“I Love Onions” by Susan Christie
“I Love Tortillas” by La Banda de Ray Camacho
“Banana, What a Crazy Fruit” by Rusty Canyon
“Baking Soda” by John Hartford
“A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich and You” by Vera Gilaroff
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Corpse Reviver is a trio of great local musicians – Adam Kiesling, Mikkel Beckmen and Jillian Rae – and they didn’t get their name from your grandad’s super gross cognac-heavy hangover cure. And they’re not a metal band either, although Corpse Reviver would be a freakin’ sweet name for a metal band. They’ve taken on that name because their sets are derived from the 112 songs on the four volumes of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.
Of course, the name suggests the music on Smith’s legendary collection of 78s from the 1920s (primarily) through the early 1940s is dead and forgotten. This was surely the case when the first three volumes were issued by Folkways Records in 1952, but less so today – American roots music is enjoying a healthy renaissance in recent years, and the Twin Cities has been more than welcoming to the trend. Many songs from the period, on and off the Anthology, have been adopted by local artists, and as Corpse Reviver proves, they have a robust relevance still today.
So this awesome trio with ties to so many other other local favorites of ours – including Steve Kaul’s Brass Kings, Pert Near Sandstone, Charlie Parr, the Brian Just Band and the Blackberry Brandy Boys, to name a few – has been folk, blues and country tunes off the Anthology for a while now, and just finished recording an album at Underwood Studio this spring.
They played a set at Trampled by Turtles’ anniversary extravaganza at First Avenue a couple weeks ago, and brought with them a limited, numbered edition (of only twenty-five!) of their not-yet released album, Volume 1: I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called. You can hear the entire record on their bandcamp page here or by using the handy player below. They are planning a full release of the album for this summer, or perhaps the fall if they decide to press LPs (yes, contact ‘em through that Bandcamp page and tell ‘em you’d buy an album!).
Mikkel Beckmen was kind enough to bring a couple copies of the disc to the shop, where it has taken up a residency in our CD player. We thought a fun way to introduce the album would be to present it above, and then collect the ten original recordings from the Folkways compilations below.
What is the Anthology of American Folk Music?
The Anthology of American Folk Music is a 1952 compilation album (actually a series of three double LP sets) culled from an incredible stash of shellac collected by Harry Smith. The eighty-four songs split over its six records had been commercially released on 78 rpm discs between 1927 and 1932, but were for all intents lost to the listeners even just two decades later. The range was chosen because it captures music created between the dawn of electronic recording and the substantial dip in country, folk and blues recordings that is caused by the Depression.
Smith is variously described as a Bohemian, an experimental filmmaker, an ethno-musicologist, and an eccentric (and he was all of these things), but his great contribution to the ages was as the coolest record nerd of his generation. Smith amassed blues, folk and country 78s at a time when they were considered worthless relics. Fortunately Folkways founder Moses Asche shared his feeling, and the label issued what is essentially the first and most awesome mixtape anybody ever made. The three sets were originally issued with identical covers – a sixteenth century engraving by Theodore de Bry – but have also appeared with other covers and packaging. Our own collection is on CD and has long since lost it’s original packaging, so all that is left is a series of plain-looking double disc sets.
Original lps are fairly rare these days but the liner notes alone are worth the price of admission – Smith cut and pasted together his elaborate, idiosyncratic notes in a manner equal parts post-modern art and high school fanzine. His synopses for each track are thorough, insightful and witty. In all our years of collecting records we’ve found few examples of better, more compelling liner notes than Smith’s.
The Anthology is credited as the single strongest catalyst of the folk revival that began in the early 60s, making its release a watershed moment in the history of traditional American music. Many musicians who had long ago laid aside their guitars and banjos were re-discovered by enthusiasts after their recordings were heard on the Anthology, most famously Mississippi John Hurt, who’s 1928 recording of “Frankie” was included. Collectors found a 78 of his recording of “Avalon” shortly thereafter, and using its lyric “Avalon, my home town” tracked Hurt down, then give or take seventy years old, near Avalon, Mississippi. He recorded and toured for the remaining three years of his life.
