17-year-old Kathy Fletcher interviews Captain Beefheart, and discusses the origin of his and his band’s name, the group’s membership, and why their music is getting so popular. DIck Clark spins the Magic Band’s version of “Diddy Wah Diddy.”
17-year-old Kathy Fletcher interviews Captain Beefheart, and discusses the origin of his and his band’s name, the group’s membership, and why their music is getting so popular. DIck Clark spins the Magic Band’s version of “Diddy Wah Diddy.”
The early â€˜60s was a golden age of opportunistic cross-marketing, as television executives collaborated with the music industry to expand the brands of their shows. Record albums from the casts (or in many cases, only the producers and talent commissioned by the programâ€™s licensors) hit the market for Bonanza, Get Smart, Gomer Pyle, the Man From U.N.C.L.E., the Addams Family and numerous other classic television programs. Many of these, including theÂ recently reissued Munsters album, were lightweight novelties meant to quickly cash in on a showâ€™s popularity. But a few were professionally arranged and conducted albums of orchestral pop, and such is this effort from composer, arranger and bandleader Milton Delugg. Which isnâ€™t to suggest there was no intention to quickly cash in, but Deluggâ€™s talent elevates the album well beyond that initial motivation.
Gathered here are snappy new arrangements of the theme songs from televisionâ€™s The Munsters, The Addams Family, Bewitched, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Outer Limits. Each is cleverly orchestrated and performed, adding new sizzle to the easily recognized themes.Â Thereâ€™s Duane Eddy-styled twang, harpsichord, horns and full-kit drumming for the Munsters, a march that turns into jazzy flute and muted horns for the Addams Family, and dramatic horns and discordant xylophone for the Outer Limits. These are great tunes, professionally rendered in inventive new arrangements that will please fans of the TV originals, as well as fans of 1960s orchestral pop.
The album is filled out by seven original monster-themed instrumentals that are as lively as the TV tunes. â€œCreature from Under the Seaâ€ is an uptempo waltz filled with mystery, pathos and danger, â€œFrankensteinâ€ has has a kinetic flavor that would have worked nicely in a spy film, â€œGhoul Meets Ghoulâ€ makes a slinky nod to the Pink Panther theme, and a heavy Latin beat and horn accents for â€œThe Mummy.â€ With the original 1964 vinyl selling for big dollars, itâ€™s great to have this enjoyable collectable back in print, if only briefly for this ghoulish green vinyl limited edition. Hopefully someone can get the digital rights and reissue as a CD or download for analog-deficient listeners! [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]
With The Munsters finding fans among a teenage television audience, the concept was ripe for spin-off marketing. Producers Joe Hooven and Hal Winn assembled the Wrecking Crew and a vocal group named the Go Goâ€™s to record a dozen light-surf novelty tunes written by uncredited scribes, and a future collectible was born. None of these songs have the adolescent archness of Mad Magazineâ€™s records, or the scene detail of Gary Usherâ€™s surf â€˜nâ€™ drag albums, but thereâ€™s entertainment to be found in the bump and grind sax of â€œVampire Vamp,â€ the ersatz Jan & Dean falsetto of â€œ(Here Comes the) Munsterâ€™s Coach,â€ the Shadows-styled guitar of â€œEerie Beach,â€ and the various Munster references. This was reissued on CD and limited edition purple vinyl in 2018, with the latter now getting a second life on ghastly grey mono wax. Not an essential, but interesting for fans of mid-60s pop novelties. [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]
By the time that Pittsburgh pianist Johnny Costa met Fred Rogers, he was an accomplished jazz musician whoâ€™d led albums released by Coral, Savoy and Dot, was featured on Manny Albamâ€™s A Gallery of Gershwin (a theme Costa revisited on 1994â€™s A Portrait of George Gershwin) and served as music director for televisionâ€™s Mike Douglas. Costa returned to Pittsburgh in the mid-60s where he met and partnered with Fred Rogers in creating the music for Mister Rogersâ€™ Neighborhood. Costaâ€™s college background in both music and education matched that of Rogers, and his fluid musical style (one that Art Tatum likened to his own) and imaginative arrangements were a perfect match for the emotional insights that Rogers illuminated with his song concepts and lyrics. Costa was a charter resident of the neighborhood, joining in 1968, playing live, adding improvisational continuity, appearing on camera on occasion, and serving as Rogersâ€™ musical director until the pianistâ€™s passing in 1996.
