Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some Instant Reviews

Sunday was a nice day. I drove to St. Louis in the morning to attend the record fair. Now, let me preface this by saying that I used to attend record shows on a regular basis when I lived in the big city. Now, I'm lucky to make it to any shows at all. So, when I do, it's look out everybody!! And Sunday was no exception, as I managed to pig-out on loads of 45's for cheap. I found so many 45's that I wanted in the dollar bins that I hardly needed to check the more expensive wares.

Buying cheap records is a great way to go because it encourages taking chances on records that could be great but might also wind up being complete duds. I guess it's part of the game. And it's in that spirit that I present today's post.

I thought it might be fun to spin some as yet unheard records and give you my first impression of them right here. I haven't done any research on these and know virtually nothing about most of them. Let the chips fall where they may. Oh, and I decdied to score them on a one to ten scale. That's the number you'll see in ( ) at the end of each review.

The Dutones - The Bird/Done Got Over It (Columbia 42657) Not sure if these guys are related to the later Five Du-Tones of "Shake A Tail Feather" fame but they sound like they could be. "The Bird" is a really good r&b dance tune with female backup singers. It reminds me of "Twist and Shout". "Done Got Over It" is slower and has the guys singing about getting over a heartache. Not bad but the record's definitely worth it for "The Bird". (7)

Johnny and The Canadians - Say Yeah!/A Million Years Ago (Columbia 43353) Ack, another one on Columbia. "Say Yeah!" sounds something like British beat music. I'm trying to think of an apt comparison. The best part of the song is probably the guitar break, which is okay. Otherwise, just so-so, at least on first listen. The flip is more of the same. Not bad, but nothing special. (5)

Mike Pedicin Quintet - You Gotta Go/The Banjo Rock (RCA Victor 47-6235) I picked this up partly because I got a copy of his "Shake A Hand" on Cameo earlier this year and like it quite a bit. "You Gotta Go" has an early rockin' sound, via the big band route. And it has two cool sax breaks. It actually sounds a lot like "Shake A Hand". Pretty good. "The Banjo Rock" is similar and yes, it employs a banjo but more as a background instrument. Cool swing, again with lots of wailing sax. If anything, it ends too soon. Excellent. (8)

The Rhythm Cats - Cool Caravan/Blue Saxophone (Specialty 496) This one looks to be from about 1954 and "Cool Caravan" sounds like it. It's an upbeat r&b instro, with horns, piano, drums, bass and guitar. Pretty good early sound. "Blue Saxophone" is slower, with a sax playing lead. Sort of a steamy sound, like in a dingy nightclub. Nice. (7)

The Denims - I'm Your Man/Ya, Ya (Columbia 43312) I have a couple of Denims records, both of which were used to pitch products. "Salty Dog Man" was used to sell jeans and "The Adler Sock" was used, well you guessed it. Both records are outstanding, so I grabbed this one. Lo and behold, the Denims weren't trying to sell anything here but records. "I'm Your Man" is good, upbeat garage rock, with a a British Invasion sound. The drums are mixed right up front and we get the much yearned for guitar break. Nice song. "Ya, Ya" is a remake of the Lee Dorsey song. This version is more upbeat and uses horns. Okay. (7)

Chuck Trois & the Amazing Maze - Call On You/Woodsman (Sock & Soul 101) Here's one that caught my eye because of the Sock & Soul label, home to a recent score, namely Ray Sharp & the Soul Set's great "Earthquake". On "Call On Me", Chuck and the guys use an organ to give the song a gospel feel. It's a nice, mid-tempo number. "Woodsman" is uptempo, with horns and is all out soul. I like the emsemble singing. We get the sound effect of someone sawing wood and I don't mean they were asleep. (7)

Knight Beats - Mo Mo/King Arthur (Norman 566) Norman was a St. Louis label and home to the Egyptian Combo of "The Frog" and "Rockin' Little Egypt", er uh, fame. The Knight Beats' "Mo Mo" is an instrumental with guitar, drums and organ. It's fairly slow and has a nice groove. "King Arthur" musta been the topside because it's a vocal number. It's up-tempo and maybe a bit garagey but the vocals are more in the pop crooner vein. The backing is good though, with sort of an early garage sound. (6)

Donna Loren - So, Do The Zonk/New Love (Capitol 5409) Donna Loren was an attractive brunette who acted and sometimes sang in those old Frankie and Annette beach movies of the 1960's. She'd also turn up on TV from time to time. I remember seeing her in a Gomer Pyle rerun. She also made several records and here's one of 'em. "So, Do The Zonk" is about a dance and is okay in a female pop vocal sort of way. It's also very short. "New Love" is mid-tempo, cheesy, lover's lament pop. Not the worst thing you've ever heard but still... I guess the beat is pretty good. (4)

The Jades - The Glide/Flower Power (Uni 55019) Just how many outfits calling themsleves the Jades were around in the 60's? Here's yet another and on "The Glide" we get a soul combo, with several different voices, horns and a saxophone. The song is mid-tempo and maybe sounds a little like the Temptations. Decent but not overly compelling. "Flower Power" is faster and quite dancable. This was probably the a-side of the single. The instrumentation is similar to the other side. Better. (6)

