Posts Tagged ‘Instrumentals’

Hypercast #2: In Memoriam 2013

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

A collection of music from some of the artists who passed away in 2013.

Ray Price Heartaches by the Number
Tompall Glaser Drinking Them Beers
Richie Havens High Flyin’ Bird
The Standells (Dick Dodd) Dirty Water
Game Theory (Scott Miller) Jimmy Still Comes Around
Ten Years After (Alvin Lee) I’d Love to Change the World
Sammy Johns Chevy Van
Junior Murvin Police and Thieves
Bobby “Blue” Bland Cry Cry Cry
Jewel Akins The Birds and the Bees
Eydie Gormé Blame it on the Bossa Nova
Bob Brozman Stack O Lee Aloha
Bob Thompson Mmm Nice!
Divinyls (Chrissy Amphlett) I Touch Myself
Annette Funicello California Sun
The Doors (Ray Manzarek) Light My Fire
Slim Whitman I Remember You
Noel Harrison Suzanne
The Velvet Underground (Lou Reed) Pale Blue Eyes
George Jones I’ve Aged Twenty Years in Five
Patti Page Tennessee Waltz
Cowboy Jack Clement I Guess Things Happen That Way
JJ Cale After Midnight
Ray Price For the Good Times

OST: Running Wild – The Life of Dayton O. Hyde

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

StevePoltz_RunningWildSteve Poltz soundtrack for a documentary on Dayton O. Hyde

Steve Poltz’s soundtrack for Suzanne Mitchell’s documentary Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde, features eight new lyrical songs interspersed among seventeen short instrumentals. Poltz wrote his songs after visiting with Dayton Hyde at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary he’d founded in 1988. The instrumentals tend to atmospheric and contemplative, though a few longer tracks, “Happier Hour” and “El Centro,” are full-band arrangements; the former is a bouncy country tune, the latter a growling rocker. Hyde’s background as a cowboy, rancher, rodeo rider, photographer and author were perhaps the only possible path to his ultimate role as a savior of wild horses.  His accomplishments are extensive, often extending far beyond his personal well-being, and his gratitude is both deep and widespread.

Poltz employs country, rock and blues, collaborating with director Mitchell to fine-tune his songs to the film’s take on its subject’s character. The only track not written by Poltz is Lily Kaminsk’s “Phantom Love,” a haunting, lo-fi pop ballad performed by her band She Rose, and originally released in 2012. Poltz is a prolific artist and well-traveled troubadour, having released more than a dozen solo albums, including a disc full of answering machine recordings and a live CD/DVD package. But with all that under his belt, this is his first venture into soundtracks, and the flexibility of his style turns out to be well suited to both the needs of a film soundtrack and the strong character and fine shadings of this story’s protagonist. [©2013 Hyperbolium]

Dick Schory: Re-Percussion

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

DickSchory_RePercussion

Dick Schory was a classically trained percussionist who worked for the Ludwig drum company. He recorded a highly regarded string of panoramic stereo space-age bachelor pad LPs, based on his original concepts for percussion ensembles. Though he started with a base of traditional drums, cymbals, gongs and xylophones, he also employed world percussion, repurposed everyday objects, and large orchestras. This 1957 release, originally on the Concert Disc label, is focused on percussion, along with piano, bass and guitar, and should really be heard in full CD (or analog LP) fidelity for maximum impact; though it’s unclear if Essential’s CDR-on-demand is produced from full-fidelity transfers (which themselves may or may not have been made from original master tapes) or from the parallel MP3 digital downloads. This will still be enjoyable at lower bit rates, but may not stand up to the audiophile quality amplification it deserves. [©2013 hyperbolium dot com]

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The Percussive Arts Society
The Ames Historical Society
Space Age Pop

Various Artists: Surf-Age Nuggets

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Various_SurfAgeNuggetsMonster wave of obscure ‘60s surf gems

It’s no accident that this deluxe 4-CD set uses the word “Nuggets” in its title; this is an apt reference to Lenny Kaye’s landmark 1972 compilation of psychedelic and garage rock. An even better touchstone, however, is Bomp’s follow-on series of Pebbles releases, which dug deeper into the world of one-off local and indie releases. In that sense, Surf-Age Nuggets is the Pebbles (with a touch of Las Vegas Grind) to earlier anthologies of major label releases, hit singles and nationally-known acts. Producer James Austin (who previously helmed Rhino’s Cowabunga! The Surf Box), focuses here on the impossibly rare and ephemeral: obscure singles that barely managed local distribution, with just a hint of rarities from a couple of well-known names. The result is a magnificent musical essay on the scene that flourished in the wake of surf music’s brief rise to commercial popularity.