This 1984 release features Costaâ€™s piano in a trio setting with Carl McVicker on bass and Bobby Rawsthorne on drums. As an instrumental jazz outing on the short-lived Mister Rogers Neighborhood label, but not featuring Mister Rogers himself, it likely didnâ€™t sell well to either the television showâ€™s preschool viewership or jazz hounds, and so the original vinyl release has become quite rare. Omnivoreâ€™s reissue includes the albumâ€™s original thirteen tracks, all written by Fred Rogers. Fans of the television show will immediately recognize the warm welcome of the opening â€œWonâ€™t You Be My Neighbor,â€ but as you would expect from a talented jazz musician, Costa uses the theme as a launching point for spirited improvisation. The same is true for the closing â€œTomorrow,â€ which is given a heavier dose of optimistic melancholy than in its television incarnations.
Costaâ€™s playing is florid, dramatic, inquisitive, frenetic, humorous and contemplative, mirroring the themes and emotional lessons of Rogersâ€™ lyrical compositions. The yearning for reassurance that Rogers wrote into the lyrics of â€œPlease Donâ€™t Think Itâ€™s Funnyâ€ is equally well expressed in Costaâ€™s introspective soloing. â€œEverybodyâ€™s Fancyâ€ includes fancy runs, â€œI Like to Take My Timeâ€ proceeds at a jaunty stroll, and â€œSomething to Do While Weâ€™re Waitingâ€ is filled with irrepressible childhood energy. Costa is fleet-fingered and lyrical as he expresses through his piano the emotional core of each song. This collection ofÂ instrumental treatments provides a terrific complement to Fred Rogersâ€™ originals, twenty-three of which are collected in Omnivoreâ€™s companion volume, It’s Such A Good Feeling: The Best Of Mister Rogers. Taken together, the two releases highlight the musical and emotional resonances between Rogers, Costa and their audience. [Â©2019 Hyperbolium]
Bear Family is well-known to collectors for the imagination and thoroughness of their box sets. Their cataloging of American country music in artist-based collections is unparalleled in its detail. But even against that high bar of quality, this set is something else, as it draws a comprehensive picture of a scene, rather than a more easily defined artist or label catalog. To assemble this set, producer Scott B. Bomar needed to develop a deep understanding of the history, connections and influences that forged the Bakersfield Sound over thirty-five years. They needed to identify artists, producers, engineers, studios, labels, clubs, radio and television stations, and records, and they needed to dig deep beneath the commercial surface, to find the rare materials that spurred and cross-pollinated artistic advances. The results are ten discs, nearly 300 tracks, and 224 pages that demonstrate how the scene developed, how lesser-known players contributed to those who would become stars, and how the stars themselves grew from their roots. Itâ€™s an astounding achievement, even on the Bear Family scale.
Situated at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield is a commercial hub for both the Central Valleyâ€™s agriculture and the surrounding areaâ€™s petroleum and natural gas production. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl drove many Texans, Oklahomans, Arkansans and Missourians west, with many migrants resettling into agricultural and oil work. The Owens family moved from Texas to Arizona in the late â€˜30s, and Buck Owens eventually settled in Bakersfield in 1951. The Haggard family moved from Oklahoma to California in the mid-30s, where Merle Haggard was born (in Oildale) in 1937. Bakersfield became both a physical confluence of refugees from the Plains states, and an artistic melting pot of their musical tastes; a place and time in which influences could combine and grow into something new.
