The “Monkey Chant” in Pop

[NotePiece updated on February 15, 2019 – see special coda at the tail end]

Zero to 180 is intrigued to discover that today’s featured song is the sole composition attributed to Vic Coppersmith-Heaven [whose impressive audio engineering CV includes Cat Stevens, The Rolling StonesBilly Preston, and even Stanley Kubrick] on Discogs.  This entrancing and otherworldly (near) instrumental can only be found on the 1982 double LP anthology Music and Rhythm that features artists who performed in the first World of Music and Dance (WOMAD) festivals in the UK organized by Peter Gabriel, with help from heavy friends.  For the 1980s college crowd, Music and Rhythm served as a gateway album of sorts into “Worldbeat”  (i.e., music from outside Europe & the US).

The early-to-mid 1980s would find this idealistic, clueless college student in thrall to a cassette mix of The Jam‘s brilliant run of singles (compiled in chronological fashion by Tom Newbold), culminating in their double-A side masterwork “Going Underground” paired with “Dreams of Children.”  The single-sentence summary blurb below from  Wikipedia very much captures the extent of my knowledge at that time about the engineer/producer with the distinctive name:

Vic Coppersmith-Heaven (born Victor Smith in England) is an English sound engineer and record producer best known for his production work with The Jam.

Japan 45 – 1980                                          Italy 45 – 1980

Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven

Those of us who were initially surprised to see the producer behind The Jam’s finest 45 included in the track listing of Music and Rhythm wondered, therefore, to what degree his preceding work might have informed his musical sensibilities.  As it turns out — not in the slightest:

“Pensgosekan”     Vic Coppersmith-Heaven     1982

Preston Hayman:  Percussion & Gamelan
Vic Smith:  Guitars & Gamelan
Tony Levin:  Bass
Paddy Bush:  Gengong
Johnny Warman:  Voice
Composed & produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven.
Recorded at Eel Pie Studios & The Manor – Spring 1982.
Engineered by Richard Manwaring & remixed at Crescent Studios.
Note:  “Pengosekan” fades into a short excerpt from The Ramayana Monkey Chant recorded by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven in Bali — February, 1982

Music and Rhythm‘s liner notes, for one thing, were a tip-off that something more “avant-pop” was afoot on this exclusive recording:

“Vic is best known as a record producer, and over the last five years he has been associated with some of Britain’s most contemporary and successful groups, notably The Jam.

Besides his production work, Vic spends much time pursuing his passion for Bali and its culture.  He visits the country frequently, and has made many field recordings of music traditions in that region.  In ‘Pengosekan’, especially recorded for this LP, he uses Balinese orchestral percussion — gamelan — instruments to embellish the rhythm track, and overlays this further with vocal improvisations derived from the Balinese Ketjak [or Kecak] or Monkey chant.

We would like to thank Vic for his enthusiasm and faith in this album project as a whole, and we are also indebted to the Indonesian Embassy, Mr. Suparmin and Mr. Abidin in particular, for their kind co-operation and loan of the gamelan instruments used on this track.

We would like to thank [Pete Townshend-owned] Eel Pie Studios for their kind co-operation in the recording of this track.  We would also like to thank the Virgin Manor Studio, and Richard Branson in particular, for their kind donation of free time in completing this track; and for their first-class attention and co-operation on this project.”

UbuWeb helpfully elaborates on the history behind this ancient tradition, with this explanatory text that accompanies their streaming audio of a 20-minute field recording from Bali:

“Performed by more than 200 men seated in tight concentric circles around a small central space reserved for the chief protagonists,” the ketjak (loosely called “Monkey Chant”) was first recorded in Bali by David Lewiston and released by Nonesuch Records in 1969.  As a spectacular and alternative performance mode, it has had a germinal influence on western performance and poetics since then.

David Lewiston’s original comments follow:

‘While the ketjak is a creation of this century, it is descended from something much more ancient — the trance dance, the dance of exorcism called sanghjang; its ancestry is clear. Ostensibly, the ketjak is a reenactment of the battle described in the Ramayana epic — in which the monkey hordes came to the aid of Prince Rama in his battle with the evil King Ravana — complete with a chorus imitating monkeys, as they chant the syllable tjak.

