“Chopper ’70”: Horn-Heavy Funk

Jaco, the 2015 documentary about the virtuosic electric fretless bassist, informs us that Jaco Pastorius’s first professional engagement was with former King recording artist, Wayne Cochran, whose contributions to the field of funk have not always been fully acknowledged.

50-DOLLAR 45

Wayne Cochran King 45-aaWhile there’s no denying James Brown’s pivotal musical influence, Cochran and his backing band, The C.C. Riders, bring their own creativity to bear on “Chopper ’70” — an appropriately high-adrenaline way to bring to a close an album that bears the gritty title, Alive and Well and Living in a Bitch of a World:

“Chopper ’70”     Wayne Cochran     1970

Pastorius would join the band by 1972, when Cochran & C.C. Riders had made the big move to Epic, an imprint of almighty Columbia.  Two years prior, Cochran and company would record a pair of albums for King (with the first issued on its Bethlehem subsidiary) that would both be released in 1970.

Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders:  ALIVE AND WELL and living in …

Wayne Cochran LP-a… a b*tch of a world

Wayne Cochran LP-gatefold

Dave Dexter, in his “Dexter’s Scrapbook” column for Billboard, would file this report on Cochran in the May 23, 1970 edition:

“Platinum-haired Wayne Cochran was driving a garbage truck in Georgia, the father of three sons.  Today’s he’s a sizzling nitery star, with his C.C. Riders, and a big gun on Starday-King disks.  He blames parents for the generation gap:  ‘In this world today, you’ve got to change, you’ve got to move with what’s happening and that way you’ll never grow old.  The kids do their thing in order to dig what they are digging more, not so they can hate the kid next to them.  I’ve never seen a fight at a teen-age concert and I think I never will.’

Does that make sense, assuming you dig what he’s digging?”

CLASSIC COVER:  High Point for ‘biker funk’ Culture

Wayne Cochran LP-1aaWayne Cochran LP-1bb

Zero to 180 regrets waiting until now to sing the praises of Cochran, who left us only a couple months ago, as it turns out.  Cochran’s large horn-heavy ensemble, I would learn from Matt Schudel’s obituary in The Washington Post, was famously unrelenting, as their “shows had no stopping point: The band kept vamping from one song to the next, as the music and audience reached a point of frenzy.”

Choppers for the teenyboppers:  vintage 1970 Raleigh ad

Raleigh Chopper - vintage 1970 adJackie Gleason, who wrote the liner notes for Cochran’s self-titled 1967 release on Chess, would call the singer (who would often leave the stage to take his show out into the audience) ““the wildest guy I’ve ever seen in my life.”  Gleason’s dance ensemble leader, June Taylor, apparently “took ideas for her dancers from the C.C. Riders choreography” during Cochran’s extended mid-60s run at Miami’s major soul club, The Barn.

I count 12 musicians in this photo (courtesy of Discogs)

Wayne Cochran & the CC RidersImpossible to write about Cochran without making reference to Cochran’s mountainous dome of hair.  Neil Genzlinger, in his New York Times obituary, would point out who inspired the decision behind the hairdo’s platinum color — Johnny and Edgar Winter (“Every time the lights over their heads changed colors, their hair changed colors. And I said, “Now there’s the color, if I could figure out how to get it”) — thanks to Cochran’s appearance on Dave Letterman’s NBC Late Night show in 1982.

UNESCO World Heritage Site
(Photo from Michael Ochs Archives via PITCHFORK)

Wayne CochranCochran’s first stint with King would last about two years – from late 1963 through early 1965 – before similarly brief runs with Mercury (1965-66) and Chess (1967-68).  King founder, Syd Nathan, would pass the year prior to Cochran’s return to the label (now renamed Starday-King), whose first single release would be an elaborately-arranged two-part Beatles mash-up medley of “Hey Jude” and “Eleanor Rigby.”

King Records Turns 75!  Cataloging the Classics

Big tip of the hat to Tim Garry of School of Rock – Mason, OH for allowing Zero to 180 the opportunity to compile a list of classic recordings put out by King Records (and its subsidiaries) in time for the label’s 75th birthday celebration.  This special tip-top list of nearly 200 songs – stretching from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s – is a fascinating cross-section of popular music styles (secular, as well as sacred) from the original rock ‘n’ roll era and beyond.  This PDF document is to be updated over time, as additional classic King recordings are identified by talent scouts embedded here and abroad — click on link below:

Classic Tracks from King Records:  Zero to 180’s Top Picks

Zero to 180 - 45

When Indie Becomes Oldie(s)

I was ready to abandon K-Tel for greener pastures, when I recalled with great amusement a K-Tel hits collection that someone (okay, Tom Avazian) once tenderly pressed into my eager hands.  I can’t imagine anyone would be shocked that a label famed for recycling older tunes had thieved its title – Gimme Indie Rock – from a song by former Dinosaur Jr. bassist, Lou Barlow … and then oddly omitted the title track!

Includes a Dinosaur Jr. song in lieu of Sebadoh’s title track – ironic?

K-Tel's Gimme Indie RockNo one should be surprised that a label known for being a step or two behind contemporary pop music trends would embrace 80s and 90s punk and “alternative” rock by the dawn of the new century (I hear some of you grumbling this is not your father’s K-Tel).  Nor should anyone be taken aback that this double-disc set from 2000 is a CD-only release that was never pressed onto good ol’ vinyl.

Gadzooks:  [insert name of indie band below] on a K-Tel collection!

K-Tel's Gimme Indie Rock - track listing

The CD cover would also break the K-Tel mold by being a 6-panel foldout poster, with liner notes provided by Option Magazine‘s Scott Becker and a quote at the top of the page attributed to Minutemen frontman, D. Boon (“The how, the why, the where, the who – can these words find the truth?”) from a song – “The World According to Nouns” – that was, in fact, written by the group’s bassist, Mike Watt!  Oh, K-Tel…

K-Tel, as we learned from a recent piece, would expire the following year, thus, dooming this first volume of Gimme Indie Rock, heartbreakingly, to orphan status.