As Bomar notes in his liners, Bakersfield was really more of an aesthetic than a singular sound. The range of artists ascribed to Bakersfield (including some who never actually lived or recorded there) are as varied as the influences that shaped the cityâ€™s music. As Joe Maphis chronicled, Bakersfieldâ€™s honky-tonks – including the Blackboard, Trouts, Lucky Spot, Tex’s Barrel House, and the Clover Club – were genuine dens of dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music, and as Nashville softened its approach in the 1950s, Bakersfield hardened its own. As Nashville toned down the twang and added strings and backing choruses, Bakersfield plugged in electric guitars to complement the fiddle and steel. As Nashville sweetened the arrangements and slowed the tempos for crooners, Bakersfield picked up the beat and highlighted vocalists singing harder-edged lyrics. Bakersfield wasnâ€™t necessarily reacting to Nashvilleâ€™s changes, but acting outside its commercial forcefield.
Owensâ€™ and Haggardâ€™s legends are rooted in Bakersfieldâ€™s honky-tonks, where they developed and honed their particular brands of music alongside the many foundational acts documented here. Bear Family has cast a wide net to haul in field recordings, radio and television broadcasts, live sessions, vault finds, vanity recordings, alternate takes, demos, rare local singles, B-sides, album tracks, and a selection of hits, to tell the story of Bakersfieldâ€™s development, rather than recite the well-known riches at the end of the creative rainbow. The set begins with early â€˜40s field recordings gathered in the Central Valley migrant work camps that were run by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The rustic vocal, guitar and banjo music of the campsâ€™ residents was as important a cultural touchstone as were the physical wares theyâ€™d packed into the trucks and beat-up cars that carried them west, and its mix of influences the roots of the Bakersfield music scene.
The set moves to 1944 with a fiddle-heavy cover of Fred Roseâ€™s â€œHome in San Antone,â€ and establishes radioâ€™s role in expanding local musiciansâ€™ regional reach with transcriptions from Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, the Maddox Brothers and Rose, and Elwin Cross & The Arizona Wranglers. The latter group, whose â€œBack in Dear Old Oklahomaâ€ strikes a nostalgic, homesick note, included Bill Woods, who would soon become a pillar of the Bakersfield scene as a bandleader at the Blackboard. From these earliest days of the Bakersfield scene, the upbeat tempos of swing and boogie drove many of the original songs, with twangy steel, guitar and fiddle prominently featured throughout. Billy Mize is heard on 1949â€™s â€œGot a Chance With Youâ€ and Roy Nicholsâ€™ influential guitar playing on 1950â€™s â€œBaby Blues.â€
Capitol Records and producer Ken Nelson – both key elements of Bakersfieldâ€™s commercial success – enter the collection with Ferlin Huskyâ€™s 1951 single â€œI Want You So,â€ recorded under the stage name of Terry Preston. Buck Owens first turns up at Capitol as a studio picker on Tommy Collinsâ€™ â€œYou Better Not Do That,â€ and Capitolâ€™s Hollywood studio was the site of Bakersfieldâ€™s first national hit with Jean Shepard and Ferlin Huskyâ€™s â€œA Dear John Letter.â€ The song had been recorded twice before on local Bakersfield labels Grande and Kord, which along with Mar-Vel and others featured early performances by Bakersfield figures Bill Woods (who was so important to building the Bakersfield scene, that Red Simpson released a tribute to him in 1973), Fuzzy Owen, Lewis Talley, Billy Mize and Bonnie Owens. Many of the records most deeply associated with Bakersfield were actually recorded in Los Angeles, including the Blackboard Club-inspired honky-tonk of Joe Maphis & Rose Leeâ€™s 1953 â€œDim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music).â€
