Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Impalas - I Ran All The Way Home (1959)

The Impalas were a racially integrated vocal group from Brooklyn who are best remembered for their 1959 hit 'Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home),' which scored them their only Top 20 hit (number two pop, number 14 R&B). Forming in 1958, the group -- Joe 'Speedo' Frazier (the only black singer), Richard Wagner, Lenny Renda, and Tony Carlucci -- were signed to the Cub label, a subsidiary label of MGM that also issued high-quality stereo recordings by the Five Satins, the Harptones, the Stereos, the Velours, and the Wanderers, to name a few. In August of 1959, Cub issued an album, Sorry I Ran All the Way Home, which featured other recordings the Impalas made for the label. After a second 1959 charting #86 with 'Oh, Wat A Fool', unfortunately no further hits ever came. They disbanded in 1961.

1959 LP Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) - CUB 8003

01. The Impalas - Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) (1959 US#2)
02. The Impalas - Fool Fool Fool
03. The Impalas - Woodchuck Song
04. The Impalas - Sandy Went Away
05. The Impalas - Chum
06. The Impalas - The Loves We Share
07. The Impalas - Mommy-O
08. The Impalas - All But The Memory Of You
09. The Impalas - Oh, What A Fool (1959 US#86)
10. The Impalas - (You Want) Too Much Too Soon
11. The Impalas - She Belongs To Me
12. The Impalas - Cupid
13. The Impalas - Peggy Darling (Bonus Track)

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Singin' to My Baby - 5 EP's (1957-1960)

1958 EP Susie Darlin' (Dot DEP-1092)

1960 EP Tell Laura I Love Her (RCA Victor EPA-4367)

1957 EP Just A Dream (Ace ZTEP-60765)

1958 EP Jimmy Bowen (Roulette EPR-1-302)

1958 EP Singin' to My Baby (Liberty LEP 3-3061)

Eddie Cochran - Cradle Baby
Eddie Cochran - I'm Alone Because I Love You
Eddie Cochran - Lovin' Time
Eddie Cochran - One Kiss

Jimmy Bowen - Ever Since That Night
Jimmy Bowen - I'm Stickin' With You
Jimmy Bowen - Raggedy Anne
Jimmy Bowen - Warm Up To Me Baby

Jimmy Clanton - Angel Face
Jimmy Clanton - Just A Dream
Jimmy Clanton - My Love Is Strong
Jimmy Clanton - Ship On A Stormy Sea

Ray Peterson - Fever
Ray Peterson - Suddenly
Ray Peterson - Tell Laura I Love Her
Ray Peterson - The Wonder of You

Robin Luke - Bad Boy
Robin Luke - Chicka Chicka Honey
Robin Luke - Susie Darlin'
Robin Luke - Won't You Please Be Mine

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Johnny & The Hurricanes (1960-1961)

One of the most distinctive instrumental groups of the '50s and '60s, Johnny & the Hurricanes produced the Top Ten hit 'Red River Rock' and scored several other instrumental hits that mixed rock & roll with traditional melodies. Originally known as the Orbits, the group formed in Toledo, OH, in 1958 and was led by saxophonist Johnny Paris; other members included organist Paul Tesluk, guitarist Dave Yorko, bassist Lionel 'Butch' Mattice, and drummer Tony Kaye. After a stint recording with rockabilly singer Mack Vickery, the group traveled to Detroit, hoping to become a backing band for up-and-coming singers. However, a pair of music promoters, Harry Balk and Irving Michanik, signed them as a group on their own, and they recorded their first single, 'Crossfire,' for the Twirl label in 1959. 'Crossfire' went to number 23 and the group moved to the Warwick imprint for 'Red River Rock,' a rock & roll instrumental of the standard 'Red River Valley' that peaked at number five. The Hurricanes responded to their success with more of the same, delivering 'Reveille Rock,' 'Rockin' Goose,' 'Revival,' and 'Beatnik Fly' over the next year, touring extensively all the while. Eventually the pace -- and lack of further hit singles -- caught up with the group, and Johnny & the Hurricanes disbanded in 1965. Paris moved to Hamburg, started his own label, Atila, and in 1970 formed a new Hurricanes lineup that toured until November 2005, two weeks before Paris took ill and was hospitalized. He died on May 1, 2006, due to pneumonia and septic blood after a splenectomy.

