Saturday, July 25, 2009

Feeling reduced?

Well cheer up because Tot Rocket and the Twins will reduce you beyond your wildest dreams. No worries, a tit for Tot and we're on our way (Karen Carpenter?). Here again we have some solid rock spilling over from the central valley of Connecticut, although Tot advertises his address as being Grand Central Station. "Reduced" is a pretty undeniable 1980 anthem, while the "Fun Fades..." is a bit more laborious. All and all though this makes a very strong statement for a band ready to go places. This is evidence of some flash and polish, but once again I have no clue as to where they all ended up. If nothing else, "Reduced" is a very worthy legacy which I expect you will thoroughly enjoy...


Tot Rocket and the Twins - Tot Rocket and the twins (45 rpm) - 1980
Whiplash Records Ltd. (Naugatuck, CT) Trace Elements Music (45-107)

(side A)
Reduced (A.D. Halbreich) VRRNP-787

(side B)
Fun Fades Fast in the USA (R.M. Poss) VRRNP-788

If not your cup of tea, at least the saucer?

Another apparent Connecticut band making the scene back in the late 70's with this 45 rpm featuring three nice tunes. Nothing earth shaking but solid pop rock with a cover that oddly provokes me I must a good way. I believe I did see these guys play once but that could be the beer talking all these decades later. Suffice to say, I'm glad to have this vinyl testament to their statement and I hope you enjoy it as well...

Saucers - Saucers Saucers Saucers (45 rpm) - 1979
Orange Recording & Management (New Haven, CT)

(side A)
What We Do (Marsden)

(side B)
I Didn't Get It (Bell)
Muckraker (Bell)

Next at Bat in the continuing series...

Next, but certainly not last, here we have yet another great Connecticut band called The Bats and this 45 captures two classic pop gems that have always had me hooked. Although I never saw The Bats live, these two recordings show a pretty slick group providing a highly professional and infectious rendering of their own classic "Popgun" along with a monster version of the Lennon/McCartney timeless hit song "Tell Me Why". To me these two recordings epitomize pop rock, 1980 or 1960 or 2009, no matter, this is just so rock solid and knee melting stuff. I know The Bats did put out a full album but it seems hard to believe they never went any further. The tune "Popgun" is incredible for pop lovers. It is simply credited to "BATT", perhaps the last name of the group's leader I suppose. I know these cuts are available on the web elsewhere but this post must be made to praise these tremendous efforts from a top notch Connecticut group, taken directly from the 45 @ 320. Take aim and fire at this great stuff..."but the shot never kills"...


The Bats - The Bats (45 rpm) - 1980
Gustav Record (New Haven, CT) GT003

(side A)
Popgun (BATT) (Detour Music)

(side B)
Tell Me Why (Lennon/McCartney) (MacLen UNART)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time to Q you in...

#3 in our continuing series on the Connecticut music scene from my fun years, here's another goodie from a band called International Q. I believe I saw these guys at least twice, once at WESCONN in Danbury, CT. These guys were fun, up tempo and infectious. They were a little tighter and practiced than some of the others I heard at the time, but likeable all the same! I think they developed a bit of a following locally but I have no idea what became of them. Once again the only reference to a name here is for the song credits, all being to a D. Pittsinger. I just know that I have always liked the three songs on this 45 from 1981 and I hope you will be all the better for having been "Q'ed" gotta love "Small Talk"!!


International Q - International Q - 1981
45 rpm - Queue Music

(side A)
What I Got

(side B)
To Be A Boy
Small Talk

All songs credited to D. Pittsinger

Remembering October Days...

Next on the Connecticut late 70's early 80's local scene hit parade is a great 45 from a band called October Days. I believe I saw these guys at Brothers in West Haven once and they were very enjoyable as I recall. This recording is quite representative of the cool vibes of the music that this whole scene thrived on. A bit dark, a bit rockin', sort of moody but catchy at the same time. I like both cuts and wonder where these guys ever went, if anywhere. The cover and insert material includes only what you see in the above pics and a fold out collage that includes some lyrics, but nowhere does it give any information on the band unfortunately. Both songs are credited to B. Nelson so I'll assume he is probably the guitarist/singer here (looks like quite the leaper in his day!). The recording was apparently from New Haven so I'm pretty sure they were from Connecticut and I saw them here, so there ya go...enjoy!


