“Mrs. Fletcher”: Pop Dub II

For the sixth year in a row – on its December 12th anniversary date – Zero to 180 has once again made the dubious and (it needs to be said) rather contemptible decision to post one of its own homemade recordings, under the laughable supposition that the “composition” in question is somehow deserving of a worldwide audience.  It’s not —  let’s be clear.  This is the musical equivalent of a vanity license plate that serves, awkwardly, to salute another year’s efforts by Zero to 180 in its pursuit of the preservation of cultural memories in danger of being lost.

Those who have stumbled upon this post are invited to ignore this annual exercise in self-indulgence — a pathetic attempt to conflate my “work” (to the extent that it exists) with the greats who have come before.  Let’s not kid ourselves that anyone, beyond family and close friends, might possibly be interested to learn that this year’s recording is not of the usual ancient vintage but something organized very recently in a makeshift recording studio in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“MRS. FLETCHER” (DUB MIX A)     DUB-BLE TRUBBLE     2018

“MRS. FLETCHER” (DUB MIX B)     DUB-BLE TRUBBLE     2018

Not much is not known about these recordings other than the fact that one musician (yours truly) laid down the guitar and bass lines, while another musician, who served as producer and mixmaster, provided all other sounds.

RARE PICTURE SLEEVE FROM THAILAND

In its way, “Mrs. Fletcher” extends the ‘pop dub’ aspirations expressed twenty years earlier in “One (Love),” Zero to 180’s final four-track home recording in Cincinnati before the big move 500 miles eastward — ten years or so before the first appearance of the Rocksteady Kid.

Zero to 180 Milestones:  Let the School-Age Years Commence

  • 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.’
  • 5th anniversary piece that paid tribute to the Buchanan & Goodman “break-in” records that helped fuel (along with Mad Magazine) this young music fanatic’s appetite for satire.

“Capricorn Flight”: It’s the Bass II

As with Waylon Jennings‘ deeply-felt “Abilene” or Ruby Wright’s surprisingly bass-centric  “Adios Aloha,” one cannot but feel alarmed by the depth of bottom in the opening synth notes of this charmingly analog production – recorded at Cincinnati’s Counterpart Studios, with Shad OShea and Wes Boatman at the helm (get it?):

“Capricorn Flight”     The Saturn Symphony Orchestra     1981

Lo and behold, “Capricorn Flight” would be from the pen of Manzel Bush – however, using the alias The Saturn Symphony OrchestraLast September, Zero to 180 celebrated the groovy ‘space funk’ sound of Manzel, who would record two 1970s dance tracks for Cincinnati’s Fraternity that would be highly sought by DJs and vinyl enthusiasts in the decades since.

Manzel Bush photo courtesy of Discogs.com

Manzel BushWithin the last ten years, copies of “Capricorn Flight” would fetch $316 in 2008, $188 in 2012, and $148 in 2010.

First appearance of Cincinnati skyline in Zero to 180

Saturn Symphony Orchestra 45-aJust discovered this delightful vintage ad c/o Aerial Noise

Manzel ad

“Abilene”: It’s the Bass

Abilene” was originally an album track on Bob Gibson’s 1957 album, I Come For To Sing:

Bob Gibson - I Come for to Sing - LP cover

The song became a #1 country single for George Hamilton IV in 1963.

The following year Waylon Jennings would also record “Abilene” but release it solely as an album track on his one and only LP for the Bat label, At J.D.’s – check out the unusually deep bottom on this recording:

Abilene – Waylon Jennings

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play “Abilene” by Waylon Jennings.]

At JD's - Waylon Jennings LP

The “Key City” in Song

In “The Women There Don’t Treat You Mean:  Abilene in Song” – published April 2007 in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly – author Gary Hartman notes “although Gibson’s is the most well-known tune to refer to the Key City, Abilene appears in dozens of other songs performed by a surprisingly diverse group of musicians.  Legendary Texas bluesman Sam ‘Lightnin” Hopkins recorded at least three tunes between 1948 and 1974 in which he sang the praises of Abilene.  Texas honky-tonk pioneer Ernest Tubb recorded ‘Girl from Abilene,’ and Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash co-authored the song ‘Wanted Man,’ in which the lead character spends time in Abilene.  The list of artists who pay tribute to Abilene is remarkably long and includes Ian Moore, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen, Eliza Gilkyson, Larry Joe Taylor, and even two British rock bands, Yes and Humble Pie.”

Waylon:  4 Wheels Good, 2 Legs Bad

Kinky Friedman, in his essay on ‘Outlaws’ in The Country Music Pop-Up Book, writes that “Waylon Jennings, at the same time [early 1970s], was sometimes quite literally slugging it out in Nashville.  Like all of us, he struggled against the musical establishment.  One of my first memories of Waylon was on a sunny afternoon as I was walking up an alley behind Music Row, and he drove up in a big Cadillac and a cloud of dust.  He pulled up beside me and lowered the window, and I swear he looked part devil and part smilin’ Jesus. On that day he gave some words to live by that I have never forgotten.  ‘Get in, Kink,’ he said.   ‘Walkin’s bad for your image.'”

“Adios Aloha”: Honky Tonk Internationale

In 1972 Starday-King released a country compilation LP (on their Nashville imprint) entitled, Almost Persuaded, that was strictly a ladies-only affair:  Rose Maddox, Dolly Parton, Jan Howard, Dottie West, Lois Williams, Betty Amos – and Ruby Wright.      Ruby’s playful little rocker, “Adios Aloha” — written by June Carter & Don Davis — is the standout track for me:  a sly lyric that is supported by unusually (for a Starday release) deep and warm bass tones, as well as exuberant drumming and punchy mariachi horns.

Adios Aloha – Ruby Wright

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play ”Adios Aloha” by Ruby Wright.]Almost Persuaded

As it turns out, “Adios Aloha” is not a Starday recording but rather a song originally released in 1965 on the RIC (Recording Industries Corporation) label as the A-side of a single.  Starday-King must have simply leased the song – along with its flip side, “A Smile on My Lips” – for this 1972 collection of country coquettes.

Ruby Wright

Curiously, though, Ruby does have a bona fide King Records connection:             Between the years 1949 and 1959 Wright was a King recording artist.

Billboard‘s November 14, 1970 edition would reveal Ruby Wright’s Cincinnati connection in its regular report from one of the “music capitals of the world’:

“Ruby Wright, widow of Barney Rapp, veteran band leader and talent booker who died of a heart attack here October 14, will continue operation of the Barney Rapp Entertainment Agency, with offices in the Sheraton-Gibson Hotel.  She will be assisted in the venture by her four daughters.  Miss Wright, for many years a featured singer on [local NBC TV] WLW-T here until her retirement a year ago, said last week that she will also continue with the office’s expanding tour business and the producing of the local annual Shrine Circus.”