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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Raul Alfonsin has died

So Raul Alfonsin Argentina's president from 1983-1989 has just died.. His legacy: gross incompetence and complete failure.. He goes down as one of the most pathetic democratically elected president's in Argentina's modern history.. The only one since 1862 that was worse is Fernando de la Rua.. Alfonsin was so pathetic that he had to leave power early amid inflation and riots..Other than lasting a few years in power I'm hard pressed to think of any achievements... Compared to him Carlos Menem, Duhalde and even Nestor Kirchner are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams...

The lesson for Argentina is clear: do not ever elect a member of the UCR party as president.. these people cannot govern.. they talk nice about politics and the value of institutions but they will leave you cleaning up rioted streets and hunting for day old bread...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thoughts on Alex Rodriguez ESPN interview

its very interesting watching the entire ESPN Gammons/Arod interview.. the press for some reason is only focusing on the first minute but there's another 29 minutes...and there's a lot of interesting things said! does seem pretty clear Arod did take stuff and it also seems clear that he's a pretty smart guy and knows how to "talk" and how to say he's sorry..too bad for him no one is even remotely interested in what he has to say.. All the columns and reactions are of the immature "BURN HIM!" variety...his credibility may be shot but if people are really as intersted as these poseur journalists say they are about the game of baseball perhaps they could actually watch the interview.. you can learn a lot not only from what he says but from what he doesn't say....and how he says things...

maradona (argentine soccer great) had a very interesting phrase years ago (he's always coming up with these phrases) "la pelota no se mancha" (ie., "you can't stain the ball" ..Meaning you can't "stain" the sport of soccer no matter what you as an individual may do.. the sport is the sport.....i'm not sure why US sports "journalists" are so bent in trying to turn this into a "baseball is ruined" thing... to me the fact that there was an era where steroid use became more widespread doesn't mean baseball is not a great game.. it doesn't mean that those games we watched weren't doesn't mean that every home run these guys hit they wouldn't have hit...or even that the summer of 98 wasn't fun!....The fact that records/stats- such an integral part of the game- have been turned on their head is very unfortunate but it is what it is and what was WAS...

I'm not sure why no one is trying to be a bit more positive... its a race to the bottom really.... I mean if we love baseball as much as these journalists say we do then why do we want to act as if the game is now worthless because some players used certain substances...even admitting some players cheated I still don't see why that makes the game a bad game... Life is imperfect.. Many other players have cheated in the past.. Are we forgetting all the amphetamine use or the junkball pitchers using grease or what have you or the corked bats or whatever....Are we to believe no one hit a home run cheating ever before steroids? baseball is not perfect... its this constant need to believe it is that is problematic.. thats why Bouton was so crucified when he pointed out some albeit now considered mild imperfections in his book "Ball Four"

I find sports journalism leaving much to be desired on this issue.. I said so when the witch hunt on Bonds was on and I will say the same thing now... I would welcome players no longer use steroids although i believe developments in terms of masking for testing the use of performance enhancing substances means that its likely people will continue to use these things..its a competitive world and people will do what they feel they need to do to make a living..lets not even talk about genetic engineering... but I don't think its the end of the world.. I could use all the performance enhancing drugs in the world and I wouldn't even make contact with a 90 mph fastball! Why don't journalists focus more on some real solutions like creating a mechanism to fund an independent testing agency financed by a tax on player salaries and team profits or some such? with state of the art testing.. you better believe its going to take money to keep up with masking...and ballplayers knowing baseball means business with respect to testing would provide at least some limited deterrent...

Its also a big fiasco how this whole thing has played out..These results would have been destroyed as they should have been had it not been for the fiasco of the never ending Bonds witch hunt wherein the Feds apparently seized computers with these results and then now someone has released Arods info and not that of the other 103 players... This is pretty low and criminal anyway you look at it!. Lets think for a moment that Arod failed a test when there was a legal agreement- for the good of the game as determined by MLB and the players union- to test players but not reveal the results in order to gain information to see I suppose how to move forward with instituting some sort of testing regime...(negative interpretation: cover up).. Well if a player tested positive and he had no recourse to even appeal its always possible that a mistake could have been made.. I doubt it but what I'm saying is that the player such as Arod was tested under the agreement that the result would not be released and because of this there was no real reason for the player(s) to insist on an examination/appeal/clarification or even an explanation of what had been failed... If you failed and knew there were no consequences would you ask for a report and leave a paper trail about having failed?? would you call and expose yourself to someone perhaps taping the call??.. What happened to Arod is not the same thing as say the guy who won the Tour de France and then had an additional "B" sample tested and then there was an appeal etc... It just seems to me that there are some issues of due process here and I don't really like it...It would seem to me that if you were going to damn an entire ballplayers career and even the entire game of baseball it would take more than that kind of testing...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Joe Harley, Steve Hoffman and the gang at Music Matters

