Though originally released in Europe as a vinyl EP, this domestic maxi-single CD was out just in time to greet Britainâ€™s exit from the EU. Jah Wobble is joined by his forner PiL bandmates, Richard Dudanski and Keith Levene, fronted by the Pop Groupâ€™s Mark Stewart, augmented by loops from Primal Screamâ€™s Andrew Anderall, and produced by Martin Glover. The single is a hypnotic blend of Wobble and Dudanskiâ€™s rhythm lock, Leveneâ€™s buzzing guitar, and a vocal that rolls warnings, accusations, defenses, and dire prognostication into compact lyrics that echo the fragmentation and chaos of Britainâ€™s near term. The additional tracks on this maxi-single include a radio edit, a spacey dub, and a ska-fueled dub that adds loops and pushes the bass and drums forward. Apparently angst breeds fine art. [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]
Having risen from the embers of the Welsh indie-rock band Murray the Hump, Keys has now developed into a powerhouse neo-psych band. They punch up their Fillmore-ready jams and Pink Floyd-ish sound explorations with Cream- and Stooges-level power riffing, and on â€œYou Wear the Loveliest Gownsâ€ add a melody line and harmony vocals that, surprisingly, suggest Jan & Dean. Fans of Green on Redâ€™s first album, the Beatlesâ€™ mid-period psychedelia, the freakouts of Red Krayola and other â€˜60s touchstones will find a lot to like here. Recorded live, the sound is more overtly psychedelic than the bandâ€™s earlier catalog, the lyrics more impressionistic, and the performances punchier. Matthew Berry perches his slinky sing-song vocal delicately atop the heavy riffage ofÂ â€œBlack and White,â€ with drummer Dave Newington and guitarist Gwion Ap SiÃ´n Rowlands locked together before the latterâ€™s axe explodes in a wah-wah frenzy; Rowlands later takes a wonderfully wandering solo on the closing â€œBroken Bones.â€ The band has apparently been playing this material live for years, and recorded in an abandoned cinema without overdubs, the album resounds both artistically and aurally. This is a treat for lovers of muscular, melodic psych. [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]Â
Like many regional music scenes, the West Coast Eastside Sound was a one-of-a-kind confluence of artists, managers, record labels, entrepreneurs, nightclubs, radio DJs, and commercial and social circumstances. As detailed in this setâ€™s introductory liner notes andÂ label history, a keyÂ sociological spark that informed the Eastsideâ€™s musical development was race restrictions in Los Angeles clubs that led African-American artists to gig on the Eastside. This seeded the areaâ€™s Mexican and Chicano musicians with an R&B foundation to which they added flavors of Rancheras, Nortenos, and Salsas, and jacked up with the energy of doo-wop and rock â€˜nâ€™ roll. Local labels, including Del-Fi, Chattahoochie, Whittier, Faro, Linda, Boomerang, Prospect, Valhalla, Gordo and Rampart built a recording scene, and itâ€™s the latterâ€™s catalog of singles that is featured here.
Eddie Davis, Rampartâ€™s founder, first entered the music industry as a child member of the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir, appearing in a 1941 documentary (Forty Boys and a Song) and backing Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way. He joined the Navy in World War II, studied music at the College of the Pacific, owned a succession of restaurants, and returned to a quickly aborted singing career before founding his first label, Faro, in 1958. Faro led to the founding of Rampart in 1961 with the debut of Phil & Harvâ€™s romantic ballad â€œDarling (Please Bring Your Love)â€ and its joyous New Orleans-tinged flipside cover of Cole Porterâ€™sÂ â€œFriendship.â€
Davis initially employed the mixed-race, Oxnard-based Mixtures as a backing band, but also pulled in A-listers from Los Angeles. A third label, Linda, was established in 1962, the same year that Davis branched into the promotion of teen dances. As with the Los Angeles club laws that incentivized bands to book shows on the Eastside, the cityâ€™s prohibition of for-profit teen dances led Davis to promote shows in Pomonaâ€™s Rainbow Gardens, outside the reach of the big cityâ€™s restrictions. And as with the club shows, the teen dances exposed the Eastsideâ€™s Mexican-American audiences, and more importantly,Â its local musicians, to the cream of Los Angelesâ€™ R&B acts.
