Lord Thunder: Final Deluxe 45?

Browsing DeLuxe releases in chronological order in Discog’s database, Lord Thunder‘s “Thunder” from 1975 appears to be the last gasp of Starday-King:

“Thunder”     Lord Thunder     1975

But wait:  1975 sounds much too late in the post-Syd Nathan saga for a new production to come out of the Starday-King studios, especially with IMG/Gusto now running the show.  I’m suspicious.

For one thing, the catalog number 106 would indicate the recording to be closer to 1969, tied to the first string of releases from the resuscitated DeLuxe imprint — at that point owned by Lin Broadcasting.  An examination of the catalog record for this 1975 Gusto 45 release on Discogs finds this revealing note:

“This is the legal second issue from 1975 – reissued for the UK Northern Soul market.  The original does not have the ‘1975 etc’ text around the outside and the release is originally from the late 60’s/early 70’s.

This late 60s “northern soul” instrumental was written by Leroy Tukes and Grady Spires, who would also put together “I Got It Made (In the Shade)” for James Duncan, released March, 1970 on Federal (and featuring Eddie Hinton on swamp guitar)..

Both songs were included on 2007 CD compilation Crash of Thunder:  Boss Soul, Funk and R&B Sides From the Vaults of the King, Federal and DeLuxe Labels — a special collection of rare tracks curated by Matt “Mr. Fine Wine” Weingarden and released on Spanish label, Vampi Soul.

So uh, no, this was not the “final” DeLuxe 45, in terms of latest original recording intended for release.

From browsing Discogs’ listing of DeLuxe releases in chronological order and then examing the catalog numbers in (relative) sequential order, I see that the highest number “152” coincides with 1973 single release from The Manhattans – “Do You Ever” b/w “If My Heart Could Speak” (with the A-side written by Agape recording artist, Myrna March, who also co-produced).  Could this possibly be one of the final recordings to come out under the DeLuxe label?  To answer this question, it sure would help to know the recording dates of the other DeLuxe 45 releases from 1973:

= “Mama’s Baby” b/w “You Are Gone” by Royal Flush
= “Camelot Time” b/w “Victory Strut” by J. Hines & the Fellows*
= “Leave My Kitten Alone” b/w “All the Time” by Reuben Bell
= “Rainbow Week” b/w “Loneliness” by The Manhattans

Ruppli provides no information whatsoever about these recordings and, in fact, does not even list Royal Flush, Reuben Bell, or J. Hines & the Fellows in the index.  Not even known whether any of these 45 releases had been recorded in the year 1973.  More research is needed to determine the final recording to come out on DeLuxe.

Click on song titles above to hear streaming audio of A & B sides

With regard to Zero to 180’s recent musings about which Bethlehem release was the last original recording intended for that King subsidiary label, this online discography has considerably more detailed information than Ruppli’s sessionography with regard to Bethlehem’s last few years of existence, thus forcing me to recalculate the situation

New Observations about Bethlehem‘s Final Releases!
Tip of the hat to the Bethlehem Records Discography Project

  • The James Brown recording session from May 20, 1970 (David Matthews’ “The Drunk” recorded in two parts, with only Part Two issued) that ended up as the B-side of a Bethlehem (not King) 45 “A Man Has to Go Back to the Crossroads” b/w “The Drunk”  appears to be the last original recording released on Bethlehem — a session that took place at King Studios in Cincinnati (as did the session for the single’s A-side on March 2, 1970, on which David Matthews served as Director).  Interesting to note that A-side “charted on 18 July, 1970 on Record World’s “Singles Coming Up” chart peaking at #110″ (Discogs).
  • The next-to-last entry for 1970 says that Arthur Prysock laid down 12 tracks with “unidentified orchestra” and Bill McElhiney serving as arranger/director at Nashville’s Starday-King recording facility on April 8, 1970 for Prysock’s Unforgettable album (released on King).  The two singles from this LP, curiously, would be issued on separate labels — “Cry” b/w “Unforgettable” on King, while “Funny World” b/w “The Girl I Never Kissed”  ended up on Bethlehem.
  • This discography of Bethlehem recordings/releases from 1958 to the present ends in the year 1970 — and yet omits any references to The Saloonatics from 1969. What up?  1969 would also see recording sessions in Cincinnati for Wayne Cochran and His C.C. Riders (previously paid tribute here), as well as The Dee Felice Trio (with Frank Vincent) for LP and 45 releases on Bethlehem.