But as perceptive observers have noted, the ketjak is primarily a dance of exorcism.  Its connection with the sanghjang remains unbroken.  As pointed out by Walter Spies and Beryl de Zoete in Dance and Drama in Bali, “Most of the movements are exorcistic in origin and contribute together to produce a tremendous unity of mood … to drive out evil as by an incantation.  The cries, the crowding, lifted hands, the devouring of single figures, the broken lines of melody bewildering to butas [demons], who can only move straight ahead, all enhance the exorcistic effect.”‘

Glenn Kotche at University of Maryland — sans crickets

Photo courtesy of Brandon Wu Photography

 

Imagine Zero to 180’s surprise 20+ years later during 2009’s Bang on a Can Festival at University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center when [Wilco drummer] Glenn Kotche performed his own interpretation of the Balinese “Monkey Chant,” a composition that not only was included on 2006 solo album, Mobile. but also served as the subject of a 15-minute film by Brendan Canty of DC’s legendary Fugazi [and currently The Messthetics, with bassist Joe Lally and guitarist Anthony Pirog {also of Janel and Anthony}]:

Glenn Kotche – “Monkey Chant”:  A Movie by Brendan Canty

In an exclusive exchange facilitated by the filmmaker himself (thank you, Brendan!), Glenn Kotche had this to say in response to Zero to 180’s basic query:

Q:  Had you been aware of “Pengosekan” by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven prior to composing “Monkey Chant”?

A:  I’m surprised, but I’ve never heard that song before – just heard it for the first time after getting this email The crickets don’t surprise me though.  I included those since all of the recordings that I based my version of the Monkey Chant (Ketjak) on, were recorded outdoors in Bali – so the insect sounds are prevalent and add a really nice atmosphere.  Most of those recordings were from the Nonesuch Explorer Series btw.  I assume Coppersmith-Heaven noticed that while experiencing it live or was inspired by similar recordings.

1975’s Music of BaliNonesuch Explorers Series

2006’s Mobile released on Nonesuch – is that ironic?

Coda:  Who Is Walter Spies and Why Are We Talking About Him?

Zero to 180’s eyebrows went up upon receiving this email from Steve Feigenbaum of Cuneiform Records — Silver Spring-based independent label [last celebrated here] that released Janel and Anthony’s Where Is Home in 2012:

I own that Music and Rhythm album and it was a great revelation to me when I first got it when it was released in 1981 or so?

Really like it and really like Vic’s track.

The monkey chant was invented as a tourist kinda thing from ancient, borrowed elements of traditional culture by a German!

Steve’s Wikipedia link immediately brought me to a “Russian-born German primitivist painter” named Walter Spies, who is a “person of interest” in Michael B. Bakan‘s article published in the June, 2009 edition of Ethnomusicology Forum entitled “The Abduction of the Signifying Monkey Chant:  Schizophrenic Transmogrifications of Balinese Kecak in Fellini’s Satyricon and the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple,” a scholarly piece that “begins with a historical overview that situates kecak’s own history as a Balinese cultural phenomenon within broader frameworks of hybridity, schizophonic and appropriative processes, and international filmmaking, devoting special attention to the contributions of Walter Spies.”

Walter Spies with Ketut the Cockatoo and Ida Bagus, the Monkey c. 1935

photo courtesy of Sotheby’s (© Tropical Museum)

Further sleuthing would reveal that — “according to the standard English leaflet text used by many groups all over Bali” (so says Kendra Stepputat in her research piece entitled, “The Genesis of a Dance-Genre:  Walter Spies and the Kecak“) —

“Contrary to popular belief the Kecak dance is not particularly old.  It was probably first performed in 1930, although the chorus had its origins in a very ancient ritual of the Sanghyang (trance) Dance, which is still performed sometimes in the village.”

Stepputat further elaborates, in “Performing Kecak:  A Balinese Dance Tradition Between Daily Routine and Creative Art,” published in 2012’s Yearbook for Traditional Music (Volume 44, pp. 49-70):

“Kecak is one of the most popular dramatic dance forms performed for tourists on Bali.  It has been developed cooperatively by Balinese artists and Western expatriates, most prominently I Wayan Limbak and Walter Spies, living on Bali in the 1930s, with the explicit purpose of meeting the tastes and expectations of a Western audience.  Driven by economic considerations, in the late 1960s kecak was standardized into the kecak ramayana known today.”

Feigenbaum gets the last word:

That Music and Rhythm record holds up really well, I think.  It never came out fully on CD.  I still have my truncated CD AND the original vinyl.

