Gary Burton’s Tennessee Firebird

Jimmy Colvard was a teen in 1963 when he played those distinctive snapping and popping guitar sounds that helped make “Six Days on the Road” a runaway hit for Dave Dudley.  I have since learned that Colvard played guitar on a number of albums in the 1960s and 70s by such artists as Wynn Stewart, Waylon JenningsJohn Hartford, Ferlin Husky, Vassar Clements, Doug Kershaw, Kris Kristofferson, Ivory Joe Hunter, Dick Feller, Doc & Merle Watson, Guy Clark, Dolly Parton and French rocker, Eddy Mitchell.  Colvard was also part of the later lineup of Barefoot Jerry. (1975’s You Can’t Get Off With Your Shoes On).

One of Colvard’s more interesting associations was the 1966 country jazz experiment, Tennessee Firebird, by Gary Burton & Friends (near and far) on RCA.

Check out the musicians who played on this session:

Banjo:  Sonny Osborne
Bass:  Henry Strzelecki & Steve Swallow
Drums:  Kenneth Buttrey & Roy Haynes
Fiddle:  Buddy Spicher
Guitar:  Chet Atkins, Jimmy Colvard & Ray Edenton
Harmonica:  Charlie McCoy
Mandolin:  Bobby Osborne
Organ:  Gary Burton
Piano:  Gary Burton
Saxophone:  Steve Marcus
Steel Guitar:  Buddy Emmons
Vibraphone:  Gary Burton 
Producer:  Brad McCuen & Chet Atkins

This heavyweight assemblage of talent recorded a country jazz take on Bob Wills standard “Faded Love” that, of course, included some space for the vibraphone:

“Faded Love”      Gary Burton & Friends     1966

“Jazz encounters the world of Country Music. An exciting Jazz Quartet together with great Country instrumentalists” — LP cover.

Recorded September 19-21, 1966 in RCA Victor´s “Nashville Sound” Studio.  RCA issued a DJ promo 45 of the title track in 1967 to get the word out (would be curious to know of any recordings by earlier artists that also feature the unlikely pairing of banjo and vibraphone).

Billboard selected Tennessee Firebird as a “Jazz Spotlight” in the album reviews for their March 18, 1967 edition:

An interesting, enjoyable experiment — country music artists supporting an accomplished jazz musician — and it works.  The effect is countrified, but solid jazz.  Tunes country fans would recognize include “Born to Lose,” “I Can’t Help It,” and “Gone.”  This album will sell well in the jazz field and many country music fans will purchase it, too.”

Cash Box‘s review from their April 8, 1967 edition:

An interesting and effective blend of jazz and country sounds, this striking album by Gary Burton and Friends could win the approval of an extremely diverse audience.  Alternately playing vibes, piano, and organ, Burton leads his group through twelve rousing instrumentals including “Gone,” “Just Like a Woman,” “I Can’t Help It,” and “Alone and Forsaken.”  Deserves close attention.

Interesting to note that a few months later, Burton “was beating out melodies from his RCA Victor Tennessee Firebird LP with [Larry] Coryell’s searing guitar driving each phrase home” at the 1967 Newport Jazz Festival, as reported in the July 15, 1967 issue of Cash Box.

Looking back at Nashville’s history as a world-class recording center for a diverse range of musical sounds and styles — not just “folk” and country — Billboard‘s Nashville Bureau Chief, Gerry Wood, would write about jazz’s under-acknowledged contribution in the April 26, 1980 edition for a feature piece entitled “Music City No Limits – A Billboard Spotlight” (p. 41):

Nashville’s radio clout with two 50,000-watters has had an immense effect on the music industry.  Thousands of present day music business performers and executives cut their teeth on the late night offerings of WLAC or its down-the-dial counterpart, WSM, home of the “Grand Old Opry.”  WSM can be heard in all 48 continental states — as a mail-in contest proved a few years ago.

And then, along came jazz.

In the late ’50s, the music scene drew a very young Gary Burton to Nashville from Indiana, and he impressed no less an expert than Chet Atkins, who won the Playboy Jazz Poll guitarist award for nearly a decade.

Monday night jam sessions were held for years in Printer’s Alley at the Carousel Club — an off night when the country musicians would sit in and play jazz.  The leading picker was always Hank Garland, but the rest of the jazz lovers were on hand — and they included Gary Burton.