The early songs of home and homesickness quickly gave way to songs of romantic infatuation, love and recrimination, often with a forwardness that was disappearing from Nashvilleâ€™s productions. The Farmer Boysâ€™ â€œIt Pays to Advertiseâ€ is surprisingly direct with the romantic boast, â€œwhen it comes to making love, I donâ€™t leave girl neglected,â€ and Billy Mizeâ€™s â€œWho Will Buy the Wineâ€ is scathing in its appraisal of a wayward spouseâ€™s downfall. By 1956, rock â€˜nâ€™ roll was influencing Bakersfieldâ€™s players as Wanda Jacksonâ€™s â€œI Gotta Knowâ€ features a tug of war between upbeat rockabilly verses and a slow country chorus, Dusty Payne & The Rhythm Rockerâ€™s â€œI Want Youâ€ has a rockabilly backbeat, Sid Silverâ€™s â€œBumble Rumbleâ€ offers up countrified skiffle, the bluesy guitar of Johnny Taylorâ€™s â€œSad Sad Saturday Nightâ€ is backed by Bill Woodsâ€™ piano triplets, and Buck Owensâ€™ jangly guitar adds flair to Bill Woodsâ€™ â€œAsk Me No Questions.â€
Buck Owensâ€™ first session for Capitol as a leader included the bouncy 1957 single â€œCome Back to Me,â€ and his charting single, â€œSecond Fiddle,â€ is also included early in the set. Owens quickly became a monumental presence in the Bakersfield scene as he dominated the country charts throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Owens had one or more Top 10 singles every year from 1959 until 1974 (including fourteen straight #1s from 1963 to 1967), with 1974 marking the death of Don Rich, and not coincidentally the year that ends this set. Owensâ€™ catalog is detailed elsewhere, including three Bear Family box sets [1 2 3], and so the producer has cherry-picked sides that demonstrate Owensâ€™ evolution as a singer, songwriter, producer and live performer, including the classic Buckaroosâ€™ lineup first session on 1964â€™s â€œClose Up the Honky Tonks.â€ The Buckaroos were such a prolific, powerhouse group that they had a parallel career without Owens out front, represented here by selections fronted by Don Rich and Doyle Holly, the instrumental â€œChicken Pickinâ€™,â€ and sides backing artists who recorded at Buck Owensâ€™ Bakersfield studio. The latter includes a track from Arlo Guthrieâ€™s 1973 album Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys, and Don Richâ€™s last session, backing Tony Boothâ€™s â€œA Different Kind of Sad.â€
Wynn Stewart also recorded for Capitol, but it was at Challenge and its subsidiary Jackpot that he waxed the singles most associated with the Bakersfield sound. Included here is his superb 1960 take on the Bakersfield club favorite â€œPlayboy,â€ but his hits – 1958â€™s â€œCome On,â€ 1959â€™s â€œWishful Thinkingâ€ and â€œAbove and Beyond (The Call of Love),â€ and 1961â€™s â€œBig Big Loveâ€ – showed off an artistic range emblematic of Bakersfieldâ€™s many influences and musically adventurous spirit. Though not as commercially successful as Owens or Haggard, Stewart was highly influential, and he left behind a rich catalog (documented in full on Bear Familyâ€™s box set Wishful Thinking) thatâ€™s worth its own investment.
Haggard was in and out of juvenile detention and jail as the cityâ€™s music scene developed, but a late-50s stretch in San Quentin renewed his interest in a music career in which heâ€™d previously dabbled, and upon his release in 1960 he began performing and subsequently recording for Tally. Like Owens, Haggard was both an artistic and commercial force. Though born in California, his autobiographical songs were rife with the hardship of Dustbowl refugees, and the struggles of outsiders. He first appears on this set as a songwriter and bassist for Johnny Barnettâ€™s 1963 Tally single â€œSecond Fiddle,â€ and he debuted on Tallyâ€™s next single with â€œSinginâ€™ My Heart Outâ€ and its flip, â€œSkid Row.â€ Haggardâ€™s early Tally releases also included themed song, â€œLife in Prison,â€ as well as his first duet with Bonnie Owens, â€œSlowly But Surely.â€ Haggardâ€™s transition from Tally to Capitol was meant to be heard in two versions of â€œIâ€™m Gonna Break Every Heartâ€ (one recorded for Tally, one recorded for Capitol) but the earlier unreleased Tally version ran into legal issues, and though described in the book, has been elided from the disc. A well-curated selection of his Capitol sides threads through the remainder of the set, and shows off both his commercial and artistic reach.