I was over at the Steve Hoffman board and its amazing how dismissively people speak of the job Rudy Van Gelder did in recording the legendary Blue Notes/Impulses etc.. I wrote a response but they do not take kindly to differing opinions so I will just post it on my own blog here:

But the original impulses sound so GOOD!

I guess someday I'll pay $50 for one of these reissues and check it out but I have to say I have many original impulses and they sound- to my ears- simply wonderful....A record like Lorez Alexandria the Great, or Coltrane and Hartman.. those are some of my favorites and I just love the way they sound.. ANd when I read some of the stuff on this thread its almost like "Is there something wrong with my ears?" I mean I have some records that sound horrendous but I would never say that about the Impulses..those were well done jobs IMHO.. Same with Blue Note..Right now I'm listening to Hodges "Creamy" (original Norgran) and it too sounds good to me..

And I guess what people are saying is that they can sound EVEN BETTER and thats cool but there's something to be said- at least for me- about playing the original LP that came out in 1955 and Johnny Hodges himself took a copy of it home. I understand someone like me is not the market audience for these reissues and thats cool.. I appreciate anything that gets more vinyl out there...These classic albums deserve to be reissued forever... I wouldn't call myself a just a collector but more so an "originalist".. I like the classic stuff.. Sometimes stuff was done well the first time around and there's value to be attached to an item/product that still can give one great pleasure 54 years later. Its the real deal to my mind.

Also it would be interesting- because I do read some stuff about Van Gelder - if people think they could have done a better job if they had been in his shoes.. To my mind his contribution to recorded jazz is incredible. He was basically recording - I think- two or three jazz classics a week for a long stretch... Albums that I think its fair to say at least in some small part owe their classic status to the fact that they sound really good... There's a reason people love those Blue Notes and part of it is that they sound darn good. Now a new generation of sound engineers or whatever they are called spend their time reworking Van Gelder's original work and of course they say they are doing it better... But Van Gelder's contribution to the recording of jazz I don't think will ever be even close to touched and it would be nice to see him get a little more recognition instead of having him kind of dismissed as being "clever" in dealing with the rickety limitations of recording technology at the time.. I think he did a great job! Those old Blue Notes sound great. period.

Finally, the endless repetition about how great the Music Matters reissues are and how they blow the originals out of the water seems to me excessive. I mean is there a need to say it in every single thread about jazz LPs?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dean Martin- Everybody Loves Somebody & Dean Martin Hits Again

There's something about Dean Martin singing that I find very relaxing...I guess he didn't sweat the small stuff much... Anyways Dean Martin had recorded for Capitol Records and when Sinatra started his Reprise label he jumped ship like many other Sinatra friends (Sammy Davis, Nelson Riddle, Keely Smith, Rosemary Clooney,etc.).. From what I've read he also invested in the company.. Anyways, by 1964 the Rat Pack had probably lost a bit of its Kennedy Era glamour but Dean Martin still had a few tricks up his sleeve like the monster hit single "Everybody Loves Somebody" which in August 1964 took over the top spot on the pop charts from none other than the Beatles "Hard Day's Night"! Prior to this Dean had recorded a couple of great albums that had not sold particularly well although they sure sound great (proof they didn't sell much is the fact that you never find them in the bins while the stuff pictured here is a dime a dozen)... I'm thinking of albums that featured Dean singing country songs or french songs or of course italian songs.. ANyways by this point in 1964 I think Dean hadn't experienced much in the way of hits but that changed with Everybody Loves Somebody which was actually a re-recording of a song he'd originally cut for Capitol Records.. I suppose also that Jimmy Bowen the producer had something to do with developing a sound for Dean that worked on the charts.. After this hit single Dean recorded incredibly prolifically. He cut almost 20 records in the next five years! And you can tell listening to these albums just how relaxed, loose and comfortable these recording sessions were! Legend has it Dean would come in record a few songs and head to the golf course and the entire album would basically be completed in a weekend! Easy-going is what comes to mind when I think of Dean.. I've read many descriptions of him as the King of Cool but I tend to think of him more as easygoing... Shortly after he hit with Everybody Loves Somebody this album was released probably culled together from a few singles etc to capitalize on the situation (on Reprise R-6130) and it charted all the way at number 2 on the album chart... Then a few months later (following another release sandwiched in between and released November 1964) Dean Martin came back with "Dean Martin Hits Again" on Reprise 6146 which featured another hit in a very similar vein to "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You", released February 1965 and which charted at number 13..I mean this was how quickly Dean was cutting albums! By this point producer Jimmy Bowen had found a formula for producing and framing Dean's voice working with Ernie Freeman as arranger/conductor..the formula is described by William Ruhlmann of the All Music Guide as "employing a 4/4 beat, piano triplets, female backup vocals, and swooping string effects to the songs."...Dean would release another three albums in 65 and another FIVE in 1966..Most critics nowadays tend to be fairly dismissive of the albums but to my ears they hold up.. They're not too ambitious and yes they are fairly similar but its a good formula for Dean Martin and helped him lengthen his career until the early 1970s no small feat for someone that had begun performing in the 1940s! I found these two LPs for the taking in front of a record store. Free/Free