The first jazz LP to be cut in modern Nashville probably was the Tennessee Firebird album that Brad McCuen produced with Burton for RCA.  “We used Burton’s quartet and a large number of local pickers,” recalls McCuen.  “The men had a good time and this experience led to the formation of the band Area Code 615 which cut several commercially successful albums in the late ’60s and early ’70s.”

Nashville is the home of of the statewide Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society, an organizations that for the past seven years has held a Jazz Festival that has brought Nashville such attractions as Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Stan Getz and their groups.

McCuen and Bruce Davidson have a National Public Radio network show on jazz that originates from the studios of WPLN-FM, Nashville, and is syndicated.

Burton and Garland had already worked together in the studio six years earlier on Garland’s second solo album, Jazz Winds From a New Direction, recorded August 23, 1960.  Rich Kienzle explains how the musicians initially connected in his first-rate liner notes for Sundazed’s 2001 CD reissue:

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“[Hank’s first] album appeared in January, 1960 on Columbia’s Harmony budget label, not a first-priority release but one that got his foot in the door.  As the Carousel jams continued [i.e., after-hours improvisations with fellow Nashville A-teamers at Jimmy Hyde’s Carousel Club in Printer’s Alley], the club became a magnet for every jazzman passing through town.  One night, Dave Brubeck showed up.  Another night, members of Stan Kenton’s Orchestra stood awestruck as Hank tore through “Back Home in Indiana.”  RCA executive Steve Sholes, Chet Atkins’s boss and close friend, brought Newport Jazz Festival producer George Wein to the Carousel.  Wein booked the group, Hank, Atkins, [Floyd] Cramer, Boots [Randolph], [Bob] Moore, [Buddy] Harman and a few others for Newport in July.  RCA would record the live performance [1961’s After the Riot at Newport LP].

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Billboard’s Oct. 31, 1960 review: “The country acts acquit themselves with distinction on seven tracks, with honors going to vibest Gary Burton, guitarist Hank Garland and pianist Floyd Cramer.”  

“Hank needed a vibes player for his band that summer.  Boots brought him talented 17-year-old Princeton, Indiana native Gary Burton.  Preparing to begin classes that fall at the famed Berklee College of Music (where in 2001 he serves as Executive Vice-President).  Burton played locally with Hank and became a Carousel regular who accompanied the group to Newport.  After rioting ended the festival prematurely, they recorded an impromptu session at the rented mansion they stayed at.  Two songs, “Relaxin'” and “Riot-Chous,” an extemporized bop piece that Boots and Hank created, figured prominently in Hank’s next Columbia session, scheduled for August 24.

[Incident at Newport — Billboard’s “Nashville” beat  (7-11-60)

Newport Jazz Festival was musically successful but hectic for local musicians who had little to do with which way they were going when they met a milling mob of thousands head-on.  Group, including Floyd Cramer, Brenton Banks, Buddy Harman, Bob Moore, Boots Randolph, Gary Burton and Hank Garland, was going one way when they met the mobbing crowd going the other.  The Nashvillians joined the crowd and helplessly went along with them.  They finally managed to identify themselves, however, and recorded with RCA Victor’s Chet Atlkins before leaving for home.]

“That day, Hank Garland realized his dream when he recorded the album that became Jazz Winds From a New Direction.  Burton was along for the auspicious occasion.  So were two established New York jazzmen:  bassist Joe Benjamin and Hank’s old [Paul Howard & His Arkansas] Cotton Pickers buddy Joe Morello, now well-known as drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  Though listed as producer, Don Law held the title in name only.  Grady Martin, Hank’s friend and friend session partner, actually ran things in the studio.”

Bear Family’s 1989 CD reissue, by the way, includes “Panhandle Rag” as a bonus track.  More recently, Tennessee Firebird was issued in 2014 on CD in Japan.

Five Years Ago:  Gary Burton & Hank Garland featured prominently in Zero to 180’s piece from March 2016, “Lost Album of ’60

History Bonus!