I liked it because it cast a very wide net from The Specials to Peter Hammill!

Bright Morning Star: Talkin’ Topical Wit & Artist Activism

My children’s violin instructor, Ken Giles, I was delighted to discover, had once been part of a contemporary folk ensemble that, as Stephen Holden of the New York Times noted, embraced “the left-wing populism of Pete Seeger,” as it also incorporated “comedy and theatrical horseplay” into its performances.   Formed in 1978 and named for an old Appalachian hymn, Bright Morning Star (“a lively and engaging fixture in the peace and antinuclear movement,” according to The Washington Post‘s Richard Harrington) once toured with Odetta and Pete Seeger, having also previously shared the stage with Holly Near, Ronnie GilbertJohn Hall, and Gil Scott-Heron.

Photos courtesy of Ken Giles

Often appearing at rallies and public events that promoted peace and safe energy, Bright Morning Star — Charlie KingCourt Dorsey, Cheryl Fox, George FulginitiShakarMarcia Taylor, Laura Kolb, and Giles — would travel with over two dozen instruments, including harmonica, guitar, autoharp, stand-up bass, electric bass, piano, drums, 5-string viola/violin, banjo, recorder, and various percussion.  Kolb served a special role within the group as artistic interpreter for the deaf and hearing-impaired during live performance.

[Back Row:  Taylor; Giles; Kolb — Front row:  Dorsey; Fox; King; Fulginiti-Shakar]

[

In the musical tradition of The Weavers and The Freedom Singers, the ensemble’s satirical sensibilities and “cabaret folk” approach hewed closer to Tom Lehrer, perhaps (Washington Post‘s Geoffrey Himes) or the San Franciso Mime Troupe (Boston Globe‘s Jeff McLaughlin).  Nevertheless, Pete Seeger himself gave the group his seal of approval, having once asserted, “I’m so proud — this whole wonderful group Bright Morning Star – they’re doing just exactly what Woody Guthrie and I tried to do 40 years ago.”

Founding member Charlie King would tell The Boston Globe in 1988:

“What I think Pete meant is Woody and I got on the union bandwagon and the Henry Wallace bandwagon; we went out into the communities and brought people together; we gave energizing concerts and we sang about the issues.  And we presented good music.  Bright Morning Star is doing that 40 years later with different issues, certainly a different crowd, different generation, different songs.  But there’s that continuity.”

Noting how the group leans toward celebration and humor rather than dark political commentary, King also shares this bit of wisdom gleaned from front-line experience:

“I think the political song at its worst says that things are really bad, probably hopeless, but at least you can feel self-righteous and get a cynical laugh during the last days of the empire.  There are a lot of songs written in that vein, I’m sure I’ve written a few.  But at its best, the political song builds a sense of possibility and humor.

I think political music records our history from the bottom up, from the grass roots, the stories of every day people; not just individuals, but also of popular struggles.  Within that historical context, it seems to energize and reinforce people and movements.  It  pokes fun at the powerful, reminds us that the emperor is naked.  I’ve always liked the quote – I’m not sure of the source, but I got it from Dorothy Day – that it comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”

Bright Morning Star would sit still for a 40-minute interview with Studs Terkel that was broadcast on July 11, 1986.

Group photo from Sweet and Sour CD

The group’s three long-playing releases include two for Rainbow Snake Records — Arisin’ in 1981 (which includes women trucker anthem “Truck Drivin’ Woman”) and Live in the US in 1984 — plus one for noted Chicago blues & country indie label, Flying Fish, 1988’s Sweet and SourRob Okun would pen a mission statement for the group’s debut album:

“They pollinate the grass roots.  They bang away at the walls of indifference.  They celebrate humanity.

The six members of Bright Morning Star do a better job educating people to what’s right and what’s wrong on this crazy planet than a half dozen politicians, teachers, or preachers.

They take their music to big city auditoriums and down-home coffee houses, to college towns and union halls, to demonstrations and celebrations.  They put melodies to our brightest visions and lyrics to our darkest mornings.  On stage, and on this record, they lead odysseys into the worlds of personal and social change.  And they do it all with lightness, laughter, and love.”