Dozens of earlier collections have explored this DIY wave, but never in the luxuriousness of this set. Not only are the discs stuffed with 104 tracks (including a sprinkle of period radio spots and a 16-minute bonus montage hidden at the end of disc four), but the collection is housed in a wide 11 x 6 hardcover with a 60-page book of liner, song and band notes, full-color photographs and reproductions of picture sleeves, posters, period ads, comics and other ephemera. Although the material was sourced primarily from early ‘60s vinyl, unlike the first-state (that is, pops-and-clicks intact) condition of many collections of vintage singles, mastering engineer Jerry Peterson worked some very special voodoo in cleaning up the digital transcriptions. The complete lack of surface noise is a bit eerie, but the results remain largely true to the powerhouse mono vibe of a vintage 45.

The selections are guitar-centric, beat-driven and up-tempo; a formula whose thousands of variations have yet to get old. This is the sound of four guys getting together in a garage, working up covers and a couple of originals, scoring a gig and getting a crack at recording. Being true to the period, what’s here isn’t all strictly surf music; there’s plenty of reverb-drenched Dick Dale-styled staccato picking, but instrumental rock was a bigger lineup into which musicians crowded from every state. California surf bands provided inspiration, but the twang of guitar slingers like Duane Eddy, Link Wray and Lonnie Mack also held sway. Most of these acts had brief careers, but this collection is more than a set of surf songs; it’s a soundtrack to an era in which surf culture captured the national attention, even among those who didn’t surf or listen to surf music. This is a document of a time when radios had only an AM band, and teen culture was on the rise. Paddle, turtle, hangout and catch this tasty wave! [©2012 Hyperbolium]

Booker T. & The M.G.s: Green Onions

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Booker T. & The M.G.s’ 1962 debut LP couldn’t possibly live up to the invention and excitement of its title single, but it doesn’t have to, as even without the catchy hooks of their hits, the band’s soul grooves cut deep. With only three originals (“Green Onions,” the cooler variation, “Mo’ Onions,” and the exquisite late-night organ blues, “Behave Yourself”), the Stax house band was left to pull together cover songs from a wide variety of sources. They give instrumental hits by Dave “Baby” Cortez (“Rinky-Dink”) and Phil Upchurch (“Can’t Sit Down”) solid shots of Memphis soul, and though Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore” could be the last slow dance of the evening in a restaurant’s cocktail lounge, Steve Cropper’s guitar still manages to add some flavor. More impressive are his chops on Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” and Jones’ soulful chords and lightning-fast single notes on “Lonely Avenue.” The original track lineup closes with a wonderful take on the jazz tune “Comin’ Home Baby,” with both Jones and Cropper shining brightly. The 2012 reissue includes a 12-page booklet featuring full-panel front- and back-cover shots, Bob Altshuler’s original liners and new notes from Rob Bowman. Also included are hot live takes of “Green Onions” and “Can’t Sit Down,” recorded in stereo in 1965 and originally released on Funky Broadway: Stax Revue Live at the 5/4 Ballroom. Though Booker T. & The M.G.s are best known for their hits (e.g., The Very Best Of) and the Stax singles they powered for others, their original albums hold many lesser-known charms that will delight ‘60s soul fans. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

Bikini Machine: Let’s Party with Bikini Machine

Monday, May 28th, 2012

60s-styled fuzz-guitar soundtrack-ready instrumentals

Bikini Machine seems to have been teleported into the present from the soundtrack of a mid-60s American International Pictures film. Drawing their name (as well as a vocal drop used in their title song) from the 1965 film Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, there’s a healthy dose of Davie Allan and the Arrows in their beat-heavy instrumental go-go rock. Given that the film was originally slated to be a musical (you can hear some of the vocal tunes cut from the film in the Shindig television special The Weird Wild World of Dr. Goldfoot [1 2 3]), it’s only fitting that a band would eventually find retro inspiration here. The fuzz guitars, primitive keyboards and wordless vocals give the tunes a space-age bachelor pad dimension that suggests the great UK production library music, cinema soundtracks (including ample hints of blacksploitation soul) and instrumental knock-offs of the mid-to-late ‘60s, all driven by really snappy drumming. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

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Various Artists: Cameo Parkway Holiday Hits

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Holiday odds and sods from the legendary Cameo Parkway vault

With the departure of Gordon Anderson from Collectors’ Choice, and the apparent sidelining of the label’s activities, their reissue program for the Cameo-Parkway catalog has moved with Anderson to his new label, Real Gone. This eighteen-track set of holiday-themed material combines tunes from two of the label’s stars, Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker and two of the label’s fine doo-wop groups, the Cameos and Jaynells. The track-list features a number of fun one-offs, including Bob Seger’s rock ‘n’ soul “Sock it to Me Santa,” Toni Sante’s Spanish-language girl group “Donde Esta Santa Clause?,” and a funny Bob Dylan lampoon, Bobby the Poet singing “White Christmas,” as introduced by a Bobby Kennedy impressionist. There are also two versions of “Auld Lang Syne,” one in ragtime style by Beethoven Ben (in actuality, label co-founder Bernie Lowe), and one as bluegrass by The Lonesome Travelers, featuring the legendary Norman Blake on mandolin!