To read Scott Becker’s essay, save image to hard drive and magnify in image viewer

K-Tel's Gimme Indie Rock - essay

Generally speaking, Zero to 180’s rule of thumb (you may or may not be aware) is to feature under-celebrated studio songcraft that is, minimally, 20 years old, thus enabling indie and punk to fall fairly within the scope of this music history blog.  Previous attempts to feature more contemporary sounds, Zero to 180 realized belatedly, would not be a good fit for a historically-oriented website, something that should have been apparent at the outset (nothing personal, Roy Sludge – you know I love you).

WordPress would feature Zero to 180 – and then pick the “wrong” piece!

Zero to 180-WordPress by ExampleAnd yet, it’s as if Zero to 180 has learned nothing, as today’s piece sidesteps protocol by ignoring Gimme Indie Rock in favor of a modern rock track — power pop, to be more precise — that is a mere 12 years old, but is already showing alarming signs of being consigned to the dustbin of history:

“Misadventures of the Campaign Kids”     King of Prussia     2007

Such an obvious lead-off track, Zero to 180 is a little disappointed to discover “Miseducation of the Campaign Kids” to be the third song on King of Prussia‘s 2007 CD release, Save the Scene.  The opening chords would seem to be a loving nod to Paul Weller’s demo for The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment” — could that have been the songwriter’s intention, I wonder.  Yes, there are five YouTube clips of this compelling King of Prussia track, and yet the total combined “views” of these audio clips do not even total 5,000 — a musical injustice that this history blog is attempting to remedy.

King of Prussia - Save the SceneLyrics to the song can be found here on Bandcamp, where you can also buy the album for only $6.99 – a bargain.   Thank you, as well, to Zero to 180 science correspondent, Paul Guinnessy, for once forwarding a flash drive filled with 3.42GigaBytes of songs (e.g, “Misadventures”) from artists – including King of Prussia – who appeared at the 2008 South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas.

News Flash:  Zero to 180 Filters Out the Rubbish!

The Zero to 180 screenshot above, by the way, shows this music history blog in its infancy at a time when I was still grappling with scope and content issues.  After five years and over 700 posts, I finally cottoned onto the necessity of adding several filters to help readers (to the extent they exist) pick out the few interesting bits amidst the mountains of refuse.  Consequently, Zero to 180 now has added a handful of “buttons” at the top of the screen to help minimize wasted time you will never ever get back —

Streisand’s “Experimental” LP

Just for fun, find a casual fan of Barbra Streisand‘s music, and study her/his reaction closely when you play a fairly obscure track – “Come Back To Me” – for his/her virgin ears:

“Come Back to Me”     Barbra Streisand     1973

Believe me, Zero to 180 is just as stunned as you are to find Streisand’s name attached to a history piece on “experimental pop” — and yet here we are, thanks to 1973’s Barbra Streisand … And Other Musical Instruments being included (#34) in Mojo’s list of The 50 Most Out There Albums of All Time in their March 2005 issue, alongside such (truly) outre artists as Ennio Morricone, John Coltrane, Holy Modal Rounders, Hawkwind, Funkadelic, Captain Beefheart, and (of course) Sun Ra.

Mojo - 50 Most Out There Albums

Mojo’s Jonny Trunk explains the album’s concept, as a whole —

“The soundtrack to Barbra’s fifth TV special, the plan was to explore – literally (and laterally) – the world of sound and music, as opposed to the world of just Babs again.  This Barbra is on a sonic world trip, and the luggage is piled very high, indeed — percussion from all global villages including darabukas, gagakus, o-daikos and baglamas, as well as Moogs, mellotrons, Studers, Arps, a Putney (!) and a Tempophon.  And don’t forget the bagpipes.  They’re from Ireland.”

“Come Back to Me,” one of the more experimental tracks on the album, finds Streisand, as Trunk playfully puts it, “talking to herself through delay pedals.”

Avant-Streisand:  Experimental Pop – emphasis on Pop

Barbra-Streisand-LP-b

Would you be surprised to learn that Billboard would deem …And Other Musical Instruments to be one of their “Top Album Picks” for the week of November 10, 1973?

“Since this is the soundtrack from her TV special, there are plenty of effects one can only enjoy with all the senses.  But since you can’t see the things going on as Barbra walks through all the visual settings which are at the core of the program, your imagination has to take command.  Nonetheless, her fine tones and majestic power are sheer entertainment.  There are lots of off-beat ideas, like an Indian raga effect on ‘I Got Rhythm’ and sound effects on ‘The World Is a Concerto.’  ‘Glad To Be Unhappy’ is Barbra at her ballad best.  Ken and Mitzi Welch’s arrangements for TV provide an interesting experience on record.”

The commercial response to Barbra Streisand’s most daring work – before and forevermore – can be shown in the album’s Billboard rankings:

  • entered the Pop chart at #146 for the week of November 24, 1973;
  • advanced to #115 the following week, December 1, 1973;
  • climbed to #75 the next week, December 8, 1973;
  • peaked at #64 the week of December 22, 1973;
  • before beginning a downward descent — #132 the week of February 9, 1974;
  • down to #149 the following week, February 16, 1974;
  • hanging on at #191 the week of March 9, 1974 before dropping from the charts.

Ten years later, Billboard‘s Paul Grein would report in his “Chart Beat” column that the TV special, unfortunately, had been “poorly received.”  38 years later, a test pressing of Streisand’s … And Other Musical Instruments LP would fetch $30 at auction in 2011.

Hendrix, Beatles, the Stones … and Streisand:
K-Tel Luminaries

Barbra Streisand – whose considerable commercial heft makes her, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, the world’s best selling female recording artist – would famously relax her “No K-Tel” policy in order to allow “Evergreen” (Theme from A Star Is Born) to appear on 1981 K-Tel release The Elite (US, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and the Netherlands), as well as 1981’s The Platinum Album (UK, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, Greece, New Zealand & Australia).

