Friday, February 27, 2009

I like this Carver more than just a whittle...

More bad puns, what can I say? But if you are a fan of classic, quality 60's country music, then here is some good stuff for ya, no joke. I picked this album up somewhere many years ago with no idea who the guy was, but my love of honky-tonk and related music made me think that the album cover looked promising enough to part with the change it probably cost me. I was immediately surprised to hear such good quality stuff from this unknown (to me) artist. It's not quite honky-tonk as much as it is classic country of the 60's when it was recorded. Reading up on Johnny Carver more recently I have learned that he had a pretty long and successful career although he never quite made it to being a household name. He had some chart success and seems to be well respected within the inner circle of country artists (just ask Faron Young from the back cover picture included in the download). This one album is all I know of him and, from what I can tell, none of his albums are in print at this time. There does seem to be a skimpy collection out there on CD but I was surprised to see that it didn't include any work from this album. To me this album stands up there among the better albums I have heard from this genre. I might draw a slight comparison to Buck Owens, but this is probably a bit less edgy than that great Bakersfield sound Buck crafted. This album is full of short pop country with great instrumental support. Unfortunately the cover gives absolutely no credits but I would bet this one includes a collection of Nashville all stars. It's a shame they don't let the instrumentalists take a few more solos because the playing is impeccable throughout, but mostly serves as just background to Carver's solid vocal work. There is plenty of pedal steel, electric guitar, even some vibraphone, fiddles, Cramer style piano, good stuff. All the songs are short and sweet, mostly 2 verses with a couple choruses, not much more than 2 minutes each, like a punk rock album from the 70's! But I think the quality of the songs themselves is very good, especially side two where every tune is a keeper in my estimation. Side one isn't far off. My favorite cuts are probably "Lie To Me" (very memorable tune) and the lonely "Apartment #9". Of course, "Sybil's Rights", though not my favorite melody on this album, gets kudos from an old punster like me. I'm glad I finally got around to preserving this one in digital format and I hope you will enjoy it as well, at wheast a whittle...

Johnny Carver - You're In Good Hands With Johnny Carver - 1968
Liberty Records LP-12380

Your Lily White Hands
Sybil's Rights
So Goes My World
New Lips
What If It Happened To You
You're In Good Hands

Lie To Me
Apartment #9
The Tip of My Fingers
You Are That Something
Don't Monkey With Another Monkey's Monkey

(no credits available)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wilkins It For All It's Worth...

Alright, that subject header is a bad pun and doesn't make a whole lot of sense but then one could say, when it comes to guitar playing, Jack Wilkins really does it for all it's worth. Foregoing my usual diatribe here, I will get to the point; Wilkins can flat out play. Ever since I heard a cut off of his album Merge, back in the early 80's, I knew he was a keeper. Unfortunately there is far too little of his work out there. You don't see him that often as a side man and he only has a handful of albums to his name. But what's there is generally great, just as you will hear in this album, "Captain Blued". This is a curious recording in that I can find very little evidence that it was ever made! It's produced by Creed Taylor on the Greenstreet Record label and it includes the accompaniment of one of the best alto sax guys you could want, the great veteran Phil Woods, along with other familiar names like Harvie Swartz on bass. Yet there is little mention of this recording anywhere. Doesn't appear to be available these days, so I felt it my duty to let folks hear what they might be missing. Some of these songs, like "Captain Blued" and "Mexico", were also recorded (different versions I believe) on other albums so you should be able to find some of that out there to buy on CD. This particular LP is definitely another winner for Wilkins. Not only is his work effortless, creative and inspiring, but the tunes are all enjoyable and nicely arranged. Add to that the wonderful voicings from Mr. Woods and great contributions from all the other supporting cast (with a good deal of solo work for all) and I will predict that you will be glad you gave this a listen. Although this is all generally straight ahead jazz, you will find diversity in the moods and stylings here. Many exciting moments to enjoy. It should make you want to hear more of this master guitarist and he does have a site that offers listens and downloads from many of his other albums, including a bunch of live gig cuts. So I hope you will agree that this guy is the cream of the crop, and cream leads to milk, and there I go milkin' it for all it's worth...

