Friday, October 15, 2021
Sunday, October 10, 2021
An especially primitive cover design--I love it. Not much of a 3D feel to it, which makes it kind of interesting--that, and the weirdly proportioned people up front. Today's group is the Home Gate Quartet, and I'll let the liner notes introduce them: "Playing rhythm guitar and singing the lead is John Vaughn, singing alto his wife, Joyce, both from Somerset, Ky. Singing baritone is Carl Fiffe from West Liberty, Ky. Singing the bass is Alvin Collins from Harlan, Ky." In short, you'll be hearing a falsetto-sounding male voice on the melody, and a female alto supporting same (unless the order is flipped). Now you know.
This is pure country gospel, which is to say it's pretty much bluegrass gospel, only generally slower and minus a banjo or mandolin. By slower, I mean the rhythm is less pronounced. The two styles are really very close, and I would have no issue with calling this bluegrass. Maybe we can settle on country/bluegrass gospel. Carl Story and the Chuck Wagon Gang rolled into one act.
This gem of an LP is a prime example of the type of "local," small-label gospel I live to find (especially when it's this well performed), and it has introduced me to standards I hadn't heard of. The Rite matrix #'s (29497/98) place this at approximately 1972. And so we have songs that were 25 to 35 years old when this was cut--"modern" gospel numbers, as I regard them, since my song knowledge is focused on earlier stuff. Still catching up with the second half of the last century.
Some challenges with the image editing and rip, since 1) the imperfectly-printed Rose Records labels showed up on my scanner as white with a hundred (or so) black specks, plus 2) the tracks are listed out of order on both the jacket and label. I searched for credits where none were given, and I found a total of one: Geneva Stroud and Hale Reeves for Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (1946). And John Baxter, Jr. is allegedly the lyricist on I'm Living in Canaan Now (1938) or else he was doing the publisher-copping-song-credit bit. Not sure which. Oh, and I was expecting the famous 19th century Ring the Bells of Heaven (Cushing-Root), but this is definitely a different Ring the Bells... Fine, toe-tapping number, though. Actually, I'm not sure the older hymn would translate well to country/bluegrass gospel.
Apparently, stereo Rose Records LPs were in compatible stereo: "Rose stereo records can be safely played on today's monaural phonographs." Unless "today's monaural phonographs" presumes a stereo cartridge and stylus, which seems unlikely.
Loved this one. An interesting contrast to the slick, extroverted Southern quartet fare I've been posting lately.
DOWNLOAD: The Home Gate Quartet: Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (Rose Records 504; c. 1972)
Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (Stroud-Reeves)
When I Get Home (Reed)
I'm Livin' in Canaan Now (Baxter-Center)
Will Someone Be Waiting (Presley)
Springtime Blooms in Gloryland (Summers)
Praise God I'm on My Way
Last Altar Call
Ring the Bells of Heaven
Working the Road
Mansion in Glory (Shiver)
Rocking on the Waves (A.B. Sebren)
Till I Prayed Thru
Love Will Roll the Clouds Away--The Home Gate Quartet (Rose Records 504; c. 1972)
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Today, we have the third volume of Hit Records' Current Hits series, and once again the release year is revealed in the liner notes--1963. And I'm guessing early 1963, since some of these are 1962 hits. One track, in fact, sounds closer to 1952 (and to Patti Page)--Shake Me I Rattle--though it was originally recorded in 1957 by the Lennon Sisters. It was country artist Marion Worth who had the hit version in 1962, and she, of course, is the performer being copied here. Not a bad song, and this is a very nice fake, but it's kind of anachronistic for 1962-63. The duplicate interpretations in this edition run the gamut from decent to quite good, with Walk Right In and (especially) The Night Has a Thousand Eyes falling into the latter camp. Eyes is probably my favorite Bobby Vee single, and "Joe Cash," whoever he was, does a very adroit Vee impersonation. Just one of the best Hit Records tracks, ever.
My Dad, the older-generation-friendly 1962 hit penned by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil(!) lacks the gentle touch of the Paul Peterson original, forcing me to declare that "Woody Martin" is no Paul Peterson--the first and only time I'm ever likely to pass that judgement at this blog. And Hey Paula is another mild number that fares significantly better in its non-fake version, though "Bonnie" (of "Bob and Bonnie") does a good job capturing the vocal mannerisms of "Paula" (Jill Jackson). Things improve, song-wise, with Loop de Loop (orig. Johnny Thunder, charting in 1963); I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter (orig. Connie Francis, 1962), and the entertaining, eccentric soul classic Tell Him (The Exciters, 1962; charted 1963). The LP's condition could have been better, but things cleaned up nicely. And it's good to have another early Hit Records collection.
