Benny K

Benny K made this fun video last week to help his fans find Hymie’s, but of course if you’re reading this you have probably already visited us here.

Benny’s a local folk singer whose first disc, 10,000 Saints, earned him a reputation as bright, insightful songwriter. He’ll be releasing a new EP, Four Years, this weekend, and we were surprised when he approached us about hosting the release celebration show with a performance here in the shop on Saturday.

Four Years takes on the subject of Wisconsin’s controversial conservative governor, Scott Walker, who progressives hope will have an uphill battle for re-election this fall. Benny K plans to tour the Badger State between now and election day. Have a listen to the title song — you might, like us, feel Benny sounds like a younger Larry Long
(one of our favorite Minnesota folk singers). He’s joined on the new EP by keyboardist Lightnin’ Joe Peterson.

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“Four Years” by Benny K

Here’s another video, for a track from 10,000 Saints. Gus and Nova really liked this one, but we had to read all the text to them. Benny’s got a good sense of humor that’s really missing in a lot of music these days. Sometimes a little bit of that makes a sad story a little easier on the soul, a spoonful of sugar and all…

Benny’s CD release show for Four Years will be here at Hymie’s on Saturdady at 5pm. Self-described “garage folk singer” Nate Houge will be providing a foot-stompin’ opening set. Hope to see you here!

Everyone from Bill Cosby to the Art Ensemble of Chicago has performed “Purple Haze” since it first appeared on Jimi Hendrix’s classic first album. He always claimed it was a love song, not a song about drugs.

One of our favorite versions is this one by Dion.

purple haze

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“Purple Haze” by Dion

Yesterday’s post was meant to lighten folks’ feelings about the weather, and it included two of our favorite songs. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Rainbow Connection” were separated in the cinema by four decades, but share a special quality unfound in movies today: optimism. You go to the movies today and you’d think we’re all doomed, but not so for Dorothy from Kansas or Kermit from, um, the swamp.

wizard of oz muppet movieThe Wizard of Oz and The Muppet Movie are two of the best soundtrack albums of all time, both records we don’t see in the shop as often as we’d like — the good news is that both are also being reissued as special released for record store day this year. We can’t guarantee we’ll have these two (or any other) of the special releases in stock this year because of their limited nature and the rules of the ‘record store day’ people, but we’d sure like to have them.

We don’t really understand why anyone would make a limited-edition record — if there were more people that wanted to hear it, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Isn’t that what records are for?

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“If I Only Had a Brain” performed by Ray Bolger and Judy Garland

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“I Hope Something Better Comes Along” by Kermit the Frog and Rowlf the Dog

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“Rainbows all over your Blues” by John B Sebastian

rainbow on stage europe 72 Mariah-Carey-Rainbow

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“Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland

player rainbow

rose royce ivdark sidemidnight rainbowsall bozos on this bus

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“Chasin’ that neon Rainbow” by Alan Jackson

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“Ridin’ the Rainbow” by Elvis Presley

115279758muppet movieKermit the Frog once asked why there are so many songs about rainbows. The answer is simple: we need them because there are so many rainy days.

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“The Rainbow Connection” by Kermit D. Frog

It’s our Trevor’s birthday! Two of his favorite bands, Brown Moses and Grickle-Grass, are playing reunion shows at the Nomad World Pub this weekend (details here). In the meantime, enjoy this re-run from the fairly recent archives of the Hymies blog…

Today’s the second day for our new employee Trevor. Here’s a song by another Trevor — hope you enjoy it, and have a chance to meet our Trevor here at the shop sometime. He’s a really great guy.

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“Is there Any Love?” by Trevor Dandy

This was first privately pressed on the independent Zaza Productions label in Canada, on Dandy’s album Don’t Cry Little Tree. 2000 copies were made but many were destroyed in a distribution dispute with the label, making it an extremely rare record. It was sampled by Monsters of Funk and by Kid Cudi, but isn’t something you’re likely to hear on the radio very often.

Also rare is the 2010 promotional one-sided single issued by the archival label Numero Group on their Eccentric Soul imprint. Only 200 of those were pressed! We sure would be happy to find either of these records. If you really want to find a copy of this song without breaking the bank, you’ll have to buy their compilation, Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal (Numero 10).