Owens and Haggard may have garnered the bulk of the sceneâ€™s commercial success, but the sheer volume of Bakersfield-related material thatâ€™s been collected here is astonishing. The Hollywood-based Capitol (and its Tower subsidiary) had the lionâ€™s share of major-label Bakersfield success, but Columbia and RCA made inroads with Billy Mize, Liz Anderson, Tommy Collins, and others. Even more impressive is the wealth of local indie singles that paint a full color picture of Bakersfieldâ€™s deep pool of singers, songwriters and instrumental talent. Bakersfield essentially fielded a country version of the Wrecking Crew with a core group of musicians that formed and reformed in various aggregations to back singers in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. There are too many ace musicians in the crew to name them, but among them, only one regular female presence in Helen â€œPeachesâ€ Price, a much sought-after drummer who played with Wynn Stewart, and backed Merle Haggard on several of his classic albums and singles.
Gary S. Paxton appears as an artist on 1966â€™s â€œGoinâ€™ Through the Motions,â€ but makes his mark as a producer, both in Los Angeles, and for a time in 1967-68, in Bakersfield. His productions include the Gosdin Brothers country hit â€œHanginâ€™ On,â€ and a variety of singles that includes Leon Copelandâ€™s cover of Merle Haggardâ€™s â€œIâ€™m Out of My Mind,â€ the Sandland Brothersâ€™ tight duet â€œVaccination for the Blues,â€ and the sly instrumental â€œBuckshotâ€ by Larry Daniels and the Buckshots. Many of Paxtonâ€™s productions featured the inimitable guitar playing of Clarence White, including Whiteâ€™s unissued-at-the-time cover of â€œBuckaroo.â€ Paxtonâ€™s stay in Bakersfield wasnâ€™t long, but he was productive, and cut records with Suzi Arden, Dean Sanford, Larry Daniels, Stan Farlow and others.
Each of the ten discs reveals surprises, including Barbara Mandrellâ€™s 1966 single â€œQueen for a Day,â€ released three years before she signed with Columbia, the Marksmenâ€™s 1961 guitar instrumental â€œScratch,â€ recorded in Seattle by Gene Moles with the Venturesâ€™ Nokie Edwards on bass, Roy Nicholsâ€™ virtuoso version of â€œSilver Bells,â€ songwriter Fern Foleyâ€™s original version of â€œApartment #9,â€ Harold Cox & The Soonersâ€™ â€œPumpkin Centerâ€ offering some iffy rhymes in celebration of a local weekly dance, Herb Hensonâ€™s Trading Post TV show theme song, â€œYouâ€™al Come,â€ and songwriter Homer Joyâ€™s original recording of â€œStreets of Bakersfield.â€
The setâ€™s final disc include live tracks, songwriter demos and work tapes from many of Bakersfieldâ€™s mainstays. The disc opens with hot live material from Buck Owensâ€™ 1973 Toys for Tots show, featuring Owens, Buddy Alan, Tony Booth, Susan Raye, and the Buckaroos. Thereâ€™s a treasure trove of songwriter demos and alternate takes from Bonnie Owens, Vancie Flowers & Rita Lane, Billy Mize, Red Simpson, Bill Woods, Tommy Collins, and Joe & Rose Lee Maphis, providing a behind-the-scenes look at how the first nine discs came to be. The disc closes with eight tracks drawn from television and radio broadcasts, giving listeners a feel for a world before records came to dominate media, and consultants came to homogenize playlists. Sadly missing from disc ten are five Merle Haggard alternate takes and a live radio broadcast that were last minute, contractual-dispute scratches.
As overwhelming as is the typical Bear Family box set, the breadth and depth of this anthology is doubly so. The panoramic view of Bakersfieldâ€™s music includes folk, bluegrass, country (and western), boogie, rockabilly, rock â€˜nâ€™ roll, swing and more. Each disc provides a terrific program of music, and the arc from disc one to disc ten is both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. The accompanying 224-page hardbound book (weighing in at nearly four pounds) is as detailed as the music program, with historical notes, artist biographies, and song notes, and hundreds of photos and record labels. With 298 songs and a running time of more than twelve hours, this is a set to live with, rather than just listen to, and one youâ€™ll be drawn back to over and over as you gain a feel for thirty-five years of Bakersfieldâ€™s musical history. No doubt this will be on many country music fansâ€™ holiday gift lists, and by all rights it should be on Grammyâ€™s list too. [Â©2019 Hyperbolium]
Childrenâ€™s entertainment is often filled with empty merchandising calories, and devoid of the thoughtful content that promotes intellectual and emotional growth. But that is not the case with the music of Fred Rogers, creator and host of the eponymous Mister Rogersâ€™ Neighborhood. Educated in musical composition, divinity and child development, Rogers turned the meditations of his solitary childhood into a helping hand for preschoolers. While Sesame Street focused on helping young children get ready for the cognitive growth of schooling, Rogers prepared them for the parallel emotional development they would experience in new social situations. Rogers spoke and sang to children with insight and patience that acknowledged feelings and fears that adults had long since forgotten. He offered a helping hand through songs whose fundamental truths connected deeply with his audience.
