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

“Foreman”: Sanitation Engineer

Scooter “The Music Computer” MagruderWPFW radio host and general manager of Silver Spring’s Roadhouse Oldies – deserves much praise and respect for his leadership role in stoking an appreciation for our popular musical heritage over the years.  My recent album purchases at Roadhouse Oldies affirmed yet again that plenty of interesting songs remain primarily (if not solely) on vinyl, as originally intended.

Of the five albums that I picked up, the grooviest cover, by far, should have won an award for design, particularly the typography –- note the individualistic lettering:

out-of-sight-lp

However, since Out of Sight! was issued by a subsidiary label of crass cash-in label, Pickwick, that somehow invalidates the album from consideration (in which case, I would again direct your attention to the uniquely expressive lettering above).

A couple tracks caught my ear, including one by Tommy Roe in which the musical backing track suddenly “departs” from the vocal fairly soon into the song … and never really returns!   Check out the steep “musical drop-off” that occurs around the 40-second mark — did Tommy Roe really intend for the mix to sound this way?

[Pssst:  Click on triangle above to play “Foreman” (the ‘Pickwick’ mix) by Tommy Roe]

Posted as a special treat for Zero to 180 readers (Hi, Mom) for the rest of the year only

Note that nothing of the sort happens in this “propermix posted on YouTube — the only audio recording of the song publicly available (and one that was only posted last month).

A working-class blues that is not without a certain amount of boastful pride (since, after all, the singer has a good job at the mill making “30 cents* an hour” as the “foreman of the garbage brigade”), important to note that “Foreman,” was originally issued in 1961 by Diplomat – Pickwick peer and purveyor of equally exploitative fare (as previously celebrated here) – on Tommy Roe’s Whirling with Tommy Roe and Al Tornello, and would subsequently be reissued two years later on bedraggled and beloved Crown Records (as paid musical tribute here).  I am assuming that the same recording was used for all 3 LPs.

1961 Diplomat LP                                               1963 crown LP

tommy-roe-lp-aatommy-roe-lp-bb

The other tune that thrust itself upon my musical consciousness is an amusing surf-slash-drag-racing hybrid that is talk/sung in Bob Dylan fashion and backed by a bunch of smart alecks (who sound suspiciously like the backing vocalists on “The Ostrich”).  Halfway through the song, I spy the Pickwick logo on the back cover, and the realization suddenly hits:   Lou Reed!  Sure enough, “Cycle Annie” is from the pen of Lou Reed, as are three other tracks on the album:  “Soul City” by The Hi-Lifes; “Don’t Turn My World Upside Down” by The J Brothers; and “The Wonderful World of Love” by The Liberty Men.

“Cycle Annie”     The Beachnuts     1964

* [Note:  30⊄ an hour in 1961 dollars roughly equates to $2.45 an hour in 2017 dollars.]

Roadhouse Oldies, alas, will be shutting its doors for the last time in December, 2017. Message currently posted on the record shop’s website:

A SAD NOTE:  Sorry to report that, after 43 years in Silver Spring, we will be closing the business at the end of this year.  As you can probably understand, the demand for good old songs is fading.  We wish to thank our many loyal customers, and invite you to please come see us before we close, even if it is just to chat about the good old days.  We were the first true ‘oldies’ store in this area, and we thank you for 43 terrific years!

Zero to 180’s Photographic Tribute to Roadhouse Oldies

Roadhouse Oldies-aRoadhouse Oldies-bRoadhouse Oldies-cRoadhouse Oldies-d

original streamline moderne storefront on nearby Thayer St. (demolished)

Roadhouse Oldies-z

This is the 5th piece tagged as Pickwick Records

“Mississippi”: Pickwick Would Never Try to Mislead the Public

I remember as a kid learning the hard way about albums disguised as hits collections that were, in fact, faithful renderings by some shadow studio group.  Soundalike LPs, if you will.  Case in point:  18 Golden Hits of 1970.  The singers and musicians who did their best to mimic the year’s big hits are not named here (Discogs.com indicates the album’s author to be “Unknown Artist”).  Not surprisingly, the end result is extremely unsatisfying.

18 Golden Hits of 1970 LP

With Sounds of the Woodstock Age, Pickwick is in no way trying to deceive music lovers into believing these recordings are the original songs, original artists.  To Pickwick’s credit, on the front cover below the names of the 18 “heavy hits” it says, “played and sung by” followed by the name of the artist – Tribes – in boldface upper case letters.