Many musicians were inspired to launch their folk and blues careers by the music on the Anthology, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dave van Ronk and others from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 60s. The music enjoyed an additional revival in the 90s when alt-country bands began to cover the songs – and others from the same time period. One of our favorite bands from that time is Uncle Tupelo, whose recording of “No Depression” by the Carter Family, led that song title to become a sort-lived buzzword for their genre and a healthy antidote to the woeful doom n’ gloom of grunge rock.
A fourth volume of the Anthology was created in collaboration with the Harry Smith Archive in 2000, nine years after his death. It included music from a later period (records from as late as 1940) but followed the original collections’ unique system of organization. Each volume had a distinct theme – the first three were Ballads, Social Music and Songs (usually about everyday subjects). Volume 4 took the theme Labor Songs. It also followed Smith’s correlation of each volume with a classic alchemical element – water, air, fire and earth (volume 4 correlating to earth). Many songs on the fourth volume had already become revived favorites, and others have since. Volume 4 is currently out of print, which is sort of ironic when you think about it.
Corpse Reviver Volume 1: I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called
For your listening pleasure we have sequenced the ten songs selected by Corpse Reviver in their original form below. The intention isn’t to compare them, but to provide a context and for those unfamiliar with the Anthology of American Folk Music an introduction.
Corpse Reviver have created exciting and new interpretations of each. Adam Kiesling and Jillian Rae perform the topical songs from the fourth volume with humor and warmth, and the ballads are approached with characteristic drive and fervor. Kiesling’s playing throughout is subtle and evocative, just as it had been on his solo album, Unclouded Day, one of our picks for the top 10 albums of 2012. Jillian Rae steals the show in several numbers, including compelling solos in “John Johanna” and “East Virginia.” Our favorite track on the album is “Wagoner’s Lad” in which Kiesling’s clean and sparse banjo picking is matched by Rae’s rich and soulful voice, a perfect combination made all the better by Mikkel Beckmen’s hypnotic rhythm.
Beckmen originally conceived the project, and in tracks like “Wagoner’s Lad” his contribution is quiet but essential. At times his percussion sounds almost like a drum machine, having been expertly recorded and mixed by engineer Mark Stockert. At other times Beckmen strums and picks his washboard with the energy we’ve come to expect from his work with Steve Kaul’s Brass Kings and Charlie Parr. Throughout, I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called, is one of the most enjoyable percussive albums we’ve heard in a long time.
These original recordings are from our CDs and LPs of the Anthology of American Folk Music. Most are from 1928 to 1932, but a few were recorded a little later. Several may be familiar to you, or contain lines or melodies you recognize from other sources. We hope you enjoy them, as well as the new recordings by Corpse Reviver.
“How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” by Blind Alfred Reed
“Old Shoes and Leggins” by Uncle Eck Dunford
“The Wagoner’s Lad” by Buell Kazee
“My Name is John Johanna” by Kelly Harrell
“Drunkard’s Special” by Coley Jones
“No Depression in Heaven” by the Carter Family
“Country Blues” by Dock Boggs
“East Virginia” by Buell Kazee
“Down on Penny’s Farm” by The Bently Boys
“I’ll be Rested when the Roll is Called” by Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother
“You’re Just a Female Hound Dog” by Charlie Gore and Louis Innis
Answer songs (or reply songs) are the most common form of sequel songs, and usually take the form of a silly rephrasing to a popular hit. ) Sequel songs parts 1 and 2 feature several such examples (here and here) but most are rhythm and blues tracks. Today we have a couple classic country answer songs.
Charlie Gore’s rockabilly reply to “Hound Dog” is a gem, especially for Louis Innis’ fine guitar pickin’. Innis was a member of Hank Penny’s Radio Cowboys, but mostly played bass in that group (backing accomplished guitarists Noel Boggs and Merle Travis on “Steel Guitar Rag,” and also playing on the band’s classic “Bloodshot Eyes”).
