Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Allentown Finds, Part 1

Okay, here we go with the first in a short series of some of the best of my Allentown stash:

Reparata and the Delons: Mama Don't Allow/Tommy (World Artists WA 1051)

Now, this one's interesting. It's a follow-up to this girl group's previous record "Whenever A Teenager Cries." "Tommy" is the A-side and I only played it briefly. It's pretty typical teen-girl pop that seemed unsubstantial. Plus, there was a LOT of noise on my copy, so I didn't stay with it too long. "Mama Don't Allow" is much more fun. It's the old "Mama don't allow no music played around here" standard done 1960's style. Only this time, Mama's not allowing the girls to do the Monkey, the Swim, the Freeze and the Jerk, but the girls don't care what Mama don't allow and do all those crazy dances anyhow...right in front of Mama's face! How can that be bad....especially with musical accompaniment from "Hash Brown and his Orchestra?"

Roy Brown: "Ain't No Rocking No More" (King 45-5247)

Here's a later one from the man who first proclaimed "I heard the news, there's good rockin' tonight!" way back while Elvis was still learning how to swim. Well, by 1959, a lot of bad things had happened to rock 'n' roll: Elvis being in the Army, Chuck Berry in jail, Jerry Lee Lewis ostracized for marrying his cousin, Frankie Avalon's "Venus" hitting #1 on the charts. So Roy's come around with this sad bit of woe: "I've got bad news/There ain't no rockin' no more." But for all that, Roy's still wallopin' and wailin' up a storm and his band is cookin' it up and givin' it all they got. In short, Brown's got a smokin' piece of rhythm & blues here that pretty much belies all his bad news. And besides, we all knew that the bad times wouldn't last forever, didn't we? Or maybe we did.......

The Busters: Torrid Zone (Arlen 745)

Let's get one thing straight: "Bust Out" is one of the all-time great rock 'n' roll instrumentals. Starting off with a stacatto guitar run and charging out of the gate at warp speed never to return, "Bust Out" is a thorough thrashing of raw guitar, slashing sax and primitive drumming that would leave tire tracks on your breath if such a thing was possible. (Hey, it beats saying "leave you breathless" for the zillionth time.) This was one of two follow-ups the group recorded before riding off into the sunset and well, it's a fairly standard surf instrumental that's good enough on its own, but it doesn't compare to "Bust Out." Nothing could, probably, but it certainly leaves sad credence to the argument that some acts only have one or two good songs in them. "Torrid Zone," despite its title, feels more tepid than torrid.

Big Dee Irwin: Happy Being Fat (Dimension D1015)

Have you ever been fat? If you have, don't you love how compassionate most people are to overweight people? (Sarcasm off.) Well, Big Dee Irwin knows just how you feel. In fact, he just wants his nagging girlfriend to get off his case while he adds a little more whipped cream to his banana split. As he says, "I'm happy being stout/And if you don't like it, you can just get out." I bet you wish you could say that to all these Richard Simmons-Jenny Craig do-gooders who take the fun out of life. Or stuff another Big Mac down Morgan Spurlock's throat. Here's your anthem in either case. Strangely enough, though, this comes from the prolific songwriting pens of none other than Gerry Goffin and Carole King! Goffin and King also penned the B-side, which tells you all about the joys of "Slow Waltzin'." But for all you oppressed fatties out there, Big Dee belts out a soulful number that feels your pain. Heck, you could probably do the Loco-Motion to it if you wanted to.

The Bondsmen: Shotgun (USA 887)

This will be about the third version of the Jr. Walker classic that I've written about in this blog (see: Ricky and the Lexingtons, The Laughing Kind) and it's as good as those. This is what you'd call a teen garage punk version of it. The guitars are appropriately loud and funky enough, but the singer doesn't worry about getting the words right. I mean, listen for yourself and you can hear just how out there this version's lyrics are. He also stumbles over some lines and slurs over others. The band lifts him up and over the bar, however, just by keeping things tight. Can't ask for better than that, I reckon.

The Blues Project: I Want To Be Your Driver (Verve Folkways KF 5013)

It's always a pleasure to hear from Al Kooper and his boys, especially if just when you think you've heard all their 45s, another one pops up. Hence it is with this one for me and Al and the gang really work out to cook it up right and hard. The A is a cover of Donovan's "Catch The Wind," which is the kind of song Donovan drives me away from screaming, so I didn't play that side yet. "Driver," however, is The Blues Project at their best with Kooper's sly vocals and cool organ, Steve Katz's smokin' guitar and pounding drums. Great version!

Part two coming up either tonight or tomorrow.

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