October Days - October Days - 1981
45 rpm - Clutch records (New Haven, CT) - October Days Music

(side 1)
West Coast

(side 2)
Don't Give Yourself Away

Songs credited to Blake Nelson

Good bands are getting Furor and farther between...

From bluegrass in Japan to The Furors in New Haven, Connecticut. Now for some real fun! I have a very modest collection of 45's including a handful of some recordings made by local bands that were generally part of that late punk/early new wave phenomenon of the late 70's and early 80's. Being, at the time, a recent college graduate with a few bucks to spend on a regular basis, I was lucky enough to make regular trips to the hot spots for this music that were dotting the Connecticut landscape at that time. Places like Brothers in West Haven and the Lithuanian Club in Hartford were among the best clubs to see some down and dirty, raw music. Sometimes you would catch someone of more far reaching fame within the same genre, but most often you would see small, home grown bands trying to make their mark somewhere, and often enough it was pretty special. Although there certainly were some trademark attributes common to many of these enthusiastic fledglings, quite often it was somewhat "no holds barred" with some wild results. Good or bad or in between, it was definitely entertaining. Generally speaking, being tight and rehearsed was not the critical requirement. Energy and good music was all that mattered, usually loud and passionate. Of all the places that my friends and I would frequent during those days, I would have to say the most legendary and earliest among my memories is Ron's Place in New Haven. This might have been one of the first, if not the first, such place I visited. It was small, dark and dirty. The beer was cold, the bathroom typically flooded in urine, cockroaches roaming freely on the tiny bar, floors, etc. The jukebox was loaded with good stuff, classic rock and garage rock/punk/new wave. The dance floor was pretty small too, but managed to vaguely contain some pretty large groups of colliding bodies and aimless soloists who would flail under the hypnotic effects of the music. I remember one night where a bunch of us gathered (mostly strangers to each other) on the sidewalk just outside the front entrance, after closing, and we somehow slipped into a lengthy doo wop outburst that sounded pretty good (or so I thought at the time) until New Haven's finest stopped by to remind us that we were disturbing the peace. But that was sort of what Ron's Place was all about, disturbing the peace, in a harmless and fun sort of way. Why do places like that cease to have a purpose, why don't they just keep attracting throngs from generation to generation? Probably it was due to the public health risk, that I would believe. The core of our group of music hounds would often invite along various unsuspecting and uninitiated friends to enjoy a night at Ron's, but some were pretty uncomfortable with both the environment and the music. We tried. Anyway, to get to the point, I would like to post a few of these great 45's representing some of the talent that we witnessed in places like Ron's when the whole "scene" was really catching momentum and gaining attention from more fans. Kids were exhibiting some of the fashion of the English movement spurred by the likes of The Jam and The Clash, etc. The piercings and extreme hair, the leather jackets, The Ramones and this was just about the time that these artists were making some money selling records in the US. So it was a fun time, arguably not the very start of it, but it was coming of age as the New Wave evolved amongst bigger, glitzier venues. So with my description of Ron's Place still fresh in mind, let's start this off with a 45 rpm effort from a band called The Furors. I am no expert on any of these bands but the record references two names, Holcomb and Dans, and I believe this group was a local duo (guitar and drums with vocals). There are four songs here and I have to say most of it is quite loose and perhaps a bit funny. But I seriously love the tune "A Look For The Honey". I detect a bit of "Monochrome Set" in these guys, just not so polished. I really can't get the "honey" song out of my head. This seems the best place to start because, although not noted on any of the information on the label or cover, scratched mysteriously on the inner ring of the vinyl it says, "Ron's Place"! I have to assume, since this is obviously a live recording, that it took place at the venerable institution. Have a listen, it's me...