Presenting Gary Burton” by Ted Williams — Record World — Apr. 24, 1965

Earliest Melodica Recording ’64

A Postcard From Canton [Massachusetts] celebrates the accomplishments of one of the town’s most “esteemed citizens” — and industrious tinkerers:

[James Amireaux] Bazin came to examine a simple free-reed instrument when he was 23 years old.  A group of men brought him a broken pitch pipe and asked him to repair it.  Bazin made the repair but also created a new invention, which became a sliding brass pitch pipe that could be adjusted along a series of pitches from c” to d’”.  From this small invention he began making several variations on the theme and eventually moved to reed trumpets, which he invented in 1824.  For many years his trumpet accompanied the choir at the Unitarian Church in Canton Corner and reputedly it could be heard “a mile away.”  In 1831 Bazin invented a harmonica.  In fact, Bazin had only read about the harmonica invented in Germany, so it is likely that indeed this was the first reed harmonica in America.

Melodica Shack‘s “History of the Melodica” page notes that the lap organ developed by James H. Bazin, as well as the melodeon designed by Abraham Prescott of Prescott Organ Company, were “stepping stones” to the modern-day melodica, an instrument said to have been invented by Hohner, according to the company’s own website, in the “1950s.”  Why such vagueness about the date, I wonder.

Hohner Soprano melodica

MelodicaWorld‘s Alan Brinton informs us that the Hohner Soprano, a button-style melodica, “appears to have been first announced in early December, 1958,” while earlier that same year, André Borel, introduced the Clavietta, a keyboard-style melodica.  Is it possible that Borel is the unacknowledged pioneer of the keys-based melodica?  MelodicaWorld‘s Daren Banarsë took the time to search the British LIbrary for UK publications that contain “Clavietta adverts” and found this one published in the 11 February 1960 edition of Stage and Television:

Zero to 180’s dubious quest to identify the earliest recording of a melodica has thus far led to two popular recordings [“Tint of Blue” by The Bee Gees and “Ice Cream and Suckers” by South Africa’s Soweto Stokvel Septette], as well as a serious composition by Steve Reich [“Melodica“] — all from the year 1966.

Fortunately, “Quirky 45s That Bubbled Under” from this past March broke the logjam with the discovery of Stu Phillips and the Hollyridge Strings (celebrated in 2013) as unwitting innovators who, in 1964, might possibly have been the first to commit melodica to tape in an attempt to emulate John Lennon’s harmonica lines on The Fabs’ very first single for EMI’s subsidiary label, Parlophone:

“Love Me Do”     The Hollyridge Strings     1964

A promotional/demonstration copy of the original “Love Me Do” Beatles release on Parlophone (with Paul’s last name misspelled as “McArtney) was sold in 2017 via Discogs for $14,757 — making it “the most expensive 7-inch single ever sold,” as reported on the Gibson Guitars website in 2017.

Note the scandalous “McCartney-Lennon” songwriting credits:

But wait!   This television clip of Ray Conniff from three years earlier playing an Italian-manufactured Clavietta now means 1961 is the year to beat (although it should be noted that the studio version of “Midnight Lace” uses a harmonica for the melody line):

“Midnight Lace”     Ray Conniff Orchestra     1961

According to the person who posted this video clip
The Ray Conniff Orchestra and Chorus TV show “Concert In Stereo” in 1961.

Honorable Mention

1965’s “Bossa Melodica” by Dutch bandleader Gaby Dirne & His Orchestra

The Clavietta, it has been said, is a “keyboard version of the accordina.”

Pat Missin states that US patent no. 2461806 (above rendering) “was granted in 1949 to André Borel of Paris, France” for his “chromatic harmonicon” that was manufactured under the name, accordina.  Borel would later be granted a patent for a “mouth[-]blown free reed instrument with a piano-style keyboard and both blow and draw reeds,” notes Missin.

The legacy of James Amireaux Bazin, meanwhile, includes “lap organs, table organs, a seraphine, and several larger instruments,” according to A Postcard From Canton. “What is amazing is that his earliest instruments were patented, sold reasonably well (although at a loss), and today are in private collections as well as the Museum of Fine Art, the National Museum of American History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Darcy Kuronen, a noted expert on early musical instruments, writes of Bazin:  ‘Each of his surviving examples of his instruments shows a restless desire to improve their operation and versatility, with no one model bearing much resemblance to another.’”

