In my second-to-last thrift trip, I found two amazingly good North High School LPs, both custom-pressed by the long-gone Coronet Recording Company. I don't know if Coronet did the actual recording or just the mastering--hopefully, someone at the school's FB page will tell me. (UPDATE: Yes, Coronet did the actual recording of these.) North High School (in Columbus, Ohio) operated under that name from 1924 to 1979, Wikipedia tells me, and evidently it had a fabulous music program. In fact, the very friendly NHS alumni tell me that their school was superior in every department, and I don't doubt it. Neither should you, after hearing these exceptional tracks from spring, 1971. I haven't finished sound-editing Side Two yet (and we're just talking one of the two discs), but I can tell you it contains some of the most amazing high school choral singing I even knew was possible. As is not uncommon with "local" pressings, the gatefold jacket has front-cover "art" only--no notes, no credits. Too bad, with all the great playing happening in these grooves. However, the amazing drummer on these sides may be one Bill Severance. He was good. He sounds more like a session drummer than a high school percussionist.
The train starts rolling with Lucretia MacEvil (I retained the "Lucreatia" typo on the ID tag), that big 1970 BS&T hit that I loved to death at the time. Like Spinning Wheel, Lucretia was written by David Clayton-Thomas, which is probably why I keep expecting to hear the Spinning Wheel trumpet solo to make an appearance. Something to do with the flawed neural pathway that is my memory of the two hits. (Nothing to do with old age, certainly.) Crank musicologist Robert Christgau hated BS&T's third LP, and I hope the band lost no sleep over this. The Carpenters hit, We've Only Just Begun (penned by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols), besides being a very nice song, functions superbly in a jazz-band mode, and the other two titles--Come On Baby and Patnoes Complaint are performed with remarkable skill and drive. The first thing I noticed, upon placing the needle down on track 1 (well, just before it), was the expert, no-nonsense drumming and bass playing, the stereo sound of which is best appreciated with headphones on. Then again, my little speakers may not be a reliable reference in that regard. Anyway, I put the needle down and said, "Wow--these players are rushing the tempo on this." I mean, playing BS&T-level charts at a faster-than-normal tempo--it's unreal.
Give these a spin, or whatever it is that we do with mp3 players (believe it or not--I've never owned one of those!), and you'll not regret it. Quite the reverse, to quote an ad that played in Scotland back in the late 1970s. Do yourself a big favor and give these a chance. More to come.
DOWNLOAD: The North High School Stage Band--Spring, 1971
Lucreatia (sic) MacEvil
We've Only Just Begun
Come On Baby (Doug Troup, Tenor Sax Solo)
North High School Spring Concert 1971 (Coronet Recording Company 850C-3071)