Jack Wilkins - Captain Blued - 1984
Greenstreet Records GS-2004

Captain Blued
Funny Blues

Dailey Double
Chopin Etude
Some Time Ago

Jack Wilkins - guitar
Phil Woods - alto saxophone
Albert Dailey - piano
Harvie Swartz - bass
Akira Tana - drums
Ted Moore -percussion

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Drive-In Me Crazy...

Well there aren't many of these left around these days, drive-in movies that is. If you're over 40 years old you should have a fair recollection of that special experience that collected hundreds of people, in their cars, in a big old paved lot to watch one giant screen once the sun let down it's glowing curtain. Kids would run through the maze of cars and gather in special play areas where there were often swings and "dizzy-go-rounds", monkey bars and assorted other items of liability. Teenagers would hang out in their cars, free of adult supervision and do what teenagers want to do when unsupervised. Adults would settle in for an evening of popcorn, hot dogs and hamburgers (the ones that didn't actually dance and party), soda pops (some of them could dance too) and a relatively inexpensive night out to entertain the family. I remember seeing "Hard Day's Night" starring The Beatles as a particularly standout drive-in experience but there were countless others including my own teenage adventures for the likes of "Mandingo", all complete with that clumsy hunk of metal precariously dangled from the top of one of the windows (which you may have had to keep pretty well closed to keep out mosquitoes) that kept your car anchored at its post. And which post did you choose? Ahhh, the ambling about the lot looking for the best available space. Something with a decent view of the screen, not too close, not too far, decent proximity to the bathrooms and snack bar, consider the neighboring cars and the potential anxieties as you quickly profile the occupants of each. It was normal practice to explore several potential spots before settling on a final destination. Then you just had to hope the damn speaker box you got would work. Some didn't work at all, some had bags over them (out of order) and some were crackly or didn't have enough volume. All of them sounded pretty lousy but that was part of the charm I suppose. And that brings us to something that sounds pretty darn good, Mr. Freddy Robinson. As my original music post on this blog was my most coveted Freddy album, this one, "At The Drive-In ", is not quite so scarce, but it again features some fine guitar work and more of Freddy's distinctive vocals, as well. What drove me crazy here was that this is not a particularly pristine copy of the album. I bought it as a NM but it is more a VG at best. I had to do a lot of click removal and there is still a share of crackle here and there but I wouldn't post it if it were really bad so I think it is a passable version until a better one comes along. There must be other postings out there but I haven't come across one. Actually I see where a few of these tracks appear on a recent, long overdue, collection of Freddy's work called "Bluesology". I am looking to buy that as it includes quite a few never before released tracks, and i recommend you do the same. But if you want a good sample of what Freddy does with his unique mix of R&B and jazz, then check out this OOP recording from 1972 and I think you'll enjoy it, despite the less than perfect quality here. Taken from the LP at 320kbps , hopefully it will be drive-in' you crazy too, in a good way....


Freddy Robinson - At The Drive-In - 1972

Enterprise - ENS-1025

It's The Real Thing
Sweet Clara
Miss Black America
Creepin' Lightly

I Found My Soul Last Night
At The Drive-In
Wonder What It Is

Freddy Robinson - vocal, guitar & harmonica
Al Vescovo - guitar
Harold Mason - drums
Paul Humphrey - drums & percussion
Joe Sample - piano & organ
Wilton Felder - bass
Monk Higgins - organ
Bobbie Hall - conga & percussion
Alex Brown & Clydie King & Vanetta Fields - vocals

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Only Child Syndrome...