Rudy Hansen was a rockabilly singer from Cincinnati best remembered for his rare, self-released single “Saturday Jump” (you can hear it here). As Rockin’ Rudy Hansen he also recorded a hillbilly novelty for X Record called “The Mambo Queen.” In the 1950s he was a regular performer on WLW’s Midwestern Hayride, a radio program (and by Hansen’s era a nationally-broadcasted television program) that was a “hayseed humor” precursor to Hee Haw.
He recorded “Don’t Think I’ll Fall to Pieces” for Decca Records, the same label that issued Patsy Cline’s #1 country hit and crossover breakthrough. We couldn’t find any information about the recording of Hansen’s answer song, but it seems possible it was recorded in the same studio and with some of the same musicians as Patsy Cline’s original song. It is certainly the most polished recording of Rudy Hansen, sort of a regional rockabilly superstar, we’ve heard.
“Don’t Think I’ll Fall to Pieces” by Rudy Hansen
And last today we have the original and the re-make of a jazz classic, “Killer Joe.” Saxophonist Benny Golson is one of a couple jazz artists captured in Art Kane’s legendary 1958 photograph taken on the steps of a brownstone in Harlem who is still alive (click here if you’re not sure what we’re talking about). Although he spent several key years working outside of jazz as a film and television composer, Golson was in the late 50s and early 60s very successful and influential with a group he co-led with trumpeter Art Farmer, the Jazztet.
Golson introduced listeners to Killer Joe on the Jazztet’s first album in 1962.
Golson re-visited his famous scamp in the title track to his second album after coming back to jazz. The ensuing fifteen years had brought many fashion changes, but at heart Killer Joe was still the same.
“The New Killer Joe”
“Built for Comfort” by Howlin’ Wolf (written by Willie Dixon)
“Fat Man” by Jethro Tull
“Fat Lady” by the Spidels
“Big Fat Woman” by Bobby Freeman
“Put Some Meat on them Bones” by Jimmy Murphy
“I Don’t Want no Skinny Woman” by Blind Boy Fuller
“Happy Being Fat” by Big Dee Irwin
1 – “I Lost on Jeopardy”
Nobody remembers “Jeopardy” (when I was seven years old, ie “Weird” Al’s target demographic, I didn’t even know this was a parody of a pop song) because the thing that make this In 3-D track interesting – a sense of narrative tension – are completely lacking in the original song. I actually feel bad for the guy who lost on Jeopardy, but I could care less about Greg Kihn’s broken heart. “Jeopardy” is a song that has fortunately fallen into the middle 80s ‘memory hole,’ being too bad for retro DJ nights like Transmission and too good for oldies radio.
2 – “King of Suede”
Another song I couldn’t have identified as a parody when it was new in 1989. Just as I was the prime age for “Weird” Al fandom, I fell just outside the Police’s snare. They were too old (read: too “adult contemporary”) to be cool – consider the 1988 GQ cover photo of Sting at the left if you’re skeptical – and all the while not old enough to be as awesome as the American punk and new wave band they followed. Given the choice between Ramones heartbreakers like “The KKK Took my Baby Away” and Sting’s overwrought metaphorical seagulls with broken backs, I went with the former.
By the time the Police released Synchronicity there was more than enough hand-wringing on the radio – you’d think the Mayan apocalypse was actually due in 1992. What became lost were the genuine stories of everyday people, like for instance the tailor located next to Willie’s Fun Acrade, a second grade dropout who faces tough competition but has remained in business for more than thirty years. Was it his first choice to be the “King of Suede”? Hard to say. Is it a daily grind? Surely (“It’s the same old sale as yesterday”).
Look, I’m not a complete idiot. I recognize that “King of Pain” was Sting’s masterpiece, but its easy enough to make people cry over relenting tragedy. Just put a butterfly in a spider web and you’re halfway there. To find a little humor and grace in the everyday and ordinary, on the other hand, is a rare skill.
“King of Suede”
3 – “Yoda”
The Kink’s power chord driven pub rock classic “Lola” is one of the oldest tracks parodied by “Weird” Al in his 80s albums, and his Star Wars story set to its melody languished unlicensed for years before its release on Dare to be Stupid in 1985.
