A positive message today, written by Joe Sample. It’s from 2nd Crusade, one of the forty or so awesome albums by the Crusaders and one of our favorites.
“Don’t Let It Get You Down”
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The hunt is half the fun of collecting. Records are not, after all, always easy to find. There may be as many as a quarter of a million records in the shop, but that’s only a drop in the ocean, Several friends have sent us this news story about a guy in Brazil who literally buys records by the boatload and has filled a warehouse will millions of them. There are almost certainly others like him all over the world, and hidden in those vast storehouses are probably several of the albums that you’ve been trying to find for years.
We recognize that one could quickly, if expensively, collect everything they’re looking for by shopping online. Fortunately for us, and for record stores everywhere, doing that isn’t very much fun. It’s pretty unlikely you’re going to find an original Vertigo press of the first Black Sabbath album in a neighborhood record shop like ours, but you might find a couple nice clean first US pressings of their first four albums (as folks did here yesterday). You might also find something you’d never even knew existed, but which caught your eye and at the listening station caught your ear. That’s part of what makes record stores magical.
The day before Record Store Day this year we tried to answer the question “Why do people still buy records?” (posted here) but it’s something that’s just about impossible to explain to a person who’s never felt that magic. When asked what record we’re looking for, we’ve always replied we don’t even know what it is yet — we’ll just know it when we find it. Sometimes it’s a record that hasn’t even been made yet (we’re thinking of your, Whiskey Jeff). That day we posted a cover of “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” by Joe Bonsall and the Orange Playboys:
This is why we’ve never had a good answer when asked about the records we wish we might find — who knew a cajun cover of Jim Croce existed? Some collectors may be looking for a big score, but most of us are looking for something no one has heard in years. A lost treasure. Every one of us wants to be Harry Smith in one way or another. When you put a record on your turntable you are, after all, bringing to life a frozen moment of the past through a nineteenth-century technology that, while easily explains, is endowed with an enduring magical aura.
And as soon as you find that album you’ve been looking for, it will start showing up everywhere. Folks bring records into a shop like ours in all quantities, a handful, a stack, a crate, a whole collection. Sometimes two people with similar taste unload their entire collection on the same shop in the same week, and for someone else it’s a welcome surprise.
We’ve been listening to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the shop a lot lately, because two different people brought in a few of their albums. It’s good workin’ music, which helps us get things in order around here. Most of the time what we’re in the mood to listen to in the shop is what has arrived recently — that’s a big part of what makes it fun.
It’s been one hell of a summer with lots of great live music in the shop and all kinds of cool records passing through. Thanks for visiting us as often as you have, even if it’s just to say hello and hear what’s on the turntable.
“Blind Leading the Blind” by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Here’s a record that captures the long tradition of performing New Orleans jazz way up here in Minneapolis. Butch Thompson is, of course, most known for his long association with A Prairie Home Companion, but began a career seeped in New Orleans jazz at nineteen when he joined Minneapolis’ Hall Brothers Jazz Band as a clarinetist.
Lots of folks wouldn’t think of Minneapolis as a hotbed of traditional jazz, but in fact our city has a direct link to New Orleans through riverboats and the bands that played them. The Hall Brothers were just a couple of many local musicians who worked to bring traditional jazz performers to Minneapolis — one of their great successes was a 1966 concert by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the old Guthrie Theater, with Sweet Emma Barrett playing the piano.
Thompson didn’t stay long with the Hall Brothers’ band, but brought something of their sense of arrangement to his piano playing, making his style a perfect match for the piano solos of jazz’s first great arranger, Jelly Roll Morton. From his debut album in 1966 (pictured here is a reissue), here is Butch Thompson performing one of our favorite Jelly Roll compositions, “Tiger Rag”:
Thompson was born in Marine on St. Croix, and discovered the music of New Orleans by collecting records. From his brief online autobiography:
By now I was collecting 12-inch LPs, and had a multi-speed “high fidelity” record player. I bought everything I could find by Louis Armstrong, including his wonderful tribute LPs to W.C. Handy and Fats Waller, reissues of his Hot Fives and Sevens from the ’20s, and even an album of his earliest work, the 1923 acoustic recordings with King Oliver and His Creole Jazz Band.
And if you think traditional jazz is not alive and well here in our hometown, we encourage you to check out the Southside Aces. You can hear this exceptional band on the second Thursday of every month at the Eagles Club right here in our neighborhood. You won’t be disappointed!
A friend sent us this link to a story about Bhutanese stamps that play just like records, and we got to thinking, ‘Why stop with just the national anthem?’ Think of all the songs you could put on a postage stamp…
“Please Mr Postman”
“Mail Myself to You”
“Box Full of Letters”…
The tiny nation only began issuing stamps in the sixties, but their innovative designs have become very popular with philatelists, who will spend as much as five hundred dollars for a complete set of the 1973 series of “talking stamps.” We of all people understand the collector impulse, we’re just jealous that us record collectors don’t get a cool word like “philatelists.”
The University of North Texas College of Music was the first school in the world to offer an accredited degree in jazz studies. It is also home to one of the largest music libraries in the country, an excellent symphony orchestra and a world class jazz band.