For those who wish to delve further into the history —

James A. Bazin and the Development of Free-Reed Instruments in America,” by Darcy Kuronen, published in Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, Vol 31, 2005, pp 133-182.

“Mrs. Fletcher”: New TV Theme?

Zero to 180 turns seven today, which means another opportunity to muddy the waters with the musical equivalent of home movies — it’s okay if you want to sit this one out.

Last December 12th’s dubious dub-inspired “Mrs. Fletcher” (you might recall) was a late-year release that got buried in the winter holiday onslaught.  And yet, what a curious coincidence to discover that HBO premiered a television series this past October that takes its name from Dubble Trubble‘s very own instrumental offering!

While it’s true that Tom Perrotta published his novel in 2017, this recording (given a fresh reworking mere months after its initial 2018 release) predates the HBO series and therefore deserves consideration for the show’s closing theme, which our legal team believes to be a good compromise.

Mrs. Fletcher” — HBO Funk Remix [by] Dubble Trubble

45 picture sleeve – Thailand

Mr. Perrotta is represented by Maria Massie of MMQLIT literary agency, who can be reached by email here, in case you think the show would be better served with this new closing theme.  Please emphasize that we heartily endorse Mrs. Fletcher‘s sponsors.

Zero to 180 Milestones:  Years 0-6
  • 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 Number One).
  • 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/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.
  • 6th anniversary piece that introduced contemporary music product (dub-inspired pop fusion) — in direct violation of Zero to 180’s must-be-20-years-or-older policy.

Goldie & the Gingerbreads B-Side

One trivia bit from The Rolling Stone Rock Almanac that didn’t make it into Zero to 180’s big Summer Beach Read:

April 30, 1965:  The Kinks begin their first headlining UK tour, with The Yardbirds and Goldie and the Gingerbreads providing support.

I have always been curious about the ‘all-girl’ beat group with such a playful name, so a quick browse of their discography in 45Cat immediately drew me to this 1965 French EP with the arty and urbane cover photo:

There was something appealing about the song title “The Skip,” so I queued it up on YouTube and, what do you know — it’s a jaunty organ dance instrumental produced by Shel Talmy, of early Who and Kinks fame:

“The Skip”     Goldie and the Gingerbreads     1965

As the crawl text in the YouTube streaming audio clip above notes, “The Skip” began life as the B-side of a Decca single that was released April, 1965 in the UK, as well as the closing track on a French EP (noted above) issued by Decca France three months later.  Sadly, “The Skip” never graced any of their US singles, nor did it appear on an LP, as Goldie and the Gingerbreads’ recorded legacy consists solely of 45s — Billboard’s Chris Hutchins explains why in this report from London, one of the “Music Capitals of the World,” in the October 2, 1965 edition:

The successful all-girl American group Goldie and the Gingerbreads, based in Britain, is breaking up because the girls claim working together is not profitable.  They had a hit here [Top 30] earlier this year with “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” on Decca.  Now Goldie is going solo, two of the others are hoping to form a new group and the fourth is returning to the U.S.

Chris Hutchins would subsequently report in Billboard‘s February 5, 1966 issue that “Immediate [Records] has signed Goldie, who previously led the U.S. all-girl group Goldie and the Gingerbreads who were signed to [UK-based] Decca.”

Fascinating to discover in the course of poking around that Goldie recorded the original version of Goffin & King’s “Goin’ Back” in 1966 prior to The Byrds’ better-known version released the following year as a Columbia 45 (and included on The Notorious Byrd Brothers).  Goldie’s version, heartbreakingly, was withdrawn from the marketplace at the insistence of the songwriters due to unauthorized lyric changes, thus paving the way for Dusty Springfield’s subsequent hit version, as detailed by Paul Howes in The Complete Dusty Springfield.

Use of “King’s English” [Going vs. Goin’] in UK song title

Au contraire, counters Goldie herself (in a comment you will find attached to the end of this piece):

“The Song ‘Going Back’ was not withdrawn, Goldie made a decision to withdraw it -Goldie did not like being questioned about lyric change, and asked Andrew L Oldham to withdraw it.
Reason being;
Dusty made a big to-do as to why the song was given to Goldie after she ( Dusty ) held on to the demo by Carole King for possible future recording of the song.  To make things worse, Dusty claimed I even changed a lyric …to which the response from Carol King was….I like what Goldie did.”