Less interesting are seven cuts split between the big band instrumentals of the Rudolph Statler Orchestra and the orchestral sounds of the International Pop Orchestra. Neither unit has anything to do with the Cameo Parkway house band sound (though, to be fair, neither do the Lonesome Travelers), and the arrangements are generic. This set was previously issued by ABKCO as Holiday Hits from Cameo Parkway, and it’s reissued here with the addition of the B-side “Jingle Bell Imitations,” in which Rydell and Checker run through the styles of Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Fats Domino, Frank Fontaine and the Chipmunks. It’s a shame Cameo Parkway never gathered Checker, Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, the Orlons, Tymes and others to record a proper holiday album. Still, if you factor out the instrumentals, there are many fine rarities here to add to your holiday playlist. Nicely mastered mono on 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, and stereo elsewhere. The booklet includes terrific liner notes by Gene Sculatti and discographical details. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

Arthur Lyman: Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas)

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Vibraphone master gives holiday classics an exotica twist

Together with Martin Denny, vibraphonist Arthur Lyman defined the Hawaii-based instrumental style known as “exotica.” After recording the seminal Exotica album with Denny’s combo, Lyman struck out on his own, recording numerous jazz-flavored exotica albums for the Hi-Fi and Life labels, including the classic Taboo in 1958. This holiday entry was originally released in 1964, and features Lyman’s exquisite mallet work on a dozen titles. In Lyman’s hands, these classic Christmas songs take on an island languor you’re unlikely to hear in others’ versions, but it’s not all drifting and dreaming, as Lyman’s combo turns up the tempo on a few stagey romps. If you’ve tired of the crooners and rockers, Lyman’s brand of Polynesian pop-jazz will provide you a sheltered cove for the holidays. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Various Artists: Blue Moon of Kentucky – Instrumental Tribute to Bill Monroe

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Instrumental tribute to the Father of Bluegrass

Mike Scott leads an all-star line-up, including Adam Steffey, Bryan Sutton, Rob Ickes, Aubrey Haynie, Mike Compton, Tim Stafford and Ben Isaacs, on this instrumental tribute to the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. Twelve of these tracks were previously released as a gift shop item on the Maple Street label, but with six additional performances and broader distribution from Rural Rhythm, this release welcomes the 100th anniversary year of Monroe’s birth. Shorn of bluegrass vocal harmonies, the instrumentalists have plenty of room to solo, and they do so with great finesse. There’s some requisite hot picking, but more interesting are the ballads and mid-tempo numbers on which the melodic beauty and subtle instrumental tones aren’t overwhelmed by frenetic tempos. The lazy fiddle that introduces “Blue Moon of Kentucky” gives way to some fine mid-tempo playing, “Kentucky Waltz” is as relaxed and warm as an outdoor summer’s dance, and Scott, Ickes and Haynie trade wonderfully slow, lost-in-thought solos on “Precious Memories.” This is a sweet tribute to the musical roots of bluegrass and a fitting marker for Bill Monroe’s hundredth birthday anniversary. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Barney Kessel: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Kessel reinterprets Mancini’s film soundtrack

Those seeking Barney Kessel’s legendary jazz stylings should look elsewhere. As a guitarist in the ‘50s, Kessel was renowned for his cool, bop-inspired playing in small quartets on sessions with the Contemporary label. But in the early ‘60s he signed with Reprise and embarked on a series of pop records. This was hardly new territory for Kessel, as he’d been backing pop musicians for years, and was a first-call guitarist for pop titans like Phil Spector; but as a front-man, this was a break from the jazz sessions he’d previously led. On his debut for Reprise, Kessel reinterpreted Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a septet that included the superb playing of Paul Horn on saxophone and flute. This is a fair distance from the harder jazz Kessel had been recording, but not nearly as out-and-out pop as his next album, Bossa Nova. Here he leans on the jazz roots of Mancini’s compositions and swings some original solos on “The Big Blow Out” and “Loose Caboose.” Surprisingly, the soundtrack’s centerpiece, “Moon River,” is rendered pedestrian here, as if Kessel couldn’t find anything new to say with it. This album is likely to disappoint those seeking hard-bop, in line with the guitarist’s earlier works, but if you seek a variation on the original soundtrack, this is worth hearing. This album is also available on CD as a 3-fer with Bossa Nova and Contemporary Latin Rhythms. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]