“Lola” is a great song, but “Yoda” sits high in an entirely different oeuvre: the Star Wars lampoon. From Ernie Fosselius’ thirteen minute masterpiece, Hardware Wars in 1977, to the irrepressibly funny and endearing Robot Chicken Star Wars series, there are thousands of Star Wars parodies to delight fans.
The Kinks song, like a lot of their tracks, is so unrelentingly English an American teenager couldn’t make it a verse without missing something. You met her where? What kind of voice? It’s hard to remember most of the lyrics, even if the story is familiar – “Yoda” on the other hand, has such memorable lines as “I know Darth Vader’s really got you annoyed, but remember if you kill him you’ll be unemployed.”
Live performances of “Yoda” have evolved to include what fans call “The Yoda Chant”:
2 & 1 – “Stop Dragging my Car Around” and “She Drives Like Crazy”
“Weird” Al’s catalog has been reissued in a couple fun compilations – The Food Album and the TV Album – but never the car album, even though there’s a few classics. These two early tracks, one from his first album and one from the UHF soundtrack, are his best car/driving songs. Both are based on forgettable 80s pop songs. In fact, “She Drives Like Crazy” is a better pop song altogether than “She Drives me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals, a band whose albums pretty much never sell here at Hymie’s.
Prince famously refused “Weird” Al’s suggestions for a parody of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and ever suggestion since. It’s no surprise, since if he’d allowed the parody we’d probably have forgotten who wrote the original song in the first place.
Hymie’s will be closed on Easter Sunday, but the Turf Club in St. Paul will be open. We’re glad for that because the last Sunday of the month is Theme Time at the Turf Club, so our own Dave will be spinning records between sets by hosts Pocahontas County and this month’s guests. Since its Easter Sunday, they’ve chosen “Gospel” for this month’s theme, and invited some pretty awesome guests.
Adam Keisling and Jillian Rae (2/3 of the awesome local trio, Corpse Reviver, who perform songs found on the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music) will play a set, along with Mother Banjo, whose last album, The Devil Hasn’t Won, includes all kinds of classic American gospel songs. The third guest set will be by another duo, Sherry Minnick & Jackson Buxton, old friends of the Pocahontas boys and exceptional interpreters of classic bluegrass and country. It’s going to be an awesome evening of traditional American gospel music, and Dave’s looking forward to spinning some of his favorite gospel records between sets.
It’s not that often you get to spin a lot of gospel records at a show (although Dave did just that during Charlie Parr’s two night stand at the Cedar at the beginning of February), but its the wellspring of all kinds of American pop music like rock and roll and soul music.
“Jesus is Sweeter than Honey” by Reverend Oris Mays
“I’ll Fly Away” by the Trumpeters
“Come See About Me” by the Dixie Hummingbirds
“Strange Man” by Dorothy Love Coates
Theme Time Turf Club starts on Easter Sunday at 7pm. There will be a free CD of classic gospel records recorded from 45s and LPs like the ones you hear here (usually limited to ten or fifteen copies) and a whole night’s worth of awesome music. Hope to see you there!
Last month we got a brand new used car, and unlike our old one it has a radio. While it’s been a lot of fun to listen to CDs while we’re driving the really fun stuff has been rediscovering the radio, which is something you don’t think a lot about when you spend all your time in a record store. Of course, you also don’t hear a lot of the music you’d really like to hear. There’s still something special about the radio.
Last year around this time we were with a friend when one of his songs was played on the radio for the first time (actually, only one of us was with him – the other one was at the radio station doing the playing). It was sort of a magical moment, like something out of a movie. It’s a shame the corporate structure of today’s airwaves makes something magical like that so extraordinarily rare.
“Radio Radio” by Elvis Costello & the Attractions
“You Can’t Say Crap on the Radio” by Stiff Little Fingers
“Capitol Radio” by the Clash
K-Tel International (“As seen on TV!”) was based up in Winnipeg but their classic compilation albums were distributed in the United States from a headquarters in Minnetonka. K-Tel’s founder, Philip Kives, believed their first compilation album (25 Great Country Artists Singing their Original Hits, released in 1966) would be the only one they’d create, but they went on to release hundreds of albums, often featuring a common theme.
