Ace 45’s: Alvin “Red” Tyler and Huey “Piano” Smith

When you see an Ace 45, you have to at least consider buying it. Ace was a label started by Johnny Vincent in Jackson Mississippi and was the most successful Mississippi-based label of the 1950s and 1960s, featuring many great blues, R&B, soul and pop artists, many of whom came from Louisiana. Casual R&B fans might recognize “Sea Cruise” by Frankie Ford, which was a big hit for Ace.

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Motor City Memories Vol. 1 LP – Review and Guide (Side 2)

Answer records, a book that may be the Rosetta Stone of rock’n’roll and . . . . finally, Nolan Strong and the Diablos.

It’s taken a while but here are notes on Side 2 of Vol. 1 of Motor City Memories.

For those who missed my post on Side 1, here is link: Motor City Memories Vol. 1 LP – Review and Guide.

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Motor City Memories Vol. 1 LP – Review and Guide

Wildly high falsettos; spoken sections; blatant plagiarism; and “guys attempting to operate musical instruments”

I recently was gifted a three-LP set, Motor City Memories, on the Motor City label, released sometime in the last few years. Each LP has 14 R&B songs by Detroit artists that predate the Motown era.

The LP’s come in plain white covers/sleeves/jackets. There is no identifying information on the records, except the catalog numbers (MC1001, MC1002, MC1003), label and record name, and artists/song titles. No songwriting credits, no BMI/ASCAP, etc.

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From Mr. Apollo to Eleanor Bron

The recent death of Neil Innes, one of the key figures in the Bonzo Dog Band, sent me searching for this 45 (hopefully you know where yours is):

That’s Neil, second from the right, with Vivian Stanshall on his right and Larry “Legs” Smith on his left.

Mr. Apollo was the Bonzo’s attempt at a follow up single to their 1968 hit “I’m the Urban Spaceman”. It’s a sort of cross between David Bowie, in his “The Man Who Sold the World Phase” (think “Width of a Circle”, for those familiar with that album), and a jingle for a household cleaning product, if that makes sense. But then not making sense was a point of pride for the Bonzo’s.

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The Record I Couldn’t Bring Myself to Give Away

While Xmas shopping (and I really did buy records for other people) I came across this gem:

The record, opened but still in its shrink-wrap, was released in 1971; though per Discogs, it is a rerelease of a recording that goes back to around 1960.

How any of us have gotten along without this record is a mystery. Why go all the way down to the basement to listen to the dulcet tones of your clothes dryer, when you can hear it in full “20 to 20,000 CPS Audiophile” quality on your living room stereo console (of course you have a solid mahogany, or at least imitation wood-grain, console, over by the pedestal ash tray).

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Three Jobs Should be Enough

A story about working . . .

Literary Yard

By: Joel E. Turner

Three jobs should be
enough, I mean none of them is what you’d really call a job, not
like when I was clocking in at the refractory plant, lifting heavy
shit to make bricks, running a hydraulic press. Before I got that lay
off letter from headquarters – Moon Township Pennsylvania, can’t
make that up. Bring you back if there is sufficient demand. Being an
A-rated tech don’t mean shit, I guess.

Better off out of
there anyway, I seen old guys at the Eagle Lodge coughing out their
life from the asbestos after twenty years. They say it ain’t like
that anymore, but still.

The lady at the
coffee joint, she’s alright, tad on the nervous side. Laughed my
ass off when that buzzer for the drive-through went off, she jumped a
mile, bent over trying to figure out the damn spresso machine. Niece

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Foolish Records (the end of Xmas vinyl)

Let’s go straight to the top here with one of the most foolish records to grace the top 40. “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” was concocted by Jerry Samuels, a recording engineer/producer/songwriter and released under the nom de plume Napoleon XIV, and got to #3 in 1966 on the Billboard charts.

Anyone between the ages of 60-70 does not need me to describe this manic recitiative. For those of a younger age, who do not understand what a novelty record is, please go to YouTube and look this one up. I cannot be responsible for educating you on everything.

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Xmas Vinyl Part 3: Jazz with Mongo, Charles and Sonny (Ra, that is)

El Pussy Cat is an excellent lp from Mongo Santamaria, released in 1965 on Columbia. It was his first LP after the the smash hit Watermelon Man! (45 and LP of the same name) in 1963. Much as I love Mongo’s version of that Herbie Hancock classic – I have the 45 on Battle, and play it regularly – overall, I’d rate El Pussy Cat as the better LP. There is more of an Afro-Cuban feel and more of a jazz vs pop-boogaloo sound.

The title track is a bit goofy, with fake cat mewling, but the groove was striking enough that it was covered by a couple of noted ska artists: Roland Alphonso (1965) and Bad Manners (1980). The prolific session drummer Sandy Nelson also covered it in 1965 on the Drum Discotheque lp, but then Sandy Nelson covered just about everything.

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Xmas Vinyl Part 2: R&B – JB, SAR Compilation, Eddie and Ernie

You gotta start with James Brown:

A Soulful Christmas was released in 1968 which was a key transition time for JB as his work took on more of a political punch and his sound moved to the stripped-down vamps that would result in hits like Mother Popcorn and Funky Drummer (just to mention a few) in the years to come. After the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968, Brown performed shows in Boston and Washington DC that were heralded for calming racial tensions and encouraging black pride within a non-violent context. Brown then recorded “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”, a civil rights anthem that saw its first release on this album. The other stand-out track is “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”, which includes a shout out to Hank Ballard (“The Twist”, “Finger-Popping Time”, etc.) who was an early influence on Brown’s raucous sound and co-authored the song.

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Xmas Vinyl Part 1: Philly Sounds (featuring Bowie cover bands, Ben Vaughn, Palymyra Delran, Mick Cancer and Nazz)

The vinyl resurgence may be cresting, at least as evidenced by what was under my tree this year. Or maybe no one can figure out what else to get me.

I believe some people like buying vinyl records but don’t have a record player, so they target those who do. Another factor in my case is that an outstanding local second-hand record store that’s been around for over forty years, Gold Million Records, is closing, and has been having a sort of never-ending sale. (Buyers alert: their entire collection is up on Ebay if you have a spare $25K.)

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