You may wonder what record the folks from Hymie’s are looking for since there are hundreds of thousands of albums packed into this place — well, until this week one album was the second record by the Upper Mississippi Jazz Band, a traditional group that recorded here in the 60s. We posted a bit about their outstanding clarinet player, Dick Ramberg, last year when we were sad to learn he had passed away, but we didn’t have a copy of both albums the group made. It’s one of those records that falls into the category of ‘difficult to find but not particularly valuable,’ and we’re glad to have one on our shelves.
Minneapolis has always been a hotbed for traditional jazz, even though we’re on the opposite end of the Mississippi from New Orleans — We have a couple favorite bands in town that are playing and recording New Orleans style jazz, and both have regular gigs you should really check out if you love ‘the good stuff.’ The Southside Aces perform the second Thursday each month at the fabulous Eagles Club ballroom, and they even raffle off records from our shop. Patty and the Buttons is the other band, and they appear at the Aster Cafe for a Sunday brunch (11-2pm). They’ve also just finished recording a new album of classic tunes and originals called Mercury Blues.
Patty has produced a parody of the crowd-funding crazy which may or may not be a serious attempt to raise money to press the album. We really can’t tell. They’re calling it “$hitstarter” and we’ll let Patty himself explain it:
You are probably eager to hear XXX, the disc of vintage smut recorded by the band as an incentive. Check it out on their bandcamp page here. You can also find copies of their new disc here at Hymie’s, wrapped in a brown paper bag.
Musicians in the 20s and 30s produces a surprising variety of explicit songs — many were recorded by famous performers, such as Ukelele Ike (ie Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket) whose “Give it to Mary with Love” we posted here this summer.
One of the interesting things to come out of the 60s folk revival, from a record collector’s point of view, is the large number of compilation album collecting vintage 78s that begin to pop up during the following decade. The movement began with Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952 — the six-LP Folkways series exploring the breadth of America’s forgotten or dismissed traditional music. We have previously listened to tracks from the legendary compilation here. Many of its songs became standards or were reinterpreted by the folks singers who followed, including famous figures like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Doc Watson and Dave Van Ronk.
In 1961 Columbia Records compiled sixteen sides by Robert Johnson onto a single LP, King of the Delta Blues Singers. The collection is considered one of the most influential blues albums of all time, helping to shape both the Chicago electric blues sound and the British blues boom. The record also established the modest commercial potential of archival releases, which the label tentatively explored the following year with an album of recordings by Leroy Carr with Scrapper Blackwell, Blues Before Sunrise. By the seventies they had issued an extensive compendium of Bessie Smith split over five double-LP sets, and other labels were following the example. RCA, by this time the owner of the Bluebird catalog, issued collections of music ranging from the Monroe Brothers to the collected Benny Goodman (split over at least seven volumes) — while never big business, archival collections of obscure 78s became a record shop staple in the seventies.
In fact, some of it was very small business. The archetypal archival label was Yazoo, which was run out of New York City apartment by a Harry Smith-like character named Nick Perls. The Yazoo collections are again in print on LP — you may have noticed some of them here in the shop, if only because several include vibrant covers by cartoonist (and 78 enthusiast) R. Crumb. Perls was known for his ability to get the cleanest recording of a vintage record, and his label’s catalog collected such essential recordings as Mississippi John Hurt’s 1928 recordings for Okeh and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” a song that was chosen by the Voyager Project to be included in the “golden record” which has been cast out into interstellar space like a message in a bottle.
Getting back to our original subject, Patty and the Buttons’ new collection of vintage smut, we turn to Stash Records, a seventies label which issued twenty-five fun LPs. Their first collection, Pipe, Spoon, Pot and Jug, was filled with riotous drug songs like “Reefer Man” and “Don’t You Make Me High.” Their second release was Copulatin’ Blues, filled with the sort of smut the Buttons’ have recorded on their new disc, and it has been followed by a variety of similar records.