Twenty-five years ago today an oil tanker ran aground in the Prince William Sound, spilling a half-million or more gallons of oil into the sea. At the time it was the greatest natural disaster our nation had caused for itself (passed in 2010 by the Deepwater Horizon disaster). The shockingly slow industry response became a (forgive the term) watershed moment, galvanizing not only environmental/conservation movements but also the courage of class action suits against corporations.

exxon_valdezLegal battles over the Exxon Valdez spill are still ongoing today. A 2008 documentary, Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez, explores the environmental and human costs of the disaster. You can watch the film here online, but you will probably have a hard time getting to the end without a broken heart.

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“The Oil Song” by Steven Forbert

This morning we read about the anniversary in our Sunday paper about the herring, the whales and the otters on the anniversary, but the article mentioned nothing of the people who lived in Cordova, Alaska.

Here’s a peculiar record we’ve always loved, surely an example of something that is rare but not valuable, at least in the money sense — it’s a test pressing of songs by Pop Wagner, the Twin Cities’ awesome-est cowboy fiddler. He wrote the song “Good Friday” after performing in Cordova, Alaska just before the disaster. Dakota Dave Hull explains it in the notes to the album he and Pop made together (Airship) here:

He stayed with friends who were getting ready for the herring run which was on its way north. Their plan was to harvest herring roe for the lucrative market in Japan where it is used for “happy food” or, as we westerners would say, hors d’oeuvres. On Good Friday, Pop deplaned in Juneau where he saw the headlines and the photo of the Exxon Valdez run aground on Bligh Reef. He wrote this song a few weeks later.

Pop’s song was one of the only we’ve ever heard that acknowledged the enormous human cost of the disaster (not to dismiss the suffering of the sea creatures we more often see in oily images). If you’re able to make it through the wrenching documentary about Cordova, you’ll understand our surprise and sadness on this anniversary.

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“Good Friday” by Pop Wagner

photoWe offered this record to Pop Wagner last time he was here in the shop, and he demurred with characteristic modesty. We’re not sure this six-track 12″ was ever made into an official release (we’ve never found one). He recorded “Good Friday” with Dakota Dave Hull, and some of the other songs at other times.

It seems like this is a really good time to point out that if you’d like to see Pop Wagner perform, he’s part of the awesome celebration of Pete Seeger’s 95th birthday organized by Larry Long, who brought a flyer into the shop this week. It’s at the Fitzgerald Theater on May 3rd (it’s on their calendar here).

Maybe it’s also something to consider next time you start your car, or next time you buy some plastic bullshit at Target just to replace something fixable that you didn’t need in the first place. And maybe this is too much for a blog about records, too preachy. It’s not like we’ve got a choice about where we have to go with those cars — We’ll go where the work is. We’re all stuck in an oil/plastic nightmare but at the very least we’re in better shape than the people who depended on the Prince William Sound were on this day twenty-five years ago.

blueBlue is one of the very best albums of the early seventies, a golden era for collector favorites — this record in particular deserves its enduring popularity. Joni Mitchell’s use of alternate tuning creates a compelling sound from the very beginning of the optimistic opening song, “All I Want.” Grounded by rolling piano ballads, Blue is a deceptively simple album from a time when many artists were adding everything but the glockenspiel to each new song — what really seems to keep people returning to this album is Mitchell’s nakedly honest depiction the arc of a relationship, its sometimes manic highs and lows (“I hate you some, I love you some”) before leaving us with a harrowing look at the scars our failed loves leave in “The Last Time I Saw Richard.”

Copies are tough to come by, usually in and out of the shop in a day or so — gosh, you hardly ever see the original blue inner sleeve anymore! Last week we recorded our copy for a friend whose gone digital, and realized it’s as full of pops as the jacket is of wear. Sort of a fitting state for Blue, but we’ve started eying a copy of Rhino’s recent re-mastered 180g reissue in the shop.

One might be surprised to learn the album was nearly released without the first and last tracks — “All I Want” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard” were both recorded after the album was mastered for production, implying the classic album might nearly have been very different.