Many years ago, there was a child born in Waterbury, Connecticut. A proud set of parents beginning a family amidst the historic confines of Yankee tradition and the comfort of the industrial plateau. It wouldn't be long before the kindergarten years would find this same young boy coming to terms with what would be a lifelong pronouncement of, the only child. And yes, this "only child" would be me, now entrenched some 52 years in this cozy little world that has managed to define me in the eyes of Catholic families everywhere, in the minds of struggling street smart urchins, and even deep within my own shadowy world of unbridled imagination and introspection. I soon came to understand that "only child" was generally not a moniker to be proud of, especially among peers where it usually was applied to someone thought to be unfairly privileged, someone unusually coddled, a "momma's boy", protected and insulated from the spirit of the real world below. These connotations seemed to build up in my little head as I progressed through those first few years of grade school and it became a source of embarrassment, at least in my mind, that I worked hard to avoid or erase. Early on it came with undoing any effort my mother put into my appearance. She would lay out the clothes and I would do my best to dismantle the intended choreography. Sometimes I just managed to do a last minute switcheroo before bolting out the door for school, sometimes I just had to tear everything apart between the backdoor and the schoolyard, the clip-on bow tie, the knee socks, the jaunty cap, oh God, it was horrible, but fairly easy to address (or undress as the case may be). So other than the inescapable class photo days, I managed to avoid segragation, and from that point it was just being a kid with no siblings. Although the lack of Christmas day competition and singular annual birthday festivities certainly made their marks on my tendancy to expect attention, these same conditions also resulted in the inevitable lack of attention. It was easy for a family of three to operate as three independent entities, especially as I got older and could take care of myself. This was great for developing a certain confidence in survival and self-sufficiency, it proved a fertile field for my creative juices and entertaining imagination, but it also made some of the social challenges a bit more uneasy than they should be. On the one hand I was devoid of the interactions a larger family would naturally offer, while on the other hand I was somewhat unabashed in my constant mission to weasel into other people's privacy. I had enough of my own privacy so I just assumed everybody else was just as much in need of some outside interaction as I was. So I would be throwing stones at my neighbor's window trying to get my buddy to come out and play. I would knock on every door until somebody would open it wide enough for me to squeeze by, and then let the games begin! So some families took me in like some homeless wretch, I would raid their fridges, sit down to dinner and break bread, watch TV with them, run around and get in trouble (but I never would get the whoopin'), I became an appendage to more than one neighborhood family, and somehow some of these poor victims remain close friends that seem to recall those days fondly if not with a certain humorous disbelief. As far as I was concerned, it all worked out fine, I generally found ways to deal with my supposed disadvantage of what some might call an incomplete family, while at the same time enjoying the advantages of the freedoms that same situation created. My parents and I were like three separate entities all dashing about on wildly different missions on a day to day basis. I had a lot of independence, even for those days, often wandering most anywhere I wanted. There weren't many restrictions or penalties for me...fortunately that never got me in any real trouble so I guess I/we were lucky that way. It also meant that I really came to love my situation. While I came to understand the special qualities of a larger family with siblings and firm traditions and schedules, I also have relished my somewhat unique combination of chaos and calm. I have come to crave activity and social interaction but I also need my own time to be quiet, to lose myself in that same world that followed me from cradle to college. That vast world that speaks to me through all the noise in a singular voice, and fills the shadows with color and light. I have always said that I could stare at wallpaper and be relatively entertained. Boredom is inexcusable to me, there should be no such thing. Life has too much to offer, never a dull moment, depending upon your outlook. And speaking of something to offer, here I offer you another great OOP album from Cal Collins. This one is a solo effort, just Cal and his guitar, and it's a gem, from the vinyl at 320kbps. You can hear the gentle, warm feeling just melt from the strings. This is an easy going but so impressive work from Cal Collins. Bluesy, relaxed, and yet some flurries of ideas come at you at times that will have you shaking your head (that's a good thing). If you like swinging traditional jazz guitar, there is some great stuff here for you to check out...enjoy it...all by yourself.
Cal Collins - By Myself - 1979
Concord Jazz CJ-119
By Myself
Where Are You
What Is This Thing Called Love
Stairway To The Stars
No Moon At All
P.S. I Love You

Sunrise, Sunset
The Gypsy
All The Things You Are
The Nearness Of You
Route 66
Jackson County Blues