K-Tel's The EliteK-Tel's The Platinum Album

Streisand would also give consent for the inclusion of chart-topping hit “People” (from Funny Girl) on K-Tel Brazil’s Sucessos Nunca Esquecidos, as well as special 2-LP set, Stars for Jerusalem, in partnership with Columbia Special Products, under the auspices of The Jerusalem Foundation.

K-Tel's Sucessos Nunca EsquecidosK-Tel's Stars for Jerusalem

Canadian version of Stars for Jerusalem reveals – Bob Dylan on K-Tel cover!

K-Tel's Stars for Jerusalem- rear cover

True or False? Led Zep on K-Tel

True or False?  Led Zeppelin have appeared on a K-Tel album.

Answer:

True!

The band that famously refused to do TV appearances did not, generally speaking stoop to K-Tel‘s level of crass commercialism.  Led Zeppelin cultivated such a mystique amongst their fanbase, in fact, that it was thought the band didn’t deign to do singles — obviously untrue when you browse their 7-inch output on 45Cat (each and every Zep album was accompanied by a 45 release, don’t kid yourself).

And yet, unbelievably, Led Zeppelin once said yes to K-Tel:  1980’s The Summit, released by K-Tel UK & Ireland — an album that includes “Candy Store Rock” (from 1976’s Presence), fittingly as the final track:

“Candy Store     Rock”     Led Zeppelin     1976

Does the band get forgiveness points, since “proceeds from this album are contributed to The Year of the Child to help sick and handicapped children”?

K-Tel's The Summit-front-aaAs Herc’s K-Tel Albums explains —

“Hot on the heels of the Kampuchea concerts, K-Tel rush-released The Summit in January 1980, featuring a baker’s dozen of tracks from rock royalty, all of whom donated their proceeds to UNESCO’s The International Year Of The Child (1979). Kurt Waldheim, then secretary-general of the United Nations, was crucial in organizing both the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea and The International Year Of The Child projects.”

Zep on K-Tel cover!
<click on image for maximum resolution>

K-Tel's The Summit-rear-a

Nevertheless, we can’t let Zeppelin fully off the hook, given their powerlessness in preventing “Whole Lotta Love” — the 3-minute edited version, no less — from being used on a ‘Warner Special Product’ (namely, 1973 box set Superstars of the 70’s), thus giving their high-falutin reputation a slight blemish.  Note, too, the existence of an ‘alternateSuperstars of the Stars 4-album collection that includes “D’yer Maker” (instead of “Whole Lotta Love”), as well as Hendrix track “Freedom” (versus “Purple Haze” and “Foxey Lady”).

‘Alternative’ Superstars of the 70s 4-LP collection

Superstars of the 70s - alternate version

“D’yer Maker” and Hendrix’s “Freedom” would reunite for another Warner Special Product — 1974’s Heavy Metal 2-record set, with “24 electrifying performances.”

Could easily pass for a K-Tel cover, right?

K-Tel's Heavy Metal“Whole Lotta Love” would get trotted out again for 1976 Warner Special Product LP, Listen to the Music.

K-Tel's Listen to the Music

3 songs one could not escape in the 1970s:

K-Tel's Listen to the Music-rear cover1997 would prove historic, as Zeppelin permitted “Misty Mountain Hop” (of all things) to be the band’s special contribution to Time-Life’s Gold and Platinum, Vol. 2:  1971-1973, in collaboration with Warner Special Products.

Time-Life Gold & Platinum Vol 2In 2003, Jimmy Page would even make the CD cover, when “Misty Mountain Hop” made an encore appearance on Time-Life’s Do It Again from the ‘Legends’ series (with liner notes from Ben Fong-Torres), also in synergistic partnership with Warner Special Products.

Time-Life Legends - Do It Again11311 K-Tel Drive = Minnetonka, Minnesota:
The New “Hitsville USA”?

Thanks to family members strategically located in Minnetonka, Zero to 180 is grateful to have had the opportunity to visit 11311 K-Tel Drive, the corporate headquarters of K-Tel International since 1975, as any music scholar will tell you.

K-Tel’s former address in Mid-City (via 1974’s Today’s Super Greats)

K-Tel's Today's Super Greats11311 K-Tel Drive:  Leafier than 2648 W Grand Blvd (via 1975’s Sounds Spectacular)

K-Tel s Sounds Spectacular LP

K-Tel’s service in maintaining the commercial vitality of our great nation’s pop hits – long after their initial “expiration date” – has been widely mocked, which is sadly short-sighted, given the company’s honorable efforts in fighting Madison Avenue attitudes (i.e., old = bad) that have unmistakably infiltrated popular consciousness due to a relentless bombardment of advertising that fetishizes newness for the sake of newness.

K-Tel would celebrate 35 years of success in grand style with a supplemental 17-page advertisement in the March 8, 1997 edition of Billboard.(pages K-1 through K-17) that includes messages of congratulations from Sony Music Special Products, EMI-Capitol, Polygram, Curb Records, Select-O-Hits, local heroes The Trashmen, The Castaways, Steppenwolf’s John Kay, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Ernest Evans himself (a.k.a., Chubby Checker).  These 17 packed pages include a profile of founder Phillip Kives (K-Tel = Kives Television), who “starred in what may have been the first infomercial:  a five-minute spot in support of a non-stick frying pan,” plus a history of the music label (“Original Hits! Original Stars!  K-Tel’s Super Gold Music Machine Rolls Right On”) that states the company’s musical inventory to be “approximately 2,700 masters, dating from the ’50s up through the ’80s and beyond.”