Image of ‘Man with tricycle’ by Karl Valentin – University of Cologne

Steve Snyder’s “They Ought to Put It On the Radio” from Sweet and Sour prods the nation’s news media to rely less on sensationalism and, instead, report on a broader (and healthier) array of human activity, so as to foster a more compassionate world in which all human life is valued:

[Psst: Click on triangle for “They Ought To Put It On the Radio” by Bright Morning Star]

‘Sweet and Sour’ earned a four-star review in The Valley Advocate

A retired music teacher with DC Public Schools and a violin teacher with the DC Youth Orchestra Program, whose 35 years of working for health and safety programs was inspired by the social activism spirit of the 1960s, Ken Giles also enjoys singing with the DC Labor Chorus.

From Pete Seeger to Ken Giles

Postscript:  Bright Morning Star would band together once more in 2008 for a 20th Reunion Tour, with a show at Rockville, Maryland’s Saint Mark Presbyterian Church hosted by David Eisner’s Institute of Musical Traditions in nearby Takoma Park.

EncorePerformance footage of Pete Seeger along with Bright Morning Star singing “Well May the World Go.”

Bernard Purdie at King Records

Zero to 180 is thrilled to learn that two titans of funk who both recorded for King – BernardPrettyPurdie and WilliamBootsyCollins – are teaming up for a set of new recordings.  In accordance with this event’s historical significance, the Mayor of Cincinnati, John Cranley, recently paid tribute to Purdie’s King drumming legacy by proclaiming January 5, 2019 to be “Bernard Purdie Day“!  Zero to 180 is honored to have provided the King Records Building Non-Profit Steering Committee with background research in preparation for this proclamation.

<Click here to view Mayor Cranley’s Bernard Purdie Day proclamation>

Bernard Purdie @ King Records – 1/5/19

Photo by Celia Purdie

Purdie’s first King sessions for Mickey and Sylvia, actually, precede his work for James Brown and yet, nevertheless, connect him once more to hip hop history, as vocalist, Sylvia Robinson (née Vanterpool) – “the Mother of Hip Hop” – would go on to found Sugar Hill Records!   Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography lists Bernard Purdie as the drummer on Mickey and Sylvia’s big hit,  “Love Is Strange” — not the original 1956 recording but a “redoof the song several years later for the tiny Willow label, as Purdie recounted for Drum Magazine in their January 16, 2013 edition, .

But wait!  As Ruppli reveals, Willow was, in fact, a label distributed by King Records. Furthermore, Discogs asserts Willow to have been a subsidiary label “created in 1961 by Mickey [i.e., Baker, long-time King session guitarist] and Sylvia.”   Purdie’s name is listed as drummer for Mickey and Sylvia on at least 4 sessions for Willow in 1961 that produced six songs [click on all song titles below for streaming audio]:

⇒ “Love Is Strange
⇒ “Walking in the Rain
⇒ “I’m Guilty
⇒ “Since I Fell for You
⇒ “He Gave Me Everything
⇒ “Darling (I Miss You So)”

Check out Mickey Baker’s searing guitar work on “Darling (I Miss You So)” – a fantastic 45 waiting to be rediscovered:

“Darling (I Miss You So)”     Mickey & Sylvia & Bernard     1961

Five years later, Purdie would lay down drums on the first of six recording sessions for James Brown between the years 1966-1968, according to Ruppli’s session notes:

Session #1> March 30, 1966 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Waymon Reed, Dud Bascomb & Lamar Wright (trumpets); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Unknown (trombone); Nat Jones (piano); Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson (guitar); Unknown (bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums) plus strings:

EP France – 1966                                               45 Italy – 1966

45 Germany – 1966                                     45 Australia – 1966

Session #2> January 25, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Joe Newman, Waymon ReedDud Bascomb (trumpets); Ernie Hayes (trumpet/piano); Richard Harris, Jimmy Cleveland & Garnett Brown (trombones); St-Clair Pinckney (baritone sax); Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

  • Kansas City
  • “You’ve Got the Power” [unissued version]
  • Think” [issued as by James Brown & Vicki Anderson]
  • Fever

45 Spain – 1967

EP Spain – 1967                                               45 France – 1967

Session #3> March, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Orchestra – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Unknown (trumpets, trombones & French horns); Ernie Hayes (trumpet/piano); Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson (guitar); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums) plus strings:

  • “I Guess I’ll Have to Cry, Cry, Cry” [unissued]
  • “Too Much”  [unissued]
  • You’ve Got the Power” [issued as by Vicki Anderson & James Brown]

ALSO = Vicki Anderson “with prob. same band” on “prob. same date” recorded “(Something Moves Me) Within My Heart” [although unissued].