In fact, it’s One O’Clock Lab Band has performed all around the world, as well as once backing both Duke Ellington and Stan Getz at a White House performance in 1967. The school had a full stage band as early as the mid-20s, but it was not until 1947 that the school’s “dance music” program was codified into its current state, providing an accredited degree and establishing the school’s band into the “Laboratory Dance Band.” It’s first director, Gene Hall, was an associate of Stan Kenton.
“One O’Clock” was added to the band’s name in the early sixties, referring not to the Count Basie standard but to the band’s rehearsal time (the school also had at the time “Two O’Clock” and “Three O’Clock” bands and so on). Every year since 1966, the school has produced an album presenting original compositions, arrangements of standards, and exceptional performances. Several over the years have been nominated for Grammys.
This past winter we purchased the collection of a music educator, which included several of the Lab LPs (each is simply titled Lab 66, Lab 67, and so on). Record collectors are usually dismissive of records produced by colleges and universities, and of so-called “amateur” albums in general — the Lab albums are prized by jazz collectors. Several offer the first recorded performances of well-known jazz musicians, and all of them stand in contrast to the slow decline of the big band. If ever you happen across one of their albums, give it a listen. Here are some favorite tracks from a few that came through the shop this year.
Two alumni heard on Lab 68 are best known as members of the Blues Brothers Band — both Lou Marini and Tom “Bones” Malone appeared in the 1980 film. We have always thought Marini was especially hilarious in the scene set inside the Soul Food Diner, and he’s also highly regarded by jazz musicians, although most of his work as a session man has been on rock and pop albums. Marini performed on albums as varied as Lou Reed’s Sally Can’t Dance and Peter Tosh’s Mystic Man. along the way performing jazz with Deodato, the Brecker Brothers and Bobby Humphrey.
He wrote and arranged three songs on Lab 68 which hint at the influence of diverse composers like Oliver Nelson and Gil Evans. He does not play the tenor solo on the first of these (that’s performed by Ray Loeckle) but it’s a great composition.
You’ll be amazed by the credits on the Wikipedia page for Dean Parks, the guitarist and horn player who wrote this song from Lab 69. He is one of the many “behind the scenes” session men who got their start at the University of North Texas.
“Overture to the Royal Mongolian Suma Foosball Festival”
Lab 75 features a shift into heavier, more groove oriented arrangments. Unlike previous Lab LPs, this one features the work of a single composer, keyboardist Lyle Mays (who is from nearby Wausaukee, Wisconsin, by the way). Most people know Mays for his work with Pat Methany through their long collaboration. Lab 75 is one of the best album in the ongoing series, and was nominated for a Grammy.
“Self Help is Needed”
The Lab albums also visit the work of prominent jazz composers, such as this arrangement of a rarely-performed Oliver Nelson piece on Lab 83 which features Bill Brown on alto. This is the most-recent album we’ve found, but this video shows the band recording the well-reviewed Lab 2009.
Now that Sir Paul has likely packed up his giant sack of weed and left the Twin Cities, local music media will have to turn elsewhere to ease the doldrums of late summer. You’ve probably noticed we here at the Hymies blog haven’t been posting as often as we do in winter, relying from time to time on a rerun or two. It’s just really tough to spend a summer day inside recording records, or typing on a computer, when one could be walking the dog or riding a bike. To our credit we’ve got some fourteen hundred posts to pick from when we rerun something from the past, so it’s often new to some readers.
This morning we remembered a line by another Beatle, Paul’s longtime writing partner and sometime adversary, from one of his last recordings. In “I’m Steppin’ Out” he laments there’s “nothing doin’ on TV, summer repeats.” Yes, even a Beatle is bored by reruns.
The songs John had recorded for a follow-up to Double Fantasy were some of his most humorous and positive, even as they reflect various anxieties such as cabin fever in “I’m Steppin’ Out,” aging and death in “Borrowed Time” and fear for the future in “Nobody Told Me.” Yoko finished the album three years later, and to her credit left John’s mixes a little rough around the edges, complete with his silly asides. Her songs for the album, which is sequenced alternately as Double Fantasy had been, are good too, more nuanced than the stark and heartbreaking Season of Glass.
Milk and Honey is a strange album, fun and sad at the same time. Its first single, “Nobody Told Me,” was a song John had written for Ringo’s next album, Stop and Smell the Roses. It is the second time in a record he mentions his UFO sighting, which we first mentioned here on the Hymie’s blog four years ago. We suppose that’s the kind of thing you have to look for when there’s nothing doing on TV.
“Nobody Told Me”
The news is more terrifying every week this summer, so maybe we could use a little distraction. With the shocking death toll in Gaza, airplanes being shot out of the sky and ebola outbreaks on the front page, maybe Yoko’s “O Sanity” would be a better song to select.
Thanks for reading. If we’re all still here tomorrow we might post a rerun.
“Summer in the City” by the Lovin Spoonful
“Long Hot Summer Night” by Jimi Hendrix
“Storm King” by the Brian Just Band
“Last Hot Day of Summer” by Dan Newton
“June July and August” by Freddy Cannon
“Summer Days” by Bob Dylan
“Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer” by Nat King Cole
“Summer Ghost” by the White Whales
Local musician Willie Murphy’s dog Clyde jumped out the window of a car yesterday and has been lost ever since — it happened in the neighborhood just west of the shop on East Lake Street, on the other side of Hiawatha.
Since so many of our readers seem to be from the neighborhood, we thought we’d share this. If you find Clyde, you can let us know and we can contact Willie, or if you know him you can call him yourself.