One of the most beloved K-Tel collections is 20 Great Truck Drivin’ Songs, which features classics like “Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley and “Juke Box Charlie” by Johnny Paycheck along side goofy truckin’ tracks. For instance:
“Truck Driving Cat with Nine Wives” by Jim Nesbitt
“Truck Drivin’ Country Music Promoter” by Lavon Lile
And that got us to thinking about the 70s truck drivin’ song, and some of the sillier examples.
“Giddy Up Go” by Red Sovine
“The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” by Red Simpson
“Who’s Gonna Run the Truck Stop in Tuba City When I’m Gone” by Dolan Ellis
“CB Savage” by Rod Hart
“CB Widow” by Linda Casady
“Trip Through Hell” (Part one) by the C.A. Quintet
I think we’re all pretty familiar with “Surfin Bird” (and it’s a great song!) but some of the other great garage-y Minnesota records of the 60s are less famous. Less than 500 copies of the C.A. Quintet’s awesome 1968 album Trip Through Hell, and judging from this copy which recently passed through the shop it seems like maybe 400 of them are pretty beat up. It played all the way through without a skip, and that’s good enough for our ears!
Since Narco States are going to visit our shop tomorrow afternoon and play some good old fashioned Minnesota garage rock, we thought we’d explore some of the awesome and rare records we’ve been recording as the appear here in the shop.
First of all, here is the debut EP by Narco States, which was released by Piñata Records last month as a 7″ record. We’re super excited for their in-store performance and we think a lot of people who love the classic Minnesota rock singles collected in this post would really enjoy seeing them, too. They’ll be performing some of these songs and more at 3pm tomorrow!
We’ll have plenty of copies of the new Narco States EP in stock tomorrow, but many of these other local records show up infrequently and sell to collectors very quickly. Here’s a couple that have only appeared once in the past several years, both on a label called Bangar Records. The put out about sixty records, all around 1964. One of them, “Gorilla” by the Shandells, was one of the most expensive 45s that we have had in stock over the past year. It’s too bad we had to sell it because this would be a fun one to play at DJ gigs, maybe people would dance “the gorilla“.
We remembered to record both sides of the single for the blog, but not to take a picture of the label! All of the Bangar singles look the same, and we did remember to photograph another great one with a silly side – the Readymen’s “Shortnin’ Bread” is another old rocker that could have a fun dance associated with it. It was actually the b-side, and the instrumental “Surfer Blues” the a-side.
“Shortnin’ Bread” b/w “Surfer Blues” by the Readymen
“Gorilla” b/w “Hey Little One” by the Shandells
Of course, the most famous Minnesota label of the era was Soma Records, which was founded by Amos Heilcher (Soma is his name spelled backwards!) – he was also, with his brother, the owner of the Musicland chain of record stores, where Dave bought his Ratt and Kiss tapes as a pre-teen in the 80s.
Soma’s subsidiary, Garrett Records, was the label on which “Surfin’ Bird” was released in 1963. It was named for George Garrett, who was an engineer on many of the recording sessions released by Soma. Other famous Soma releases include the Castaways “Liar Liar” and the Chancellors “Little Latin Lupe Lu”. A lot of the local rock singles were covers of popular rhythm and blues tracks.
“Little Latin Lupe Lu” by the Chancellors
“Let the Good Times Roll” by the Del Counts
“Book of Love” by the Underbeats
“Turn on your Lovelight” by the High Spirits
This next song is off a single we recorded a couple years ago before selling it to a local DJ – it’s a 1959 rocker by the String Kings, a band that included future members of the Trashmen. This was released on a label called Gaity Records, which was not renowned for it’s high quality recordings, but the song’s killer guitar makes up for it. We forgot to take a picture of the label for this one, too.
“Bloodshot” by the String Kings
Stillroven was a local band that recorded several singles that were produced only in short runs, so they don’t appear very often. There have been a couple discs compiling their material, including the album they recorded for A&M that was shelved (and on which David Rivkin, aka producer David Z, played with the band). I’ve read that Sundazed Records, the 60s psych and rock reissue label out of California, has considered reissuing these compilations, maybe on LP – they do such a good job of collecting “lost” music that it would be a welcome project here in Minneapolis!
