Alex Harvey Loves Monsters, Too

Most music fans in the US (and even quite a few in the UK) are unaware that a major 1970s British rock star put out an album on K-Tel (!) during a period of peak popularity – one entitled Alex Harvey Presents the Loch Ness Monster, no less.  There’s a good reason for this record’s obscurity, as these notes from Discogs make clear:

“Released in a limited edition of supposedly 300 copies.  Comes in a beautiful gatefold-sleeve and a 12×8-inch 16-page booklet.  This is mostly a spoken-word album containing interviews with people claiming to have seen the Loch Ness Monster.  It features additional narrations by Richard O’Brien and Alex Harvey and one short musical track at the end.”

This limited release means that some Alex Harvey fans are willing to shell out £200 (only a couple months ago) or even £300 (back in 2014) for this tribute album to Nessie.  These prices are not an abberation, thus affirming the wisdom behind the decision made in 1977 by an elite group of Alex Harvey fans to purchase this long-deleted, vinyl-only release, which finally enjoyed reissue on compact disc in 2009 (John Clarkson’s review also provides a bit of back story).

I Love Monsters Too” — the album’s final selection, as noted above, is the lone musical track, and a concise one at that:  37 seconds (thus, deserving of inclusion on Zero to 180’s list of short songs in popular music):

“I Love Monsters Too”     Alex Harvey     1977

As YouTube contributor Mags1464 drolly observes, the song is “from an album that Alex made while the rest of the [Sensational Alex Harvey Band] were recording Fourplay.”   Zero to 180 just figured out why the group is relatively unknown here in the States — according to Discogs, only four of SAHB’s nine albums released in the 1970s were distributed in the US.

Front cover

Alex Harvey LP-aaBack cover

Alex Harvey LP-bbElaborate packaging includes an annotated map of Loch Ness

Alex Harvey LP-cc16-page diary

Alex Harvey LP-ddDear Diary:  Saturday 17 July 1976

[Double-click image below to view in high-resolution]

Alex Harvey LP-ee

Seven years prior to Alex Harvey’s run-in with K-Tel, Trojan Records attempted to cash in on Britain’s fascination with its most famous Scottish resident through the release of a horror-themed reggae compilation, Loch Ness Monster that contains, annoyingly, only one musical tribute to Nessie (and at least one dubious song selection — “Suffering Stink,” really?).

Loch Ness Monster LP

1970, coincidentally, would also see the UK release of an album – That’s How You Got Killed Before – by Jamaican ex-pat, Errol Dixon that features “Monster from Loch Ness” (not yet available for preview on YouTube).

One interesting “false hit” came up in my research is a spoken word collection that only enjoyed release in Canada (on Loch Ness Monster Records) by one-time Kiss manager, Bill Aucoin:  13 Classic Kiss Stories.

Bill Aucoin LP

In recent years, John Carter Cash would travel to Scotland to perform his own Nessie tribute live in an attempt to “summon the beast” from the depths of Loch Ness — successfully?  At least one person says yes:

“Loch Ness Monster”     John Carter Cash     2016

This is the only Zero to 180 piece tagged as K-Tel Records that isn’t also tagged as Various Artists Compilations

Buddy Knox’s Bigfoot Song

How can you not love Muddy Waters for his brilliant observation, “The blues had a baby, and they called it rock ‘n’ roll”?  And thank you, Jerry Wexler, for coining the term “rhythm & blues” as an alternative to the more 19th-century-sounding “race music.”

The Grand Ol’ Opry would famously ban percussion from its stages until the forces of modernity could no longer be held back, and it was around this time when country music was increasingly being played with a backbeat that the term “rhythm” started to bubble up into popular consciousness.

            Jimmy Bowen & Buddy Knox would go their separate ways – even on Roulette

Jimmy Bowen EP (edited)Buddy Knox 45

Producer and music industry heavyweight, Jimmy Bowen, has a great story in his excellent memoir (and insider account) Rough Mix about the word “rhythm” and its unexpected appearance (more like forced entrance) during his first professional encounter with the music biz, as he and his partner, Buddy Knox, were recording their first 45 for none other than Morris Levy, the music mogul (and owner of Birdland) who would be convicted in 1990 for extortion:

“To say we had trouble finding our groove puts it mildly.  Whether it was the big-city pressure or his bad syncopation, Buddy froze up behind the mike and could not get it right.  You could count it out for Buddy all day long–a-one, anna-two, anna-three, anna-four–but he couldn’t find a-one and never came in right.  Another problem:  the studio was directly over a subway.  Every time a train rumbled by, you could hear it on the tape, so a bunch of good takes had to be redone.  This just made Buddy more nervous.”

I had to step in and sing both B-sides–‘My Baby’s Gone’ for ‘Party Doll’ and ‘Ever-Lovin’ Fingers’ for ‘I’m Stickin’ with You.’  [George] Goldner pumped the echo to it so high on my voice that you could hardly tell it wasn’t Buddy, though my voice was deeper and less twangy.  When the session was over, Morris [Levy] realized he hated the group’s name–Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, and the Orchids–and told us it would have to change.  ‘You kids go on back to Texas,’ Morris said, ‘and we’ll take care of that.’

When they mailed us our records, I couldn’t believe it.  ‘I’m Stickin’ with You’ was now by Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids [!]  The shock wore off, though, and it was a real kick to be on a New York label with our records going out all over the country [as well as the UK, Canada & Germany].  ‘Stickin’ with You’ was Roulette 4001, the label’s debut release.  ‘Party Doll’ was Roulette 4002, by Buddy Knox with the Rhythm Orchids.”

Buddy Knox & His Rhythm Orchids posterThe Rhythm Orchids would eventually disband, and Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen would find their own musical paths.  For Buddy Knox, that path would one day lead to Bigfoot:

“Bigfoot Song”     Buddy Knox     197?

We learn from another YouTube clip that this surprisingly effective Bigfoot song is an unreleased demo “that no one had heard until 2005 when it was shared from an acetate demo that friends in Canada obtained from Buddy late in his life.”

Buddy Knox & His Rhythm OrchidsWe also learn from Greg Long’s The Making of Bigfoot:  The Inside Story that Buddy Knox is connected to renowned Bigfoot videographer, Roger Patterson, through his guitarist, Jerry Merritt, and that the three of them would once go on a Bigfoot finding expedition:

“One time [Jerry Merritt] picked grapes with Patterson, and Patterson made juice from the grapes to treat his cancer.  Another time, Merritt and Buddy Knox, a famous rockabilly star, who recorded ‘Party Doll,’ traveled with Merritt, Patterson, and [Bob] Gimlin in Patterson’s van out into the hills.”

Fascinating to discover from Buddy Knox’s discography on that these 1950s recordings with Jimmy Bowen would continue to sell into the 1960s, 70s, 80, 90s & beyond.  Kinda spooky.