Frank Sinatra- Swing Easy and Songs for Young Lovers

Allright SINATRA!!!!!!! Can't get enough of this guy and while he sold a billion records they got play and there are a lot of considerations when buying Sinatra used LPs and trying to get that true first original pressing... For example from what I understand the system used by Capitol Records was such that in the deadwax you can see a stamp that at the end will have a number starting with either a "D" or an "N".. "D" means it was pressed in the West Coast where Capitol Records was based while "N" is not supposed to sound as good... Now the number following the letter tells you something - from what I can tell (this stuff is really discussed much better at the Steve Hoffman Music forum) - about the stampers used with the lowest number- presumably "1" being the original stampers.. Now in the case of this LP which really was a compilation of two separate 10 inch albums that had come out the previous year in 1954- "Songs for Young Lovers" which had kickstarted Sinatra's musical comeback and has been discussed elsewhere on this blog and its follow up "Swing Easy!" both produced by the great Nelson Riddle who was rewriting the book on production/arrangement- and came out in 1955 as catalog number W587 or only six issues behind Sinatra's first actual 12" original LP release which was "In the Wee Small Hours" at W581 (and had has from what I understand a concurrent release as two 10 inch lps and 4 45 eps).. Anyways, the original label is of course the gray label with circular gray line on the label framing the song titles and the word "Long Playing" below it.. Criteria met by this LP as pictured but here's where it gets a bit more interesting: 1) I had never seen a Capitol LP with the sticker (as pictured) on the opening reading "Sealed-In Quality" and on the back "Cut Here with Scissors" and "To Remove Seal, Peel Tape Carefully Start 'Peel'ing from Corner".. I'm not sure what this means? Was this a used copy? I don't believe labels where shrinkwrapping LPs at this time although they may have been bagging them..2) The record itself came in a rice paper sleeve which I believe was present only up to a point relatively soon after this when Capitol Records began using sleeves which would advertise either Capitol Records, other Capitol releases or both and 3) The stampers read "D1" on Side A - i.e., the first and earliest possible numbering and "D3" on Side 2... In other words I believe this copy dates from the initial release run about April 1955.. The label and record looked to be in near mint condition but unfortunately when played it turned out to have some surface noise but them's the breaks.. I don't think I need to say much about the quality of the music itself.. This is about as good as it gets from "I get a kick out of you" perhaps the first Sinatra song I fell in love with- on an 1980s cd reissue of this which proved my introduction to Frank Sinatra- to stone cold classics such as "get Happy" , "All of Me"... I note the presence of many songs that had been also performed by Billie Holiday (i.e., "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter", "My Funny Valentine", "Violets for Your Furs) both before and after Sinatra's version... While it was more common for Sinatra to perform songs that Billie Holiday has first performed its also true, for example on "Violet for your furs" which Billie Holiday performed on what was by her own account her favorite album- the string laden Lady In Satin the final album released in her lifetime- that Billie Holiday as was the case for Dexter Gordon was listening to Frank least I think so..$10

Solid State Presenting Thad Jones Mel Lewis &"The Jazz Orchestra"