We find it difficult to imagine the album beginning without the hopeful, but slightly desperate please of “all I really want our love to do, is to bring out the best in me and you.” And by the end, after two of Mitchell’s most-loved songs take heartache in very different directions (mournfully in “River,” and with devoted resignation in “A Case of You”) there’s really no way we think this record could end but at a cafe in Detroit.

“The Last Time I Saw Richard” is one of a handful of Mitchell’s songs to reflect on her life before moving to New York in 1967. It sums up the feelings of love and loss that run throughout the album, and is assumed to refer to her first husband, Chuck not Richard, from whom she got her surname and whom she left in Detroit. You would think, from most of her songs, that she left Saskachewan a fully-formed, if scarred, adult with a book full of folk songs, but in fact she had a long journey from her start in Canada before she settled in New York.

To make room for the new songs, two others had to be cut. Both had been cut from previous albums as well. She performed one of them at a 1970 fundraiser for Greenpeace, a recording of which was bootlegged by TMOQ in the seventies and officially released decades later (as Amchitka). “Hunter (the Good Samaritan)” was in a medley of songs that would be recorded and released on Blue.

A demo recording of “Hunter (the Good Samaritan)” which may have been the one cut from Blue can be heard on a bootleg disc called The Seeding of Summer Lawns (who says there’s no reason to collect CDs anymore?). You can hear it on a Youtube video here.

The other Blue outtake was “Urge for Going,” which had been a hit for George Hamilton IV years earlier, when Mitchell first arrived in New York. It was her first appearance (as a songwriter) on the Billboard charts. Another singer, Tom Rush, first heard her perform the song and brought it to Judy Collins, who passed. What a dummy. Mitchell’s own recording, cut from Blue, was finally released as the b-side to “You Turn me on I’m a Radio,” the single from her next album in 1972.

urge for going

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Yesterday we were digging through several musty old boxes of 78s in the office, finding mostly the sort of stuff folks aren’t looking for (pop singers and waltzes and late-era big band orchestras), when we came across a couple albums of great western swing tunes we don’t have in the shop as often.

leftyAnd this Lefty Frizell was one of them. We always associated this song with Willie Nelson, but it turns out his version (which topped the country chart in 1976) was a cover. Maybe the reason we had never heard Lefty’s original is that we’ve always been 45 collectors, and a lot of singles from this era are far more common on 78s than the newer format.

Lefty Frizell also had a #1 country hit with “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.” It was his first single, released in 1950, and was cowritten with country promoter Joe Beck, who brought the 19-year-old singer to Columbia Records.

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“If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time”

Within a year Frizell had written and recorded three more songs that would be in the top 10 country chart, launching a long and storied career. His songwriting and style were imitated by many country singers to follow, including of course Willie Nelson.

We’re very excited about the bill for our Record Store Day block party this year, but a little sad a few friends can’t be there because they’re out of town. Two guys we’ll miss are Brandon Allday and Medium Zach of Big Quarters, who will be performing at the 44th annual Chicano Park Festival in San Diego that day.

For big Big Quarters fans like ourselves there’s something else to look forward to anyway, which is Medium Zach’s solo debut Valued Input. Details for the March 29th release show are here. We should mention we’re also pretty excited for the K.Raydio & OD opening set — she is a great vocalist whose track with Big Cats left us wanting to hear more. Hopefully her EP with OD will be out soon.

You can hear and download Valued Input here. We especially enjoyed the beat Zach produced for “More than Superman,” which features Atmosphere’s Slug. Check it out below or click to Zach’s site above. We love how he blend organic sounds and samples for an exotic feel, a little like “Lou Diamond,” an awesome track he produced on the first Big Quarters disc years ago rather than the more soul-rich sound of their most recent disc.

medium-zach-valued-pointHopefully Zach’s solo album doesn’t mean that we won’t hear another Big Quarters album in the future. That disc from 2012 (Somo no Joke) was pretty long for an EP, but not long enough for us (we posted a track here and you can hear the whole thing here). We’ll miss having Big Quarters at the block party this year, but we’re pretty happy to see a solo project by this veteran producer whose music we love.

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“More than Superman” (featuring Slug)

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“Live in Color” (featuring MaLLy)

yvonne“Cassarole me Over” by Yvonne Eliman is, in the opinion of this record store, second only to “I Love Tortillas” as the best food song ever.

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yvonne 2

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