ALSO = King Coleman (vocals) “with similar band” – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – on two tracks:

45 USA – 1968                                                   45 USA – 1967

Session #4> April 5, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including John GrimesDud Bascomb & Waymon Reed (trumpets); Ernie Hayes  (trumpet/piano); Richard Harris, Jimmy Cleveland & Garnett Brown (trombones); AlfredPee WeeEllis (tenor sax/piano); St.-Clair Pinckney (baritone sax); Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

*ALSO = Vicki Anderson “with prob. same band” on “prob. same date” recorded “People” [although unissued].

Promo 45 USA – 1968                                     45 Canada – 1968

                        45 USA – 1967                       “Stagger Lee”/”Fever” 45 Nigeria – 1968?

Session #5> October 4, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – including Dud BascombJohn Grimes, & Ernie Hayes (trumpets); Richard Harris (trombone); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Wallace Richardson & Carl Lynch (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass); Bernard Purdie (drums); Julian Cabrera (congas); Rafael Rivera (timbales) & Edward Williams (percussion) plus strings [Selwart Clarke; Charles Libove; Harry Katzman; Sam Ram; Winston Collymore; Harry Melnikoff; Nick Hardone; Matt Raimond; Marion Cuabo; Sidney Edwards]:

           45 France – 1968                                 45 Germany / Italy / Spain – 1968

EP Mexico – 1968                                         45 Rhodesia – 1968

Session #6> June 27, 1968 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including John Grimes & Waymon Reed (trumpets); Les Asch (tenor sax); David Parkinson (baritone sax); AlfredPee WeeEllis (organ/piano); Wallace Richardson (guitar); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

   6 of 7 tracks above included on 1968 LP     …..     as well as stereo 8-track Tape

ADDITIONAL James Brown tracks!

According to musician credits posted on Discogs, Bernard Purdie also played drums on James Brown B-side “I Know It’s True” [1972], as well as “Woman (Pts. 1 & 2)” [1973] — both songs arranged by Sammy Lowe (though, “Woman (Part 2)” appears not to have been issued in the US market, curiously).

45 Belgium – 1972                                            45 Germany – 1972

45 France – 1972                                            45 Netherlands – 1974

 45 Netherlands – 1973                                        45 France – 1973

45 Germany – 1973                                           45 Belgium – 1974

Update on King Records Preservation Efforts:

“King Dream Team” at 1540 Brewster Ave.

[L to R] Philip Paul; Bernard Purdie; Celia Purdie; Otis Williams; Bootsy Collins; Anzora Adkins

Photo by Elliott V. Ruther

According to Herzog Music, “The City of Cincinnati now owns the King Records buildings on Brewster Avenue in Evanston.  The King buildings are being stabilized with $700,000 of city and Evanston funds, thanks to a united City Council.”

“With Mayor John Cranley and the City of Cincinnati, a restricted fund for the buildings has been established through the King Records Building Non-Profit Steering Committee to raise private funds and realize the revitalization vision.  The Steering Committee comprises leadership of Evanston Community Council, Bootsy Collins Foundation, King Studios and Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CMHF).

“CMHF will acknowledge the tax deductible donations and share with each Steering Committee organization as it works to formalize the non-profit arrangement with the City.  CMHF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization — donors may deduct contributions as provided in IRC 170(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code.”

You can be part of the King Records revitalization success story — please consider a donation to the King Building Fund.

The Men in Black:  Bernard & Bootsy

Photo courtesy of the Bootsy Collins Foundation

Stay plugged in:   Bernard Purdie and Bootsy Collins

Special thanks to Elliott V. Ruther of the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation

Derek Trucks wearing a Bernard Purdie shirt on Austin City Limits

41-Second Christmas Song

Johnny Nash‘s 1969 Christmas album Prince of Peace would turn up recently in Suburban DC’s Value Village thrift shop.  Initially captivated by the groovy 3-D cover, I was even more enthralled, once I returned home with the LP and cued up the 41-second opening track — a fresh pop arrangement of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” that stands apart, musically speaking, from the other more devotional songs on the album:

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”     Johnny Nash     1969

[Pssst:  Click triangle above to play “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as arranged and produced by Johnny Nash and Arthur Jenkins]

This JAD (J for Johnny Nash; A for Arthur Jenkins; D for Danny Sims) release would be produced, not surprisingly, in Jamaica, although is not a ‘reggae’ album as such.