Genyusha Goldie Zelkowitz, who later become known as Genya Ravan, would sing in Ten Wheel Drive and make four solo albums between the years 1972-1979.  NPR Weekend Edition‘s feature piece from 2016 informs us that this pioneering musician (leader of the “first all-female rock band to be signed to a major label”) returned to the music world in recent years as a host of two radio shows — “Chicks and Broads,” featuring women artists and “Goldie’s Garage” showcasing new talent — on the Sirius/XM channel “Little Steven’s Garage Underground Garage.”

2016 would also see the reissue of “Going Back” as the B-side of a UK 7-inch, with the previously-unreleased “Could It Be” as the featured track [recorded in January, 1966 — link to 45 Cat record of EMIdisc acetate].

Worth noting that Goldie and the Gingerbread’s 1964 US debut 45 — “Skinny Vinnie” b/w “Chew Chew Fee Fi Fum” — also enjoyed release in Australia, though nowhere else, oddly.

Goldie:  Bandleader at 18

Prior to the formation of Goldie and the Gingerbreads, Goldie would join – and then subsequently assume leadership of – Coral recording artist, The Escorts, as evidenced by the evolution of the group’s name over the course of just three singlesThe Escorts vs. The Escorts FeaturingGoldievs. Goldie And The Escorts.

September, 1962                      March, 1963                        August, 1963

2005 Haaretz feature piece on Genya Ravan, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who emigrated to the US in 1947, offers an astonishingly unfiltered biographical overview in which we learn —

  • Her first boyfriend was a Puerto Rican named Colorado who would be memorialized years later in a song she recorded with Lou Reed.
  • An impromptu “audition” for The Escorts earned Ravan an invitation to become lead singer by the group’s leader, none other than Richard Perry, future A-list record producer (Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Harry Nilsson, Barbra Streisand).
  • Before signing to British label, Decca, Goldie and the Gingerbreads first inked a contract offered by Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun, who was suitably impressed with the group’s performance at NYC’s Peppermint Lounge.
  • Goldie and the Gingerbreads were barred from releasing “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” in the US by the single’s producer, Alan Price, who is said to have taken the recording without permission.
  • At a live performance in 1972 while on tour with Sly & the Family Stone, one audience member in attendance with family, Muhammad Ali, impelled the show’s producer — in response to Ravan’s liberal use of the F-bomb — to dispatch the police, who ended up arresting her.

*Reminder:  This site viewed optimally on a full-screen computer, not a smart phone

George Barnes’ Halloween Guitar

George Barnes recorded a boss guitar instrumental – “Spooky” – that should be part of everyone’s Halloween soundtrack:

“Spooky”     George Barnes     1962

Billboard conferred three stars (“moderate sales potential) upon this B-side, as well as its A-side “Trainsville,” in their June 23, 1962 edition.  Exactly fifty years later, in 2012, someone would pay $126 for a copy of this record.

 Mercury promo/DJ 45

Link to Volume 1

I agree with 45Cat and (unwitting) Zero to 180 contributor, mickey rat, who declares George Barnes to be “an important but neglected figure in the development of American popular music” (not to mention, “one of the very first people to play electric guitar”).  Another 45Cat contributor, porcupine, notes the similarity between these two tracks and 1959’s Guitar: Twangy With a Beat album, recorded by Barnes using the nom de guerre, Dean Hightower (an alter ego solely on the ABC-Paramount label).

Dean Hightower:  The Back Story  [courtesy of Discogs]

Hi…I’m George Barnes’ daughter, and can tell you the history of this album.  It was a one-off for ABC-Paramount, who wanted to compete with Duane Eddy and — knowing my father could play anything, which he did as a NYC studio musician — asked him if he’d record something in that genre.  He didn’t want to associate his name with it, so took the pseudonym Dean Hightower as a joke.  The name’s a fake, but the stereo mix is real.  Some people love this album — but this is certainly not representative of his entire body of work!  I recently launched The George Barnes Legacy Collection, in case anyone here is interested in learning more about this jazz great and electric guitar pioneer:   https://georgebarneslegacy.com 

Cheers, Alexandra Barnes Leh

People have forked over considerable cash for George Barnes’ 1959 Country Jazz album, — as much as $250 and more.  But wait!  For just 1/10 of that amount, you can purchase the entire Country Jazz album remastered on compact disc, plus “rare selected tracks from the airchecks of Barnes’ early national radio performances on NBC’s Plantation Party.”   For those who prefer vinyl, Modern Harmonic has re-released Country Jazz in gatefold format that includes extended liner notes and images from the CD.

