“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

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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

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

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This is the 5th piece tagged as Pickwick Records

“Shenandoah”: Refreshingly Blemished

Diplomat — the boutique label that gave us albums by The Beatle Buddies, The Ska-Men, The Monterey Brass, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Lonesome Valley Singers, Dick Dale, and those Santo & Johnny knock-offs, Dan & Dale — also bequeathed us a 12-inch long-playing release by The Green Valley Guitars, who recorded an eye-popping 33 (!) Country & Western Favorites on a single disc that was most likely released in 1968.

Green Valley Guitars LP

Lead-off instrumental, “Shenandoah,” features a refreshingly human moment around the 33-second mark when the guitarist seems to lose his way momentarily, followed by a brief bit of musical silence and then a rush of melody to make up for lost time:

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play ”Shenandoah” by The Green Valley Guitars.]

Album includes “Boy in Buckskin”; “Blood on the Saddle”; “Boogie on the Guitar”; “Cheyenne”; “San Antonio”; “Wyatt Earp”; “Jesse James”; “Wild Bill Hickok”; “Buffalo Bill”; “Old Cowhand”; “Kentucky Fiddler”; “Nashville, Tennessee”; “Big Rock Candy Mountain”; “Chisholm Trail”; “Pride of the Prairie Mary”; “Boll Weevil” & “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Very little is known about The Green Valley Guitars, otherwise.

Lonesome Valley Singers – Top 10 Truck Driving Album

A list of the top 10 truck driving LPs would most certainly have to include this scrappy little album on quirky label, Diplomat, home of just about everything and everyone, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Beatle Buddies, The Ska-Men, The Monterey Brass, Dick Dale, those Santo & Johnny knock-offs, Dan & Dale – and The Lonesome Valley Singers.

1966 LP Truck Driving Songs features memorable songs – all originals – such as this wistful album closer about the never-ending highway, “Up and Down the Road Again“:

Up and Down the Road Again – The Lonesome Valley Singers

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Up and Down the Road Again” by The Lonesome Valley Singers.]

Beatle Buddies: Not Actually Pals

Of all the records released in the wake of Beatlemania (click here for a comprehensive illustrated list of Beatles covers & cash-in albums) the one-and-only album by The Beatle Buddies easily wins the award for best cover, with its menacing take on Meet the Beatles:

Beatle Buddies LP

Fortunately, mixed in with the Beatle covers, there are a few originals, such as my pick for the A-side, “I Waited“:

I Waited – The Beatle Buddies

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear ”I Waited” by The Beatle Buddies.]

Did the four young ladies enjoy a close personal relationship with the lads from Liverpool?   That’s a puzzle that might not ever get solved, as little to no information exists on the web about these four (unnamed) artists  – which only makes the back cover liner notes that much more hilarious in retrospect:

“The Beatles created one of the most phenomenal musical events since Elvis, and the whole world is infected with Beatle sounds.  Our contribution is unique in that we are offering the Beatle Buddies, a group of young gals that have their own sound, in the true Beatle tradition.  They have a distinct and definite originality in their presentation.  The girls are cute and very talented.  We think that their names and sound will last long after the Beatles are gone.  Listen to their harmony and style and we think you will agree that these girls are a real find in the recording business of today.  A single record is being prepared from this album which should be heard nationwide very soon.  So here we go — Beatle Buddies.

Perhaps the record label’s emphasis on quantity and affordability [“Diplomat Records – your best buy in entertainment”; “fine records need not be expensive”; “Diplomat recordings offer many additional hours of listening pleasure”] explains why Diplomat, with its limited finances, might resort to legally artistic marketing strategies.

And no doubt these strategies worked, as I can affirm firsthand as a tot when a close (and unsuspecting) family friend visited one day and brought with her a new “Beetles” album as an offering of joy for the youngest Beatlemaniac in the household – only to receive this:

Beatle Mania - The Liverpools