Pretend the red dots vibrate in 3-D pop art fashion

This 41-second offering joins Zero to 180’s official list of short songs.

Third appearance of Johnny Nash, by the way, on this music history website.

“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.

“Festival Rock”: History Lesson

Jamaican DJ Dillinger toasts each of the winners to date of the Independence Festival Song Competition in “Festival Rock,” his entry for the 8th annual event in 1973:

“Festival Rock”      Dillinger     1973

1966:  The Maytals with “Bam Bam
1967:  The Jamaicans with “Ba Ba Boom
1968:  Desmond Dekker & The Aces with “Music Like Dirt
1969:  The Maytals with “Sweet and Dandy
1970:  Hopeton Lewis with “Boom Shaka Laka
1971:  Eric Donaldson with “Cherry Oh Baby
1972:  Toots & the Maytals with “Pomps and Pride

Musical misspelling:  “Dellinger”

LeeScratchPerry produced the original recording – Max Romeo‘s “Ginal Ship” – that would serve as the backing track (sans vocals) for “Festival Rock.”

And yet, oddly, most of the references to “Festival Rock” that I see online and in print declare Max Romeo to be the producer — how can this be?

In Jamaica, “Festival Rock” would be issued on a white/blank label release as the B-side of “Cocky Bully” — both considered “DJ” cuts of the “Ginal Ship” single originally released on Lee Perry’s Upsetter label in 1971.

Which song emerged victorious in the 1973 Independence Festival Song Competition, you ask?   Envelope, please:

Did you know?  There are other Zero to 180 stories tagged as Musical Roll Calls

⇐              ⇑              ⇒

Bonus Bass Bonanza!
Did Paul McCartney Hand the Hofner Torch … to Robbie Shakespeare?

According to Vivien Goldman‘s riveting historical examination of the recording of the Exodus album in London, where Bob Marley and his crew were, literally, on the run following the 1976 assassination attempt at Marley’s compound on 56 Hope Road in Kingston:

Fams [i.e., AstonFamily ManBarrett] finally got his own instrument when one of his main clients, a jovial producer called BunnyStrikerLee, brought a short-necked, violin-shaped Hofner bass back from the U.K.  He’d purchased it from one Lee Gopthal, boss of the reggae label Trojan, who’d bought it from the Beatles‘ manager, Brian Epstein. So the previous owner of the bass on which Fams played those catchy Upsetters instrumental hits that both mods and skinheads partied to in England, such as “The Return of Django,” was once Paul McCartney[!]

The Upsetters at Randy’s in Kingston circa 1969/70
Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett (bass); Carlton ‘Carly’ Barrett (drums); Alva ‘Reggie’ Lewis (guitar) Glen Adams (organ)

Even more astonishingly, Goldman drops this revelation later in the book when she recounts the historic (and electrically charged) One Love Peace Concert of 1978:

Lunging across the stage, Tosh’s bass player, Robbie Shakespeare, brandished his instrument like a lance—the very same little Hofner that Paul McCartney used to play.  Shakespeare’s mentor, Family Man, had passed it on to his protege.

But wait – Paul McCartney himself displayed his famous Hofner “Beatle bass” in the June 15, 1989 edition of Rolling Stone.  Perhaps Paul owned more than one Hofner?

Rusty York’s Cincinnati Indie

Billboard, in their January 8, 1972 edition, would report this quirky news item in the Cincinnati division of their “From the Music Capitals Around the World” column:

Rusty York, who heads up the Jewel Recording Studio[s] here, learned last week that the new ‘Smash-Up Derby’ commercial [for Cincinnati-based Kenner Products], which he created and did all the instrumental work, has been entered into the Hollywood Film Festival as an entry to select the best film commercial of the year.  The commercial is currently being spotted on all three major networks.”

Kenner SSP Smash-Up Derby TV Commercial   =  Music by Rusty York

Rusty York’s Jewel Recording Studio – in Mt. Healthy, just north of Cincinnati – would begin releasing 45s in 1961 and would once host The Grateful Dead, believe it or not, according to Cliff Radel’s obituary for York in the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s February 4, 2014 edition.