Rodney Gene Jr. plays “Hot Guitar Rag” from 1959’s Country Jazz album

What a kick in the pants to discover that YouTube does not yet have streaming audio available for Barnes’ debut 45 on Decca — “Hot Guitar Polka” (although you can hear its flip side “Clarinet Polka“, which was used as the theme song for Max Ferguson’s “Rawhide” Canadian radio program).   Fortunately, you can hear a great version of “Flintstones Theme” from the album Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, recorded live at Concord, California’s Willow Theater in 1977.

This Just In:  Zero to 180 has been informed by Alexandra Barnes Leh, producer of The George Barnes Legacy Collection, that a video for “Hot Guitar Polka” will be part of the promotional push for next year’s re-release of 1958’s Guitars By George! album.

1951 single release = Norway

Besides Country Jazz, the “George Barnes Quartet” recorded 1977’s Blues Going Up for the Concord Jazz label, as well as a series of lauded albums with cornetist, Ruby Braff.  Barnes’ obituary in the New York Times notes that this quartet made a “notable debut” at the 1973 Newport Jazz Festival, “winning most of the critical acclaim for the evening.”

Barnes and his Quartet first appeared on record as the backing band for Patti Page on “There’s A Man In My Life b/w “The First Time I Kissed You” – a 78 release from 1947 on the Mercury label.  The following year, the George Barnes Quartet would back Snooky Lanson on “Long After Tonight” b/w “Hearts Win, You Lose.”

Son of a gun — the label says “George Barnes Trio“!

In addition to his Quartet, Barnes has also fronted a 2nd Quartet (!), as well as Quintet, Sextet, OctetChorus and OrchestraGuitar Choir, and Gran Orquesta de Percusion, not to mention an orchestra jointly owned with bassist, Jack Lesberg.  Barnes also enjoyed renown as a Guitar Duo, first with Carl Kress, then with Bucky Pizzarelli (and his 7-string guitar) after Kress’s passing in 1965.  Did I mention that Barnes once led a Trio, who were mis-identified as a Quartet, even though it plainly says “Trioon the label?

“Organizing an octet of musicians from the Chicago Symphony, George created non-traditional jazz with the unusual instrumentation of electric guitar with clarinet, bass saxophone, English horn, oboe, flute, piccolo, piano, vibes, bass and drums.  The George Barnes Octet became a highly-acclaimed weekly feature on the ABC Radio Network.”   [excerpt from Art of Sound Gallery]

Audio LINK = “Baseball Baseball” (1954) – Barnes & his Quintet

George Barnes Album Covers on Parade

Grand Award — 1957

Decca — 1958

Mercury — 1960

Mercury — 1961/2

Mercury — recorded 1945

Mercury — 1962

Carney Records — 1963

Billboard‘s July 10, 1965 edition would include this “Pop Spotlight” review:

Two guitar wizards supplying all the music of a full orchestra.  The program is played to perfection, and includes much of the material Barnes and Kress performed at the White House Christmas Party last year.  With ease they segue from the mellow “Willow Weep for Me” to the sparkling “Girl Friend,” with a standard version of “Sentimental Journey” completing the bill. 

Ten Duets for Two Guitars — Kress & Barnes’ “Guitar Karaoke” LP – 1962

Note:  “On the even numbered tracks, there’s only the accompaniment played by C. Kress for ‘the home guitarist to join in.'”

Instructional LP – 1961

Collector’s note:  Highest prices paid for George Barnes vinyl?   Private label release of a “rare, impromptu” session of duets with pianist Ralph Sutton that have sold for $429 in 2015 and $371 in 2013.

Young Professional + Ubiquitous Session Guitarist

Q:  Do you have any idea how many recording dates you have played on?