K-Tel:  Your Green Light to Hits

K-Tel Drive - HQ

But mere months later, Don Jeffrey would report on a worrisome organizational restructuring of K-Tel International in Billboard‘s November 22, 1997 edition

Just months after terminating a deal that would have divested its music assets, K-Tel International has restructured the music company and set ambitious plans to become an online music retailer and a distributor of other labels’ recordings.

As part of the change, the company has tapped Mark Dixon, its top financial executive, as COO of the music unit, Ktel International (USA), which remains based in Minneapolis. The corporate offices, however, are moving to Los Angeles, where company president David Weiner will oversee the music unit, international operations, a direct-marketing subsidiary, a home video imprint, and a new Internet venture.  Weiner says the move will enable K-Tel to “tap into a larger talent pool.”

By mid-December, Weiner says the company will launch K-Tel Online and develop the site over the next year into a major Internet retailer to compete with CDnow, Music Boulevard, and World Wide Web sites operated by traditional music chains.  At the site www.ktel.com, consumers will also be able to order customized CDs made up of tracks from the company-owned catalogs.

Alas, Greg Beets would break the sad news — “Where were you when you found out K-Tel declared bankruptcy and shut down its U.S. music distribution subsidiary?” — in the May 4, 2001 edition of the Austin Chronicle.  Turning popular wisdom on its head, Beets points out that “although K-Tel’s buffet-style MO [modus operandi] seems quintessentially American,” the company was actually founded in Winnipeg, Ontario in 1962, before Kives moved operations to Minneapolis in the early Seventies.

Kives wasn’t the first (that would be Art Leboe’s Oldies but Goodies series), and he wasn’t without competition (Ronco and Adam VIII), but “it was K-Tel,” Beets observed, “that truly cultivated the form into a pop culture institution ripe for parody.”

K-Tel’s Krass Kommercialism:
A Tribute by Greg Beets

During the Seventies, K-Tel’s marketing ploys had the same seedy appeal as a carnival barker’s come-on.  The pitch was fast and furious, with deftly spliced snippets of music, song titles rapidly scrolling across the screen, and an overcaffeinated announcer imploring you to order now.  Some aficionados swear the ads said K-Tel albums were not available in stores, even though they were — at unhip outlets such as drug and discount stores.

You won’t find a much better snapshot of pop music in the early Seventies than 1972’s Believe in Music.  Named for Gallery’s “I Believe in Music,” the album kicks off with the 1-2-3 feel-good punch of “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass, “Beautiful Sunday” by Daniel Boone, and “Sunny Days” by Lighthouse. Throw in Donny Osmond, the O’Jays, and a few more weird obscurities like Mouth & MacNeil’s “How Do You Do?” and Bulldog’s “No,” and you have a bass-ackwardly definitive compilation rivaled only by Nuggets.

Maybe K-Tel butchered art for profit.  But even if that were true, does it make K-Tel any worse than a record company padding a marginal artist’s album with filler? Though it came at the expense of artistic vision, K-Tel’s Seventies output was nothing if not value-driven.  Where else could you get up to 25 hit songs for the low, low price of $5.98 ($7.98 for 8-track)?

That said, the sonic quality of vintage K-tel albums is truly awful.  You’ll find better low end on a distant AM radio station, and the flimsier-than-Dynaflex vinyl ensures quick scratches if you so much as breathe too hard on it.  And no discussion of K-Tel would be complete without mentioning the blinding colors and screaming fonts utilized in the subtle-as-a-meat-cleaver cover art.  But, as the tired old saying goes, that’s part of the charm.

Note:  Beets would also voice the widely-held notion that “respectable artists, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, never showed up on K-Tel” — a view that, as Zero to 180’s recent research has revealed, does not withstand factual scrutiny.

Explosive Dynamic Super Smash Hits!

100 years or so ago, Minnetonka had served as the inspiration for Thurlow Lieurance‘s oft-covered [Paul Whiteman, Glenn Miller, Three Suns, Bud Isaacs, Billy Mure] composition, “By the Waters of the Minnetonka,” from 1914 (PDF of original sheet music courtesy of Greer Music Library — Digital Commons @ Connecticut College).

Marty Gold Orchestra — 1959

Minnetonka cover - Marty Gold Orchestra LP

Jimi Hendrix on a K-Tel Album?

It still boggles my mind that Ronco somehow found a way to compile an album featuring tracks from top pop acts – Jimi Hendrix, Buffalo Springfield, The Beatles, and the Byrds – one would not normally associate with TV-advertised hits labels, such as Ronco.

Jimi Hendrix – third artist listed after The Beatles

Do It NowIn light of this knowledge I began to wonder:  Is it possible Jimi Hendrix has appeared on a K-Tel album?

Answer — Yes!  K-Tel Japan would include “Purple Haze” on 1971’s 20 Dynamic Hits – an album that would also feature a Beatles track (admittedly, 1961’s “My Bonnie” with singer, Tony Sheridan).

Jimi Hendrix on a K-Tel album cover!

K-Tel's 20 Dynamic Hits-a

“Purple Haze” would also turn up on 2-LP release, Superstars of the 70’s (K-Tel Japan), as well as 1983’s Heavy (K-Tel Australia).

Superstars of the 70s-JapanK-Tel's Heavy

K-Tel Netherlands would include “The Wind Cries Mary” on 1975 release K’Tel’s Gold Rock.

“Wind Cries Mary” = Side Two, Track Six

K-Tel's Gold Rock - Netherlands 75That same year, K-Tel UK & Ireland would include “Hey Joe” on British Gold.

K-Tel's British Gold“Hey Joe” would also be pressed into service for 1973’s Story of Pop Vol. 2 (K-Tel UK), as well as 1984’s Masters of Rock (K-Tel Germany).

(Left) Note the misspelling of Jimi               (right) 2nd Hendrix photo on K-Tel LP!

K-Tel's Story of Pop - Vol IIK-Tel's Masters of Rock-Germany

K-Tel UK & Ireland would also see fit to include “All Along the Watchtower” on 1986 release Rock Anthems II.