Rampartâ€™s early years included a Ray Charles-styled cover of â€œHome on the Range,â€ hot guitar and sax-led instrumentals, and with the Atlanticsâ€™ B-side â€œBeaver Shot,â€ the introduction of a horn section. The label hit its commercial apex with Cannibal & The Headhuntersâ€™ 1965 cover of Chris Kennerâ€™s â€œLand of 1000 Dances,â€ memorably built on the incantory â€œNa, Na Na Na Naâ€ improvisation, and on its original, uncut version, a revival-styled intro. Both the original and edited-for-radio single are included here. The singleâ€™s success led Cannibal and the Headhunters to television appearances and an opening slot on the Beatles 1965 U.S. tour – including shows at Shea Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl – yet the group was unable to extend their commercial breakthrough. Three follow-up singles, including the â€œ1000 Dancesâ€ knockoff â€œNau Ninny,â€ and the sunny, King Curtis-backed â€œFollow the Music,â€ failed to click, and the band moved on from Rampart to Date.
Rampart continued its releasesÂ the 1960s with singles by the Atlantics, Souljers, Summits, and Four Tempos. There were Sam & Dave-styled duets, boogaloo workouts, uptempo soul, beseeching ballads, and even the socially-conscious philosophy of Pvt. Randy Thomasâ€™ â€œThe Great Crusade.â€ In 1968 the Village Callers released the oft-sampled (and recently â€œOnce Upon a Time in Hollywoodâ€ soundtrack featured) â€œHectorâ€ with a sophisticated soul organ lead backed by a powerful rhythm track and horn chart. The soul turned swampier on the B-side â€œMississippi Delta,â€ and the East Bay Soul Brass worked out with sax, trumpet and organ on â€œThe Cat Walk.â€ The label continued to imaginatively mix 50s-styledÂ throwback ballads, airier mid-tempo late â€˜60s soul, and foreground Latin flavors, pulling in both original and cover material for an evolving slate of artists.
A four year break from 1972 to 1976 found the label returning with the Eastside Connectionâ€™s update on the traditional â€œLa Cucaracha,â€ and kicked off a short string of disco singles. The labelâ€™s sporadic subsequent releases included rock, new wave, uptempo Spanish-language synth dance numbers, but without the earthy soul of the earlier years essayed on the setâ€™s first three discs. In addition to the introductory notes from Luis Luis J. Rodriquez and label history from Don Waller, the 102-page book includes a photo essay of Cannibal and the Headhunters on the road in shows promoted by Murray the K, Dick Clark and Motown, opening for the Rolling Stones and the Beatles in 1965, and performing on televisionâ€™s Hullabaloo and Itâ€™s Whatâ€™s Happening.
This is a rich document of a label born at the confluence of social circumstances, musical influences and commercial opportunity. Having the B-sides is particularly gratifying, as the label rarely shortchanged the flips – the Atlanticsâ€™ novelty â€œSonny & Cherâ€ B-side notwithstanding. To gain a full picture of the Eastside Sound, listeners will need to track down material from sister labels Faro and Donna, and key releases from Thee Midniters, The Romancers and other Eastside icons, but you could hardly find a better place to start enjoying and appreciating this unique moment in musical history than with this incredible set. Issued in a limited run of 1000, pick this one up before it becomes a collectors item alongside the original vinyl singles! [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]
Yep Rocâ€™s twenty-seven track anthology compiles all of the Christmas-related titles that Los Straitjackets have released across 2002â€™s Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets, 2009â€™s Yuletide Beat, 2011â€™s â€œHark the Herald Angels Singâ€ single, and Yep Rocâ€™s 2007 collection Oh Santa!, and adds a bonus live version of Vince Guaraldiâ€™s â€œLinus & Lucyâ€ recorded on the bandâ€™s 2015 tour with Nick Lowe. The playlist is dominated by â€˜60s-styled guitar-driven instrumental versions of Christmas classics, often cleverly augmented by motifs borrowed from â€œLa Bamba,â€ â€œPipeline,â€ â€œWalk Donâ€™t Run,â€ â€œMisirlou,â€ â€œI Fought the Law,â€ â€œBuckaroo,â€ â€œSing, Sing, Singâ€ and other iconic tunes. There are playful Latin beats onÂ â€œRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeerâ€ and â€œO Tannenbaum,â€ Memphis soul on â€œJoy to the Worldâ€ and power-pop on â€œGroovy Old Saint Nick.â€ The bandâ€™s three originals include two instrumentals, â€œChristmas in Las Vegasâ€ and â€œChristmas Weekend,â€ and the albumâ€™s only vocal, â€œHoliday Twist.â€ This is a creative collection of Christmas tunes that will spruce up your holidays. [Â©2019 Hyperbolium]