Here's an interesting one...ALthough it should be catalog number Solid State 16003 this was apparently put out by the Capitol Records Record Club as SMAS 90890.. In 1966 producer Sonny Lester (who had been producing for other labels) sets up his own record label with Phil Ramone and calls it Solid State..It was distributed by United Artists which provides the inner sleeve for this recording.. The idea it seems was to record jazz in a high quality audio setting and with deluxe gatefold packaging..Sort of an Enoch Light Command Records except with a little more highbrow jazz music... This release introducing what amounts to a Thad Jones Mel Lewis big band- in an age where big bands were largely not viable (only the Clarke Bolland big band recording in Europe comes to mind) and what a big band it was! First of all there's the great trumpter/flugelhorn player Thad Jones who had been around for a while and recorded a few amazing albums on Blue Note including "The Magnificent Thad Jones" but check out some of these names: On saxophone Jerome Richardson, a very young Joe Farrell, Jerry Dodgion, Eddie Daniels and no less than Pepper Adams, Bob Brookmeyer on the bone, Richard Davis on bass, and on piano the still kicking Hank Jones..The record has a few notes on the technical recording credited to Phil Ramone who was obviously the engineer but is listed as the "Audio Director"..Sonny Lester would go on to put out some great records on Solid State including the more critically acclaimed Mel Lewis Thad Jones Orchestra with Joe Williams LP..In the 1970s Sonny Lester would found another label - Groove Merchant- which specialized in funky music particularly organmeisters like Jimmy Mcgriff and Richard Groove Holmes..Mcgriff recorded on Solid State (i.e., The Worm) too and in fact his "Electric Funk" LP I think was produced for Solid State and I'm not sure why it came out on Blue Note..$1

Mary Wells- Greatest Hits

Mary Wells' "Greatest Hits" on Motown 616.. Mary Wells is the one great Motown artist that got away from the label... From what I've read she was their first big hitmaker and when she turned 21 she left the label for what she assumed would be greener pastures and a nice record advance but I guess you can't replace songwriters like William "Smokey" Robinson or the Holland-Dozier-Holland team.. Truth be told what I find most interesting about this album - and it sounds great much like most of the early Motown mono LPs (this was originally released in 1964)- is that the last song "Bye Bye Baby" I've heard a million times performed by Detroit garage rock revivalists the Detroit Cobras "Life Love Leaving" LP from 2001 which is to this day one of my favorite records.. Anyways on the Cobras LP lead singer Rachael Nagy kicks the living daylights of "Bye Bye Baby"..$1

Monday, January 19, 2009

Don Ellis- Music From Other Galaxies and Planets

Don Ellis, a jazz trumpeter, recorded the first "jazz" version of Theme from Star Wars in the middle of the Star Wars craze that had swept the world on the Atlantic SD 18227 LP from 1977.. According to the All Music Guide's Scott Yanow "This LP is the only complete misfire of Don Ellis' career.... In addition to "Star Wars" and "Princess Leia's Theme" (also from the film), Ellis performs eight rather lightweight originals, all of which were given outer space names to try to capitalize on the movie's success. Ellis' big band has little to do other than play mundane ensembles and take occasional short solos. This is the one Don Ellis record that should be skipped." Enough said. $0.25

The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix

This is an interesting album on RCA CPL1-0667 from 1974 that has always peaked my curiosity.. The story goes that Gil Evans had spoken with Jimi Hendrix about recording an album where Hendrix would play his guitar while Gil Evans would create orchestral arrangements to back him up.. Given Gil Evans' track record for example creating the highly succesful partnerships with Miles Davis (i.e., Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain, etc.) this would have seemed like a very interesting partnership..Its also of note that supposedly Miles Davis himself had been talking with Jimi about working together.. In any case Jimi passed on before either partnership could happen.. Fast forward a few years later and Gil Evans put together an album of orchestral versions of the music of Jimi Hendrix... Its always interesting to hear these adaptations of material one is so familiar with...I note that the arrangements for most of the songs were done by members of the Gil Evans orchestra and not the svengali himself who only arranged "Castles Made of Sand" and "Up From the Skies".. I've never enjoyed Gil Evans' work and find his critically acclaimed work with Miles Davis to be snoozer and this album did nothing to change my opinion... Fun to listen to once or twice and put away..maybe if I were a DJ it would be fun to place this somewhere in the set and wait for people's faces to light up with "I got it!" recognition but thats about it..$5

