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

Cincinnati’s Big 3 Indie (Labels)

The mod organ and soulful vibraphone make a winning combination in 1967’s “Perfect Girl” by The New Lime from Campbell County, Kentucky:

“The Perfect Girl”     The New Lime     1967

[The organ+vibes immediately brings to mind seminal single “Space Walk” by The Astros!]

It is 2015, and I am only now aware – thanks to independent producer and music writer, Randy McNutt – that I have been unintentionally ignoring a third significant Cincinnati music production mill in addition to (1) King Records and (2) Fraternity:  (3) Counterpart!

Counterpart RecordsCounterpart Records is the brainchild of Shad O’Shea (Howard Lovdal, by birth).  According to McNutt, after CBS sold its Cincinnati’s radio affiliate, WCPO, O’Shea was no longer a radio show host, thus, O’Shea immediately shifted his career focus, first to creating a label – Counterpart – and second, to building a brick-and-mortar recording facility.  Says McNutt:

“[O’Shea’s] Counterpart Records label, when I was in high school was like a major to me.  His records were played on WSAI and other stations.  He broke many good rock-band records.  Then he’d sell them to larger indies or the majors.  He had a wall in hallway office at the studio with nothing but 45s that he produced or released over the years, including ones on Mercury, RCA, Columbia, Laurie, Monument, SSS International, and other labels.  There must have been 50 records on that big wall.  He recorded groups such as the New Lime, which went from Counterpart to Columbia under his guidance; the Mark V out of Dayton (‘Hey Conductor’), and other groups.

“Counterpart was regional, going into Kentucky and Indiana. But its big strength was in Cincinnati and Dayton.  Shad had a big hit if he sold 5,000 copies.  Sometimes he would get a hot regional record, and it would catch the eye of a major or a national independent.  They would lease the master from him.  This happened to him with the Mark V’s “Hey Conductor” in, I believe, 1967.  The group was from Dayton.  The record was then re-released on Mercury’s Phillips label.

“I started cutting records over at Counterpart and became a close friend of his.  He bought the Fraternity Records name from Harry Carlson in 1975.  I placed masters with both Harry and Shad over the years.  In fact, I might be the only indie producer to have the distinction (small as it is) of placing masters with all three owners of Fraternity.”

Shad O’Shea (and Webster)

Shad O'Shea The New Lime:   Singles Discography

Whenever I Look In Her Eyes/And She Cried --------- Fraternity F947   1965
It's Your Turn to Cry/Only You -------------------- Boss 9915         1966
Meant to Be/Walkin the Dog ------------------------ Counterpart 2495  196?
That Girl/She Kissed Me (With Her Eyes) ----------- Counterpart 2577  1967
That Girl/She Kissed Me (With Her Eyes) ----------- Columbia 4-44017  1967
There Goes My Girlfriend/Girl w Long Blonde Hair -- Counterpart 2593  1967
Meant to Be/Perfect Girl -------------------------- Counterpart 2599  196?
Ain't Got No Soul/I Still Remember ---------------- Counterpart 2609  1967
Donna/The Gumdrop Trilogy ------------------------- Counterpart 2626  196?
Donna/The Gumdrop Trilogy ------------------------- Columbia 4-44597  1968
Sunny/I Still Remember ---------------------------- Minart 150        196?

 Link to Buckeye Beat’s tribute page to The New Lime.

“Ital Vibes”: Vibraphonic Reggae

Reggae is another realm of popular music where the vibraphone so rarely makes a foray.  As a result, Jamaican vibraphonist, Lennie Hibbert, pretty much has the field all to himself, as the intersection of reggae and the vibes essentially begins and ends with this one soul. Hibbert’s theme song – if one were to exist – would most definitely be “Village Soul,” easily his best known composition, but 1974’s tuneful instrumental “Ital Vibes” is another great starting point for vibraphone-infused reggae:

“Ital Vibes” – Lennie Hibbert – Produced by Harry Mudie

The bulk of Hibbert’s early work appears to be with Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label, where he recorded as part of Coxsone’s house band, The Sound Dimension, and also released a few singles under his own name.  Hibbert did appear, however on at least two Nyabinghi-inflected singles recorded at the studio of pioneering female producer, Sonia Pottinger:  “The Retreat Song” (with Millicent ‘Patsy’ Todd) and “Pure Soul” (with Count Ossie & Lyn Taitt), both from 1968.  Hibbert would record two long-playing releases as a solo artist on Studio One – 1969’s Creation and 1971’s More Creation – before moving on to Harry Mudie’s label in the early to mid 1970s where he recorded a handful of 45s.

rear cover – 1969 Studio One LP, Creation

Lennie Hibbert

Hibbert’s biography on AllMusic points out that in 1976 the vibraphonist would be awarded the Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music, as well as his work as an educator at Kingston’s legendary Alpha Boys School, training ground for an extraordinary number of Jamaica’s top musicians and where a hall would be named in honor of Hibbert, who passed in 1984.