The Furors - Furors Live (At Ron's Place) - 1979
45 rpm - Hit Man Music (Hamden, CT) - Stylus Records
November 26, 1979

(side 1)
Her Other Man
A Look For The Honey

(side 2)
I Couldn't Pretend

The Furors = Holcomb & Dans ?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spectrum encore...Live In Japan

It was so good to finally rip that last post of Spectrum's "Opening Roll" that I had to do the same with my other Spectrum LP, "Live In Japan" from 1981. I had forgotten what a strong album this also is, more of a balanced album with stronger tunes overall I think, although none can match "Red Rubber Ball" from "Opening Roll" in my opinion. I have always been partial to the song, "Sea Of Heartbreak", and Spectrum's version here is no exception, but I also enjoy the gentle "Blue Umbrella", a powerful "Cabin In Caroline", the beautiful "Hickory Wind", the tear jerking "Until You Come Back..." and a really fun instrumental encore in "Sukiyaki". But it's all very good stuff and features a little more of that cowboy jazz side of the bluegrass world with fine vocals and instrumental work on the likes of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". Since it is a live recording that seems (actually it does stitch together several dates and a couple locations) to capture continuous coverage of the actual concert performances in Japan, with plenty of fan appreciation, I decided to rip each track exactly as it appears on the record, no space between each song, every second of applause. I also created a separate track of the introductions which runs between "Blue Umbrella" and "Smoke That Cigarette". So you'll find 15 tracks even though only seven songs per side are listed on the album cover and labels. I need to find the other work these guys put out, but I believe that "It's Too Hot For Words", with Mike Auldridge, is the only other LP they released before going their separate ways with all that talent. Hope you enjoy this second Spectrum goodie...

Live Spectrum

Spectrum - Live In Japan - 1981
Rounder Records 0184

Cabin In Caroline
Blue Umbrella
Smoke That Cigarette
Hickory Wind
Sea of Heartbreak
Driving Nails
Pig in a Pen

Roll On Buddy
Until You Come Back Home Again
Ain't Misbehavin'
Don't Get Around Much Anymore
Rabit in the Log
End of the Line

Bela Fleck - banjo, baritone vocals
Jimmy Gaudreau - mandolin, tenor vocals
Glenn Lawson - guitar, lead vocals
Jimmy Mattingly - fiddle, baritone vocals
Mark Schatz - acoustic bass, bass vocals

Recorded live in Nichifutsu Kaikan Hall, Tokyo (Oct. 28-29, 1981)
except "Sukiyaki" recorded at Hiroshima Fujin Kaikan, Hiroshima (Nov. 2, 1981)

Bluegrass On A Roll...

Here's an album I've wanted to dedicate to data for a long time and I can't believe I waited this long. But finally here it is. I saw these guys at least once or twice on the bluegrass circuit during the early eighties and owning two LP's, I've looked for CD's from this band ever since, but no luck. It seems that vinyl and cassettes were all they ever released and it's hard to believe Rounder hasn't done more with this band that included the likes of the great Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin and Bela Fleck on banjo, not to mention Glenn Lawson on guitar and lead vocals. In actuality I would say this is not so great an album as it is a great lineup of musicians. I personally feel that the song selection could be stronger in some cases and I would like to hear more stretching out on the instrumental solos. Although there certainly are great bluegrass harmonies and tasty licks going on, most every song is only 2 to 3 minutes long, short but sweet I guess. But what really made this LP extra special to me is their rendition of an old favorite tune of mine, "Red Rubber Ball" (originally by Cyrkle). I love the song, always have and I think their version is outstanding, fast and tight, and just listen to the great interludes from Bela & Jimmy. Side two offers a similar speed grass blast in the form of the Everly's "Bye Bye Love", which I like nearly as much as "Red Rubber Ball". Otherwise, "I Like The Christian Life", "Are You Waiting Just For Me" and "Lonesome Town" are also strong cuts. The other tracks are fine but keep it from being an awesome album overall. The Cyrkle tune is really one of my very favorite all-time bluegrass recordings though not everyone may share my taste. Bottom line is that these guys were top notch musicians and performers and if you don't have some of their you do and you're on a roll!