His television show included many memorable characters and activities, but his music reached deeper. For those who grew up watching the show (or parenting children who did), the songs remain a sense memory that can instantly transport you back to an age of uncertainty and seemingly endless questions. His lyrics encompasses thoughts and lessons in friendship, optimism, attentiveness, confidence, vulnerability, perseverance, empathy, imagination, self-worth, humor, individuality and a myriad of questions, emotions and anxieties that children first encounter in their formative years. Rogersâ€™ songs put a name to these feelings, and let children know that such feelings are both natural and shared.
Rogers recorded with a trio of musical director and pianist Johnny Costa, bassist Carl McVicker, and percussionist Bobby Rawsthorne. Their light, jazzy instrumentals typically stayed in the background, underlying the emotional lessons of the lyrics. Rogers released dozens of singles, EPs and albums, but few remain in print. Omnivoreâ€™s 21-track collection cherrypicks from four previous albums (Youâ€™re Growing, Coming and Going, Bedtime, and You Are Special), and adds five previously unreleased recordings, including the closing rendition of Rogersâ€™ trademark show closer â€œTomorrow.â€ The eight-page booklet includes an introductory note by film biographer Morgan Neville, and liners by Pittsburgh TV critic Robert Bianco. Rogersâ€™ gentle manner may seem out of place in todayâ€™s belligerent times, which makes his lessons in civility all the more relevant. [Â©2019 Hyperbolium]
Those looking for a history of native-made Hawaiian music may be disappointed by this set. But theyâ€™re about the only ones. Most will enjoy the four discsâ€™ and 102-page hardbound bookâ€™s exposition of Hawaiian music and its multiple eruptions in mainstream entertainment. While the set does include a helping of native-made Hawaiian sounds, particularly on disc three, its reach is wider and its statement broader. In both sights and sounds, this set essays both the roots of Hawaiian music, and its many manifestations in pop culture. As the bookâ€™s photographs and sheet music art demonstrate, Hawaii has long been both a destination and a mythology, and there are few places the two elements have fused more fully than in music.
Tempted by brilliant poster imagery and stoked by the speed of plane travel, South Seas tourism flourished in the â€˜40s and â€˜50s. Upon arriving in the Hawaiian islands, visitors found both authentic and ersatz culture awaiting them. And upon their return to the states, tourists brought back memories and souvenirs that served to deepen Hawaiiâ€™s allure as both a vacation getaway and a dramatic visual setting. Hawaii has provided a picturesque backdrop for films, television shows, commercials and even cartoons, and its songs and instruments (particularly the ukulele and steel guitar) provided material for a surprisingly wide range of non-Hawaiian artists. Hulaland pays homage to the stateside displays of Hawaiiana that grew from island roots, blossoming in Hollywood, Chicago, New York and elsewhere.
The set opens with Louis Armstrong singing â€œOn a Little Bamboo Bridge,â€ backed by the Waimea-born Andy Iona and his group, the Islanders. Ionaâ€™s mix of traditional melodies and American swing provided a welcome spot for the New Orleans-born Armstrong, and together they lay out a template of the setâ€™s riches. Disc one includes Hawaiiana from several unlikely artists, including Jo Stafford, Ethel Merman, Burns & Allen, Dorothy Lamour and the yodeling country star, Slim Whitman. The disc explores everything from kitschy â€˜30s cartoon themes to â€˜50s steel-guitar swing, and shows how Hawaiian music was popularized by native-born artists, collaborators and appropriators.