Once again, we have the distorted bullseye design on the back cover, and the line of arrows pointing to its center. The liner notes are fun--they start out by explaining why the songs on this LP are considered "hits," and you'll never guess. Give up? It's because people requested them from their local radio stations--and because "you, as a record buyer, may have purchased at least one of them as a single record." Really? Songs become hits because people request and purchase them? Who would've guessed?
A sort of novel suggestion in the last paragraph: "It will be interesting to play this collection of hits a couple years from now and compare them with the current hits of that time." I'm not sure what that means, exactly: Compare them to the sound of the period in question (1962/1963) or, specifically, compare the substitutes to the original? Dunno. At any rate, I think it's safe to say, 58 years hence, that these evoke their time and place more than adequately--in a fake sort of way. Now that we've cleared that up...
Have a genuinely good time listening to these.
DOWNLOAD: Current Hits, Volume Three (Hit Records HLP 1003; 1963)
Walk Right In --Music City Singers
From a Jack to a King--Jackie Ott
I Saw Linda Yesterday--Dave Gibson
Hey Paula--Bob and Bobbie
Shake Me I Rattle (Squeeze Me I Cry)--Connie Landers
My Dad--Woodie Martin
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes--Joe Cash
Loop de Loop--Herbert Hunter
I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter--Connie Landers
Half Heaven Half Heartache--George Killebrew
It's up to You--Bill Carmichael
Tell Him--Peggy Gaines (Peggy Walker)
Current Hits Volume No. 3 (Hit Records HLP 1003; 1963)
Sunday, October 03, 2021
A great cover shot, and I'd like the photo even more if it wasn't so oversaturated. Anyway, this is Bob Wills and the Inspirationals, and we're not talking that Bob Wills (the country swing guy) but rather the baritone (and manager) of this ridiculously good quartet, which also includes Billy Hamm (2nd tenor), Curtis Elkins (1st tenor), and Johnny Hays (bass). Tom Smith is the pianist, so he accounts for the fifth guy in this quartet portrait, though I'm not sure which one is him. At any rate, this LP is a winner from the first track to the closing. When I spotted Rain, Rain, Rain as the starting number in the playlist, I considered that a good sign--groups that start off with such a showstopper selection are usually groups that mean business--groups that deliver. I will concede, though, that I've encountered LPs which start with gusto and lose it by the third band, but luckily that doesn't happen here. All the songs work beautifully, from the uptempo titles to the slower, more thoughtful ones, in huge part because of the group's (I'm repeating myself) ridiculously good harmonizing. Did I mention these guys are ridiculously good?
Several of the tracks have a 1960/1961 pop sound, which may give us some clue as to when this was made. A further clue is 1964's They Tore the Old Country Church Down, which I think would have had a more graceful sound as They Tore Down the Old Country Church--but then, "down" is easier to rhyme than "church." The song gets no writer credit on the album, but I found it in one of the New Songs of Inspiration volumes:
Those are shape (aka, shaped) notes, which I find hard to read, having been raised on round noteheads.
Anyway, my guess (going by a matrix number close to this LP's) is 1966. It's a Columbia Record Productions pressing, XSBV 11137, and I think the four letters indicate a Nashville pressing. Anyway, mid-1960s, even if the track Worry Who I? sounds like 1958 doo wop.
Recorded at Delta Recording Center, Ft. Worth TX, which was also the address of the group (Ft. Worth, that is--not the Delta Recording Center). This label, Skylite, was headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. I hope this is all perfectly clear.
Anyway, great LP, and I just looked up Gloria and William Gaither's Because He Lives, on the suspicion that 2nd tenor Billy Hamm's Because He Loves Me was inspired by same. However, if anything, it's the other way around, as the Gaither song didn't appear until 1971. My apologies to Billy Hamm for thinking he might have written his number with the far more famous Gaither song in mind...
Oh, and nice to have a George Beverly Shea number in the mix (Shea wrote his share of sacred songs): The Wonder of It All.
The excellent musicians (accompanists) on this LP include Grammy-winning Lari Goss. And we have an Elvis connection by way of Worry Who I? (possible variation on "What, Me Worry?"), whose composer, Joe Moscheo, was a member of the Imperials when that group was performing with The King. Several composed-for-the-occasion songs in our list today, and such numbers are often throwaways, but not in this case--they fit beautifully into the playlist scheme.
To the gospel...
DOWNLOAD: Colorful Requests--Bob Wills and Inspirationals
Didn't It Rain
Turn to Jesus
If I Pray
If God Ruled Your Heart
The Wonder of It All (Shea)
He's Not Disappointed in Me Anymore
They Tore the Old Country Church Down (J.C. Fralix)
Love Like the Sun
Worry Who I?
Because He Loved Me (B. Hamm)
You Can Count on Me
You Just Don't Know What Lonesome Is
Colorful Requests--Bob Wills and the Inspirationals (Skylite SSLP 6042; about 1966?)