K-Tel:  “TV Advertised”

K-Tel's Rock Anthems 2

Perhaps the strangest release of all would be K-Tel Australia’s The Legend of Hendrix album (date unknown).

3rd known photo of Hendrix on K-Tel album cover

K-Tel's Legend of Hendrix18 tracks in all – note the curious decision to include a Noel Redding composition, “She’s So Fine”:

1. Hey Joe
2. Purple Haze
3. The Wind Cries Mary
4. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
5. Stone Free Again
6. All Along The Watchtower
7. Foxy Lady
8. Voodoo Chile
9. Crosstown Traffic
10. Fire
11. Like A Rolling Stone
12. Ezy Rider
13. Freedom
14. Johnny B Goode
15. Blue Suede Shoes
16. Gypsy Eyes
17. Angel
18. She’s So Fine

“She’s So Fine”     Noel Redding’s Jimi Hendrix Experience     1967

Of course, all of this begs the question — why no Hendrix tracks on US K-Tel releases?  Was Warner Brothers afraid that the appearance of a Hendrix track on a K-Tel album might inflict damage on his viability in the marketplace, given the snobby rock press?

The Beatles on K-Tel:  A Neglected History

K-Tel, by the way, would pull another Beatles stunt, with the inclusion of (the Bert Kaempfert-produced) “Ain’t She Sweet” – recorded 1961 in Hamburg – on 1974’s K-Tel’s Pop Greats (K-Tel Germany), as well as 1975’s Flashback Fever (K-Tel Canada), and 1981’s 14 Grandes Exitos (K-Tel Argentina).

K-Tel album featuring “Los Beatles”!

K-Tel's 14 Grandes Exitos - Argentina LP

“My Bonnie,” likewise, would show up on 1973’s K-Tel’s Story of Pop (K-Tel UK), as well as 1975’s K-Tel’s British Greats (K-Tel Germany).  Also worth pointing out that 1978 album, Explosion 60 (K-Tel Spain), appears to be the only K-Tel collection to feature The Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout.”

“My Bonnie” on this 1972 4-LP set = only US K-Tel LP Release to feature The Beatles!

K-Tel's 60s Flash-Back GreatsThe Stones on K-Tel:  The Truth Is Out There

1982 would prove to be the year the band made the momentous decision that permitted K-Tel UK/Ireland to sell a 2-LP (mostly monophonic) “greats”-only package, Story of the Stones, in Great Britain, as well as Spain, Portugal and (“unofficially”) Japan and Singapore.

K-Tel's Story of the Stones-front coverK-Tel's Story of the Stones-aK-Tel's Story of the Stones-bK-Tel's Story of the Stones-c

Track listing:  any quibbles, Stones fans?

K-Tel's Story of the Stones-rear cover

The following year, the Stones’ Organization then made the staggering decision to allow “Satisfaction” the honor of kicking off K-Tel’s Best Party Album in the World — a various artists release that would also include “Get Off My Cloud”!

K-Tel's Best Party Album-cover

Any Other Ronco LPs with Hendrix Tracks?

Q:  Besides Do It Now, are there any other Ronco LPs that feature Jimi Hendrix tracks?
A:  Yes!  “All Along the Watchtower” would join 43 of its closest friends for Ronco UK’s soundtrack to the film, Stardust, from 1974.

Ronco's Star Dust Soundtrack LPRonco's Sound Explosion - Hendrix

Additionally, in 1974 Ronco Netherlands would release 44 Golden Hits of the Sixties, a 2-LP set that included (you guessed it) “All Along the Watchtower.”

Ronco's 44 Golden Hits of the Sixties LPFinally, “Red House” would be included on two Ronco releases – 1977’s The Super Groups – 20 Explosive Hits! (Ronco UK) and 1979’s 20 Rock Legends (Ronco UK).

Ronco's The Super Groups LPRonco's 20 Rock Legends LP

By the Way…?

What is “All Along the Watchtower” doing on 1969 “CBS Special Products” Australia LP 20 Power Hits?  Wasn’t Polydor Hendrix’s label for Experience releases in Australia?

20 Power Hits

Columbia’s Great Gaffe:  Ladyland vs. Landlady:

In 2016, Heritage Auctions (“the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer”) sold two acetates of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album — note that the Columbia label for the left image reads “Electric Landlady“(!)

double-Click on image for Super-maximum resolution

Jimi Hendrix - Electric Landlady acetates

“Electric Landlady”:  Inspiration for Kirsty MacColl’s 1991 album

Jimi Hendrix Electric LandladyNote the Billboard chart listing (“Electric Landlady“) for the week of October 19, 1968 + October 26, 1968 [Dave Michaels of ‘Progressive Rock’ WOXY in Oxford, Ohio] + November 2, 1968 [Barry Richards of ‘Progressive Rock’ WHMC, Gaithersburg, MD].

Helen Reddy’s (Non-LP) Debut 45

Melbourne-born, Helen Reddy would begin her career in 1963 laying down vocals for a Consulate cigarette jingle with Bob Young and His Orchestra.

Helen Reddy 45 - 1963 jingleReddy’s win on Australian Bandstand would, according to Discogs, spur her big move in 1966 to the United States, where two years later, she would make her official debut in the pop marketplace with Fontana 45, “One Way Ticket.”

Monty Montgomery, Music Director for Bakersfield’s KERN would select “One Way Ticket” as Billboard‘s ‘Best Leftfield Pick’ for the week of May 11, 1968.  The song would hit #83 nationally in Australia in May, 1968.