As it bids adieu to the King Records’ 75th Anniversary Celebration, Zero to 180 would like to pose these four questions:

  1. What is the last original recording for Starday-King that took place at Cincinnati’s King Studios?
  2. What is the final recording — regardless of whether the artist was under contract to Starday-King — that took place at the (former) King Studios in Cincinnati?
  3. What is the last original recording at the Nashville Starday Studios intended for release on Starday-King or one of its subsidiaries?
  4. What is the last original release from Starday-King before the label’s sale to IMG/Gusto?

A Starday/King/DeLuxe Musical Prank*

Whoa!  Is it possible that 1973 instrumental “Victory Strut” by J. Hines & the Fellows (on Starday-King subsidiary, DeLuxe) features what must be some of the earliest turntable scratching on record?!   But alas, the comment below – in reply to the person who posted this audio clip – reveals musical tomfoolery perpetrated at the hands of DJ Ol’SkOul!

“So as much as I love the record scratches on this, I actually bought this 45 thinking they were a part of the song. Sooo yeah, you might want to tell people this is your remix of it.  Either way thanks for posting. Great tune.”

Hear for yourself =  special ‘REMIX’ of “Victory Strut”

DJ Ol’SkOul likewise provides turntable embellishments for A-side “Camelot Time

History Messing with My Mind Dept.

Recently, in the course of scanning the index in Ruppli’s King Labels sessionography, I was struck by a fairly unusual name: “SACASAS”.  Anselmo Sacasas, it turns out, was a Cuban bandleader who recorded exactly one session for King Records in Miami on April 8, 1955 – four songs recorded, including one tune entitled (hold onto your hats) “Trumpcrazy”!

Billboard‘s reviewer would score this trumpet-heavy “Latino instrumental” a 72 (in the “good” range) in its July 23, 1955 edition.  This extremely obscure 45 was nearly lost to history until an audio clip was posted on YouTube in July of 2016.

“Trumpcrazy”     Sacasas & His Orchestra     1955

Toussaint’s Pop Persian Poetry

Browsing 45Cat’s database for 1966 singles associated with Allen Toussaint, my eyes were immediately drawn to an A-side entitled “Omar Khayyam” by The Rubaiyats, issued on Toussaint’s own Sansu label.  As it turns out, the band’s name is inspired by the term for “a collection of Ruba’i”  (as in the Persian poetry form), with the best known example likely being the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

“Omar Khayyam”     The Rubaiyats     1966

The Rubaiyats are, in actual fact, Allen Toussaint and Willie Harper — Toussaint would write both sides of their only single.  “Omar Khayyam” would be a B-side upon initial release in the US in September, 1966 although the two sides would flip (so says 45Cat) with the single’s 1968 release in the UK.

Houghton Mifflin & Company- First edition, 1884 – thanks to Book Graphics!

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam-aaNews Flash!  “Omar Khayyam” made Offbeat’s “Ten Buried Allen Toussaint Treasures” list.

As further proof of the song’s viability:  Vintage Vinyl is offering a special 7-inch release, “Omar Khayyam” b/w “Do Me Like You Do Me” by John Williams & the Tick Tocks – $13.99 (“two collectible Sansu sides back-to-back for the first time … of huge interest to Northern Soul collectors, Mod and R&B fans worldwide.”)  Vintage Vinyl provides the UK history related to this song:

“First played at Manchester’s Twisted Wheel on the UK Action label but originally recorded for US label Sansu in 1966.  This hard-to-find original became a Mod and rare soul classic and has, in recent times, enjoyed a revival on the Northern Soul circuit.”

Rubaiyats 45£45 paid for this 45 in 2010.

Check out this art nouveau-inspired 3rd edition published by Bernard Quaritch in London in 1872 – bound by Sangorski and Sutcliffe of London (tip of the hat to Dartmouth).

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam-bbDid you know of the cursed special “Sangorski Edition” of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam — on Business Pundits‘ list of 15 Weird and Mysterious Books?