A:  “Between 1951 and now, I have recorded 23 albums under my own name.  From 1953 to 1961, I recorded 61 albums with the Three Suns alone. From 1961 to the present, I have recorded with practically every bigname singing star from Frank Sinatra to Bing Crosby, Patti Page, and loads more.  It would be very difficult to find a singing star I haven’t recorded with.  They tell me down at the union, that I have recorded more than any other person in their contract file.  I don’t know how many recording dates I’ve done, but one day I intend to add them up.  I know the number is well into the thousands.”

“Georgie” Barnes — 1940

George Barnes:  King Records Alumnus

Zero to 180’s recent celebration of King’s jazz legacy points out that George Barnes played guitar for (who else) Earl Bostic on a Jan. 11, 1956 session that took place in NYC, with four songs recorded including “Bugle Call Rag”; “I Love You Truly” and “Cause You’re My Lover.”

Alexandra Barnes Lah notes:

“The George Barnes Estate receives no royalties from all of those European re-releases [mentioned above] … it’s a terrible and heartbreaking ripoff experienced by many American artists and their families.  But my relationship with Modern Harmonic is quite the opposite, for which I’m grateful.”

Lloyd Green Stumps for Baldwin

Check out the Clavinet-like sounds coming from Jerry Whitehurst‘s electric harpsichord on “Wild Blue Yonder,” side one’s closing track from Lloyd Green‘s third solo LP Day of Decision, an album that was recorded (like Stones Jazz) in one day — in this case, on June 18, 1966 at RCA Studios in Nashville:

“Wild Blue Yonder”     Lloyd Green     1966

Lloyd Green:  Steel Guitar
Billy Sanford:  Lead Guitar
Jerry Reed:  Lead Guitar
Jerry Shook:  Guitar
Roy Huskey, Jr.:  Bass
Glen Davis:  Drum[s]
Jerry Whitehurst:  Electric Harpsichord

Somehow I failed to notice the significance of this announcement on the album’s back cover until now:

The Baldwin Piano and Organ Company of Cincinnati, Ohio recently invented and began manufacture of a completely new electric Harpsichord.

This instrument is being used for the first time in the ‘Day of Decision’ album.  You will notice the various unusual sounds on the different bands; these are just a few of the sound combinations possible on this instrument.

A number of musicians, who have played the Harpsichord, feel that it is the most original and versatile new instrument to be devised in yours.”

Rear cover – 1966 LP Day for Decision

Fascinating to encounter this information now in light of 2015-2016’s big horse race to determine the earliest recording of a Hohner Clavinet — and funny, too, since Zero to 180 had already celebrated a song from this same album back in 2014!  The date of the recording confirms that Baldwin had, in fact, beat Hohner to the “electric harpsichord” marketplace.

           LP cover – US                                        LP cover – Canada, possibly

Cash Box‘s Tom McIntee would talk up the exciting array of sounds made possible by Baldwin’s new electric harpsichord in the patriotic liner notes that accompany this album:

Something new has been added to America in this performance.  That something new is Lloyd on the steel and Billy Sanford and Jerry Reed on guitars.  That something new is an acoustical electric harpsichord.  An amazing instrument that sometimes sounds like a kazoo, sometimes like an organ, sometimes like a tuba.  The great majority of tracks in this album are old, but the sound is something new.  It’s a breath of new life into an America that sometimes grows weary beneath its burdens.

“Lloyd Green plays a Sho-Bud steel guitar” – back cover

The Baldwin electric harpsichord would be used most notably on “Because” from 1969’s Abbey Road by [K-Tel artists] The Beatles, as well as the opening theme to TV’s “The Odd Couple,” according to Spectrasonics (who states that the keyboard was “developed in the early 1960s by the Cannon Guild and marketed by Baldwin from 1966 into the early 1970s.”)

Vintage Keyboard Studio marvels at the instrument’s design:

“Each note has its own string and jack, which employs a pick and a damper felt.  When the key is depressed, it raises the jack which causes the pick to pluck the string, then come back down and pass over the string and come to rest on the damper.  It’s a pretty neat design, but somewhat flawed in that the picks can and will break, and the jacks themselves become brittle.  On this one in particular, we had all the jacks replaced with brand new ones.  It takes a lot of adjustment to get it right, but once it’s right it sounds awesome.”