Hawaiiana threaded into popular music throughout the â€˜50s and â€˜60s, with Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman developing their inventive strain of exotica in the mid-50s. Disc two explores these exotic sounds as their waves echoed in a stateside culture gripped by rock â€˜nâ€™ roll and surf music. Here you will find the full flower of American mediaâ€™s fascination with Hawaii in the television themes from â€œHawaii Five-O,â€ â€œHawaiian Eye,â€ and a lap steel variation on â€œPeter Gunn.â€ Also included are selections from several of exoticaâ€™s pioneers, and others, like organist Earl Grant and guitarist Billy Mure, who were swept up by the wave. By the early â€˜60s, Hawaiian music was often more of an ancestral headwater than a direct tributary to the mainstream, as classic island themes were rendered with twanging electric guitars, sung in doo-wop vocals and accompanied by jazz arrangements.
Disc three returns the listener to the 1930s for a disc of Hawaiian classics, waxed primarily in Los Angeles and New York, with a few Honolulu recordings thrown in for good measure. The song selections mirror some of the selections on the previous discs (e.g., â€œHawaiian War Chantâ€ and â€œUkulele Ladyâ€), providing listeners an opportunity to compare. Disc four splits the difference by sampling contemporary acts that play a wide range of material (including the Venturesâ€™ â€œWalk Donâ€™t Runâ€) in vintage style. The time hopping between and within the discs adds to the image of Hawaii as a timeless, Xanadu-like paradise. The setâ€™s old-timey acoustic music blends surprisingly well with the Hawaiian-themed jazz and rock, and the last discâ€™s contemporary performances are powered by the same breezes as the setâ€™s earliest tracks.
In many ways, the four discs provide a soundtrack for the 102-page, 9×11 hardcover book in which theyâ€™re housed. The rattan-textured cover and heavyweight, glossy pages are stuffed with eye-popping reproductions of vintage photographs, full-page sheet music covers, postcards, and travel posters. James Austinâ€™s liner notes (which, along with other text in the book, are riddled with typos unbecoming of a set this lavish) provide context for the project, and a bit of history on Hawaiiana, but not the sort of detail on artists, songwriters, publishers and licensing one might expect. But this set isnâ€™t intended to be a scholarly tome on Hawaiian music or even Hawaiiana; itâ€™s an alluring brochure that beckons with romantic images meant to be imbibed rather than studied. As the notes say, â€œthis is for tourists, not purists,â€ so dim the lights, mix yourself a Mai Tai, and enjoy. [Â©2015 Hyperbolium]
San Franciscan Vince Guaraldi had already established himself as a pianist and composer, first with Cal Tjader and then as a leader of his own group, when producer Lee Mendelson came knocking. Mendelson had been enchanted by Guaraldiâ€™s 1963 surprise hit single, â€œCast Your Fate to the Wind,â€ and asked him to write some original music for a documentary to be entitled A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Though the program didnâ€™t air at the time, Guaraldiâ€™s music so perfectly captured the mood and character of Peanuts, that he was invited to write the soundtrack for the first Peanuts special that did air, 1965â€™s landmark A Charlie Brown Christmas.