Spectrum - Opening Roll - 1980
Rounder Records 0136

Are You Waiting Just For Me
I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore
Little Pete
White Man Singin' The Blues
Lonesome Town
Red Rubber Ball

Gone At Last
I Like The Christian Life
I'm Gonna Make It After All
I Needed You
Crazy Blues
Bye Bye Love

Jimmy Gaudreau - mandolin, tenor & lead vocals
Glenn Lawson - lead guitar, lead vocals
Mark Schatz - string bass, bass vocals
Bela Fleck - banjo, baritone vocals

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Eps and Downs of the 7-String Guitar...

Well, the good news is we have a great album here of traditional jazz featuring one of the great all-time guitar players, George Van Eps. The bad news is that my copy of this 1967 LP is pretty rough and I have to apologize for the somewhat excessive noise, pops and crackle that I was unable to remove on this rip. Still, I couldn't readily find a better version of this OOP album out there so I decided to post it for now because it really is absolute classic stuff. Van Eps was just so smooth and relaxed that you can't have a jazz guitar collection without a healthy dose of George in it. Of course he had that 7-string thing going on, as the album name proclaims, and that makes it all the more unique. Although the album obviously features Van Eps' 7-string guitar playing, there is also a lot of marimba player, Frank Flynn, which "frankly" I could live without here, but it has it's moments in complement to George's guitar work. The key is just listening along with this textbook guitar playing. Most of it is relatively simple or understated but it's wonderful work and brings these classic tunes to life so effortlessly. So check this out, forgive the poor quality of the vinyl, and let me know if you come across a better copy of this beautiful album as I will be happy to defer to that reference. But until then, I hope you can enjoy it as is...I did!


George Van Eps - George Van Eps' Seven-String Guitar - 1967
Capitol ST 2783

Satin Doll
Prelude To A Kiss
A Blues Serenade
The Very Thought Of You
Stop, Look and Listen

Sophisticated Lady
Glad To Be Unhappy
Baubles, Bangles and Beads
A Libra Rhapsody
Come Rain Or Come Shine

George Van Eps - 7-string guitar
Frank Flynn - marimba
Jerry Williams - drums

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Guitarra lovers home is his Kessel...

Well despite the desperate subject line here, there is something good to come of it, and that comes in the form of a 1969 album by Barney Kessel called "Guitarra". Barney Kessel was one of my early jazz guitar heroes largely by way of an 8-track recording of "The Poll Winners" and especially confirmed upon hearing his blazing work on a tune called "Nagasaki". Barney has pretty much made the grade with every recording of his I've heard since. This apparently little known LP is generally no exception, although I would have to say it's not my absolute favorite Barney recording. When confirming that this album is OOP I first thought I had identified it as an obscure recording called "Reflections In Rome" since, like "Guitarra" it was recorded in Rome in 1969 with what appears to be the same supporting cast of European artists. However, "Guitarra" has an entirely different collection of songs than what I found for the "Reflections..." album. Yet I could find no internet information on any album called "Guitarra". So, whether this is somehow one in the same as the other recording from Rome, or whether it is, as it seems, a second recording done the same year by the same musicians in the same location, it seems that either one is OOP and not easily found in the blogosphere. So here ya go, it's a fairly tame collection of relatively short tunes featuring Barney's "guitarra" and some pretty lively organ work from an Antonello Vannucchi. There's some samba and similar latinesque flavors here in keeping with the setting perhaps. Sometimes it strikes me as a little less than exciting but just as you think you might feel a little bit disappointed, Barney will come out with some fun Kessel-isms and reel you right back in to familiar ground...right back home with Barney and his guitarra...


Barney Kessel - Guitarra - 1969
RCA CAS-2404

B.J.'s Samba
Meu Irmao
On the Riviera

From My Heart
Swing Samba

Barney Kessel - guitar
Antonello Vannucchi - organ
Giovanni Tommasco - bass
Enzo Restuccia - drums

Recorded in RCA's Studio B, Rome, Italy in May 1969
Recording Engineer: Sergio Marcotulli
Produced by Gian Piero Ricci

Released in 1970