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Whenever I encounter a Goodwill LP called Country Music on Parade, and one of the titles reads Don't Kill a Man Because He Calls You a S.O.B., my first thought is going to be, "Maybe I need this one."
And, last post, I noted that I'm not here to mock things, and maybe I spoke too soon, since the songs on this LP cry out for a humorous review. But I'll do my best to keep the humor friendly. I could fashion a lame argument along the lines that, say, finding humor in music is not the same thing as mocking it, but my argument would necessarily be circular. Tautological, even.
Back to Don't Kill a Man Because He Calls You a S.O.B., I'm glad to report that the lyrics live up to the title. I just arrived in Hell and let me tell you, There's lots of faces down here that I know. Bu there's one face down here I can't stand the sight of, And that's the man I killed a while ago. The name that he called me did not fit Mama, And that's why I left him dyin' in the dirt.
"The name that he called me did not fit Mama"? Interesting way of putting things. And the last line delivers the song's moral: I lived a life I thought was pretty decent, But one mistake, and this is where you go. Yes, the singer sounds like he was living a pretty decent life. But you'll get an insult that does not fit Mama, and the next thing you know...
My favorite from this playlist of odd ditties (say that twenty times) is the tender love balled, Rosita:
Top of El Paso, just over the border in old Mexico, I met Rosita and she made me love her. She changed her mind and told me to go. I took my gun and cut her down. Rosita, I'll always love you.
And what better way to demonstrate that love? Georgia's Tommy Soctt, aka Ramblin' Tommy Scott, aka "Doc" Tommy Scott, seems to have been a major country/folk celebrity. Though he never cracked the charts, far as I know, there are Scott bios all over cyberspace. And PBS did a 2001 special on him. And there were German reissues of his older country sides. Solo recording artist, TV star, songwriter, Charlie Monroe bandmember, David Letterman guest, and leader of traveling medicine shows, Scott appears to have been a made-for-order "character." An eccentric for hire. And "eccentric," I think, perfectly describes his work on this not-quite-characteristic-of-the-genre country LP, released in 1971 on the "Music of Many Lands" label, Request Records Inc. of New Rochelle NY. If I were in a sarcastic mode, I might ask how many lands were musically involved in these selections.
Now, to be sure, the tunes and performances have a professional, Nashville-studio-pro sound to them--it's the texts which are memorably off-kilter. We have, in addition to the above examples, these lines from Geneva:
You turned this man into a child of three, By letting me taste how sweet your love can be. The... what?? And these interesting lines, from Nobody But You:
Baby, you're the only one that I let wear my ring, You're the one with whom I would do anything. And I let no one else mess up my hair, But if it's you, I find that I don't care. "Oh, it's you. Good. I won't have to shoot you."
And, from Scott's He Went That-a-Way, sung by Little Miss Betty:
I tried to hold myself back, but I just couldn't quit. With passion burning in my soul like fire down in a pit. He led me on, loved me hard, Then he went that-a-way.
(Not sure how to punctuate that second line without creating a dangling participle.)
And there are priceless Spike Jones-esque sound effects on Help Me Pull the Wagon--namely, whip snaps and "Hyaaa"'s. Scotty Lee sings, You ? money as if you think I own the mint. Girl, I ain't broke but I'm getting badly bent. I can't speak for everyone, but I know I hate it when I get badly bent.
Pollution also sports sound effects, and they happen right away--and loudly. So, if you're listening through speakers, you want might to cut the volume at that point--the noise is jarring. So are some of the lyrics:
Temperatures a-fallin' a little year by year. By twenty hundred, won't be none of us here. Preach the word: Tell the world about pollution, Save the world: Stop the awful execution.
Except for the temperatures-falling part and the "twenty hundred," Tommy was spot on. And I just discovered that, come tomorrow (Sep. 30th), it will be eight years since Tommy left us. I didn't plan things that way--that's just how the post worked out.
The LP's liner notes are by Hee Haw's "String Bean."
DOWNLOAD: Country Music on Parade--Tommy Scott's Country Caravan (1971)
Even I Can See the Sunshine--Chuck Housley
Unconcerned--Little Miss Betty
Don't Kill a Man Because He Calls You a S.O.B.--Chuck Housley
What About That?--Sam Baxter
Nobody but You--Chuck Housley
Sally Ann of Greenville--Tommy Scott
I Am Free--Sam Baxter
My Jimmy--Little Miss Betty
Pack Up, Ship Out and Go Home--Chuck Housley
He Went That-a-Way--Little Miss Betty
Help Me Pull the Wagon--Scotty Lee
Four Seasons of My Life--Tommy Scott
Country Music on Parade--Tommy Scott's Country Caravan (Request Records Inc. SRLP 6031; 1971)