Jamiroquai- Cosmic Girl Promo 12" inch single

Its hard to remember but there was a time in the mid 1990s where Jamiroquai's brand of environmental hippie acid jazz dance funk was commercially popular and even got the occasional critical props...One of my bigger regrets is having passed on a Jamiroquai show at the intimate 930 club here in Washington DC.. I was essentially at another party and chose to sell my ticket and return to my friends... In retrospect it was a rare opportunity and I should have seized it..Pretty quickly though Jamiroquai, after the ubiquitous cat in the hat videos featuring ferraris and gorgeous models, became very unhip very uncool.. Particularly in the United States for some reason people turned against him and his fans seemed to move on.. In other countries like Argentina though his new single is always to be heard pumping from the local radios and truth be told his music hasn't changed that much in quality or style...Its just that in the US many of his fans it seems to me where more of the jam band Dave Matthews birkenstock wearing variety and they "grew up" and became boring people in the suburbs raising their boring offspring and hardly ever even listening to music anymore.. at least thats the way I see it...This 12 inch single on Sony S2 XPR 3087 may have been a promo only release which helped kickstart along with the more important MTV videos Jamiroquai's conquering of America... The sticker on the cover says the single is provided by the "Compliments of Promotion Lift The Promotion Alternative" from New York City..Wonder if they are still around?... I like the Classic Mix remix version on this...$1

Mott the Hoople debut album Atlantic SD 8258 test pressing

Extremely rare.. I venture to guess this is one of the rarest records I own.. the US Atlantic white label test pressing (pressed at Presswell) of Mott the Hoople's debut album from 1970.. this record had initially come out on Island in the UK and Island had some deal for Atlantic to release Mott in the US.. as the years pass I get more interested in Mott and the earlier less glam oriented albums... This one has Motts first hit Rock and Roll Queen (presaging glam? or just a coincidence "queen"?), one or two first contributions by Ian Hunter, a song by the producer Guy Stevens who had basically created Mott as his baby (the Clash were so into Mott they hired Guy Stevens a few years later to produce their records), and some choice covers including a kicking "you really got me" instrumental , a doug sahm tune, and even sonny Bono.. on this album Hunter's vocal style and even lyrics are visibly influenced by Bob Dylan...Its topical to post a Mott LP given they have announced they will be reuniting for two shows in London towards the end of 2009..this is the first reunion in 35 years and all five original band members will participate (Ralphs went to greater financial returns with Bad Company)..I am really hoping some smart promoter will lure them to America's shores but am not holding my breath....$16 (including a $15 credit from vendor).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nina Simone- Sings the Blues

I suppose Nina Simone's career can largely be divided into four periods based on the record labels she was working with: 1) Colpix Records, 2) Phillips, 3) RCA, and 4) retirement... This album catches Nina Simone as she's ending phase 2 and I believe is her first record on RCA..a lot of her Phillips recordings I think featured her with big orchestral productions/awash in strings etc while her RCA recordings it seems to me feature her performing- generally- a larger share of more contemporary material (i.e., Bob Dylan) with smaller jazz combos.. "Nina Simone Sings the Blues" on RCA LSP-3789 from 1967 (german LP issue) surrounds her with some of the more talented session musicians of the day: Eric Gale (guitar), Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums), etc. and the material be it Nina Simone songs or standards is top notch with Nina Simone's presentation as uncompromising and true to the bone as always... whet.One of the things about Nina is that when she sings you really believe her whether its political or sexual and I think while she's always been hard to pigeonhole and categorize she may just be the last of that great line of singers that began with Bessie Smith and went through Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington..."Nina Simone Sings the Blues" features "Buck" and "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl" which are both favorites of mine..On this LP you can really hear Nina's fine piano work...$1

Stan Getz at Large

Now here's a treat.. I found this at a junk shop.. you know the kind of place... it smells..its basically a bunch of garbage on sale for more than you would pay to get the stuff new at Macys.. the records are full of mold and scratched up and you're lucky if you ever find anything but you stop by every once in a while because as a record hunter you just never know when you will get that one record you're looking for.. this time I found this double lp called Stan Getz at Large on Verve MGV 8393 (with some mold issues of course! But once cleaned up it actually plays great).. This is a "live" recording of Getz in Copenhagen probably a year or two before the seminal Getz/Gilberto in other words a year or two before Getz went into his bossa nova period... Its a quartet setting with Getz apparently backed by some local musicians who are not even credited in the notes in the inner gatefold.. So enough with the intro you say, how's the music? This is exactly the kind of jazz record I live for.. Getz literally floats on top of the unobtrusive accompaniment..I like quartet dates with only one horn... The set begins with a gorgeous version of one of the greatest American songs ever written: Cole Porter's Night and Day...There's some cool original tunes which I think are only on this album such as "Pammie's Tune" and "Cafe Montmartre Blues".. Although this was supposedly recorded at the Cafe Montmartre (site of famous Dexter Gordon residency) I think it may have actually been recorded in some church in Denmark..not sure on that...Getz apparently settled in Denmark like many musicians (Gordon) to escape from his heroin addiction and the IRS... This LP was one of the last LPs issued by Verve before Norman Granz sold the company to MGM and has the deep groove silver Verve labels that came after the Trumpeter labels..$2

