The nice thing about Sundays is that the people who post the Unlocked Recordings LP rips at the Internet Archive take a day off and give me some time to catch up with their latest.
And their latest includes …
Natural Soul, by Nat Adderley: Soul-jazz outing by Cannon’s brother, originally released in 1963 as Little Big Horn, then re-released a couple years later after Nat’s first record label went under. Jazz stalwarts including Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Bob Cranshaw and Mickey Roker lend support.
This one is … how best to describe it? “Unsurprising” comes to mind. The tunes are pretty basic. They swing along nicely enough in a rootsy soulful mode without catching fire or doing anything memorable. Nice background music while you start your taxes or neaten the area around your computer or something like that.
Pick hit: Either the uptempo “Broadway Lady” or “Loneliness,” which is one of those ’60s-style blue smears of rain-slicked 2 a.m. atmosphere. (The latter would have been better with a bridge. Still, I suppose at 2 a.m. in the rain, you don’t really go anywhere different.)
The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens, by the Beacon Street Union: I wrote a Five For The Record post many years ago about the title track to this 1968 “Bosstown Sound” LP, so it was a pleasure to find the rest of it online.
I perceive this as a good time capsule of what a typical second-rank American band was up to in ’68. Baroque “serious” tunes with harpsichords share space with punchier rockers, like a pleasant but not jawdropping version of “Blue Suede Shoes.”
The songs kinda run out on Side Two. There’s a reasonably entertaining novelty number; a much less entertaining serious-novelty recitative; and, to top it all off, a 17-minute take on the garage-band standard “Baby Please Don’t Go.” (It’s not in the pure “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” style — you get a solo, you get a solo, you get another solo. Instead it’s sort of open and drifty and Doorsy.)
I like it because it’s Bostonian, and it’s obscure, and the cover’s great, and the music is good enough often enough, and because I think it’s representative of the other stuff you’d find in a typical American teen’s record collection in 1968 next to all the Beatles and Stones and Monkees.
I couldn’t honestly call it a classic, but I do wonder what another year or two of experience and a good producer might have done for these guys.
Pick hit: The title track, still.
Tibetan Folk and Minstrel Music: 1967, Lyrichord Records. Vocal and instrumental selections from the “Lhasa Sound.” (OK, I just made that up.) A bargain at 26 tunes.
I quite enjoy some of this, particularly the multiple-voice overlap on “For Repairing Water-Channels in the Barley Fields” and the vocal showcases on “Riding Song.” In a certain mood, I could see myself putting it on again, more than once, just as I periodically take out Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka.
Of course, I always step carefully around records like these. This could well be holy music for all I know, and I’m just some affluent honky clown in a suburban basement looking for new sounds. I do not claim to understand one-fiftieth of the cultural depth that might exist in this music. I just like how it sounds, and how it cleans the palate after too much music with guitars and drums playing in 4/4 time.
Pick hits: “In Praise of a Pigeon” features some of the most forthright shawm playing of this or any other year, as does “Polo Music.”
20th Century American Organ Music, Robert Noehren: If you’ve been reading recently, you know of my fetish for pipe-organ music. If you’ve been reading a long time, you might remember that an LP by Robert Noehren — both a player and designer of pipe organs — is already in my collection. Put the two together, and you know I’m gonna check out this album.
Truth be told, I’m still checking it out. Unlike your average pop single, I don’t feel like I can hear this once, digest it and spit out a judgment. Or maybe it’s beyond my judgment, on another plane. Either way, this one gets saved for some mythical point in time when I can do nothing but chew on it. (Maybe during the week of vacation I’ll have to burn next December?)
Pick hits: Leo Sowerby’s “Comes Autumn Time” is very pleasant, while Gerald Near’s “Passacaglia” and Noehren’s own “Fantasia: Hommage to Hindemith” cover a lot of ground while remaining relatively accessible.
Ross Lee Finney’s ” ‘So Long As The Mind Keeps Silent’ ” deserves honorable mention, too. It opens the album with a great eye-opening dissonant shriek, as if to say: “You were expecting Bach, perhaps? Sorry. The label says ’20th Century American Organ Music.’ You got on the wrong carousel. Hang on.”
Supersonic Guitars, Billy Mure: According to Wiki, session guitarist Billy Mure played on a bunch of big pre-Beatles hits not known for their flashy guitar parts — songs like “Diana,” “Tell Laura I Love Her,” “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” “White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation” and “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?,” to name a few.
In his spare time, he hot-wired standards and basic, riffy “originals” with multi-guitar arrangements that featured stereotypical gimmicks of the day — like the gong that introduces “Hindustan” and the Oriental riff that begins “Limehouse Blues.”
To somebody who grew up listening to next-generation guitar records like Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow and Wired, this is pure cheese, and I don’t see myself coming back to it. Ventures fans might enjoy it (I think — I’m not into the Ventures either.)
Still, there’s just enough ringing tube-driven guitar tone to make it listenable to a six-string buff.
Pick hit: “Tiger Guitars” is the trashiest and least cheesy thing on the record; you might be able to drag-race somebody off the traffic light with this playing.