Tribes LP

Tribes do a surprisingly credible version of John Phillips’ top 40 hit from his debut solo album – and in spite of the low-budget crowd sounds added by Pickwick to simulate Woodstock  (listen, too, for the small flub by the drummer in the intro before the vocal):

Mississippi (‘live’) – Tribes

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear ”Mississippi” simulated live by Tribes.]

Amusing to see in Wikipedia’s entry for Pickwick Records that Lou Reed, who once worked as a staff songwriter for Pickwick Records, is a figure of note in the label’s history of copycat records:

“Several of Pickwick’s soundalike albums from 1964 to 1965 feature Reed as an uncredited session musician.  Two of his songs, “Cycle Annie” (credited to The Beachnuts) and “You’re Driving Me Insane” (as The Roughnecks), both appeared on the Soundsville! compilation in 1965.  “The Ostrich” and “Sneaky Pete”, two earlier songs by Reed, united him with John Cale, leading to their founding the Velvet Underground.”

John Phillips All-Stars

Check out the musician credits for the original 1970 LP, John Phillips (also known as, John, Wolf King of L.A.):

  • John Phillips – vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Buddy Emmons – pedal steel
  • Red Rhodes – steel guitar
  • James Burton – guitar, dobro
  • Dr. Eric Hord – guitar
  • David Cohen – guitar
  • Gordon Terry – fiddle, violin
  • Darlene Love – vocals
  • Fanita James – vocals
  • Jean King – vocals
  • Joe Osborn – bass
  • Hal Blaine – drums
  • Larry Knechtel – keyboards

“The Ostrich”: Lou Reed’s Patented Dance Step

By now you have no doubt heard that Lou Reed has left us.  My favorite Lou Reed moment that I feel compelled to pass along is his dance send-up from 1964 entitled “The Ostrich” – from a time when he was a songwriting hack for Pickwick Records and part of a beat group called The Primitives:

Bizarrely, all of the strings of his guitar on this song are tuned to D – a tuning subsequently known as Ostrich Guitar.  For the life of me, I cannot imagine what induced Lou to release a single completely bereft of any commercial potential, unless it was to make others laugh, which it does for me every time.  If doesn’t for you, well, might I humbly suggest that you try harder.

“Bye Bye Birdie”: Groovy Guitar & Organ Instrumental

Chet Atkins’s guitar sounds mighty and majestic when propelled by the infectious, burbling rhythms of an unnamed organist in this treatment of “Bye Bye Birdie” from Chet’s 1963 album, Teen Scene — dig that groovy roller rink organ sound.

Note the original album cover:Teen Scene I cover

Check out the new and improved cover for the 1975 reissue on Pickwick Camden:Teen Scene II cover-x

Cincinnati: Hard Rock Capital of the World?

I have an album of repackaged material from the Buddah label – a compilation entitled Heavy Mix – that is one of the odder releases from everyone’s favorite reissue label, Pickwick.   I love that the cover art has a cement theme:

Heavy Mix - Pickwick

Even more intriguing than the kitschy cover concept is the cryptic bit of text at the bottom of the label of “Heavy Mix” cement:Hard Rock Cement Co

First is an unattributed quote that proclaims in classic 1969-speak, “Gettting It Together,” followed by the name of a fictitious business – Hard Rock Cement Co. – that is allegedly located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Not sure I follow, but okay, why not.   Now, it is true that The Sacred Mushroom came from Cincinnati, and it would be fair to call them “hard rock” – as this track from 1969 would clearly indicate.

Or perhaps Pickwick was making reference to the Ludlow Garage – Cincinnati’s closest approximation to Bill Graham’s famous Fillmore rock venues – whose proprietor in 1969 was Jim Tarbell, the one responsible for bringing in such “hard rock” acts as Neil Young, The Allman Brothers, and The Grateful Dead (and who would later become a Cincinnati City Council Member and hold the title – by mayoral proclamation – “Mr. Cincinnati” for life).

My favorite track on this motley mix is a surprisingly supple cover of the theme from the 1969 Oscar-winning film (Film; Director; Adapted Screenplay) – “Midnight Cowboy” – by John & Yoko’s one-time backing band, Elephant’s Memory:

Midnight Cowboy – Elephant’s Memory

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear “Midnight Cowboy” by Elephant’s Memory.]

There’s a nice little drum break starting around the 1:18 mark where the drumming alternates between speakers – consider using this track in the event you need to test the stereo directionality of your computer’s speakers.