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pink Moon LP labels/inner gatefold/full cover gatefold

Nick Drake - Pink Moon

Whoa Nelly! This is of course a picture of Nick Drake's final LP - "Pink Moon" - released in the United States as Island SMAS- 9318 through Capitol 1972... This is the first American issue of this and I believe is in fact the first issue of any Nick Drake original full length album in the United States..Unfortunately my copy has the lucky previous owner's name drawn on it- Chester Goggin was smart enough to buy this album when no one else would even if he felt a need to deface the cover art- now Nick Drake is the hippest thing going since the San Francisco treat.. Anyways this has the original Island Pink Rim labels.. at SMAS- 9318 it sits right before Henry Wolff/Nancy Hennings: Tibetan Bells; Island SMAS-9319 on the US Island issues catalog...just 10 issues before The Wailers Catch a Fire original zippo lighter cover at SMAS-9329.. Island Records at this time was just beginning to get really going...many of its releases of British folk and various permutations of Free members or Rabbit Bundrick well they weren't selling very much... but help was on the way in the form of Bob Marley and the Wailers... Anyways at this time Island was distributed by Capitol and I don't think they managed to make much of an inroad with Nick Drake although this album has the works packaging wise.. a gorgeous cover by Michael Trevithick.. a great hologrammed full panel picture of Nick Drake by Keith Morris and full lyrics on the other panel AND of course just incredible music... I notice this issue has a cutout punchout hole probably like most US issues of this LP..this stuff just didn't sell until maybe 15-20 years later when a new generation of artists started covering this stuff (Lucinda Williams, Sebadoh, etc.) and turning on people to its power and majesty...The story behind this album is that by this point Nick Drake was dealing with a lot of issues his ego having taken a beating with the reception to Five LEaves Left and Bryter Lyter which had failed to make a dent in the charts, anxiety issues, depression, inability to perform live to promote himself properly etc.. anyways one day he walks into the Island Records office and without saying a word drops of the master tapes for Pink Moon concealed in a brown paper bag.. walks right out of there.... He would make one more stab to record in 1974 by which point he could hardly play guitar and that would be that...But I hate to overplay the previous 8 lines I have written because I find the mythology that has developed around Nick Drake pretty disturbing.. Ultimately what is compelling about him is his music which stands on its own... This album is Drake at his most naked, fragile and spiritual...From the inner cover I observe that Nick Drake played the gorgeous piano on the title track...because the talent of Nick Drake is such one can't help but be drawn back to the fact that he's no longer with us.. why couldn't he be - like say contemporary folk artist Richard Thompson- playing the Birchmere this year? $30

Dizzy Gillespie Plays

Here's some classic jazz on a 10 " LP from 1956 on the Allegro Elite label Long Play 4108.. Allegro looks like some sort of shoddy poor quality bootleg company or something but upon further inspection I see "Record Corp. of America, Union City, N.J." on the back which I think means it must have been some sort of RCA subsidiary releasing poor quality cheap LPs for people that wouldn't buy the more expensive regular issues... The price printed on the back jacket is $1.98... The thing about this LP is I have not yet been able to identify where the songs come from..they have varying sound quality and don't seem to all be from the same session...The packaging on the Allegro covers/jackets is pretty flimsy - this isn't the first one I've run across- and the LP itself seems kind of thin. I notice Allegro- from the catalog listed on the back which takes up the entire back cover..all you get here is pretty much the music and don't expect any explanation of who the musicians are etc....- seemed to have released mainly classical music pieces along with these interesting issues: 4007 Mildred Bailey Sings, 4016 Jimmy Lunceford Plays, 4027 Leadbelly's Sinful Songs, 4031 Teddy Wilson and his All Star Sextet, 4040 Mildred Bailey Sings, 4050 Slim Gaillard Plays, 4101 Kay Starr, 4106 Sarah Vaughan Sings, 4117 Mel Torme Sings....The songs on this Dizzy 10 incher include some classics or songs I've seen and heard before such as Groovin High, Dizzy Atmosphere, He Beeped When He Shoulda Bopped (one of those typical funny Dizzy songs about bop), and One Bass Hit...$1