The Byrdsâ€™ 1968 Sweetheart of the Rodeo wasnâ€™t their first dance with country music, but it was their most full throated. The addition of Gram Parsons to the bandâ€™s lineup magnified the country music that had threaded through the Byrdâ€™s earlier albums, and with Nashville ace Lloyd Green and Los Angeles player Jay Dee Maness contributing their steel guitar prowess, the group made its most powerful roots music statement. Now, on the albumâ€™s fiftieth anniversary, the steel wizards salute both the Byrdsâ€™ invention and their contribution to it by recreating the entire album as steel and fiddle-led instrumentals. And as a bonus, a reprise of the opening track, â€œYou Ainâ€™t Goinâ€™ Nowhere,â€ is offered with superb, heartfelt vocals by Jim Lauderdale, Jeff Hanna, Richie Furay and Herb Pedersen. Recorded at Nashvilleâ€™s Cinderella Sound (the oldest independent studio in town), the new arrangements largely stay true to the original melodies, but with steel guitars and fiddle taking lead, the mood is more languorous, and the twang pushes the songs of Charlie Louvin, Cindy Walker, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons even further into the country domain. This isnâ€™t meant to replace the iconic original album, but as a reflection on the turn it helped to usher in, and a musical conversation in steel between two of the original players, itâ€™s a wonderful echo. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]
Originally released in 1969, this debut outlined the wide musical grasp and irreverent sensibility that would grow the bandâ€™s legend over the next 49 years. 49 years in which this initial explosion of creativity sat in the vault unreissued. 49 years in which either the groupâ€™s continuing activity diverted their attention from a reissue, or in which lawyers intermittently haggled over muddy contractual rights. Either way, Omnivore has finally liberated the album from its resting place and reissued the fourteen songs in a tri-fold slipcase with original front and back cover art, Donn Adams period liner notes, and contemporary notes by Jay Berman. Berman characterizes the bandâ€™s repertoire, even at this early point in their career, as including â€œnearly anything,â€ and the eclectic mix of covers and originals bears that out.
This first studio lineup included long-time members Terry Adams and Joey Spampinato (the latter then credited as Jody St. Nicholas), along with vocalist Frank Gadler, guitarist Steve Ferguson and drummer Tom Staley. The group stakes out the audacious corners of their musical omniverance with covers of Eddie Cochranâ€™s rockabilly â€œCâ€™mon Everybody,â€ Sun Raâ€™s avant garde jazz â€œRocket Number 9,â€ Sonny Terry and Brownie McGheeâ€™s folk blues â€œCâ€™mon If Youâ€™re Cominâ€™â€ (which the group revisited on 1972â€™s Workshop), and a country soul arrangement of Bruce Channelâ€™s 1962 chart topper, â€œHey! Baby.â€ Few bands at the time would have even known this range of material, let alone find a way to make it fit together on an album.
The original material from Adams, Spaminato and Ferguson is equally ambitious. Adams mashes up trad jazz and rock â€˜nâ€™ roll for â€œKentucky Slop,â€ boogies hard on â€œMama Get Down Those Rock And Roll Shoes,â€ captures the melancholy of Carla Bleyâ€™s 1964 jazz instrumental â€œIda Lupinoâ€ with original lyrics, and closes the album with the piano-led â€œStay With Me.â€ Fergusonâ€™s trio of originals include the pop and soul influences of â€œI Didnâ€™t Know Myself,â€ the gospel rocker â€œStompâ€ and the country, folk and gospel flavored â€œFergieâ€™s Prayer.â€ Spampinato offers the albumâ€™s most ebullient moment with â€œYou Canâ€™t Hide,â€ a title the band would revisit ten years later on Tiddlywinks.
The albumâ€™s collection of first takes (including the previously unreleased first take of â€œStompâ€ substituting for the re-recorded version that appeared on the original vinyl) provides a snapshot of the band as they played live. The set list reflects the confluence of musical interests, knowledge and talent the band members brought to the group, and the performances have an all-in quality that made second takes superfluous. Whether or not the renditions were note-perfect (and they pretty much are), they were perfect expressions of the musical ethos that sustains the band to this day. Itâ€™s a shame that the originally released second take of â€œStompâ€ wasnâ€™t included as part of this reissue, but thatâ€™s a nit, given the historical and artistic riches that have been sprung from the vault. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]