Friday, January 20, 2006

A Day In The Big City

If you live in a rural area like I do, record collecting can be a real challenge. You're pretty much left to scour the flea markets, thrift stores and such to get your record fix. And while I've found some really nice items doing just that, there are also some gaps in time when nothing turns up. I guess that makes the eventual score all the more exciting but sometimes it's nice to be able to simply go to a couple of good record stores where you know you're gonna find something.

Such was the case last weekend, when I got to spend about 24 hours in my home town, Indianapolis. Upon arrival, I made a bee line for my favorite places to dig for old 45's. I didn't hit the motherlode or anything but did manage to come home with a few cool items, none of which cost more than a few bucks. In fact, amazingly I found a few things for as little as four cents!! How the hell do you beat that? Anyway, here's the lowdown on some of my more interesting finds in Indy.

The Marvelettes - I'll Keep Holding On Here's one I think that I only learned about last year, over on Larry's Funky 16 Corners site. Since then, I've been hoping to luck into a copy, since this usually goes for double figures on eBay. I dug this out of a yet unpriced box of records and wound up getting it for just a buck. It's not in pristine condition but'll do just fine for the collection and you can hardly beat the price.

One of the attractions of "I'll Keep Holding On" is the fact that Brit mods, The Action recorded it. I've known their version for several years but The Marvelettes original bests it. I may have written this before but these gals are probably an underrated outfit. Their legacy unjustly gets boiled down to "Please Mr. Postman" by oldies radio and they had more to offer than that. In addition to today's record, they also did the original version of "Too Many Fish In The Sea", another winner, plus some other tasty tunes.

"I'll Keep On Holding On" is very much a Motown styled song, with pounding drums, lots of backing vocals and a swinging beat. The production gives it a big sound and the lead vocal is just right in the "hands" of a soulful, feminine voice. It's exactly the type of record that I've come to appreciate over the past couple of years. While I think The Action's verison was perhaps the best of their 60's releases, I now prefer the original, end of story.

Freddy Robinson - Go-Go Girl I don't know a thing about Freddy Robinson. My initial attraction to this record was the titles. A web search indicates that he was primarily a guitarist, who played on a lot of sessions and got to make the occasional record under his own name. "Go-Go Girl" is a mid-tempo dance tune, indeed featuring a nice guitar break, presumably by Robinson, himself. His vocal is pretty good, as he sings about wanting to date a go-go chick. He doesn't even care if she looks like Dracula, just so long as she dances in a cage for a living. The flipside, "The Creeper" is also worthwhile, with still more guitar work.

The Virtues - Guitar Boogie Stomp The Virtues had a hit in 1959 with "Guitar Boogie Shuffle". After that, they released several more similarly titled records and here's one of them. The flipside of this is called "Guitar Boogie Shuffle Twist" yet! On "Guitar Boogie Stomp" you get pretty much the standard Virtues sound, with some tasty guitar peppered throughout to spice things up. The flipside is okay too, just not quite as heavy on the guitar. Overall, the record is especially fine, so long as you don't mind still more variations on a theme.

Edwin Starr - Agent Double-O-Soul Soul fans are undoubtedly already well acquainted with this. It has to have one of the coolest titles in recorded music, a must have for that reason alone. I like the way it starts off like one of those James Bond themes, with the horns and finger popping-like beat. Of course, it then quickly turns into a dance floor filler, indeed a mod sounding soul record. My experience with Edwin Starr has been limited to little more than "War" and "25 Miles" in the past. Now, I wouldn't mind digging up a few more, especially if they're as good as this one. Oh yeah, this was another one dollar find.

Archie Bell & The Drells - The Yankee Dance I didn't even know about this record before finding it the other day. The information that I've been able to find since, indicates this was released in 1966, a couple of years before The Drells hit with "Tighten Up". My copy of "The Yankee Dance" is about as beat as it looks in the scan but still good enough to be a keeper. The song isn't quite as distinctive as many of their later records would be, as they had yet to find that patented sound. Indeed, in many ways it's standard dance floor fodder but still pretty good, with a nice, pounding beat. It's also very short, clocking in at just over two minutes. I have no idea if this record fetches anything on the market but I'd certainly recommend it, if the price is right. It's a fun, early look at a group that would later make it big.


Dan Phillips said...

Nice finds, Todd.
Re: Archie Bell on East-West.
That was an Atlantic-owned label in the 50's. Not sure about your 1966 single,as the logo looks different. I could only find one other single issued on E-W in that period, #55101 by Joe Medwick. Probably worth a few more bucks than you paid, at least. Also, the "L.J.F. Production" on the label likely refers to Lee Frazier, the DJ who discovered, managed and produced the group at the time. But maybe you already knew that. . .

Todd Lucas said...

Dan, thanks for the info. I know the East-West label you mean from the 50's. Bill Haley's Comets had records on it as The Kingsmen. Not sure if this label is releated or not but of course The Drells wound up on Atlantic, so you never know.