Stillroven’s biggest hit was a cover of “Hey Joe” (which was better than the other, more successful garage-y version by a California band, the Leaves). Their next single was “Little Picture Playhouse” backed with a trippy psychedelic track, “Cast thy Burden upon the Stone”.
“Little Picture Playhouse” by the Stillroven
“Action Woman” by the Litter
The Litter is probably one of the most popular local garage bands of all, and their debut Scotty Records is one of our favorites from the era. Unfortunately, when the Hymie’s computer crashed recently we lost a number of recording we’d made, including one of the b-side of that single, which was an awesome cover of the Who’s “Legal Matter.” Here instead is the a-side, an original by the Litter.
There are several albums by this band, including one from when they reunited in the 90s. One of their albums, the ultra rare $100 Fine, is on the Hexagon Records label, which is pretty awesome. We’re not sure if there’s a relationship between the Hexagon Bar and the label, but there’s something to think about next time you’re watching some super-loud local band shred it up at that legendary watering hole.
The track you heard at the beginning of this post was from Trip Through Hell, an album that Sundazed has reissued, although it’s currently out of stock so we can’t order new copies of it anymore. Some time ago we had one of the few singles the band released in stock, but it was light-hearted and fun compared to their dark, ooky spooky album. Here’s the C.A. Quintet covering the Miracles’ “Mickey’s Monkey”:
“Mickey’s Monkey” by the C.A. Quintet
In the same collection we had the single of Michael’s Mystics covering “But it’s Allright” by J.J. Jackson, but we must have forgotten to record that one. Fortunately, somebody else has made a Youtube video of that fun single, so we can still hear it.
If you ask us, this next track is obscure for a reason. We’re not sure why a collector would want to pay much for “The Cat,” a 1967 single by the Sting Rays, from Rochester. Here is the recording we made of that single on Welhaven Records – we’ll let you decide if it’s a “lost classic” or not:
“The Cat” by the Sting Rays
One thing’s for sure, our kids love this one. Their favorite old garage rock songs are the silly ones about animals, including of course “Surfin’ Bird” and “Gorilla.” In fact, we made them a CD of songs like those! So we were all disappointed this next one was not about a giraffe, given the picture on the label. It did turn out to be a pretty good song.
“Don’t Love Me” by the ICC (In Crowd Consolidated)
Somewhere back in the archives of the Hymie’s blog there’s already been a post about this single because we just loved the label for Hy Nibble Records so much.
There are many more great garage rock record from Minnesota but we’ll save some of the others we have recorded for a future post. Missing from this collection is, of course, “Surfin’ Bird” – tune in (or click in) tomorrow, and we’ll explore the history of that legendary Minnesota Record.
And stop by the shop tomorrow and check out Narco States, and maybe buy their record before it becomes as obscure and rare as all these other ones in today’s post.
“Trip through Hell” (Part two) by the C.A. Quintet
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” b/w “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. Capitol 5706, released July 18 1966. Peak chart position: #8.
“Spill the Wine” b/w “Magic Mountain” by Eric Burdon and War. MGM 114118, released in May 1970. Peak chart position: #3.
“Soothe Me” (live version) b/w “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” by Sam & Dave. Stax 231, released in 1967. Peak chart position: #2.
“Dancing in the Dark” b/w “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Sprinsgteen. Columbia 04463, released May 4, 1984. Peak chart position: #2.
“Proud Mary” b/w “Born on the Bayou” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fantasy 419, released January 1969. Peak chart position: #2.
“You Sexy Thing” b/w “Amazing Skin Song” by Hot Chocolate. Big Tree 16047, released in November 1975. Peak chart position: #3.
“Fat Bottomed Girls” b/w “Bicycle Race” by Queen. Elektra 45541, released October 13, 1978. Peak chart position: #24.
“Nine” b/w “Moody Fucker” by Lambchop. Merge 48, released in 1995. Did not chart.