From the songwriting team of Stephen (“Sesame Street“) Lawrence & Bruce Hart

Helen Reddy US 45For uncertain reasons (though likely due to runaway 1972 smash hit, “I Am Woman“), K-Tel made an executive decision to include this Laugh-In-era track on a collection of US radio hits from primarily 1973 (i.e., James Brown’s “The Payback“; Love Unlimited’s “Love’s Theme“; Incredible Bongo Band’s “Bongo Rock“), thus indirectly helping to direct attention to a melodic sense and production sound that seem very much out of place with the rest of the song’s surroundings:

“One Way Ticket”     Helen Reddy     1968

American music consumers would find itself treated to “One Way Ticket” via 1974 K-Tel release, Dynamic Sound, while discerning Canadian ears would discover the track on 1974’s Music Power, amidst such 1973 highlights as Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride“; Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie“; and Al Wilson’s “Show and Tell.”

US                                                                 Canada

K-Tel's Dynamic Sound - USK-Tel's Music Power - Canada

The original 7-inch single (which some sellers have described as “mod beat” or even “Northern soul pop rock”) should buy you dinner at a decent fast casual restaurant.

“One Way Ticket” would also get bundled up as part of a 3-singers-3-songs package, along with Shirley Bassey and Dusty Springfield, in 1973 by our friends at Pickwick (who “electronically enhanced” the original recordings “for stereo”).

Helen Reddy + Shirley Bassey + Dusty Springfield = butterfly

Helen Reddy-Shirley Bassey-Dusty Springfield

Aside from the K-Tel and Pickwick LP releases above, “One Way Ticket” otherwise found itself orphaned as a non-album single until the song’s inclusion as a bonus track for the 2-album-on-one-CD reissue No Way to Treat a Lady / Music, Music in 2005 — but for the Australian market only!

Helen Reddy 2-fer CD 2005As has been pointed out elsewhere, Reddy is the first Australian artist to win a Grammy (for the aforementioned “I Am Woman”), as well as top the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Helen Reddy & friends

Forgotten 1968 UK Rocksteady 45

Thanks again to record collector extraordinaire, Tom Avazian — underwriter of numerous Zero to 180 research initiatives (most recently, Scotland’s The Poets) — who provided a vinyl copy of 1988 UK anthology, 20 One Hit Wonders, an album that includes a strong track from a band of Birmingham musicians, The Locomotive, who began their career playing rocksteady in a rather convincing manner, before changing gears altogether on their next single and subsequent album before disbanding soon after.

20 One Hit Wonders LPLocomotive’s second single, “Rudi’s In Love” (which slyly quotes “007 (Shanty Town),” Desmond Dekker’s big hit from the year before) would be their debut for Parlophone in 1968, and enjoy release in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Yugoslavia [pictured below – left to right, top down], as well as the US, New Zealand, and Australia.

Locomotive 45 - DenmarkLocomotive 45 - FranceLocomotive 45 - GermanyLocomotive 45 - ItalyLocomotive 45 - NetherlandsLocomotive 45 - SpainLocomotive 45 - Yugoslavia

Billboard would announce in their November 16, 1968 edition (“Locomotive Disk on Speedy Track“) that “the Parlophone single ‘Rudi’s In Love’ is being released in 14 countries in Europe and in the US on the Bell label.”  According to Brum Beat – whose list of Top 20 Birmingham bands includes The Locomotive – “The catchy ‘Rudi’s In Love‘ proved very popular on the dance floor and reached Number 25 during its eight week stay in the charts.”

Beginning in the late 1980s, “Rudi’s In Love” would be repackaged in various 60s oldies compilations, such as Hits of 1968; The Best Sixties Party; 101 Sixties Hits; 100 Hits Swinging 60s; 100 60s Hits ; North of Watford (24 Rare Pop & Soul Classics 1964-82) — and even a couple West Indian-themed collections, The Best Reggae Album in the World … Ever!  Part 2 and Suited & Booted:  Essential Mod & Ska.

Suited & BootedAnd yet, amazingly, for a song so widely distributed, “Rudi’s In Love” (as of today) is only available on YouTube in the form of a live BBC version that, unfortunately, is not well recorded.  How can this be?  45Cat contributor, jimmytheferret, proclaims “Rudi’s In Love” to be “one of the most iconic records of the late sixties” and consequently has posted audio for the song on YouTube.  And yet, when you click on the video link, YouTube informs us that “this video contains content from WMG [Warner Music Group?], who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”  Ah ha…

However, for a limited time — the next ten days — Zero to 180 will make this track available to whomever has accidentally stumbled upon this blog:

[Time limit has expired – MP3 since removed.  Sorry, folks!]

[Pssst:  Click triangle above to play “Rudi’s In Love” by Locomotive]

SixtiesVinylSingles tells us that the “stellar brass section” includes ‘his’ friend Lyn Dobson on sax “together with Dick Heckstall-Smith and Chris Mercer, and with Henry Lowther on trumpet.”  “Rudi’s In Love” is notable for having been produced by Gus “Space Oddity” Dudgeon (who is famous for having worked with Elton John in his early years and XTC in their later years), along with Tony Hall.

BigBearMusic reports that the inaugural release for Big Bear Records (“UK’s longest-established independent record company”) was a “spoof ska 45 rpm single entitled ‘Rudi The Red-Nosed Reindeer‘ by a band whose nom-du-disque The Steam Shovel disguised the fact that they were, in reality, The Locomotive” (!)

Rudi the Red-Nosed Reindeer 45

Would you be surprised to learn that EMI reissued “Rudi’s In Love” in 1980, at the height of the second-wave ska craze, in a two-tone-themed picture sleeve?

UK REISSUE, 1980                                      US SINGLE, 1968

Locomotive 45 - UK - 1980-bLocomotive 45 - US-a

PROMO EP, 1979
[Click on image below for maximum Resolution]

Locomotive UK EP

2005 would find “Rudi’s In Love’ selected, curiously enough, for a Japanese DJ cassette mix tape of various and sundry (44 tracks in all) entitled, Freaks Vol. 1.

Freaks - Vol 1Original vinyl trades at auction for decent prices — in fact, four days ago, someone paid £150 for an “extremely rare mispress” of the original UK 45:  two “B” sides!