There were so many unlikely elements to the Christmas special (including the overt religious theme and the use of child actors to voice the characters), that Guaraldiâ€™s literate, mirthful and sophisticated jazz score didnâ€™t feel at all unorthodox. Bringing along key pieces from the unaired documentary, most notably â€œLinus & Lucyâ€ and â€œCharlie Brown Theme,â€ Guaraldiâ€™s music was as important in lifting the characters off the comics page as was the animation. Guaraldi continued to provide music until his passing in 1976, scoring a total of seventeen Peanuts specials and the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
Fantasyâ€™s twelve-track collection pulls together selections from four television specials, leaning heavily on the original A Boy Named Charlie Brown (tracks 1-5) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (tracks 1 and 9-12). Also included is the gentle, piano-and-woodwinds â€œGreat Pumpkin Waltzâ€ from 1966â€™s Itâ€™s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, and a pair from 1973â€™s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, â€œThanksgiving Themeâ€ and â€œLittle Birdie,â€ the latter including a rare vocal from Guaraldi himself. At twelve tracks, this only scratches the surface of Guaraldiâ€™s Peanutsâ€™ canon, and though the heavy tilt towards earlier material supports the â€œGreatest Hitsâ€ theme, the lack of completeness might make reissued soundtracks [1 2] a better place to start. Whatâ€™s here is great, but itâ€™s not enough! [Â©2015 Hyperbolium]
Keith Allison’s discovery at a taping of Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is is an only-in-Hollywood tale to rival that of Lana Turner’s first sighting at the Top Hat Malt Shop. Allison had been living a relatively anonymous life as a session musician (that’s his harmonica on the Monkees “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day“) and latter-day band member for his cousin Jerry Allison’s Crickets. Allison’s appearance as an audience member on Where the Action Is quickly led to a featured slot and a recording contract with Columbia. The latter gave Allison an opportunity to work with producer Terry Melcher for a single and Gary Usher for a pop-rock album.
His first Columbia release turned Joey Brooks and the Baroque Folk’s “I Ain’t Blamin’ You” into folk-rock, and featured an excellent, original B-side, “Look at Me” that turned up two years later as a Cher album track. His next single brought him Boyce & Hart’s “Action, Action, Action” and Mann & Weil’s bounch sunshine pop, “Glitter and Gold.” The former, produced by future Scooby Doo theme song vocalist Larry Marks, is offered here in both its stereo album and mono single mixes.
Allison’s full-length album played to his television audience, who knew him for his covers of hits-of-the-day. The album’s lone original is the very fine country rock “Freeborn Man,” co-written with Mark Lindsay; the rest of the track list is filled with tunes from Boyce & Hart, Neil Diamond, Donovan, Ray Charles and Lindsay. As the liner notes highlight, the variety of material provided a showcase for Allison’s versatility, even when the covers don’t add anything radical to the better-known hits. “Louise” and “Good Thing” give an early indication of how easily Allison would later fit into Paul Revere & The Raiders, and the country-rock arrangement of “Colours” adds something vital to Donovan’s original.
More interesting is the discovery of Neil Diamond’s early single “Do It,” the rave-up “Action, Action, Action,” and a take on “Leave My Woman Alone” that adds a psychedelic edge to the Everly Brothers earlier interpretation. Real Gone’s twenty-three track collection pulls together the Columbia album and singles and adds a self-produced one-off single for Amy that backs Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” with the Byrdsian original “I Don’t Want Nobody But You.” The post-LP singles include an emotional cover of “To Know Her is to Love Her,” a rave-up medley of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and a lite-psych version of Tommy Roe’s “Everybody.”
Despite a promising start and continuing success as a musician and songwriter, Allison’s solo career never really took off. His work with the Raiders can be heard on several albums, starting with 1968’s Hard ‘n’ Heavy, and he turned up on tracks by Al Kooper, Johnny Rivers, The Dillards and others. He dabbled in acting (including a bit part on The Love Boat!), and has recently gigged with the Waddy Wachtel Band, but the quality of these mid-60s sides suggest there was something more to be had. Stardom is a fickle mistress, and though Allison had the talent and a shot, the stars simply didn’t align. Lucky listeners can now cast themselves back and ask “what if?”Â [Â©2014 Hyperbolium]
Whether or not you’re a viewer of the History Channel’s Swamp People, this collection of bayou-inspired tunes is sure to please Louisiana music fans. Though subtitled “music inspired by the television series,” the album’s best known titles (“Amos Moses,” “Polk Salad Annie,” “Fire on the Bayou,” and “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)”) predate the program by decades. Only the collection’s title track is newly written, and the set is filled out with finely selected Zydeco, country, bayou funk and soul from the Rounder vault. The set closes with Bobby Charles’ original recording of “See You Later, Alligator,” showing off the song’s New Orleans roots with some fine second-line drumming. All in all, a good disc to accompany a gator hunt, or just a bowl of gumbo. [Â©2013 Hyperbolium]