You can survey Rusty York’s musical legacy in three ways:

Discogs also allows you to browse LP & 45 releases that were recorded at Jewel Recording Studio, including Lonnie Mack‘s Whatever’s Right 1969 LP for Elektra (engineered by Gene Lawson) and Paul Dixon‘s Paul Baby 1973 album (on which Dixon is accompanied by former King recording artist Bonnie Lou).

Two memorable song titles that can only be found on the Jewel label:

Baby You Can Scratch My Egg” – vintage 1967 San Francisco-style psych blues – and “Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky” – “post 60’s garage/proto punk” from 1974 that features maniacal drumming and laughing choruses that are strategically interrupted by a softly-spoken catch phrase intended to win over the Pre-K crowd.

Jewel Records featured 45 #1

“Baby You Can Scratch My Egg”     The Fabulous Fish     1967

Jewel Records featured 45 #2

“Don’t Munkey with the Funky Skunky”     Dry Ice     1974

From Billboard‘s ‘Music Capitals of the World – Cincinnati’ column = Oct. 14, 1972 edition:

Mike Reid, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals [previously celebrated here], and Dee Felice [musical associate of James Brown] and his group set for early recording dates at Rusty York‘s Jewel studios.  Felice recently cut two sides at Jewel.  Sonny Simmons, Cleveland gospel promoter, in town recently to produce an album for the gospel-singing Monarchs at Jewel studios.  Others in recently at Jewel to do gospel albums were Judy Cody of Akron; The Crossmen of Lansing, Mich.; and the Cooke Duet of Wise, Va.

Mad Lydia Wood, accompanied by Cincinnati Joe, did the warbling on six commercial spots on Wiedemann Beer for the Campbell-Mithun Agency of Minneapolis at Jewel last week.  Mad Lydia and Joe have held forth at various locations here for the last several years.”

Based on Rusty York’s cameo appearance in a recent piece, no doubt you will not be surprised to learn that Albert Washington was a Jewel recording artist, as was/were Jimmie SkinnerThe Russell BrothersJ.D. Jarvis, Linda Webb, and Dale Miller [let’s not forget 1969’s Sharon Lee and the Moonrockers, not to mention that same year’s The Funnie Papers, and most especially of all, Jade, whose 1970 album, recorded at Jewel, would include the jaw-dropping sonic wonder of “My Mary“).

Rusty York at Jewel = courtesy of Randy McNutt’s Home of the Hits

Click on image above for ultra-high resolution

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Did You Know?
Rusty York/King Records Trivia From Randy McNutt’s website:

Rusty York, a former King rockabilly and country singer, bought some of King’s echo equipment and microphones for his own Jewel Recording Studios in suburban Mt. Healthy, Ohio.  He even bought Nathan’s desk chair.  “The Neumann tube mics cost $300 new in the early ’60s,” he said.  “I just sold one for $2,800.  Like King, quality doesn’t go out of style.”

Bonus Jewel 45 for steel guitar fans!  1977‘s “Rose City Chimes” by Chubby Howard

According to Linda J. York (who has the booklet Dick Clark hawked at the show), Rusty York opened the first Rock and Roll show at the Hollywood Bowl for Dick Clark!

Excerpt from Zero to 180’s Facebook Page

“Zero to 180’s latest piece pays tribute to a former King recording artist – Rusty York – whose kind and gentle nature and lack of ego may have accidentally conspired to obscure his legacy as an accomplished musician (who “could play any tune in any style“) as well as recording studio founder/engineer, whose Jewel recordings run the gamut of musical sounds and genres, not unlike King (and Fraternity and Counterpart).”

Friendly reminder:  for optimal presentation do not view Zero to 180 on a smart phone!

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

For King Records History Fanatics Only:

49-Page Compilation of “Maxi-Tweets” from King Records Month 2018 (pdf file)

Boot: King Hard Rock ’72

Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King Labels recording session discography indicates that Boot, a “hard rock” outfit, had released their debut album on People, a James Brown-owned subsidiary of Starday-King Records.  But alas, this turns out not to be true, as Boot’s first album was, in fact, issued on Starday-King subsidiary Agape.

34 Euros paid for this LP in 2015

Boot’s album would comprise eight songs, including “Hey Little Girl” and “Liza Brown” (A and B sides, respectively of a 45), plus “Andromeda“; and “Destruction Road.”   Among the tracks left in the can is one curiously titled “Funky Country Music.”