The Ramrocks - Lasagna/Pasha (Press 2804) If you have the Flares' "Foot Stomping" 45, flip it over and check out part 2, which is an instrumental version of the song credited to the Ramrocks. I don't know whether these guys are any relation or not. "Lasagna" is a piano and sax driven instro, with someone interjecting the song's title every now and again. I like it. "Pasha" starts with a big drum beat and also has lots of sax. It has some general yelping, some da da da's and again the title is spoken every once in awhile. It has a bit of a middle eastern feel. Not bad. Given the benefit of the doubt for being so much fun. (7)

Urban Roots - You Make My Heart Ring (Like a Bell)/I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man (RCA Victor 47-8946) The topside here is upbeat and has garagey backing but the vocals are pretty ordinary. I'm waiting for a cool guitar break. Ah yes, there it is! Not bad but coulda been better, with a different singer. "Hoochie Coochie Man" is a slow, bluesy take and not too bad but nothing really special. (6)

The Scramblers -The Egg Roll/Droll Stroll (Rider 104) "The Egg Roll" is yet another instrumental, with drums, guitar, sax and what sounds like a flute(?!) It has an early rock and roll sound but definitley more roll than rock. So-so. "Droll Stroll" is less of the same. Maybe that's a clarinet. Disappointing (4)

Dyna-Might - Sunshine Goddess/Message To My Brother (Uni 55292) On "Sunshine Goddess" we have what sounds like it might be blue-eyed soul. Or perhaps it's more like blue-eyed pop. The hook is okay but the horns don't really do anything for me. Could almost be decent bubblegum with some work. The flip is cheesy, let's-all-hold-hands pop. Again, the hook is pretty good but that's about it. (4)

The Touchables - Strawberry/Scalaroonie (Roulette 4284) I guess "Strawberry" is almost doo-wop but pretty awful doo-wop. It's not so good for pop either. A DUD!! "Scalaroonie" has its work cut out for it if it's going to save this. And if anything it's worse. Ugh!! It's supposed to be takeoff on the Everly's "Bird Dog", and is more or less a novelty song. I'll cut it a break and give it a (3).

The Spice Racq - Is It Useless/Would You Be There (Liberty 56084) Not sure what to expect here. Garage? Gawd awful horn rock? Hippy drivel? Pop? Let's see... well there are horns on "Is It Useless" and the lead singer does sound a bit like a certain lead singer for BS&T, who shall remain nameless. I suppose this song is more pop than horn rock, though not by too much. Not so hot. The flipside is similar but worse. A stinker!! (3)

There you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Maybe I'll do this again later in the week.


Brian Marshall said...

Regarding The Du-Tones' "The Bird," that song was used in John Waters' movie "Hairspray" when all the kids are doing that dance in Ruth Brown's record shop. I found that record for $.25 at a Half-Price books once and was really happy to find it.

Also, congrats on finding that Denims 45. It's easily their best one.

Larry Grogan said...

Chuck Trois was a member of the Soul Survivors. There's a couple of nice 45s on that Sock'n'Soul label. Dyna-Might have another 45 on UNI, 'Borracho' that fetches some nice dough with the funk collectors.

Todd Lucas said...

Brian, yeah The Dutones record is a good one. You know, I still haven't seen Hairspray. The Denims record was a must have. I bought it from the guy who also sets up at our local flea market.

Larry, thanks for the info regarding Chuck Trois. That's a nice reocrd. On the Dyna-Might, it'll be interesting to see if my first impression on it and some of the others holds or changes over time.

Craig Myers said...

Regarding the Spice Racq's "Is It Useless" on Liberty (I'm taking a wild guess that the recording was released in either 1968 or 1969? Not really sure!) -- I have a copy of this obscure "lost disc", and I thought the song could have had some potential for charting, except it's over-produced, like an attempted fusion of a Blood, Sweat and Tears sound with sixties pop (Monkees, Archies, etc.). Too bad -- you couldn't fault the musicians and lead singer. The Joe Saracano production just plain stunk!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry - That record by the Touchables I would categorize as a teen disk. Both songs are aimed at a young teen market, and it came out in 1960. I agree--the record is pretty bad, but SCALAROONIE is very typical of a lot of silly stuff being issued in the late '50s/early '60s. It sorta grows on you (liike a fungus) after you've heard it a few times. I've had it ever since the early '70s.

Jon Super said...

Would you be interested in selling the denims record "i'm your man" my father was in the band and i'm trying to find all his old 45's.




Alan Presswood said...

The Knightbeats were a very popular group in the Southern Illnois/St. Louis area in the early to late 60's. They were state champions in a state-wide battle of the bands help in Springfield in 1966. The members were King Lambird on guitar, Gary Presswood on drums, Mel Presswood on bass, and Don Holloway on the Hammond organ. They were based out of Centralia, Illinois.