1960 LP Red River Rock (US Warwick 2007)

01. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Red River Rock
02. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Happy Time
03. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Buckeye
04. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Cut Out
05. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Lazy
06. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Walking
07. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Crossfire
08. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Storm Warning
09. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Bam-Boo
10. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Thunderbolt
11. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Joy Ride
12. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Rock-Cha

1960 LP Stormsville (US Warwick 2010)

01. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Reveille Rock
02. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Milk Shake
03. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Cyclone
04. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Travellin'
05. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Bean Bag
06. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Rockin' T
07. Johnny & The Hurricanes - The Hungry Eye
08. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Hot Fudge
09. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Time Bomb
10. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Corn Bread
11. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Catnip
12. Johnny & The Hurricanes - The 'Hep' Canary

1961 LP The Big Sound Of (US Big Top 1302)

01. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Molly-O
02. Johnny & The Hurricanes - You Are My Sunshine
03. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Like... Rock
04. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Beatnik Fly
05. Johnny & The Hurricanes - The Kid
06. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Bye Bye Blackbird
07. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Traffic Jam
08. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Teensville Tonight
09. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Mister Irving
10. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Sheba
11. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Tom's Tune
12. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Corn Pone

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Donnie Brooks - The Happiest... (1962) [reup on request]

Singer Donnie Brooks remains best known for the 1960 pop smash "Mission Bell," although he is also revered in rockabilly fan circles for the cult classic "Bertha Lou," recorded under the name Johnny Faire. Born John Dee Abohosh in Dallas on February 6, 1936, he was later adopted by his stepfather and given the new surname Fairecloth. While growing up in southern California, he studied under the same vocal coach who previously instructed Eddie Fisher, and in high school made his professional debut on a classical music showcase broadcast by Ventura-based station KBCC. After graduating from high school, Fairecloth earned his living singing at local clubs, fairs, and weddings, embracing rock & roll and in 1957 signing to local indie Fable Records to cut his debut single, "You Gotta Walk the Line," credited to Johnny Faire. Read on +/-

While cutting demos for the Surf label, he learned that contractual obligations were forcing friend and mentor Dorsey Burnette to abandon a completed track dubbed "Bertha Lou." Surf agreed to erase Burnette's vocal and insert Faire's performance instead, and while the resulting 1958 single earned scant attention on its original release, it is now revered as a lost classic of the rockabilly era. From there Faire adopted the alias Johnny Jordan long enough to record "Sweet, Sweet, Sweet" for the Jolt label, followed by a stint at Era, where he cut the rockabilly gem "Hollywood Party" under the tongue-in-cheek name Dick Bush. The record went nowhere, but Era owners Herb Newman and Lew Bidell were sufficiently impressed to keep the singer on the payroll -- however, they insisted on yet another name change, this time to the wry Donnie Brooks. The first Donnie Brooks single, the melancholy ballad "White Orchid," proved his biggest hit to date, selling about 50,000 copies on the West Coast and topping the Australian pop charts. The follow-up, the Dorsey and Johnny Burnette castoff "Mission Bell," did far better, vaulting Brooks into the Billboard Top Ten and earning him his first gold record. A second Top 40 hit, "Doll House," followed at the end of 1960, and early the following year Brooks scored his final Hot 100 entry, "Memphis." Subsequent singles including "Wishbone," "Boomerang," and "My Favorite Kind of Face" failed to reignite Brooks' career, and following the late-1962 release of "Cries My Heart," the label terminated his contract. Brooks spent the following year off the radar, but resurfaced in early 1964 on Reprise with "Gone." That same year, he appeared in the feature film Get Yourself a College Girl, but Beatlemania effectively spelled the end of his recording career and after one final Reprise effort, "Pickin' Up the Pieces," his tenure with the label came with a halt.