Afrique- Soul Makossa

This is an interesting album on Mainstream MRL 394 from 1973 (I notice the Mainstream label had some interesting stuff going on in the 70s) and not one I would expect to find in a dollar bin... When I first saw this the thing that popped into my head was "Oh, another generic cover trying to capitalize on Soul Makossa" which I knew had been a pretty big hit in the early 70s.. I guess by a guy named Manu Dibango... but then when I flipped it around I saw the roster of musicians and two names jumped out at me : Charles Kynard on the organ and Chuck Rainey on bass.. Add to that five percussionists including Chino Valdes (latin percussion is always good). Anyways looks like its an album made by a bunch of great New York city session musicians... Its a pretty funky record (even some wah wah guitar) with titles such as "Let Me Do My Thing", "Hot Mud", "House of Rising Funk" and "Hot Doggin'" sort of the follow up type of record to the great soul jazz Blue Note/Prestige sessions of the late 60s very early 70s... I live off this stuff... I read Chuck Rainey was essentially the bass player on all of Steely Dan's records so that tells you something while Kynard played with my favorite guitarist Grant Green on "The Soul Brotherhood" so that tells you something about the quality of the musicians... I'd probably give this 3/4 stars as some of the tunes are surprisingly placid but its worth checking out...$1

King Cole Trio - Volume 4

Probably in the past few years - after having fully absorbed the greatness of Frank Sinatra- my greatest discovery has been Nat King Cole.. I say discovery in mock tones as you can't discover the guy who built Capitol Records (Its often been said of Capitol that its "the House that Nat built"... But I think it took me a while to realize that Nat King Cole was more than one of the greatest singers of pop or even standards.. He's really one of those three tool allstars. He can hit, run, field, you name it.. Not only is he not just a singer but one of the greatest JAZZ singers (when he wanted to be..before shifting market tastes probably ushered in his change towards the poppier productions such as lazy hazy days of summer or what have you) but he was also an incredible piano player.. who also probably helped bring about the whole concept of what the modern band should be made up of.. I mean I don't know who was first but Nat was probably first to become so pervasive- so of the ether- with the piano/bass/guitar/drums lineup which is arguably still what most bands are.. I just saw Outer Body Llama on Wednesday and thats what it looked like... Well anyhow, Nat King Cole could play the piano like nobody's business and if you need any evidence of that listen to the great Norgan LP titled Lester Young-Buddy Rich which credits the piano -probably for contractual reasons - to AYE GUY (Nat). Anyways this album which I think is made up recordings from 1946 demonstrates much like all of Nat's work where he is featured on the piano that the guy sure could play... Eventually Nat would give up the piano and I guess the trio too BUT in the 1940s and early 50s the King Cole Trio ruled and this 10 inch LP on Capitol H 177 which came out about 1950- in the very early age of the LP..only a year or so into it- collects some of the many many tunes the King Cole Trio had been putting out in the 1940s... One of my great regrets is having got rid of the Mosaic set of the Complete Nat King Cole Trio recordings... anyways this 10 inch lp is but a small taster.. Looking at the back of the 10 inch LP I'm struck by the fact that it looks like the drummer was white which would be interesting as you'd have to wonder if this was one of the first integrated bands or not?? ANyways to get back to the point: I'm glad to have discovered the greatness of Nat King Cole and I think its a shame that he's become a sort of unknown forgotten figure among the young.. unlike say Frank Sinatra who retains a certain hipster/coolness cache it seems to me that Nat King Cole is considered your grandparents music.. and that he was- which should mean a lot- but I find his music to have an enduring quality to it that lives on continually invigorating.. As Tony Bennett said at Wolftrap in reference to the "old" standards he was performing and I paraphrase "The old songs are just so incredible I just can't help but keep playing them.." Well Nat King Cole's music is just incredible and I find it continually invigorating...$1