“Hey Little Girl”      Boot     1972

Album Credits – per Discogs:

Dan Eliassen: Bass & Vocals
Jim O’Brock: Percussion
Mike Mycz: Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
Bruce Knox: Lead/Slide Guitar & Vocals
Mike Stone & Peter K. Thomason:  Producers
Michael S. Stone:  [Re-mix] Engineer
David L. Rosenberg:  Photography & Design
Recorded at Starday-King Studios
Distributed by Starday-King Records

Worth noting that this album was reissued on CD in 1986 by German label Lizard Records — although, Discogs reports this work to have been “licensed from Kingston Records.”

Hey, check this out:  Bad Cat Records currently has a listing of the “Hey Little Girl” 45 with a price tag of $85 that also includes some much needed music history:

Hailing from Port Richey, Florida, bassist Dan Eliassen and drummer Jim O’Brock put their first band together in 1972.  Originally known as The Kingsmen, they opted for a name change when the Washington-based Kingsmen scored a hit with ‘Louie Louie’.  Morphing into The Allusions, Eliassen, O’Brock and a changing cast of players continued to perform at local school dances and teen centers.

By 1966 the lineup featured Eliassen, O’Borck, and lead guitarist Bruce Knox and rhythm guitarist Mike Mycz.  They’d also opted for another name change (The Split Ends) as well as moving away from performing largely cover material to penning their own stuff. Signed by the local CPF Records, they also made their recording debut with a 1966 single:  ‘Rich with Nothin’ b/w ‘Endless Sun’ (CPF catalog CPF 4).

The 45 proved a regional hit, opening the door to wider exposure including an opening slot on Dick Clark’s Happening ’67 tour.  That in turn saw them offered an opportunity to compete on Clark’s ‘Happening ’68 television band contest.

In 1969 the quartet decided on another image and name change – this time adopting the moniker Blues Of Our Time – quickly abbreviated to Boot.  With a repertoire of largely original material, the band hit the road playing clubs and concerts nearly non-stop for the next four years.

Released by the Texas-based Agape label, the band debuted with 1972’s cleverly-titled “Boot”.  Co-produced by Mike Stone and Peter Thomason, the album was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee at James Brown’s Starday/King Studio.  With all four members contributing material the album offered up a mixture of blues-rock and blues-rock, with an occasional stab at a more commercial tune.  The band was blessed with three decent singers.  Nothing more than a guess on my part, but judging by the songwriting credits (assuming whoever wrote the track probably handled lead vocals), Mycz seemed to have the tougher-rock voice in the group while Eliassen was gifted with more commercial chops.  Knox fell somewhere in the middle with a modest country-rock feel to his voice.  Knox also showed himself to being an immensely talented lead guitarist — check out his lead work on ‘Hey Little Girl’.

Wild Goose: King Hard Rock ’71?

Zero to 180’s sprawling overview of King Records‘ rare and unissued recordings made reference to Wild Goose‘s “surprisingly adventurous ‘Flyin’ Machine‘ which features trippy sounds at the opening and closing, as well as harmony guitar lines during the middle instrumental break” — thank you to the YouTube contributor who uploaded a recording of this rare 45 released on Starday-King imprint Agape:

“Flyin’ Machine”     Wild Goose     1971

This 1971 promotional 45 “Flyin’ Machine” b/w “Every Day – Every Night” appears to be the entire recorded output of Wild Goose, about which so little is known.

Starday-King launched Agape in 1971, as reported by Billboard, but alas, it was not long for this world — nine 45 and two LP releases between the years 1971-72 that are currently accounted for (i.e., Discogs and 45Cat).  Any other Agape releases?.

On 12 August 2018 – the day this history piece was originally drafted – a copy of the “Flyin’ Machine” 45 was selling on Ebay, incredibly enough, for only $10.

Notable-But-Obscure 45 Release on Agape

Six years before he helped form the Redneck Jazz Explosion with Danny Gatton and Buddy Emmons, fiddle player Buddy Spicher would record a one-off single for Agape, as The Family Jewels in 1972, with Hal Rugg — “Sweet Sauce” (by Boudleaux Bryant) b/w “Chicken Gumbo,” an original tune by Hal Rugg and Jim (“Six Days on the Road”) Colvard.

“Sweet Sauce”     Buddy Spicher & Hal Rugg (a.k.a., Family Jewels)     1972

Note:  This is the second of 3 history pieces dedicated to Starday-King imprint, Agape.