1962 LP The Happiest Donnie Brooks (US Era EL-105)

A1. Donnie Brooks - That's Why
A2. Donnie Brooks - Memories Are Made Of This
A3. Donnie Brooks - Mission Bell
A4. Donnie Brooks - How Long
A5. Donnie Brooks - The Devil Ain't A Man
A6. Donnie Brooks - Twilight Time

B1. Donnie Brooks - Memphis
B2. Donnie Brooks - P. S. I Love You
B3. Donnie Brooks - All I Can Give
B4. Donnie Brooks - What'd I Say
B5. Donnie Brooks - Doll House
B6. Donnie Brooks - Round Robin

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Isley Brothers - Twist and Shout (1959-1962)

First formed in the early '50s, the Isley Brothers enjoyed one of the longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music -- over the course of nearly a half century of performing, the group's distinguished history spanned not only two generations of Isley siblings but also massive cultural shifts which heralded their music's transformation from gritty R&B to Motown soul to blistering funk. The first generation of Isley siblings was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, where they were encouraged to begin a singing career by their father, himself a professional vocalist, and their mother, a church pianist who provided musical accompaniment at their early performances. Initially a gospel quartet, the group was comprised of Ronald, Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Vernon Isley; after Vernon's 1955 death in a bicycling accident, tenor Ronald was tapped as the remaining trio's lead vocalist. In 1957, the brothers went to New York City to record a string of failed doo wop singles; while performing a spirited reading of the song "Lonely Teardrops" in Washington, D.C., two years later, they interjected the line "You know you make me want to shout," which inspired frenzied audience feedback. An RCA executive in the audience saw the concert, and when he signed the Isleys soon after, he instructed that their first single be constructed around their crowd-pleasing catch phrase; while the call-and-response classic "Shout" failed to reach the pop Top 40 on its initial release, it eventually became a frequently covered classic. Read on +/-

Still, success eluded the Isleys, and only after they left RCA in 1962 did they again have another hit, this time with their seminal cover of the Top Notes' "Twist and Shout." Like so many of the brothers' early R&B records, "Twist and Shout" earned greater commercial success when later rendered by a white group -- in this case, the Beatles; other acts who notched hits by closely following the Isleys' blueprint were the Yardbirds ("Respectable," also covered by the Outsiders), the Human Beinz ("Nobody but Me"), and Lulu ("Shout").

The most essential lp's of The Isley Brothers in the sixties are in my opinion "Soul on the Rocks", witch they produced for Motown, and of course the psychedelic funky "It's Our Thing" on T-Neck Records. But also the more early rock 'n roll flavored long players "Shout" and "Twist and Shout" do find their way to collectors these days.

1959 LP Shout (US RCA Victor LPM-2156)
  1. Isley Brothers - When The Saints Go Marching In
  2. Isley Brothers - St. Isley Brothers - Louis Blues
  3. Isley Brothers - Yes Indeed
  4. Isley Brothers - How Deep Is The Ocean
  5. Isley Brothers - Ring-A-Ling-A-Ling
  6. Isley Brothers - Rock Around The Clock
  7. Isley Brothers - He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
  8. Isley Brothers - That Lucky Old Sun
  9. Isley Brothers - Respectable
  10. Isley Brothers - Without A Song
  11. Isley Brothers - Shout, Part 1
  12. Isley Brothers - Shout, Part 2
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1962 LP Twist & Shout (US Wand LP-653)
  1. Isley Brothers - Twist And Shout
  2. Isley Brothers - I Say Love
  3. Isley Brothers - Right Now
  4. Isley Brothers - Hold On Baby
  5. Isley Brothers - Rubber Leg Twist
  6. Isley Brothers - The Snake
  7. Isley Brothers - You Better Come Home
  8. Isley Brothers - Never Leave Me Baby
  9. Isley Brothers - Spanish Twist
  10. Isley Brothers - Time After Time
  11. Isley Brothers - Let's Twist Again
  12. Isley Brothers - Don't You Feel
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Bill Haley and the Comets - For Your Dance Party! (1953-1954)

A collection of four EP's that collects recordings from 1951-1953. Those who haven't heard this material before will be astonished to discover bona fide rock & roll dating from three to four years earlier than 1954-1955 -- The beginning of his Decca era -- more commonly associated with the music's birth. Haley's sound is similar to the country-boogie of the late '40s, retaining the steel guitar prominent in much of the era's country music, but it's clearly more driving and forward-looking. The songs owe a lot to jump R&B but are transformed into the basic model of rock & roll with slapping bass, ricky-tick drums, and extended electric guitar riffing. Listen to his version of Jackie Brenston's 'Rocket 88' (which has itself been pegged as one of the first rock & roll records) and you'll be astounded to note the basics of rockabilly already in place -- in 1951. The low buzzing, distorted guitar on 'Green Tree Boogie' (also from 1951) is also a revelation, as is the guitar solo on 1952's 'Rock the Joint,' which is almost identical to the much more famous one on 'Rock Around the Clock.' The later sides introduce a honking sax, which would become such a prominent feature in 1950s rock & roll. Includes 'Crazy Man Crazy,' the first rock & roll song to make the Top 20.