This design includes a “very unique pickup system,” in which, as Baldwin’s own literature explains —

“Each pickup can be activated by two switches, one for the treble half of the keyboard and one for the bass.  Individually, the treble and bass switches for each pickup can be set for either the left or right volume pedal.  All of these tonal combinations can be doubled with a foot control that [indecipherable] the overall tone of the keyboard.  The Baldwin two-channel amplifier with tremolo, reverberation, and its exclusive Supersound tone controls bring the tonal possibles to a phenomenal total.”

Click on image below to view in Ultra-High Resolution

Image above courtesy of Santa Cruz Piano (where you can rent the Baldwin)

Despite the ingenuity of design (did I mention that the CW-9 model includes an “amplifier housed in the same compact floor unit as the two volume pedals”?), Vintage Keyboard Studio affirms that Baldwin electric harpsichords are, indeed, “pretty rare,” most likely due to the challenge of maintaining the instrument’s integrity over time.  The relative durability of the Clavinet would account for Hohner’s dominance of the electric harpsichord market by the early-to-mid 1970s, the funky new keyboard’s Golden Age.

Jimmy Webb mentions the Baldwin electric harpsichord in his 2017 memoir, The Cake and the Rain, within the context of his work as a songwriter for Johnny Rivers’ new record label, Soul City in 1966-67:

That was the spirit of the time … innovation and the exploitation of new technology.  Al Casey played a Japanese guitar called a biwa on [The Fifth Dimension’s version of] “Go Where You Wanna Go.”  The Baldwin Electric Harpsichord was a new invention.  We procured a prototype, and [Larry] Knechtel and I sat side by side combining a plethora of keyboards and organs.  We visited the ubiquitous electric sitar, a fad that started with Joe South‘s “The Games People Play” and ended a month or so later.  The studio had been full of gourds, castanets, congas, jawbones, tin cans full of popcorn, Styrofoam cups full of BBs, wind chimes, and thumb harps.  Hal Blaine developed a set of tuned tom-toms of different sizes, flared around his perch like a keyboard.  Ringo Starr heard about these and asked Hal to come to London to bring a set.

Billboard‘s October 7, 1967 issue includes this news item about Baldwin under the header Sound Tracks:

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Staid old Baldwin is a consistent advertiser at the consumer level and works tirelessly to get its instruments into the hands of recording artists.  Musical instrument division advertising manager James Lehr reports that its new combo harpsichord, for example, is being used for commercials, film soundtracks and rock groups.  Groups using the instrument in recording sessions are Chad and Jeremy, the Monkees, Beach [Boys], Spanky and Our Gang, Left Banke, Young Rascals and the Sandpipers.  The harpsichord has also been used frequently on the Lawrence Welk show and jazz pianist Hank Jones has recorded an album of jazz on the combo harpsichord for release on Impulse.  The instrument has also been used by the Cincinnati, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans symphonies to simulate the Cimbalon required in the “Harry Janos Suite.”

Competition

Ad for RMI’s “Rock-Si-Chord” — Billboard — Oct. 7, 1967

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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!

“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 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 Number One).
  • 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/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.

Rusty York’s Cincinnati Indie

Billboard, in their January 8, 1972 edition, reported 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

egg

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

Ω                      Ω                      Ω                      Ω

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, view Zero to 180 on a computer screen

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).  Note:  If you scrutinize this electronic version of Record World‘s July 18, 1970 issue (page 24), you will see that “Crossroads” peaked only at the #134 position.  Also, on page 1 of this issue, “Sex Machine” is selected as one of the Singles of the Week (“James Brown pulls no punches and proves once more that he is truly ‘Soul Brother Number 1’ with ‘Get Up I Feel Like a Sex Machine'”), while on page 7,”Crossroads” is reviewed as one of the “four-star” single picks of the week (“He seems to have a new release every other day.  This is a genuinely compelling ballad for those who find ‘Get Up’ too heavy.”). Lastly, Record World‘s version of the “bubbling under” LP chart (“LP’s Coming Up”) lists JB’s It’s a New Day – Let a Man Come In And Do the Popcorn album at the #20 spot in this same issue, while “Sex Machine” (identified more chastely as “Get Up”) is at the #30 position on the Top 50 R&B Chart, up seven spots from the previous week.
  • 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)