“Is it possible for a book to be as cursed as the Hope Diamond?  If so, the Sangorski special edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is.  This book is a work of art in and of itself:  the cover is bound in leather, features a jewel-encrusted peacock on the front, and is emblazoned with gold leaf.  Its designer, Francis Sangorski, spent months designing it, and two years to finish its creation.  It’s a legendary book, both because of the elevated artistry of the book, and the tragedies that seemed to follow it.

Sangorski’s original copy sank with the Titanic.  Before he could recreate it, Francis Sangorski drowned, six weeks after the ship — with the book — foundered in the Atlantic.  Stanley Bray, Sangorski’s partner, spent six years recreating the second copy of the book from Sangorski’s original drawings.  The book was then destroyed in the London Blitz.  It took Bray another 40 years to finish the next copy, which was donated to the British Library after his death.”

The cursed Sangorski special edition

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam-cc“Omar Khayyam” is part of the 2011 compilation:  Allen Toussaint:  The Lost Sessions.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is an enormously influential literary work (650 different editions, translated into over 70 languages, illustrations by 150 artists) whose reach extends into literature, cinema, music. computer games, and television (e.g., 6-episode story arc in The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show about the “Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam“).

Important to keep in mind, though, that Edward Fitzgerald (as the UK’s Telegraph points out) is, in his English translations, “deliberately altering, combining and developing the verses of Omar Khayyam, a 12th-century poet who is remembered as a talented astronomer-mathematician, but not as a great Persian poet like Sadi or Hafiz.  Many of the quatrains attributed to him have been falsely ascribed.”

Music Trivia:  Edmund J. Sullivan’s 1913 illustration to verse 26 of Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam would be famously appropriated by Alton Kelley & Stanley Mouse for a poster advertising a 1966 Grateful Dead concert at the Avalon that, from that point forward, would be known as (though not strictly) “Skull & Roses.”

Nino & April’s Pop Steel Drums

In 1966 brother and sister duo, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, left Atco for White Whale, a label then enjoying commercial success with The Turtles.  White White demonstrated their eagerness to do business with Nino and April by allowing them complete artistic freedom in the recording studio. The first single – “All Strung Out” – served as the title track of their debut album, which ended up hitting the #26 spot on the pop chart.

All Strung Out - Nino & April

This song – which was originally offered to the Righteous Brothers as the follow-up single to their huge hit, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – was recorded at Hollywood’s Gold Star studios by legendary recording engineers, Larry Levine and Stan Ross, along with the usual top-notch support from some of LA’s finest session musicians.  Hear the final mix yourself in this (mimed) performance on TV’s Lloyd Thaxton Show in the summer of 1966.  Interesting to note that Vinnie Barbarino enjoyed a hit cover version in 1977 under the title, “All Strung Out on You.”

How surprising to learn that one of the album’s tracks, “Alone Alone” – a song brimming with obvious hit potential – was never released as a single:

“Alone Alone”     Nino Tempo & April Stevens     1966

Very effective use of steel drums on the instrumental riff that opens and closes the song.   Tune was written by John Dalton & Gary Montgomery – produced by Nino Tempo.

Six Degrees of Syd Nathan

Sometimes it seems as if just about everyone has passed through Syd Nathan’s King Records at some point in their career, even if just for one or two singles.  April Stevens,  as it turns out, released two singles on King in 1953 that were also issued in the UK on Parlophone (future home of The Beatles):  [1] “C’est Si Bon” b/w “Soft Warm Lips”; and  [2] “How Could Red Riding Hood (Have Been So Very Good)” b/w “You Said You’d Do It (Are You Gonna).”  Those two singles, however, were preceded by April’s King debut – “Hot Tamale” b/w “Treat Me Nice.”  Fascinating to discover that one of two unissued tracks in King’s vaults is “Wanting You,” a fantastic dance track that April later recorded for MGM in 1967 and that was originally (now, hold onto your hats) an Oscar Hammerstein song from the 1928 operetta, The New Moon!  Sadly, “Wanting You” didn’t burn up the charts, although it was later vindicated as a classic track of the UK Northern Soul music scene.

April Stevens - 1953 King EP