Norman Haines, who penned “Rudi’s In Love,” would later prove to be “instrumental in developing how Black Sabbath worked” in their earliest days, notes Big Takeover‘s AJ Morocco, “He orchestrated their first arrangements and likely taught them how to commit their songs to tape in the studio.”

Sheet music below serves as bedroom poster when you click on image

Rudi's In Love - bedroom poster

Smitten by the “Break-In” Record

I must have been about 9 or 10 when I first became aware of the “break-in” record, in which the man-on-the-street dishes up pop hit sound bites in response to each and every one of the news reporter’s questions.  I remember hearing “Watergrate” and “Mr. Jaws” on Cincinnati’s pop juggernaut, WSAI 1360 AM, and then, not too long after, obtaining an LP compilation of the better Buchanan and/or Goodman break-in records, from the first flying saucer 45 in 1956, all the way up to “Superfly Meets Shaft” & “Convention ’72.”

Cover design by JIM O’CONNELL

Watergrate + Superfly Meets Shaft

[Pres. Nixon in the driver’s seat, with Henry Kissinger riding shotgun & Spiro Agnew in the backseat, flanked by Superfly and Shaft]

 

I enjoyed the silliness of it all and was thrilled, as a fan of satire, by the send-up of pop culture, as well as straight society.  My brother Dean’s experiments stitching together break-in records at home inspired me to make my own, and I even roped in my friends to help me in my pointless series of “interviews” set at Fred’s (fictitious) Delicatessen.

Images below:  1962 LP ++ 1974 US 45 ++ 1977 JAPAN 45

Dickie Goodman LPDickie Goodman 45-xDickie Goodman 45-Japan

Zero to 180, thus, would like to celebrate a milestone — 5 years!  over 700 posts! — by force-feeding you an amateur “break-in” home recording (c. 1976) that features extensive sampling from the family record collection, aided in no small part by the 4-LP box set, Superstars of the Seventies.  Best to ignore the reporter’s inane line of questioning:

“Fred’s Delicatessen”     Chris Richardson & Co.     1976

[Pssst:  click triangle above to play “Fred’s Delicatessan” by Chris Richardson & Co.]

Zero to 180 Milestones:  The Preschool Years

  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between  Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother #1).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter and session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace.
  • 4th anniversary piece that formalized – as a public service – musical chord changes for an old (and tuneless) “hot potato” playground game called ‘The Wonderball.’

Alex Harvey Loves Monsters, Too

Most music fans in the US (and even quite a few in the UK) are unaware that a major 1970s British rock star put out an album on K-Tel (!) during a period of peak popularity – one entitled Alex Harvey Presents the Loch Ness Monster, no less.  There’s a good reason for this record’s obscurity, as these notes from Discogs make clear:

“Released in a limited edition of supposedly 300 copies.  Comes in a beautiful gatefold-sleeve and a 12×8-inch 16-page booklet.  This is mostly a spoken-word album containing interviews with people claiming to have seen the Loch Ness Monster.  It features additional narrations by Richard O’Brien and Alex Harvey and one short musical track at the end.”

This limited release means that some Alex Harvey fans are willing to shell out £200 (only a couple months ago) or even £300 (back in 2014) for this tribute album to Nessie.  These prices are not an abberation, thus affirming the wisdom behind the decision made in 1977 by an elite group of Alex Harvey fans to purchase this long-deleted, vinyl-only release, which finally enjoyed reissue on compact disc in 2009 (John Clarkson’s review also provides a bit of back story).

I Love Monsters Too” — the album’s final selection, as noted above, is the lone musical track, and a concise one at that:  37 seconds (thus, deserving of inclusion on Zero to 180’s list of short songs in popular music):

“I Love Monsters Too”     Alex Harvey     1977

As YouTube contributor Mags1464 drolly observes, the song is “from an album that Alex made while the rest of the [Sensational Alex Harvey Band] were recording Fourplay.”   Zero to 180 just figured out why the group is relatively unknown here in the States — according to Discogs, only four of SAHB’s nine albums released in the 1970s were distributed in the US.

Front cover

Alex Harvey LP-aaBack cover

Alex Harvey LP-bbElaborate packaging includes an annotated map of Loch Ness

Alex Harvey LP-cc16-page diary

Alex Harvey LP-ddDear Diary:  Saturday 17 July 1976

[Double-click image below to view in high-resolution]

Alex Harvey LP-ee

Seven years prior to Alex Harvey’s run-in with K-Tel, Trojan Records attempted to cash in on Britain’s fascination with its most famous Scottish resident through the release of a horror-themed reggae compilation, Loch Ness Monster that contains, annoyingly, only one musical tribute to Nessie (and at least one dubious song selection — “Suffering Stink,” really?).

Loch Ness Monster LP

1970, coincidentally, would also see the UK release of an album – That’s How You Got Killed Before – by Jamaican ex-pat, Errol Dixon that features “Monster from Loch Ness” (not yet available for preview on YouTube).

One interesting “false hit” came up in my research is a spoken word collection that only enjoyed release in Canada (on Loch Ness Monster Records) by one-time Kiss manager, Bill Aucoin:  13 Classic Kiss Stories.

Bill Aucoin LP

In recent years, John Carter Cash would travel to Scotland to perform his own Nessie tribute live in an attempt to “summon the beast” from the depths of Loch Ness — successfully?  At least one person says yes:

“Loch Ness Monster”     John Carter Cash     2016

This is the only Zero to 180 piece tagged as K-Tel Records that isn’t also tagged as Various Artists Compilations

Duke Ellington Meets Apollo 11

Eternal debt of gratitude to Larry Appelbaum of WPFW’s Sounds of Surprise program for pointing listeners (including myself) to a fascinating moment in our nation’s history about which not enough seems to have been written.