Lennie Hibbert photoLennie Hibbert enthusiasts may want to seek out his exceptionally rare debut album, Moon-Light Party at the Myrtle Bank Hotel, although be prepared to pay through the nose: one copy sold in 2006 for $760.  Be advised, however, this is actually a studio album and not a live recording as the title would seem to suggest.

“Space Walk”: Psychedelic Vibes, Man

Paul ‘Ollie’ Halsall, as previously noted, was one of the rare rock musicians to utilize the vibraphone – an instrument that is often confined to jazz and 1960s pop & northern soul, sadly.  The vibes, when placed in the right context, can add such gorgeous tonal color to a song, as demonstrated on Jimi Hendrix’s dreamy ballad, “Drifting” (as played by Buzzy Linhart, who had been given exactly one hour (!) to learn and execute his complex part) – or on the mysterious and foreboding intro to “Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones (as played, surprisingly enough, by bassist Bill Wyman) just to name two obvious examples.   Perhaps the vibraphone is ripe for rediscovery by the next generation of popsters?

VibraphoneA number of years back, my life had been inadvertently saved when I hastily tried to sell back a bootleg compilation of psychedelic 45s burned to compact disc.  Fortunately, Baltimore’s Sound Garden music store refused to take The Psychedelic Experience Volume 1, thus forcing me to re-evaluate the contents of this collection.  Somehow I had overlooked the second track on the disk — “Space Walk” by The Astros:

“Space Walk”     The Astros     1965

This arresting instrumental immediately grabs the listener with an intoxicating sound that is achieved in no small part by the unlikely use of the vibraphone.  How on Earth did this tune escape my attention the first time around?

45Cat informs us that this single had been predicted by Billboard to reach the Hot 100 — and yet it seems never to have even charted.  Most interestingly, this forward-looking piece of pop was released in June, 1965 (just three months after cosmonaut Alexey Leonov became the first human to walk in outer space), thus anticipating to some degree the psychedelic sound that would follow one to two years later.  Could this be among the first “psychedelic” recordings?  Tantalizingly little appears to be known about this recording otherwise.

Many thanks to Office Naps for singing the praises of label owner, Leo de gar Kulka, the unacknowledged star of the song and whose engineering prowess at Golden State – one of Northern California’s largest studios at the time – would help pioneer “the San Francisco sound” of such artists as Sly & the Family Stone, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Charlatans, Sons of Champlin, The (pre-Dead) Warlocks, and many others – click here for a Golden State Recorders discography.  Check out this brief bio of Kulka courtesy of Studio Electronics Inc – founded by none other than Kulka himself.

“Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye”: Unlikely Alien Invasion

Eyeballing the list of artists who released 45s on Decca’s progressive imprint, Deram, I am amused by the “far-out” names that remain largely unknown on this side of the pond:  West Coast Delegation; The Wards of Court; Rubber Bootz; Cuppa T; Granny’s Intentions; John Street & the Inmates of No. 12; The Crocheted Doughnut Ring; The Virgin Sleep; Bernie & the Buzz Band; Anvil Flutes and Capricorn Voices; Martin’s Magic Sounds; Currant Craze; and The Syn, among others.  A shameless attention-getting ploy perhaps but a harmless one.

Similarly, a song title such as “Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye” practically begs to be heard — fortunately, this tune about Martian invaders armed with lethal pastries does not disappoint:

Timebox – “Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye” – March, 1969

“Baked jam roll in your eye:  are you trying to kill or feed me?” the humans straight-facedly inquire of Martian commander, Klaus.  Will the Earthlings prevail armed only with song?

“Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye” is Timebox’s successor to “Girl Don’t Make Me Wait,” with its brilliant B-side, “Gone Is the Sad Man” — a song that could easily be mistaken for some long-lost Beatles single.  Would you be surprised to learn that one of the song’s co-writers, Paul ‘Ollie’ Halsall, would later become part of the Pre-Fab Four (depicted as Leppo, “the fifth Rutle” in the faux-documentary, All You Need Is Cash)?  Neil Innes, at a 1997 Beatlefest in Los Angeles, would identify Halsall as a primary contributor in the making of the first Rutles album and pronounce him “the most underrated guitarist in the world.”  Halsall, who died in 1992, enjoys distinction as one of rock’s only vibraphone players.

A-Side composed by Mike Patto & Ollie Halsall

Timebox 45