Hank Crawford- Soul of the Ballad

Here is something that is kind of interesting.. an Atlantic fairly early jazz lp from Hank Crawford with the Marty Paich Orchestra on Atlantic 1405...This came out in 1963 and includes back cover notes from Nat Hentoff...I think Hentoff- who together with a few others such as Ira Glitter- has to be one of the contenders for most liner notes written..I'd love to see his jazz collection! ANyways Nat tells us how it is "He (i.e. Crawford) also succeds in surging through and above the string backgrounds provided by Marty Paich becuse he has such a firm sense of self that the strings do not muffle nor deflect his story lines. I am not yet a convert to strings in a jazz context, but I will grant that Marty Paich's arrangements here are not obstrusively ornate. Paich has left Crawford ample space..." ANyways, I get the sense Nat did not really like the strings which at times can sound schlocky....The guy at the record store I bought this happened to be playing a more recent Crawford LP which sounded cool and funky but obviously that one wasn't going in the dollar bin.. Anyways Hank by this point had been playing saxophone for Ray Charles for 7 years and he does remind me of those great southern soul saxophone players.. I am thinking of King Curtis here.. The track listing is a strange hodge podge of classic standards (the number one american song ever "Stardust", "Stormy Weather", "I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You", etc.) and newer songs such as "Blueberry Hill", "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and even "Have a Good Time" by Boudleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant who I am familiar with for their work writing hits for the Everly Brothers...$1

Friday, January 16, 2009

Willie Nelson- Somewhere Over the Rainbow

WILLIE! "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on Columbia PC 36883 in shrink..looks new in fact...This is a third standards release apparently "Mona Lisa", "Over the Rainbow", "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter", and even "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".. These releases by Willie sold bucket loads of records and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy...$0.25

Johnny Mathis - Warm

Johnny Mathis! Thrift store gold!!!!!!!!! For some reason although there is a lot of Mathis in the trifts and junkyards of America whenever I find it its trashed... So given this is an early original Columbia pressing with the beautiful six eye labels (boy do these sound great or what?!) at the handsome price of $0.25 I decided to take the plunge... Its of course Mathis' third album...From 1957 on CL 1078 nestled nicely between the Satchmo the Great soundtrack (CL 1077) and Tony Bennett's wonderful The Beat of My Heart (CL 1079) which of course included Blakey..ANyhow the story according to the all music guide is that Columbia tried to make Mathis a jazz singer on his first album and having failed Mitch "King of Schlock" Miller decided to make him into a "pop" star bathing his voice in Percy Faith's strings.. But the truth is that its pretty good romantic music...And some of the songs how can you argue with them?? This album has one of my alltime favorites "My One and Only Love" which I"m of course familiar with from the superlative Coltrane and Johnny Hartman version... this album also has "A Handful of Stars" which I think Serge Chaloff played (with none other than Sonny Clark) on the masterpiece "Blue Serge" album...No this album does not reach the heights of either of those but if this is pop schlock man I wish it was 1957 all over again because this is quality music compared to what passes for pop schlock these days!

The Wondeful World of Antonio Carlos Jobim

Somewhat neat score... Jobim's 1965 Warner Brothers LP (his second) On Warner W 1611 with arrangements by none other than Nelson Smock Riddle..In fact as a sign of the kind of respect Riddle commands he gets his byline "The Brazilian Mood - With Nelson Riddle".. ANyways this is the original mono issue...The liner notes on the back cover by Stan Cornyn are kind of ridiculous.. you can tell they were trying to position him as a pop star: "His brown hair tumbles over...He sings. His eyes peer out over his music stand, seeing the beaches of Brazil, the soft girls, the pale winds. His eyes, as if unaccustomed to the bright studio day, blink frequently."...$1.00

MECO: Star Wars and other Galactic Funk

Allright.. in the midst of the Star Wars and disco mania MECO came out with an album of disco versions of Star Wars and a few other things... The cover sums it up perfectly..This was actually a fairly popular item from what I can gather..It was released on Millenium Records (subsidiary of Casablanca Records) MNLP 8001 in 1977... $0.25

Record purchases

New feature I've decided to keep track of the records acquired (be they stores or ebay).. this way I will actually remember.... Chuck Mangione Quartet "Alive!" on Mercury SRM 1 650.. This is before Mangione hit it big with a more adult contemporary sound... This band featured Gerry Niewood on saxophone, and two greats: Tony Levin on bass and Steve Gadd (aka Paul Simon's drummer) on the sticks....From the inner sleeve and record looks to be a late 70s pressing.. ANyways this is a pretty jamming live record... . $0.25

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