“Moon Maiden”     Duke Ellington Quartet @ ABC in NYC     July 21, 1969

A rather surreal television moment, as the Apollo 11 rocket lifts off in a video montage behind Duke Ellington that then dissolves into a shot of the moon.  “Moon Maiden” would be the regal bandleader’s debut vocal performance, amazingly enough, thus exquisitely underscoring the theme of Appelbaum’s program:  vocal performances from otherwise staunch instrumentalists.

Jazz Lives reports (via his “expert friends“) that Duke Ellington’s televised performance – with Al Chernet on guitar, Paul Kondziela on bass, and Rufus Jones on drums – had been “pre-recorded for the telecast.”

“Moon Maiden” had also been recorded just days earlier, July 14th, specifically, at NYC’s National Studio with only Duke Ellington on vocals and celeste (and finger snaps) — the version you will find as the kick-off track on 1977’s The Intimate Ellington.

Duke Ellington LP - Italy

Jet would include this report (“Ellington Pens Tune For Man’s First Moon Steps“) in their July 31, 1969 edition:

Duke Ellington,  composer-bandleader-pianist par excellence who has taken The A Train through the Air Conditioned Jungle to his Satin Doll, climbed musically aboard Apollo 11 with his specially composed song, Moon Maiden, for the Moon-bound astronauts.  The veteran musician, 70, whose musical composition is an accompaniment to man’s first steps on the moon, permitted himself a public first:  he sang as well as played the Moon Maiden tune.  The 10-minute composition for piano, bass, and drums, commissioned by ABC-TV for the network’s day-long broadcast of man’s first walk on the moon, says:

Moon Maiden.  Way out there in the blue … /
Moon Maiden.  Got to be with you /
I made my approach and then revolved /
But my big problem is still not solved /
Coming in loud and clear /
I’m just a fly-by-night guy, but for you … /
I might be quite the right–so right guy /
Moon Maiden.  Moon Maiden.  Maiden, you’re for me.

Asked why he composed a song about a “maiden” when the astronauts going to the moon are men, the veteran jazzman, surrounded by a set the simulated the lunar landing site, replied:  “For those cats to want to be there, there must be a chick around someplace.”  Onlookers and studio buffs who witnessed the musical taping said Duke didn’t “sound bad” as a singer.  Duke said this first vocal effort is his last.  A studio spokesman declared:  “It seemed appropriate–as man first sets foot upon the moon–that we should celebrate with music.”

Ken Vail’s invaluable reference, Duke’s Diary, points to September 4, 1969 as the day that “Duke Ellington and his Orchestra again record for Reader’s Digest in New York City” with the following musical personnel to record “Moon Maiden” — twice, including a version that features vocals from Duke himself — along with four other songs:

  • Duke Ellington:  Piano
  • Cat Anderson, Cootie Williams, Willie Cook & Lloyd Michaels:  Trumpets
  • Lawrence Brown, Benny Green & Chuck Connors:  Trombones
  • Russell Procope:  Alto Sax & Clarinet
  • Johnny Hodges & Norris Turney:  Alto Sax
  • Harold Ashby & Paul Gonsalves:  Tenor Saxes
  • Harry Carney:  Baritone Sax
  • Luther Henderson:  Piano
  • Wild Bill Davis:  Organ
  • Paul Kondziela:  Bass
  • Victor Gaskin:  Electric Bass
  • Rufus Jones:  Drums
  • Robert Collier:  Conga

Nine years after the moon landing, Luv You Madly Orchestra (on NYC’s Salsoul label) would bring out the untapped disco potential of Ellington’s original piece.

“Moon Maiden” was a B-SIDE, you know

Moon Maiden - Salsoul

Richard Jurek, in the February 15, 2017 edition of Smithsonian’s Air & Space, writes about this fascinating musical footnote in American aeronautical history, when an emerging TV network – with a reputation for “counterprogramming” against its competitors – commissioned a 10-minute vocal paean to our planet’s lone satellite to be broadcast to the entire nation.  Jurek also notes with amusement that our good friends at Pickwick did their level best to capitalize on the national sentiment in 1969 by churning out a covers album of ten popular “moon” songs.

Billy Vaughn LP on Pickwick

Seasons in Your Mind would go one step further and compile an annotated listing of other “moon-sploitation” albums from the year 1969 (although shamefully neglect to include the Journey to the Moon album released that same year by Cincinnati’s King Records).

Journey to the Moon - King LP

NASA, not to be outdone, has organized its own Lunar List of moon songs alphabetically, with Jimi Hendrix’s “And the Moon Pulls the Tides Gently, Gently Away” positioned first!

Zero to 180 is reminded of a time when television news had a modicum of dignity — although hard to say with a straight face as one spies the prominent product placement for Tang on the newscasters’ rostrum.

Tang:  Proud NASA Sponsor

Tang - Proud NASA SponsorBig tip of the hat to Aeolus 13 Umbra, who posted the above television clip from his own video archives and noted the striking juxtaposition of Duke Ellington with full-sized replicas of the Apollo 11 Command Module and Eagle Lunar Lander in ABC’s television studios.  Thank you also to Brent Hayes Edwards, who gets very specific about Ellington’s “Moon Maiden” (as well as “Spaceman“) in Epistrophies:  Jazz and the Literary Imagination:

“Ellington’s manuscript for ‘Moon Maiden’ is located in the Duke Ellington Collection, Subseries 1A:  Manuscripts, Box 229, Folder 8, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Duke Ellington, ‘Spaceman,’ Duke Ellington Collection, Series 5:  Correspondence, Box 6, notes, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.”

TV Guide invites you to review the programming plans for each of the three major television networks during the week of July 19-25, 1969.

TV Guide - July 19, 1969Did you know? “Moon Maiden” is not Duke Ellington’s first musical brush with space travel — 1957’s double-LP Columbia release, A Drum Is a Woman, would include “Ballet of the Flying Saucers.”

Duke Ellington - flying saucersLink to Zero to 180’s previous piece that features Duke Ellington