1953 EP Rock with Bill Haley and the Comets (US Essex EP-102)

Here all the 4EP tracks in alphabetic order:

Bill Haley - Chattanooga Choo Choo
Bill Haley - Crazy Man, Crazy
Bill Haley - Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stockin')
Bill Haley - Farewell, So Long, Goobye
Bill Haley - Fractured
Bill Haley - Green Tree Boogie
Bill Haley - I'll Be True
Bill Haley - Jukebox Cannon Ball
Bill Haley - Live It Up
Bill Haley - Pat-A-Cake
Bill Haley - Real Rock Drive
Bill Haley - Rock The Joint
Bill Haley - Rocket '88'
Bill Haley - Rocking Chair On The Moon
Bill Haley - Stop Beatin' Around The Mulberry Bush
Bill Haley - What'cha Gonna Do

1954 EP Rock with Bill Haley and the Comets (US Essex EP-117)

1954 EP Rock with Bill Haley and the Comets (US Essex EP-118)

1954 EP Rock with Bill Haley and the Comets (US Essex EP-119)

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Zombies - 'Begin here' and end with 'Odessey & Oracle'

Aside from the Beatles and perhaps the Beach Boys, no mid-'60s rock group wrote melodies as gorgeous as those of the Zombies. Dominated by Colin Blunstone's breathy vocals, choral backup harmonies, and Rod Argent's shining jazz- and classical-influenced organ and piano, the band sounded utterly unique for their era. Indeed, their material -- penned by either Argent or guitarist Chris White, with unexpected shifts from major to minor keys -- was perhaps too adventurous for the singles market. To this day, they're known primarily for their three big hit singles, "She's Not There" (1964), "Tell Her No" (1965), and "Time of the Season" (1969). Most listeners remain unaware that the group maintained a remarkably high quality of work for several years.

The Zombies formed in the London suburb of St. Albans in the early '60s, and didn't actually entertain serious professional ambitions until they won a local contest, the prize being an opportunity to record a demo for consideration at major labels. Argent's composition "She's Not There" got them a deal with Decca, and the song ended up being their debut release. It was a remarkably confident and original first-time effort, with a great minor melody and the organ, harmonies, and urgent, almost neurotic vocals that would typify much of their work. It did well enough in Britain (making the Top 20), but did even better in the States, where it went to number two.

In fact, throughout their career, the group would experience a lot more success across the waters than they did at home. In early 1965, another piece of classic British Invasion pop, "Tell Her No," went into the Top Ten. Yet that was as much Top 40 success as the group would have for several years. Read on +/-

The tragedy was that throughout 1965 and 1966, the Zombies released a string of equally fine, intricately arranged singles that flopped commercially, at a time in which chart success of 45s was a lot more important to sustain a band's livelihood than it would be a few years down the road. "Remember When I Loved Her," "I Want You Back Again," "Indication," "She's Coming Home," "Whenever You're Ready," "Gotta Get a Hold of Myself," "I Must Move," "Remember You," "Just out of Reach," "How We Were Before" -- all are lost classics, some relegated to B-sides that went virtually unheard, all showing the group eager to try new ideas and expand their approaches. What's worse, the lack of a big single denied the group opportunities to record albums -- only one LP, rushed out to capitalize on the success of "She's Not There," would appear before 1968.

Their failure to achieve more widespread success is a bit mystifying, perhaps explained by a few factors. While undeniably pop-based, their original compositions and arrangements were in some senses too adventurous for the radio. "Indication," for instance, winds down with a lengthy, torturous swirl of bitter organ solos and wordless, windblown vocals; "Remember When I Loved Her," despite its beautiful melody, has downbeat lyrics that are almost morbid; "I Want You Back Again" is arranged like a jazz waltz, with the sorts of sudden stops, tempo shifts, and lengthy minor organ solos found in a lot of their tunes. The group were also, perhaps unfairly, saddled with a somewhat square image; much was made of their formidable scholastic record, and they most definitely did not align themselves with the R&B-based school of British bands, preferring more subtle and tuneful territory.

