether it’s folk or jazz or whatever.
“But You Know I Love You”
“Come Back Home”
This album is on the Mark Custom Recording label, which collectors probably know mostly produced amateur recordings for schools and churches. This is who pressed the high school marching bands and such. Here and there amateur folk and jazz records appear on the label that can be really great — probably none of it was pressed in very large numbers. Probably others have special meaning for people like this one does, telling the story of some friends who didn’t want to be rockstars — they just loved playing music together.