By 1967, the group hadn't had a hit for quite some time, and reckoned it was time to pack it in. Their Decca contract expired early in the year, and the Zombies signed with CBS for one last album, knowing before the sessions that it was to be their last. A limited budget precluded the use of many session musicians, which actually worked to the band's advantage, as they became among the first to utilize the then-novel Mellotron to emulate strings and horns.

Odessey and Oracle was their only cohesive full-length platter (the first album was largely pasted together from singles and covers). A near-masterpiece of pop/psychedelia, it showed the group reaching new levels of sophistication in composition and performance, finally branching out beyond strictly romantic themes into more varied lyrical territory. The album passed virtually unnoticed in Britain, and was only released in the States after some lobbying from Al Kooper. By that time it was 1968, and the group had split for good.

The Zombies had been defunct for some time when one of the tracks from Odessey, "Time of the Season," was released as a single, almost as an afterthought. It took off in early 1969 to become their biggest hit, but the members resisted temptations to re-form, leading to a couple of bizarre tours in the late '60s by bogus "Zombies" with no relation to the original group. By this time, Rod Argent was already recording as the leader of Argent, which went in a harder rock direction than the Zombies. After a spell as an insurance clerk, Colin Blunstone had some success (more in Britain than America) in the early '70s as a solo vocalist, with material that often amounted to soft rock variations on the Zombies sound.

1964 LP Begin Here (UK Decca LK-4679)

01. The Zombies - Road Runner
02. The Zombies - Summertime
03. The Zombies - I Can't Make Up My Mind
04. The Zombies - The Way I Feel Inside
05. The Zombies - Work N' Play
06. The Zombies - You Really Got A Hold on Me - Bring It On Home To Me
07. The Zombies - She's Not There
08. The Zombies - Sticks And Stones
09. The Zombies - Can't Nobody Love You
10. The Zombies - Woman
11. The Zombies - I Don't Want To Know
12. The Zombies - I Remember When I Loved Her
13. The Zombies - What More Can I Do
14. The Zombies - I Got My Mojo Working

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1968 LP Odessey And Oracle (UK CBS 63280)

Odessey and Oracle was one of the flukiest (and best) albums of the 1960s, and one of the most enduring long-players to come out of the entire British psychedelic boom, mixing trippy melodies, ornate choruses, and lush Mellotron sounds with a solid hard rock base. But it was overlooked completely in England and barely got out in America (with a big push by Al Kooper, who was then a Columbia Records producer); and it was neglected in the U.S. until the single "Time of the Season," culled from the album, topped the charts nearly two years after it was recorded, by which time the group was long disbanded. Ironically, at the time of its recording in the summer of 1967, permanency was not much on the minds of the band members. Odessey and Oracle was intended as a final statement, a bold last hurray, having worked hard for three years only to see the quality of their gigs decline as the hits stopped coming. The results are consistently pleasing, surprising, and challenging: "Hung Up on a Dream" and "Changes" are some of the most powerful psychedelic pop/rock ever heard out of England, with a solid rhythm section, a hot Mellotron sound, and chiming, hard guitar, as well as highly melodic piano. "Changes" also benefits from radiant singing. "This Will Be Our Year" makes use of trumpets (one of the very few instances of real overdubbing) in a manner reminiscent of "Penny Lane"; and then there's "Time of the Season," the most well-known song in their output and a white soul classic.

01. The Zombies - Care Of Cell 44
02. The Zombies - A Rose For Emily
03. The Zombies - Maybe After Hes Gone
04. The Zombies - Beechwood Park
05. The Zombies - Brief Candles
06. The Zombies - Hung Up On A Dream
07. The Zombies - Changes
08. The Zombies - I Want Her She Wants Me
09. The Zombies - This Will Be Our Year
10. The Zombies - Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914)
11. The Zombies - Friends Of Mine
12. The Zombies - Time Of The Season

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